The Simpleton's Wisdom
Story Of Pretty Feathered Forehead
The Story Of The Pet Crane
The Story Of The Pet Crow
The Four Brothers Or Inyanhoksila Stone Boy
Story Of The Rabbits
The Wasna Pemmican Man And The Unktomi Spider
The Little Mice
A Little Brave And The Medicine Woman
The Quapaw Or Kwapa
The Waqpe-tonwan Or Wahpeton
The Ni-u'-t'a-tci Or Missouri
Random Sioux Myths
The Eastern And Southern Tribes
Some Features Of Indian Sociology
The Development Of Mythology
The Crow Or Absaroka
The Siha-sapa Or Blackfeet
The Kanze Or Kansa
The Bear And The Rabbit Hunt Buffalo
Once upon a time there lived as neighbors, a bear and a rabbit. The
rabbit was a good shot, and the bear being very clumsy could not use the
arrow to good advantage. The bear was very unkind to the rabbit. Every
morning, the bear would call over to the rabbit and say: "Take your bow
and arrows and come with me to the other side of the hill. A large herd
of buffalo are grazing there, and I want you to shoot some of them for
me, as my children are crying for meat."
The rabbit, fearing to arouse the bear's anger by refusing, consented,
and went with the bear, and shot enough buffalo to satisfy the hungry
family. Indeed, he shot and killed so many that there was lots of meat
left after the bear and his family had loaded themselves, and packed all
they could carry home. The bear being very gluttonous, and not wanting
the rabbit to get any of the meat, said: "Rabbit, you come along home
with us and we will return and get the remainder of the meat."
The poor rabbit could not even taste the blood from the butchering, as
the bear would throw earth on the blood and dry it up. Poor Rabbit would
have to go home hungry after his hard day's work.
The bear was the father of five children. The youngest boy was very kind
to the rabbit. The mother bear, knowing that her youngest was a very
hearty eater, always gave him an extra large piece of meat. What the
baby bear did not eat, he would take outside with him and pretend to
play ball with it, kicking it toward the rabbit's house, and when he
got close to the door he would give the meat such a great kick, that it
would fly into the rabbit's house, and in this way poor Rabbit would get
his meal unknown to the papa bear.
Baby bear never forgot his friend Rabbit. Papa bear often wondered why
his baby would go outside after each meal. He grew suspicious and asked
the baby where he had been. "Oh, I always play ball outside, around the
house, and when I get tired playing I eat up my meat ball and then come
The baby bear was too cunning to let papa bear know that he was keeping
his friend rabbit from starving to death. Nevertheless, papa bear
suspected baby and said: "Baby, I think you go over to the rabbit's
after every meal."
The four older brothers were very handsome, but baby bear was a little
puny fellow, whose coat couldn't keep out much cold, as it was short and
shaggy, and of a dirty brown color. The three older brothers were very
unkind to baby bear, but the fourth one always took baby's part, and was
always kind to his baby brother.
Rabbit was getting tired of being ordered and bullied around by papa
bear. He puzzled his brain to scheme some way of getting even with Mr.
Bear for abusing him so much. He studied all night long, but no scheme
worth trying presented itself. Early one morning Mr. Bear presented
himself at Rabbit's door.
"Say, Rabbit, my meat is all used up, and there is a fine herd of
buffalo grazing on the hillside. Get your bow and arrows and come with
me. I want you to shoot some of them for me."
"Very well," said Rabbit, and he went and killed six buffalo for Bear.
Bear got busy butchering and poor Rabbit, thinking he would get a chance
to lick up one mouthful of blood, stayed very close to the bear while he
was cutting up the meat. The bear was very watchful lest the rabbit get
something to eat. Despite bear's watchfulness, a small clot of blood
rolled past and behind the bear's feet. At once Rabbit seized the clot
and hid it in his bosom. By the time Rabbit got home, the blood clot
was hardened from the warmth of his body, so, being hungry, it put Mr.
