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Title: Blackfoot Lodge Tales
Author: Grinnell, George Bird, 1849-1938
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Blackfoot Lodge Tales" ***

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Blackfoot Lodge Tales

_The Story of a Prairie People_

















































We were sitting about the fire in the lodge on Two Medicine. Double Runner,
Small Leggings, Mad Wolf, and the Little Blackfoot were smoking and
talking, and I was writing in my note-book. As I put aside the book, and
reached out my hand for the pipe, Double Runner bent over and picked up a
scrap of printed paper, which had fallen to the ground. He looked at it for
a moment without speaking, and then, holding it up and calling me by name,

"_Pi-nut-ú-ye is-tsím-okan,_ this is education. Here is the difference
between you and me, between the Indians and the white people. You know what
this means. I do not. If I did know, I should be as smart as you. If all
my people knew, the white people would not always get the best of us."

"_Nísah_ (elder brother), your words are true. Therefore you ought to see
that your children go to school, so that they may get the white man's
knowledge. When they are men, they will have to trade with the white
people; and if they know nothing, they can never get rich. The times have
changed. It will never again be as it was when you and I were young."

"You say well, _Pi-nut-ú-ye is-tsím-okan,_ I have seen the days; and I know
it is so. The old things are passing away, and the children of my children
will be like white people. None of them will know how it used to be in
their father's days unless they read the things which we have told you, and
which you are all the time writing down in your books."

"They are all written down, _Nísah_, the story of the three tribes,
Sík-si-kau, Kaínah, and Pik[)u]ni."


The most shameful chapter of American history is that in which is recorded
the account of our dealings with the Indians. The story of our government's
intercourse with this race is an unbroken narrative of injustice, fraud,
and robbery. Our people have disregarded honesty and truth whenever they
have come in contact with the Indian, and he has had no rights because he
has never had the power to enforce any.

Protests against governmental swindling of these savages have been made
again and again, but such remonstrances attract no general
attention. Almost every one is ready to acknowledge that in the past the
Indians have been shamefully robbed, but it appears to be believed that
this no longer takes place. This is a great mistake. We treat them now much
as we have always treated them. Within two years, I have been present on a
reservation where government commissioners, by means of threats, by bribes
given to chiefs, and by casting fraudulently the votes of absentees,
succeeded after months of effort in securing votes enough to warrant them
in asserting that a tribe of Indians, entirely wild and totally ignorant of
farming, had consented to sell their lands, and to settle down each upon
160 acres of the most utterly arid and barren land to be found on the North
American continent. The fraud perpetrated on this tribe was as gross as
could be practised by one set of men upon another. In a similar way the
Southern Utes were recently induced to consent to give up their reservation
for another.

Americans are a conscientious people, yet they take no interest in these
frauds. They have the Anglo-Saxon spirit of fair play, which sympathizes
with weakness, yet no protest is made against the oppression which the
Indian suffers. They are generous; a famine in Ireland, Japan, or Russia
arouses the sympathy and calls forth the bounty of the nation, yet they
give no heed to the distress of the Indians, who are in the very midst of
them. They do not realize that Indians are human beings like themselves.

For this state of things there must be a reason, and this reason is to be
found, I believe, in the fact that practically no one has any personal
knowledge of the Indian race. The few who are acquainted with them are
neither writers nor public speakers, and for the most part would find it
easier to break a horse than to write a letter. If the general public knows
little of this race, those who legislate about them are equally
ignorant. From the congressional page who distributes the copies of a
pending bill, up through the representatives and senators who vote for it,
to the president whose signature makes the measure a law, all are entirely
unacquainted with this people or their needs.

Many stories about Indians have been written, some of which are interesting
and some, perhaps, true. All, however, have been written by civilized
people, and have thus of necessity been misleading. The reason for this is
plain. The white person who gives his idea of a story of Indian life
inevitably looks at things from the civilized point of view, and assigns to
the Indian such motives and feelings as govern the civilized man. But often
the feelings which lead an Indian to perform a particular action are not
those which would induce a white man to do the same thing, or if they are,
the train of reasoning which led up to the Indian's motive is not the
reasoning of the white man.

In a volume about the Pawnees,[1] I endeavored to show how Indians think
and feel by letting some of them tell their own stories in their own
fashion, and thus explain in their own way how they look at the every-day
occurrences of their life, what motives govern them, and how they reason.

[Footnote 1: Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales.]

In the present volume, I treat of another race of Indians in precisely the
same way. I give the Blackfoot stories as they have been told to me by the
Indians themselves, not elaborating nor adding to them. In all cases except
one they were written down as they fell from the lips of the storyteller.
Sometimes I have transposed a sentence or two, or have added a few words of
explanation; but the stories as here given are told in the words of the
original narrators as nearly as it is possible to render those words into
the simplest every-day English. These are Indians' stories, pictures of
Indian life drawn by Indian artists, and showing this life from the
Indian's point of view. Those who read these stories will have the
narratives just as they came to me from the lips of the Indians themselves;
and from the tales they can get a true notion of the real man who is
speaking. He is not the Indian of the newspapers, nor of the novel, nor of
the Eastern sentimentalist, nor of the Western boomer, but the real Indian
as he is in his daily life among his own people, his friends, where he is
not embarrassed by the presence of strangers, nor trying to produce
effects, but is himself--the true, natural man.

And when you are talking with your Indian friend, as you sit beside him and
smoke with him on the bare prairie during a halt in the day's march, or at
night lie at length about your lonely camp fire in the mountains, or form
one of a circle of feasters in his home lodge, you get very near to
nature. Some of the sentiments which he expresses may horrify your
civilized mind, but they are not unlike those which your own small boy
might utter. The Indian talks of blood and wounds and death in a
commonplace, matter-of-fact way that may startle you. But these things used
to be a part of his daily life; and even to-day you may sometimes hear a
dried-up, palsied survivor of the ancient wars cackle out his shrill laugh
when he tells as a merry jest, a bloodcurdling story of the torture he
inflicted on some enemy in the long ago.

I have elsewhere expressed my views on Indian character, the conclusions
founded on an acquaintance with this race extending over more than twenty
years, during which time I have met many tribes, with some of whom I have
lived on terms of the closest intimacy.

The Indian is a man, not very different from his white brother, except that
he is undeveloped. In his natural state he is kind and affectionate in his
family, is hospitable, honest and straightforward with his fellows,--a true
friend. If you are his guest, the best he has is at your disposal; if the
camp is starving, you will still have set before you your share of what
food there may be in the lodge. For his friend he will die, if need be. He
is glad to perform acts of kindness for those he likes. While travelling in
the heats of summer over long, waterless stretches of prairie, I have had
an Indian, who saw me suffering from thirst, leave me, without mentioning
his errand, and ride thirty miles to fetch me a canteen of cool water.

The Indian is intensely religious. No people pray more earnestly nor more
frequently. This is especially true of all Indians of the Plains.

The Indian has the mind and feelings of a child with the stature of a man;
and if this is clearly understood and considered, it will readily account
for much of the bad that we hear about him, and for many of the evil traits
which are commonly attributed to him. Civilized and educated, the Indian of
the better class is not less intelligent than the average white man, and he
has every capacity for becoming a good citizen.

This is the view held not only by myself, but by all of the many old
frontiersmen that I have known, who have had occasion to live much among
Indians, and by most experienced army officers. It was the view held by my
friend and schoolmate, the lamented Lieutenant Casey, whose good work in
transforming the fierce Northern Cheyennes into United States soldiers is
well known among all officers of the army, and whose sad death by an Indian
bullet has not yet, I believe, been forgotten by the public.

It is proper that something should be said as to how this book came to be

About ten years ago, Mr. J.W. Schultz of Montana, who was then living in
the Blackfoot camp, contributed to the columns of the _Forest and Stream_,
under the title "Life among the Blackfeet," a series of sketches of that
people. These papers seemed to me of unusual interest, and worthy a record
in a form more permanent than the columns of a newspaper; but no
opportunity was then presented for filling in the outlines given in them.

Shortly after this, I visited the Pi-k[)u]n-i tribe of the Black-feet, and
I have spent more or less time in their camps every year since. I have
learned to know well all their principal men, besides many of the Bloods
and the Blackfeet, and have devoted much time and effort to the work of
accumulating from their old men and best warriors the facts bearing on the
history, customs, and oral literature of the tribe, which are presented in
this volume.

In 1889 my book on the Pawnees was published, and seemed to arouse so much
interest in Indian life, from the Indian's standpoint, that I wrote to
Mr. Schultz, urging him, as I had often done before, to put his
observations in shape for publication, and offered to edit his work, and to
see it through the press. Mr. Schultz was unwilling to undertake this task,
and begged me to use all the material which I had gathered, and whatever he
could supply, in the preparation of a book about the Blackfeet.

A portion of the material contained in these pages was originally made
public by Mr. Schultz, and he was thus the discoverer of the literature of
the Blackfeet. My own investigations have made me familiar with all the
stories here recorded, from original sources, but some of them he first
published in the columns of the _Forest and Stream_. For this work he is
entitled to great credit, for it is most unusual to find any one living the
rough life beyond the frontier, and mingling in daily intercourse with
Indians, who has the intelligence to study their traditions, history, and
customs, and the industry to reduce his observations to writing.

Besides the invaluable assistance given me by Mr. Schultz, I acknowledge
with gratitude the kindly aid of Miss Cora M. Ross, one of the school
teachers at the Blackfoot agency, who has furnished me with a version of
the story of the origin of the Medicine Lodge; and of Mrs. Thomas Dawson,
who gave me help on the story of the Lost Children. William Jackson, an
educated half-breed, who did good service from 1874 to 1879, scouting under
Generals Custer and Miles, and William Russell, half-breed, at one time
government interpreter at the agency, have both given me valuable
assistance. The latter has always placed himself at my service, when I
needed an interpreter, while Mr. Jackson has been at great pains to assist
me in securing several tales which I might not otherwise have obtained, and
has helped me in many ways. The veteran prairie man, Mr. Hugh Monroe, and
his son, John Monroe, have also given me much information. Most of the
stories I owe to Blackfeet, Bloods, and Piegans of pure race. Some of these
men have died within the past few years, among them the kindly and
venerable Red Eagle; Almost-a-Dog, a noble old man who was regarded with
respect and affection by Indians and whites; and that matchless orator,
Four Bears. Others, still living, to whom I owe thanks, are Wolf Calf, Big
Nose, Heavy Runner, Young Bear Chief, Wolf Tail, Rabid Wolf, Running
Rabbit, White Calf, All-are-his-Children, Double Runner, Lone Medicine
Person, and many others.

The stories here given cover a wide range of subjects, but are fair
examples of the oral literature of the Blackfeet. They deal with religion,
the origin of things, the performances of medicine men, the bravery and
single-heartedness of warriors.

It will be observed that in more than one case two stories begin in the
same way, and for a few paragraphs are told in language which is almost
identical. In like manner it is often to be noted that in different stories
the same incidents occur. This is all natural enough, when it is remembered
that the range of the Indians' experiences is very narrow. The incidents
of camp life, of hunting and war excursions, do not offer a very wide
variety of conditions; and of course the stories of the people deal chiefly
with matters with which they are familiar. They are based on the every-day
life of the narrators.

The reader of these Blackfoot stories will not fail to notice many curious
resemblances to tales told among other distant and different peoples. Their
similarity to those current among the Ojibwas, and other Eastern Algonquin
tribes, is sufficiently obvious and altogether to be expected, nor is it at
all remarkable that we should find, among the Blackfeet, tales identical
with those told by tribes of different stock far to the south; but it is a
little startling to see in the story of the Worm Pipe a close parallel to
the classical myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In another of the stories is an
incident which might have been taken bodily from the Odyssey.

Well-equipped students of general folk-lore will find in these tales much
to interest them, and to such may be left the task of commenting on this




In those days there was a Piegan chief named Owl Bear. He was a great
chief, very brave and generous. One night he had a dream: he saw many dead
bodies of the enemy lying about, scalped, and he knew that he must go to
war. So he called out for a feast, and after the people had eaten, he

"I had a strong dream last night. I went to war against the Snakes, and
killed many of their warriors. So the signs are good, and I feel that I
must go. Let us have a big party now, and I will be the leader. We will
start to-morrow night."

Then he told two old men to go out in the camp and shout the news, so that
all might know. A big party was made up. Two hundred men, they say, went
with this chief to war. The first night they travelled only a little way,
for they were not used to walking, and soon got tired.

In the morning the chief got up early and went and made a sacrifice, and
when he came back to the others, some said, "Come now, tell us your dream
of this night."

"I dreamed good," said Owl Bear. "I had a good dream. We will have good

But many others said they had bad dreams. They saw blood running from their

Night came, and the party started on, travelling south, and keeping near
the foot-hills; and when daylight came, they stopped in thick pine woods
and built war lodges. They put up poles as for a lodge, and covered them
very thick with pine boughs, so they could build fires and cook, and no one
would see the light and smoke; and they all ate some of the food they
carried, and then went to sleep.

Again the chief had a good dream, but the others all had bad dreams, and
some talked about turning back; but Owl Bear laughed at them, and when
night came, all started on. So they travelled for some nights, and all
kept dreaming bad except the chief. He always had good dreams. One day
after a sleep, a person again asked Owl Bear if he dreamed good. "Yes," he
replied. "I have again dreamed of good luck."

"We still dream bad," the person said, "and now some of us are going to
turn back. We will go no further, for bad luck is surely ahead." "Go back!
go back!" said Owl Bear. "I think you are cowards; I want no cowards with
me." They did not speak again. Many of them turned around, and started
north, toward home.

Two more days' travel. Owl Bear and his warriors went on, and then another
party turned back, for they still had bad dreams. All the men now left with
him were his relations. All the others had turned back.

They travelled on, and travelled on, always having bad dreams, until they
came close to the Elk River.[1] Then the oldest relation said, "Come, my
chief, let us all turn back. We still have bad dreams. We cannot have good

[Footnote 1: Yellowstone River.]

"No," replied Owl Bear, "I will not turn back."

Then they were going to seize him and tie his hands, for they had talked of
this before. They thought to tie him and make him go back with them. Then
the chief got very angry. He put an arrow on his bow, and said: "Do not
touch me. You are my relations; but if any of you try to tie me, I will
kill you. Now I am ashamed. My relations are cowards and will turn back. I
have told you I have always dreamed good, and that we would have good luck.
Now I don't care; I am covered with shame. I am going now to the Snake camp
and will give them my body. I am ashamed. Go! go! and when you get home put
on women's dresses. You are no longer men."

They said no more. They turned back homeward, and the chief was all
alone. His heart was very sad as he travelled on, and he was much ashamed,
for his relations had left him.


Night was coming on. The sun had set and rain was beginning to fall. Owl
Bear looked around for some place where he could sleep dry. Close by he saw
a hole in the rocks. He got down on his hands and knees and crept in. Here
it was very dark. He could see nothing, so he crept very slowly, feeling as
he went. All at once his hand touched something strange. He felt of it. It
was a person's foot, and there was a moccasin on it. He stopped, and sat
still. Then he felt a little further. Yes, it was a person's leg. He could
feel the cowskin legging. Now he did not know what to do. He thought
perhaps it was a dead person; and again, he thought it might be one of his
relations, who had become ashamed and turned back after him.

Pretty soon he put his hand on the leg again and felt along up. He touched
the person's belly. It was warm. He felt of the breast, and could feel it
rise and fall as the breath came and went; and the heart was beating
fast. Still the person did not move. Maybe he was afraid. Perhaps he
thought that was a ghost feeling of him.

Owl Bear now knew this person was not dead. He thought he would try if he
could learn who the man was, for he was not afraid. His heart was sad. His
people and his relations had left him, and he had made up his mind to give
his body to the Snakes. So he began and felt all over the man,--of his
face, hair, robe, leggings, belt, weapons; and by and by he stopped feeling
of him. He could not tell whether it was one of his people or not.

Pretty soon the strange person sat up and felt all over Owl Bear; and when
he had finished, he took the Piegan's hand and opened it and held it up,
waving it from side to side, saying by signs, "Who are you?"

Owl Bear put his closed hand against the person's cheek and rubbed it; he
said in signs, "Piegan!" and then he asked the person who he was. A finger
was placed against his breast and moved across it _zigzag_. It was the sign
for "Snake."

"_Hai yah_!" thought Owl Bear, "a Snake, my enemy." For a long time he sat
still, thinking. By and by he drew his knife from his belt and placed it in
the Snake's hand, and signed, "Kill me!" He waited. He thought soon his
heart would be cut. He wanted to die. Why live? His people had left him.

Then the Snake took Owl Bear's hand and put a knife in it and motioned that
Owl Bear should cut his heart, but the Piegan would not do it. He lay down,
and the Snake lay down beside him. Maybe they slept. Likely not.

So the night went and morning came. It was light, and they crawled out of
the cave, and talked a long time together by signs. Owl Bear told the Snake
where he had come from, how his party had dreamed bad and left him, and
that he was going alone to give his body to the Snakes.

Then the Snake said: "_I_ was going to war, too. I was going against the
Piegans. Now I am done. Are you a chief?"

"I am the head chief," replied Owl Bear. "I lead. All the others follow."

"I am the same as you," said the Snake. "I am the chief. I like you. You
are brave. You gave me your knife to kill you with. How is your heart?
Shall the Snakes and the Piegans make peace?"

"Your words are good," replied Owl Bear. "I am glad."

"How many nights will it take you to go home and come back here with your
people?" asked the Snake.

Owl Bear thought and counted. "In twenty-five nights," he replied, "the
Piegans will camp down by that creek."

"My trail," said the Snake, "goes across the mountains. I will try to be
here in twenty-five nights, but I will camp with my people just behind that
first mountain. When you get here with the Piegans, come with one of your
wives and stay all night with me. In the morning the Snakes will move and
put up their lodges beside the Piegans."

"As you say," replied the chief, "so it shall be done." Then they built a
fire and cooked some meat and ate together.

"I am ashamed to go home," said Owl Bear. "I have taken no horses, no
scalps. Let me cut off your side locks?"

"Take them," said the Snake.

Owl Bear cut off the chiefs braids close to his head, and then the Snake
cut off the Piegan's braids. Then they exchanged clothes and weapons and
started out, the Piegan north, the Snake south.


"Owl Bear has come! Owl Bear has come!" the people were shouting.

The warriors rushed to his lodge. _Whish_! how quickly it was filled!
Hundreds stood outside, waiting to hear the news.

For a long time the chief did not speak. He was still angry with his
people. An old man was talking, telling the news of the camp. Owl Bear did
not look at him. He ate some food and rested. Many were in the lodge who
had started to war with him. They were now ashamed. They did not speak,
either, but kept looking at the fire. After a long time the chief said: "I
travelled on alone. I met a Snake. I took his scalp and clothes, and his
weapons. See, here is his scalp!" And he held up the two braids of hair.

No one spoke, but the chief saw them nudge each other and smile a little;
and soon they went out and said to one another: "What a lie! That is not an
enemy's scalp; there is no flesh on it He has robbed some dead person."

Some one told the chief what they said, but he only laughed and replied:--

"_I_ do not care. They were too much afraid even to go on and rob a dead
person. They should wear women's dresses."

Near sunset, Owl Bear called for a horse, and rode all through camp so
every one could hear, shouting out: "Listen! listen! To-morrow we move
camp. We travel south. The Piegans and Snakes are going to make peace. If
any one refuses to go, I will kill him. All must go."

Then an old medicine man came up to him and said: "_Kyi_, Owl Bear! listen
to me. Why talk like this? You know we are not afraid of the Snakes. Have
we not fought them and driven them out of this country? Do you think we are
afraid to go and meet them? No. We will go and make peace with them as you
say, and if they want to fight, we will fight. Now you are angry with those
who started to war with you. Don't be angry. Dreams belong to the Sun. He
gave them to us, so that we can see ahead and know what will happen. The
Piegans are not cowards. Their dreams told them to turn back. So do not be
angry with them any more."

"There is truth in what you say, old man," replied Owl Bear; "I will take
your words."


In those days the Piegans were a great tribe. When they travelled, if you
were with the head ones, you could not see the last ones, they were so far
back. They had more horses than they could count, so they used fresh horses
every day and travelled very fast. On the twenty-fourth day they reached
the place where Owl Bear had told the Snake they would camp, and put up
their lodges along the creek. Soon some young men came in, and said they
had seen some fresh horse trails up toward the mountain.

"It must be the Snakes," said the chief; "they have already arrived,
although there is yet one night." So he called one of his wives, and
getting on their horses they set out to find the Snake camp. They took the
trail up over the mountain, and soon came in sight of the lodges. It was a
big camp. Every open place in the valley was covered with lodges, and the
hills were dotted with horses; for the Snakes had a great many more horses
than the Piegans.

Some of the Snakes saw the Piegans coming, and they ran to the chief,
saying: "Two strangers are in sight, coming this way. What shall be done?"

"Do not harm them," replied the chief. "They are friends of mine. I have
been expecting them." Then the Snakes wondered, for the chief had told them
nothing about his war trip.

Now when Owl Bear had come to the camp, he asked in signs for the chiefs
lodge, and they pointed him to one in the middle. It was small and old. The
Piegan got off his horse, and the Snake chief came out and hugged him and
kissed him, and said: "I am glad you have come to-day to my lodge. So are
my people. You are tired. Enter my lodge and we will eat." So they went
inside and many of the Snakes came in, and they had a great feast.

Then the Snake chief told his people how he had met the Piegan, and how
brave he was, and that now they were going to make a great peace; and he
sent some men to tell the people, so that they would be ready to move camp
in the morning. Evening came. Everywhere people were shouting out for
feasts, and the chief took Owl Bear to them. It was very late when they
returned. Then the Snake had one of his wives make a bed at the back of the
lodge; and when it was ready he said: "Now, my friend, there is your
bed. This is now your lodge; also the woman who made the bed, she is now
your wife; also everything in this lodge is yours. The parfleches, saddles,
food, robes, bowls, everything is yours. I give them to you because you are
my friend and a brave man."

"You give me too much," replied Owl Bear. "I am ashamed, but I take your
words. I have nothing with me but one wife. She is yours."

Next morning camp was broken early. The horses were driven in, and the
Snake chief gave Owl Bear his whole band,--two hundred head, all large,
powerful horses.

All were now ready, and the chiefs started ahead. Close behind them were
all the warriors, hundreds and hundreds, and last came the women and
children, and the young men driving the loose horses. As they came in sight
of the Piegan camp, all the warriors started out to meet them, dressed in
their war costumes and singing the great war song. There was no wind, and
the sound came across the valley and up the hill like the noise of
thunder. Then the Snakes began to sing, and thus the two parties advanced.
At last they met. The Piegans turned and rode beside them, and so they came
to the camp. Then they got off their horses and kissed each other. Every
Piegan asked a Snake into his lodge to eat and rest, and the Snake women
put up their lodges beside the Piegan lodges. So the great peace was made.

In Owl Bear's lodge there was a great feast, and when they had finished he
said to his people: "Here is the man whose scalp I took. Did I say I killed
him? No. I gave him my knife and told him to kill me. He would not do it;
and he gave me his knife, but I would not kill him. So we talked together
what we should do, and now we have made peace. And now (turning to the
Snake) this is your lodge, also all the things in it. My horses, too, I
give you. All are yours."

So it was. The Piegan took the Snake's wife, lodge, and horses, and the
Snake took the Piegan's, and they camped side by side. All the people
camped together, and feasted each other and made presents. So the peace was


For many days they camped side by side. The young men kept hunting, and the
women were always busy drying meat and tanning robes and cowskins. Buffalo
were always close, and after a while the people had all the meat and robes
they could carry. Then, one day, the Snake chief said to Owl Bear: "Now, my
friend, we have camped a long time together, and I am glad we have made
peace. We have dug a hole in the ground, and in it we have put our anger
and covered it up, so there is no more war between us. And now I think it
time to go. To-morrow morning the Snakes break camp and go back south."

"Your words are good," replied Owl Bear. "I too am glad we have made this
peace. You say you must go south, and I feel lonesome. I would like you to
go with us so we could camp together a long time, but as you say, so it
shall be done. To-morrow you will start south. I too shall break camp, for
I would be lonesome here without you; and the Piegans will start in the
home direction."

The lodges were being taken down and packed. The men sat about the
fireplaces, taking a last smoke together.

They were now great friends. Many Snakes had married Piegan women, and many
Piegans had married Snake women. At last all was ready. The great chiefs
mounted their horses and started out, and soon both parties were strung out
on the trail.

Some young men, however, stayed behind to gamble a while. It was yet early
in the morning, and by riding fast it would not take them long to catch up
with their camps. All day they kept playing; and sometimes the Piegans
would win, and sometimes the Snakes.

It was now almost sunset. "Let us have one horse race," they said, "and we
will stop." Each side had a good horse, and they ran their best; but they
came in so close together it could not be told who won. The Snakes claimed
that their horse won, and the Piegans would not allow it. So they got
angry and began to quarrel, and pretty soon they began to fight and to
shoot at each other, and some were killed.

Since that time the Snakes and Piegans have never been at peace.



A long time ago the Blackfeet were camped on Backfat Creek. There was in
the camp a man who had but one wife, and he thought a great deal of her. He
never wanted to have two wives. As time passed they had a child, a little
girl. Along toward the end of the summer, this man's wife wanted to get
some berries, and she asked her husband to take her to a certain place
where berries grew, so that she could get some. The man said to his wife:
"At this time of the year, I do not like to go to that place to pick
berries. There are always Snake or Crow war parties travelling about
there." The woman wanted very much to go, and she coaxed her husband about
it a great deal; and at last he said he would go, and they started, and
many women followed them.

When they came to where the berries grew, the man said to his wife: "There
are the berries down in that ravine. You may go down there and pick them,
and I will go up on this hill and stand guard. If I see any one coming, I
will call out to you, and you must all get on your horses and run." So the
women went down to pick berries.

The man went up on the hill and sat down and looked over the country. After
a little time, he looked down into another ravine not far off, and saw that
it was full of horsemen coming. They started to gallop up towards him, and
he called out in a loud voice, "Run, run, the enemy is rushing on us." The
women started to run, and he jumped on his horse and followed them. The
enemy rushed after them, and he drew his bow and arrows, and got ready to
fight and defend the women. After they had gone a little way, the enemy had
gained so much that they were shooting at the Blackfeet with their arrows,
and the man was riding back and forth behind the women, and whipping up the
horses, now of one, now of another, to make them go faster. The enemy kept
getting closer, and at last they were so near that they were beginning to
thrust at him with their lances, and he was dodging them and throwing
himself down, now on one side of his horse, and then on the other.

At length he found that he could no longer defend all the women, so he made
up his mind to leave those that had the slowest horses to the mercy of the
enemy, while he would go on with those that had the faster ones. When he
found that he must leave the women, he was excited and rode on ahead; but
as he passed, he heard some one call out to him, "Don't leave me," and he
looked to one side, and saw that he was leaving his wife. When he heard his
wife call out thus to him, he said to her: "There is no life for me
here. You are a fine-looking woman. They will not kill you, but there is no
life for me." She answered: "No, take pity on me. Do not leave me. My horse
is giving out. Let us both get on one horse and then, if we are caught, we
will die together." When he heard this, his heart was touched and he said:
"No, wife, I will not leave you. Run up beside my horse and jump on behind
me." The enemy were now so near that they had killed or captured some of
the women, and they had come up close enough to the man so that they got
ready to hit at him with their war clubs. His horse was now wounded in
places with arrows, but it was a good, strong, fast horse.

His wife rode up close to him, and jumped on his horse behind him. When he
started to run with her, the enemy had come up on either side of him, and
some were behind him, but they were afraid to shoot their arrows for fear
of hitting their own people, so they struck at the man with their war
clubs. But they did not want to kill the woman, and they did not hurt
him. They reached out with their hands to try to pull the woman off the
horse; but she had put her arms around her husband and held on tight, and
they could not get her off, but they tore her clothing off her. As she held
her husband, he could not use his arrows, and could not fight to defend
himself. His horse was now going very slowly, and all the enemy had caught
up to them, and were all around them.

The man said to his wife: "Never mind, let them take you: they will not
kill you. You are too handsome a woman for them to kill you." His wife
said, "No, it is no harm for us both to die together." When he saw that his
wife would not get off the horse and that he could not fight, he said to
her: "Here, look out! You are crowding me on to the neck of the horse. Sit
further back." He began to edge himself back, and at last, when he got his
wife pretty far back on the horse, he gave a great push and shoved her off
behind. When she fell off, his horse had more speed and began to run away
from the enemy, and he would shoot back his arrows; and now, when they
would ride up to strike him with their hatchets, he would shoot them and
kill them, and they began to be afraid of him, and to edge away from
him. His horse was very long-winded; and now, as he was drawing away from
the enemy, there were only two who were yet able to keep up with him. The
rest were being left behind, and they stopped, and went back to where the
others had killed or captured the women; and now only two men were

After a little while, the Blackfoot jumped off his horse to fight on foot,
and the two enemies rode up on either side of him, but a long way off, and
jumped off their horses. When he saw the two on either side of him, he took
a sheaf of arrows in his hand and began to rush, first toward the one on
the right, and then toward the one on the left. As he did this, he saw that
one of the men, when he ran toward him and threatened to shoot, would draw
away from him, while the other would stand still. Then he knew that one of
them was a coward and the other a brave man. But all the time they were
closing in on him. When he saw that they were closing in on him, he made a
rush at the brave man. This one was shooting arrows all the time; but the
Blackfoot did not shoot until he got close to him, and then he shot an
arrow into him and ran up to him and hit him with his stone axe and killed
him. Then he turned to the cowardly one and ran at him. The man turned to
run, but the Blackfoot caught him and hit him with his axe and killed him.

After he had killed them, he scalped them and took their arrows, their
horses, and the stone knives that they had. Then he went home, and when he
rode into the camp he was crying over the loss of his wife. When he came to
his lodge and got off his horse, his friends went up to him and asked what
was the matter. He told them how all the women had been killed, and how he
had been pursued by two enemies, and had fought with them and killed them
both, and he showed them the arrows and the horses and the scalps. He told
the women's relations that they had all been killed; and all were in great
sorrow, and crying over the loss of their friends.

The next morning they held a council, and it was decided that a party
should go out and see where the battle had been, and find out what had
become of the women. When they got to the place, they found all the women
there dead, except this man's wife. Her they could not find. They also
found the two Indians that the man had said that he had killed, and,
besides, many others that he had killed when he was running away.


When he got back to the camp, this Blackfoot picked up his child and put it
on his back, and walked round the camp mourning and crying, and the child
crying, for four days and four nights, until he was exhausted and worn out,
and then he fell asleep. When the rest of the people saw him walking about
mourning, and that he would not eat nor drink, their hearts were very sore,
and they felt very sorry for him and for the child, for he was a man
greatly thought of by the people.

While he lay there asleep, the chief of the camp came to him and woke him,
and said: "Well, friend, what have you decided on? What is your mind? What
are you going to do?" The man answered: "My child is lonely. It will not
eat. It is crying for its mother. It will not notice any one. I am going
to look for my wife." The chief said, "I cannot say anything." He went
about to all the lodges and told the people that this man was going away to
seek his wife.

Now there was in the camp a strong medicine man, who was not married and
would not marry at all. He had said, "When I had my dream, it told me that
I must never have a wife." The man who had lost his wife had a very
beautiful sister, who had never married. She was very proud and very
handsome. Many men had wanted to marry her, but she would not have anything
to do with any man. The medicine man secretly loved this handsome girl, the
sister of the poor man. When he heard of this poor man's misfortune, the
medicine man was in great sorrow, and cried over it. He sent word to the
poor man, saying: "Go and tell this man that I have promised never to take
a wife, but that if he will give me his beautiful sister, he need not go to
look for his wife. I will send my secret helper in search of her."

When the young girl heard what this medicine man had said, she sent word to
him, saying, "Yes, if you bring my brother's wife home, and I see her
sitting here by his side, I will marry you, but not before." But she did
not mean what she said. She intended to deceive him in some way, and not to
marry him at all. When the girl sent this message to him, the medicine man
sent for her and her brother to come to his lodge. When they had come, he
spoke to the poor man and said, "If I bring your wife here, are you willing
to give me your sister for my wife?" The poor man answered, "Yes." But the
young girl kept quiet in his presence, and had nothing to say. Then the
medicine man said to them: "Go. To-night in the middle of the night you
will hear me sing." He sent everybody out of his lodge, and said to the
people: "I will close the door of my lodge, and I do not want any one to
come in to-night, nor to look through the door. A spirit will come to me
to-night." He made the people know, by a sign put out before the door of
his lodge, that no one must enter it, until such time as he was through
making his medicine. Then he built a fire, and began to get out all his
medicine. He unwrapped his bundle and took out his pipe and his rattles and
his other things. After a time, the fire burned down until it was only
coals and his lodge was dark, and on the fire he threw sweet-scented herbs,
sweet grass, and sweet pine, so as to draw his dream-helper to him.

Now in the middle of the night he was in the lodge singing, when suddenly
the people heard a strange voice in the lodge say: "Well, my chief, I have
come. What is it?" The medicine man said, "I want you to help me." The
voice said, "Yes, I know it, and I know what you want me to do." The
medicine man asked, "What is it?" The voice said, "You want me to go and
get a woman." The medicine man answered: "That is what I want. I want you
to go and get a woman--the lost woman." The voice said to him, "Did I not
tell you never to call me, unless you were in great need of my help?" The
medicine man answered, "Yes, but that girl that was never going to be
married is going to be given to me through your help." Then the voice
said, "Oh!" and it was silent for a little while. Then it went on and said:
"Well, we have a good feeling for you, and you have been a long time not
married; so we will help you to get that girl, and you will have her. Yes,
we have great pity on you. We will go and look for this woman, and will try
to find her, but I cannot promise you that we will bring her; but we will
try. We will go, and in four nights I will be back here again at this same
time, and I think that I can bring the woman; but I will not promise. While
I am gone, I will let you know how I get on. Now I am going away." And
then the people heard in the lodge a sound like a strong wind, and nothing
more. He was gone.

Some people went and told the sister what the medicine man and the voice
had been saying, and the girl was very down-hearted, and cried over the
idea that she must be married, and that she had been forced into it in this


When the dream person went away, he came late at night to the camp of the
Snakes, the enemy. The woman who had been captured was always crying over
the loss of her man and her child. She had another husband now. The man who
had captured her had taken her for his wife. As she was lying there, in her
husband's lodge, crying for sorrow for her loss, the dream person came to
her. Her husband was asleep. The dream-helper touched her and pushed her a
little, and she looked up and saw a person standing by her side; but she
did not know who it was. The person whispered in her ear, "Get up, I want
to take you home." She began to edge away from her husband, and at length
got up, and all the time the person was moving toward the door. She
followed him out, and saw him walk away from the lodge, and she went
after. The person kept ahead, and the woman followed him, and they went
away, travelling very fast. After they had travelled some distance, she
called out to the dream person to stop, for she was getting tired. Then the
person stopped, and when he saw the woman sitting, he would sit down, but
he would not talk to her.

As they travelled on, the woman, when she got tired, would sit down, and
because she was very tired, she would fall asleep; and when she awoke and
looked up, she always saw the person walking away from her, and she would
get up and follow him. When day came, the shape would be far ahead of her,
but at night it would keep closer. When she spoke to this person, the
woman would call him "young man." At one time she said to him, "Young man,
my moccasins are all worn out, and my feet are getting very sore, and I am
very tired and hungry." When she had said this, she sat down and fell
asleep, and as she was falling asleep, she saw the person going away from
her. He went back to the lodge of the medicine man.

During this night the camp heard the medicine man singing his song, and
they knew that the dream person must be back again, or that his chief must
be calling him. The medicine man had unwrapped his bundle, and had taken
out all his things, and again had a fire of coals, on which he burned sweet
pine and sweet grass. Those who were listening heard a voice say: "Well, my
chief, I am back again, and I am here to tell you something. I am bringing
the woman you sent me after. She is very hungry and has no moccasins. Get
me those things, and I will take them back to her." The medicine man went
out of the lodge, and called to the poor man, who was mourning for his
wife, that he wanted to see him. The man came, carrying the child on his
back, to hear what the medicine man had to say. He said to him: "Get some
moccasins and something to eat for your wife. I want to send them to
her. She is coming." The poor man went to his sister, and told her to give
him some moccasins and some pemmican. She made a bundle of these things,
and the man took them to the medicine man, who gave them to the dream
person; and again he disappeared out of the lodge like a wind.


When the woman awoke in the morning and started to get up, she hit her face
against a bundle lying by her, and when she opened it, she found in it
moccasins and some pemmican; and she put on the moccasins and ate, and
while she was putting on the moccasins and eating, she looked over to where
she had last seen the person, and he was sitting there with his back toward
her. She could never see his face. When she had finished eating, he got up
and went on, and she rose and followed. They went on, and the woman
thought, "Now I have travelled two days and two nights with this young man,
and I wonder what kind of a man he is. He seems to take no notice of me."
So she made up her mind to walk fast and to try to overtake him, and see
what sort of a man he was. She started to do so, but however fast she
walked, it made no difference. She could not overtake him. Whether she
walked fast, or whether she walked slow, he was always the same distance
from her. They travelled on until night, and then she lay down again and
fell asleep. She dreamed that the young man had left her again.

The dream person had really left her, and had gone back to the medicine
man's lodge, and said to him: "Well, my chief, I am back again. I am
bringing the woman. You must tell this poor man to get on his horse, and
ride back toward Milk River (the Teton). Let him go in among the high hills
on this side of the Muddy, and let him wait there until daylight, and look
toward the hills of Milk River; and after the sun is up a little way, he
will see a band of antelope running toward him, along the trail that the
Blackfeet travel. It will be his wife who has frightened these
antelope. Let him wait there for a while, and he will see a person
coming. This will be his wife. Then let him go to meet her, for she has no
moccasins. She will be glad to see him, for she is crying all the time."

The medicine man told the poor man this, and he got on his horse and
started, as he had been told. He could not believe that it was true. But he
went. At last he got to the place, and a little while after the sun had
risen, as he was lying on a hill looking toward the hills of the Milk
River, he saw a band of antelope running toward him, as he had been told he
would see. He lay there for a long time, but saw nothing else come in
sight; and finally he got angry and thought that what had been told him was
a lie, and he got up to mount his horse and ride back. Just then he saw,
away down, far off on the prairie, a small black speck, but he did not
think it was moving, it was so far off,--barely to be seen. He thought
maybe it was a rock. He lay down again and took sight on the speck by a
straw of grass in front of him, and looked for a long time, and after a
while he saw the speck pass the straw, and then he knew it was
something. He got on his horse and started to ride up and find out what it
was, riding way around it, through the hills and ravines, so that he would
not be seen. He rode up in a ravine behind it, pretty near to it, and then
he could see it was a person on foot. He got out his bow and arrows and
held them ready to use, and then started to ride up to it. He rode toward
the person, and at last he got near enough to see that it was his
wife. When he saw this, he could not help crying; and as he rode up, the
woman looked back, and knew first the horse, and then her husband, and she
was so glad that she fell down and knew nothing.

After she had come to herself and they had talked together, they got on the
horse and rode off toward camp. When he came over the hill in sight of
camp, all the people began to say, "Here comes the man"; and at last they
could see from a distance that he had some one on the horse behind him, and
they knew that it must be his wife, and they were glad to see him bringing
her back, for he was a man thought a great deal of, and everybody liked him
and liked his wife and the way he was kind to her.

Then the handsome girl was given to the medicine man and became his wife.



Once the camp moved, but one lodge stayed. It belonged to Wolf Tail; and
Wolf Tail's younger brother, Bull Turns Round, lived with him. Now their
father loved both his sons, but he loved the younger one most, and when he
went away with the big camp, he said to Wolf Tail: "Take care of your young
brother; he is not yet a strong person. Watch him that nothing befall him."

One day Wolf Tail was out hunting, and Bull Turns Round sat in front of the
lodge making arrows, and a beautiful strange bird lit on the ground before
him. Then cried one of Wolf Tail's wives, "Oh, brother, shoot that little
bird." "Don't bother me, sister," he replied, "I am making arrows." Again
the woman said, "Oh, brother, shoot that bird for me." Then Bull Turns
Round fitted an arrow to his bow and shot the bird, and the woman went and
picked it up and stroked her face with it, and her face swelled up so big
that her eyes and nose could not be seen. But when Bull Turns Round had
shot the bird, he went off hunting and did not know what had happened to
the woman's face.

Now when Wolf Tail came home and saw his wife's face, he said, "What is the
matter?" and his wife replied: "Your brother has pounded me so that I
cannot see. Go now and kill him." But Wolf Tail said, "No, I love my
brother; I cannot kill him." Then his wife cried and said: "I know you do
not love me; you are glad your brother has beaten me. If you loved me, you
would go and kill him."

Then Wolf Tail went out and looked for his brother, and when he had found
him, he said: "Come, let us get some feathers. I know where there is an
eagle's nest;" and he took him to a high cliff, which overhung the river,
and on the edge of this cliff was a dead tree, in the top of which the
eagles had built their nest. Then said Wolf Tail, "Climb up, brother, and
kill the eagles;" and when Bull Turns Round had climbed nearly to the top,
Wolf Tail called out, "I am going to push the tree over the cliff, and you
will be killed."

"Oh, brother! oh, brother! pity me; do not kill me," said Bull Turns Round.

"Why did you beat my wife's face so?" said Wolf Tail.

"I didn't," cried the boy; "I don't know what you are talking about."

"You lie," said Wolf Tail, and he pushed the tree over the cliff. He looked
over and saw his brother fall into the water, and he did not come up
again. Then Wolf Tail went home and took down his lodge, and went to the
main camp. When his father saw him coming with only his wives, he said to
him, "Where is your young brother?" And Wolf Tail replied: "He went hunting
and did not come back. We waited four days for him. I think the bears must
have killed him."


Now when Bull Turns Round fell into the river, he was stunned, and the
water carried him a long way down the stream and finally lodged him on a
sand shoal. Near this shoal was a lodge of Under Water People
(_S[=u]'-y[=e]-t[)u]p'-pi_), an old man, his wife, and two daughters. This
old man was very rich: he had great flocks of geese, swans, ducks, and
other water-fowl, and a big herd of buffalo which were tame. These buffalo
always fed near by, and the old man called them every evening to come and
drink. But he and his family ate none of these. Their only food was the

[Footnote 1: Blackfoot--_Est'-st[)u]k-ki_, suck-bite; from _Est-ah-tope_,
suck, and _I-sik-st[)u]k-ki_, bite.]

Now the old man's daughters were swimming about in the evening, and they
found Bull Turns Round lying on the shoal, dead, and they went home and
told their father, and begged him to bring the person to life, and give him
to them for a husband. "Go, my daughters," he said, "and make four sweat
lodges, and I will bring the person." He went and got Bull Turns Round, and
when the sweat lodges were finished, the old man took him into one of them,
and when he had sprinkled water on the hot rocks, he scraped a great
quantity of sand off Bull Turns Round. Then he took him into another lodge
and did the same thing, and when he had taken him into the fourth sweat
lodge and scraped all the sand off him, Bull Turns Round came to life, and
the old man led him out and gave him to his daughters. And the old man gave
his son-in-law a new lodge and bows and arrows, and many good presents.

Then the women cooked some bloodsuckers, and gave them to their husband,
but when he smelled of them he could not eat, and he threw them in the
fire. Then his wives asked him what he would eat. "Buffalo," he replied,
"is the only meat for men."

"Oh, father!" cried the girls, running to the old man's lodge, "our husband
will not eat our food. He says buffalo is the only meat for men."

"Go then, my daughters," said the old man, "and tell your husband to kill a
buffalo, but do not take nor break any bones, for I will make it alive
again." Then the old man called the buffalo to come and drink, and Bull
Turns Round shot a fat cow and took all the meat. And when he had roasted
the tongue, he gave each of his wives a small piece of it, and they liked
it, and they roasted and ate plenty of the meat.


One day Bull Turns Round went to the old man and said, "I mourn for my

"How did you come to be dead on the sand shoal?" asked the old man. Then
Bull Turns Round told what his brother had done to him.

"Take this piece of sinew," said the old man. "Go and see your father. When
you throw this sinew on the fire, your brother and his wife will roll, and
twist up and die." Then the old man gave him a herd of buffalo, and many
dogs to pack the lodge, and other things; and Bull Turns Round took his
wives, and went to find his father.

One day, just after sunset, they came in sight of the big camp, and they
went and pitched the lodge on the top of a very high butte; and the buffalo
fed close by, and there were so many of them that they covered the whole

Now the people were starving, and some had died, for they had no
buffalo. In the morning, early, a man arose whose son had starved to death,
and when he went out and saw this lodge on the top of the hill, and all the
buffalo feeding by it, he cried out in a loud voice; and the people all
came out and looked at it, and they were afraid, for they thought it was
_St[=o]n'-i-t[)a]p-i_.[1] Then said the man whose son had died: "I am no
longer glad to live. I will go up to this lodge, and find out what this
is." Now when he said this, all the men grasped their bows and arrows and
followed him, and when they went up the hill, the buffalo just moved out of
their path and kept on feeding; and just as they came to the lodge, Bull
Turns Round came out, and all the people said, "Here is the one whom we
thought the bears had killed." Wolf Tail ran up, and said, "Oh, brother,
you are not dead. You went to get feathers, but we thought you had been
killed." Then Bull Turns Round called his brother into the lodge, and he
threw the sinew on the fire; and Wolf Tail, and his wife, who was standing
outside, twisted up and died.

[Footnote 1: There is no word in English which corresponds to this. It is
used when speaking of things wonderful or supernatural.]