Rabbit out of sorts to think that after all his trouble he could not eat
Very badly disappointed, he lay down on his floor and gazed up into the
chimney hole. Disgusted with the way things had turned out, he grabbed
up the blood clot and threw it up through the hole. Scarcely had it
hit the ground when he heard the voice of a baby crying, "Ate! Ate!"
(father, father). He went outside and there he found a big baby boy. He
took the baby into his house and threw him out through the hole again.
This time the boy was large enough to say "Ate, Ate, he-cun-sin-lo."
(Father, father, don't do that). But nevertheless, he threw him up and
out again. On going out the third time, there stood a handsome youth
smiling at him. Rabbit at once adopted the youth and took him into his
house, seating him in the seat of honor (which is directly opposite
the entrance), and saying: "My son, I want you to be a good, honest,
straightforward man. Now, I have in my possession a fine outfit, and
you, my son, shall wear it."
Suiting his action to his words, he drew out a bag from a hollow tree
and on opening it, drew out a fine buckskin shirt (tanned white as
snow), worked with porcupine quills. Also a pair of red leggings worked
with beads. Moccasins worked with colored hair. A fine otter skin robe.
White weasel skins to intertwine with his beautiful long black locks. A
magnificent center eagle feather. A rawhide covered bow, accompanied by
a quiver full of flint arrowheads.
The rabbit, having dressed his son in all the latest finery, sat back
and gazed long and lovingly at his handsome son. Instinctively
Rabbit felt that his son had been sent him for the purpose of being
instrumental in the downfall of Mr. Bear. Events will show.
The morning following the arrival of Rabbit's son, Mr. Bear again
presents himself at the door, crying out: "You lazy, ugly rabbit, get up
and come out here. I want you to shoot some more buffalo for me."
"Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?" asked the son.
"It is a bear who lives near here, and makes me kill buffalo for his
family, and he won't let me take even one little drop of blood from the
killing, and consequently, my son, I have nothing in my house for you to
The young man was anxious to meet Mr. Bear but Rabbit advised him to
wait a little until he and Bear had gone to the hunt. So the son obeyed,
and when he thought it time that the killing was done, he started out
and arrived on the scene just as Mr. Bear was about to proceed with his
Seeing a strange shadow on the ground beside him, Mr. Bear looked up and
gazed into the fearless eyes of rabbit's handsome son.
"Who is this?" asked Mr. Bear of poor little Rabbit.
"I don't know," answered Rabbit.
"Who are you?" asked the bear of Rabbit's son. "Where did you come
The rabbit's son not replying, the bear spoke thus to him: "Get out of
here, and get out quick, too."
At this speech the rabbit's son became angered, and fastened an arrow to
his bow and drove the arrow through the bear's heart. Then he turned on
Mrs. Bear and served her likewise. During the melee, Rabbit shouted:
"My son, my son, don't kill the two youngest. The baby has kept me from
starving and the other one is good and kind to his baby brother."
So the three older brothers who were unkind to their baby brother met a
similar fate to that of their selfish parents.
This (the story goes) is the reason that bears travel only in pairs.
THE BRAVE WHO WENT ON THE WARPATH ALONE AND WON THE NAME OF THE LONE
There was once a young man whose parents were not overburdened with the
riches of this world, and consequently could not dress their only son in
as rich a costume as the other young men of the tribe, and on account of
not being so richly clad as they, he was looked down upon and shunned by
them. He was never invited to take part in any of their sports; nor was
he ever asked to join any of the war parties.
In the village lived an old man with an only daughter. Like the other
family, they were poor, but the daughter was the belle of the tribe. She
was the most sought after by the young men of the village, and warriors
from tribes far distant came to press their suit at winning her for
their bride. All to no purpose; she had the same answer for them as she
had for the young men of the village.
The poor young man was also very handsome despite his poor clothes, but
having never killed an enemy nor brought home any enemies' horses he was
not (according to Indian rules) allowed to make love to any young or old
woman. He tried in vain to join some of the war parties, that he might
get the chance to win his spurs as a warrior. To all his pleadings,
came the same answer: "You are not fit to join a war party. You have no
horses, and if you should get killed our tribe would be laughed at and
be made fun of as you have such poor clothes, and we don't want the
enemy to know that we have any one of our tribe who dresses so poorly as
Again, and again, he tried different parties, only to be made fun of and
One night he sat in the poor tepee of his parents. He was in deep study
and had nothing to say. His father, noticing his melancholy mood, asked
him what had happened to cause him to be so quiet, as he was always of a
jolly disposition. The son answered and said:
"Father, I am going on the warpath alone. In vain I have tried to be
a member of one of the war parties. To all of my pleadings I have got
nothing but insults in return."
"But my son, you have no gun nor ammunition. Where can you get any and
how can you get it? We have nothing to buy one for you with," said the
"I don't need any weapons. I am going to bring back some of the enemies'
horses, and I don't need a gun for that."
Early the next morning (regardless of the old couple's pleadings not
to go unarmed) the young man left the village and headed northwest, the
direction always taken by the war parties.
For ten days he traveled without seeing any signs of a camp. The evening
of the tenth day, he reached a very high butte, thickly wooded at the
summit. He ascended this butte, and as he sat there between two large
boulders, watching the beautiful rays of the setting sun, he was
suddenly startled to hear the neigh of a horse. Looking down into the
beautiful valley which was threaded by a beautiful creek fringed with
timber, he noticed close to the base of the butte upon which he sat, a
large drove of horses grazing peacefully and quietly. Looking closer, he
noticed at a little distance from the main drove, a horse with a saddle
on his back. This was the one that had neighed, as the drove drifted
further away from him. He was tied by a long lariat to a large sage
Where could the rider be, he said to himself. As if in answer to his
question, there appeared not more than twenty paces from him a middle
aged man coming up through a deep ravine. The man was evidently in
search of some kind of game, as he held his gun in readiness for instant
use, and kept his eyes directed at every crevice and clump of bush.
So intent was he on locating the game he was trailing, that he never
noticed the young man who sat like a statue not twenty paces away.
Slowly and cautiously the man approached, and when he had advanced to
within a few paces of the young man he stopped and turning around, stood
looking down into the valley. This was the only chance that our brave
young friend had. Being unarmed, he would stand no show if the enemy
ever got a glimpse of him. Slowly and noiselessly he drew his hunting
knife (which his father had given him on his departure from home) and
holding it securely in his right hand, gathered himself and gave a leap
which landed him upon the unsuspecting enemy's shoulders. The force with
which he landed on the enemy caused him (the enemy) to lose his hold on
his gun, and it went rattling down into the chasm, forty feet below.
Down they came together, the young man on top. No sooner had they struck
the ground than the enemy had out his knife, and then commenced a hand
to hand duel. The enemy, having more experience, was getting the best of
our young friend. Already our young friend had two ugly cuts, one across
his chest and the other through his forearm.
He was becoming weak from the loss of blood, and could not stand the
killing pace much longer. Summoning all his strength for one more trial
to overcome his antagonist, he rushed him toward the chasm, and in his
hurry to get away from this fierce attack, the enemy stepped back one
step too far, and down they both went into the chasm. Interlocked in
each other's arms, the young man drove his knife into the enemy's
side and when they struck the bottom the enemy relaxed his hold and
straightened out stiff and dead.
Securing his scalp and gun, the young man proceeded down to where the
horse was tied to the sage bush, and then gathering the drove of horses
proceeded on his return to his own village. Being wounded severely he
had to ride very slowly. All the long hours of the night he drove the
horses towards his home village.
In the meantime, those at the enemies' camp wondered at the long absence
of the herder who was watching their drove of horses, and finally seven
young men went to search for the missing herder. All night long they
searched the hillsides for the horses and herder, and when it had grown
light enough in the morning they saw by the ground where there had been
a fierce struggle.