Then Bull Turns Round told his father all that had happened to him; and
when he learned that the people were starving, he filled his mouth with
feathers and blew them out, and the buffalo ran off in every direction, and
he said to the people, "There is food, go chase it." Then the people were
very glad, and they came each one and gave him a present. They gave him
war shirts, bows and arrows, shields, spears, white robes, and many curious


Long ago, down where Two Medicine and Badger Creeks come together, there
lived an old man. He had but one wife and two daughters. One day there came
to his camp a young man who was very brave and a great hunter. The old man
said: "Ah! I will have this young man to help me. I will give him my
daughters for wives." So he gave him his daughters. He also gave this
son-in-law all his wealth, keeping for himself only a little lodge, in
which he lived with his old wife. The son-in-law lived in a lodge that was
big and fine.

At first the son-in-law was very good to the old people. Whenever he
killed anything, he gave them part of the meat, and furnished plenty of
robes and skins for their bedding and clothing. But after a while he began
to be very mean to them.

Now the son-in-law kept the buffalo hidden under a big log jam in the
river. Whenever he wanted to kill anything, he would have the old man go to
help him; and the old man would stamp on the log jam and frighten the
buffalo, and when they ran out, the young man would shoot one or two, never
killing wastefully. But often he gave the old people nothing to eat, and
they were hungry all the time, and began to grow thin and weak.

One morning, the young man called his father-in-law to go down to the log
jam and hunt with him. They started, and the young man killed a fat buffalo
cow. Then he said to the old man, "Hurry back now, and tell your children
to get the dogs and carry this meat home, then you can have something to
eat." And the old man did as he had been ordered, thinking to himself:
"Now, at last, my son-in-law has taken pity on me. He will give me part of
this meat." When he returned with the dogs, they skinned the cow, cut up
the meat and packed it on the dog travois, and went home. Then the young
man had his wives unload it, and told his father-in-law to go home. He did
not give him even a piece of liver. Neither would the older daughter give
her parents anything to eat, but the younger took pity on the old people
and stole a piece of meat, and when she got a chance threw it into the
lodge to the old people. The son-in-law told his wives not to give the old
people anything to eat. The only way they got food was when the younger
woman would throw them a piece of meat unseen by her husband and sister.

Another morning, the son-in-law got up early, and went and kicked on the
old man's lodge to wake him, and called him to get up and help him, to go
and pound on the log jam to drive out the buffalo, so that he could kill
some. When the old man pounded on the jam, a buffalo ran out, and the
son-in-law shot it, but only wounded it. It ran away, but at last fell down
and died. The old man followed it, and came to where it had lost a big clot
of blood from its wound. When he came to where this clot of blood was lying
on the ground, he stumbled and fell, and spilled his arrows out of his
quiver; and while he was picking them up, he picked up also the clot of
blood, and hid it in his quiver. "What are you picking up?" called out the
son-in-law. "Nothing," said the old man; "I just fell down and spilled my
arrows, and am putting them back." "Curse you, old man," said the
son-in-law, "you are lazy and useless. Go back and tell your children to
come with the dogs and get this dead buffalo." He also took away his bow
and arrows from the old man.

The old man went home and told his daughters, and then went over to his own
lodge, and said to his wife: "Hurry now, and put the kettle on the fire. I
have brought home something from the butchering." "Ah!" said the old woman,
"has our son-in-law been generous, and given us something nice?" "No,"
answered the old man; "hurry up and put the kettle on." When the water
began to boil, the old man tipped his quiver up over the kettle, and
immediately there came from the pot a noise as of a child crying, as if it
were being hurt, burnt or scalded. They looked in the kettle, and saw there
a little boy, and they quickly took it out of the water. They were very
much surprised. The old woman made a lashing to put the child in, and then
they talked about it. They decided that if the son-in-law knew that it was
a boy, he would kill it, so they resolved to tell their daughters that the
baby was a girl. Then he would be glad, for he would think that after a
while he would have it for a wife. They named the child K[)u]t-o'-yis (Clot
of Blood).

The son-in-law and his wives came home, and after a while he heard the
child crying. He told his youngest wife to go and find out whether that
baby was a boy or a girl; if it was a boy, to tell them to kill it. She
came back and told them that it was a girl. He did not believe this, and
sent his oldest wife to find out the truth of the matter. When she came
back and told him the same thing, he believed that it was really a
girl. Then he was glad, for he thought that when the child had grown up he
would have another wife. He said to his youngest wife, "Take some pemmican
over to your mother; not much, just enough so that there will be plenty of
milk for the child."

Now on the fourth day the child spoke, and said, "Lash me in turn to each
one of these lodge poles, and when I get to the last one, I will fall out
of my lashing and be grown up." The old woman did so, and as she lashed
him to each lodge pole he could be seen to grow, and finally when they
lashed him to the last pole, he was a man. After K[)u]t-o'-yis had looked
about the inside of the lodge, he looked out through a hole in the lodge
covering, and then, turning round, he said to the old people: "How is it
there is nothing to eat in this lodge? I see plenty of food over by the
other lodge." "Hush up," said the old woman, "you will be heard. That is
our son-in-law. He does not give us anything at all to eat." "Well," said
K[)u]t-o'-yis, "where is your pis'kun?" The old woman said, "It is down by
the river. We pound on it and the buffalo come out."

Then the old man told him how his son-in-law abused him. "He has taken my
weapons from me, and even my dogs; and for many days we have had nothing to
eat, except now and then a small piece of meat our daughter steals for us."

"Father," said K[)u]t-o'-yis, "have you no arrows?" "No, my son," he
replied; "but I have yet four stone points."

"Go out then and get some wood," said K[)u]t-o'-yis. "We will make a bow
and arrows. In the morning we will go down and kill something to eat."

Early in the morning K[)u]t-o'-yis woke the old man, and said, "Come, we
will go down now and kill when the buffalo come out." When they had reached
the river, the old man said: "Here is the place to stand and shoot. I will
go down and drive them out." As he pounded on the jam, a fat cow ran out,
and K[)u]t-o'-yis killed it.

Meantime the son-in-law had gone out, and as usual knocked on the old man's
lodge, and called to him to get up and go down to help him kill. The old
woman called to him that her husband had already gone down. This made the
son-in-law very angry. He said: "I have a good mind to kill you right now,
old woman. I guess I will by and by."

The son-in-law went on down to the jam, and as he drew near, he saw the old
man bending over, skinning a buffalo. "Old man," said he, "stand up and
look all around you. Look well, for it will be your last look." Now when
he had seen the son-in-law coming, K[)u]t-o'-yis had lain down and hidden
himself behind the buffalo's carcass. He told the old man to say to his
son-in-law, "You had better take your last look, for I am going to kill
you, right now." The old man said this. "Ah!" said the son-in-law, "you
make me angrier still, by talking back to me." He put an arrow to his bow
and shot at the old man, but did not hit him. K[)u]t-o'-yis told the old
man to pick up the arrow and shoot it back at him, and he did so. Now they
shot at each other four times, and then the old man said to K[)u]t-o'-yis:
"I am afraid now. Get up and help me." So K[)u]t-o'-yis got up on his feet
and said: "Here, what are you doing? I think you have been badly treating
this old man for a long time."

Then the son-in-law smiled pleasantly, for he was afraid of
K[)u]t-o'-yis. "Oh, no," he said, "no one thinks more of this old man than
I do. I have always taken great pity on him."

Then K[)u]t-o'-yis said: "You lie. I am going to kill you now." He shot him
four times, and the man died. Then K[)u]t-o'-yis told the old man to go and
bring down the daughter who had acted badly toward him. He did so, and
K[)u]t-o'-yis killed her. Then he went up to the lodges and said to the
younger woman, "Perhaps you loved your husband." "Yes," she said, "I love
him." So he killed her, too. Then he said to the old people: "Go over there
now, and live in that lodge. There is plenty there to eat, and when it is
gone I will kill more. As for myself, I will make a journey around
about. Where are there any people? In what direction?" "Well," said the old
man, "up above here on Badger Creek and Two Medicine, where the pis'kun is,
there are some people."

K[)u]t-o'-yis went up to where the pis'kun was, and saw there many lodges
of people. In the centre of the camp was a large lodge, with a figure of a
bear painted on it. He did not go into this lodge, but went into a very
small one near by, where two old women lived; and when he went in, he asked
them for something to eat. They set before him some lean dried meat and
some belly fat. "How is this?" he asked. "Here is a pis'kun with plenty of
fat meat and back fat. Why do you not give me some of that?" "Hush," said
the old women. "In that big lodge near by, lives a big bear and his wives
and children. He takes all those nice things and leaves us nothing. He is
the chief of this place."

Early in the morning, K[)u]t-o'-yis told the old women to get their dog
travois, and harness it, and go over to the pis'kun, and that he was going
to kill for them some fat meat. He reached there just about the time the
buffalo were being driven in, and shot a cow, which looked very scabby, but
was really very fat. Then he helped the old women to butcher, and when they
had taken the meat to camp, he said to them, "Now take all the choice fat
pieces, and hang them up so that those who live in the bear lodge will
notice them."

They did this, and pretty soon the old chief bear said to his children: "Go
out now, and look around. The people have finished killing by this
time. See where the nicest pieces are, and bring in some nice back fat." A
young bear went out of the lodge, stood up and looked around, and when it
saw this meat close by, at the old women's lodge, it went over and began to
pull it down. "Hold on there," said K[)u]t-o'-yis. "What are you doing
here, taking the old women's meat?" and he hit him over the head with a
stick that he had. The young bear ran home crying, and said to his father,
"A young man has hit me on the head." Then all the bears, the father and
mother, and uncles and aunts, and all the relations, were very angry, and
all rushed out toward the old women's lodge.

K[)u]t-o'-yis killed them all, except one little child bear, a female,
which escaped. "Well," said K[)u]t-o'-yis, "you can go and breed bears, so
there will be more."

Then said K[)u]t-o'-yis to the old women: "Now, grand-mothers, where are
there any more people? I want to travel around and see them." The old women
said: "The nearest ones are at the point of rocks (on Sun River). There is
a pis'kun there." So K[)u]t-o'-yis travelled off toward this place, and
when he reached the camp, he entered an old woman's lodge.

The old woman set before him a plate of bad food. "How is this?" he
asked. "Have you nothing better than this to set before a stranger? You
have a pis'kun down there, and must get plenty of fat meat. Give me some
pemmican." "We cannot do that," the old woman replied, "because there is a
big snake here, who is chief of the camp. He not only takes the best
pieces, but often he eats a handsome young woman, when he sees one." When
K[)u]t-o'-yis heard this he was angry, and went over and entered the
snake's lodge. The women were cooking up some sarvis berries. He picked up
the dish, and ate the berries, and threw the dish out of the door. Then he
went over to where the snake was lying asleep, pricked him with his knife,
and said: "Here, get up. I have come to see you." This made the snake
angry. He partly raised himself up and began to rattle, when K[)u]t-o'-yis
cut him into pieces with his knife. Then he turned around and killed all
his wives and children, except one little female snake, which escaped by
crawling into a crack in the rocks. "Oh, well," said K[)u]t-o'-yis, "you
can go and breed young snakes, so there will be more. The people will not
be afraid of little snakes." K[)u]t-o'-yis said to the old woman, "Now you
go into this snake's lodge and take it for yourself, and everything that is
in it."

Then he asked them where there were some more people. They told him that
there were some people down the river, and some up in the mountains. But
they said: "Do not go there, for it is bad, because Ai-sin'-o-ko-ki (Wind
Sucker) lives there. He will kill you." It pleased K[)u]t-o'-yis to know
that there was such a person, and he went to the mountains. When he got to
the place where Wind Sucker lived, he looked into his mouth, and could see
many dead people there,--some skeletons and some just dead. He went in, and
there he saw a fearful sight. The ground was white as snow with the bones
of those who had died. There were bodies with flesh on them; some were just
dead, and some still living. He spoke to a living person, and asked, "What
is that hanging down above us?" The person answered that it was Wind
Sucker's heart. Then said K[)u]t-o'-yis: "You who still draw a little
breath, try to shake your heads (in time to the song), and those who are
still able to move, get up and dance. Take courage now, we are going to
have the ghost dance." So K[)u]t-o'-yis bound his knife, point upward, to
the top of his head and began to dance, singing the ghost song, and all the
others danced with him; and as he danced up and down, the point of the
knife cut Wind Sucker's heart and killed him. K[)u]t-o'-yis took his knife
and cut through Wind Sucker's ribs, and freed those who were able to crawl
out, and said to those who could still travel to go and tell their people
that they should come here for the ones who were still alive but unable to

Then he asked some of these people: "Where are there any other people? I
want to visit all the people." They said to him: "There is a camp to the
westward up the river, but you must not take the left-hand trail going up,
because on that trail lives a woman, a handsome woman, who invites men to
wrestle with her and then kills them. You must avoid her." This was what
K[)u]t-o'-yis was looking for. This was his business in the world, to kill
off all the bad things. So he asked the people just where this woman lived,
and asked where it was best to go to avoid her. He did this, because he did
not wish the people to know that he wanted to meet her.

He started on his way, and at length saw this woman standing by the
trail. She called out to him, "Come here, young man, come here; I want to
wrestle with you." "No," replied the young man, "I am in a hurry. I cannot
stop." But the woman called again, "No, no, come now and wrestle once with
me." When she had called him four times, K[)u]t-o'-yis went up to her. Now
on the ground, where this woman wrestled with people, she had placed many
broken and sharp flints, partly hiding them by the grass. They seized each
other, and began to wrestle over these broken flints, but K[)u]t-o'-yis
looked at the ground and did not step on them. He watched his chance, and
suddenly gave the woman a wrench, and threw her down on a large sharp
flint, which cut her in two; and the parts of her body fell asunder.

Then K[)u]t-o'-yis went on, and after a while came to where a woman kept a
sliding place; and at the far end of it there was a rope, which would trip
people up, and when they were tripped, they would fall over a high cliff
into deep water, where a great fish would eat them. When this woman saw him
coming, she cried out, "Come over here, young man, and slide with me."
"No," he replied, "I am in a hurry." She kept calling him, and when she
had called the fourth time, he went over to slide with her. "This sliding,"
said the woman, "is a very pleasant pastime." "Ah!" said K[)u]t-o'-yis, "I
will look at it." He looked at the place, and, looking carefully, he saw
the hidden rope. So he started to slide, and took out his knife, and when
he reached the rope, which the woman had raised, he cut it, and when it
parted, the woman fell over backward into the water, and was eaten up by
the big fish.

Again he went on, and after a while he came to a big camp. This was the
place of a man-eater. K[)u]t-o'-yis called a little girl he saw near by,
and said to her: "Child, I am going into that lodge to let that man-eater
kill and eat me. Watch close, therefore, and when you can get hold of one
of my bones, take it out and call all the dogs, and when they have all come
up to you, throw it down and cry out, 'K[)u]t-o'-yis, the dogs are eating
your bones!'"

Then K[)u]t-o'-yis entered the lodge, and when the man-eater saw him, he
cried out, "_O'ki, O'ki,"_ and seemed glad to see him, for he was a fat
young man. The man-eater took a large knife, and went up to K[)u]t-o'-yis,
and cut his throat, and put him into a great stone kettle to cook. When the
meat was cooked, he drew the kettle from the fire, and ate the body, limb
by limb, until it was all eaten up.

Then the little girl, who was watching, came up to him, and said, "Pity me,
man-eater, my mother is hungry and asks you for those bones." So the old
man bunched them up together and handed them to her. She took them out, and
called all the dogs to her, and threw the bones down to the dogs, crying
out, "Look out, K[)u]t-o'-yis; the dogs are eating you!" and when she said
that, K[)u]t-o'-yis arose from the pile of bones.

Again he went into the lodge, and when the man-eater saw him, he cried out,
"How, how, how! the fat young man has survived," and seemed
surprised. Again he took his knife and cut K[)u]t-o'-yis' throat, and threw
him into the kettle. Again, when the meat was cooked, he ate it up, and
again the little girl asked for the bones, which he gave her; and, taking
them out, she threw them to the dogs, crying, "K[)u]t-o'-yis, the dogs are
eating you!" and K[)u]t-o'-yis again arose from the bones.

When the man-eater had cooked him four times, he again went into the lodge,
and, seizing the man-eater, he threw him into the boiling kettle, and his
wives and children too, and boiled them to death.

The man-eater was the seventh and last of the bad animals and people who
were destroyed by K[)u]t-o'-yis.



There was once a man who had but one wife. He was not a chief, but a very
brave warrior. He was rich, too, so he could have had plenty of wives if he
wished; but he loved his wife very much, and did not want any more. He was
very good to this woman. She always wore the best clothes that could be
found. If any other woman had a fine buckskin dress, or something very
pretty, the man would buy it for her.

It was summer. The berries were ripe, and the woman kept saying to her
husband, "Let us go and pick some berries for winter." "No," replied the
man. "It is dangerous now. The enemy is travelling all around." But still
the woman kept teasing him to go. So one day he told her to get ready. Some
other women went, too. They all went on horseback, for the berries were a
long way from camp. When they got to the place, the man told the women to
keep near their horses all the time. He would go up on a butte near by and
watch. "Be careful," he said. "Keep by your horses, and if you see me
signal, throw away your berries, get on your horses and ride towards camp
as fast as you can."

They had not picked many berries before the man saw a war party coming. He
signalled the women, and got on his horse and rode towards them. It
happened that this man and his wife both had good horses, but the others,
all old women, rode slow old travois horses, and the enemy soon overtook
and killed them. Many kept on after the two on good horses, and after a
while the woman's horse began to get tired; so she asked her husband to let
her ride on his horse with him. The woman got up behind him, and they went
on again. The horse was a very powerful one, and for a while went very
fast; but two persons make a heavy load, and soon the enemy began to gain
on them. The man was now in a bad plight; the enemy were overtaking him,
and the woman holding him bound his arms so that he could not use his bow.

"Get off," he said to her. "The enemy will not kill you. You are too young
and pretty. Some one of them will take you, and I will get a big party of
our people and rescue you."

"No, no," cried the woman; "let us die here together."

"Why die?" cried the man. "We are yet young, and may live a long time
together. If you don't get off, they will soon catch us and kill me, and
then they will take you anyhow. Get off, and in only a short time I will
get you back."

"No, no," again cried the woman; "I will die here with you."

"Crazy person!" cried the man, and with a quick jerk he threw the woman

As he said, the enemy did not kill her. The first one who came up counted
_coup_ and took her. The man, now that his horse was lightened, easily ran
away from the war party, and got safe to camp.


Then there was great mourning. The relatives of the old women who had been
killed, cut their hair and cried. The man, too, cut off his hair and
mourned. He knew that his wife was not killed, but he felt very badly
because he was separated from her. He painted himself black, and walked all
through the camp, crying. His wife had many relations, and some of them
went to the man and said: "We pity you very much. We mourn, too, for our
sister. But come. Take courage. We will go with you, and try to get her

"It is good," replied the man. "I feel as if I should die, stopping
uselessly here. Let us start soon."

That evening they got ready, and at daylight started out on foot. There
were seven of them in all. The husband, five middle-aged men, the woman's
relations, and a young man, her own young brother. He was a very pretty
boy. His hair was longer than any other person's in camp.

They soon found the trail of the war party, and followed it for some
days. At last they came to the Big River,[1] and there, on the other side,
they saw many lodges. They crept down a coulée into the valley, and hid in
a small piece of timber just opposite the camp. Toward evening the man
said: "_Kyi_, my brothers. To-night I will swim across and look all through
the camp for my wife. If I do not find her, I will cache and look again
to-morrow evening. But if I do not return before daylight of the second
night, then you will know I am killed. Then you will do as you think best.
Maybe you will want to take revenge. Maybe you will go right back
home. That will be as your hearts feel."

[Footnote 1: Missouri River.]

As soon as it was dark, he swam across the river and went all about through
the camp, peeping in through the doorways of the lodges, but he did not see
his wife. Still, he knew she must be there. He had followed the trail of
the party to this place. They had not killed her on the way. He kept
looking in at the lodges until it was late, and the people let the fires go
out and went to bed. Then the man went down to where the women got their
water from the river. Everywhere along the stream was a cut bank, but in
one place a path of steps had been made down to the water's edge. Near this
path, he dug a hole in the bank and crawled into it, closing up the
entrance, except one small hole, through which he could look, and watch the
people who came to the river.

As soon as it was daylight, the women began to come for water. _Tum, tum,
tum, tum_, he could hear their footsteps as they came down the path, and he
looked eagerly at every one. All day long the people came and went,--the
young and old; and the children played about near him. He saw many strange
people that day. It was now almost sunset, and he began to think that he
would not see his wife there. _Tum, tum, tum, tum_, another woman came
down the steps, and stopped at the water's edge. Her dress was strange, but
he thought he knew the form. She turned her head and looked down the river,
and he saw her face. It was his wife. He pushed away the dirt, crawled
out, went to her and kissed her. "_Kyi_," he said, "hurry, and let us swim
across the river. Five of your relations and your own young brother are
waiting for us in that piece of timber."

"Wait," replied his wife. "These people have given me a great many pretty
things. Let me go back. When it is night I will gather them up, steal a
horse, and cross over to you."

"No, no," cried the man. "Let the pretty things go; come, let us cross at

"Pity me," said the woman. "Let me go and get my things. I will surely come
to-night. I speak the truth."

"How do you speak the truth?"[1] asked her husband.

[Footnote 1: Blackfoot--_Tsa-ki-an-ist-o-man-i?_ i.e., How you like truth?]

"That my relations there across the river may be safe and live long, I
speak the truth."

"Go then," said the man, "and get your things. I will cross the river now."
He went up on the bank and walked down the river, keeping his face
hidden. No one noticed him, or if they did, they thought he belonged to the
camp. As soon as he had passed the first bend, he swam across the river,
and soon joined his relations.

"I have seen my wife," he said to them. "She will come over as soon as it
is dark. I let her go back to get some things that were given her."

"You are crazy," said one of the men, "very crazy. She already loves this
new man she has, or she would not have wanted to go back."

"Stop that," said the husband; "do not talk bad of her. She will surely


The woman went back to her lodge with the water, and, sitting down near the
fireplace, she began to act very strangely. She took up pieces of charred
wood, dirt, and ashes in her hands and ate them, and made queer noises.

"What is it?" asked the man who had taken her for a wife. "What is the
matter with you?" He spoke in signs.

The woman also spoke in signs. She answered him: "The Sun told me that
there are seven persons across the river in that piece of timber. Five of
them are middle-aged, another is a young boy with very long hair, another
is a man who mourns. His hair is cut short."

The Snake did not know what to do, so he called in some chiefs and old men
to advise with him. They thought that the woman might be very strong
medicine. At all events, it would be a good thing to go and look. So the
news was shouted out, and in a short time all the warriors had mounted
their best horses, and started across the river. It was then almost dark,
so they surrounded the piece of timber, and waited for morning to begin the

"_Kyi_," said one of the woman's relations to her husband. "Did I not
speak the truth? You see now what that woman has done for us."

At daylight the poor husband strung his bow, took a handful of arrows from
his quiver, and said: "This is my fault. I have brought you to this. It is
right that I should die first," and he started to go out of the timber.

"Wait," said the eldest relative. "It shall not be so. I am the first to
go. I cannot stay back to see my brother die. You shall go out last." So he
jumped out of the brush, and began shooting his arrows, but was soon

"My brother is too far on the road alone,"[1] cried another relation, and
he jumped out and fought, too. What use, one against so many? The Snakes
soon had his scalp.

[Footnote 1: Meaning that his brother's spirit, or shadow, was travelling
alone the road to the Sand Hills, and that he must overtake him.]

So they went out, one after another, and at last the husband was alone. He
rushed out very brave, and shot his arrows as fast as he could. "Hold!"
cried the Snake man to his people. "Do not kill him; catch him. This is the
one my wife said to bring back alive. See! his hair is cut short." So, when
the man had shot away all his arrows, they seized and tied him, and, taking
the scalps of the others, returned to camp.

They took the prisoner into the lodge where his wife was. His hands were
tied behind his back, and they tied his feet, too. He could not move.

As soon as the man saw his wife, he cried. He was not afraid. He did not
care now how soon he died. He cried because he was thinking of all the
trouble and death this woman had caused. "What have I done to you," he
asked his wife, "that you should treat me this way? Did I not always use
you well? I never struck you. I never made you work hard."

"What does he say?" asked the Snake man.

"He says," replied the woman, "that when you are done smoking, you must
knock the ashes and fire out of your pipe on his breast."

The Snake was not a bad-hearted man, but he thought now that this woman had
strong medicine, that she had Sun power; so he thought that everything must
be done as she said. When the man had finished smoking, he emptied the pipe
on the Piegan's breast, and the fire burned him badly.

Then the poor man cried again, not from the pain, but to think what a bad
heart this woman had. Again he spoke to her. "You cannot be a person," he
said. "I think you are some fearful animal, changed to look like a woman."

"What is he saying now?" asked the Snake.

"He wants some boiling water poured on his head," replied the woman.

"It shall be as he says," said the Snake; and he had his women heat some
water. When it was ready, one of them poured a little of it here and there
on the captive's head and shoulders. Wherever the hot water touched, the
hair came out and the skin peeled off. The pain was so bad that the Piegan
nearly fainted. When he revived, he said to his wife: "Pity me. I have
suffered enough. Let them kill me now. Let me hurry to join those who are
already travelling to the Sand Hills."

The woman turned to the Snake chief, and said, "The man says that he wants
you to give him to the Sun."

"It is good," said the Snake. "To-morrow we move camp. Before we leave
here, we will give him to the Sun."

There was an old woman in this camp who lived all alone, in a little lodge
of her own. She had some friends and relations, but she said she liked to
live by herself. She had heard that a Piegan had been captured, and went to
the lodge where he was. When she saw them pour the boiling water on him,
she cried and felt badly. This old woman had a very good heart. She went
home and lay down by her dog, and kept crying, she felt so sorry for this
poor man. Pretty soon she heard people shouting out the orders of the
chief. They said: "Listen! listen! To-morrow we move camp. Get ready now
and pack up everything. Before we go, the Piegan man will be given to the

Then the old woman knew what to do. She tied a piece of buckskin around her
dog's mouth, so he could not bark, and then she took him way out in the
timber and tied him where he could not be seen. She also filled a small
sack with pemmican, dried meat, and berries, and put it near the dog.

In the morning the people rose early. They smoothed a cotton-wood tree, by
taking off the bark, and painted it black. Then they stood the Piegan up
against it, and fastened him there with a great many ropes. When they had
tied him so he could not move, they painted his face black, and the chief
Snake made a prayer, and gave him to the Sun.

Every one was now busy getting ready to move camp. This old woman had lost
her dog, and kept calling out for him and looking all around. "_Tsis'-i!_"
she cried. "_Tsis'-i!_ Come here. Knock the dog on the head![1] Wait till I
find him, and I'll break his neck."

[Footnote 1: A Blackfoot curse.]

The people were now all packed up, and some had already started on the
trail. "Don't wait for me," the old woman said. "Go on, I'll look again for
my dog, and catch up with you."

When all were gone, the old woman went and untied her dog, and then, going
up to where the Piegan was tied, she cut the ropes, and he was free. But
already the man was very weak, and he fell down on the ground. She rubbed
his limbs, and pretty soon he felt better. The old woman was so sorry for
him that she cried again, and kissed him. Then the man cried, too. He was
so glad that some one pitied him. By and by he ate some of the food the old
woman had given him, and felt strong again. He said to her in signs: "I am
not done. I shall go back home now, but I will come again. I will bring all
the Piegans with me, and we will have revenge."

"You say well," signed the old woman.

"Help me," again said the man. "If, on the road you are travelling, this
camp should separate, mark the trail my wife takes with a stick. You, too,
follow the party she goes with, and always put your lodge at the far end of
the village. When I return with my people, I will enter your lodge, and
tell you what to do."

"I take your speech," replied the old woman. "As you say, so it shall be."
Then she kissed him again, and started on after her people. The man went to
the river, swam across, and started for the North.


Why are the people crying? Why is all this mourning? Ah! the poor man has
returned home, and told how those who went with him were killed. He has
told them the whole story. They are getting ready for war. Every one able
to fight is going with this man back to the Snakes. Only a few will be
left to guard the camp. The mother of that bad woman is going, too. She has
sharpened her axe, and told what she will do when she sees her
daughter. All are ready. The best horses have been caught up and saddled,
and the war party has started,--hundreds and hundreds of warriors. They are
strung out over the prairie as far as you can see.

When they got to the Missouri River, the poor man showed them where the
lodge in which they had tortured him had stood. He took them to see the
tree, where he had been bound. The black paint was still on it.

From here, they went slowly. Some young men were sent far ahead to
scout. The second day, they came back to the main body, and said they had
found a camping place just deserted, and that there the trail forked. The
poor man then went ahead, and at the forks he found a willow twig stuck in
the ground, pointing to the left hand trail. When the others came up, he
said to them: "Take care of my horse now, and travel slowly. I will go
ahead on foot and find the camp. It must be close. I will go and see that
old woman, and find out how things are."

Some men did not want him to do this; they said that the old woman might
tell about him, and then they could not surprise the camp.

"No," replied the man. "It will not be so. That old woman is almost the
same as my mother. I know she will help us."

He went ahead carefully, and near sunset saw the camp. When it was dark,
he crept near it and entered the old woman's lodge. She had placed it
behind, and a little way off from, the others. When he went in the old
woman was asleep, but the fire was still burning a little. He touched her,
and she jumped up and started to scream; but he put his hand on her mouth,
and when she saw who it was she laughed and kissed him. "The Piegans have
come," he told her. "We are going to have revenge on this camp to-night. Is
my wife here?"

"Still here," replied the old woman. "She is chief now. They think her
medicine very strong."

"Tell your friends and relations," said the Piegan, "that you have had a
dream, and that they must move into the brush yonder. Have them stay there
with you, and they will not be hurt. I am going now to get my people."

It was very late in the night. Most of the Snakes were in bed and
asleep. All at once the camp was surrounded with warriors, shouting the war
cry and shooting, stabbing, and knocking people on the head as fast as they
came out of the lodges.

That Piegan woman cried out: "Don't hurt me. I am a Piegan. Are any of my
people here?"

"Many of your relations are here," some one said. "They will protect you."

Some young men seized and tied her, as her husband had said to do. They had
hard work to keep her mother from killing her. "_Hai yah_!" the old woman
cried. "There is my Snake woman daughter. Let me split her head open."

The fight was soon over. The Piegans killed the people almost as fast as
they came out of their lodges. Some few escaped in the darkness. When the
fight was over, the young warriors gathered up a great pile of lodge poles
and brush, and set fire to it. Then the poor man tore the dress off his bad
wife, tied the scalp of her dead Snake man around her neck, and told her to
dance the scalp dance in the fire. She cried and hung back, calling out for
pity. The people only laughed and pushed her into the fire. She would run
through it, and then those on the other side would push her back. So they
kept her running through the fire, until she fell down and died.

The old Snake woman had come out of the brush with her relations. Because
she had been so good, the Piegans gave her, and those with her, one-half of
all the horses and valuable things they had taken. "_Kyi!_" said the Piegan
chief. "That is all for you, because you helped this poor man. To-morrow
morning we start back North. If your heart is that way, go too and live
with us." So these Snakes joined the Piegans and lived with them until they
died, and their children married with the Piegans, and at last they were no
longer Snake people.[1]

[Footnote 1: When the Hudson's Bay Company first established a fort at
Edmonton, a daughter of one of these Snakes married a white employee of the
company, named, in Blackfoot, _O-wai_, Egg.]


Once a camp of people stopped on the bank of a river. There were but a few
lodges of them. One day the little children in the camp crossed the river
to play on the other side. For some time they stayed near the bank, and
then they went up over a little hill, and found a bed of sand and gravel;
and there they played for a long time.

There were eleven of these children. Two of them were daughters of the
chief of the camp, and the smaller of these wanted the best of
everything. If any child found a pretty stone, she would try to take it for
herself. The other children did not like this, and they began to tease the
little girl, and to take her things away from her. Then she got angry and
began to cry, and the more she cried, the more the children teased her; so
at last she and her sister left the others, and went back to the camp.

When they got there, they told their father what the other children had
done to them, and this made the chief very angry. He thought for a little
while, and then got up and went out of the lodge, and called aloud, so that
everybody might hear, saying: "Listen! listen! Your children have teased my
child and made her cry. Now we will move away, and leave them behind. If
they come back before we get started, they shall be killed. If they follow
us and overtake the camp, they shall be killed. If the father and mother of
any one of them take them into their lodge, I will kill that father and
mother. Hurry now, hurry and pack up, so that we can go. Everybody tear
down the lodges, as quickly as you can."

When the people heard this, they felt very sorry, but they had to do as the
chief said; so they tore down the lodges, and quickly packed the dog
travois, and started off. They packed in such a hurry that they left many
little things lying in camp,--knives and awls, bone needles and moccasins.

The little children played about in the sand for a long time, but at last
they began to get hungry; and one little girl said to the others, "I will
go back to the camp, and get some dried meat and bring it here, so that we
may eat." And she started to go to the camp. When she came to the top of
the hill and looked across the river, she saw that there were no lodges
there, and did not know what to think of it. She called down to the
children, and said, "The camp has gone"; but they did not believe her, and
went on playing. She kept on calling, and at last some of them came to her,
and then all, and saw that it was as she had said. They went down to the
river, and crossed it, and went to where the lodges had stood. When they
got there, they saw on the ground the things that had been left out in
packing; and as each child saw and knew something that had belonged to its
own parents, it cried and sang a little song, saying: "Mother, here is your
bone needle; why did you leave your children?" "Father, here is your arrow;
why did you leave your children?" It was very mournful, and they all cried.

There was among them a little girl who had on her back her baby brother,
whom she loved dearly. He was very young, a nursing child, and already he
was hungry and beginning to fret. This little girl said to the others: "We
do not know why they have gone, but we know they have gone. We must follow
the trail of the camp, and try to catch up with them." So the children
started to follow the camp. They travelled on all day; and just at night
they saw, near the trail, a little lodge. They had heard the people talk of
a bad old woman who killed and ate persons, and some of the children
thought that this old woman might live here; and they were afraid to go to
the lodge. Others said: "Perhaps some person lives here who has a good
heart. We are very tired and very hungry and have nothing to eat and no
place to keep warm. Let us go to this lodge."

They went to it; and when they went in, they saw sitting by the fire an old
woman. She spoke kindly to them, and asked them where they were travelling;
and they told her that the camp had moved on and left them, and that they
were trying to find their people, that they had nothing to eat, and were
tired and hungry. The old woman fed them, and told them to sleep here
to-night, and to-morrow they could go on and find their people. "The camp,"
she said, "passed here to-day when the sun was low. They have not gone
far. To-morrow you will overtake them." She spread some robes on the ground
and said: "Now lie here and sleep. Lie side by side with your heads toward
the fire, and when morning comes, you can go on your journey." The
children lay down and soon slept.

In the middle of the night, the old woman got up, and built a big fire, and
put on it a big stone kettle, full of water. Then she took a big knife,
and, commencing at one end of the row, began to cut off the heads of the
children, and to throw them into the pot. The little girl with the baby
brother lay at the other end of the row, and while the old woman was doing
this, she awoke and saw what was taking place. When the old woman came near
to her, she jumped up and began to beg that she would not kill her. "I am
strong," she said. "I will work hard for you. I can bring your wood and
water, and tan your skins. Do not kill my little brother and me. Take pity
on us and save us alive. Everybody has left us, but do you have pity. You
shall see how quickly I will work, how you will always have plenty of
wood. I can work quickly and well." The old woman thought for a little
while, then she said: "Well, I will let you live for a time, anyhow. You
shall sleep safely to-night."

The next day, early, the little girl took her brother on her back, and went
out and gathered a big pile of wood, and brought it to the lodge before the
old woman was awake. When she got up, she called to the girl, "Go to the
river and get a bucket of water." The girl put her brother on her back, and
took the bucket to go. The old woman said to her: "Why do you carry that
child everywhere? Leave him here." The girl said: "Not so. He is always
with me, and if I leave him he will cry and make a great noise, and you
will not like that." The old woman grumbled, but the girl went on down to
the river.

When she got there, just as she was going to fill her bucket, she saw
standing by her a great bull. It was a mountain buffalo, one of those who
live in the timber; and the long hair of its head was all full of pine
needles and sticks and branches, and matted together. (It was a
_Su'ye-st[)u]'mik_, a water bull.) When the girl saw him, she prayed him to
take her across the river, and so to save her and her little brother from
the bad old woman. The bull said, "I will take you across, but first you
must take some of the sticks out of my head." The girl begged him to start
at once; but the bull said, "No, first take the sticks out of my head." The
girl began to do it, but before she had done much, she heard the old woman
calling to her to bring the water. The girl called back, "I am trying to
get the water clear," and went on fixing the buffalo's head. The old woman
called again, saying, "Hurry, hurry with that water." The girl answered,
"Wait, I am washing my little brother." Pretty soon the old woman called
out, "If you don't bring that water, I will kill you and your brother." By
this time the girl had most of the sticks out of the bull's head, and he
told her to get on his back, and went into the water and swam with her
across the river. As he reached the other bank, the girl could see the old
woman coming from her lodge down to the river with a big stick in her hand.

When the bull reached the bank, the girl jumped off his back and started
off on the trail of the camp. The bull swam back again to the other side of
the river, and there stood the old woman. This bull was a sort of servant
of the old woman. She said to him: "Why did you take those children across
the river? Take me on your back now and carry me across quickly, so that I
can catch them." The bull said, "First take these sticks out of my head."
"No," said the old woman; "first take me across, then I will take the
sticks out." The bull repeated, "First take the sticks out of my head, then
I will take you across." This made the old woman very mad, and she hit him
with the stick she had in her hand; but when she saw that he would not go,
she began to pull the sticks out of his head very roughly, tearing out
great handfuls of hair, and every moment ordering him to go, and
threatening what she would do to him when she got back. At last the bull
took her on his back, and began to swim across with her, but he did not
swim fast enough to please her, so she began to pound him with her club to
make him go faster; and when the bull got to the middle of the river, he
rolled over on his side, and the old woman slipped off, and was carried
down the river and drowned.

The girl followed the trail of the camp for several days, feeding on
berries and roots that she dug; and at last one night after dark she
overtook the camp. She went into the lodge of an old woman, who was camped
off at one side, and the old woman pitied her and gave her some food, and
told her where her father's lodge was. The girl went to it, but when she
went in, her parents would not receive her. She had tried to overtake them
for the sake of her little brother, who was growing thin and weak because
he had not nursed; and now her mother was afraid to have her stay with
them. She even went and told the chief that her children had come back. Now
when the chief heard that these two children had come back, he was angry;
and he ordered that the next day they should be tied to a post in the camp,
and that the people should move on and leave them here. "Then," he said,
"they cannot follow us."

The old woman who had pitied the children, when she heard what the chief
had ordered, made up a bundle of dried meat, and hid it in the grass near
the camp. Then she called her dog to her,--a little curly dog. She said to
the dog:--

"Now listen. To-morrow when we are ready to start, I will call you to come
to me, but you must pay no attention to what I say. Run off, and pretend to
be chasing squirrels. I will try to catch you, and if I do so, I will
pretend to whip you; but do not follow me. Stay behind, and when the camp
has passed out of sight, chew off the strings that bind those children; and
when you have done this, show them where I have hidden that food. Then you
can follow the camp and catch up to us." The dog stood before the old
woman, and listened to all that she said, turning his head from side to
side, as if paying close attention.

Next morning it was done as the chief had said. The children were tied to
the tree with raw hide strings, and the people tore down all the lodges and
moved off. The old woman called her dog to follow her, but he was digging
at a gopher hole and would not come. Then she went up to him and struck at
him hard with her whip, but he dodged and ran away, and then stood looking
at her. Then the old woman got very mad and cursed him, but he paid no
attention; and finally she left him, and followed the camp. When the
people had all passed out of sight, the dog went to the children, and
gnawed the strings which tied them, until he had bitten them through. So
the children were free.

Then the dog was glad, and danced about and barked and ran round and
round. Pretty soon he came up to the little girl, and looked up in her
face, and then started away, trotting. Every little while he would stop
and look back. The girl thought he wanted her to follow him. She did so,
and he took her to where the bundle of dried meat was, and showed it to
her. Then, when he had done this, he jumped up on her, and licked the
baby's face, and then started off, running as hard as he could along the
trail of the camp, never stopping to look back. The girl did not follow
him. She now knew that it was no use to go to the camp again. Their
parents would not receive them, and the chief would perhaps order them to
be killed.

She went on her way, carrying her little brother and the bundle of dried
meat. She travelled for many days, and at last came to a place where she
thought she would stop. Here she built a little lodge of poles and brush,
and stayed there. One night she had a dream, and an old woman came to her
in the dream, and said to her, "To-morrow take your little brother, and tie
him to one of the lodge poles, and the next day tie him to another, and so
every day tie him to one of the poles, until you have gone all around the
lodge and have tied him to each pole. Then you will be helped, and will no
more have bad luck."

When the girl awoke in the morning, she remembered what the dream had told
her, and she bound her little brother to one of the lodge poles; and each
day after this she tied him to one of the poles. Each day he grew larger,
until, when she had gone all around the lodge, he was grown to be a fine
young man.

Now the girl was glad, and proud of her young brother who was so large and
noble-looking. He was quiet, not speaking much, and sometimes for days he
would not say anything. He seemed to be thinking all the time. One morning
he told the girl that he had a dream and that he wished her to help him
build a pis'kun. She was afraid to ask him about the dream, for she thought
if she asked questions he might not like it. So she just said she was ready
to do what he wished. They built the pis'kun, and when it was finished, the
boy said to his sister: "The buffalo are to come to us, and you are not to
see them. When the time comes, you are to cover your head and to hold your
face close to the ground; and do not lift your head nor look, until I throw
a piece of kidney to you." The girl said, "It shall be as you say."

When the time came, the boy told her where to go; and she went to the
place, a little way from the lodge, not far from the corral, and sat down
on the ground, and covered her head, holding her face close to the
earth. After she had sat there a little while, she heard the sound of
animals running, and she was excited and curious, and raised her head to
look; but all she saw was her brother, standing near, looking at
her. Before he could speak, she said to him: "I thought I heard buffalo
coming, and because I was anxious for food, I forgot my promise and
looked. Forgive me this time, and I will try again." Again she bent her
face to the ground, and covered her head.

Soon she heard again the sound of animals running, at first a long way off,
and then coming nearer and nearer, until at last they seemed close, and she
thought they were going to run over her. She sprang up in fright and looked
about, but there was nothing to be seen but her brother, looking sadly at
her. She went close to him and said: "Pity me. I was afraid, for I thought
the buffalo were going to run over me." He said: "This is the last time. If
again you look, we will starve; but if you do not look, we will always have
plenty, and will never be without meat." The girl looked at him, and said,
"I will try hard this time, and even if those animals run right over me, I
will not look until you throw the kidney to me." Again she covered her
head, pressing her face against the earth and putting her hands against her
ears, so that she might not hear. Suddenly, sooner than she thought, she
felt the blow from the meat thrown at her, and, springing up, she seized
the kidney and began to eat it. Not far away was her brother, bending over
a fat cow; and, going up to him, she helped him with the butchering. After
that was done, she kindled a fire and cooked the best parts of the meat,
and they ate and were satisfied.

The boy became a great hunter. He made fine arrows that went faster than a
bird could fly, and when he was hunting, he watched all the animals and all
the birds, and learned their ways, and how to imitate them when they
called. While he was hunting, the girl dressed buffalo hides and the skins
of deer and other animals. She made a fine new lodge, and the boy painted
it with figures of all the birds and the animals he had killed.

One day, when the girl was bringing water, she saw a little way off a
person coming. When she went in the lodge, she told her brother, and he
went out to meet the stranger. He found that he was friendly and was
hunting, but had had bad luck and killed nothing. He was starving and in
despair, when he saw this lone lodge and made up his mind to go to it. As
he came near it, he began to be afraid, and to wonder if the people who
lived there were enemies or ghosts; but he thought, "I may as well die here
as starve," so he went boldly to it. The strange person was very much
surprised to see this handsome young man with the kind face, who could
speak his own language. The boy took him into the lodge, and the girl put
food before him. After he had eaten, he told his story, saying that the
game had left them, and that many of his people were dying of hunger. As
he talked, the girl listened; and at last she remembered the man, and knew
that he belonged to her camp. She asked him questions, and he talked about
all the people in the camp, and even spoke of the old woman who owned the
dog. The boy advised the stranger, after he had rested, to return to his
camp, and tell the people to move up to this place, that here they would
find plenty of game. After he had gone, the boy and his sister talked of
these things. The girl had often told him what she had suffered, what the
chief had said and done, and how their own parents had turned against her,
and that the only person whose heart had been good to her was this old
woman. As the young man heard all this again, he was angry at his parents
and the chief, but he felt great kindness for the old woman and her
dog. When he learned that those bad people were living, he made up his mind
that they should suffer and die.

When the strange person reached his own camp, he told the people how well
he had been treated by these two persons, and that they wished him to bring
the whole camp to where they were, and that there they should have plenty.
This made great joy in the camp, and all got ready to move. When they
reached the lost children's camp, they found everything as the stranger had
said. The brother gave a feast; and to those whom he liked he gave many
presents, but to the old woman and the dog he gave the best presents of
all. To the chief nothing at all was given, and this made him very much
ashamed. To the parents no food was given, but the boy tied a bone to the
lodge poles above the fire, and told the parents to eat from it without
touching it with their hands. They were very hungry, and tried to eat from
this bone; and as they were stretching out their necks to reach it--for it
was above them--the boy cut off their heads with his knife. This frightened
all the people, the chief most of all; but the boy told them how it all
was, and how he and his sister had survived.

When he had finished speaking, the chief said he was sorry for what he had
done, and he proposed to his people that this young man should be made
their chief. They were glad to do this. The boy was made the chief, and
lived long to rule the people in that camp.



It was in the valley of "It fell on them"[1] Creek, near the mountains,
that the Pik[)u]n'i were camped when Mik-a'pi went to war. It was far back,
in the days of stone knives, long before the white people had come. This
was the way it happened.