Following the tracks in the sand and leaves, they came to the chasm
where the combatants had fallen over, and there, lying on his back
staring up at them in death, was their herder. They hastened to the camp
and told what they had found. Immediately the warriors mounted their war
ponies (these ponies are never turned loose, but kept tied close to the
tepee of the owner), and striking the trail of the herd driven off by
our young friend, they urged forth their ponies and were soon far from
their camp on the trail of our young friend. All day long they traveled
on his trail, and just as the sun was sinking they caught sight of him
driving the drove ahead over a high hill. Again they urged forth their
tired ponies. The young man, looking back along the trail, saw some dark
objects coming along, and, catching a fresh horse, drove the rest ahead
at a great rate. Again all night he drove them, and when daylight came
he looked back (from a high butte) over his trail and saw coming over a
distant raise, two horsemen. These two undoubtedly rode the best ponies,
as he saw nothing of the others. Driving the horses into a thick belt
of timber, he concealed himself close to the trail made by the drove of
horses, and lay in ambush for the two daring horsemen who had followed
him so far. Finally they appeared on the butte from where he had looked
back and saw them following him. For a long time they sat there scouring
the country before them in hopes that they might see some signs of their
stolen horses. Nothing could they see. Had they but known, their horses
were but a few hundred yards from them, but the thick timber securely
hid them from view. Finally one of them arose and pointed to the timber.
Then leaving his horse in charge of his friend, he descended the butte
and followed the trail of the drove to where they had entered the
timber. Little did he think that he was standing on the brink of
eternity. The young man hiding not more than a hundred yards from him
could have shot him there where he stood, but wanting to play fair, he
stepped into sight. When he did, the enemy took quick aim and fired. He
was too hasty. Had he taken more careful aim he might have killed our
young friend, but his bullet whizzed harmlessly over the young man's
head and buried itself in a tree. The young man took good aim and fired.
The enemy threw up both hands and fell forward on his face. The other
one on the hill, seeing his friend killed, hastily mounted his horse
and leading his friend's horse, made rapidly off down the butte in the
direction from whence he had come. Waiting for some time to be sure the
one who was alive did not come up and take a shot at him, he finally
advanced upon the fallen enemy and securing his gun, ammunition and
scalp, went to his horse and drove the herd on through the woods and
crossing a long flat prairie, ascended a long chain of hills and sat
looking back along his trail in search of any of the enemy who might
continue to follow him.
Thus he sat until the long shadows of the hills reminded him that it
would soon be sunset, and as he must get some sleep, he wanted to find
some creek bend where he could drive the bunch of ponies and feel safe
as to their not straying off during the night. He found a good place for
the herd, and catching a fresh horse, he picketed him close to where he
was going to sleep, and wrapping himself in his blanket, was soon fast
asleep. So tired and sleepy was he that a heavy rain which had come up,
during the night, soaked him through and through, but he never awakened
until the sun was high in the east.
He awoke and going to the place where he had left the herd, he was
glad to find them all there. He mounted his horse and started his herd
homeward again. For two days he drove them, and on the evening of the
second day he came in sight of the village.
The older warriors, hearing of the young man going on this trip alone
and unarmed, told the parents to go in mourning for their son, as he
would never come back alive. When the people of the village saw this
large drove of horses advancing towards them, they at first thought
it was a war party of the enemy, and so the head men called the young
warriors together and fully prepared for a great battle. They advanced
upon the supposed enemy. When they got close enough to discern a lone
horseman driving this large herd, they surrounded the horses and lone
warrior, and brought him triumphantly into camp. On arriving in the camp
(or village) the horses were counted and the number counted up to one
hundred and ten head.
The chief and his criers (or heralds) announced through the whole
village that there would be a great war dance given in honor of the Lone
The whole village turned out and had a great war dance that was kept
up three days and three nights. The two scalps which the young man had
taken were tied to a pole which was placed in the center of the dance
circle. At this dance, the Lone Warrior gave to each poor family five
head of horses.