[Footnote 1: Armells Creek in Northern Montana is called
_Et-tsis-ki-ots-op_, "It fell on them." A longtime ago a number of
Blackfeet women were digging in a bank near this creek for the red clay
which they use for paint, when the bank gave way and fell on them, burying
and killing them.]

Early in the morning a band of buffalo were seen in the foot-hills of the
mountains, and some hunters went out to get meat. Carefully they crawled
along up the coulées and drew near to the herd; and, when they had come
close to them, they began to shoot, and their arrows pierced many fat
cows. But even while they were thus shooting, they were surprised by a war
party of Snakes, and they began to run back toward the camp. There was one
hunter, named Fox-eye, who was very brave. He called to the others to stop,
saying: "They are many and we are few, but the Snakes are not brave. Let us
stop and fight them." But the other hunters would not listen. "We have no
shields," they said, "nor our war medicine. There are many of the
enemy. Why should we foolishly die?"

They hurried on to camp, but Fox-eye would not turn back. He drew his
arrows from the quiver, and prepared to fight. But, even as he placed an
arrow, a Snake had crawled up by his side, unseen. In the still air, the
Piegan heard the sharp twang of a bow string, but, before he could turn his
head, the long, fine-pointed arrow pierced him through and through. The bow
and arrows dropped from his hands, he swayed, and then fell forward on the
grass, dead. But now the warriors came pouring from the camp to aid
him. Too late! The Snakes quickly scalped their fallen enemy, scattered up
the mountain, and were lost to sight.

Now Fox-eye had two wives, and their father and mother and all their near
relations were dead. All Fox-eye's relatives, too, had long since gone to
the Sand Hills[1]. So these poor widows had no one to avenge them, and they
mourned deeply for the husband so suddenly taken from them. Through the
long days they sat on a near hill and mourned, and their mourning was very

[Footnote 1: Sand Hills: the shadow land; place of ghosts; the Blackfoot
future world.]

There was a young warrior named Mik-a'pi. Every morning he was awakened by
the crying of these poor widows, and through the day his heart was touched
by their wailing. Even when he went to rest, their mournful cries reached
him through the darkness, and he could not sleep. So he sent his mother to
them. "Tell them," he said, "that I wish to speak to them." When they had
entered, they sat close by the door-way, and covered their heads.

"_Kyi!"_ said Mik-a'pi. "For days and nights I have heard your mourning,
and I too have silently mourned. My heart has been very sad. Your husband
was my near friend, and now he is dead and no relations are left to avenge
him. So now, I say, I will take the load from your hearts. I will avenge
him. I will go to war and take many scalps, and when I return, they shall
be yours. You shall paint your faces black, and we will all rejoice that
Fox-eye is avenged."

When the people heard that Mik-a'pi was going to war, many warriors wished
to join him, but he refused them; and when he had taken a medicine sweat,
and got a medicine-pipe man to make medicine for him during his absence, he
started from the camp one evening, just after sunset. It is only the
foolish warrior who travels in the day; for other war parties may be out,
or some camp-watcher sitting on a hill may see him from far off, and lay
plans to destroy him. Mik-a'pi was not one of these. He was brave but
cautious, and he had strong medicine. Some say that he was related to the
ghosts, and that they helped him. Having now started to war against the
Snakes, he travelled in hidden places, and at sunrise would climb a hill
and look carefully in all directions, and during the long day would lie
there, and watch, and take short sleeps.

Now, when Mik-a'pi had come to the Great Falls (of the Missouri), a heavy
rain set in; and, seeing a hole in the rocks, he crawled in and lay down in
the farther end to sleep. The rain did not cease, and when night came he
could not travel because of the darkness and storm; so he lay down to sleep
again. But soon he heard something coming into the cave toward him, and
then he felt a hand laid on his breast, and he put out his hand and touched
a person. Then Mik-a'pi put the palm of his hand on the person's breast and
jerked it to and fro, and then he touched the person with the point of his
finger, which, in the sign language, means, "Who are you?"

The strange person then took Mik-a'pi's hand, and made him feel of his own
right hand. The thumb and all the fingers were closed except the
forefinger, which was extended; and when Mik-a'pi touched it the person
moved his hand forward with a zigzag motion, which means "Snake." Then
Mik-a'pi was glad. Here had come to him one of the tribe he was
seeking. But he thought it best to wait for daylight before attacking
him. So, when the Snake in signs asked him who he was, he replied, by
making the sign for paddling a canoe, that he was a Pend d'Oreille, or
River person. For he knew that the Snakes and the Pend d'Oreilles were at

Then they both lay down to sleep, but Mik-a'pi did not sleep. Through the
long night he watched for the first dim light, so that he might kill his
enemy. The Snake slept soundly; and just at daybreak Mik-a'pi quietly
strung his bow, fitted an arrow, and, taking aim, sent the thin shaft
through his enemy's heart. The Snake quivered, half rose up, and with a
groan fell back dead. Then Mik-a'pi took his scalp and his bow and arrows,
and also his bundle of moccasins; and as daylight had come, he went out of
the cave and looked all about. No one was in sight. Probably the Snake,
like himself, had gone alone to war. But, ever cautious, he travelled only
a short distance, and waited for night before going on. The rain had ceased
and the day was warm. He took a piece of dried meat and back fat from his
pouch and ate them, and, after drinking from the river, he climbed up on a
high rock wall and slept.

Now in his dream he fought with a strange people, and was wounded. He felt
blood trickling from his wounds, and when he awoke, he knew that he had
been warned to turn back. The signs also were bad. He saw an eagle rising
with a snake, which dropped from its claws and escaped. The setting sun,
too, was painted[1],--a sure warning to people that danger is near. But, in
spite of all these things, Mik-a'pi determined to go on. He thought of the
poor widows mourning and waiting for revenge. He thought of the glad
welcome of the people, if he should return with many scalps; and he thought
also of two young sisters, whom he wanted to marry. Surely, if he could
return and bring the proofs of brave deeds, their parents would be glad to
give them to him.

[Footnote 1: Sun dogs.]


It was nearly night. The sun had already disappeared behind the
sharp-pointed gray peaks. In the fading light the far-stretching prairie
was turning dark. In a valley, sparsely timbered with quaking aspens and
cotton-woods, stood a large camp. For a long distance up and down the river
rose the smoke of many lodges. Seated on a little hill overlooking the
valley, was a single person. With his robe drawn tightly around him, he sat
there motionless, looking down on the prairie and valley below.

Slowly and silently something was crawling through the grass toward
him. But he heard nothing. Still he gazed eastward, seeking to discover any
enemy who might be approaching. Still the dark object crawled slowly
onward. Now it was so close to him that it could almost touch him. The
person thought he heard a sound, and started to turn round. Too late! Too
late! A strong arm grasped him about the neck and covered his mouth. A long
jagged knife was thrust into his breast again and again, and he died
without a cry. Strange that in all that great camp no one should have seen
him killed!

Still extended on the ground, the dark figure removed the scalp. Slowly he
crawled back down the hill, and was lost in the gathering darkness. It was
Mik-a'pi, and he had another Snake scalp tied to his belt. His heart was
glad, yet he was not satisfied. Some nights had passed since the bad signs
had warned him, yet he had succeeded. "One more," he said. "One more scalp
I must have, and then I will go back." So he went far up on the mountain,
and hid in some thick pines and slept. When daylight came, he could see
smoke rise as the women started their fires. He also saw many people rush
up on the hill, where the dead watcher lay. He was too far off to hear
their angry shouts and mournful cries, but he sung to himself a song of war
and was happy.

Once more the sun went to his lodge behind the mountains, and as darkness
came Mik-a'pi slowly descended the mountain and approached the camp. This
was the time of danger. Behind each bush, or hidden in a bunch of the tall
rye grass, some person might be watching to warn the camp of an approaching
enemy. Slowly and like a snake, he crawled around the outskirts of the
camp, listening and looking. He heard a cough and saw a movement of a
bush. There was a Snake. Could he kill him and yet escape? He was close
to him now. So he sat and waited, considering how to act. For a long time
he sat there waiting. The moon rose and travelled high in the sky. The
Seven Persons[1] slowly swung around, and pointed downward. It was the
middle of the night. Then the person in the bush stood up and stretched out
his arms and yawned, for he was tired of watching, and thought that no
danger was near; but as he stood thus, an arrow pierced his breast. He gave
a loud yell and tried to run, but another arrow struck him and he fell.

[Footnote 1: The constellation of the Great Bear.]

At the sound the warriors rushed forth from the lodges and the outskirts of
the camp; but as they came, Mik-a'pi tore the scalp from his fallen enemy,
and started to run toward the river. Close behind him followed the Snakes.
Arrows whizzed about him. One pierced his arm. He plucked it out. Another
struck his leg, and he fell. Then a great shout arose from the
Snakes. Their enemy was down. Now they would be revenged for two lately
taken lives. But where Mik-a'pi fell was the verge of a high rock wall;
below rushed the deep river, and even as they shouted, he rolled from the
wall, and disappeared in the dark water far below. In vain they searched
the shores and bars. They did not find him.

Mik-a'pi had sunk deep in the water. The current was swift, and when at
last he rose to the surface, he was far below his pursuers. The arrow in
his leg pained him, and with difficulty he crawled out on a
sand-bar. Luckily the arrow was lance-shaped instead of barbed, so he
managed to draw it out. Near by on the bar was a dry pine log, lodged there
by the high spring water. This he managed to roll into the stream; and,
partly resting on it, he again drifted down with the current. All night he
floated down the river, and when morning came he was far from the camp of
the Snakes. Benumbed with cold and stiff from the arrow wounds, he was glad
to crawl out on the bank, and lie down in the warm sunshine. Soon he slept.


The sun was already in the middle when he awoke. His wounds were swollen
and painful; yet he hobbled on for a time, until the pain became so great
he could go no further, and he sat down, tired and discouraged.

"True the signs," he said. "How crazy I was to go against them! Useless now
my bravery, for here I must stay and die. The widows will still mourn; and
in their old age who will take care of my father and my mother? Pity me
now, oh Sun! Help me, oh great Above Medicine Person! Look down on your
wounded and suffering child. Help me to survive!"

What was that crackling in the brush near by? Was it the Snakes on his
trail? Mik-a'pi strung his bow and drew out his arrows. No; it was not a
Snake. It was a bear. There he stood, a big grizzly bear, looking down at
the wounded man. "What does my brother here?" he said. "Why does he pray
to survive?"

"Look at my leg," said Mik-a'pi, "swollen and sore. Look at my wounded
arm. I can hardly draw the bow. Far the home of my people, and my strength
is gone. Surely here I must die, for I cannot travel and I have no food."

"Now courage, my brother," said the bear. "Now not faint heart, my brother,
for I will help you, and you shall survive."

When he had said this, he lifted Mik-a'pi and carried him to a place of
thick mud; and here he took great handfuls[1] of the mud and plastered the
wounds, and he sung a medicine song while putting on the mud. Then he
carried Mik-a'pi to a place where were many sarvis berries, and broke off
great branches of the fruit, and gave them to him, saying, "Eat, my
brother, eat!" and he broke off more branches, full of large ripe berries,
for him; but already Mik-a'pi was satisfied and could eat no more. Then
said the bear, "Lie down, now, on my back, and hold tight by my hair, and
we will travel on." And when Mik-a'pi had got on and was ready, he started
off on a long swinging trot.

[Footnote 1: The bear's paws are called _O-kits-iks,_ the term also for a
person's hands. The animal itself is regarded as almost human.]

All through the night he travelled on without stopping. When morning came,
they rested awhile, and ate more berries; and again the bear plastered his
wounds with mud. In this way they travelled on, until, on the fourth day,
they came close to the lodges of the Pik[)u]n'i; and the people saw them
coming and wondered.

"Get off, my brother, get off," said the bear. "There are your people. I
must leave you." And without another word, he turned and went off up the

All the people came out to meet the warrior, and they carried him to the
lodge of his father. He untied the three scalps from his belt and gave them
to the widows, saying: "You are revenged. I wipe away your tears." And
every one rejoiced. All his female relations went through the camp,
shouting his name and singing, and every one prepared for the scalp dance.

First came the widows. Their faces were painted black, and they carried the
scalps tied on poles. Then came the medicine men, with their medicine pipes
unwrapped; then the bands of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_, all dressed in war
costume; then came the old men; and last the women and children. They all
sang the war song and danced. They went all through the village in single
file, stopping here and there to dance, and Mik-a'pi sat outside the lodge,
and saw all the people dance by him. He forgot his pain and was proud, and
although he could not dance, he sang with them.

Soon they made the Medicine Lodge, and, first of all the warriors, Mik-a'pi
was chosen to cut the raw-hide which binds the poles, and as he cut the
strands, he counted the _coups_ he had made. He told of the enemies he had
killed, and all the people shouted his name and praised him. The father of
those two young sisters gave them to him. He was glad to have such a
son-in-law. Long lived Mik-a'pi. Of all the great chiefs who have lived and
died, he was the greatest. He did many other great and daring things. It
must be true, as the old men have said, that he was helped by the ghosts,
for no one can do such things without help from those fearful and unknown


The Blood camp was on Old Man's River, where Fort McLeod now stands. A
party of seven men started to war toward the Cypress Hills. Heavy Collar
was the leader. They went around the Cypress Mountains, but found no
enemies and started back toward their camp. On their homeward way, Heavy
Collar used to take the lead. He would go out far ahead on the high hills,
and look over the country, acting as scout for the party. At length they
came to the south branch of the Saskatchewan River, above Seven Persons'
Creek. In those days there were many war parties about, and this party
travelled concealed as much as possible in the coulées and low places.

As they were following up the river, they saw at a distance three old bulls
lying down close to a cut bank. Heavy Collar left his party, and went out
to kill one of these bulls, and when he had come close to them, he shot one
and killed it right there. He cut it up, and, as he was hungry, he went
down into a ravine below him, to roast a piece of meat; for he had left his
party a long way behind, and night was now coming on. As he was roasting
the meat, he thought,--for he was very tired,--"It is a pity I did not
bring one of my young men with me. He could go up on that hill and get some
hair from that bull's head, and I could wipe out my gun." While he sat
there thinking this, and talking to himself, a bunch of this hair came over
him through the air, and fell on the ground right in front of him. When
this happened, it frightened him a little; for he thought that perhaps some
of his enemies were close by, and had thrown the bunch of hair at
him. After a little while, he took the hair, and cleaned his gun and loaded
it, and then sat and watched for a time. He was uneasy, and at length
decided that he would go on further up the river, to see what he could
discover. He went on, up the stream, until he came to the mouth of the
St. Mary's River. It was now very late in the night, and he was very tired,
so he crept into a large bunch of rye-grass to hide and sleep for the

The summer before this, the Blackfeet _(Sik-si-kau)_ had been camped on
this bottom, and a woman had been killed in this same patch of rye-grass
where Heavy Collar had lain down to rest. He did not know this, but still
he seemed to be troubled that night. He could not sleep. He could always
hear something, but what it was he could not make out. He tried to go to
sleep, but as soon as he dozed off he kept thinking he heard something in
the distance. He spent the night there, and in the morning when it became
light, there he saw right beside him the skeleton of the woman who had been
killed the summer before.

That morning he went on, following up the stream to Belly River. All day
long as he was travelling, he kept thinking about his having slept by this
woman's bones. It troubled him. He could not forget it. At the same time he
was very tired, because he had walked so far and had slept so little. As
night came on, he crossed over to an island, and determined to camp for the
night. At the upper end of the island was a large tree that had drifted
down and lodged, and in a fork of this tree he built his fire, and got in a
crotch of one of the forks, and sat with his back to the fire, warming
himself, but all the time he was thinking about the woman he had slept
beside the night before. As he sat there, all at once he heard over beyond
the tree, on the other side of the fire, a sound as if something were being
dragged toward him along the ground. It sounded as if a piece of a lodge
were being dragged over the grass. It came closer and closer.

Heavy Collar was scared. He was afraid to turn his head and look back to
see what it was that was coming. He heard the noise come up to the tree in
which his fire was built, and then it stopped, and all at once he heard
some one whistling a tune. He turned around and looked toward the sound,
and there, sitting on the other fork of the tree, right opposite to him,
was the pile of bones by which he had slept, only now all together in the
shape of a skeleton. This ghost had on it a lodge covering. The string,
which is tied to the pole, was fastened about the ghost's neck; the wings
of the lodge stood out on either side of its head, and behind it the lodge
could be seen, stretched out and fading away into the darkness. The ghost
sat on the old dead limb and whistled its tune, and as it whistled, it
swung its legs in time to the tune.

When Heavy Collar saw this, his heart almost melted away. At length he
mustered up courage, and said: "Oh ghost, go away, and do not trouble me. I
am very tired; I want to rest." The ghost paid no attention to him, but
kept on whistling, swinging its legs in time to the tune. Four times he
prayed to her, saying: "Oh ghost, take pity on me! Go away and leave me
alone. I am tired; I want to rest." The more he prayed, the more the ghost
whistled and seemed pleased, swinging her legs, and turning her head from
side to side, sometimes looking down at him, and sometimes up at the stars,
and all the time whistling.

When he saw that she took no notice of what he said, Heavy Collar got angry
at heart, and said, "Well, ghost, you do not listen to my prayers, and I
shall have to shoot you to drive you away." With that he seized his gun,
and throwing it to his shoulder, shot right at the ghost. When he shot at
her, she fell over backward into the darkness, screaming out: "Oh Heavy
Collar, you have shot me, you have killed me! You dog, Heavy Collar! there
is no place on this earth where you can go that I will not find you; no
place where you can hide that I will not come."

As she fell back and said this, Heavy Collar sprang to his feet, and ran
away as fast as he could. She called after him: "I have been killed once,
and now you are trying to kill me again. Oh Heavy Collar!" As he ran away,
he could still hear her angry words following him, until at last they died
away in the distance. He ran all night long, and whenever he stopped to
breathe and listen, he seemed to hear in the distance the echoes of her
voice. All he could hear was, "Oh Heavy Collar!" and then he would rush
away again. He ran until he was all tired out, and by this time it was
daylight. He was now quite a long way below Fort McLeod. He was very
sleepy, but dared not lie down, for he remembered that the ghost had said
that she would follow him. He kept walking on for some time, and then sat
down to rest, and at once fell asleep.

Before he had left his party, Heavy Collar had said to his young men: "Now
remember, if any one of us should get separated from the party, let him
always travel to the Belly River Buttes. There will be our meeting-place."
When their leader did not return to them, the party started across the
country and went toward the Belly River Buttes. Heavy Collar had followed
the river up, and had gone a long distance out of his way; and when he
awoke from his sleep he too started straight for the Belly River Buttes, as
he had said he would.

When his party reached the Buttes, one of them went up on top of the hill
to watch. After a time, as he looked down the river, he saw two persons
coming, and as they came nearer, he saw that one of them was Heavy Collar,
and by his side was a woman. The watcher called up the rest of the party,
and said to them: "Here comes our chief. He has had luck. He is bringing a
woman with him. If he brings her into camp, we will take her away from
him." And they all laughed. They supposed that he had captured her. They
went down to the camp, and sat about the fire, looking at the two people
coming, and laughing among themselves at the idea of their chief bringing
in a woman. When the two persons had come close, they could see that Heavy
Collar was walking fast, and the woman would walk by his side a little way,
trying to keep up, and then would fall behind, and then trot along to catch
up to him again. Just before the pair reached camp there was a deep ravine
that they had to cross. They went down into this side by side, and then
Heavy Collar came up out of it alone, and came on into the camp.

When he got there, all the young men began to laugh at him and to call out,
"Heavy Collar, where is your woman?" He looked at them for a moment, and
then said: "Why, I have no woman. I do not understand what you are talking
about." One of them said: "Oh, he has hidden her in that ravine. He was
afraid to bring her into camp." Another said, "Where did you capture her,
and what tribe does she belong to?" Heavy Collar looked from one to
another, and said: "I think you are all crazy. I have taken no woman. What
do you mean?" The young man said: "Why, that woman that you had with you
just now: where did you get her, and where did you leave her? Is she down
in the coulée? We all saw her, and it is no use to deny that she was with
you. Come now, where is she?" When they said this, Heavy Collar's heart
grew very heavy, for he knew that it must have been the ghost woman; and he
told them the story. Some of the young men could not believe this, and they
ran down to the ravine, where they had last seen the woman. There they saw
in the soft dirt the tracks made by Heavy Collar, when he went down into
the ravine, but there were no other tracks near his, where they had seen
the woman walking. When they found that it was a ghost that had come along
with Heavy Collar, they resolved to go back to their main camp. The party
had been out so long that their moccasins were all worn out, and some of
them were footsore, so that they could not travel fast, but at last they
came to the cut banks, and there found their camp--seven lodges.

That night, after they had reached camp, they were inviting each other to
feasts. It was getting pretty late in the night, and the moon was shining
brightly, when one of the Bloods called out for Heavy Collar to come and
eat with him. Heavy Collar shouted, "Yes, I will be there pretty soon." He
got up and went out of the lodge, and went a little way from it, and sat
down. While he was sitting there, a big bear walked out of the brush close
to him. Heavy Collar felt around him for a stone to throw at the bear, so
as to scare it away, for he thought it had not seen him. As he was feeling
about, his hand came upon a piece of bone, and he threw this over at the
bear, and hit it. Then the bear spoke, and said: "Well, well, well, Heavy
Collar; you have killed me once, and now here you are hitting me. Where is
there a place in this world where you can hide from me? I will find you, I
don't care where you may go." When Heavy Collar heard this, he knew it was
the ghost woman, and he jumped up and ran toward his lodge, calling out,
"Run, run! a ghost bear is upon us!"

All the people in the camp ran to his lodge, so that it was crowded full of
people. There was a big fire in the lodge, and the wind was blowing hard
from the west. Men, women, and children were huddled together in the lodge,
and were very much afraid of the ghost. They could hear her walking toward
the lodge, grumbling, and saying: "I will kill all these dogs. Not one of
them shall get away." The sounds kept coming closer and closer, until they
were right at the lodge door. Then she said, "I will smoke you to death."
And as she said this, she moved the poles, so that the wings of the lodge
turned toward the west, and the wind could blow in freely through the smoke
hole. All this time she was threatening terrible things against them. The
lodge began to get full of smoke, and the children were crying, and all
were in great distress--almost suffocating. So they said, "Let us lift one
man up here inside, and let him try to fix the ears, so that the lodge will
get clear of smoke." They raised a man up, and he was standing on the
shoulders of the others, and, blinded and half strangled by the smoke, was
trying to turn the wings. While he was doing this, the ghost suddenly hit
the lodge a blow, and said, "_Un_!" and this scared the people who were
holding the man, and they jumped and let him go, and he fell down. Then the
people were in despair, and said, "It is no use; she is resolved to smoke
us to death." All the time the smoke was getting thicker in the lodge.

Heavy Collar said: "Is it possible that she can destroy us? Is there no one
here who has some strong dream power that can overcome this ghost?"

His mother said: "I will try to do something. I am older than any of you,
and I will see what I can do." So she got down her medicine bundle and
painted herself, and got out a pipe and filled it and lighted it, and stuck
the stem out through the lodge door, and sat there and began to pray to the
ghost woman. She said: "Oh ghost, take pity on us, and go away. We have
never wronged you, but you are troubling us and frightening our
children. Accept what I offer you, and leave us alone."

A voice came from behind the lodge and said: "No, no, no; you dogs, I will
not listen to you. Every one of you must die."

The old woman repeated her prayer: "Ghost, take pity on us. Accept this
smoke and go away."

Then the ghost said: "How can you expect me to smoke, when I am way back
here? Bring that pipe out here. I have no long bill to reach round the
lodge." So the old woman went out of the lodge door, and reached out the
stem of the pipe as far as she could reach around toward the back of the
lodge. The ghost said: "No, I do not wish to go around there to where you
have that pipe. If you want me to smoke it, you must bring it here." The
old woman went around the lodge toward her, and the ghost woman began to
back away, and said, "No, I do not smoke that kind of a pipe." And when the
ghost started away, the old woman followed her, and she could not help

She called out, "Oh my children, the ghost is carrying me off!" Heavy
Collar rushed out, and called to the others, "Come, and help me take my
mother from the ghost." He grasped his mother about the waist and held her,
and another man took him by the waist, and another him, until they were all
strung out, one behind the other, and all following the old woman, who was
following the ghost woman, who was walking away.

All at once the old woman let go of the pipe, and fell over dead. The ghost
disappeared, and they were troubled no more by the ghost woman.


There was once a man who had two bad wives. They had no shame. The man
thought if he moved away where there were no other people, he might teach
these women to become good, so he moved his lodge away off on the prairie.
Near where they camped was a high butte, and every evening about sundown,
the man would go up on top of it, and look all over the country to see
where the buffalo were feeding, and if any enemies were approaching. There
was a buffalo skull on the hill, which he used to sit on.

"This is very lonesome," said one woman to the other, one day. "We have no
one to talk with nor to visit."

"Let us kill our husband," said the other. "Then we will go back to our
relations and have a good time."

Early in the morning, the man went out to hunt, and as soon as he was out
of sight, his wives went up on top of the butte. There they dug a deep pit,
and covered it over with light sticks, grass, and dirt, and placed the
buffalo skull on top.

In the afternoon they saw their husband coming home, loaded down with meat
he had killed. So they hurried to cook for him. After eating, he went up on
the butte and sat down on the skull. The slender sticks gave way, and he
fell into the pit. His wives were watching him, and when they saw him
disappear, they took down the lodge, packed everything on the dog travois,
and moved off, going toward the main camp. When they got near it, so that
the people could hear them, they began to cry and mourn.

"Why is this?" they were asked. "Why are you mourning? Where is your

"He is dead," they replied. "Five days ago he went out to hunt, and he
never came back." And they cried and mourned again.

When the man fell into the pit, he was hurt. After a while he tried to get
out, but he was so badly bruised he could not climb up. A wolf, travelling
along, came to the pit and saw him, and pitied him. _Ah-h-w-o-o-o-o!
Ah-h-w-o-o-o-o!_ he howled, and when the other wolves heard him they all
came running to see what was the matter. There came also many coyotes,
badgers, and kit-foxes.

"In this hole," said the wolf, "is my find. Here is a fallen-in man. Let us
dig him out, and we will have him for our brother."

They all thought the wolf spoke well, and began to dig. In a little while
they had a hole close to the man. Then the wolf who found him said, "Hold
on; I want to speak a few words to you." All the animals listening, he
continued, "We will all have this man for our brother, but I found him, so
I think he ought to live with us big wolves." All the others said that this
was well; so the wolf went into the hole, and tearing down the rest of the
dirt, dragged the almost dead man out. They gave him a kidney to eat, and
when he was able to walk a little, the big wolves took him to their
home. Here there was a very old blind wolf, who had powerful medicine. He
cured the man, and made his head and hands look like those of a wolf. The
rest of his body was not changed.

In those days the people used to make holes in the pis'kun walls and set
snares, and when wolves and other animals came to steal meat, they were
caught by the neck. One night the wolves all went down to the pis'kun to
steal meat, and when they got close to it, the man-wolf said: "Stand here a
little while. I will go down and fix the places, so you will not be
caught." He went on and sprung all the snares; then he went back and called
the wolves and others,--the coyotes, badgers, and foxes,--and they all went
in the pis'kun and feasted, and took meat to carry home.

In the morning the people were surprised to find the meat gone, and their
nooses all drawn out. They wondered how it could have been done. For many
nights the nooses were drawn and the meat stolen; but once, when the wolves
went there to steal, they found only the meat of a scabby bull, and the
man-wolf was angry, and cried out: "Bad-you-give-us-o-o-o!

The people heard him, and said: "It is a man-wolf who has done all this. We
will catch him." So they put pemmican and nice back fat in the pis'kun, and
many hid close by. After dark the wolves came again, and when the man-wolf
saw the good food, he ran to it and began eating. Then the people all
rushed in and caught him with ropes and took him to a lodge. When they got
inside to the light of the fire, they knew at once who it was. They said,
"This is the man who was lost."

"No," said the man, "I was not lost. My wives tried to kill me. They dug a
deep hole, and I fell into it, and I was hurt so badly that I could not get
out; but the wolves took pity on me and helped me, or I would have died

When the people heard this, they were angry, and they told the man to do

"You say well," he replied. "I give those women to the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi;_
they know what to do."

After that night the two women were never seen again.


Once, long ago, the antelope and the deer met on the prairie. At this time
both of them had galls and both dew claws. They began to talk together, and
each was telling the other what he could do. Each one told how fast he
could run, and before long they were disputing as to which could run the
faster. Neither would allow that the other could beat him, so they agreed
that they would have a race to decide which was the swifter, and they bet
their galls on the race. When they ran, the antelope proved the faster
runner, and beat the deer and took his gall.

Then the deer said: "Yes, you have beaten me on the prairie, but that is
not where I live. I only go out there sometimes to feed, or when I am
travelling around. We ought to have another race in the timber. That is my
home, and there I can run faster than you can."

The antelope felt very big because he had beaten the deer in the race, and
he thought wherever they might be, he could run faster than the deer. So he
agreed to race in the timber, and on this race they bet their dew claws.

They ran through the thick timber, among the brush and over fallen logs,
and this time the antelope ran slowly, because he was not used to this kind
of travelling, and the deer easily beat him, and took his dew claws.

Since then the deer has had no gall, and the antelope no dew claws.

[NOTE. A version of the first portion of this story is current among the
Pawnees, and has been printed in Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk Tales.]



Many years ago there lived in the Blood camp a boy named Screech Owl
(A'-tsi-tsi). He was rather a lonely boy, and did not care to go with other
boys. He liked better to be by himself. Often he would go off alone, and
stay out all night away from the camp. He used to pray to all kinds of
birds and animals that he saw, and ask them to take pity on him and help
him, saying that he wanted to be a warrior. He never used paint. He was a
fine looking young man, and he thought it was foolish to use paint to make
oneself good looking.

When Screech Owl was about fourteen years old, a large party of Blackfeet
were starting to war against the Crees and the Assinaboines. The young man
said to his father: "Father, with this war party many of my cousins are
going. I think that now I am old enough to go to war, and I would like to
join them." His father said, "My son, I am willing; you may go." So he
joined the party.

His father gave his son his own war horse, a black horse with a white spot
on its side--a very fast horse. He offered him arms, but the boy refused
them all, except a little trapping axe. He said, "I think this hatchet will
be all that I shall need." Just as they were about to start, his father
gave the boy his own war headdress. This was not a war bonnet, but a plume
made of small feathers, the feathers of thunder birds, for the thunder bird
was his father's medicine. He said to the boy, "Now, my son, when you go
into battle, put this plume in your head, and wear it as I have worn it."

The party started and travelled north-east, and at length they came to
where Fort Pitt now stands, on the Saskatchewan River. When they had got
down below Fort Pitt, they saw three riders, going out hunting. These men
had not seen the war party. The Blackfeet started around the men, so as to
head them off when they should run. When they saw the men, the Screech Owl
got off his horse, and took off all his clothes, and put on his father's
war plume, and began to ride around, singing his father's war song. The
older warriors were getting ready for the attack, and when they saw this
young boy acting in this way, they thought he was making fun of the older
men, and they said: "Here, look at this boy! Has he no shame? He had better
stay behind." When they got on their horses, they told him to stay behind,
and they charged the Crees. But the boy, instead of staying behind, charged
with them, and took the lead, for he had the best horse of all. He, a boy,
was leading the war party, and still singing his war song.

The three Crees began to run, and the boy kept gaining on them. They did
not want to separate, they kept together; and as the boy was getting closer
and closer, the last one turned in his saddle and shot at the Screech Owl,
but missed him. As the Cree fired, the boy whipped up his horse, and rode
up beside the Cree and struck him with his little trapping axe, and knocked
him off his horse. He paid no attention to the man that he had struck, but
rode on to the next Cree. As he came up with him, the Cree raised his gun
and fired, but just as he did so, the Blackfoot dropped down on the other
side of his horse, and the ball passed over him. He straightened up on his
horse, rode up by the Cree, and as he passed, knocked him off his horse
with his axe. When he knocked the second Cree off his horse, the Blackfeet,
who were following, whooped in triumph and to encourage him, shouting,
"_A-wah-heh'_" (Take courage). The boy was still singing his father's war

By this time, the main body of the Blackfeet were catching up with him. He
whipped his horse on both sides, and rode on after the third Cree, who was
also whipping his horse as hard as he could, and trying to get
away. Meantime, some of the Blackfeet had stopped to count _coup_ on and
scalp the two dead Crees, and to catch the two ponies. Screech Owl at last
got near to the third Cree, who kept aiming his gun at him. The boy did not
want to get too close, until the Cree had fired his gun, but he was gaining
a little, and all the time was throwing himself from side to side on his
horse, so as to make it harder for the Cree to hit him. When he had nearly
overtaken the enemy, the Cree turned, raised his gun and fired; but the boy
had thrown himself down behind his horse, and again the ball passed over
him. He raised himself up on his horse, and rushed on the Cree, and struck
him in the side of the body with his axe, and then again, and with the
second blow, he knocked him off his horse.

The boy rode on a little further, stopped, and jumped off his horse, while
the rest of the Blackfeet had come up and were killing the fallen man. He
stood off to one side and watched them count _coup_ on and scalp the dead.

The Blackfeet were much surprised at what the young man had done. After a
little while, the leader decided that they would go back to the camp from
which they had come. When he had returned from this war journey this young
man's name was changed from A'-tsi-tsi to E-k[=u]s'-kini (Low Horn). This
was his first war path.

From that time on the name of E-k[=u]s'-kini was often heard as that of one
doing some great deed.


E-k[=u]s'-kini started on his last war trail from the Black-foot crossing
_(Su-yoh-pah'-wah-ku)_. He led a party of six Sarcees. He was the seventh

On the second day out, they came to the Red Deer's River. When they reached
this river, they found it very high, so they built a raft to cross on. They
camped on the other side. In crossing, most of their powder got wet. The
next morning, when they awoke, E-k[=u]s'-kini said: "Well, trouble is
coming for us. We had better go back from here. We started on a wrong
day. I saw in my sleep our bodies lying on the prairie, dead." Some of the
young men said: "Oh well, we have started, we had better go on. Perhaps it
is only a mistake. Let us go on and try to take some horses anyhow."
E-k[=u]s'-kini said: "Yes, that is very true. To go home is all
foolishness; but remember that it is by your wish that we are going on."
He wanted to go back, not on his own account, but for the sake of his young
men--to save his followers.

From there they went on and made another camp, and the next morning he said
to his young men: "Now I am sure. I have seen it for certain. Trouble is
before us." They camped two nights at this place and dried some of their
powder, but most of it was caked and spoilt. He said to his young men:
"Here, let us use some sense about this. We have no ammunition. We cannot
defend ourselves. Let us turn back from here." So they started across the
country for their camp.

They crossed the Red Deer's River, and there camped again. The next morning
E-k[=u]s'-kini said: "I feel very uneasy to-day. Two of you go ahead on the
trail and keep a close lookout. I am afraid that to-day we are going to see
our enemy." Two of the young men went ahead, and when they had climbed to
the top of a ridge and looked over it on to Sarvis Berry (Saskatoon) Creek,
they came back and told E-k[=u]s'-kini that they had seen a large camp of
people over there, and that they thought it was the Piegans, Bloods,
Blackfeet, and Sarcees, who had all moved over there together. Saskatoon
Creek was about twenty miles from the Blackfoot camp. He said: "No, it
cannot be our people. They said nothing about moving over here; it must be
a war party. It is only a few days since we left, and there was then no
talk of their leaving that camp. It cannot be they." The two young men
said: "Yes, they are our people. There are too many of them for a war
party. We think that the whole camp is there." They discussed this for some
little time, E-k[=u]s'-kini insisting that it could not be the Blackfoot
camp, while the young men felt sure that it was. These two men said, "Well,
we are going on into the camp now." Low Horn said: "Well, you may go. Tell
my father that I will come into the camp to-night. I do not like to go in
in the daytime, when I am not bringing back anything with me."

It was now late in the afternoon, and the two young men went ahead toward
the camp, travelling on slowly. A little after sundown, they came down the
hill on to the flat of the river, and saw there the camp. They walked down
toward it, to the edge of the stream, and there met two women, who had come
down after water. The men spoke to them in Sarcee, and said, "Where is the
Sarcee camp?" The women did not understand them, so they spoke again, and
asked the same question in Blackfoot. Then these two women called out in
the Cree language, "Here are two Blackfeet, who have come here and are
talking to us." When these men heard the women talk Cree, and saw what a
mistake they had made, they turned and ran away up the creek. They ran up
above camp a short distance, to a place where a few willow bushes were
hanging over the stream, and pushing through these, they hid under the
bank, and the willows above concealed them. The people in the camp came
rushing out, and men ran up the creek, and down, and looked everywhere for
the two enemies, but could find nothing of them.

Now when these people were running in all directions, hunting for these two
men, E-k[=u]s'-kini was coming down the valley slowly with the four other
Sarcees. He saw some Indians coming toward him, and supposed that they were
some of his own people, coming to meet him, with horses for him to ride. At
length, when they were close to him, and E-k[=u]s'-kini could see that they
were the enemy, and were taking the covers off their guns, he jumped to one
side and stood alone and began to sing his war song. He called out,
"Children of the Crees, if you have come to try my manhood, do your best."
In a moment or two he was surrounded, and they were shooting at him from
all directions. He called out again, "People, you can't kill me here, but
I will take my body to your camp, and there you shall kill me." So he
advanced, fighting his way toward the Cree camp, but before he started, he
killed two of the Crees there. His enemies kept coming up and clustering
about him: some were on foot and some on horseback. They were thick about
him on all sides, and they could not shoot much at him, for fear of killing
their own people on the other side.

One of the Sarcees fell. E-k[=u]s'-kini said to his men, "_A-wah-heh'_"
(Take courage). "These people cannot kill us here. Where that patch of
choke-cherry brush is, in the very centre of their camp, we will go and
take our stand." Another Sarcee fell, and now there were only three of
them. E-k[=u]s'-kini said to his remaining men: "Go straight to that patch
of brush, and I will fight the enemy off in front and at the sides, and so
will keep the way open for you. These people cannot kill us here. There are
too many of their own people. If we can get to that brush, we will hurt
them badly." All this time they were killing enemies, fighting bravely, and
singing their war songs. At last they gained the patch of brush, and then
with their knives they began to dig holes in the ground, and to throw up a

In the Cree camp was K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s (Round), the chief of the
Crees, who could talk Blackfoot well. He called out: "E-k[=u]s'-kini, there
is a little ravine running out of that brush patch, which puts into the
hills. Crawl out through that, and try to get away. It is not guarded."
E-k[=u]s'-kini replied: "No, Children of the Crees, I will not go. You must
remember that it is E-k[=u]s'-kini that you are fighting with--a man who
has done much harm to your people. I am glad that I am here. I am sorry for
only one thing; that is, that my ammunition is going to run out. To-morrow
you may kill me."

All night long the fight was kept up, the enemy shooting all the time, and
all night long E-k[=u]s'-kini sang his death song. K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s
called to him several times: "E-k[=u]s'-kini, you had better do what I tell
you. Try to get away." But he shouted back, "No," and laughed at them. He
said: "You have killed all my men. I am here alone, but you cannot kill
me." K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s, the chief, said: "Well, if you are there at
daylight in the morning, I will go into that brush and will catch you with
my hands. I will be the man who will put an end to you." E-k[=u]s'-kini
said: "K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s, do not try to do that. If you do, you shall
surely die." The patch of brush in which he had hidden had now been all
shot away, cut off by the bullets of the enemy.

When day came, E-k[=u]s'-kini called out: "Eh, K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s, it
is broad daylight now. I have run out of ammunition. I have not another
grain of powder in my horn. Now come and take me in your hands, as you
said you would." K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s answered: "Yes, I said that I was
the one who was going to catch you this morning. Now I am coming."

He took off all his clothes, and alone rushed for the
breastworks. E-k[=u]s'-kini's ammunition was all gone, but he still had one
load in his gun, and his dagger. K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s came on with his
gun at his shoulder, and E-k[=u]s'-kini sat there with his gun in his hand,
looking at the man who was coming toward him with the cocked gun pointed at
him. He was singing his death song. As K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s got up close,
and just as he was about to fire, E-k[=u]s'-kini threw up his gun and
fired, and the ball knocked off the Cree chiefs forefinger, and going on,
entered his right eye and came out at the temple, knocking the eye
out. K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s went down, and his gun flew a long way.

When K[)o]m-in'-[)a]-k[=u]s fell, the whole camp shouted the war whoop, and
cried out, "This is his last shot," and they all charged on him. They knew
that he had no more ammunition.

The head warrior of the Crees was named Bunch of Lodges. He was the first
man to jump inside the breastworks. As he sprang inside, E-k[=u]s'-kini
met him, and thrust his dagger through him, and killed him on the spot.
Then, as the enemy threw themselves on him, and he began to feel the knives
stuck into him from all sides, he gave a war whoop and laughed, and said,
"Only now I begin to think that I am fighting." All the time he was cutting
and stabbing, jumping backward and forward, and all the time laughing. When
he was dead, there were fifteen dead Crees lying about the
earthworks. E-k[=u]s'-kini body was cut into small pieces and scattered all
over the country, so that he might not come to life again.


That morning, before it was daylight, the two Sarcees who had hidden in the
willows left their hiding-place and made their way to the Blackfoot
camp. When they got there, they told that when they had left the Cree camp
E-k[=u]s'kini was surrounded, and the firing was terrible. When
E-k[=u]s'-kini's father heard this, he got on his horse and rode through
the camp, calling out: "My boy is surrounded; let us turn out and go to
help him. I have no doubt they are many tens to one, but he is powerful,
and he may be fighting yet." No time was lost in getting ready, and soon a
large party started for the Cree camp. When they came to the battle-ground,
the camp had been moved a long time. The old man looked about, trying to
gather up his son's body, but it was found only in small pieces, and not
more than half of it could be gathered up.

After the fight was over, the Crees started on down to go to their own
country. One day six Crees were travelling along on foot, scouting far
ahead. As they were going down into a little ravine, a grizzly bear jumped
up in front of them and ran after them. The bear overtook, and tore up,
five of them, one after another. The sixth got away, and came home to
camp. The Crees and the Blackfeet believe that this was the spirit of
E-k[=u]s'-kini, for thus he comes back. They think that he is still on the
earth, but in a different shape.

E-k[=u]s'-kini was killed about forty years ago. When he was killed, he was
still a boy, not married, only about twenty-four years old.





In the earliest times there was no war. All the tribes were at peace. In
those days there was a man who had a daughter, a very beautiful girl. Many
young men wanted to marry her, but every time she was asked, she only shook
her head and said she did not want a husband.

"How is this?" asked her father. "Some of these young men are rich,
handsome, and brave."

"Why should I marry?" replied the girl. "I have a rich father and
mother. Our lodge is good. The parfleches are never empty. There are plenty
of tanned robes and soft furs for winter. Why worry me, then?"

The Raven Bearers held a dance; they all dressed carefully and wore their
ornaments, and each one tried to dance the best. Afterwards some of them
asked for this girl, but still she said no. Then the Bulls, the Kit-foxes,
and others of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ held their dances, and all those who
were rich, many great warriors, asked this man for his daughter, but to
every one of them she said no. Then her father was angry, and said: "Why,
now, this way? All the best men have asked for you, and still you say no. I
believe you have a secret lover."

"Ah!" said her mother. "What shame for us should a child be born and our
daughter still unmarried!" "Father! mother!" replied the girl, "pity me. I
have no secret lover, but now hear the truth. That Above Person, the Sun,
told me, 'Do not marry any of those men, for you are mine; thus you shall
be happy, and live to great age'; and again he said, 'Take heed. You must
not marry. You are mine.'"

"Ah!" replied her father. "It must always be as he says." And they talked
no more about it.

There was a poor young man, very poor. His father, mother, all his
relations, had gone to the Sand Hills. He had no lodge, no wife to tan his
robes or sew his moccasins. He stopped in one lodge to-day, and to-morrow
he ate and slept in another; thus he lived. He was a good-looking young
man, except that on his cheek he had a scar, and his clothes were always
old and poor.

After those dances some of the young men met this poor Scarface, and they
laughed at him, and said: "Why don't you ask that girl to marry you? You
are so rich and handsome!" Scarface did not laugh; he replied: "Ah! I will
do as you say. I will go and ask her." All the young men thought this was
funny. They laughed a great deal. But Scarface went down by the river. He
waited by the river, where the women came to get water, and by and by the
girl came along. "Girl," he said, "wait. I want to speak with you. Not as a
designing person do I ask you, but openly where the Sun looks down, and all
may see."

"Speak then," said the girl.

"I have seen the days," continued the young man "You have refused those who
are young, and rich, and brave. Now, to-day, they laughed and said to me,
'Why do you not ask her?' I am poor, very poor. I have no lodge, no food,
no clothes, no robes and warm furs. I have no relations; all have gone to
the Sand Hills; yet, now, to-day, I ask you, take pity, be my wife."

The girl hid her face in her robe and brushed the ground with the point of
her moccasin, back and forth, back and forth; for she was thinking. After a
time she said: "True. I have refused all those rich young men, yet now the
poor one asks me, and I am glad. I will be your wife, and my people will be
happy. You are poor, but it does not matter. My father will give you
dogs. My mother will make us a lodge. My people will give us robes and
furs. You will be poor no longer."

Then the young man was happy, and he started to kiss her, but she held him
back, and said: "Wait! The Sun has spoken to me. He says I may not marry;
that I belong to him. He says if I listen to him, I shall live to great
age. But now I say: Go to the Sun. Tell him, 'She whom you spoke with
heeds your words. She has never done wrong, but now she wants to marry. I
want her for my wife.' Ask him to take that scar from your face. That will
be his sign. I will know he is pleased. But if he refuses, or if you fail
to find his lodge, then do not return to me."

"Oh!" cried the young man, "at first your words were good. I was glad. But
now it is dark. My heart is dead. Where is that far-off lodge? where the
trail, which no one yet has travelled?"

"Take courage, take courage!" said the girl; and she went to her lodge.


Scarface was very sad. He sat down and covered his head with his robe and
tried to think what to do. After a while he got up, and went to an old
woman who had been kind to him. "Pity me," he said. "I am very poor. I am
going away now on a long journey. Make me some moccasins."

"Where are you going?" asked the old woman. "There is no war; we are very
peaceful here."

"I do not know where I shall go," replied Scarface. "I am in trouble, but I
cannot tell you now what it is."

So the old woman made him some moccasins, seven pairs, with parfleche
soles, and also she gave him a sack of food,--pemmican of berries, pounded
meat, and dried back fat; for this old woman had a good heart. She liked
the young man.

All alone, and with a sad heart, he climbed the bluffs and stopped to take
a last look at the camp. He wondered if he would ever see his sweetheart
and the people again. "_ Hai'-yu!_ Pity me, O Sun," he prayed, and turning,
he started to find the trail.

For many days he travelled on, over great prairies, along timbered rivers
and among the mountains, and every day his sack of food grew lighter; but
he saved it as much as he could, and ate berries, and roots, and sometimes
he killed an animal of some kind. One night he stopped by the home of a
wolf. "_Hai-yah!_" said that one; "what is my brother doing so far from

"Ah!" replied Scarface, "I seek the place where the Sun lives; I am sent to
speak with him."

"I have travelled far," said the wolf. "I know all the prairies, the
valleys, and the mountains, but I have never seen the Sun's home. Wait; I
know one who is very wise. Ask the bear. He may tell you."

The next day the man travelled on again, stopping now and then to pick a
few berries, and when night came he arrived at the bear's lodge.

"Where is your home?" asked the bear. "Why are you travelling alone, my

"Help me! Pity me!" replied the young man; "because of her words[1] I seek
the Sun. I go to ask him for her."

[Footnote 1: A Blackfoot often talks of what this or that person said,
without mentioning names.]

"I know not where he stops," replied the bear. "I have travelled by many
rivers, and I know the mountains, yet I have never seen his lodge. There is
some one beyond, that striped-face, who is very smart. Go and ask him."

The badger was in his hole. Stooping over, the young man shouted: "Oh,
cunning striped-face! Oh, generous animal! I wish to speak with you."

"What do you want?" said the badger, poking his head out of the hole.

"I want to find the Sun's home," replied Scarface. "I want to speak with

"I do not know where he lives," replied the badger. "I never travel very
far. Over there in the timber is a wolverine. He is always travelling
around, and is of much knowledge. Maybe he can tell you."

Then Scarface went to the woods and looked all around for the wolverine,
but could not find him. So he sat down to rest "_Hai'-yu! Hai'-yu!_" he
cried. "Wolverine, take pity on me. My food is gone, my moccasins worn out.
Now I must die."

"What is it, my brother?" he heard, and looking around, he saw the animal
sitting near.

"She whom I would marry," said Scarface, "belongs to the Sun; I am trying
to find where he lives, to ask him for her."

"Ah!" said the wolverine. "I know where he lives. Wait; it is nearly
night. To-morrow I will show you the trail to the big water. He lives on
the other side of it."

Early in the morning, the wolverine showed him the trail, and Scarface
followed it until he came to the water's edge. He looked out over it, and
his heart almost stopped. Never before had any one seen such a big
water. The other side could not be seen, and there was no end to
it. Scarface sat down on the shore. His food was all gone, his moccasins
worn out. His heart was sick. "I cannot cross this big water," he said. "I
cannot return to the people. Here, by this water, I shall die."

Not so. His Helpers were there. Two swans came swimming up to the
shore. "Why have you come here?" they asked him. "What are you doing? It is
very far to the place where your people live."

"I am here," replied Scarface, "to die. Far away, in my country, is a
beautiful girl. I want to marry her, but she belongs to the Sun. So I
started to find him and ask for her. I have travelled many days. My food is
gone. I cannot go back. I cannot cross this big water, so I am going to

"No," said the swans; "it shall not be so. Across this water is the home of
that Above Person. Get on our backs, and we will take you there."

Scarface quickly arose. He felt strong again. He waded out into the water
and lay down on the swans' backs, and they started off. Very deep and black
is that fearful water. Strange people live there, mighty animals which
often seize and drown a person. The swans carried him safely, and took him
to the other side. Here was a broad hard trail leading back from the
water's edge.

"_Kyi_" said the swans. "You are now close to the Sun's lodge. Follow that
trail, and you will soon see it."


Scarface started up the trail, and pretty soon he came to some beautiful
things, lying in it. There was a war shirt, a shield, and a bow and
arrows. He had never seen such pretty weapons; but he did not touch
them. He walked carefully around them, and travelled on. A little way
further on, he met a young man, the handsomest person he had ever seen. His
hair was very long, and he wore clothing made of strange skins. His
moccasins were sewn with bright colored feathers. The young man said to
him, "Did you see some weapons lying on the trail?"

"Yes," replied Scarface; "I saw them."

"But did you not touch them?" asked the young man.

"No; I thought some one had left them there, so I did not take them."

"You are not a thief," said the young man. "What is your name?"


"Where are you going?"

"To the Sun."

"My name," said the young man, "is A-pi-su'-ahts[1]. The Sun is my father;
come, I will take you to our lodge. My father is not now at home, but he
will come in at night."

[Footnote 1: Early Riser, i.e. The Morning Star.]

Soon they came to the lodge. It was very large and handsome; strange
medicine animals were painted on it. Behind, on a tripod, were strange
weapons and beautiful clothes--the Sun's. Scarface was ashamed to go in,
but Morning Star said, "Do not be afraid, my friend; we are glad you have

They entered. One person was sitting there, Ko-ko-mik'-e-is[2], the Sun's
wife, Morning Star's mother. She spoke to Scarface kindly, and gave him
something to eat. "Why have you come so far from your people?" she asked.

[Footnote 2: Night red light, the Moon.]

Then Scarface told her about the beautiful girl he wanted to marry. "She
belongs to the Sun," he said. "I have come to ask him for her."

When it was time for the Sun to come home, the Moon hid Scarface under a
pile of robes. As soon as the Sun got to the doorway, he stopped, and said,
"I smell a person."

"Yes, father," said Morning Star; "a good young man has come to see you. I
know he is good, for he found some of my things on the trail and did not
touch them."

Then Scarface came out from under the robes, and the Sun entered and sat
down. "I am glad you have come to our lodge," he said. "Stay with us as
long as you think best. My son is lonesome sometimes; be his friend."

The next day the Moon called Scarface out of the lodge, and said to him:
"Go with Morning Star where you please, but never hunt near that big water;
do not let him go there. It is the home of great birds which have long
sharp bills; they kill people. I have had many sons, but these birds have
killed them all. Morning Star is the only one left."

So Scarface stayed there a long time and hunted with Morning Star. One day
they came near the water, and saw the big birds.

"Come," said Morning Star; "let us go and kill those birds."

"No, no!" replied Scarface; "we must not go there. Those are very terrible
birds; they will kill us."

Morning Star would not listen. He ran towards the water, and Scarface
followed. He knew that he must kill the birds and save the boy. If not, the
Sun would be angry and might kill him. He ran ahead and met the birds,
which were coming towards him to fight, and killed every one of them with
his spear: not one was left. Then the young men cut off their heads, and
carried them home. Morning Star's mother was glad when they told her what
they had done, and showed her the birds' heads. She cried, and called
Scarface "my son." When the Sun came home at night, she told him about it,
and he too was glad. "My son," he said to Scarface, "I will not forget what
you have this day done for me. Tell me now, what can I do for you?"

"_Hai'-yu_" replied Scarface. "_Hai'-yu_, pity me. I am here to ask you for
that girl. I want to marry her. I asked her, and she was glad; but she says
you own her, that you told her not to marry."

"What you say is true," said the Sun. "I have watched the days, so I know
it. Now, then, I give her to you; she is yours. I am glad she has been
wise. I know she has never done wrong. The Sun pities good women. They
shall live a long time. So shall their husbands and children. Now you will
soon go home. Let me tell you something. Be wise and listen: I am the only
chief. Everything is mine. I made the earth, the mountains, prairies,
rivers, and forests. I made the people and all the animals. This is why I
say I alone am the chief. I can never die. True, the winter makes me old
and weak, but every summer I grow young again."

Then said the Sun: "What one of all animals is smartest? The raven is, for
he always finds food. He is never hungry. Which one of all the animals is
most _Nat-o'-ye_[1]? The buffalo is. Of all animals, I like him best. He
is for the people. He is your food and your shelter. What part of his body
is sacred? The tongue is. That is mine. What else is sacred? Berries
are. They are mine too. Come with me and see the world." He took Scarface
to the edge of the sky, and they looked down and saw it. It is round and
flat, and all around the edge is the jumping-off place [or walls straight
down]. Then said the Sun: "When any man is sick or in danger, his wife may
promise to build me a lodge, if he recovers. If the woman is pure and true,
then I will be pleased and help the man. But if she is bad, if she lies,
then I will be angry. You shall build the lodge like the world, round, with
walls, but first you must build a sweat house of a hundred sticks. It shall
be like the sky [a hemisphere], and half of it shall be painted red. That
is me. The other half you will paint black. That is the night."

[Footnote 1: This word may be translated as "of the Sun," "having Sun
power," or more properly, something sacred.]

Further said the Sun: "Which is the best, the heart or the brain? The brain
is. The heart often lies, the brain never." Then he told Scarface
everything about making the Medicine Lodge, and when he had finished, he
rubbed a powerful medicine on his face, and the scar disappeared. Then he
gave him two raven feathers, saying: "These are the sign for the girl, that
I give her to you. They must always be worn by the husband of the woman who
builds a Medicine Lodge."

The young man was now ready to return home. Morning Star and the Sun gave
him many beautiful presents. The Moon cried and kissed him, and called him
"my son." Then the Sun showed him the short trail. It was the Wolf Road
(Milky Way). He followed it, and soon reached the ground.


It was a very hot day. All the lodge skins were raised, and the people sat
in the shade. There was a chief, a very generous man, and all day long
people kept coming to his lodge to feast and smoke with him. Early in the
morning this chief saw a person sitting out on a butte near by, close
wrapped in his robe. The chief's friends came and went, the sun reached the
middle, and passed on, down towards the mountains. Still this person did
not move. When it was almost night, the chief said: "Why does that person
sit there so long? The heat has been strong, but he has never eaten nor
drunk. He may be a stranger; go and ask him in."

So some young men went up to him, and said: "Why do you sit here in the
great heat all day? Come to the shade of the lodges. The chief asks you to
feast with him."

Then the person arose and threw off his robe, and they were surprised. He
wore beautiful clothes. His bow, shield, and other weapons were of strange
make. But they knew his face, although the scar was gone, and they ran
ahead, shouting, "The scarface poor young man has come. He is poor no
longer. The scar on his face is gone."

All the people rushed out to see him. "Where have you been?" they
asked. "Where did you get all these pretty things?" He did not
answer. There in the crowd stood that young woman; and taking the two raven
feathers from his head, he gave them to her, and said: "The trail was very
long, and I nearly died, but by those Helpers, I found his lodge. He is
glad. He sends these feathers to you. They are the sign."

Great was her gladness then. They were married, and made the first Medicine
Lodge, as the Sun had said. The Sun was glad. He gave them great age. They
were never sick. When they were very old, one morning, their children said:
"Awake! Rise and eat." They did not move. In the night, in sleep, without
pain, their shadows had departed for the Sand Hills.




[Footnote 1: An account of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_, with a list of its
different bands or societies and their duties, will be found in the chapter
on Social Organization.]

The people had built a great pis'kun, very high and strong, so that no
buffalo could escape; but somehow the buffalo would not jump over the
cliff. When driven toward it, they would run nearly to the edge, and then,
swerving to the right or left, they would go down the sloping hills and
cross the valley in safety. So the people were hungry, and began to starve.

One morning, early, a young woman went to get water, and she saw a herd of
buffalo feeding on the prairie, right on the edge of the cliff above the
pis'kun. "Oh!" she cried out, "if you will only jump off into the pis'kun,
I will marry one of you." This she said for fun, not meaning it, and great
was her wonder when she saw the buffalo come jumping, tumbling, falling
over the cliff.

Now the young woman was scared, for a big bull with one bound cleared the
pis'kun walls and came toward her. "Come," he said, taking hold of her
arm. "No, no!" she replied pulling back. "But you said if the buffalo would
jump over, you would marry one; see, the pis'kun is filled." And without
more talk he led her up over the bluff, and out on to the prairie.

When the people had finished killing the buffalo and cutting up the meat,
they missed this young woman, and her relations were very sad, because they
could not find her. Then her father took his bow and quiver, and said, "I
will go and find her." And he went up over the bluff and out on the

After he had travelled some distance he came to a wallow, and a little way
off saw a herd of buffalo. While sitting by the wallow,--for he was
tired--and thinking what he should do, a magpie came and lit near him. "Ha!
_Ma-me-at-si-kim-i"_ he said, "you are a beautiful bird; help me. Look
everywhere as you travel about, and if you see my daughter, tell her, 'Your
father waits by the wallow.'" The magpie flew over by the herd of buffalo,
and seeing the young woman, he lit on the ground near her, and commenced
picking around, turning his head this way and that way, and, when close to
her, he said, "Your father waits by the wallow." "Sh-h-h! sh-h-h!" replied
the girl, in a whisper, looking around scared, for her bull husband was
sleeping near by. "Don't speak so loud. Go back and tell him to wait."

"Your daughter is over there with the buffalo. She says 'wait!'" said the
magpie, when he had flown back to the man.

By and by the bull awoke, and said to his wife, "Go and get me some water."
Then the woman was glad, and taking a horn from his head she went to the
wallow. "Oh, why did you come?" she said to her father. "You will surely be

"I came to take my daughter home; come, let us hurry."

"No, no!" she replied; "not now. They would chase us and kill us. Wait till
he sleeps again, and I will try to get away," and, filling the horn with
water, she went back.

The bull drank a swallow of the water. "Ha!" said he, "a person is close by

"No one," replied the woman; but her heart rose up.

The bull drank a little more, and then he stood up and bellowed, "_Bu-u-u!
m-m-ah-oo!"_ Oh, fearful sound! Up rose the bulls, raised their short tails
and shook them, tossed their great heads, and bellowed back. Then they
pawed the dirt, rushed about here and there, and coming to the wallow,
found that poor man. There they trampled him with their great hoofs, hooked
him and trampled him again, and soon not even a small piece of his body
could be seen.

Then his daughter cried, "_Oh! ah! Ni-nah-ah! Oh! ah! Ni-nah-ah!_" (My
father! My father!) "Ah!" said her bull husband, "you mourn for your
father. You see now how it is with us. We have seen our mothers, fathers,
many of our relations, hurled over the rocky walls, and killed for food by
your people. But I will pity you. I will give you one chance. If you can
bring your father to life, you and he can go back to your people."

Then the woman said to the magpie: "Pity me. Help me now; go and seek in
the trampled mud; try and find a little piece of my father's body, and
bring it to me."

The magpie flew to the place. He looked in every hole, and tore up the mud
with his sharp nose. At last he found something white; he picked the mud
from around it, and then pulling hard, he brought out a joint of the
backbone, and flew with it back to the woman.

She placed it on the ground, covered it with her robe, and then
sang. Removing the robe, there lay her father's body as if just dead. Once
more she covered it with the robe and sang, and when she took away the
robe, he was breathing, and then he stood up. The buffalo were surprised;
the magpie was glad, and flew round and round, making a great noise.

"We have seen strange things this day," said her bull husband. "He whom we
trampled to death, even into small pieces, is alive again. The people's
medicine is very strong. Now, before you go, we will teach you our dance
and our song. You must not forget them."[1] When the dance was over, the
bull said: "Go now to your home, and do not forget what you have
seen. Teach it to the people. The medicine shall be a bull's head and a
robe. All the persons who are to be 'Bulls' shall wear them when they

[Footnote 1: Here the narrator repeated the song and showed the dance. As
is fitting to the dance of such great beasts, the air is slow and solemn,
and the step ponderous and deliberate.]

Great was the joy of the people, when the man returned with his
daughter. He called a council of the chiefs, and told them all that had
happened. Then the chiefs chose certain young men, and this man taught them
the dance and song of the bulls, and told them what the medicine should
be. This was the beginning of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_.



For a long time the buffalo had not been seen. The pis'kun was useless, and
the hunters could find no food for the people. Then a man who had two
wives, a daughter, and two sons, said: "I shall not stop here to
die. To-morrow we will move toward the mountains, where we shall perhaps
find deer and elk, sheep and antelope, or, if not, at least we shall find
plenty of beaver and birds. Thus we shall survive."

When morning came, they packed the travois, lashed them on the dogs, and
then moved out. It was yet winter, and they travelled slowly. They were
weak, and could go but a little way in a day. The fourth night came, and
they sat in their lodge, very tired and hungry. No one spoke, for those who
are hungry do not care for words. Suddenly the dogs began to bark, and
soon, pushing aside the door-curtain, a young man entered.

"_O'kyi!_" said the old man, and he motioned the stranger to a

They looked at this person with surprise and fear, for there was a black
wind[1] which had melted the snow, and covered the prairie with water, yet
this person's leggings and moccasins were dry. They sat in silence a long

[Footnote 1: The "Chinook."]

Then said he: "Why is this? Why do you not give me some food?"

"Ah!" replied the old man, "you behold those who are truly poor. We have no
food. For many days the buffalo did not come in sight, and we shot deer and
other animals which people eat, and when all these had been killed, we
began to starve. Then said I, 'We will not stay here to starve to death';
and we started for the mountains. This is the fourth night of our travels."

"Ah!" said the young man. "Then your travels are ended. Close by here, we
are camped by our pis'kun. Many buffalo have been run in, and our
parfleches are filled with dried meat. Wait; I will go and bring you some."

As soon as he went out, they began to talk about this strange person. They
were very much afraid of him, and did not know what to do. The children
began to cry, and the women were trying to quiet them, when the young man
returned, bringing some meat and three _pis-tsi-ko'-an._[2]

[Footnote 2: Unborn buffalo calves.]

"_Kyi!_" said he. "To-morrow move over to our lodges. Do not be afraid. No
matter what strange things you see, do not fear. All will be your
friends. Now, one thing I caution you about. In this be careful. If you
should find an arrow lying about, in the pis'kun, or outside, no matter
where, do not touch it; neither you, nor your wives nor children." Having
said this, he went out.

Then the old man took his pipe and smoked and prayed, saying: "Hear now,
Sun! Listen, Above People. Listen, Under Water People. Now you have taken
pity. Now you have given us food. We are going to those strange ones, who
walk through water with dry moccasins. Protect us among those to-be-feared
people. Let us survive. Man, woman, child, give us long life; give us long

Once more the smell of roasting meat. The children played. They talked and
laughed who had so long been silent. They ate plenty and lay down and

Early in the morning, as soon as the sun rose, they took down their lodge,
packed up, and started for the strange camp. They found it was a wonderful
place. There by the pis'kun, and far up and down the valley were the lodges
of meat-eaters. They could not see them all, but close by they saw the
lodges of the Bear band, the Fox band, and the Badger band. The father of
the young man who had given them meat was chief of the Wolf band, and by
that band they pitched their lodge. Ah! That was a happy place. Food there
was plenty. All day people shouted out for feasts, and everywhere was heard
the sound of drums and song and dancing.

The new-comers went to the pis'kun for meat, and one of the children found
an arrow lying on the ground. It was a beautiful arrow, the stone point
long and sharp, the shaft round and straight. All around the people were
busy; no one was looking. The boy picked up the arrow and hid it under his
robe. Then there was a fearful noise. All the animals howled and growled,
and ran toward him. But the chief Wolf said: "Hold! We will let him go this
time; for he is young yet, and not of good sense." So they let him go.

When night came, some one shouted out for a feast, saying:
"_Wo'-ka-hit! Wo'-ka-hit! Mah-kwe'-i-ke-tum-ok-ah-wah-hit.
Ke-t[)u]k'-ka-p[)u]k'-si-pim."_ ("Listen! Listen! Wolf, you are to
feast. Enter with your friend.") "We are asked," said the chief Wolf to his
new friend, and together they went to the lodge.

Within, the fire burned brightly, and many men were already there, the old
and wise of the Raven band. Hanging behind the seats were the writings[1]
of many deeds. Food was placed before them,--pemmican of berries and dried
back fat; and when they had eaten, a pipe was lighted. Then spoke the
Raven chief: "Now, Wolf, I am going to give our new friend a present. What
say you?"

[Footnote 1: That is, the painting on cowskin of the various battles and
adventures in which the owner of the lodge had taken part.]

"It is as you say," replied the Wolf. "Our new friend will be glad."

Then the Raven chief took from the long parfleche sack a slender stick,
beautifully dressed with many colored feathers; and on the end of it was
fastened the skin of a raven, head, wings, feet, and all. "We," he said,
"are the _Mas-to-pah'-ta-kiks_ (Raven carriers, or those who bear the
Raven). Of all the above animals, of all the flyers, where is one so smart?
None. The Raven's eyes are sharp. His wings are strong. He is a great
hunter and never hungry. Far, far off on the prairie he sees his food, and
deep hidden in the pines it does not escape his eye. Now the song and the

When he had finished singing and dancing, he gave the stick to the man, and
said: "Take it with you, and when you have returned to your people, you
shall say: Now there are already the Bulls, and he who is the Raven chief
says: 'There shall be more, there shall be the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_, so that
the people may survive, and of them shall be the Raven carriers.' You will
call a council of the chiefs and wise old men, and they will choose the
persons. Teach them the song and the dance, and give them the medicine. It
shall be theirs forever."

Soon they heard another person shouting for a feast, and, going, they
entered the lodge of the _Sin-o-pah_ chief. Here, too, were the old men
assembled. After they had eaten of that set before them, the chief said:
"Those among whom you are newly arrived are generous. They do not look at
their possessions, but give to the stranger and pity the poor. The Kit-fox
is a little animal, but what one is smarter? None. His hair is like the
dead prairie grass. His eyes are sharp, his feet noiseless, his brain
cunning. His ears receive the far-off sound. Here is our medicine, take
it." And he gave the stick. It was long, crooked at one end, wound with
fur, and tied here and there to it were eagle feathers. At the end was a
fox's skin. Again the chief said: "Hear our song. Do not forget it; and the
dance, too, you must remember. When you get home, teach them to the

Again they heard the feast shout, and he who called was the Bear chief. Now
when they had smoked, the chief said: "What say you, friend Wolf? Shall we
give our new friend something?"

"As you say," replied the Wolf. "It is yours to give."

Then said the Bear: "There are many animals, and some of them are
powerful. But the Bear is the strongest and bravest of all. He fears
nothing, and is always ready to fight." Then he put on a necklace of bear
claws, a belt of bear fur, and around his head a band of the fur; and sang
and danced. When he had finished, he gave them to the man, saying: "Teach
the people our song and dance, and give them this medicine. It is

It was now very late. The Seven Persons had arrived at midnight, yet again
they heard the feast shout from the far end of camp. In this lodge the men
were painted with streaks of red and their hair was all brushed to one
side. After the feast the chief said: "We are different from all the
others here. We are called the _Mût-siks[1]_ We are death. We know not
fear. Even if our enemies are in number like the grass, we do not turn
away, but fight and conquer. Bows are good weapons. Spears are better, but
our weapon is the knife." Then the chief sang and danced, and afterwards he
gave the Wolf's friend the medicine. It was a long knife, and many scalps
were tied on the handle. "This," he said, "is for the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_."

[Footnote 1: Brave, courageous.]

Once more they were called to a feast and entered the Badger chief's
lodge. He taught the man the Badger song and dance and gave him the
medicine. It was a large rattle, ornamented with beaver claws and bright
feathers. They smoked two pipes in the Badger's lodge, and then went home
and slept.

Early next day, the man and his family took down their lodge, and prepared
to move camp. Many women came and made them presents of dried meat,
pemmican, and berries. They were given so much they could not take it all
with them. It was many days before they joined the main camp, for the
people, too, had moved to the south after buffalo. As soon as the lodge was
pitched, the man called all the chiefs to come and feast, and he told them
all he had seen, and showed them the medicines. The chiefs chose certain
young men for the different bands, and this man taught them the songs and
dances, and gave each band their medicine.


Thunder--you have heard him, he is everywhere. He roars in the mountains,
he shouts far out on the prairie. He strikes the high rocks, and they fall
to pieces. He hits a tree, and it is broken in slivers. He strikes the
people, and they die. He is bad. He does not like the towering cliff, the
standing tree, or living man. He likes to strike and crush them to the
ground. Yes! yes! Of all he is most powerful; he is the one most
strong. But I have not told you the worst: he sometimes steals women.

Long ago, almost in the beginning, a man and his wife were sitting in their
lodge, when Thunder came and struck them. The man was not killed. At first
he was as if dead, but after a while he lived again, and rising looked
about him. His wife was not there. "Oh, well," he thought, "she has gone to
get some water or wood," and he sat a while; but when the sun had
under-disappeared, he went out and inquired about her of the people. No one
had seen her. He searched throughout the camp, but did not find her. Then
he knew that Thunder had stolen her, and he went out on the hills alone and

When morning came, he rose and wandered far away, and he asked all the
animals he met if they knew where Thunder lived. They laughed, and would
not answer. The Wolf said: "Do you think we would seek the home of the only
one we fear? He is our only danger. From all others we can run away; but
from him there is no running. He strikes, and there we lie. Turn back! go
home! Do not look for the dwelling-place of that dreadful one." But the man
kept on, and travelled far away. Now he came to a lodge,--a queer lodge,
for it was made of stone; just like any other lodge, only it was made of
stone. Here lived the Raven chief. The man entered.

"Welcome, my friend," said the chief of Ravens. "Sit down, sit down." And
food was placed before him.

Then, when he had finished eating, the Raven said, "Why have you come?"

"Thunder has stolen my wife," replied the man. "I seek his dwelling-place
that I may find her."

"Would you dare enter the lodge of that dreadful person?" asked the
Raven. "He lives close by here. His lodge is of stone, like this; and
hanging there, within, are eyes,--the eyes of those he has killed or
stolen. He has taken out their eyes and hung them in his lodge. Now, then,
dare you enter there?"

"No," replied the man. "I am afraid. What man could look at such dreadful
things and live?"

"No person can," said the Raven. "There is but one old Thunder fears. There
is but one he cannot kill. It is I, it is the Ravens. Now I will give you
medicine, and he shall not harm you. You shall enter there, and seek among
those eyes your wife's; and if you find them, tell that Thunder why you
came, and make him give them to you. Here, now, is a raven's wing. Just
point it at him, and he will start back quick; but if that fail, take
this. It is an arrow, and the shaft is made of elk-horn. Take this, I say,
and shoot it through the lodge."

"Why make a fool of me?" the poor man asked. "My heart is sad. I am
crying." And he covered his head with his robe, and wept.

"Oh," said the Raven, "you do not believe me. Come out, come out, and I
will make you believe." When they stood outside, the Raven asked, "Is the
home of your people far?"

"A great distance," said the man.

"Can you tell how many days you have travelled?"

"No," he replied, "my heart is sad. I did not count the days. The berries
have grown and ripened since I left."

"Can you see your camp from here?" asked the Raven.

The man did not speak. Then the Raven rubbed some medicine on his eyes and
said, "Look!" The man looked, and saw the camp. It was close. He saw the
people. He saw the smoke rising from the lodges.

"Now you will believe," said the Raven. "Take now the arrow and the wing,
and go and get your wife."

So the man took these things, and went to the Thunder's lodge. He entered
and sat down by the door-way. The Thunder sat within and looked at him with
awful eyes. But the man looked above, and saw those many pairs of eyes.
Among them were those of his wife.

"Why have you come?" said the Thunder in a fearful voice.

"I seek my wife," the man replied, "whom you have stolen. There hang her

"No man can enter my lodge and live," said the Thunder; and he rose to
strike him. Then the man pointed the raven wing at the Thunder, and he fell
back on his couch and shivered. But he soon recovered, and rose again. Then
the man fitted the elk-horn arrow to his bow, and shot it through the lodge
of rock; right through that lodge of rock it pierced a jagged hole, and let
the sunlight in.

"Hold," said the Thunder. "Stop; you are the stronger. Yours the great
medicine. You shall have your wife. Take down her eyes." Then the man cut
the string that held them, and immediately his wife stood beside him.

"Now," said the Thunder, "you know me. I am of great power. I live here in
summer, but when winter comes, I go far south. I go south with the
birds. Here is my pipe. It is medicine. Take it, and keep it. Now, when I
first come in the spring, you shall fill and light this pipe, and you shall
pray to me, you and the people. For I bring the rain which makes the
berries large and ripe. I bring the rain which makes all things grow, and
for this you shall pray to me, you and all the people."

Thus the people got the first medicine pipe. It was long ago.


This story goes back many years, to a time before the Indians went to war
against each other. Then there was peace among all the tribes. They met,
and did not kill each other. They had no guns and they had no horses. When
two tribes met, the head chiefs would take each a stick and touch each
other. Each had counted a _coup_ on the other, and they then went back to
their camps. It was more a friendly than a hostile ceremony.

Oftentimes, when a party of young men had gone to a strange camp, and had
done this to those whom they had visited, they would come back to their
homes and would tell the girls whom they loved that they had counted a
_coup_ on this certain tribe of people. After the return of such a party,
the young women would have a dance. Each one would wear clothing like that
of the man she loved, and as she danced, she would count a _coup_, saying
that she herself had done the deed which her young lover had really done.
Such was the custom of the people.

There was a chief in a camp who had three wives, all very pretty women. He
used to say to these women, whenever a dance was called: "Why do not you go
out and dance too? Perhaps you have some one in the camp that you love, and
for whom you would like to count a _coup_" Then the women would say, "No,
we do not wish to join the dance; we have no lovers."

There was in the camp a poor young man, whose name was Ápi-kunni. He had no
relations, and no one to tan robes or furs for him, and he was always badly
clad and in rags. Whenever he got some clothing, he wore it as long as it
would hold together. This young man loved the youngest wife of the chief,
and she loved him. But her parents were not rich, and they could not give
her to Ápi-k[)u]nni, and when the chief wanted her for a wife, they gave
her to him. Sometimes Ápi-k[)u]nni and this girl used to meet and talk
together, and he used to caution her, saying, "Now be careful that you do
not tell any one that you see me." She would say, "No, there is no danger;
I will not let it be known."

One evening, a dance was called for the young women to dance, and the chief
said to his wives: "Now, women, you had better go to this dance. If any of
you have persons whom you love, you might as well go and dance for them."
Two of them said: "No, we will not go. There is no one that we love." But
the third said, "Well, I think I will go and dance." The chief said to her,
"Well, go then; your lover will surely dress you up for the dance."

The girl went to where Ápi-k[)u]nni as living in an old woman's lodge, very
poorly furnished, and told him what she was going to do, and asked him to
dress her for the dance. He said to her: "Oh, you have wronged me by coming
here, and by going to the dance. I told you to keep it a secret." The girl
said: "Well, never mind; no one will know your dress. Fix me up, and I will
go and join the dance anyway." "Why," said Api-k[)u]nni, "I never have been
to war. I have never counted any _coups_. You will go and dance and will
have nothing to say. The people will laugh at you." But when he found that
the girl wanted to go, he painted her forehead with red clay, and tied a
goose skin, which he had, about her head, and lent her his badly tanned
robe, which in spots was hard like a parfleche. He said to her, "If you
will go to the dance, say, when it comes your turn to speak, that when the
water in the creeks gets warm, you are going to war, and are going to count
a _coup_ on some people."

The woman went to the dance, and joined in it. All the people were laughing
at her on account of her strange dress,--a goose skin around her head, and
a badly tanned robe about her. The people in the dance asked her: "Well,
what are you dancing for? What can you tell?" The woman said, "I am dancing
here to-day, and when the water in the streams gets warm next spring, I am
going to war; and then I will tell you what I have done to any people." The
chief was standing present, and when he learned who it was that his young
wife loved, he was much ashamed and went to his lodge.

When the dance was over, this young woman went to the lodge of the poor
young man to give back his dress to him. Now, while she had been gone,
Ápi-k[)u]nni had been thinking over all these things, and he was very much
ashamed. He took his robe and his goose skin and went away. He was so
ashamed that he went away at once, travelling off over the prairie, not
caring where he went, and crying all the time. As he wandered away, he came
to a lake, and at the foot of this lake was a beaver dam, and by the dam a
beaver house. He walked out on the dam and on to the beaver house. There he
stopped and sat down, and in his shame cried the rest of the day, and at
last he fell asleep on the beaver house.

While he slept, he dreamed that a beaver came to him--a very large
beaver--and said: "My poor young man, come into my house. I pity you, and
will give you something that will help you." So Ápi-k[)u]nni got up, and
followed the beaver into the house. When he was in the house, he awoke, and
saw sitting opposite him a large white beaver, almost as big as a man. He
thought to himself, "This must be the chief of all the beavers, white
because very old." The beaver was singing a song. It was a very strange
song, and he sang it a long time. Then he said to Ápi-k[)u]nni, "My son,
why are you mourning?" and the young man told him everything that had
happened, and how he had been shamed. Then the beaver said: "My son, stay
here this winter with me. I will provide for you. When the time comes, and
you have learned our songs and our ways, I will let you go. For a time make
this your home." So Ápi-k)u]nni stayed there with the beaver, and the
beaver taught him many strange things. All this happened in the fall.

Now the chief in the camp missed this poor young man, and he asked the
people where he had gone. No one knew. They said that the last that had
been seen of him he was travelling toward the lake where the beaver dam

Ápi-k[)u]nni had a friend, another poor young man named Wolf Tail, and
after a while, Wolf Tail started out to look for his friend. He went toward
this lake, looking everywhere, and calling out his name. When he came to
the beaver house, he kicked on the top and called, "Oh, my brother, are you
here?" Ápi-k[)u]nni answered him, and said: "Yes, I am here. I was brought
in while I was asleep, and I cannot give you the secret of the door, for I
do not know it myself." Wolf Tail said to him, "Brother, when the weather
gets warm a party is going to start from camp to war." Ápi-k[)u]nni said:
"Go home and try to get together all the moccasins you can, but do not tell
them that I am here. I am ashamed to go back to the camp. When the party
starts, come this way and bring me the moccasins, and we two will start
from here." He also said: "I am very thin. The beaver food here does not
agree with me. We are living on the bark of willows." Wolf Tail went back
to the camp and gathered together all the moccasins that he could, as he
had been asked to do.

When the spring came, and the grass began to start, the war party set
out. At this time the beaver talked to Ápikunni a long time, and told him
many things. He dived down into the water, and brought up a long stick of
aspen wood, cut off from it a piece as long as a man's arm, trimmed the
twigs off it, and gave it to the young man. "Keep this," the beaver said,
"and when you go to war take it with you." The beaver also gave him a
little sack of medicine, and told him what he must do.

When the party started out, Wolf Tail came to the beaver house, bringing
the moccasins, and his friend came out of the house. They started in the
direction the party had taken and travelled with them, but off to one
side. When they stopped at night, the two young men camped by themselves.

They travelled for many days, until they came to Bow River, and found that
it was very high. On the other side of the river, they saw the lodges of a
camp. In this camp a man was making a speech, and Api-k[)u]nni said to his
friend, "Oh, my brother, I am going to kill that man to-day, so that my
sweetheart may count _coup_ on him." These two were at a little distance
from the main party, above them on the river. The people in the camp had
seen the Blackfeet, and some had come down to the river. When Api-kunni had
said this to Wolf Tail, he took his clothes off and began to sing the song
the beaver had taught him. This was the song:--

I am like an island,
For on an island I got my power.
In battle I live
While people fall away from me.

While he sang this, he had in his hand the stick which the beaver had given
him. This was his only weapon.

He ran to the bank, jumped in and dived, and came up in the middle of the
river, and started to swim across. The rest of the Blackfeet saw one of
their number swimming across the river, and they said to each other: "Who
is that? Why did not some one stop him?" While he was swimming across, the
man who had been making the speech saw him and went down to meet him. He
said: "Who can this man be, swimming across the river? He is a stranger. I
will go down and meet him, and kill him." As the boy was getting close to
the shore, the man waded out in the stream up to his waist, and raised his
knife to stab the swimmer. When Ápi-k[)u]nni got near him, he dived under
the water and came up close to the man, and thrust the beaver stick through
his body, and the man fell down in the water and died. Ápi-k[)u]nni caught
the body, and dived under the water with it, and came up on the other side
where he had left his friend. Then all the Blackfeet set up the war whoop,
for they were glad, and they could hear a great crying in the camp. The
people there were sorry for the man who was killed.

People in those days never killed one another, and this was the first man
ever killed in war.

They dragged the man up on the bank, and Ápi-k[)u]nni said to his brother,
"Cut off those long hairs on the head." The young man did as he was
told. He scalped him and counted _coup_ on him; and from that time forth,
people, when they went to war, killed one another and scalped the dead
enemy, as this poor young man had done. Two others of the main party came
to the place, and counted _coup_ on the dead body, making four who had
counted _coup_. From there, the whole party turned about and went back to
the village whence they had come.

When they came in sight of the lodges, they sat down in a row facing the
camp. The man who had killed the enemy was sitting far in front of the
others. Behind him sat his friend, and behind Wolf Tail, sat the two who
had counted _coup_ on the body. So these four were strung out in front of
the others. The chief of the camp was told that some people were sitting on
a hill near by, and when he had gone out and looked, he said: "There is
some one sitting way in front. Let somebody go out and see about it." A
young man ran out to where he could see, and when he had looked, he ran
back and said to the chief, "Why, that man in front is the poor young man."

The old chief looked around, and said: "Where is that young woman, my wife?
Go and find her." They went to look for her, and found her out gathering
rosebuds, for while the young man whom she loved was away, she used to go
out and gather rosebuds and dry them for him. When they found her, she had
her bosom full of them. When she came to the lodge, the chief said to her:
"There is the man you love, who has come. Go and meet him." She made ready
quickly and ran out and met him. He said: "Give her that hair of the dead
man. Here is his knife. There is the coat he had on, when I killed
him. Take these things back to the camp, and tell the people who made fun
of you that this is what you promised them at the time of that dance."

The whole party then got up and walked to the camp. The woman took the
scalp, knife and coat to the lodge, and gave them to her husband. The chief
invited Ápi-kûnni to come to his lodge to visit him. He said: "I see that
you have been to war, and that you have done more than any of us have ever
done. This is a reason why you should be a chief. Now take my lodge and
this woman, and live here. Take my place and rule these people. My two
wives will be your servants." When Ápi-kûnni heard this, and saw the young
woman sitting there in the lodge, he could not speak. Something seemed to
rise up in his throat and choke him.

So this young man lived in the camp and was known as their chief.

After a time, he called his people together in council and told them of the
strange things the beaver had taught him, and the power that the beaver had
given him. He said: "This will be a benefit to us while we are a people
now, and afterward it will be handed down to our children, and if we follow
the words of the beaver we will be lucky. This seed the beaver gave me, and
told me to plant it every year. When we ask help from the beaver, we will
smoke this plant."

This plant was the Indian tobacco, and it is from the beaver that the
Blackfeet got it. Many strange things were taught this man by the beaver,
which were handed down and are followed till to-day.


A small stone, which is usually a fossil shell of some kind, is known by
the Blackfeet as I-nis'-kim, the buffalo stone. This object is strong
medicine, and, as indicated in some of these stories, gives its possessor
great power with buffalo. The stone is found on the prairie, and the
person who succeeds in obtaining one is regarded as very fortunate.
Sometimes a man, who is riding along on the prairie, will hear a peculiar
faint chirp, such as a little bird might utter. The sound he knows is made
by a buffalo rock. He stops and searches on the ground for the rock, and if
he cannot find it, marks the place and very likely returns next day, either
alone or with others from the camp, to look for it again. If it is found,
there is great rejoicing. How the first buffalo rock was obtained, and its
power made known, is told in the following story.

Long ago, in the winter time, the buffalo suddenly disappeared. The snow
was so deep that the people could not move in search of them, for in those
days they had no horses. So the hunters killed deer, elk, and other small
game along the river bottoms, and when these were all killed off or driven
away, the people began to starve.

One day, a young married man killed a jack-rabbit. He was so hungry that he
ran home as fast as he could, and told one of his wives to hurry and get
some water to cook it. While the young woman was going along the path to
the river, she heard a beautiful song. It sounded close by, but she looked
all around and could see no one. The song seemed to come from a cotton-wood
tree near the path. Looking closely at this tree she saw a queer rock
jammed in a fork, where the tree was split, and with it a few hairs from a
buffalo, which had rubbed there. The woman was frightened and dared not
pass the tree. Pretty soon the singing stopped, and the I-nis'-kim [buffalo
rock] spoke to the woman and said: "Take me to your lodge, and when it is
dark, call in the people and teach them the song you have just heard. Pray,
too, that you may not starve, and that the buffalo may come back. Do this,
and when day comes, your hearts will be glad."

The woman went on and got some water, and when she came back, took the rock
and gave it to her husband, telling him about the song and what the rock
had said. As soon as it was dark, the man called the chiefs and old men to
his lodge, and his wife taught them this song. They prayed, too, as the
rock had said should be done. Before long, they heard a noise far off. It
was the tramp of a great herd of buffalo coming. Then they knew that the
rock was very powerful, and, ever since that, the people have taken care of
it and prayed to it.

[NOTE.--I-nis'-kims are usually small _Ammonites_, or sections of
_Baculites,_ or sometimes merely oddly shaped nodules of flint. It is said
of them that if an I-nis'-kim is wrapped up and left undisturbed for a long
time, it will have young ones; two small stones similar in shape to the
original one will be found in the package with it.]


There was once a man who was very fond of his wife. After they had been
married for some time they had a child, a boy. After that, the woman got
sick, and did not get well. The young man did not wish to take a second
woman. He loved his wife so much. The woman grew worse and
worse. Doctoring did not seem to do her any good. At last she died. The man
used to take his baby on his back and travel out, walking over the hills
crying. He kept away from the camp. After some time, he said to the little
child: "My little boy, you will have to go and live with your
grandmother. I am going to try and find your mother, and bring her back."
He took the baby to his mother's lodge, and asked her to take care of it,
and left it with her. Then he started off, not knowing where he was going
nor what he was going to do.

He travelled toward the Sand Hills. The fourth night out he had a dream. He
dreamed that he went into a little lodge, in which lived an old woman. This
old woman said to him, "Why are you here, my son?" He said: "I am mourning
day and night, crying all the while. My little son, who is the only one
left me, also mourns." "Well," said the old woman, "for whom are you
mourning?" He said: "I am mourning for my wife. She died some time ago. I
am looking for her." "Oh!" said the old woman, "I saw her. She passed this
way. I myself am not powerful medicine, but over by that far butte lives
another old woman. Go to her, and she will give you power to enable you to
continue your journey. You could not go there by yourself without
help. Beyond the next butte from her lodge, you will find the camp of the

The next morning he awoke and went on to the next butte. It took him a long
day to get there, but he found no lodge there, so he lay down and went to
sleep. Again he dreamed. In his dream, he saw a little lodge, and an old
woman came to the door-way and called him. He went in, and she said to him:
"My son, you are very poor. I know why you have come this way. You are
seeking your wife, who is now in the ghost country. It is a very hard thing
for you to get there. You may not be able to get your wife back, but I have
great power, and I will do all I can for you. If you do exactly as I tell
you, you may succeed." She then spoke to him with wise words, telling him
what he should do. Also she gave him a bundle of medicine, which would help
him on his journey.

Then she said: "You stay here for a while, and I will go over there [to the
ghosts' camp], and try to bring some of your relations; and if I am able to
bring them back, you may return with them, but on the way you must shut
your eyes. If you should open them and look about you, you would die. Then
you would never come back. When you get to the camp, you will pass by a big
lodge, and they will say to you, 'Where are you going, and who told you to
come here?' You will reply, 'My grandmother, who is standing out here with
me, told me to come.' They will try to scare you. They will make fearful
noises, and you will see strange and terrible things; but do not be

Then the old woman went away, and after a time came back with one of the
man's relations. He went with this relation to the ghosts' camp. When they
came to the big lodge, some one called out and asked the man what he was
doing, and he answered as the old woman had told him to do. As he passed on
through the camp, the ghosts tried to scare him with all kinds of fearful
sights and sounds, but he kept up a brave heart.

He came to another lodge, and the man who owned it came out, and asked him
where he was going. He said: "I am looking for my dead wife, I mourn for
her so much that I cannot rest. My little boy, too, keeps crying for his
mother. They have offered to give me other wives, but I do not want them. I
want the one for whom I am searching."

The ghost said to him: "It is a fearful thing that you have come here. It
is very likely that you will never go away. There never was a person here
before." The ghost asked him to come into the lodge, and he went.

Now this chief ghost said to him: "You will stay here four nights, and you
will see your wife; but you must be very careful or you will never go
back. You will die right here."

Then the chief went outside and called out for a feast, inviting this man's
father-in-law and other relations, who were in the camp, saying, "Your
son-in-law invites you to a feast," as if to say that their son-in-law was
dead, and had become a ghost, and had arrived at the ghost camp.

Now when these invited people, the relations and some of the principal men
of the camp, had reached the lodge, they did not like to go in. They called
out, "There is a person here." It seems as if there was something about him
that they could not bear the smell of. The ghost chief burned sweet pine in
the fire, which took away this smell, and the people came in and sat
down. Then the host said to them: "Now pity this son-in-law of yours. He is
seeking his wife. Neither the great distance nor the fearful sights that he
has seen here have weakened his heart. You can see for yourselves he is
tender-hearted. He not only mourns for his wife, but mourns because his
little boy is now alone with no mother; so pity him and give him back his
wife." The ghosts consulted among themselves, and one said to the person,
"Yes, you will stay here four nights; then we will give you a medicine
pipe, the Worm Pipe, and we will give you back your wife, and you may
return to your home."