Being considered eligible now to pay his respects to any girl who took
his fancy, he at once went to the camp of the beautiful girl of the
tribe, and as he was always her choice, she at once consented to marry
The news spread through the village that Lone Warrior had won the belle
of the nation for his bride, and this with the great feat which he had
accomplished alone in killing two enemies and bringing home a great herd
of horses, raised him to the rank of chief, which he faithfully filled
to the end of his days. And many times he had to tell his grandchildren
the story of how he got the name of the Lone Warrior.
THE SIOUX WHO MARRIED THE CROW CHIEF'S DAUGHTER
A war party of seven young men, seeing a lone tepee standing on the edge
of a heavy belt of timber, stopped and waited for darkness, in order to
send one of their scouts ahead to ascertain whether the camp which they
had seen was the camp of friend or enemy.
When darkness had settled down on them, and they felt secure in not
being detected, they chose one of their scouts to go on alone and find
out what would be the best direction for them to advance upon the camp,
should it prove to be an enemy.
Among the scouts was one who was noted for his bravery, and many were
the brave acts he had performed. His name was Big Eagle. This man they
selected to go to the lone camp and obtain the information for which
they were waiting.
Big Eagle was told to look carefully over the ground and select the best
direction from which they should make the attack. The other six would
await his return. He started on his mission, being careful not to make
any noise. He stealthily approached the camp. As he drew near to the
tent he was surprised to note the absence of any dogs, as these animals
are always kept by the Sioux to notify the owners by their barking of
the approach of anyone. He crawled up to the tepee door, and peeping
through a small aperture, he saw three persons sitting inside. An
elderly man and woman were sitting at the right of the fireplace, and a
young woman at the seat of honor, opposite the door.
Big Eagle had been married and his wife had died five winters previous
to the time of this episode. He had never thought of marrying again, but
when he looked upon this young woman he thought he was looking upon the
face of his dead wife. He removed his cartridge belts and knife, and
placing them, along with his rifle, at the side of the tent, he at once
boldly stepped inside the tepee, and going over to the man, extended his
hand and shook first the man's hand, then the old woman's, and lastly
the young woman's. Then he seated himself by the side of the girl, and
thus they sat, no one speaking.
Finally, Big Eagle made signs to the man, explaining as well as possible
by signs, that his wife had died long ago, and when he saw the girl she
so strongly resembled his dead wife that he wished to marry her, and
he would go back to the enemy's camp and live with them, if they would
consent to the marriage of their daughter.
The old man seemed to understand, and Big Eagle again made signs to him
that a party were lying in wait just a short distance from his camp.
Noiselessly they brought in the horses, and taking down the tent, they
at once moved off in the direction from whence they had come. The war
party waited all night, and when the first rays of dawn disclosed to
them the absence of the tepee, they at once concluded that Big Eagle had
been discovered and killed, so they hurriedly started on their trail for
In the meantime, the hunting party, for this it was that Big Eagle
had joined, made very good time in putting a good distance between
themselves and the war party. All day they traveled, and when evening
came they ascended a high hill, looking down into the valley on the
other side. There stretched for two miles, along the banks of a small
stream, an immense camp. The old man made signs for Big Eagle to remain
with the two women where he was, until he could go to the camp and
prepare them to receive an enemy into their village.
The old man rode through the camp and drew up at the largest tepee in
the village. Soon Big Eagle could see men gathering around the tepee.
The crowd grew larger and larger, until the whole village had assembled
at the large tepee. Finally they dispersed, and catching their horses,
mounted and advanced to the hill on which Big Eagle and the two women
were waiting. They formed a circle around them and slowly they returned
to the village, singing and riding in a circle around them.
When they arrived at the village they advanced to the large tepee, and
motioned Big Eagle to the seat of honor in the tepee. In the village was
a man who understood and spoke the Sioux language. He was sent for, and
through him the oath of allegiance to the Crow tribe was taken by Big
Eagle. This done he was presented with the girl to wife, and also with
many spotted ponies.
Big Eagle lived with his wife among her people for two years, and during
this time he joined in four different battles between his own people
(the Sioux) and the Crow people, to whom his wife belonged.