Now, after the third night, the chief ghost called together all the people,
and they came, the man's wife with them. One of them came beating a drum;
and following him was another ghost, who carried the Worm Pipe, which they
gave to him. Then said the chief ghost: "Now, be very careful. Tomorrow
you and your wife will start on your homeward journey. Your wife will carry
the medicine pipe, and some of your relations are going along with you for
four days. During this time, you must not open your eyes, or you will
return here and be a ghost forever. You see that your wife is not now a
person; but in the middle of the fourth day you will be told to look, and
when you have opened your eyes, you will see that your wife has become a
person, and that your ghost relations have disappeared."

His father-in-law spoke to him before he went away, and said: "When you get
near home, you must not go at once into the camp. Let some of your
relations know that you have arrived, and ask them to build a sweat house
for you. Go into this sweat house and wash your body thoroughly, leaving
no part of it, however small, uncleansed; for if you do you will be nothing
[will die]. There is something about us ghosts difficult to remove. It is
only by a thorough sweat that you can remove it. Take care, now, that you
do as I tell you. Do not whip your wife, nor strike her with a knife, nor
hit her with fire; for if you do, she will vanish before your eyes and
return to the Sand Hills."

Now they left the ghost country to go home, and on the fourth day, the wife
said to her husband, "Open your eyes." He looked about him and saw that
those who had been with them had vanished, but he found that they
were standing in front of the old woman's lodge by the butte. She came out
and said: "Here, give me back those mysterious medicines of mine, which
enabled you to accomplish your purpose." He returned them to her, and
became then fully a person once more.

Now, when they drew near to the camp, the woman went on ahead, and sat down
on a butte. Then some curious persons came out to see who it might be. As
they approached, the woman called out to them: "Do not come any nearer. Go
tell my mother and my relations to put up a lodge for us, a little way from
camp, and to build a sweat house near by it." When this had been done, the
man and his wife went in and took a thorough sweat, and then they went into
the lodge, and burned sweet grass and purified their clothing and the Worm
Pipe; and then their relations and friends came in to see them. The man
told them where he had been, and how he had managed to get back his wife,
and that the pipe hanging over the door-way was a medicine pipe, the Worm
Pipe, presented to him by his ghost father-in-law. That is how the people
came to possess the Worm Pipe. This pipe belongs to that band of the
Piegans known as _Esk'-sin-i-tup'piks,_ the Worm People.

Not long after this, in the night, this man told his wife to do something;
and when she did not begin at once, he picked up a brand from the fire, not
that he intended to strike her with it, but he made as if he would hit her,
when all at once she vanished, and was never seen again.


A long time ago there were four Blackfeet, who went to war against the
Crees. They travelled a long way, and at last their horses gave out, and
they started back toward their homes. As they were going along they came to
the Sand Hills; and while they were passing through them, they saw in the
sand a fresh travois trail, where people had been travelling.

One of the men said: "Let us follow this trail until we come up with some
of our people. Then we will camp with them." They followed the trail for a
long way, and at length one of the Blackfeet, named E-k[=u]s'-kini,--a very
powerful person,--said to the others: "Why follow this longer? It is just
nothing." The others said: "Not so. These are our people. We will go on
and camp with them." They went on, and toward evening, one of them found a
stone maul and a dog travois. He said: "Look at these things. I know this
maul and this travois. They belonged to my mother, who died. They were
buried with her. This is strange." He took the things. When night overtook
the men, they camped.

Early in the morning, they heard, all about them, sounds as if a camp of
people were there. They heard a young man shouting a sort of war cry, as
young men do; women chopping wood; a man calling for a feast, asking people
to come to his lodge and smoke,--all the different sounds of the camp. They
looked about, but could see nothing; and then they were frightened and
covered their heads with their robes. At last they took courage, and started
to look around and see what they could learn about this strange thing. For
a little while they saw nothing, but pretty soon one of them said: "Look
over there. See that pis'kun. Let us go over and look at it." As they were
going toward it, one of them picked up a stone pointed arrow. He said:
"Look at this. It belonged to my father. This is his place." They started
to go on toward the pis'kun, but suddenly they could see no pis'kun. It had
disappeared all at once.

A little while after this, one of them spoke up, and said: "Look over
there. There is my father running buffalo. There! he has killed. Let us go
over to him." They all looked where this man pointed, and they could see a
person on a white horse, running buffalo. While they were looking, the
person killed the buffalo, and got off his horse to butcher it. They
started to go over toward him, and saw him at work butchering, and saw him
turn the buffalo over on its back; but before they got to the place where
he was, the person got on his horse and rode off, and when they got to
where he had been skinning the buffalo, they saw lying on the ground only a
dead mouse. There was no buffalo there. By the side of the mouse was a
buffalo chip, and lying on it was an arrow painted red. The man said: "That
is my father's arrow. That is the way he painted them." He took it up in
his hands; and when he held it in his hands, he saw that it was not an
arrow but a blade of spear grass. Then he laid it down, and it was an arrow

Another Blackfoot found a buffalo rock, I-nis'-kim.

Some time after this, the men got home to their camp. The man who had
taken the maul and the dog travois, when he got home and smelled the smoke
from the fire, died, and so did his horse. It seems that the shadow of the
person who owned the things was angry at him and followed him home. Two
others of these Blackfeet have since died, killed in war; but
E-k[=u]s'-kini is alive yet. He took a stone and an iron arrow point that
had belonged to his father, and always carried them about with him. That is
why he has lived so long. The man who took the stone arrow point found
near the pis'kun, which had belonged to his father, took it home with
him. This was his medicine. After that he was badly wounded in two fights,
but he was not killed; he got well.

The one who took the buffalo rock, I-nis'-kim, it afterward made strong to
call the buffalo into the pis'kun. He would take the rock and put it in his
lodge close to the fire, where he could look at it, and would pray over it
and make medicine. Sometimes he would ask for a hundred buffalo to jump
into the pis'kun, and the next day a hundred would jump in. He was



All animals of the Plains at one time heard and knew him, and all birds of
the air heard and knew him. All things that he had made understood him,
when he spoke to them,--the birds, the animals, and the people.

Old Man was travelling about, south of here, making the people. He came
from the south, travelling north, making animals and birds as he passed
along. He made the mountains, prairies, timber, and brush first. So he went
along, travelling northward, making things as he went, putting rivers here
and there, and falls on them, putting red paint here and there in the
ground,--fixing up the world as we see it to-day. He made the Milk River
(the Teton) and crossed it, and, being tired, went up on a little hill and
lay down to rest. As he lay on his back, stretched out on the ground, with
arms extended, he marked himself out with stones,--the shape of his body,
head, legs, arms, and everything. There you can see those rocks
to-day. After he had rested, he went on northward, and stumbled over a
knoll and fell down on his knees. Then he said, "You are a bad thing to be
stumbling against"; so he raised up two large buttes there, and named them
the Knees, and they are called so to this day. He went on further north,
and with some of the rocks he carried with him he built the Sweet Grass

Old Man covered the plains with grass for the animals to feed on. He marked
off a piece of ground, and in it he made to grow all kinds of roots and
berries,--camas, wild carrots, wild turnips, sweet-root, bitter-root,
sarvis berries, bull berries, cherries, plums, and rosebuds. He put trees
in the ground. He put all kinds of animals on the ground. When he made the
bighorn with its big head and horns, he made it out on the prairie. It did
not seem to travel easily on the prairie; it was awkward and could not go
fast. So he took it by one of its horns, and led it up into the mountains,
and turned it loose; and it skipped about among the rocks, and went up
fearful places with ease. So he said, "This is the place that suits you;
this is what you are fitted for, the rocks and the mountains." While he was
in the mountains, he made the antelope out of dirt, and turned it loose, to
see how it would go. It ran so fast that it fell over some rocks and hurt
itself. He saw that this would not do, and took the antelope down on the
prairie, and turned it loose; and it ran away fast and gracefully, and he
said, "This is what you are suited to."

One day Old Man determined that he would make a woman and a child; so he
formed them both--the woman and the child, her son--of clay. After he had
moulded the clay in human shape, he said to the clay, "You must be people,"
and then he covered it up and left it, and went away. The next morning he
went to the place and took the covering off, and saw that the clay shapes
had changed a little. The second morning there was still more change, and
the third still more. The fourth morning he went to the place, took the
covering off, looked at the images, and told them to rise and walk; and
they did so. They walked down to the river with their Maker, and then he
told them that his name was _Na'pi,_ Old Man.

As they were standing by the river, the woman said to him, "How is it? will
we always live, will there be no end to it?" He said: "I have never thought
of that. We will have to decide it. I will take this buffalo chip and throw
it in the river. If it floats, when people die, in four days they will
become alive again; they will die for only four days. But if it sinks,
there will be an end to them." He threw the chip into the river, and it
floated. The woman turned and picked up a stone, and said: "No, I will
throw this stone in the river; if it floats we will always live, if it
sinks people must die, that they may always be sorry for each other."[1]
The woman threw the stone into the water, and it sank. "There," said Old
Man, "you have chosen. There will be an end to them."

[Footnote 1: That is, that their friends who survive may always remember

It was not many nights after, that the woman's child died, and she cried a
great deal for it. She said to Old Man: "Let us change this. The law that
you first made, let that be a law." He said: "Not so. What is made law must
be law. We will undo nothing that we have done. The child is dead, but it
cannot be changed. People will have to die."

That is how we came to be people. It is he who made us.

The first people were poor and naked, and did not know how to get a
living. Old Man showed them the roots and berries, and told them that they
could eat them; that in a certain month of the year they could peel the
bark off some trees and eat it, that it was good. He told the people that
the animals should be their food, and gave them to the people, saying,
"These are your herds." He said: "All these little animals that live in the
ground--rats, squirrels, skunks, beavers--are good to eat. You need not
fear to eat of their flesh." He made all the birds that fly, and told the
people that there was no harm in their flesh, that it could be eaten. The
first people that he created he used to take about through the timber and
swamps and over the prairies, and show them the different plants. Of a
certain plant he would say, "The root of this plant, if gathered in a
certain month of the year, is good for a certain sickness." So they
learned the power of all herbs. In those days there were buffalo. Now the
people had no arms, but those black animals with long beards were armed;
and once, as the people were moving about, the buffalo saw them, and ran
after them, and hooked them, and killed and ate them. One day, as the Maker
of the people was travelling over the country, he saw some of his children,
that he had made, lying dead, torn to pieces and partly eaten by the
buffalo. When he saw this he was very sad. He said: "This will not do. I
will change this. The people shall eat the buffalo."

He went to some of the people who were left, and said to them, "How is it
that you people do nothing to these animals that are killing you?" The
people said: "What can we do? We have no way to kill these animals, while
they are armed and can kill us." Then said the Maker: "That is not hard. I
will make you a weapon that will kill these animals." So he went out, and
cut some sarvis berry shoots, and brought them in, and peeled the bark off
them. He took a larger piece of wood, and flattened it, and tied a string
to it, and made a bow. Now, as he was the master of all birds and could do
with them as he wished, he went out and caught one, and took feathers from
its wing, and split them, and tied them to the shaft of wood. He tied four
feathers along the shaft, and tried the arrow at a mark, and found that it
did not fly well. He took these feathers off, and put on three; and when he
tried it again, he found that it was good. He went out and began to break
sharp pieces off the stones. He tried them, and found that the black flint
stones made the best arrow points, and some white flints. Then he taught
the people how to use these things.

Then he said: "The next time you go out, take these things with you, and
use them as I tell you, and do not run from these animals. When they run at
you, as soon as they get pretty close, shoot the arrows at them, as I have
taught you; and you will see that they will run from you or will run in a
circle around you."

Now, as people became plenty, one day three men went out on to the plain to
see the buffalo, but they had no arms. They saw the animals, but when the
buffalo saw the men, they ran after them and killed two of them, but one
got away. One day after this, the people went on a little hill to look
about, and the buffalo saw them, and said, "_Saiyah_, there is some more of
our food," and they rushed on them. This time the people did not run. They
began to shoot at the buffalo with the bows and arrows _Na'pi_ had given
them, and the buffalo began to fall; but in the fight a person was killed.

At this time these people had flint knives given them, and they cut up the
bodies of the dead buffalo. It is not healthful to eat the meat raw, so Old
Man gathered soft dry rotten driftwood and made punk of it, and then got a
piece of hard wood, and drilled a hole in it with an arrow point, and gave
them a pointed piece of hard wood, and taught them how to make a fire with
fire sticks, and to cook the flesh of these animals and eat it.

They got a kind of stone that was in the land, and then took another harder
stone and worked one upon the other, and hollowed out the softer one, and
made a kettle of it. This was the fashion of their dishes.

Also Old Man said to the people: "Now, if you are overcome, you may go and
sleep, and get power. Something will come to you in your dream, that will
help you. Whatever these animals tell you to do, you must obey them, as
they appear to you in your sleep. Be guided by them. If anybody wants help,
if you are alone and travelling, and cry aloud for help, your prayer will
be answered. It may be by the eagles, perhaps by the buffalo, or by the
bears. Whatever animal answers your prayer, you must listen to him." That
was how the first people got through the world, by the power of their

After this, Old Man kept on, travelling north. Many of the animals that he
had made followed him as he went. The animals understood him when he spoke
to them, and he used them as his servants. When he got to the north point
of the Porcupine Mountains, there he made some more mud images of people,
and blew breath upon them, and they became people. He made men and women.
They asked him, "What are we to eat?" He made many images of clay, in the
form of buffalo. Then he blew breath on these, and they stood up; and when
he made signs to them, they started to run. Then he said to the people,
"Those are your food." They said to him, "Well, now, we have those animals;
how are we to kill them?" "I will show you," he said. He took them to the
cliff, and made them build rock piles like this; and he made the people
hide behind these piles of rock, and said, "When I lead the buffalo this
way, as I bring them opposite to you, rise up."

After he had told them how to act, he started on toward a herd of
buffalo. He began to call them, and the buffalo started to run toward him,
and they followed him until they were inside the lines. Then he dropped
back; and as the people rose up, the buffalo ran in a straight line and
jumped over the cliff. He told the people to go and take the flesh of those
animals. They tried to tear the limbs apart, but they could not. They tried
to bite pieces out, and could not. So Old Man went to the edge of the
cliff, and broke some pieces of stone with sharp edges, and told them to
cut the flesh with these. When they had taken the skins from these animals,
they set up some poles and put the hides on them, and so made a shelter to
sleep under. There were some of these buffalo that went over the cliff that
were not dead. Their legs were broken, but they were still alive. The
people cut strips of green hide, and tied stones in the middle, and made
large mauls, and broke in the skulls of the buffalo, and killed them.

After he had taught those people these things, he started off again,
travelling north, until he came to where Bow and Elbow rivers meet. There
he made some more people, and taught them the same things. From here he
again went on northward. When he had come nearly to the Red Deer's River,
he reached the hill where the Old Man sleeps. There he lay down and rested
himself. The form of his body is to be seen there yet.

When he awoke from his sleep, he travelled further northward and came to a
fine high hill. He climbed to the top of it, and there sat down to rest. He
looked over the country below him, and it pleased him. Before him the hill
was steep, and he said to himself, "Well, this is a fine place for sliding;
I will have some fun," and he began to slide down the hill. The marks where
he slid down are to be seen yet, and the place is known to all people as
the "Old Man's Sliding Ground."

This is as far as the Blackfeet followed Old Man. The Crees know what he
did further north.

In later times once, _Na'pi_ said, "Here I will mark you off a piece of
ground," and he did so.[1] Then he said: "There is your land, and it is
full of all kinds of animals, and many things grow in this land. Let no
other people come into it. This is for you five tribes (Blackfeet, Bloods,
Piegans, Gros Ventres, Sarcees). When people come to cross the line, take
your bows and arrows, your lances and your battle axes, and give them battle
and keep them out. If they gain a footing, trouble will come to you."

[Footnote 1: The boundaries of this land are given as running east from a
point in the summit of the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Edmonton, taking in
the country to the east and south, including the Porcupine Hills, Cypress
Mountains, and Little Rocky Mountains, down to the mouth of the Yellowstone
on the Missouri; then west to the head of the Yellowstone, and across the
Rocky Mountains to the Beaverhead; thence to the summit of the Rocky
Mountains and north along them to the starting-point.]

Our forefathers gave battle to all people who came to cross these lines,
and kept them out. Of late years we have let our friends, the white people,
come in, and you know the result. We, his children, have failed to obey his


This happened long ago. In those days the people were hungry. No buffalo
nor antelope were seen on the prairie. The deer and the elk trails were
covered with grass and leaves; not even a rabbit could be found in the
brush. Then the people prayed, saying: "Oh, Old Man, help us now, or we
shall die. The buffalo and deer are gone. Uselessly we kindle the morning
fires; useless are our arrows; our knives stick fast in the sheaths."

Then Old Man started out to find the game, and he took with him a young
man, the son of a chief. For many days they travelled the prairies and ate
nothing but berries and roots. One day they climbed a high ridge, and when
they had reached the top, they saw, far off by a stream, a single lodge.

"What kind of a person can it be," said the young man, "who camps there all
alone, far from friends?"

"That," said Old Man, "is the one who has hidden all the buffalo and deer
from the people. He has a wife and a little son."

Then they went close to the lodge, and Old Man changed himself into a
little dog, and he said, "That is I." Then the young man changed himself
into a root-digger,[1] and he said, "That is I."

[Footnote 1: A carved and painted stick about three feet long, shaped like
a sacking needle, used by women to unearth roots.]

Now the little boy, playing about, found the dog, and he carried it to his
father, saying, "Look! See what a pretty little dog I have found." "Throw
it away," said his father; "it is not a dog." And the little boy cried, but
his father made him carry the dog away. Then the boy found the root-digger;
and, again picking up the dog, he carried them both to the lodge, saying,
"Look, mother! see the pretty root-digger I have found!"

"Throw them both away," said his father; "that is not a stick, that is not
a dog."

"I want that stick," said the woman; "let our son have the little dog."

"Very well," said her husband, "but remember, if trouble comes, you bring
it on yourself and on our son." Then he sent his wife and son off to pick
berries; and when they were out of sight, he went out and killed a buffalo
cow, and brought the meat into the lodge and covered it up, and the bones,
skin and offal he threw in the creek. When his wife returned, he gave her
some of the meat to roast; and while they were eating, the little boy fed
the dog three times, and when he gave it more, his father took the meat
away, saying, "That is not a dog, you shall not feed it more."

In the night, when all were asleep, Old Man and the young man arose in
their right shapes, and ate of the meat. "You were right," said the young
man; "this is surely the person who has hidden the buffalo from us."
"Wait," said Old Man; and when they had finished eating, they changed
themselves back into the stick and the dog.

In the morning the man sent his wife and son to dig roots, and the woman
took the stick with her. The dog followed the little boy. Now, as they
travelled along in search of roots, they came near a cave, and at its mouth
stood a buffalo cow. Then the dog ran into the cave, and the stick,
slipping from the woman's hand, followed, gliding along like a snake. In
this cave they found all the buffalo and other game, and they began to
drive them out; and soon the prairie was covered with buffalo and
deer. Never before were seen so many.

Pretty soon the man came running up, and he said to his wife, "Who now
drives out my animals?" and she replied, "The dog and the stick are now in
there." "Did I not tell you," said he, "that those were not what they
looked like? See now the trouble you have brought upon us," and he put an
arrow on his bow and waited for them to come out. But they were cunning,
for when the last animal--a big bull--was about to go out, the stick
grasped him by the hair under his neck, and coiled up in it, and the dog
held on by the hair beneath, until they were far out on the prairie, when
they changed into their true shapes, and drove the buffalo toward camp.

When the people saw the buffalo coming, they drove a big band of them to
the pis'kun; but just as the leaders were about to jump off, a raven came
and flapped its wings in front of them and croaked, and they turned off
another way. Every time a band of buffalo was driven near the pis'kun, this
raven frightened them away. Then Old Man knew that the raven was the one
who had kept the buffalo cached.

So he went and changed himself into a beaver, and lay stretched out on the
bank of the river, as if dead; and the raven, which was very hungry, flew
down and began to pick at him. Then Old Man caught it by the legs and ran
with it to camp, and all the chiefs came together to decide what should be
done with it. Some said to kill it, but Old Man said, "No! I will punish
it," and he tied it over the lodge, right in the smoke hole.

As the days went by, the raven grew poor and weak, and his eyes were
blurred with the thick smoke, and he cried continually to Old Man to pity
him. One day Old Man untied him, and told him to take his right shape,
saying: "Why have you tried to fool Old Man? Look at me! I cannot die. Look
at me! Of all peoples and tribes I am the chief. I cannot die. I made the
mountains. They are standing yet. I made the prairies and the rocks. You
see them yet. Go home, then, to your wife and your child, and when you are
hungry hunt like any one else, or you shall die."


Now Old Man was walking along, and far off he saw many wolves; and when he
came closer, he saw there the chief of the wolves, a very old one, and
sitting around him were all his children.

Old Man said, "Pity me, Wolf Chief; make me into a wolf, that I may live
your way and catch deer and everything that runs fast."

"Come near then," said the Wolf Chief, "that I may rub your body with my
hands, so that hair will cover you."

"Hold," said Old Man; "do not cover my body with hair. On my head, arms,
and legs only, put hair."

When the Chief Wolf had done so, he said to Old Man: "You shall have three
companions to help you, one is a very swift runner, another a good runner,
and the last is not very fast. Take them with you now, and others of my
younger children who are learning to hunt, but do not go where the wind
blows; keep in the shelter, or the young ones will freeze to death." Then
they went hunting, and Old Man led them on the high buttes, where it was
very cold.

At night, they lay down to sleep, and Old Man nearly froze; and he said to
the wolves, "Cover me with your tails." So all the wolves lay down around
him, and covered his body with their tails, and he soon got warm and slept.
Before long he awoke and said angrily, "Take off those tails," and the
wolves moved away; but after a little time he again became cold, and cried
out, "Oh my young brothers, cover me with your tails or I shall freeze."
So they lay down by him again and covered his body with their tails.

When it was daylight, they all rose and hunted. They saw some moose, and,
chasing them, killed three. Now, when they were about to eat, the Chief
Wolf came along with many of his children, and one wolf said, "Let us make
pemmican of those moose"; and every one was glad. Then said the one who
made pemmican, "No one must look, everybody shut his eyes, while I make the
pemmican"; but Old Man looked, and the pemmican-maker threw a round bone
and hit him on the nose, and it hurt. Then Old Man said, "Let me make the
pemmican." So all the wolves shut their eyes, and Old Man took the round
bone and killed the wolf who had hit him. Then the Chief Wolf was angry,
and he said, "Why did you kill your brother?" "I didn't mean to," replied
Old Man. "He looked and I threw the round bone at him, but I only meant to
hurt him a little." Then said the Chief Wolf: "You cannot live with us any
longer. Take one of your companions, and go off by yourselves and hunt." So
Old Man took the swift runner, and they went and lived by themselves a long
time; and they killed all the elk, and deer, and antelope, and moose they

One morning they awoke, and Old Man said: "Oh my young brother, I have had
a bad dream. Hereafter, when you chase anything, if it jumps a stream, you
must not follow it. Even a little spring you must not jump." And the wolf
promised not to jump over water.

Now one day the wolf was chasing a moose, and it ran on to an island. The
stream about it was very small; so the wolf thought: "This is such a little
stream that I must jump it. That moose is very tired, and I don't think it
will leave the island." So he jumped on to the island, and as soon as he
entered the brush, a bear caught him, for the island was the home of the
Chief Bear and his two brothers. Old Man waited a long time for the wolf to
come back, and then went to look for him. He asked all the birds he met if
they had seen him, but they all said they had not.

At last he saw a kingfisher, who was sitting on a limb overhanging the
water. "Why do you sit there, my young brother?" said Old Man. "Because,"
replied the kingfisher, "the Chief Bear and his brothers have killed your
wolf; they have eaten the meat and thrown the fat into the river, and
whenever I see a piece come floating along, I fly down and get it." Then
said Old Man, "Do the Bear Chief and his brothers often come out? and where
do they live?" "They come out every morning to play," said the kingfisher;
"and they live upon that island."

Old Man went up there and saw their tracks on the sand, where they had been
playing, and he turned himself into a rotten tree. By and by the bears came
out, and when they saw the tree, the Chief Bear said: "Look at that rotten
tree. It is Old Man. Go, brothers, and see if it is not." So the two
brothers went over to the tree, and clawed it; and they said, "No, brother,
it is only a tree." Then the Chief Bear went over and clawed and bit the
tree, and although it hurt Old Man, he never moved. Then the Bear Chief was
sure it was only a tree, and he began to play with his brothers. Now while
they were playing, and all were on their backs, Old Man leaned over and
shot an arrow into each one of them; and they cried out loudly and ran back
on the island. Then Old Man changed into himself, and walked down along the
river. Pretty soon he saw a frog jumping along, and every time it jumped it
would say, "_Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu_!" And sometimes it would stop and sing:--

"_Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu! Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu!_ Chief Bear! Chief Bear!
_Nap'-i I-nit'-si-wah Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu!"_ Old Man kill him Chief
Bear! "What do you say?" cried Old Man. The frog repeated what he had said.

"Ah!" exclaimed Old Man, "tell me all about it."

"The Chief Bear and his brothers," replied the frog, "were playing on the
sand, when Old Man shot arrows into them. They are not dead, but the arrows
are very near their hearts; if you should shove ever so little on them, the
points would cut their hearts. I am going after medicine now to cure them."

Then Old Man killed the frog and skinned her, and put the hide on himself
and swam back to the island, and hopped up toward the bears, crying at
every step, "_Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu!_" just as the frog had done.

"Hurry," cried the Chief Bear.

"Yes," replied Old Man, and he went up and shoved the arrow into his heart.

"I cured him; he is asleep now," he cried, and he went up and shoved the
arrow into the biggest brother's heart. "I cured them; they are asleep
now"; and he went up and shoved the arrow into the other bear's heart. Then
he built a big fire and skinned the bears, and tried out the fat and poured
it into a hollow in the ground; and he called all the animals to come and
roll in it, that they might be fat. And all the animals came and rolled in
it. The bears came first and rolled in it, that is the reason they get so
fat. Last of all came the rabbits, and the grease was almost all gone; but
they filled their paws with it and rubbed it on their backs and between
their hind legs. That is the reason why rabbits have two such large layers
of fat on their backs, and that is what makes them so fat between the hind

[NOTE.--The four preceding stories show the serious side of Old Man's
character. Those which follow represent him as malicious, foolish, and


One day, as Old Man was walking about in the woods, he saw something very
queer. A bird was sitting on the limb of a tree making a strange noise, and
every time it made this noise, its eyes would go out of its head and fasten
on the tree; then it would make another kind of a noise, and its eyes would
come back to their places.

"Little Brother," cried Old Man, "teach me how to do that."

"If I show you how to do that," replied the bird, "you must not let your
eyes go out of your head more than three times a day. If you do, you will
be sorry."

"Just as you say, Little Brother. The trick is yours, and I will listen to

When the bird had taught Old Man how to do it, he was very glad, and did it
three times right away. Then he stopped. "That bird has no sense," he
said. "Why did he tell me to do it only three times? I will do it again,
anyhow." So he made his eyes go out a fourth time; but now he could not
call them back. Then he called to the bird, "Oh Little Brother, come help
me get back my eyes." The little bird did not answer him. It had flown
away. Then Old Man felt all over the trees with his hands, but he could not
find his eyes; and he wandered about for a long time, crying and calling
the animals to help him.

A wolf had much fun with him. The wolf had found a dead buffalo, and taking
a piece of the meat which smelled bad, he would hold it close to Old
Man. "I smell something dead," Old Man would say. "I wish I could find it; I
am nearly starved to death." And he would feel all around for it. Once,
when the wolf was doing this, Old Man caught him, and, plucking out one of
his eyes, he put it in his own head. Then he could see, and was able to
find his own eyes; but he could never again do the trick the little bird
had taught him.


Once Old Man was travelling around, when he heard some very queer
singing. He had never heard anything like this before, and looked all
around to see who it was. At last he saw it was the cottontail rabbits,
singing and making medicine. They had built a fire, and got a lot of hot
ashes, and they would lie down in these ashes and sing while one covered
them up. They would stay there only a short time though, for the ashes were
very hot.

"Little Brothers," said Old Man, "that is very wonderful, how you lie in
those hot ashes and coals without burning. I wish you would teach me how to
do it."

"Come on, Old Man," said the rabbits, "we will show you how to do it. You
must sing our song, and only stay in the ashes a short time." So Old Man
began to sing, and he lay down, and they covered him with coals and ashes,
and they did not burn him at all.

"That is very nice," he said. "You have powerful medicine. Now I want to
know it all, so you lie down and let me cover you up."

So the rabbits all lay down in the ashes, and Old Man covered them up, and
then he put the whole fire over them. One old rabbit got out, and Old Man
was about to put her back when she said, "Pity me, my children are about to
be born."

"All right," replied Old Man. "I will let you go, so there will be some
more rabbits; but I will roast these nicely and have a feast." And he put
more wood on the fire. When the rabbits were cooked, he cut some red willow
brush and laid them on it to cool. The grease soaked into these branches,
so, even to-day if you hold red willow over a fire, you will see the grease
on the bark. You can see, too, that ever since, the rabbits have a burnt
place on their backs, where the one that got away was singed.

Old Man sat down, and was waiting for the rabbits to cool a little, when a
coyote came along, limping very badly. "Pity me, Old Man," he said, "you
have lots of cooked rabbits; give me one of them."

"Go away," exclaimed Old Man. "If you are too lazy to catch your food, I
will not help you."

"My leg is broken," said the coyote. "I can't catch anything, and I am
starving. Just give me half a rabbit."

"I don't care if you die," replied Old Man. "I worked hard to cook all
these rabbits, and I will not give any away. But I will tell you what we
will do. We will run a race to that butte, way out there, and if you beat
me you can have a rabbit."

"All right," said the coyote. So they started. Old Man ran very fast, and
the coyote limped along behind, but close to him, until they got near to
the butte. Then the coyote turned round and ran back very fast, for he was
not lame at all. It took Old Man a long time to go back, and just before he
got to the fire, the coyote swallowed the last rabbit, and trotted off over
the prairie.


Once Old Man was fording a river, when the current carried him down stream,
and he lost his weapons. He was very hungry, so he took the first wood he
could find, and made a bow and arrows, and a handle for his knife and
spear. When he had finished them, he started up a mountain. Pretty soon he
saw a bear digging roots, and he thought he would have some fun, so he hid
behind a log and called out, "No-tail animal, what are you doing?" The
bear looked up, but, seeing no one, kept on digging.

Then Old Man called out again, "Hi! you dirt-eater!" and then he dodged
back out of sight. Then the bear sat up again, and this time he saw Old Man
and ran after him.

Old Man began shooting arrows at him, but the points only stuck in the
skin, for the shafts were rotten and snapped off. Then he threw his spear,
but that too was rotten, and broke. He tried to stab the bear, but his
knife handle was also rotten and broke, so he turned and ran; and the bear
pursued him. As he ran, he looked about for some weapon, but there was
none, not even a rock. He called out to the animals to help him, but none
came. His breath was almost gone, and the bear was very close to him, when
he saw a bull's horn lying on the ground. He picked it up, placed it on his
head, and, turning around, bellowed so loudly that the bear was scared and
ran away.


Old Man was very hungry. He had been a long time without food, and was
thinking how he could get something to eat, when he saw a band of elk on a
ridge. So he went up to them and said, "Oh, my brothers, I am lonesome
because I have no one to follow me."

"Go on, Old Man," said the elk, "we will follow you." Old Man led them
about a long time, and when it was dark, he came near a high-cut bank. He
ran around to one side where there was a slope, and he went down and then
stood right under the steep bluff, and called out, "Come on, that is a nice
jump, you will laugh."

So the elk jumped off, all but one cow, and were killed.

"Come on," said Old Man, "they have all jumped but you, it is nice."

"Take pity on me," replied the cow. "My child is about to be born, and I am
very heavy. I am afraid to jump."

"Go on, then," answered Old Man; "go and live; then there will be plenty of
elk again some day."

Now Old Man built a fire and cooked some ribs, and then he skinned all the
elk, cut up the meat to dry, and hung the tongues up on a pole.

Next day he went off, and did not come back until night, when he was very
hungry again. "I'll roast some ribs," he said, "and a tongue, and I'll
stuff a marrow gut and cook that. I guess that will be enough for
to-night." But when he got to the place, the meat was all gone. The wolves
had eaten it. "I was smart to hang up those tongues," he said, "or I would
not have had anything to eat." But the tongues were all hollow. The mice
had eaten the meat out, leaving only the skin. So Old Man starved again.


A pis'kun had been built, and many buffalo had been run in and killed. The
camp was full of meat. Great sheets of it hung in the lodges and on the
racks outside; and now the women, having cut up all the meat, were working
on the hides, preparing some for robes, and scraping the hair from others,
to make leather.

About this time, Old Man came along. He had come from far and was very
tired, so he entered the first lodge he came to and sat down. Now this
lodge belonged to three old women. Their husbands had died or been killed
in war, and they had no relations to help them, so they were very
poor. After Old Man had rested a little, they set a dish of food before
him. It was dried bull meat, very tough, and some pieces of belly fat.

"_Hai'-yah ho_!" cried Old Man, after he had tasted a piece. "You treat me
badly. A whole pis'kun of fat buffalo just killed; the camp red with meat,
and here these old women give me tough bull meat and belly fat to eat.
Hurry now! roast me some ribs and a piece of back fat."

"Alas!" exclaimed one old woman. "We have no good food. All our helpers are
dead, and we take what others leave. Bulls and poor cows are all the people
leave us."

"Ah!" said Old Man, "how poor! you are very poor. Take courage now. I will
help you. To-morrow they will run another band into the pis'kun. I will be
there. I will kill the fattest cow, and you can have it all."

Then the old women were glad. They talked to one another, saying, "Very good
heart, Old Man. He helps the poor. Now we will live. We will have marrow
guts and liver. We will have paunch and fat kidneys."

Old Man said nothing more. He ate the tough meat and belly fat, and rolled
up in his robe and went to sleep.

Morning came. The people climbed the bluffs and went out on to the prairie,
where they hid behind the piles of rock and bushes, which reached far out
from the cliff in lines which were always further and further apart. After
a while, he who leads the buffalo was seen coming, bringing a large band
after him. Soon they were inside the lines. The people began to rise up
behind them, shouting and waving their robes. Now they reached the edge of
the bluff. The leaders tried to stop and turn, but those behind kept
pushing on, and nearly the whole band dashed down over the rocks, only a
few of the last ones turning aside and escaping.

The lodges were now deserted. All the people were gone to the pis'kun to
kill the buffalo and butcher them. Where was Old Man? Did he take his bow
and arrows and go to the pis'kun to kill a fat cow for the poor old women?
No. He was sneaking around, lifting the door-ways of the lodges and
looking in. Bad person, Old Man. In the chiefs lodge he saw a little child,
a girl, asleep. Outside was a buffalo's gall, and taking a long stick he
dipped the end of it in the gall; and then, reaching carefully into the
lodge, he drew it across the lips of the child asleep. Then he threw the
stick away, and went in and sat down. Soon the girl awoke and began to
cry. The gall was very bitter and burned her lips.

"Pity me, Old Man," she said. "Take this fearful thing from my lips."

"I do not doctor unless I am paid," he replied. Then said the girl: "See
all my father's Weapons hanging there. His shield, war head-dress, scalps,
and knife. Cure me now, and I will give you some of them."

"I have more of such things than I want," he replied. (What a liar! he had
none at all.)

Again said the girl, "Pity me, help me now, and I will give you my father's
white buffalo robe."

"I have plenty of white robes," replied Old Man. (Again he lied, for he
never had one.)

"Old Man," again said the girl, "in this lodge lives a widow woman, my
father's relation. Remove this fearful thing from my lips, and I will have
my father give her to you."

"Now you speak well," replied Old Man. "I am a little glad. I have many
wives" (he had none), "but I would just as soon have another one."

So he went close to the child and pretended to doctor her, but instead of
that, he killed her and ran out. He went to the old women's lodge, and
wrapped a strip of cowskin about his head, and commenced to groan, as if he
was very sick.

Now the people began to come from the pis'kun, carrying great loads of
meat. This dead girl's mother came, and when she saw her child lying dead,
and blood on the ground, she ran back crying out: "My daughter has been
killed! My daughter has been killed!"

Then all the people began to shout out and run around, and the warriors and
young men looked in the lodges, and up and down the creek in the brush, but
they could find no one who might have killed the child.

Then said the father of the dead girl: "Now, to-day, we will find out who
killed this child. Every man in this camp--every young man, every old
man--must come and jump across the creek; and if any one does not jump
across, if he falls in the water, that man is the one who did the
killing." All heard this, and they began to gather at the creek, one behind
another; and the women and children went to look on, for they wanted to see
the person who had killed the little child. Now they were ready. They were
about to jump, when some one cried out, "Old Man is not here."

"True," said the chief, looking around, "Old Man is not here." And he sent
two young men to bring him.

"Old Man!" they cried out, when they came to the lodge, "a child has been
killed. We have all got to jump to find out who did it. The chief has sent
for you. You will have to jump, too."

"_Ki'-yo!_" exclaimed the old women. "Old Man is very sick. Go off, and let
him alone. He is so sick he could not kill meat for us to-day."

"It can't be helped," the young men replied. "The chief says every one must

So Old Man went out toward the creek very slowly, and very much scared. He
did not know what to do. As he was going along he saw a _ni'-po-muk-i_[1]
and he said: "Oh my little brother, pity me. Give me some of your power to
jump the creek, and here is my necklace. See how pretty it is. I will give
it to you."

[Footnote 1: The chickadee.]

So they traded; Old Man took some of the bird's power, and the bird took
Old Man's necklace and put it on.

Now they jump. _Wo'-ka-hi!_ they jump way across and far on to the
ground. Now they jump; another! another! another! Now it comes Old Man's
turn. He runs, he jumps, he goes high, and strikes the ground far beyond
any other person's jump. Now comes the _ni'-po-muk-i. "Wo'-ka-hi!_" the men
shout. "_Ki'-yo!_" cry the women, "the bird has fallen in the creek." The
warriors are running to kill him. "Wait! Hold on!" cries the bird. "Let me
speak a few words. Every one knows I am a good jumper. I can jump further
than any one; but Old Man asked me for some of my power, and I gave it to
him, and he gave me this necklace. It is very heavy and pulled me
down. That is why I fell into the creek."

Then the people began to shout and talk again, some saying to kill the
bird, and some not, when Old Man shouted out: "Wait, listen to me. What's
the use of quarrelling or killing anybody? Let us go back, and I will
doctor the child alive."

Good words. The people were glad. So they went back, and got ready for the
doctoring. First, Old Man ordered a large fire built in the lodge where the
dead girl was lying. Two old men were placed at the back of the lodge,
facing each other. They had spears, which they held above their heads and
were to thrust back and forth at each other in time to the singing. Near
the door-way were placed two old women, facing each other. Each one held a
_puk'-sah-tchis,_[1]--a maul,--with which she was to beat time to the
singing. The other seats in the lodge were taken by people who were to
sing. Now Old Man hung a big roll of belly fat close over the fire, so that
the hot grease began to drip, and everything was ready, and the singing
began. This was Old Man's song:--

[Footnote 1: A round or oblong stone, to which a handle was bound by
rawhide thongs, used for breaking marrow bones, etc.]


Ahk-sa'-k[=e]-wah, Ahk-sa'-k[=e]-wah, Ahk-sa'-k[=e]-wah, etc. I don't
care, I don't care, I don't care.

And so they sung for a long time, the old men jabbing their spears at each
other, and the old women pretending to hit each other with their mauls.

After a while they rested, and Old Man said: "Now I want every one to shut
their eyes. No one can look. I am going to begin the real doctoring." So
the people shut their eyes, and the singing began again. Then Old Man took
the dripping hot fat from the fire, gave it a mighty swing around the
circle in front of the people's faces, jumped out the door-way, and ran
off. Every one was burned. The two old men wounded each other with their
spears. The old women knocked each other on the head with their mauls. The
people cried and groaned, wiped their burned faces, and rushed out the
door; but Old Man was gone. They saw him no more.


Once Old Man was travelling, and becoming tired he sat down on a rock to
rest. After a while he started to go on, and because the sun was hot he
threw his robe over the rock, saying: "Here, I give you my robe, because
you are poor and have let me rest on you. Always keep it."

He had not gone very far, when it began to rain, and meeting a coyote he
said: "Little brother, run back to that rock, and ask him to lend me his
robe. We will cover ourselves with it and keep dry." So the coyote ran back
to the rock, but returned without the robe. "Where is the robe?" asked Old
Man. "_Sai-yah!"_ replied the coyote. "The rock said you gave him the
robe, and he was going to keep it."

Then Old Man was very angry, and went back to the rock and jerked the robe
off it, saying: "I only wanted to borrow this robe until the rain was over,
but now that you have acted so mean about it, I will keep it. You don't
need a robe anyhow. You have been out in the rain and snow all your life,
and it will not hurt you to live so always."

With the coyote he went off into a coulée, and sat down. The rain was
falling, and they covered themselves with the robe and were very
comfortable. Pretty soon they heard a loud noise, and Old Man told the
coyote to go up on the hill and see what it was. Soon he came running back,
saying, "Run! run! the big rock is coming"; and they both ran away as fast
as they could. The coyote tried to crawl into a badger hole, but it was too
small for him and he stuck fast, and before he could get out, the rock
rolled over him and crushed his hind parts. Old Man was scared, and as he
ran he threw off his robe and what clothes he could, so that he might run
faster. The rock kept gaining on him all the time.

Not far off was a band of buffalo bulls, and Old Man cried out to them,
saying, "Oh my brothers, help me, help me. Stop that rock." The bulls ran
and tried to stop it, but it crushed their heads. Some deer and antelope
tried to help Old Man, but they were killed, too. A lot of rattlesnakes
formed themselves into a lariat, and tried to catch it; but those at the
noose end were all cut to pieces. The rock was now close to Old Man, so
close that it began to hit his heels; and he was about to give up, when he
saw a flock of bull bats circling over his head. "Oh my little brothers,"
he cried, "help me. I am almost dead." Then the bull bats flew down, one
after another, against the rock; and every time one of them hit it he
chipped off a piece, and at last one hit it fair in the middle and broke it
into two pieces.

Then Old Man was very glad. He went to where there was a nest of bull bats,
and made the young ones' mouths very wide and pinched off their bills, to
make them pretty and queer looking. That is the reason they look so to-day.


Once Old Man was travelling around, when he came to the Sun's lodge, and
the Sun asked him to stay a while. Old Man was very glad to do so.

One day the meat was all gone, and the Sun said, "_Kyi_! Old Man, what say
you if we go and kill some deer?"

"You speak well," replied Old Man. "I like deer meat."

The Sun took down a bag and pulled out a beautiful pair of leggings. They
were embroidered with porcupine quills and bright feathers. "These," said
the Sun, "are my hunting leggings. They are great medicine. All I have to
do is to put them on and walk around a patch of brush, when the leggings
set it on fire and drive the deer out so that I can shoot them."

"_Hai-yah_!" exclaimed Old Man. "How wonderful!" He made up his mind he
would have those leggings, if he had to steal them.

They went out to hunt, and the first patch of brush they came to, the Sun
set on fire with his hunting leggings. A lot of white-tail deer ran out,
and they each shot one.

That night, when they went to bed, the Sun pulled off his leggings and
placed them to one side. Old Man saw where he put them, and in the middle
of the night, when every one was asleep, he stole them and went off. He
travelled a long time, until he had gone far and was very tired, and then,
making a pillow of the leggings, lay down and slept. In the morning, he
heard some one talking. The Sun was saying, "Old Man, why are my leggings
under your head?" He looked around, and saw he was in the Sun's lodge, and
thought he must have wandered around and got lost, and returned
there. Again the Sun spoke and said, "What are you doing with my leggings?"
"Oh," replied Old Man, "I couldn't find anything for a pillow, so I just
put these under my head."

Night came again, and again Old Man stole the leggings and ran off. This
time he did not walk at all; he just kept running until pretty near
morning, and then lay down and slept. You see what a fool he was. He did
not know that the whole world is the Sun's lodge. He did not know that, no
matter how far he ran, he could not get out of the Sun's sight. When
morning came, he found himself still in the Sun's lodge. But this time the
Sun said: "Old Man, since you like my leggings so much, I will give them to
you. Keep them." Then Old Man was very glad and went away.

One day his food was all gone, so he put on the medicine leggings and set
fire to a piece of brush. He was just going to kill some deer that were
running out, when he saw that the fire was getting close to him. He ran
away as fast as he could, but the fire gained on him and began to burn his
legs. His leggings were all on fire. He came to a river and jumped in, and
pulled off the leggings as soon as he could. They were burned to pieces.

Perhaps the Sun did this to him because he tried to steal the leggings.


One day Old Man went out hunting and took the fox with him. They hunted for
several days, but killed nothing. It was nice warm weather in the late
fall. After they had become very hungry, as they were going along one day,
Old Man went up over a ridge and on the other side he saw four big buffalo
bulls lying down; but there was no way by which they could get near
them. He dodged back out of sight and told the fox what he had seen, and
they thought for a long time, to see if there was no way by which these
bulls might be killed.

At last Old Man said to the fox: "My little brother, I can think of only
one way to get these bulls. This is my plan, if you agree to it. I will
pluck all the fur off you except one tuft on the end of your tail. Then you
go over the hill and walk up and down in sight of the bulls, and you will
seem so funny to them that they will laugh themselves to death."

The fox did not like to do this, but he could think of nothing better, so
he agreed to what Old Man proposed. Old Man plucked him perfectly bare,
except the end of his tail, and the fox went over the ridge and walked up
and down. When he had come close to the bulls, he played around and walked
on his hind legs and went through all sorts of antics. When the bulls first
saw him, they got up on their feet, and looked at him. They did not know
what to make of him. Then they began to laugh, and the more they looked at
him, the more they laughed, until at last one by one they fell down
exhausted and died. Then Old Man came over the hill, and went down to the
bulls, and began to butcher them. By this time it had grown a little

"Ah, little brother," said Old Man to the fox, "you did splendidly. I do
not wonder that the bulls laughed themselves to death. I nearly died myself
as I watched you from the hill. You looked very funny." While he was saying
this, he was working away skinning off the hides and getting the meat ready
to carry to camp, all the time talking to the fox, who stood about, his
back humped up and his teeth chattering with the cold. Now a wind sprang up
from the north and a few snowflakes were flying in the air. It was growing
colder and colder. Old Man kept on talking, and every now and then he would
say something to the fox, who was sitting behind him perfectly still, with
his jaw shoved out and his teeth shining.

At last Old Man had the bulls all skinned and the meat cut up, and as he
rose up he said: "It is getting pretty cold, isn't it? Well, we do not care
for the cold. We have got all our winter's meat, and we will have nothing
to do but feast and dance and sing until spring." The fox made no
answer. Then Old Man got angry, and called out: "Why don't you answer me?
Don't you hear me talking to you?" The fox said nothing. Then Old Man was
mad, and he said, "Can't you speak?" and stepped up to the fox and gave him
a push with his foot, and the fox fell over. He was dead, frozen stiff with
the cold.


Old Man was travelling round over the prairie, when he saw a lot of
prairie-dogs sitting in a circle. They had built a fire, and were sitting
around it. Old Man went toward them, and when he got near them, he began to
cry, and said, "Let me, too, sit by that fire." The prairie-dogs said: "All
right, Old Man. Don't cry. Come and sit by the fire." Old Man sat down,
and saw that the prairie-dogs were playing a game. They would put one of
their number in the fire and cover him up with the hot ashes; and then,
after he had been there a little while, he would say _sk, sk_, and they
would push the ashes off him, and pull him out.

Old Man said, "Teach me how to do that"; and they told him what to do, and
put him in the fire, and covered him up with the ashes, and after a little
while he said _sk, sk_, like a prairie-dog, and they pulled him out
again. Then he did it to the prairie-dogs. At first he put them in one at a
time, but there were many of them, and pretty soon he got tired, and said,
"Come, I will put you all in at once." They said, "Very well, Old Man," and
all got in the ashes; but just as Old Man was about to cover them up, one
of them, a female heavy with young, said, "Do not cover me up; the heat may
hurt my children, which are about to be born." Old Man said: "Very well. If
you do not want to be covered up, you can sit over by the fire and watch
the rest." Then he covered up all the others.

At length the prairie-dogs said _sk, sk_, but Old Man did not sweep the
ashes off and pull them out of the fire. He let them stay there and die. The
old she one ran off to a hole and, as she went down in it, said _sk,
sk_. Old Man chased her, but he got to the hole too late to catch her. So
he said: "Oh, well, you can go. There will be more prairie-dogs by and by."

When the prairie-dogs were roasted, Old Man cut a lot of red willow brush
to lay them on, and then sat down and began to eat. He ate until he was
full, and then felt sleepy. He said to his nose: "I am going to sleep
now. Watch for me and wake me up in case anything comes near." Then Old Man
slept. Pretty soon his nose snored, and he woke up and said, "What is it?"
The nose said, "A raven is flying over there." Old Man said, "That is
nothing," and went to sleep again. Soon his nose snored again. Old Man
said, "What is it now?" The nose said, "There is a coyote over there,
coming this way." Old Man said, "A coyote is nothing," and again went to
sleep. Presently his nose snored again, but Old Man did not wake up. Again
it snored, and called out, "Wake up, a bob-cat is coming." Old Man paid no
attention. He slept on.

The bob-cat crept up to where the fire was, and ate up all the roast
prairie-dogs, and then went off and lay down on a flat rock, and went to
sleep. All this time the nose kept trying to wake Old Man up, and at last
he awoke, and the nose said: "A bob-cat is over there on that flat rock. He
has eaten all your food." Then Old Man called out loud, he was so angry. He
went softly over to where the bob-cat lay, and seized it, before it could
wake up to bite or scratch him. The bob-cat cried out, "Hold on, let me
speak a word or two." But Old Man would not listen; he said, "I will teach
you to steal my food." He pulled off the lynx's tail, pounded his head
against the rock so as to make his face flat, pulled him out long, so as to
make him small-bellied, and then threw him away into the brush. As he went
sneaking off, Old Man said, "There, that is the way you bob-cats shall
always be." That is the reason the lynxes look so today.

Old Man went back to the fire, and looked at the red willow sticks where
his food had been, and it made him mad at his nose. He said, "You fool, why
did you not wake me?" He took the willow sticks and thrust them in the
coals, and when they took fire, he burned his nose. This pained him
greatly, and he ran up on a hill and held his nose to the wind, and called
on it to blow hard and cool him. A hard wind came, and it blew him away
down to Birch Creek. As he was flying along, he caught at the weeds and
brush to try to stop himself, but nothing was strong enough to hold him. At
last he seized a birch tree. He held on to this, and it did not give
way. Although the wind whipped him about, this way and that, and tumbled
him up and down, the tree held him. He kept calling to the wind to blow
gently, and finally it listened to him and went down.

So he said: "This is a beautiful tree. It has kept me from being blown away
and knocked all to pieces. I will ornament it and it shall always be like
that." So he gashed it across with his stone knife, as you see it to-day.



Fifty years ago the name Blackfoot was one of terrible meaning to the white
traveller who passed across that desolate buffalo-trodden waste which lay
to the north of the Yellowstone River and east of the Rocky Mountains. This
was the Blackfoot land, the undisputed home of a people which is said to
have numbered in one of its tribes--the Pi-k[)u]n'-i--8000 lodges, or
40,000 persons. Besides these, there were the Blackfeet and the Bloods,
three tribes of one nation, speaking the same language, having the same
customs, and holding the same religious faith.

But this land had not always been the home of the Blackfeet. Long ago,
before the coming of the white men, they had lived in another country far
to the north and east, about Lesser Slave Lake, ranging between Peace River
and the Saskatchewan, and having for their neighbors on the north the
Beaver Indians. Then the Blackfeet were a timber people. It is said that
about two hundred years ago the Chippeweyans from the east invaded this
country and drove them south and west. Whether or no this is true, it is
quite certain that not many generations back the Blackfeet lived on the
North Saskatchewan River and to the north of that stream.[1] Gradually
working their way westward, they at length reached the Rocky Mountains,
and, finding game abundant, remained there until they obtained horses, in
the very earliest years of the present century. When they secured horses and
guns, they took courage and began to venture out on to the plains and to go
to war. From this time on, the Blackfeet made constant war on their
neighbors to the south, and in a few years controlled the whole country
between the Saskatchewan on the north and the Yellowstone on the south.

[Footnote 1: For a more extended account of this migration, see _American
Anthropologist_, April, 1892, p. 153.]

It was, indeed, a glorious country which the Blackfeet had wrested from
their southern enemies. Here nature has reared great mountains and spread
out broad prairies. Along the western border of this region, the Rocky
Mountains lift their snow-clad peaks above the clouds. Here and there, from
north to south, and from east to west, lie minor ranges, black with pine
forests if seen near at hand, or in the distance mere gray silhouettes
against a sky of blue. Between these mountain ranges lies everywhere the
great prairie; a monotonous waste to the stranger's eye, but not without
its charm. It is brown and bare; for, except during a few short weeks in
spring, the sparse bunch-grass is sear and yellow, and the silver gray of
the wormwood lends an added dreariness to the landscape. Yet this seemingly
desert waste has a beauty of its own. At intervals it is marked with green
winding river valleys, and everywhere it is gashed with deep ravines, their
sides painted in strange colors of red and gray and brown, and their
perpendicular walls crowned with fantastic columns and figures of stone or
clay, carved out by the winds and the rains of ages. Here and there, rising
out of the plain, are curious sharp ridges, or square-topped buttes with
vertical sides, sometimes bare, and sometimes dotted with pines,--short,
sturdy trees, whose gnarled trunks and thick, knotted branches have been
twisted and wrung into curious forms by the winds which blow unceasingly,
hour after hour, day after day, and month after month, over mountain range
and prairie, through gorge and coulée.

These prairies now seem bare of life, but it was not always so. Not very
long ago, they were trodden by multitudinous herds of buffalo and antelope;
then, along the wooded river valleys and on the pine-clad slopes of the
mountains, elk, deer, and wild sheep fed in great numbers. They are all
gone now. The winter's wind still whistles over Montana prairies, but
nature's shaggy-headed wild cattle no longer feel its biting blasts. Where
once the scorching breath of summer stirred only the short stems of the
buffalo-grass, it now billows the fields of the white man's
grain. Half-hidden by the scanty herbage, a few bleached skeletons alone
remain to tell us of the buffalo; and the broad, deep trails, over which
the dark herds passed by thousands, are now grass-grown and fast
disappearing under the effacing hand of time. The buffalo have disappeared,
and the fate of the buffalo has almost overtaken the Blackfeet.

As known to the whites, the Blackfeet were true prairie Indians, seldom
venturing into the mountains, except when they crossed them to war with the
Kutenais, the Flatheads, or the Snakes. They subsisted almost wholly on the
flesh of the buffalo. They were hardy, untiring, brave, ferocious. Swift
to move, whether on foot or horseback, they made long journeys to war, and
with telling force struck their enemies. They had conquered and driven out
from the territory which they occupied the tribes who once inhabited it,
and maintained a desultory and successful warfare against all invaders,
fighting with the Crees on the north, the Assinaboines on the east, the
Crows on the south, and the Snakes, Kalispels, and Kutenais on the
southwest and west. In those days the Blackfeet were rich and powerful.
The buffalo fed and clothed them, and they needed nothing beyond what
nature supplied. This was their time of success and happiness.

Crowded into a little corner of the great territory which they once
dominated, and holding this corner by an uncertain tenure, a few Blackfeet
still exist, the pitiful remnant of a once mighty people. Huddled together
about their agencies, they are facing the problem before them, striving,
helplessly but bravely, to accommodate themselves to the new order of
things; trying in the face of adverse surroundings to wrench themselves
loose from their accustomed ways of life; to give up inherited habits and
form new ones; to break away from all that is natural to them, from all
that they have been taught--to reverse their whole mode of existence. They
are striving to earn their living, as the white man earns his, by toil. The
struggle is hard and slow, and in carrying it on they are wasting away and
growing fewer in numbers. But though unused to labor, ignorant of
agriculture, unacquainted with tools or seeds or soils, knowing nothing of
the ways of life in permanent houses or of the laws of health, scantily
fed, often utterly discouraged by failure, they are still making a noble
fight for existence.

Only within a few years--since the buffalo disappeared--has this change
been going on; so recently has it come that the old order and the new meet
face to face. In the trees along the river valleys, still quietly resting
on their aerial sepulchres, sleep the forms of the ancient hunter-warrior
who conquered and held this broad land; while, not far away, Blackfoot
farmers now rudely cultivate their little crops, and gather scanty harvests
from narrow fields.

It is the meeting of the past and the present, of savagery and
civilization. The issue cannot be doubtful. Old methods must pass away. The
Blackfeet will become civilized, but at a terrible cost. To me there is an
interest, profound and pathetic, in watching the progress of the struggle.


Indians are usually represented as being a silent, sullen race, seldom
speaking, and never laughing nor joking. However true this may be in regard
to some tribes, it certainly was not the case with most of those who lived
upon the great Plains. These people were generally talkative, merry, and
light-hearted; they delighted in fun, and were a race of jokers. It is true
that, in the presence of strangers, they were grave, silent, and reserved,
but this is nothing more than the shyness and embarrassment felt by a child
in the presence of strangers. As the Indian becomes acquainted, this
reserve wears off; he is at his ease again and appears in his true colors,
a light-hearted child. Certainly the Blackfeet never were a taciturn and
gloomy people. Before the disappearance of the buffalo, they were happy and
cheerful. Why should they not have been? Food and clothing were to be had
for the killing and tanning. All fur animals were abundant, and thus the
people were rich. Meat, really the only food they cared for, was plenty and
cost nothing. Their robes and furs were exchanged with the traders for
bright-colored blankets and finery. So they wanted nothing.

It is but nine years since the buffalo disappeared from the land. Only nine
years have passed since these people gave up that wild, free life which was
natural to them, and ah! how dear! Let us go back in memory to those happy
days and see how they passed the time.

The sun is just rising. Thin columns of smoke are creeping from the smoke
holes of the lodges, and ascending in the still morning air. Everywhere the
women are busy, carrying water and wood, and preparing the simple meal.
And now we see the men come out, and start for the river. Some are
followed by their children; some are even carrying those too small to
walk. They have reached the water's edge. Off drop their blankets, and with
a plunge and a shivering _ah-h-h_ they dash into the icy waters. Winter and
summer, storm or shine, this was their daily custom. They said it made them
tough and healthy, and enabled them to endure the bitter cold while hunting
on the bare bleak prairie. By the time they have returned to the lodges,
the women have prepared the early meal. A dish of boiled meat--some three
or four pounds--is set before each man; the children are served as much as
they can eat, and the wives take the rest. The horses are now seen coming
in, hundreds and thousands of them, driven by boys and young men who
started out after them at daylight. If buffalo are close at hand, and it
has been decided to make a run, each hunter catches his favorite buffalo
horse, and they all start out together; they are followed by women, on the
travois or pack horses, who will do most of the butchering, and transport
the meat and hides to camp. If there is no band of buffalo near by, they go
off, singly or by twos and threes, to still-hunt scattering buffalo, or
deer, or elk, or such other game as may be found. The women remaining in
camp are not idle. All day long they tan robes, dry meat, sew moccasins,
and perform a thousand and one other tasks. The young men who have stayed
at home carefully comb and braid their hair, paint their faces, and, if the
weather is pleasant, ride or walk around the camp so that the young women
may look at them and see how pretty they are.

Feasting began early in the morning, and will be carried on far into the
night. A man who gives a feast has his wives cook the choicest food they
have, and when all is ready, he goes outside the lodge and shouts the
invitation, calling out each guest's name three times, saying that he is
invited to eat, and concludes by announcing that a certain number of
pipes--generally three--will be smoked. The guests having assembled, each
one is served with a dish of food. Be the quantity large or small, it is
all that he will get. If he does not eat it all, he may carry home what
remains. The host does not eat with his guests. He cuts up some tobacco,
and carefully mixes it with _l'herbe_, and when all have finished eating,
he fills and lights a pipe, which is smoked and passed from one to another,
beginning with the first man on his left. When the last person on the left
of the host has smoked, the pipe is passed back around the circle to the
one on the right of the door, and smoked to the left again. The guests do
not all talk at once. When a person begins to speak, he expects every one
to listen, and is never interrupted. During the day the topics for
conversation are about the hunting, war, stories of strange adventures,
besides a good deal of good-natured joking and chaffing. When the third and
last pipeful of tobacco has been smoked, the host ostentatiously knocks out
the ashes and says "_Kyi"_ whereupon all the guests rise and file out.
Seldom a day passed but each lodge-owner in camp gave from one to three
feasts. In fact almost all a man did, when in camp, was to go from one of
these gatherings to another.

A favorite pastime in the day was gambling with a small wheel called
_it-se'-wah._ This wheel was about four inches in diameter, and had five
spokes, on which were strung different-colored beads, made of bone or
horn. A level, smooth piece of ground was selected, at each end of which
was placed a log. At each end of the course were two men, who gambled
against each other. A crowd always surrounded them, betting on the
sides. The wheel was rolled along the course, and each man at the end
whence it started, darted an arrow at it. The cast was made just before
the wheel reached the log at the opposite end of the track, and points were
counted according as the arrow passed between the spokes, or when the
wheel, stopped by the log, was in contact with the arrow, the position and
nearness of the different beads to the arrow representing a certain number
of points. The player who first scored ten points won. It was a very
difficult game, and one had to be very skilful to win.

Another popular game was what with more southern tribes is called "hands";
it is like "Button, button, who's got the button?" Two small, oblong bones
were used, one of which had a black ring around it. Those who participated
in this game, numbering from two to a dozen, were divided into two equal
parties, ranged on either side of the lodge. Wagers were made, each person
betting with the one directly opposite him. Then a man took the bones, and,
by skilfully moving his hands and changing the objects from one to the
other, sought to make it impossible for the person opposite him to decide
which hand held the marked one. Ten points were the game, counted by
sticks, and the side which first got the number took the stakes. A song
always accompanied this game, a weird, unearthly air,--if it can be so
called,--but when heard at a little distance, very pleasant and
soothing. At first a scarcely audible murmur, like the gentle soughing of
an evening breeze, it gradually increased in volume and reached a very high
pitch, sank quickly to a low bass sound, rose and fell, and gradually died
away, to be again repeated. The person concealing the bones swayed his
body, arms, and hands in time to the air, and went through all manner of
graceful and intricate movements for the purpose of confusing the
guesser. The stakes were sometimes very high, two or three horses or more,
and men have been known to lose everything they possessed, even to their

The children, at least the boys, played about and did as they pleased. Not
so with the girls. Their duties began at a very early age. They carried
wood and water for their mothers, sewed moccasins, and as soon as they were
strong enough, were taught to tan robes and furs, make lodges, travois, and
do all other woman's--and so menial--work. The boys played at mimic
warfare, hunted around in the brush with their bows and arrows, made mud
images of animals, and in summer spent about half their time in the
water. In winter, they spun tops on the ice, slid down hill on a
contrivance made of buffalo ribs, and hunted rabbits.

Shortly after noon, the hunters began to return, bringing in deer,
antelope, buffalo, elk, occasionally bear, and, sometimes, beaver which
they had trapped. The camp began to be more lively. In all directions
persons could be heard shouting out invitations to feasts. Here a man was
lying back on his couch singing and drumming; there a group of young men
were holding a war dance; everywhere the people were eating, singing,
talking, and joking. As the light faded from the western sky and darkness
spread over the camp, the noise and laughter increased. In many lodges, the
people held social dances, the women, dressed in their best gowns, ranged
on one side, the men on the other; all sung, and three or four drummers
furnished an accompaniment; the music was lively if somewhat jerky. At
intervals the people rose and danced, the "step" being a bending of the
knees and swinging of the body, the women holding their arms and hands in
various graceful positions.

With the night came the rehearsal of the wondrous doings of the gods. These
tales may not be told in the daytime. Old Man would not like that, and
would cause any one who narrated them while it was light to become
blind. All Indians are natural orators, but some far exceed others in their
powers of expression. Their attitudes, gestures, and signs are so
suggestive that they alone would enable one to understand the stories they
relate. I have seen these story-tellers so much in earnest, so entirely
carried away by the tale they were relating, that they fairly trembled with
excitement. They held their little audiences spell-bound. The women
dropped their half-sewn moccasin from their listless hands, and the men let
the pipe go out. These stories for the most part were about the ancient
gods and their miraculous doings. They were generally related by the old
men, warriors who had seen their best days. Many of them are recorded in
this book. They are the explanations of the phenomena of life, and contain
many a moral for the instruction of youth.

The _I-k[)u]n-[)u]h'-kah-tsi_ contributed not a little to the entertainment
of every-day life. Frequent dances were held by the different bands of the
society, and the whole camp always turned out to see them. The animal-head
masks, brightly painted bodies, and queer performances were dear to the
Indian heart.

Such was the every-day life of the Blackfeet in the buffalo days. When the
camp moved, the women packed up their possessions, tore down the lodges,
and loaded everything on the backs of the ponies or on the
travois. Meantime the chiefs had started on, and the soldiers--the Brave
band of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_--followed after them. After these leaders
had gone a short distance, a halt was made to allow the column to close
up. The women, children, horses, and dogs of the camp marched in a
disorderly, straggling fashion, often strung out in a line a mile or two
long. Many of the men rode at a considerable distance ahead, and on each
side of the marching column, hunting for any game that might be found, or
looking over the country for signs of enemies.

Before the Blackfeet obtained horses in the very first years of the present
century, and when their only beasts of burden were dogs, their possessions
were transported by these animals or on men's backs. We may imagine that
in those days the journeys made were short ones, the camp travelling but a
few miles.

In moving the camp in ancient days, the heaviest and bulkiest things to be
transported were the lodges. These were sometimes very large, often
consisting of thirty cow-skins, and, when set up, containing two or three
fires like this [Illustration:] or in ground plan like this
[Illustration:]. The skins of these large lodges were sewn together in
strips, of which there would be sometimes as many as four; and, when the
lodge was set up, these strips were pinned together as the front of a
common lodge is pinned to-day. The dogs carried the provisions, tools, and
utensils, sometimes the lodge strips, if these were small enough, or
anything that was heavy, and yet could be packed in small compass; for
since dogs are small animals, and low standing, they cannot carry bulky
burdens. Still, some of the dogs were large enough to carry a load of one
hundred pounds. Dogs also hauled the travois, on which were bundles and
sometimes babies. This was not always a safe means of transportation for
infants, as is indicated by an incident related by John Monroe's mother as
having occurred in her father's time. The camp, on foot of course, was
crossing a strip of open prairie lying between two pieces of timber, when a
herd of buffalo, stampeding, rushed through the marching column. The
loaded dogs rushed after the buffalo, dragging the travois after them and
scattering their loads over the prairie. Among the lost chattels were two
babies, dropped off somewhere in the long grass, which were never found.

There were certain special customs and beliefs which were a part of the
every-day life of the people.

In passing the pipe when smoking, it goes from the host, who takes the
first smoke, to the left, passing from hand to hand to the door. It may not
be passed across the door to the man on the other side, but must come
back,--no one smoking,--pass the host, and go round to the man across the
door from the last smoker. This man smokes and passes it to the one on his
left, and so it goes on until it reaches the host again. A person entering
a lodge where people are smoking must not pass in front of them, that is,
between the smokers and the fire.

A solemn form of affirmation, the equivalent of the civilized oath, is
connected with smoking, which, as is well known, is with many tribes of
Indians a sacred ceremony. If a man sitting in a lodge tells his companions
some very improbable story, something that they find it very hard to
believe, and they want to test him, to see if he is really telling the
truth, the pipe is given to a medicine man, who paints the stem red and
prays over it, asking that if the man's story is true he may have long
life, but if it is false his life may end in a short time. The pipe is then
filled and lighted, and passed to the man, who has seen and overheard what
has been done and said. The medicine man says to him: "Accept this pipe,
but remember that, if you smoke, your story must be as sure as that there
is a hole through this pipe, and as straight as the hole through this
stem. So your life shall be long and you shall survive, but if you have
spoken falsely your days are counted." The man may refuse the pipe, saying,
"I have told you the truth; it is useless to smoke this pipe." If he
declines to smoke, no one believes what he has said; he is looked upon as
having lied. If, however, he takes the pipe and smokes, every one believes
him. It is the most solemn form of oath. The Blackfoot pipes are usually
made of black or green slate or sandstone.

The Blackfeet do not whip their children, but still they are not without
some training. Children must be taught, or they will not know anything; if
they do not know anything, they will have no sense; and if they have no
sense they will not know how to act. They are instructed in manners, as
well as in other more general and more important matters.

If a number of boys were in a lodge where older people were sitting, very
likely the young people would be talking and laughing about their own
concerns, and making so much noise that the elders could say nothing. If
this continued too long, one of the older men would be likely to get up and
go out and get a long stick and bring it in with him. When he had seated
himself, he would hold it up, so that the children could see it and would
repeat a cautionary formula, "I will give you gum!" This was a warning to
them to make less noise, and was always heeded--for a time. After a little,
however, the boys might forget and begin to chatter again, and presently
the man, without further warning, would reach over and rap one of them on
the head with the stick, when quiet would again be had for a time.

In the same way, in winter, when the lodge was full of old and young
people, and through lack of attention the fire died down, some older person
would call out, "Look out for the skunk!" which would be a warning to the
boys to put some sticks on the fire. If this was not done at once, the man
who had called out might throw a stick of wood across the lodge into the
group of children, hitting and hurting one or more of them. It was taught
also that, if, when young and old were in the lodge and the fire had burned
low, an older person were to lay the unburned ends of the sticks upon the
fire, all the children in the lodge would have the scab, or itch. So, at
the call "Look out for the scab!" some child would always jump to the fire,
and lay up the sticks.

There were various ways of teaching and training the children. Men would
make long speeches to groups of boys, playing in the camps, telling them
what they ought to do to be successful in life. They would point out to
them that to accomplish anything they must be brave and untiring in war;
that long life was not desirable; that the old people always had a hard
time, were given the worst side of the lodge and generally neglected; that
when the camp was moved they suffered from cold; that their sight was dim,
so that they could not see far; that their teeth were gone, so that they
could not chew their food. Only discomfort and misery await the old. Much
better, while the body is strong and in its prime, while the sight is
clear, the teeth sound, and the hair still black and long, to die in battle
fighting bravely. The example of successful warriors would be held up to
them, and the boys urged to emulate their brave deeds. To such advice some
boys would listen, while others would not heed it.

The girls also were instructed. All Indians like to see women more or less
sober and serious-minded, not giggling all the time, not silly. A Blackfoot
man who had two or three girls would, as they grew large, often talk to
them and give them good advice. After watching them, and taking the measure
of their characters, he would one day get a buffalo's front foot and
ornament it fantastically with feathers. When the time came, he would call
one of his daughters to him and say to her: "Now I wish you to stand here
in front of me and look me straight in the eye without laughing. No matter
what I may do, do not laugh." Then he would sing a funny song, shaking the
foot in the girl's face in time to the song, and looking her steadily in
the eye. Very likely before he had finished, she would begin to giggle. If
she did this, the father would stop singing and tell her to finish
laughing; and when she was serious again, he would again warn her not to
laugh, and then would repeat his song. This time perhaps she would not
laugh while he was singing. He would go through with this same performance
before all his daughters. To such as seemed to have the steadiest
characters, he would give good advice. He would talk to each girl of the
duties of a woman's life and warn her against the dangers which she might
expect to meet.

At the time of the Medicine Lodge, he would take her to the lodge and point
out to her the Medicine Lodge woman. He would say: "There is a good
woman. She has built this Medicine Lodge, and is greatly honored and
respected by all the people. Once she was a girl just like you; and you, if
you are good and live a pure life, may some day be as great as she is
now. Remember this, and try to live a worthy life."

At the time of the Medicine Lodge, the boys in the camp also gathered to
see the young men count their _coups_. A man would get up, holding in one
hand a bundle of small sticks, and, taking one stick from the bundle, he
would recount some brave deed, throwing away a stick as he completed the
narrative of each _coup_, until the sticks were all gone, when he sat down,
and another man stood up to begin his recital. As the boys saw and heard
all this, and saw how respected those men were who had done the most and
bravest things, they said to themselves, "That man was once a boy like us,
and we, if we have strong hearts, may do as much as he has done." So even
the very small boys used often to steal off from the camp, and follow war
parties. Often they went without the knowledge of their parents, and poorly
provided, without food or extra moccasins. They would get to the enemy's
camp, watch the ways of the young men, and so learn about going to war, how
to act when on the war trail so as to be successful. Also they came to know
the country.

The Blackfeet men often went off by themselves to fast and dream for
power. By no means every one did this, and, of those who attempted it, only
a few endured to the end,--that is, fasted the whole four days,--and
obtained the help sought. The attempt was not usually made by young boys
before they had gone on their first war journey. It was often undertaken by
men who were quite mature. Those who underwent this suffering were obliged
to abstain from food or drink for four days and four nights, resting for
two nights on the right side, and for two nights on the left. It was deemed
essential that the place to which a man resorted for this purpose should be
unfrequented, where few or no persons had walked; and it must also be a
place that tried the nerve, where there was some danger. Such situations
were mountain peaks; or narrow ledges on cut cliffs, where a careless
movement might cause a man to fall to his death on the rocks below; or
islands in lakes, which could only be reached by means of a raft, and where
there was danger that a person might be seized and carried off by the
_S[=u]'-y[=e] t[)u]p'-pi_, or Under Water People; or places where the dead
had been buried, and where there was much danger from ghosts. Or a man
might lie in a well-worn buffalo trail, where the animals were frequently
passing, and so he might be trodden on by a travelling band of buffalo; or
he might choose a locality where bears were abundant and dangerous.
Wherever he went, the man built himself a little lodge of brush, moss, and
leaves, to keep off the rain; and, after making his prayers to the sun and
singing his sacred songs, he crept into the hut and began his fast. He was
not allowed to take any covering with him, nor to roof over his shelter
with skins. He always had with him a pipe, and this lay by him, filled, so
that, when the spirit, or dream, came, it could smoke. They did not appeal
to any special class of helpers, but prayed to all alike. Often by the end
of the fourth day, a secret helper--usually, but by no means always, in the
form of some animal--appeared to the man in a dream, and talked with him,
advising him, marking out his course through life, and giving him its
power. There were some, however, on whom the power would not work, and a
much greater number who gave up the fast, discouraged, before the
prescribed time had been completed, either not being able to endure the
lack of food and water, or being frightened by the strangeness or
loneliness of their surroundings, or by something that they thought they
saw or heard. It was no disgrace to fail, nor was the failure necessarily
known, for the seeker after power did not always, nor perhaps often, tell
any one what he was going to do.

Three modes of burial were practised by the Blackfeet. They buried their
dead on platforms placed in trees, on platforms in lodges, and on the
ground in lodges. If a man dies in a lodge, it is never used again. The
people would be afraid of the man's ghost. The lodge is often used to wrap
the body in, or perhaps the man may be buried in it.

As soon as a person is dead, be it man, woman, or child, the body is
immediately prepared for burial, by the nearest female relations. Until
recently, the corpse was wrapped in a number of robes, then in a lodge
covering, laced with rawhide ropes, and placed on a platform of lodge
poles, arranged on the branches of some convenient tree. Some times the
outer wrapping--the lodge covering--was omitted. If the deceased was a man,
his weapons, and often his medicine, were buried with him. With women a few
cooking utensils and implements for tanning robes were placed on the
scaffolds. When a man was buried on a platform in a lodge, the platform was
usually suspended from the lodge poles.

Sometimes, when a great chief or noted warrior died, his lodge would be
moved some little distance from the camp, and set up in a patch of
brush. It would be carefully pegged down all around, and stones piled on
the edges to make it additionally firm. For still greater security, a rope
fastened to the lodge poles, where they come together at the smoke hole,
came down, and was securely tied to a peg in the ground in the centre of
the lodge, where the fireplace would ordinarily be. Then the beds were made
up all around the lodge, and on one of them was placed the corpse, lying as
if asleep. The man's weapons, pipe, war clothing, and medicine were placed
near him, and the door then closed. No one ever again entered such a
lodge. Outside the lodge, a number of his horses, often twenty or more,
were killed, so that he might have plenty to ride on his journey to the Sand
Hills, and to use after arriving there. If a man had a favorite horse, he
might order it to be killed at his grave, and his order was always carried
out. In ancient times, it is said, dogs were killed at the grave.

Women mourn for deceased relations by cutting their hair short. For the
loss of a husband or son (but not a daughter), they not only cut their
hair, but often take off one or more joints of their fingers, and always
scarify the calves of their legs. Besides this, for a month or so, they
daily repair to some place near camp, generally a hill or little rise of
ground, and there cry and lament, calling the name of the deceased over and
over again. This may be called a chant or song, for there is a certain tune
to it. It is in a minor key and very doleful. Any one hearing it for the
first time, even though wholly unacquainted with Indian customs, would at
once know that it was a mourning song, or at least was the utterance of one
in deep distress. There is no fixed period for the length of time one must
mourn. Some keep up this daily lament for a few weeks only, and others much
longer. I once came across an old wrinkled woman, who was crouched in the
sage brush, crying and lamenting for some one, as if her heart would
break. On inquiring if any one had lately died, I was told she was mourning
for a son she had lost more than twenty years before.

Men mourn by cutting a little of their hair, going without leggings, and
for the loss of a son, sometimes scarify their legs. This last, however, is
never done for the loss of a wife, daughter, or any relative except a son.

Many Blackfeet change their names every season. Whenever a Blackfoot counts
a new _coup_, he is entitled to a new name. A Blackfoot will never tell his
name if he can avoid it. He believes that if he should speak his name, he
would be unfortunate in all his undertakings. It was considered a gross
breach of propriety for a man to meet his mother-in-law, and if by any
mischance he did so, or what was worse, if he spoke to her, she demanded a
very heavy payment, which he was obliged to make. The mother-in-law was
equally anxious to avoid meeting or speaking to her son-in-law.


The primitive clothing of the Blackfeet was made of the dressed skins of
certain animals. Women seldom wore a head covering. Men, however, in winter
generally used a cap made of the skin of some small animal, such as the
antelope, wolf, badger, or coyote. As the skin from the head of these
animals often formed part of the cap, the ears being left on, it made a
very odd-looking head-dress. Sometimes a cap was made of the skin of some
large bird, such as the sage-hen, duck, owl, or swan.

The ancient dress of the women was a shirt of cowskin, with long sleeves
tied at the wrist, a skirt reaching half-way from knees to ankles, and
leggings tied above the knees, with sometimes a supporting string running
from the belt to the leggings. In more modern times, this was modified, and
a woman's dress consisted of a gown or smock, reaching from the neck to
below the knees. There were no sleeves, the armholes being provided with
top coverings, a sort of cape or flap, which reached to the
elbows. Leggings were of course still worn. They reached to the knee, and
were generally made, as was the gown, of the tanned skins of elk, deer,
sheep, or antelope. Moccasins for winter use were made of buffalo robe, and
of tanned buffalo cowskin for summer wear. The latter were always made with
parfleche soles, which greatly increased their durability, and were often
ornamented over the instep or toes with a three-pronged figure, worked in
porcupine quills or beads, the three prongs representing, it is said, the
three divisions or tribes of the nation. The men wore a shirt, breech-clout,
leggings which reached to the thighs, and moccasins. In winter both men and
women wore a robe of tanned buffalo skin, and sometimes of beaver. In
summer a lighter robe was worn, made of cowskin or buckskin, from which the
hair had been removed. Both sexes wore belts, which supported and confined
the clothing, and to which were attached knife-sheaths and other useful

Necklaces and ear-rings were worn by all, and were made of shells, bone,
wood, and the teeth and claws of animals. Elk tushes were highly prized,
and were used for ornamenting women's dresses. A gown profusely decorated
with them was worth two good horses. Eagle feathers were used by the men to
make head-dresses and to ornament shields and also weapons. Small bunches
of owl or grouse feathers were sometimes tied to the scalp locks. It is
doubtful if the women ever took particular care of their hair. The men,
however, spent a great deal of time brushing, braiding, and ornamenting
their scalp locks. Their hair was usually worn in two braids, one on each
side of the head. Less frequently, four braids were made, one behind and in
front of each ear. Sometimes, the hair of the forehead was cut off square,
and brushed straight up; and not infrequently it was made into a huge
topknot and wound with otter fur. Often a slender lock, wound with brass
wire or braided, hung down from one side of the forehead over the face.

As a rule, the men are tall, straight, and well formed. Their features are
regular, the eyes being large and well set, and the nose generally
moderately large, straight, and thin. Their chests are splendidly
developed. The women are quite tall for their sex, but, as a rule, not so
good-looking as the men. Their hands are large, coarse, and knotted by hard
labor; and they early become wrinkled and careworn. They generally have
splendid constitutions. I have known them to resume work a day after
childbirth; and once, when travelling, I knew a woman to halt, give birth to
a child, and catch up with the camp inside of four hours.

As a rule, children are hardy and vigorous. They are allowed to do about as
they please from the time they are able to walk. I have often seen them
playing in winter in the snow, and spinning tops on the ice, barefooted and
half-naked. Under such conditions, those which have feeble constitutions
soon die. Only the hardiest reach maturity and old age.

It is said that very long ago the people made houses of mud, sticks, and
stones. It is not known what was their size or shape, and no traces of them
are known to have been found. For a very long time, the lodge seems to have
been their only dwelling. In ancient times, before they had knives of
metal, stones were used to hold down the edges of the lodge, to keep it
from being blown away. These varied in size from six inches to a foot or
more in diameter. Everywhere on the prairie, one may now see circles of
these stones, and, within these circles, the smaller ones, which surrounded
the fireplace. Some of them have lain so long that only the tops now
project above the turf, and undoubtedly many of them are buried out of

Lodges were always made of tanned cowskin, nicely cut and sewn together, so
as to form an almost perfect cone. At the top were two large flaps, called
ears, which were kept extended or closed, according to the direction and
strength of the wind, to create a draft and keep the lodge free from
smoke. The lodge covering was supported by light, straight pine or spruce
poles, about eighteen of which were required. Twelve cowskins made a lodge
about fourteen feet in diameter at the base, and ten feet high. I have
heard of a modern one which contained forty skins. It was over thirty feet
in diameter, and was so heavy that the skins were sewn in two pieces which
buttoned together.

An average-sized dwelling of this kind contained eighteen skins and was
about sixteen feet in diameter. The lower edge of the lodge proper was
fastened, by wooden pegs, to within an inch or two of the ground. Inside, a
lining, made of brightly painted cowskin, reached from the ground to a
height of five or six feet. An air space of the thickness of the lodge
poles--two or three inches--was thus left between the lining and the lodge
covering, and the cold air, rushing up through it from the outside, made a
draft, which aided the ears in freeing the lodge of smoke. The door was
three or four feet high and was covered by a flap of skin, which hung down
on the outside. Thus made, with plenty of buffalo robes for seats and
bedding, and a good stock of firewood, a lodge was very comfortable, even
in the coldest weather.

It was not uncommon to decorate the outside of the lodge with buffalo tails
and brightly painted pictures of animals. Inside, the space around was
partitioned off into couches, or seats, each about six feet in length. At
the foot and head of every couch, a mat, made of straight, peeled willow
twigs, fastened side by side, was suspended on a tripod at an angle of
forty-five degrees, so that between the couches spaces were left like an
inverted V, making convenient places to store articles which were not in
use. The owner of the lodge always occupied the seat or couch at the back
of the lodge, directly opposite the door-way, the places on his right being
occupied by his wives and daughters; though sometimes a Blackfoot had so
many wives that they occupied the whole lodge. The places on his left were
reserved for his sons and visitors. When a visitor entered a lodge, he was
assigned a seat according to his rank,--the nearer to the host, the greater
the honor.

Bows were generally made of ash wood, which grows east of the mountains
toward the Sand Hills. When for any reason they could not obtain ash, they
used the wood of the choke-cherry tree, but this had not strength nor
spring enough to be of much service. I have been told also that sometimes
they used hazle wood for bows.

Arrows were made of shoots of the sarvis berry wood, which was straight,
very heavy, and not brittle. They were smoothed and straightened by a stone
implement. The grooves were made by pushing the shafts through a rib or
other flat bone in which had been made a hole, circular except for one or
two projections on the inside. These projections worked out the groove. The
object of these grooves is said to have been to allow the blood to flow
freely. Each man marked his arrows by painting them, or by some special
combination of colored feathers. The arrow heads were of two kinds,--barbed
slender points for war, and barbless for hunting. Knives were originally
made of stone, as were also war clubs, mauls, and some of the scrapers for
fleshing and graining hides. Some of the flint knives were long, others
short. A stick was fitted to them, forming a wooden handle. The handles of
mauls and war clubs were usually made of green sticks fitted as closely as
possible into a groove made in the stone, the whole being bound together by
a covering of hide put on green, tightly fitted and strongly sewed. This,
as it shrunk in drying, bound the different parts of the implement together
in the strongest possible manner. Short, heavy spears were used, the points
being of stone or bone, barbed.

I have heard no explanation among the Blackfeet of the origin of fire. In
ancient times, it was obtained by means of fire sticks, as described
elsewhere. The starting of the spark with these sticks is said to have been
hard work. At almost their first meeting with the whites, they obtained
flints and steels, and learned how to use them.

In ancient times,--in the days of fire sticks and even later, within the
memory of men now living,--fire used to be carried from place to place in a
"fire horn." This was a buffalo horn slung by a string over the shoulder
like a powderhorn. The horn was lined with moist, rotten wood, and the open
end had a wooden stopper or plug fitted to it. On leaving camp in the
morning, the man who carried the horn took from the fire a small live coal
and put it in the horn, and on this coal placed a piece of punk, and then
plugged up the horn with the stopper. The punk smouldered in this almost
air-tight chamber, and, in the course of two or three hours, the man looked
at it, and if it was nearly consumed, put another piece of punk in the
horn. The first young men who reached the appointed camping ground would
gather two or three large piles of wood in different places, and as soon as
some one who carried a fire horn reached camp, he turned out his spark at
one of these piles of wood, and a little blowing and nursing gave a blaze
which started the fire. The other fires were kindled from this first one,
and when the women reached camp and had put the lodges up, they went to
these fires, and got coals with which to start those in their lodges. This
custom of borrowing coals persisted up to the last days of the buffalo, and
indeed may even be noticed still.

The punk here mentioned is a fungus, which grows on the birch tree. The
Indians used to gather this in large quantities and dry it. It was very
abundant at the Touchwood Hills (whence the name) on Beaver Creek, a
tributary of the Saskatchewan from the south.

The Blackfeet made buckets, cups, basins, and dishes from the lining of the
buffalo's paunch. This was torn off in large pieces, and was stretched over
a flattened willow or cherry hoop at the bottom and top. These hoops were
sometimes inside and sometimes outside the bucket or dish. In the latter
case, the hoop at the bottom was often sewed to the paunch, which came down
over it, double on the outside, the needle holes being pitched with gum or
tallow. The hoop at the upper edge was also sewed to the paunch, and a
rawhide bail passed under it, to carry it by. These buckets were shaped
somewhat like our wooden ones, and were of different sizes, some of them
holding four or five gallons. They were more or less flexible, and when
carried in a pack, they could be flattened down like a crush hat, and so
took up but little room. If set on the ground when full, they would stand
up for a while, but as they soon softened and fell down, they were usually
hung up by the bail on a little tripod. Cups were made in the same way as
buckets, but on a smaller scale and without the bail. Of course, nothing
hot could be placed in these vessels.

It is doubtful if the Blackfeet ever made any pottery or basket ware. They,
however, made bowls and kettles of stone. There is an ancient children's
song which consists of a series of questions asked an elk, and its replies
to the same. In one place, the questioner sings, "Elk, what is your bowl
(or dish)?" and the elk answers, "_Ok-wi-tok-so-ka_," stone bowl. On this
point, Wolf Calf, a very old man, states that in early days the Blackfeet
sometimes boiled their meat in a stone bowl made out of a hard clayey
rock.[1] Choosing a fragment of the right size and shape, they would pound
it with another heavier rock, dealing light blows until a hollow had been
made in the top. This hollow was made deeper by pounding and grinding; and
when it was deep enough, they put water in it, and set it on the fire, and
the water would boil. These pots were strong and would last a long time. I
do not remember that any other tribe of Plains Indians made such stone
bowls or mortars, though, of course, they were commonly made, and in
singular perfection, by the Pacific Coast tribes; and I have known of rare
cases in which basalt mortars and small soapstone ollas have been found on
the central plateau of the continent in southern Wyoming. These articles,
however, had no doubt been obtained by trade from Western tribes.

[Footnote 1: See The Blackfoot Genesis, p. 141.]

Serviceable ladles and spoons were made of wood and of buffalo and mountain
sheep horn. Basins or flat dishes were sometimes made of mountain sheep
horn, boiled, split, and flattened, and also of split buffalo horn, fitted
and sewn together with sinew, making a flaring, saucer-shaped dish. These
were used as plates or eating dishes. Of course, they leaked a little, for
the joints were not tight. Wooden bowls and dishes were made from knots and
protuberances of trees, dug out and smoothed by fire and the knife or by
the latter alone.

It is not known that these people ever made spears, hooks, or other
implements for capturing fish. They appear never to have used boats of any
kind, not even "bull boats." Their highest idea of navigation was to lash
together a few sticks or logs, on which to transport their possessions
across a river.

Red, brown, yellow, and white paints were made by burning clays of these
colors, which were then pulverized and mixed with a little grease. Black
paint was made of charred wood.

Bags and sacks were made of parfleche, usually ornamented with buckskin
fringe, and painted with various designs in bright colors. Figures having
sharp angles are most common.

The diet of the Blackfeet was more varied than one would think. Large
quantities of sarvis berries (_Amelanchier alnifolia_) were gathered
whenever there was a crop (which occurs every other year), dried, and
stored for future use. These were gathered by women, who collected the
branches laden with ripe fruit, and beat them over a robe spread upon the
ground. Choke-cherries were also gathered when ripe, and pounded up, stones
and all. A bushel of the fruit, after being pounded up and dried, was
reduced to a very small quantity. This food was sometimes eaten by itself,
but more often was used to flavor soups and to mix with pemmican. Bull
berries (_Shepherdia argentea_) were a favorite fruit, and were gathered in
large quantities, as was also the white berry of the red willow. This last
is an exceedingly bitter, acrid fruit, and to the taste of most white men
wholly unpleasant and repugnant. The Blackfeet, however, are very fond of
it; perhaps because it contains some property necessary to the nourishment
of the body, which is lacking in their every-day food.

The camas root, which grows abundantly in certain localities on the east
slope of the Rockies, was also dug, cooked, and dried. The bulbs were
roasted in pits, as by the Indians on the west side of the Rocky Mountains,
the Kalispels, and others. It is gathered while in the bloom--June 15 to
July 15. A large pit is dug in which a hot fire is built, the bottom being
first lined with flat stones. After keeping up this fire for several hours,
until the stones and earth are thoroughly heated, the coals and ashes are
removed. The pit is then lined with grass, and is filled almost to the top
with camas bulbs. Over these, grass is laid, then twigs, and then earth to
a depth of four inches. On this a fire is built, which is kept up for from
one to three days, according to the quantity of the bulbs in the pit.

When the pit is opened, the small children gather about it to suck the
syrup, which has collected on the twigs and grass, and which is very
sweet. The fresh-roasted camas tastes something like a roasted chestnut,
with a little of the flavor of the sweet potato. After being cooked, the
roots are spread out in the sun to dry, and are then put in sacks to be
stored away. Sometimes a few are pounded up with sarvis berries, and dried.