In no battle with his own people would he carry any weapons, only a long
willow coup-stick, with which he struck the fallen Sioux.
At the expiration of two years he concluded to pay a visit to his own
tribe, and his father-in-law, being a chief of high standing, at once
had it heralded through the village that his son-in-law would visit his
own people, and for them to show their good will and respect for him by
bringing ponies for his son-in-law to take back to his people.
Hearing this, the herds were all driven in and all day long horses were
brought to the tent of Big Eagle, and when he was ready to start on his
homeward trip, twenty young men were elected to accompany him to within
a safe distance of his village. The twenty young men drove the gift
horses, amounting to two hundred and twenty head, to within one day's
journey of the village of Big Eagle, and fearing for their safety from
his people, Big Eagle sent them back to their own village.
On his arrival at his home village, they received him as one returned
from the dead, as they were sure he had been killed the night he had
been sent to reconnoiter the lone camp. There was great feasting and
dancing in honor of his return, and the horses were distributed among
the needy ones of the village.
Remaining at his home village for a year, he one day made up his mind
to return to his wife's people. A great many fancy robes, dresses, war
bonnets, moccasins, and a great drove of horses were given him, and his
wife, and he bade farewell to his people for good, saying, "I will never
return to you again, as I have decided to live the remainder of my days
with my wife's people."
On his arrival at the village of the Crows, he found his father-in-law
at the point of death. A few days later the old man died, and Big Eagle
was appointed to fill the vacancy of chief made by the death of his
Subsequently he took part in battles against his own people, and in the
third battle was killed on the field. Tenderly the Crow warriors bore
him back to their camp, and great was the mourning in the Crow village
for the brave man who always went into battle unarmed, save only the
willow wand which he carried.
Thus ended the career of one of the bravest of Sioux warriors who ever
took the scalp of an enemy, and who for the love of his dead wife, gave
up home, parents, and friends, to be killed on the field of battle by
his own tribe.
THE BOY AND THE TURTLES
A boy went on a turtle hunt, and after following the different streams
for hours, finally came to the conclusion that the only place he would
find any turtles would be at the little lake, where the tribe always
So, leaving the stream he had been following, he cut across country to
the lake. On drawing near the lake he crawled on his hands and knees in
order not to be seen by the turtles, who were very watchful, as they had
been hunted so much. Peeping over the rock he saw a great many out on
the shore sunning themselves, so he very cautiously undressed, so
he could leap into the water and catch them before they secreted
themselves. But on pulling off his shirt one of his hands was held up
so high that the turtles saw it and jumped into the lake with a great
The boy ran to the shore, but saw only bubbles coming up from the
bottom. Directly the boy saw something coming to the surface, and soon
it came up into sight. It was a little man, and soon others, by the
hundreds, came up and swam about, splashing the water up into the air to
a great height. So scared was the boy that he never stopped to gather
up his clothes but ran home naked and fell into his grandmother's tent
"What is the trouble, grandchild," cried the old woman. But the boy
could not answer. "Did you see anything unnatural?" He shook his head,
"no." He made signs to the grandmother that his lungs were pressing so
hard against his sides that he could not talk. He kept beating his side
with his clenched hands. The grandmother got out her medicine bag,
made a prayer to the Great Spirit to drive out the evil spirit that had
entered her grandson's body, and after she had applied the medicine, the
prayer must have been heard and answered, as the boy commenced telling
her what he had heard and seen.
The grandmother went to the chief's tent and told what her grandson had
seen. The chief sent two brave warriors to the lake to ascertain whether
it was true or not. The two warriors crept to the little hill close to
the lake, and there, sure enough, the lake was swarming with little men
swimming about, splashing the water high up into the air. The warriors,
too, were scared and hurried home, and in the council called on their
return told what they had seen. The boy was brought to the council
and given the seat of honor (opposite the door), and was named "Wankan
Wanyanka" (sees holy).
The lake had formerly borne the name of Truth Lake, but from this time
on was called "Wicasa-bde"--Man Lake.
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