Bitter-root is gathered, dried, and boiled with a little sugar. It is a
slender root, an inch or two long and as thick as a goose quill, white in
color, and looking like short lengths of spaghetti. It is very starchy.

In the spring, a certain root called _mats_ was eaten in great
quantities. This plant was known to the early French employees of the
Hudson's Bay and American Fur Companies as _pomme blanche (Psoralea

All parts of such animals as the buffalo, elk, deer, etc., were eaten, save
only the lungs, gall, and one or two other organs. A favorite way of eating
the paunch or stomach was in the raw state. Liver, too, was sometimes eaten
raw. The unborn calf of a fresh-killed animal, especially buffalo, was
considered a great delicacy. The meat of this, when boiled, is white,
tasteless, and insipid. The small intestines of the buffalo were sometimes
dried, but more often were stuffed with long, thin strips of meat. During
the stuffing process, the entrail was turned inside out, thus confining
with the meat the sweet white fat that covers the intestine. The next step
was to roast it a little, after which the ends were tied to prevent the
escape of the juices, and it was thoroughly boiled in water. This is a very
great delicacy, and when properly prepared is equally appreciated by whites
and Indians.

As a rule, there were but two ways of cooking meat,--boiling and
roasting. If roasted, it was thoroughly cooked; but if boiled, it was only
left in the water long enough to lose the red color, say five or ten
minutes. Before they got kettles from the whites, the Blackfeet often
boiled meat in a green hide. A hole was dug in the ground, and the skin,
flesh side up, was laid in it, being supported about the edges of the hole
by pegs. The meat and water having been placed in this hollow, red-hot
stones were dropped in the water until it became hot and the meat was

In time of plenty, great quantities of dried meat were prepared for use
when fresh meat could not be obtained. In making dried meat, the thicker
parts of an animal were cut in large, thin sheets and hung in the sun to
dry. If the weather was not fine, the meat was often hung up on lines or
scaffolds in the upper part of the lodge. When properly cured and if of
good quality, the sheets were about one-fourth of an inch thick and very
brittle. The back fat of the buffalo was also dried, and eaten with the
meat as we eat butter with bread. Pemmican was made of the flesh of the
buffalo. The meat was dried in the usual way; and, for this use, only lean
meat, such as the hams, loin, and shoulders, was chosen. When the time came
for making the pemmican, two large fires were built of dry quaking aspen
wood, and these were allowed to burn down to red coals. The old women
brought the dried meat to these fires, and the sheets of meat were thrown
on the coals of one of them, allowed to heat through, turned to keep them
from burning, and then thrown on the flesh side of a dry hide, that lay on
the ground near by. After a time, the roasting of this dried meat caused a
smoke to rise from the fire in use, which gave the meat a bitter taste, if
cooked in it. They then turned to the other fire, and used that until the
first one had burned clear again. After enough of the roasted meat had been
thrown on the hide, it was flailed out with sticks, and being very brittle
was easily broken up, and made small. It was constantly stirred and pounded
until it was all fine. Meantime, the tallow of the buffalo had been melted
in a large kettle, and the pemmican bags prepared. These were made of
bull's hide, and were in two pieces, cut oblong, and with the corners
rounded off. Two such pieces sewed together made a bag which would hold one
hundred pounds. The pounded meat and tallow--the latter just beginning to
cool--were put in a trough made of bull's hide, a wooden spade being used
to stir the mixture. After it was thoroughly mixed, it was shovelled into
one of the sacks, held open, and rammed down and packed tight with a big
stick, every effort being made to expel all the air. When the bag was full
and packed as tight as possible, it was sewn up. It was then put on the
ground, and the women jumped on it to make it still more tight and
solid. It was then laid away in the sun to cool and dry. It usually took
the meat of two cows to make a bag of one hundred pounds; a very large bull
might make a sack of from eighty to one hundred pounds.

A much finer grade of pemmican was made from the choicest parts of the
buffalo with marrow fat. To this dried berries and pounded choke-cherries
were added, making a delicious food, which was extremely
nutritious. Pemmican was eaten either dry as it came from the sack, or
stewed with water.

In the spring, the people had great feasts of the eggs of ducks and other
water-fowl. A large quantity having been gathered, a hole was dug in the
ground, and a little water put in it. At short intervals above the water,
platforms of sticks were built, on which the eggs were laid. A smaller hole
was dug at one side of the large hole, slanting into the bottom of it. When
all was ready, the top of the larger hole was covered with mud, laid upon
cross sticks, and red-hot stones were dropped into the slant, when they
rolled down into the water, heating it, and so cooking the eggs by steam.

Fish were seldom eaten by these people in early days, but now they seem
very fond of them. Turtles, frogs, and lizards are considered creatures of
evil, and are never eaten. Dogs, considered a great delicacy by the Crees,
Gros Ventres, Sioux, Assinaboines, and other surrounding tribes, were never
eaten by the Blackfeet. No religious motive is assigned for this
abstinence. I once heard a Piegan say that it was wrong to eat dogs. "They
are our true friends," he said. "Men say they are our friends and then turn
against us, but our dogs are always true. They mourn when we are absent,
and are always glad when we return. They keep watch for us in the night
when we sleep. So pity the poor dogs."

Snakes, grasshoppers, worms, and other insects were never eaten. Salt was
an unknown condiment. Many are now very fond of it, but I know a number,
especially old people, who never eat it.


The social organization of the Blackfeet is very simple. The three tribes
acknowledged a blood relationship with each other, and, while distinct,
still considered themselves a nation. In this confederation, it was
understood that there should be no war against each other. However, between
1860 and 1870, when the whiskey trade was in its height, the three tribes
were several times at swords' points on account of drunken brawls. Once,
about sixty or seventy years ago, the Bloods and Piegans had a quarrel so
serious that men were killed on both sides and horses stolen; yet this was
hardly a real war, for only a part of each tribe was involved, and the
trouble was not of long duration.

Each one of the Blackfoot tribes is subdivided into gentes, a gens being a
body of consanguineal kindred in the male line. It is noteworthy that the
Blackfeet, although Algonquins, have this system of subdivision, and it may
be that among them the gentes are of comparatively recent date. No special
duties are assigned to any one gens, nor has any gens, so far as I know,
any special "medicine" or "totem."

Below is a list of the gentes of each tribe.

                  BLACKFEET _(Sik'-si-kau)_


_Puh-ksi-nah'-mah-yiks_          Flat Bows.

_Mo-tah'-tos-iks_                Many Medicines.

_Siks-in'-o-kaks_                Black Elks.

_E'-mi-tah-pahk-sai-yiks_        Dogs Naked.

_Sa'-yiks_                       Liars.

_Ai-sik'-stuk-iks_ Biters.

_Tsin-ik-tsis'-tso-yiks_ Early Finished Eating.

_Ap'-i-kai-yiks_ Skunks.

BLOODS (_Kai'-nah_)

_Siksin'-o-kaks_ Black Elks.

_Ah-kwo'-nis-tsists_ Many Lodge Poles.

_Ap-ut'-o-si'kai-nah_ North Bloods.

_Is-ts'-kai-nah_ Woods Bloods.

_In-uhk!-so-yi-stam-iks_ Long Tail Lodge Poles.

_Nit'-ik-skiks_ Lone Fighters.

_Siks-ah'-pun-iks_ Blackblood.


_I-sis'-o-kas-im-iks_ Hair Shirts.

_Ak-kai'-po-kaks_ Many Children.

_Sak-si-nah'-mah-yiks_ Short Bows.

_Ap'-i-kai-yiks_ Skunks.

_Ahk-o'-tash-iks_ Many Horses.

PIEGANS _(Pi-kun'-i)_

_Ah'-pai-tup-iks_ Blood People.

_Ah-kai-yi-ko-ka'-kin-iks_ White Breasts.

_Ki'yis_ Dried Meat.

_Sik-ut'-si-pum-aiks_ Black Patched Moccasins.

_Sik-o-pok'-si-maiks_ Blackfat Roasters.

_Tsin-ik-sis'-tso-yiks_ Early Finished Eating.

_Kut'-ai-im-iks_ They Don't Laugh.

_I'-pok-si-maiks_ Fat Roasters.

_Sik'-o-kit-sim-iks_ Black Doors.

_Ni-taw'-yiks_ Lone Eaters.

_Ap'-i-kai-yiks_ Skunks.

_Mi-ah-wah'-pit-siks_ Seldom Lonesome.

_Nit'-ak-os-kit-si-pup-iks_ Obstinate.

_Nit'-ik-skiks_ Lone Fighters.

_I-nuks'-iks_ Small Robes.

_Mi-aw'-kin-ai-yiks_ Big Topknots.

_Esk'-sin-ai-tup-iks_ Worm People.

_I-nuk-si'-kah-ko-pwa-iks_ Small Brittle Fat.

_Kah'-mi-taiks_ Buffalo Dung.

_Kut-ai-sot'-si-man_ No Parfleche.

_Ni-tot'-si-ksis-stan-iks_             Kill Close By.

_Mo-twai'-naiks_                       All Chiefs.

_Mo-kum'-iks_                          Red Round Robes.

_Mo-tah'-tos-iks_                      Many Medicines.

It will be readily seen from the translations of the above that each gens
takes its name from some peculiarity or habit it is supposed to possess. It
will also be noticed that each tribe has a few gentes common to one or both
of the other tribes. This is caused by persons leaving their own tribe to
live with another one, but, instead of uniting with some gens of the
adopted tribe, they have preserved the name of their ancestral gens for
themselves and their descendants.

The Blackfoot terms of relationship will be found interesting. The
principal family names are as follows:--

My father                                    _Ni'-nah._

My mother                                    _Ni-kis'-ta._

My elder brother                             _Nis'-ah_

My younger brother                           _Nis-kun'._

My older sister                              _Nin'-sta._

My younger sister                            _Ni-sis'-ah._

My uncle                                     _Nis'-ah._

My aunt                                      _Ni-kis'-ta._

My cousin, male                              Same as brother.

My cousin, female                            Same as sister.

My grandfather                               _Na-ahks'._

My grandmother                               _Na-ahks'._

My father-in-law                             _Na-ahks'._

My mother-in-law                             _Na-ahks'._

My son                                       _No-ko'-i._

My daughter                                  _Ni-tun'._

My son-in-law                                _Nis'-ah._

My daughter-in-law                           _Ni-tot'-o-ke-man._

My brother-in-law older than self            _Nis-tum-o'._

My brother-in-law younger than self          _Nis-tum-o'-kun._

My sister-in-law                             _Ni-tot'-o-ke-man._

My second cousin                             _Nimp'-sa._

My wife                                      _Nit-o-ke'-man._

My husband                                   _No'-ma._

As the members of a gens were all considered as relatives, however remote,
there was a law prohibiting a man from marrying within his gens. Originally
this law was strictly enforced, but like many of the ancient customs it is
no longer observed. Lately, within the last forty or fifty years, it has
become not uncommon for a man and his family, or even two or three
families, on account of some quarrel or some personal dislike of the chief
of their own gens, to leave it and join another band. Thus the gentes often
received outsiders, who were not related by blood to the gens; and such
people or their descendants could marry within the gens. Ancestry became no
longer necessary to membership.

As a rule, before a young man could marry, he was required to have made
some successful expeditions to war against the enemy, thereby proving
himself a brave man, and at the same time acquiring a number of horses and
other property, which would enable him to buy the woman of his choice, and
afterwards to support her.

Marriages usually took place at the instance of the parents, though often
those of the young man were prompted by him. Sometimes the father of the
girl, if he desired to have a particular man for a son-in-law, would
propose to the father of the latter for the young man as a husband for his

The marriage in the old days was arranged after this wise: The chief of one
of the bands may have a marriageable daughter, and he may know of a young
man, the son of a chief of another band, who is a brave warrior, of good
character, sober-minded, steadfast, and trustworthy, who he thinks will
make a good husband for his daughter and a good son-in-law. After he has
made up his mind about this, he is very likely to call in a few of his
close relations, the principal men among them, and state to them his
conclusions, so as to get their opinions about it. If nothing is said to
change his mind, he sends to the father of the boy a messenger to state his
own views, and ask how the father feels about the matter.

On receiving this word, the boy's father probably calls together his close
relations, discusses the matter with them, and, if the match is
satisfactory to him, sends back word to that effect. When this message is
received, the relations of the girl proceed to fit her out with the very
best that they can provide. If she is the daughter of well-to-do or wealthy
people, she already has many of the things that are needed, but what she
may lack is soon supplied. Her mother makes her a new cowskin lodge,
complete, with new lodge poles, lining, and back rests. A chiefs daughter
would already have plenty of good clothing, but if the girl lacks anything,
it is furnished. Her dress is made of antelope skin, white as snow, and
perhaps ornamented with two or three hundred elk tushes. Her leggings are
of deer skin, heavily beaded and nicely fringed, and often adorned with
bells and brass buttons. Her summer blanket or sheet is an elk skin, well
tanned, without the hair and with the dew-claws left on. Her moccasins are
of deer skin, with parfleche soles and worked with porcupine quills. The
marriage takes place as soon as these things can be provided.

During the days which intervene between the proposal and the marriage, the
young woman each day selects the choicest parts of the meat brought to the
lodge,--the tongue, "boss ribs," some choice berry pemmican or what
not,--cooks these things in the best style, and, either alone, or in
company with a young sister, or a young friend, goes over to the lodge
where the young man lives, and places the food before him. He eats some of
it, little or much, and if he leaves anything, the girl offers it to his
mother, who may eat of it. Then the girl takes the dishes and returns to
her father's lodge. In this way she provides him with three meals a day,
morning, noon, and night, until the marriage takes place. Every one in camp
who sees the girl carrying the food in a covered dish to the young man's
lodge, knows that a marriage is to take place; and the girl is watched by
idle persons as she passes to and fro, so that the task is quite a trying
one for people as shy and bashful as Indians are. When the time for the
marriage has come,--in other words, when the girl's parents are ready,--the
girl, her mother assisting her, packs the new lodge and her own things on
the horses, and moves out into the middle of the circle--about which all
the lodges of the tribe are arranged--and there the new lodge is unpacked
and set up. In front of the lodge are tied, let us say, fifteen horses, the
girl's dowry given by her father. Very likely, too, the father has sent
over to the young man his own war clothing and arms, a lance, a fine
shield, a bow and arrows in otter-skin case, his war bonnet, war shirt, and
war leggings ornamented with scalps,--his complete equipment. This is set
up on a tripod in front of the lodge. The gift of these things is an
evidence of the great respect felt by the girl's father for his
son-in-law. As soon as the young man has seen the preparations being made
for setting up the girl's lodge in the centre of the circle, he sends over
to his father-in-law's lodge just twice the number of horses that the girl
brought with her,--in this supposed case, thirty.

As soon as this lodge is set up, and the girl's mother has taken her
departure and gone back to her own lodge, the young man, who, until he saw
these preparations, had no knowledge of when the marriage was to take
place, leaves his father's lodge, and, going over to the newly erected one,
enters and takes his place at the back of it. Probably during the day he
will order his wife to take down the lodge, and either move away from the
camp, or at least move into the circle of lodges; for he will not want to
remain with his young wife in the most conspicuous place in the camp.
Often, on the same day, he will send for six or eight of his friends, and,
after feasting them, will announce his intention of going to war, and will
start off the same night. If he does so, and is successful, returning with
horses or scalps, or both, he at once, on arrival at the camp, proceeds to
his father-in-law's lodge and leaves there everything he has brought back,
returning to his own lodge on foot, as poor as he left it.

We have supposed the proposal in this case to come from the father of the
girl, but if a boy desires a particular girl for his wife, the proposal
will come from his father; otherwise matters are managed in the same way.

This ceremony of moving into the middle of the circle was only performed in
the case of important people. The custom was observed in what might be
called a fashionable wedding among the Blackfeet. Poorer, less important
people married more quietly. If the girl had reached marriageable age
without having been asked for as a wife, she might tell her mother that she
would like to marry a certain young man, that he was a man she could love
and respect. The mother communicates this to the father of the girl, who
invites the young man to the lodge to a feast, and proposes the match. The
young man returns no answer at the time, but, going back to his father's
lodge, tells him of the offer, and expresses his feelings about it. If he
is inclined to accept, the relations are summoned, and the matter talked
over. A favorable answer being returned, a certain number of horses--what
the young man or his father, or both together, can spare--are sent over to
the girl's father. They send as many as they can, for the more they send,
the more they are thought of and looked up to. The girl, unless her parents
are very poor, has her outfit, a saddle horse and pack horse with saddle
and pack saddle, parfleches, etc. If the people are very poor, she may
have only a riding horse. Her relations get together, and do all in their
power to give her a good fitting out, and the father, if he can possibly do
so, is sure to pay them back what they have given. If he cannot do so, the
things are still presented; for, in the case of a marriage, the relations
on both sides are anxious to do all that they can to give the young people
a good start in life. When all is ready, the girl goes to the lodge where
her husband lives, and goes in. If this lodge is too crowded to receive the
couple, the young man will make arrangements for space in the lodge of a
brother, cousin, or uncle, where there is more room. These are all his
close relations, and he is welcome in any of their lodges, and has rights

Sometimes, if two young people are fond of each other, and there is no
prospect of their being married, they may take riding horses and a pack
horse, and elope at night, going to some other camp for a while. This makes
the girl's father angry, for he feels that he has been defrauded of his
payments. The young man knows that his father-in-law bears him a grudge,
and if he afterwards goes to war and is successful, returning with six or
seven horses, he will send them all to the camp where his father-in-law
lives, to be tied in front of his lodge. This at once heals the breach, and
the couple may return. Even if he has not been successful in war and
brought horses, which of course he does not always accomplish, he from time
to time sends the old man a present, the best he can. Notwithstanding these
efforts at conciliation, the parents feel very bitterly against him. The
girl has been stolen. The union is no marriage at all. The old people are
ashamed and disgraced for their daughter. Until the father has been
pacified by satisfactory payments, there is no marriage. Moreover, unless
the young man had made a payment, or at least had endeavored to do so, he
would be little thought of among his fellows, and looked down on as a poor
creature without any sense of honor.

The Blackfeet take as many wives as they wish; but these ceremonies are
only carried out in the case of the first wife, the "sits-beside-him"
woman. In the case of subsequent marriages, if the man had proved a good,
kind husband to his first wife, other men, who thought a good deal of their
daughters, might propose to give them to him, so that they would be well
treated. The man sent over the horses to the new father-in-law's lodge, and
the girl returned to his, bringing her things with her. Or if the man saw a
girl he liked, he would propose for her to her father.

Among the Blackfeet, there was apparently no form of courtship, such as
prevails among our southern Indians. Young men seldom spoke to young girls
who were not relations, and the girls were carefully guarded. They never
went out of the lodge after dark, and never went out during the day, except
with the mother or some other old woman. The girl, therefore, had very
little choice in the selection of a husband. If a girl was told she must
marry a certain man, she had to obey. She might cry, but her father's will
was law, and she might be beaten or even killed by him, if she did not do
as she was ordered. As a consequence of this severity, suicide was quite
common among the Blackfoot girls. A girl ordered to marry a man whom she
did not like would often watch her chance, and go out in the brush and hang
herself. The girl who could not marry the man she wanted to was likely to
do the same thing.

The man had absolute power over his wife. Her life was in his hands, and if
he had made a payment for her, he could do with her about as he pleased. On
the whole, however, women who behaved themselves were well treated and
received a good deal of consideration. Those who were light-headed, or
foolish, or obstinate and stubborn were sometimes badly beaten. Those who
were unfaithful to their husbands usually had their noses or ears, or both,
cut off for the first offence, and were killed either by the husband or
some relation, or by the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ for the second. Many of the
doctors of the highest reputation in the tribe were women. It is a common
belief among some of those who have investigated the subject that the wife
in Indian marriage was actually purchased, and became the absolute property
of her husband. Though I have a great respect for some of the opinions
which have been expressed on this subject, I am obliged to take an entirely
different view of the matter. I have talked this subject over many times
with young men and old men of a number of tribes, and I cannot learn from
them, or in any other way, that in primitive times the woman was purchased
from her father. The husband did not have property rights in his wife. She
was not a chattel that he could trade away. He had all personal rights,
could beat his wife, or, for cause, kill her, but he could not sell her to
another man.

All the younger sisters of a man's wife were regarded as his potential
wives. If he was not disposed to marry them, they could not be disposed of
to any other man without his consent.

Not infrequently, a man having a marriageable daughter formally gave her to
some young man who had proved himself brave in war, successful in taking
horses, and, above all, of a generous disposition. This was most often done
by men who had no sons to support them in their old age.

It is said that in the old days, before they had horses, young men did not
expect to marry until they had almost reached middle life,--from
thirty-five to forty years of age. This statement is made by Wolf Calf,
who is now very old, almost one hundred years, he believes, and can
remember back nearly or quite to the time when the Blackfeet obtained their
first horses. In those days, young women did not marry until they were
grown up, while of late years fathers not infrequently sell their daughters
as wives when they are only children.

The first woman a man marries is called his sits-beside-him wife. She is
invested with authority over all the other wives, and does little except to
direct the others in their work, and look after the comfort of her
husband. Her place in the lodge is on his right-hand side, while the others
have their places or seats near the door-way. This wife is even allowed at
informal gatherings to take a whiff at the pipe, as it is passed around the
circle, and to participate in the conversation.

In the old days, it was a very poor man who did not have three wives. Many
had six, eight, and some more than a dozen. I have heard of one who had
sixteen. In those times, provided a man had a good-sized band of horses,
the more wives he had, the richer he was. He could always find young men to
hunt for him, if he furnished the mounts, and, of course, the more wives he
had, the more robes and furs they would tan for him.

If, for any cause, a man wished to divorce himself from a woman, he had but
to send her back to her parents and demand the price paid for her, and the
matter was accomplished. The woman was then free to marry again, provided
her parents were willing.

When a man dies, his wives become the potential wives of his oldest
brother. Unless, during his life, he has given them outright horses and
other property, at his death they are entitled to none of his
possessions. If he has sons, the property is divided among them, except a
few horses, which are given to his brothers. If he has no sons, all the
property goes to his brothers, and if there are no brothers, it goes to the
nearest male relatives on the father's side.

The Blackfeet cannot be said to have been slave-holders. It is true that
the Crees call the Blackfeet women "Little Slaves." But this, as elsewhere
suggested, may refer to the region whence they originally came, though it
is often explained that it is on account of the manner in which the
Blackfeet treat their women, killing them or mutilating their features for
adultery and other serious offences. Although a woman, all her life, was
subject to some one's orders, either parent, relative, or husband, a man
from his earliest childhood was free and independent. His father would not
punish him for any misconduct, his mother dared not. At an early age he was
taught to ride and shoot, and horses were given to him. By the time he was
twelve, he had probably been on a war expedition or two. As a rule in
later times, young men married when they were seventeen or eighteen years
of age; and often they resided for several years with their fathers, until
the family became so large that there was not room for them all in the

There were always in the camp a number of boys, orphans, who became the
servants of wealthy men for a consideration; that is, they looked after
their patron's horses and hunted, and in return they were provided with
suitable food and clothing.

Among the Blackfeet, all men were free and equal, and office was not
hereditary. Formerly each gens was governed by a chief, who was entitled to
his office by virtue of his bravery and generosity. The head chief was
chosen by the chiefs of the gentes from their own number, and was usually
the one who could show the best record in war, as proved at the Medicine
Lodge,[1] at which time he was elected; and for the ensuing year he was
invested with the supreme power. But no matter how brave a man might have
been, or how successful in war, he could not hope to be the chief either of
a gens or of the tribe, unless he was kind-hearted, and willing to share
his prosperity with the poor. For this reason, a chief was never a wealthy
man, for what he acquired with one hand he gave away with the other. It was
he who decided when the people should move camp, and where they should
go. But in this, as in all other important affairs, he generally asked the
advice of the minor chiefs.

[Footnote 1: See chapter on Religion.]

The _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ (All Comrades) were directly under the authority of
the head chief, and when any one was to be punished, or anything else was
to be done which came within their province as the tribal police, it was he
who issued the orders. The following were the crimes which the Blackfeet
considered sufficiently serious to merit punishment, and the penalties
which attached to them.

Murder: A life for a life, or a heavy payment by the murderer or his
relatives at the option of the murdered man's relatives. This payment was
often so heavy as absolutely to strip the murderer of all property.

Theft: Simply the restoration of the property.

Adultery: For the first offence the husband generally cut off the offending
wife's nose or ears; for the second offence she was killed by the All
Comrades. Often the woman, if her husband complained of her, would be
killed by her brothers or first cousins, and this was more usual than death
at the hands of the All Comrades. However, the husband could have her put
to death for the first offence, if he chose.

Treachery (that is, when a member of the tribe went over to the enemy or
gave them any aid whatever): Death at sight.

Cowardice: A man who would not fight was obliged to wear woman's dress, and
was not allowed to marry.

If a man left camp to hunt buffalo by himself, thereby driving away the
game, the All Comrades were sent after him, and not only brought him back
by main force, but often whipped him, tore his lodge to shreds, broke his
travois, and often took away his store of dried meat, pemmican, and other

The tradition of the origin of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ has elsewhere been
given. This association of the All Comrades consisted of a dozen or more
secret societies, graded according to age, the whole constituting an
association which was in part benevolent and helpful, and in part military,
but whose main function was to punish offences against society at large. All
these societies were really law and order associations. The
M[)u]t'-s[)i]ks, or Braves, was the chief society, but the others helped
the Braves.

A number of the societies which made up the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ have been
abandoned in recent years, but several of them still exist. Among the
Pi-kun'-i, the list--so far as I have it--is as follows, the societies
being named in order from those of boyhood to old age:--


_Ts[)i]-st[=i]ks'_,         Little Birds,      includes boys from
                                               15 to 20 years old.

_K[)u]k-k[=u][=i]cks'_,     Pigeons,           men who have been to war
                                               several times.

_T[)u]is-k[)i]s-t[=i]ks_,   Mosquitoes,        men who are constantly
                                               going to war

_M[)u]t'-s[)i]ks_,          Braves,            tried warriors.

_Kn[)a]ts-o-mi'-ta_,        All Crazy Dogs,    about forty years old.

_Ma-stoh'-pa-ta-k[=i]ks_    Raven Bearers.

_E'-mi-taks_,               Dogs,              old men.
                                               Dogs and Tails are
                                               different societies,
_Is'-sui_,                  Tails,             but they dress alike
                                               and dance together
                                               and alike.

_[)E]ts-[=a]i'-nah_,        Horns, Bloods,     obsolete among the
_Sin'-o-pah_,             Kit-foxes, Piegans,  but still exists
                                               with Bloods.

_[)E]-[)i]n'-a-ke_,     Catchers or Soldiers,  obsolete for 25-30 years,
                                               perhaps longer.

_St[)u]'m[=i]ks_,           Bulls,             obsolete for 50 years.

There may be other societies of the All Comrades, but these are the only
ones that I know of at present. The M[=u]t'-s[)i]ks, Braves, and the
Knats-o-mi'-ta, All Crazy Dogs, still exist, but many of the others are
being forgotten. Since the necessity for their existence has passed, they
are no longer kept up. They were a part of the old wild life, and when the
buffalo disappeared, and the Blackfeet came to live about an agency, and to
try to work for a subsistence, the societies soon lost their importance.
The societies known as Little Birds, Mosquitoes, and Doves are not really
bands of the All Comrades, but are societies among the boys and young men
in imitation of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_, but of comparatively recent
origin. Men not more than fifty years old can remember when these societies
came into existence. Of all the societies of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi,_ the
Sin'-o-pah, or Kit-fox band, has the strongest medicine. This corresponds
to the Horns society among the Bloods. They are the same band with
different names. They have certain peculiar secret and sacred ceremonies,
not to be described here.

The society of the Stum'-[=i]ks, or Bulls, became obsolete more than fifty
years ago. Their dress was very fine,--bulls' heads and robes.

The members of the younger society purchased individually, from the next
older one, its rights and privileges, paying horses for them. For example,
each member of the Mosquitoes would purchase from some member of the Braves
his right of membership in the latter society. The man who has sold his
rights is then a member of no society, and if he wishes to belong to one,
must buy into the one next higher. Each of these societies kept some old
men as members, and these old men acted as messengers, orators, and so on.

The change of membership from one society to another was made in the
spring, after the grass had started. Two, three, or more lodge coverings
were stretched over poles, making one very large lodge, and in this the
ceremonies accompanying the changes took place.

In later times, the Braves were the most important and best known of any of
the All Comrades societies. The members of this band were soldiers or
police. They were the constables of the camp, and it was their duty to
preserve order, and to punish offenders. Sometimes young men would skylark
in camp at night, making a great noise when people wanted to sleep, and
would play rough practical jokes, that were not at all relished by those
who suffered from them. One of the forms which their high spirits took was
to lead and push a young colt up to the door of a lodge, after people were
asleep, and then, lifting the door, to shove the animal inside and close
the door again. Of course the colt, in its efforts to get out to its
mother, would run round and round the lodge, trampling over the sleepers
and roughly awakening them, knocking things down and creating the utmost
confusion, while the mare would be whinnying outside the lodge, and the
people within, bewildered and confused, did not know what the disturbance
was all about.

The Braves would punish the young men who did such things,--if they could
catch them,--tearing up their blankets, taking away their property, and
sometimes whipping them severely. They were the peace officers of the camp,
like the _lari p[=u]k'[=u]s_ among the Pawnees.

Among the property of the Brave society were two stone-pointed arrows, one
"shield you don't sit down with," and one rattle. The man who carried this
rattle was known as Brave Dog, and if it passed from one member of the
society to another, the new owner became known as Brave Dog. The man who
received the shield could not sit down for the next four days and four
nights, but for all that time was obliged to run about the camp, or over
the prairie, whistling like a rabbit.

The societies known as Soldiers and Bulls had passed out of existence
before the time of men now of middle age. The pipe of the Soldier society
is still in existence, in the hands of Double Runner. The bull's head war
bonnet, which was the insignia of the Bulls society, was formerly in the
possession of Young Bear Chief, at present chief of the Don't Laugh band of
the Piegans. He gave it to White Calf, who presented it to a recent agent.

In the old days, and, indeed, down to the time of the disappearance of the
buffalo, the camp was always arranged in the form of a circle, the lodges
standing at intervals around the circumference, and in the wide inner space
there was another circle of lodges occupied by the chief of certain bands
of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_. When all the gentes of the tribe were present,
each had its special position in the circle, and always occupied it. The
lodge of the chief of the gens stood just within the circle, and about it
his people camped. The order indicated in the accompanying diagram
represents the Piegan camp as it used to stand thirty-five or forty years
ago. A number of the gentes are now extinct, and it is not altogether
certain just what the position of those should be; for while all the older
men agree on the position to be assigned to certain of the gentes, there
are others about which there are differences of opinion or much
uncertainty. It is stated that the gentes known as Seldom Lonesome, Dried
Meat, and No Parfleche belong to that section of the tribe known as North
Piegans, which, at the time of the first treaty, separated from the
Pi-kun'-i, and elected to live under British rule.

The lodges of the chiefs of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ which were within the
circle served as lounging and eating places for such members of the bands
as were on duty, and were council lodges or places for idling, as the
occasion demanded.

When the camp moved, the Blood gens moved first and was followed by the
White Breast gens, and so on around the circle to number 24. On camping,
the Bloods camped first, and the others after them in the order indicated,
number 24 camping last and closing up the circle. DIAGRAM OF OLD-TIME

The inner circle shows lodges of chiefs of certain bands of the



 1. Blood People.
 2. White Breasts.
 3. Dried Meat.
 4. Black Patched Moccasins.
 5. Black Fat Roasters.
 6. Early Finished Eating.
 7. Don't Laugh.
 8. Fat Roasters.
 9. Black Doors.
10. Lone Eaters.
11. Skunks.
12. Seldom Lonesome.
13. Obstinate.
14. Lone Fighters.
15. Small Robes.
16. Big Topknots.
17. Worm People.
18. Small Brittle Fat.
19. Buffalo Dung.
20. No Parfleche.
21. Kill Close Bye
22. All Chiefs.
23. Red Round Robes.
24. Many Medicines.


a. All Crazy Dogs.
b. Dogs.
c. Tails.
d. Kit-foxes.
e. Raven Bearers.
f. Braves.
g. Mosquitoes.
h. Soldiers.
i. Doves.


The Blackfoot country probably contained more game and in greater variety
than any other part of the continent. Theirs was a land whose physical
characteristics presented sharp contrasts. There were far-stretching grassy
prairies, affording rich pasturage for the buffalo and the antelope; rough
breaks and bad lands for the climbing mountain sheep; wooded buttes, loved
by the mule deer; timbered river bottoms, where the white-tailed deer and
the elk could browse and hide; narrow, swampy valleys for the moose; and
snow-patched, glittering pinnacles of rock, over which the sure-footed
white goat took his deliberate way. The climate varied from arid to humid;
the game of the prairie, the timber, and the rocks, found places suited to
their habits. Fur-bearing animals abounded. Noisy hordes of wild fowl
passed north and south in their migrations, and many stopped here to breed.

The Blackfoot country is especially favored by the warm chinook winds,
which insure mild winters with but little snow; and although on the plains
there is usually little rain in summer, the short prairie grasses are sweet
and rich. All over this vast domain, the buffalo were found in countless
herds. Elk, deer, antelope, mountain sheep, and bear without number were
there. In those days, sheep were to be found on every ridge, and along the
rough bad lands far from the mountains. Now, except a few in the "breaks"
of the Missouri, they occur only on the highest and most inaccessible
mountains, along with the white goats, which, although pre-eminently
mountain animals, were in early days sometimes found far out on the


The Blackfeet were a race of meat-eaters, and, while they killed large
quantities of other game, they still depended for subsistence on the
buffalo. This animal provided them with almost all that they needed in the
way of food, clothing, and shelter, and when they had an abundance of the
buffalo they lived in comfort.

Almost every part of the beast was utilized. The skin, dressed with the
hair on, protected them from the winter's cold; freed from the hair, it was
used for a summer sheet or blanket, for moccasins, leggings, shirts, and
women's dresses. The tanned cowskins made their lodges, the warmest and
most comfortable portable shelters ever devised. From the rawhide, the hair
having been shaved off, were made parfleches, or trunks, in which to pack
small articles. The tough, thick hide of the bull's neck, spread out and
allowed to shrink smooth, made a shield for war which would stop an arrow,
and turn a lance thrust or the ball from an old-fashioned, smooth-bore
gun. The green hide served as a kettle, in which to boil meat. The skin of
the hind leg, cut off above the pastern and again some distance above the
hock, was sometimes used as a moccasin or boot, the lower opening being
sewed up for the toe. A variety of small articles, such as cradles, gun
covers, whips, mittens, quivers, bow cases, knife-sheaths, etc., were made
from the hide. Braided strands of hide furnished them with ropes and
lines. The hair was used to stuff cushions and, later, saddles, and parts
of the long black flowing beard to ornament wearing apparel and implements
of war, such as shields and quivers. The horns gave them spoons and
ladles--sometimes used as small dishes--and ornamented their war
bonnets. From the hoofs they made a glue, which they used in fastening the
heads and feathers on their arrows, and the sinew backs on their bows. The
sinews which lie along the back and on the belly were used as thread and
string, and as backing for bows to give them elasticity and strength. From
the ribs were made scrapers used in dressing hides, and runners for small
sledges drawn by dogs; and they were employed by the children in coasting
down hill on snow or ice. The shoulder-blades, lashed to a wooden handle,
formed axes, hoes, and fleshers. From the cannon bones (metatarsals and
metacarpals) were made scrapers for dressing hides. The skin of the tail,
fitted on a stick, was used as a fly brush. These are but a few of the uses
to which the product of the buffalo was put. As has been said, almost every
part of the flesh was eaten.

Now it must be remembered that in early days the hunting weapons of this
people consisted only of stone-pointed arrows, and with such armament the
capture of game of the larger sorts must have been a matter of some
uncertainty. To drive a rude stone-headed arrow through the tough hide and
into the vitals of the buffalo, could not have been--even under the most
favorable circumstances--other than a difficult matter; and although we may
assume that, in those days, it was easy to steal up to within a few yards
of the unsuspicious animals, we can readily conceive that many arrows must
have been shot without effect, for one that brought down the game.

Certain ingenious methods were therefore devised to insure the taking of
game in large numbers at one time. This was especially the case with the
buffalo, which were the food and raiment of the people. One of these
contrivances was called pis'kun, deep-kettle; or, since the termination of
the word seems to indicate the last syllable of the word _ah'-pun,_ blood,
it is more likely deep-blood-kettle. This was a large corral, or enclosure,
built out from the foot of a perpendicular cliff or bluff, and formed of
natural banks, rocks, and logs or brush,--anything in fact to make a close,
high barrier. In some places the enclosure might be only a fence of brush,
but even here the buffalo did not break it down, for they did not push
against it, but ran round and round within, looking for a clear space
through which they might pass. From the top of the bluff, directly over
the pis'kun, two long lines of rock piles and brush extended far out on the
prairie, ever diverging from each other like the arms of the letter V, the
opening over the pis'kun being at the angle.

In the evening of the day preceding a drive of buffalo into the pis'kun a
medicine man, usually one who was the possessor of a buffalo rock,
In-is'-kim, unrolled his pipe, and prayed to the Sun for success. Next
morning the man who was to call the buffalo arose very early, and told his
wives that they must not leave the lodge, nor even look out, until he
returned; that they should keep burning sweet grass, and should pray to the
Sun for his success and safety. Without eating or drinking, he then went up
on the prairie, and the people followed him, and concealed themselves
behind the rocks and bushes which formed the V, or chute. The medicine man
put on a head-dress made of the head of a buffalo, and a robe, and then
started out to approach the animals. When he had come near to the herd, he
moved about until he had attracted the attention of some of the buffalo,
and when they began to look at him, he walked slowly away toward the
entrance of the chute. Usually the buffalo followed, and, as they did so,
he gradually increased his pace. The buffalo followed more rapidly, and the
man continually went a little faster. Finally, when the buffalo were fairly
within the chute, the people began to rise up from behind the rock piles
which the herd had passed, and to shout and wave their robes. This
frightened the hinder-most buffalo, which pushed forward on the others, and
before long the whole herd was running at headlong speed toward the
precipice, the rock piles directing them to the point over the
enclosure. When they reached it, most of the animals were pushed over, and
usually even the last of the band plunged blindly down into the
pis'kun. Many were killed outright by the fall; others had broken legs or
broken backs, while some perhaps were uninjured. The barricade, however,
prevented them from escaping, and all were soon killed by the arrows of the

It is said that there was another way to get the buffalo into this chute. A
man who was very skilful in arousing the buffalo's curiosity, might go out
without disguise, and by wheeling round and round in front of the herd,
appearing and disappearing, would induce them to move toward him, when it
was easy to entice them into the chute. Once there, the people began to
rise up behind them, shouting and waving their robes, and the now
terror-stricken animals rushed ahead, and were driven over the cliff into
the pis'kun, where all were quickly killed and divided among the people,
the chiefs and the leading warrior getting the best and fattest animals.

The pis'kun was in use up to within thirty-five or forty years, and many
men are still living who have seen the buffalo driven over the cliff. Such
men even now speak with enthusiasm of the plenty that successful drives
brought to the camp.

The pis'kuns of the Sik'-si-kau, or Blackfoot tribe, differed in some
particulars from those constructed by the Bloods and the Piegans, who live
further to the south, nearer to the mountains, and so in a country which is
rougher and more broken. The Sik'-si-kau built their pis'kuns like the
Crees, on level ground and usually near timber. A large pen or corral was
made of heavy logs about eight feet high. On the side where the wings of
the chute come together, a bridge, or causeway, was built, sloping gently
up from the prairie to the walls of the corral, which at this point were
cut away to the height of the bridge above the ground,--here about
four feet,--so that the animals running up the causeway could jump down into
the corral. The causeway was fenced in on either side by logs, so that the
buffalo could not run off it. After they had been lured within the wings of
the chute, they were driven toward the corral as already described. When
they reached the end of the >, they ran up the bridge, and jumped down into
the pen. When it was full, or all had entered, Indians, who had lain hidden
near by, ran upon the bridge, and placed poles, prepared beforehand, across
the opening through which the animals had entered, and over these poles
hung robes, so as entirely to close the opening. The buffalo will not dash
themselves against a barrier which is entirely closed, even though it be
very frail; but if they can see through it to the outside, they will rush
against it, and their great weight and strength make it easy for them to
break down any but a heavy wall. Mr. Hugh Monroe tells me that he has seen
a pis'kun built of willow brush; and the Cheyennes have stated to me that
their buffalo corrals were often built of brush. Sometimes, if the walls of
the pis'kun were not high, the buffalo tried to jump or climb over them,
and, in doing this, might break them down, and some or all escape. As soon,
however, as the animals were in the corral, the people--women and children
included--ran up and showed themselves all about the walls, and by their
cries kept the buffalo from pressing against the walls. The animals ran
round and round within, and the men standing on the walls shot them down as
they passed. The butchering was done in the pis'kun, and after this was
over, the place was cleaned out, the heads, feet, and least perishable
offal being removed. Wolves, foxes, badgers, and other small carnivorous
animals visited the pis'kun, and soon made away with the entrails.

In winter, when the snow was on the ground, and the buffalo were to be led
to the pis'kun, the following method was adopted to keep the herd
travelling in the desired direction after they had got between the wings of
the chute. A line of buffalo chips, each one supported on three small
sticks, so that it stood a few inches above the snow, was carried from the
mouth of the pis'kun straight out toward the prairie. The chips were about
thirty feet apart, and ran midway between the wings of the chute. This line
was, of course, conspicuous against the white snow, and when the buffalo
were running down the chute, they always followed it, never turning to the
right nor to the left. In the latter days of the pis'kun, the man who led
the buffalo was often mounted on a white horse.

Often, when they drove the buffalo over a high vertical cliff, no corral
was built beneath. Most of those driven over were killed or disabled by the
fall, and only a few got away. The pis'kuns, as a rule, were built under
low-cut bluffs, and sometimes the buffalo were driven in by moonlight.

In connection with the subject of leading or decoying the buffalo, another
matter not generally known may be mentioned. Sometimes, as a matter of
convenience, a herd was brought from a long distance close up to the
camp. This was usually done in the spring of the year, when the horses were
thin in flesh and not in condition to stand a long chase. I myself have
never seen this; but my friend, William Jackson, was once present at such a
drive by the Red River half-breeds, and has described to me the way in
which it was done.

The camp was on Box Elder Creek near the Musselshell River. It was in the
spring of 1881, and the horses were all pretty well run down and thin, so
that their owners wished to spare them as much as possible. The buffalo
were seven or eight miles distant, and two men were sent out to bring them
to the camp. Other men, leading fresh horses, went with them, and hid
themselves among the hills at different points along the course that the
buffalo were expected to take, at intervals of a mile and a half. They
watched the herd, and were on hand to supply the fresh horses to the men
who were bringing it.

The buffalo were on a wide flat, and the men rode over the hill and
advanced toward the herd at a walk. At length the buffalo noticed them, and
began to huddle up together and to walk about, and at length to walk
away. Then the men turned, and rode along parallel to the buffalo's course,
and at the same gait that these were taking. When the buffalo began to
trot, the men trotted, and when the herd began to lope, the men loped, and
at length they were all running pretty fast. The men kept about half a mile
from the herd, and up even with the leaders. As they ran, the herd kept
constantly edging a little toward the riders, as if trying to cross in
front of them. This inclination toward the men was least when they were far
off, and greatest when they drew nearer to them. At no time were the men
nearer to the herd than four hundred yards. If the buffalo edged too much
toward the riders, so that the course they were taking would lead them away
from camp, the men would drop back and cross over behind the herd to the
other side, and then, pushing their horses hard, would come up with the
leaders,--but still at a distance from them,--and then the buffalo would
begin to edge toward them, and the herd would be brought back again to the
desired course. If necessary, this was repeated, and so the buffalo were
kept travelling in a course approximately straight.

By the time the buffalo had got pretty near to the camp, they were pretty
well winded, and the tongues of many of them were hanging out. This herd
was led up among the rolling hills about a mile from the camp, and there
the people were waiting for them, and charged them, when the herd broke up,
the animals running in every direction.

Occasionally it would happen that for a long time the buffalo would not be
found in a place favorable for driving over the cliff or into a pen. In
such cases, the Indians would steal out on foot, and, on a day when there
was no wind, would stealthily surround the herd. Then they would startle
the buffalo, and yet would keep them from breaking through the circle. The
buffalo would "mill" around until exhausted, and at length, when worn out,
would be shot down by the Indians. This corresponds almost exactly with one
of the methods employed in killing buffalo by the Pawnees in early days
before they had horses.[1] In those days the Pi-k[)u]n'-i were very
numerous, and sometimes when a lot of buffalo were found in a favorable
position, and there was no wind, the people would surround them, and set up
their lodges about them, thus practically building a corral of
lodges. After all preparations had been made, they would frighten the
buffalo, which, being afraid to pass through between the lodges, would run
round and round in a great circle, and when they were exhausted the people
would kill them.

[Footnote 1: Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales, p. 250.]

Then they always had plenty of buffalo--if not fresh meat, that which they
had dried. For in winter they would kill large numbers of buffalo, and
would prepare great stores of dried meat. As spring opened, the buffalo
would move down to the more flat prairie country away from the
pis'kuns. Then the Blackfeet would also move away. As winter drew near, the
buffalo would again move up close to the mountains, and the Indians, as
food began to become scarce, would follow them toward the pis'kuns. In the
last of the summer and early autumn, they always had runners out, looking
for the buffalo, to find where they were, and which way they were
moving. In the early autumn, all the pis'kuns were repaired and
strengthened, so as to be in good order for winter.

In the days before they had horses, and even in later times when the ground
was of such a character as to prevent running the buffalo, an ingenious
method of still-hunting them was practised. A story told by Hugh Monroe
illustrates it. He said: "I was often detailed by the Hudson's Bay Company
to go out in charge of a number of men, to kill meat for the fort. When the
ground was full of holes and wash-outs, so that running was dangerous, I
used to put on a big timber wolf's skin, which I carried for the purpose,
tying it at my neck and waist, and then to sneak up to the buffalo. I used
a bow and arrows, and generally shot a number without alarming them. If one
looked suspiciously at me, I would howl like a wolf. Sometimes the smell of
the blood from the wounded and dying would set the bulls crazy. They would
run up and lick the blood, and sometimes toss the dead ones clear from the
ground. Then they would bellow and fight each other, sometimes goring one
another so badly that they died. The great bulls, their tongues covered
with blood, their eyes flashing, and tails sticking out straight, roaring
and fighting, were terrible to see; and it was a little dangerous for me,
because the commotion would attract buffalo from all directions to see what
was going on. At such times, I would signal to my men, and they would ride
up and scare the buffalo away."

In more modern times, the height of pleasure to a Blackfoot was to ride a
good horse and run buffalo. When bows and arrows, and, later,
muzzle-loading "fukes" were the only weapons, no more buffalo were killed
than could actually be utilized. But after the Winchester repeater came in
use, it seemed as if the different tribes vied with each other in wanton
slaughter. Provided with one of these weapons and a couple of belts of
cartridges, the hunters would run as long as their horses could keep up
with the band, and literally cover the prairie with carcasses, many of
which were never even skinned.


It is said that once in early times the men determined that they would use
antelope skins for their women's dresses, instead of cowskins. So they
found a place where antelope were plenty, and set up on the prairie long
lines of rock piles, or of bushes, so as to form a chute like a >. Near the
point where the lines joined, they dug deep pits, which they roofed with
slender poles, and covered these with grass and a little dirt. Then the
people scattered out, and while most of them hid behind the rock piles and
bushes, a few started the antelope toward the mouth of the chute. As they
ran by them, the people showed themselves and yelled, and the antelope ran
down the chute and finally reached the pits, and falling into them were
taken, when they were killed and divided among the hunters. Afterward, this
was the common method of securing antelopes up to the coming of the whites.


Before the whites came to the Blackfoot country, the Indian standard of
value was eagle tail-feathers. They were used to make war head-dresses, to
tie on the head, and to ornament shields, lances, and other
weapons. Besides this, the wings were used for fans, and the body feathers
for arrow-making. Always a wary bird, the eagle could seldom be approached
near enough for killing with the bow and arrow; and, in fact, it seems as
if it was considered improper to kill it in that way. The capture of these
birds appears to have had about it something of a sacred nature, and, as
was always the case among wild Indians when anything important was to be
undertaken, it was invariably preceded by earnest prayers to the Deity for
help and for success.

There are still living many men who have caught eagles in the ancient
method, and, from several of these, accounts have been received, which,
while essentially similar, yet differ in certain particulars, especially in
the explanations of certain features of the ceremony.

Wolf Calf's account of this ceremony is as follows:--

"A man who started out to catch eagles moved his lodge and his family away
from the main camp, to some place where the birds were abundant. A spot was
chosen on top of a mound or butte within a few miles of his lodge, and here
he dug a pit in the ground as long as his body and somewhat deeper. The
earth removed was carried away to a distance, and scattered about so as to
make no show. When the pit had been made large enough, it was roofed over
with small willow sticks, on which grass was scattered, and over the grass
a little earth and stones were laid, so as to give the place a natural
look, like the prairie all about it.

"The bait was a piece of bloody neck of a buffalo. This, of course, could
be seen a long way off, and by the meat a stuffed wolf skin was often
placed, standing up, as if the animal were eating. To the piece of neck was
tied a rope, which passed down through the roof of the pit and was held in
the watcher's hand.

"After all had been made ready, the next day the man rose very early,
before it was light, and, after smoking and praying, left his camp, telling
his wives and children not to use an awl while he was gone. He endeavored
to reach the pit early in the morning, before it became light, and lay down
in it, taking with him a slender stick about six feet long, a human skull,
and a little pemmican. Then he waited.

"When the morning came, and the eagles were flying, one of them would see
the meat and descend to take it away from the wolf. Finding it held fast by
the rope, the bird began to feed on it; and while it was pecking at the
bait, the watcher seized it by the legs, and drew it into the pit, where he
killed it, either by twisting its neck, or by crushing it with his
knees. Then he laid it to one side, first opening the bill and putting a
little piece of pemmican in its mouth. This was done to make the other
eagles hungry. While he was in the pit, the man neither ate, drank, nor
slept. He had a sleeping-place not far off, to which he repaired each night
after dark, and there he ate and drank.

"The reason for taking the skull into the hole with the catcher was, in
part, for his protection. It was believed that the ghost of the person to
whom the skull had belonged would protect the watcher against harm from the
eagle, and besides that, the skull, or ghost, would make the watcher
invisible, like a ghost. The eagle would not see him.

"The stick was used to poke or drive away smaller birds, such as magpies,
crows, and ravens, which might alight on the roof of the pit, and try to
feed on the bait. It was used, also, to drive away the white-headed eagle,
which they did not care to catch. These are powerful birds; they could
almost kill a person.

"There are two sacred things connected with the catching of eagles,--two
things which must be observed if the eagle-catcher is to have good
luck. The man who is watching must not eat rosebuds. If he does, the eagle,
when he comes down and alights by the bait, will begin to scratch himself
and will not attack the bait. The rosebuds will make him itch. Neither the
man nor his wife must use an awl while he is absent from his lodge, and is
trying to catch the birds. If this is done, the eagles will scratch the
catcher. Sometimes one man would catch a great many eagles."

In his day, John Monroe was a famous eagle-catcher, and he has given me the
following account of the method as he has practised it. The pit is dug, six
feet long, three wide, and four deep, on top of the highest knoll that can
be found near a stream. The earth taken out is carried a long way off. Over
the pit they put two long poles, one on each side, running lengthwise of
the pit, and other smaller sticks are laid across, resting on the
poles. The smaller sticks are covered with juniper twigs and long grass. The
skin of a wolf, coyote, or fox, is stuffed with grass, and made to look as
natural as possible. A hole is cut in the wolf skin and a rope is passed
through it, one end being tied to a large piece of meat which lies by the
skin, and the other passing through the roof down into the pit. The bait is
now covered with grass, and the man returns to his lodge for the night.

During the night, he sings his eagle songs and burns sweet grass for the
eagles, rubbing the smoke over his own body to purify himself, so that on
the morrow he will give out no scent. Before day he leaves his lodge
without eating or drinking, goes to the pit and lies down in it. He
uncovers the bait, arranges the roof, and sits there all day holding the
rope. Crows and other birds alight by the bait and peck at it, but he pays
no attention to them.

The eagle, sailing about high in air, sees the bait, and settles down
slowly. It takes it a long time to make up its mind to come to the bait. In
the pit, the man can hear the sound of the eagle coming. When the bird
settles on the ground, it does not alight on the bait, but at one side of
it, striking the ground with a thud--heavily. The man never mistakes
anything else for that sound. The eagle walks toward the bait, and all the
other birds fly away. It walks on to the roof; and, through the crevices
that have been left between the sticks, the man can see in which direction
the bird's head is. He carefully pushes the stick aside and, reaching out,
grasps the eagle by the two feet. The bird does not struggle much. It is
drawn down into the pit, and the man wrings its neck. Then the opening is
closed, and the roof arranged as before. So the man waits and catches the
eagles that come through the day. Sometimes he sits all day and gets
nothing; again he may get eight or ten in a day.

When darkness comes, the man leaves his hiding-place, takes his eagles, and
goes home. He carries the birds to a special lodge, prepared outside of the
camp, which is called the eagles' lodge. He places them on the ground in a
row, and raises their heads, resting them on a stick laid in front of the
row. In the mouth of each one is put a piece of pemmican, so that they may
not be afraid of the people. The object of feeding the eagles is that
their spirits may tell other eagles how they are being treated--that they
are being fed by the people. In the lodge is a human skull, and they pray
to it, asking the ghost to help them get the eagles.

It is said that in one pit, once, forty eagles were killed in a day. The
larger hawks were caught, as well as eagles, though the latter were the
most highly valued. Five eagles used to be worth a good horse, a valuation
which shows that, in the Blackfoot country, eagles were more plenty, or
horses more valuable, than farther south, where, in old times, two eagles
would purchase a horse.


They had no special means of capturing deer in any numbers. These were
usually killed singly. The hunters used to creep up on elk and deer in the
brush, and when they had come close to them, they could drive even their
stone-pointed arrows deep in the flesh. Often their game was killed dead on
the spot, but if not, they left it alone until the next day, when, on going
back to the place, it was usually found near by, either dead or so
desperately wounded that they could secure it.

Deadfalls were used to catch wolves, foxes, and other fur animals, and
small apertures in the pis'kun walls were provided with nooses and snares
for the same purpose.

Another way to catch wolves and coyotes was to set heavy stakes in the
ground in a circle, about the carcasses of one or two dead buffalo. The
stakes were placed at an angle of about forty-five degrees, a few inches
apart, and all pointing toward the centre of the circle. At one place, dirt
was piled up against the stakes from the outside, and the wolves, climbing
up on this, jumped down into the enclosure, but were unable to jump
out. Hugh Monroe tells me that, about thirty years ago, he and his sons
made a trap like this, and in one night caught eighty-three wolves and

In early times, beaver were very abundant and very tame, and were shot with
bows and arrows.

The Blackfeet were splendid prairie hunters. They had no superiors in the
art of stalking and killing such wary animals as the antelope. Sometimes
they wore hats made of the skin and horns of an antelope head, which were
very useful when approaching the game. Although the prairie was
pre-eminently their hunting-ground, they were also skilful in climbing
mountains and killing sheep and goats. On the other hand, the northern
Crees, who also are a prairie people, are poor mountain hunters.


The Blackfeet were a warlike people. How it may have been in the old days,
before the coming of the white men, we do not know. Very likely, in early
times, they were usually at peace with neighboring tribes, or, if quarrels
took place, battles were fought, and men killed, this was only in angry
dispute over what each party considered its rights. Their wars were
probably not general, nor could they have been very bloody. When, however,
horses came into the possession of the Indians, all this must have soon
become changed. Hitherto there had really been no incentive to war. From
time to time expeditions may have gone out to kill enemies,--for glory, or
to take revenge for some injury,--but war had not yet been made desirable
by the hope of plunder, for none of their neighbors--any more than
themselves--had property which was worth capturing and taking
away. Primitive arms, dogs, clothing, and dried meat were common to all the
tribes, and were their only possessions, and usually each tribe had an
abundance of all these. It was not worth any man's while to make long
journeys and to run into danger merely to increase his store of such
property, when his present possessions were more than sufficient to meet
all his wants. Even if such things had seemed desirable plunder, the amount
of it which could be carried away was limited, since--for a war party--the
only means of transporting captured articles from place to place was on
men's backs, nor could men burdened with loads either run or fight. But
when horses became known, and the Indians began to realize what a change
the possession of these animals was working in their mode of life, when
they saw that, by enormously increasing the transporting power of each
family, horses made far greater possessions practicable, that they insured
the food supply, rendered the moving of the camp easier and more rapid,
made possible long journeys with a minimum of effort, and that they had a
value for trading, the Blackfoot mind received a new idea, the idea that
it was desirable to accumulate property. The Blackfoot saw that, since
horses could be exchanged for everything that was worth having, no one
had as many horses as he needed. A pretty wife, a handsome war bonnet,
a strong bow, a finely ornamented woman's dress,--any or all of these
things a man might obtain, if he had horses to trade for them. The
gambler at "hands," or at the ring game, could bet horses. The man who
was devoted to his last married wife could give her a horse as an evidence
of his affection.

We can readily understand what a change the advent of the horse must have
worked in the minds of a people like the Blackfeet, and how this changed
mental attitude would react on the Blackfoot way of living. At first, there
were but few horses among them, but they knew that their neighbors to the
west and south--across the mountains and on the great plains beyond the
Missouri and the Yellowstone--had plenty of them; that the K[=u]tenais, the
Kalispels, the Snakes, the Crows, and the Sioux were well provided. They
soon learned that horses were easily driven off, and that, even if followed
by those whose property they had taken, the pursued had a great advantage
over the pursuers; and we may feel sure that it was not long before the
idea of capturing horses from the enemy entered some Blackfoot head and was
put into practice.

Now began a systematic sending forth of war parties against neighboring
tribes for the purpose of capturing horses, which continued for about
seventy-five or eighty years, and has only been abandoned within the last
six or seven, and since the settlement of the country by the whites made it
impossible for the Blackfeet longer to pass backward and forward through it
on their raiding expeditions. Horse-taking at once became what might be
called an established industry among the Blackfeet. Success brought wealth
and fame, and there was a pleasing excitement about the war journey.
Except during the bitterest weather of the winter, war parties of Blackfeet
were constantly out, searching for camps of their enemies, from whom they
might capture horses. Usually the only object of such an expedition was to
secure plunder, but often enemies were killed, and sometimes the party set
out with the distinct intention of taking both scalps and horses.

Until some time after they had obtained guns, the Blackfeet were on
excellent terms with the northern Crees, but later the Chippeways from the
east made war on the Blackfeet, and this brought about general hostilities
against all Crees, which have continued up to within a few years. If I
recollect aright, the last fight which occurred between the Pi-kun'-i and
the Crees took place in 1886. In this skirmish, which followed an attempt
by the Crees to capture some Piegan horses, my friend,
Tail-feathers-coming-in-sight-over-the-Hill, killed and counted _coup_ on a
Cree whose scalp he afterward sent me, as an evidence of his prowess.

The Gros Ventres of the prairie, of Arapaho stock, known to the Blackfeet
as _At-séna,_ or Gut People, had been friends and allies of the Blackfeet
from the time they first came into the country, early in this century, up
to about the year 1862, when, according to Clark, peace was broken through
a mistake.[1] A war party of Snakes had gone to a Gros Ventres camp near
the Bear Paw Mountains and there killed two Gros Ventres and taken a white
pony, which they subsequently gave to a party of Piegans whom they met, and
with whom they made peace. The Gros Ventres afterward saw this horse in the
Piegan camp and supposed that the latter had killed their tribesman, and
this led to a long war. In the year 1867, the Piegans defeated the allied
Crows and Gros Ventres in a great battle near the Cypress Mountains, in
which about 450 of the enemy are said to have been killed.

[Footnote 1: Indian Sign Language, p. 70.]

An expression often used in these pages, and which is so familiar to one
who has lived much with Indians as to need no explanation, is the phrase to
count _coup_. Like many of the terms common in the Northwest, this one
comes down to us from the old French trappers and traders, and a _coup_ is,
of course, a blow. As commonly used, the expression is almost a direct
translation of the Indian phrase to strike the enemy, which is in ordinary
use among all tribes. This striking is the literal inflicting a blow on an
individual, and does not mean merely the attack on a body of enemies.

The most creditable act that an Indian can perform is to show that he is
brave, to prove, by some daring deed, his physical courage, his lack of
fear. In practice, this courage is shown by approaching near enough to an
enemy to strike or touch him with something that is held in the hand--to
come up within arm's length of him. To kill an enemy is praiseworthy, and
the act of scalping him may be so under certain circumstances, but neither
of these approaches in bravery the hitting or touching him with something
held in the hand. This is counting _coup_.

The man who does this shows himself without fear and is respected
accordingly. With certain tribes, as the Pawnees, Cheyennes, and others, it
was not very uncommon for a warrior to dash up to an enemy and strike him
before making any attempt to injure him, the effort to kill being secondary
to the _coup_. The blow might be struck with anything held in the hand,--a
whip, coupstick, club, lance, the muzzle of a gun, a bow, or what not. It
did not necessarily follow that the person on whom the _coup_ had been
counted would be injured. The act was performed in the case of a woman, who
might be captured, or even on a child, who was being made prisoner.

Often the dealing the _coup_ showed a very high degree of courage. As
already implied, it might be counted on a man who was defending himself
most desperately, and was trying his best to kill the approaching enemy,
or, even if the attempt was being made on a foe who had fallen, it was
never certain that he was beyond the power of inflicting injury. He might
be only wounded, and, just when the enemy had come close to him, and was
about to strike, he might have strength enough left to raise himself up and
shoot him dead. In their old wars, the Indians rarely took men
captive. The warrior never expected quarter nor gave it, and usually men
fought to the death, and died mute, defending themselves to the last--to
the last, striving to inflict some injury on the enemy.

The striking the blow was an important event in a man's life, and he who
performed this feat remembered it. He counted it. It was a proud day for
the young warrior when he counted his first _coup_, and each subsequent one
was remembered and numbered in the warrior's mind, just as an American of
to-day remembers the number of times he has been elected to Congress. At
certain dances and religious ceremonies, like that of the Medicine Lodge,
the warriors counted--or rather re-counted--their _coups_.

While the _coup_ was primarily, and usually, a blow with something held in
the hand, other acts in warfare which involved great danger to him who
performed them were also reckoned _coups_ by some tribes. Thus, for a
horseman to ride over and knock down an enemy, who was on foot, was
regarded among the Blackfeet as a _coup_, for the horseman might be shot at
close quarters, or might receive a lance thrust. It was the same to ride
one's horse violently against a mounted foe. An old Pawnee told me of a
_coup_ that he had counted by running up to a fallen enemy and jumping on
him with both feet. Sometimes the taking of horses counted a _coup_, but
this was not always the case.

As suggested by what has been already stated, each tribe of the Plains
Indians held its own view as to what constituted a _coup_. The Pawnees were
very strict in their interpretation of the term, and with them an act of
daring was not in itself deemed a _coup_. This was counted only when the
person of an enemy was actually touched. One or two incidents which have
occurred among the Pawnees will serve to illustrate their notions on this

In the year 1867, the Pawnee scouts had been sent up to Ogallalla,
Nebraska, to guard the graders who were working on the Union Pacific
railroad. While they were there, some Sioux came down from the hills and
ran off a few mules, taking them across the North Platte. Major North took
twenty men and started after them. Crossing the river, and following it up
on the north bank, he headed them off, and before long came in sight of

The six Sioux, when they found that they were pursued, left the mules that
they had taken, and ran; and the Pawnees, after chasing them eight or ten
miles, caught up with one of them, a brother of the well-known chief
Spotted Tail. Baptiste Bahele, a half-breed Skidi, had a very fast horse,
and was riding ahead of the other Pawnees, and shooting arrows at the
Sioux, who was shooting back at him. At length Baptiste shot the enemy's
horse in the hip, and the Indian dismounted and ran on foot toward a
ravine. Baptiste shot at him again, and this time sent an arrow nearly
through his body, so that the point projected in front. The Sioux caught
the arrow by the point, pulled it through his body, and shot it back at his
pursuer, and came very near hitting him. About that time, a ball from a
carbine hit the Sioux and knocked him down.

Then there was a race between Baptiste and the Pawnee next behind him, to
see which should count _coup_ on the fallen man. Baptiste was nearest to
him and reached him first, but just as he got to him, and was leaning over
from his horse, to strike the dead man, the animal shied at the body,
swerving to one side, and he failed to touch it. The horse ridden by the
other Pawnee ran right over the Sioux, and his rider leaned down and
touched him.

Baptiste claimed the _coup_--although acknowledging that he had not
actually touched the man--on the ground that he had exposed himself to all
the danger, and would have hit the man if his horse had not swerved as it
did from the body; but the Pawnees would not allow it, and all gave the
credit of the _coup_ to the other boy, because he had actually touched the

On another occasion three or four young men started on the warpath from the
Pawnee village. When they came near to Spotted Tail's camp on the Platte
River, they crossed the stream, took some horses, and got them safely
across the river. Then one of the boys recrossed, went back to the camp,
and cut loose another horse. He had almost got this one out of the camp,
when an Indian came out of a lodge near by, and sat down. The Pawnee shot
the Sioux, counted _coup_ on him, scalped him, and then hurried across the
river with the whole Sioux camp in pursuit. When the party returned to the
Pawnee village, this boy was the only one who received credit for a _coup_.

Among the Blackfeet the capture of a shield, bow, gun, war bonnet, war
shirt, or medicine pipe was deemed a _coup_.

Nothing gave a man a higher place in the estimation of the people than the
counting of _coups_, for, I repeat, personal bravery is of all qualities
the most highly respected by Indians. On special occasions, as has been
said, men counted over again in public their _coups_. This served to
gratify personal vanity, and also to incite the young men to the
performance of similar brave deeds. Besides this, they often made a more
enduring record of these acts, by reproducing them pictographically on
robes, cowskins, and other hides. There is now in my possession an
illuminated cowskin, presented to me by Mr. J. Kipp, which contains the
record of the _coups_ and the most striking events in the life of Red
Crane, a Blackfoot warrior, painted by himself. These pictographs are very
rude and are drawn after the style common among Plains Indians, but no
doubt they were sufficiently lifelike to call up to the mind of the artist
each detail of the stirring events which they record.

The Indian warrior who stood up to relate some brave deed which he had
performed was almost always in a position to prove the truth of his
statements. Either he had the enemy's scalp, or some trophy captured from
him, to produce as evidence, or else he had a witness of his feat in some
companion. A man seldom boasted of any deed unless he was able to prove his
story, and false statements about exploits against the enemy were most
unusual. Temporary peace was often made between tribes usually at war, and,
at the friendly meetings which took place during such times of peace,
former battles were talked over, the performances of various individuals
discussed, and the acts of particular men in the different rights commented
on. In this way, if any man had falsely claimed to have done brave deeds,
he would be detected.

An example of this occurred many years ago among the Cheyennes. At that
time, there was a celebrated chief of the Skidi tribe of the Pawnee Nation
whose name was Big Eagle. He was very brave, and the Cheyennes greatly
feared him, and it was agreed among them that the man who could count
_coup_ on Big Eagle should be made warchief of the Cheyennes. After a fight
on the Loup River, a Cheyenne warrior claimed to have counted _coup_ on Big
Eagle by thrusting a lance through his buttocks. On the strength of the
claim, this man was made war chief of the Cheyennes. Some years later,
during a friendly visit made by the Pawnees to the Cheyennes, this incident
was mentioned. Big Eagle was present at the time, and, after inquiring
into the matter, he rose in council, denied that he had ever been struck as
claimed, and, throwing aside his robe, called on the Cheyennes present to
examine his body and to point out the scars left by the lance. None were
found. It was seen that Big Eagle spoke the truth; and the lying Cheyenne,
from the proud position of war chief, sank to a point where he was an
object of contempt to the meanest Indian in his tribe.

Among the Blackfeet a war party usually, or often, had its origin in a
dream. Some man who has a dream, after he awakes tells of it. Perhaps he
may say: "I dreamed that on a certain stream is a herd of horses that have
been given to me, and that I am going away to get. I am going to war. I
shall go to that place and get my band of horses." Then the men who know
him, who believe that his medicine is strong and that he will have good
luck, make up their minds to follow him. As soon as he has stated what he
intends to do, his women and his female relations begin to make moccasins
for him, and the old men among his relations begin to give him arrows and
powder and ball to fit him out for war. The relations of those who are
going with him do the same for them.

The leader notifies the young men who are going with him on what day and at
what hour he intends to start. He determines the time for himself, but
does not let the whole camp know it in advance. Of late years, large war
parties have not been desirable. They have preferred to go out in small
bodies. Just before a war party sets out, its members get together and sing
the "peeling a stick song," which is a wolf song. Then they build a sweat
lodge and go into it, and with them goes in an old man, a medicine-pipe
man, who has been a good warrior. They fill the pipe and ask him to pray
for them, that they may have good luck, and may accomplish what they
desire. The medicine-pipe man prays and sings and pours water on the hot
stones, and the warriors with their knives slice bits of skin and flesh
from their bodies,--their arms and breasts and sometimes from the tip of
the tongue,--which they offer to the Sun. Then, after the ceremony is over,
all dripping with perspiration from their vapor bath, the men go down to
the river and plunge in.

In starting out, a war party often marches in the daytime, but sometimes
they travel at night from the beginning. Often they may make an all night
march across a wide prairie, in passing over which they might be seen if
they travelled in the day. They journey on foot, always. The older men
carry their arms, while the boys bear the moccasins, the ropes, and the
food, which usually consists of dried meat or pemmican. They carry also
coats and blankets and their war bonnets and otter skin medicine. The
leader has but little physical labor to perform. His mind is occupied in
planning the movements of his party. He is treated with the greatest
respect. The others mend his moccasins, and give him the best of the food
which they carry.

After they get away from the main camp, the leader selects the strongest of
the young men, and sends him ahead to some designated butte, saying, "Go to
that place, and look carefully over the country, and if you see nothing,
make signals to us to come on." This scout goes on ahead, travelling in the
ravines and coulées, and keeps himself well hidden. After he has
reconnoitred and made signs that he sees nothing, the party proceeds
straight toward him.

The party usually starts early in the morning and travels all day, making
camp at sundown. During the day, if they happen to come upon an antelope or
a buffalo, they kill it, if possible, and take some of the meat with
them. They try in every way to economize their pemmican. They always
endeavor to make camp in the thick timber, where they cannot be seen; and
here, when it is necessary, on account of bad weather or for other reasons,
they build a war lodge. Taking four young cotton-woods or aspens, on which
the leaves are left, and lashing them together like lodge poles, but with
the butts up, about these they place other similar trees, also butts up and
untrimmed. The leaves keep the rain off, and prevent the light of the fire
which is built in the lodge from showing through. Sometimes, when on the
prairie, where there is no wood, in stormy weather they will build a
shelter of rocks. When the party has come close to the enemy, or into a
country where the enemy are likely to be found, they build no more fires,
but eat their food uncooked.

When they see fresh tracks of people, or signs that enemies are in the
country, they stop travelling in the daytime and move altogether by night,
until they come to some good place for hiding, and here they stop and
sleep. When day comes, the leader sends out young men to the different
buttes, to look over the country and see if they can discover the enemy. If
some one of the scouts reports that he has seen a camp, and that the enemy
have been found, the leader directs his men to paint themselves and put on
their war bonnets. This last is a figure of speech, since the war bonnets,
having of late years been usually ornamented with brass bells, could not be
worn in a secret attack, on account of the noise they would make. Before
painting themselves, therefore, they untie their war bonnets, and spread
them out on the ground, as if they were about to be worn, and then when
they have finished painting themselves, tie them up again. When it begins
to get dark, they start on the run for the enemy's camp. They leave their
food in camp, but carry their ropes slung over the shoulder and under the
arm, whips stuck in belts, guns and blankets.

After they have crept up close to the lodges, the leader chooses certain
men that have strong hearts, and takes them with him into the camp to cut
loose the horses. The rest of the party remain outside the camp, and look
about its outskirts, driving in any horses that may be feeding about, not
tied up. Of those who have gone into the camp, some cut loose one horse,
while others cut all that may be tied about a lodge. Some go only once into
the camp, and some go twice to get the horses. When they have secured the
horses, they drive them off a little way from the camp, at first going
slowly, and then mount and ride off fast. Generally, they travel two
nights and one day before sleeping.

This is the usual method of procedure of an ordinary expedition to capture
horses, and I have given it very nearly in the language of the men who
explained it to me.

In their hostile encounters, the Blackfeet have much that is common to many
Plains tribes, and also some customs that are peculiar to themselves. Like
most Indians, they are subject to sudden, apparently causeless, panics,
while at other times they display a courage that is heroic. They are firm
believers in luck, and will follow a leader who is fortunate in his
expeditions into almost any danger. On the other hand, if the leader of a
war party loses his young men, or any of them, the people in the camp think
that he is unlucky, and does not know how to lead a war party. Young men
will not follow him as a leader, and he is obliged to go as a servant or
scout under another leader. He is likely never again to lead a war party,
having learned to distrust his luck.

If a war party meets the enemy, and kills several of them, losing in the
battle one of its own number, it is likely, as the phrase is, to "cover"
the slain Blackfoot with all the dead enemies save one, and to have a scalp
dance over that remaining one. If a party had killed six of the enemy and
lost a man, it might "cover" the slain Blackfoot with five of the enemy. In
other words, the five dead enemies would pay for the one which the war
party had lost. So far, matters would be even, and they would feel at
liberty to rejoice over the victory gained over the one that is left.

The Blackfeet sometimes cut to pieces an enemy killed in battle. If a
Blackfoot had a relation killed by a member of another tribe, and afterward
killed one of this tribe, he was likely to cut him all to pieces "to get
even," that is, to gratify his spite--to obtain revenge. Sometimes, after
they had killed an enemy, they dragged his body into camp, so as to give
the children an opportunity to count _coup_ on it. Often they cut the feet
and hands off the dead, and took them away and danced over them for a long
time. Sometimes they cut off an arm or a leg, and often the head, and
danced and rejoiced over this trophy.

Women and children of hostile tribes were often captured, and adopted into
the Blackfoot tribes with all the rights and privileges of indigenous
members. Men were rarely captured. When they were taken, they were
sometimes killed in cold blood, especially if they had made a desperate
resistance before being captured. At other times, the captive would be kept
for a time, and then the chief would take him off away from the camp, and
give him provisions, clothing, arms, and a horse, and let him go. The
captive man always had a hard time at first. When he was brought into the
camp, the women and children threw dirt on him and counted _coups_ on him,
pounding him with sticks and clubs. He was rarely tied, but was always
watched. Often the man who had taken him prisoner had great trouble to
keep his tribesmen from killing him.

In the very early days of this century, war parties used commonly to start
out in the spring, going south to the land where horses were abundant,
being absent all summer and the next winter, and returning the following
summer or autumn, with great bands of horses. Sometimes they were gone two
years. They say that on such journeys they used to go to _Spai'yu ksah'ku_,
which means the Spanish lands--_Spai'yu_ being a recently made word, no
doubt from the French _espagnol._ That they did get as far as Mexico, or at
least New Mexico, is indicated by the fact that they brought back branded
horses and a few branded mules; for in these early days there was no stock
upon the Plains, and animals bearing brands were found only in the Spanish
American settlements. The Blackfeet did not know what these marks
meant. From their raids into these distant lands, they sometimes brought
back arms of strange make, lances, axes, and swords, of a form unlike any
that they had seen. The lances had broad heads; some of the axes, as
described, were evidently the old "T. Gray" trade axes of the southwest. A
sword, described as having a long, slender, straight blade, inlaid with a
flower pattern of yellow metal along the back, was probably an old Spanish

In telling of these journeys to Spanish lands, they say of the very long
reeds which grow there, that they are very large at the butt, are jointed,
very hard, and very tall; they grow in marshy places; and the water there
has a strange, mouldy smell.

It is said, too, that there have been war parties who have crossed the
mountains and gone so far to the west that they have seen the big salt
water which lies beyond, or west of, the Great Salt Lake. Journeys as far
south as Salt Lake were not uncommon, and Hugh Monroe has told me of a war
party he accompanied which went as far as this.


In ancient times the chief god of the Blackfeet--their Creator--was _Na'pi_
(Old Man). This is the word used to indicate any old man, though its
meaning is often loosely given as white. An analysis of the word _Na'pi_,
however, shows it to be compounded of the word _Ni'nah_, man, and the
particle _a'pi_, which expresses a color, and which is never used by
itself, but always in combination with some other word. The Blackfoot word
for white is _Ksik-si-num'_ while _a'pi_, though also conveying the idea of
whiteness, really describes the tint seen in the early morning light when
it first appears in the east--the dawn--not a pure white, but that color
combined with a faint cast of yellow. _Na'pi_, therefore, would seem to
mean dawn-light-color-man, or man-yellowish-white. It is easy to see why
old men should be called by this latter name, for it describes precisely
the color of their hair.

Dr. Brinton, in his valuable work, American Hero Myths, has suggested a
more profound reason why such a name should be given to the Creator. He
says: "The most important of all things to life is light. This the
primitive savage felt, and personifying it, he made light his chief god.
The beginning of day served, by analogy, for the beginning of the
world. Light comes before the Sun, brings it forth, creates it, as it
were. Hence the Light god is not the Sun god but his antecedent and

It would be absurd to attribute to the Blackfoot of to-day any such
abstract conception of the name of the Creator as that expressed in the
foregoing quotation. The statement that Old Man was merely light
personified would be beyond his comprehension, and if he did understand
what was meant, he would laugh at it, and aver that _Na'pi_ was a real man,
a flesh and blood person like himself.

The character of Old Man, as depicted in the stories told of him by the
Blackfeet, is a curious mixture of opposite attributes. In the serious
tales, such as those of the creation, he is spoken of respectfully, and
there is no hint of the impish qualities which characterize him in other
stories, in which he is powerful, but also at times impotent; full of all
wisdom, yet at times so helpless that he has to ask aid from the
animals. Sometimes he sympathizes with the people, and at others, out of
pure spitefulness, he plays them malicious tricks that are worthy of a
demon. He is a combination of strength, weakness, wisdom, folly,
childishness, and malice.

Under various names Old Man is known to the Crees, Chippeways, and other
Algonquins, and many of the stories that are current among the Blackfeet
are told of him among those tribes. The more southern of these tribes do
not venerate him as of old, but the Plains and Timber Crees of the north,
and the north Chippeways, are said still to be firm believers in Old
Man. He was their Creator, and is still their chief god. He is believed in
less by the younger generation than the older. The Crees are regarded by
the Indians of the Northwest as having very powerful medicine, and this all
comes from Old Man.

Old Man can never die. Long ago he left the Blackfeet and went away to the
West, disappearing in the mountains. Before his departure he told them
that he would always take care of them, and some day would return. Even
now, many of the old people believe that he spoke the truth, and that some
day he will come back, and will bring with him the buffalo, which they
believe the white men have hidden. It is sometimes said, however, that when
he left them he told them also that, when he returned, he would find them
changed--a different people and living in a different way from that which
they practised when he went away. Sometimes, also, it is said that when he
disappeared he went to the East.

It is generally believed that Old Man is no longer the principal god of the
Blackfeet, that the Sun has taken his place. There is some reason to
suspect, however, that the Sun and Old Man are one, that _N[=a]t[=o]s_' is
only another name for _Na'pi_, for I have been told by two or three old men
that "the Sun is the person whom we call Old Man." However this may be, it
is certain that _Na'pi_--even if he no longer occupies the chief place in
the Blackfoot religious system--is still reverenced, and is still addressed
in prayer. Now, however, every good thing, success in war, in the chase,
health, long life, all happiness, come by the special favor of the Sun.

The Sun is a man, the supreme chief of the world. The flat, circular earth
in fact is his home, the floor of his lodge, and the over-arching sky is
its covering. The moon, _K[=o]-k[=o]-mik'-[=e]-[)i]s,_ night light, is the
Sun's wife. The pair have had a number of children, all but one of whom
were killed by pelicans. The survivor is the morning star,
_A-pi-su-ahts_--early riser.

In attributes the Sun is very unlike Old Man. He is a beneficent person, of
great wisdom and kindness, good to those who do right. As a special means
of obtaining his favor, sacrifices must be made. These are often presents
of clothing, fine robes, or furs, and in extreme cases, when the prayer is
for life itself, the offering of a finger, or--still dearer--a lock of
hair. If a white buffalo was killed, the robe was always given to the
Sun. It belonged to him. Of the buffalo, the tongue--regarded as the
greatest delicacy of the whole animal--was especially sacred to the
Sun. The sufferings undergone by men in the Medicine Lodge each year were
sacrifices to the Sun. This torture was an actual penance, like the sitting
for years on top of a pillar, the wearing of a hair shirt, or fasting in
Lent. It was undergone for no other purpose than that of pleasing God--as a
propitiation or in fulfilment of vows made to him. Just as the priests of
Baal slashed themselves with knives to induce their god to help them, so,
and for the same reason, the Blackfoot men surged on and tore out the ropes
tied to their skins. It is merely the carrying out of a religious idea that
is as old as history and as widespread as the globe, and is closely akin to
the motive which to-day, in our own centres of enlightened civilization,
prompts acts of self-denial and penance by many thousands of intelligent
cultivated people. And yet we are horrified at hearing described the
tortures of the Medicine Lodge.

Besides the Sun and Old Man, the Blackfoot religious system includes a
number of minor deities or rather natural qualities and forces, which are
personified and given shape. These are included in the general terms Above
Persons, Ground Persons, and Under Water Persons. Of the former class,
Thunder is one of the most important, and is worshipped as is elsewhere
shown. He brings the rain. He is represented sometimes as a bird, or, more
vaguely, as in one of the stories, merely as a fearful person. Wind Maker
is an example of an Under Water Person, and it is related that he has been
seen, and his form is described. It is believed by some that he lives under
the water at the head of the Upper St. Mary's Lake. Those who believe this
say that when he wants the wind to blow, he makes the waves roll, and that
these cause the wind to blow,--another example of mistaking effect for
cause, so common among the Indians. The Ground Man is another below
person. He lives under the ground, and perhaps typifies the power of the
earth, which is highly respected by all Indians of the west. The Cheyennes
also have a Ground Man whom they call The Lower One, or Below Person
_(Pun'-[)o]-ts[)i]-hyo)_. The cold and snow are brought by Cold Maker
_(Ai'-so-yim-stan_). He is a man, white in color, with white hair, and clad
in white apparel, who rides on a white horse. He brings the storm with
him. They pray to him to bring, or not to bring, the storm.

Many of the animals are regarded as typifying some form of wisdom or
craft. They are not gods, yet they have power, which, perhaps, is given
them by the Sun or by Old Man. Examples of this are shown in some of the

Among the animals especially respected and supposed to have great power,
are the buffalo, the bear, the raven, the wolf, the beaver, and the
kit-fox. Geese too, are credited with great wisdom and with foreknowledge
of the weather. They are led by chiefs. As is quite natural among a people
like the Blackfeet, the buffalo stood very high among the animals which
they reverenced. It symbolized food and shelter, and was _Nato'y[)e]_ (of
the Sun), sacred. Not a few considered it a medicine animal, and had it for
their dream, or secret helper. It was the most powerful of all the animal
helpers. Its importance is indicated by the fact that buffalo skulls were
placed on the sweat houses built in connection with the Medicine Lodge. A
similar respect for the buffalo exists among many Plains tribes, which were
formerly dependent on it for food and raiment. A reverence for the bear
appears to be common to all North American tribes, and is based not upon
anything that the animal's body yields, but perhaps on the fact that it is
the largest carnivorous mammal of the continent, the most difficult to kill
and extremely keen in all its senses. The Blackfeet believe it to be part
brute and part human, portions of its body, particularly the ribs and feet,
being like those of a man. The raven is cunning. The wolf has great
endurance and much craft. He can steal close to one without being seen. In
the stories given in the earlier pages of this book, many of the attributes
of the different animals are clearly set forth.

There were various powers and signs connected with these animals so held in
high esteem by the Blackfeet, to which the people gave strict heed. Thus
the raven has the power of giving people far sight. It was also useful in
another way. Often, in going to war, a man would get a raven's skin and
stuff the head and neck, and tie it to the hair of the head behind. If a
man wearing such a skin got near the enemy without knowing it, the skin
would give him warning by tapping him on the back of the head with its
bill. Then he would know that the enemy was near, and would hide. If a
raven flew over a lodge, or a number of lodges, and cried, and then was
joined by other ravens, all flying over the camp and crying, it was a sure
sign that during the day some one would come and tell the news from far
off. The ravens often told the people that game was near, calling to the
hunter and then flying a little way, and then coming back, and again
calling and flying toward the game.

The wolves are the people's great friends; they travel with the wolves. If,
as they are travelling along, they pass close to some wolves, these will
bark at the people, talking to them. Some man will call to them, "No, I
will not give you my body to eat, but I will give you the body of some one
else, if you will go along with us." This applies both to wolves and
coyotes. If a man goes away from the camp at night, and meets a coyote, and
it barks at him, he goes back to the camp, and says to the people: "Look
out now; be smart. A coyote barked at me to-night." Then the people look
out, and are careful, for it is a sure sign that something bad is going to
happen. Perhaps some one will be shot; perhaps the enemy will charge the

If a person is hungry and sings a wolf song, he is likely to find food. Men
going on a hunting trip sing these songs, which bring them good luck. The
bear has very powerful medicine. Sometimes he takes pity on people and
helps them, as in the story of Mik'-api.

Some Piegans, if they wish to travel on a certain day, have the power of
insuring good weather on that day. It is supposed that they do this by
singing a powerful song. Some of the enemy can cause bad weather, when they
want to steal into the camp.

People who belonged to the _Sin'-o-pah_ band of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi,_ if
they were at war in summer and wanted a storm to come up, would take some
dirt and water and rub it on the kit-fox skin, and this would cause a
rain-storm to come up. In winter, snow and dirt would be rubbed on the skin
and this would bring up a snow-storm.

Certain places and inanimate objects are also greatly reverenced by the
Blackfeet, and presents are made to them.

The smallest of the three buttes of the Sweet Grass Hills is regarded as
sacred. "All the Indians are afraid to go there," Four Bears once told
me. Presents are sometimes thrown into the Missouri River, though these are
not offerings made directly to the stream, but are given to the Under Water
People, who live in it.

Mention has already been made of the buffalo rock, which gives its owner
the power to call the buffalo.

Another sacred object is the medicine rock of the Marias. It is a huge
boulder of reddish sandstone, two-thirds the way up a steep hill on the
north bank of the Marias River, about five miles from Fort
Conrad. Formerly, this rock rested on the top of the bluff, but, as the
soil about it is worn away by the wind and the rain, it is slowly moving
down the hill. The Indians believe it to be alive, and make presents to
it. When I first visited it, the ground about it was strewn with decaying
remnants of offerings that had been made to it in the past. Among these I
noticed, besides fragments of clothing, eagle feathers, a steel finger ring,
brass ear-rings, and a little bottle made of two copper cartridge cases.

Down on Milk River, east of the Sweet Grass Hills, is another medicine
rock. It is shaped something like a man's body, and looks like a person
sitting on top of the bluff. Whenever the Blackfeet pass this rock, they
make presents to it. Sometimes, when they give it an article of clothing,
they put it on the rock, "and then," as one of them once said to me, "when
you look at it, it seems more than ever like a person." Down in the big
bend of the Milk River, opposite the eastern end of the Little Rocky
Mountains, lying on the prairie, is a great gray boulder, which is shaped
like a buffalo bull lying down. This is greatly reverenced by all Plains
Indians, Blackfeet included, and they make presents to it. Many other
examples of similar character might be given.

The Blackfeet make daily prayers to the Sun and to Old Man, and nothing of
importance is undertaken without asking for divine assistance. They are
firm believers in dreams. These, they say, are sent by the Sun to enable us
to look ahead, to tell what is going to happen. A dream, especially if it
is a strong one,--that is, if the dream is very clear and vivid,--is almost
always obeyed. As dreams start them on the war path, so, if a dream
threatening bad luck comes to a member of a war party, even if in the
enemy's country and just about to make an attack on a camp, the party is
likely to turn about and go home without making any hostile
demonstrations. The animal or object which appears to the boy, or man, who
is trying to dream for power, is, as has been said, regarded thereafter as
his secret helper, his medicine, and is usually called his dream

The most important religious occasion of the year is the ceremony of the
Medicine Lodge. This is a sacrifice, which, among the Blackfeet, is offered
invariably by women. If a woman has a son or husband away at war, and is
anxious about him, or if she has a dangerously sick child, she may make to
the Sun a vow in the following words:--

"Listen, Sun. Pity me. You have seen my life. You know that I am pure. I
have never committed adultery with any man. Now, therefore, I ask you to
pity me. I will build you a lodge. Let my son survive. Bring him back to
health, so that I may build this lodge for you."

The vow to build the Medicine Lodge is repeated in a loud voice, outside
her lodge, so that all the people may hear it, and if any man can impeach
the woman, he is obliged to speak out, in which case she could be punished
according to the law. The Medicine Lodge is always built in summer, at the
season of the ripening of the sarvis berries, and if, before this time, the
person for whom the vow is made dies, the woman is not obliged to fulfil
her vow. She is regarded with suspicion, and it is generally believed that
she has been guilty of the crime she disavowed. As this cannot be proved,
however, she is not punished.

When the time approaches for the building of the lodge, a suitable locality
is selected, and all the people move to it, putting up their lodges in a
circle about it. In the meantime, at least a hundred buffalo tongues have
been collected, cut, and dried by the woman who may be called the Medicine
Lodge woman. No one but she is allowed to take part in this work.

Before the tongues are cut and dried, they are laid in a pile in the
medicine woman's lodge. She then gives a feast to the old men, and one of
them, noted for his honesty, and well liked by all, repeats a very long
prayer, asking in substance that the coming Medicine Lodge may be
acceptable to the Sun, and that he will look with favor on the people, and
will give them good health, plenty of food, and success in war. A hundred
songs are then sung, each one different from the others. The feast and
singing of these songs lasts a day and a half.[Illustration: MEDICINE

Before the Medicine Lodge is erected, four large sweat lodges are built,
all in a line, fronting to the east or toward the rising sun. Two stand in
front of the Medicine Lodge, and two behind it. The two nearest the
Medicine Lodge are built one day, and the others on the day following. The
sticks for the framework of these lodges are cut only by renowned warriors,
each warrior cutting one, and, as he brings it in and lays it down, he
counts a _coup_, which must be of some especially brave deed. The old men
then take the sticks and erect the lodges, placing on top of each a buffalo
skull, one half of which is painted red, the other black, to represent day
and night, or rather the sun and the moon. When the lodges are finished and
the stones heated, the warriors go in to sweat, and with them the medicine
pipe men, who offer up prayers.

While this is going on, the young men cut the centre post for the Medicine
Lodge, and all the other material for its construction. The women then pack
out the post and the poles on horses, followed by the men shouting,
singing, and shooting.

In the morning of this day the medicine woman begins a fast, which must
last four days and four nights, with only one intermission, as will shortly
appear. During that time she may not go out of doors, except between sunset
and sunrise. During the whole ceremony her face, hands, and clothing are
covered with the sacred red paint.

When all the material has been brought to the spot where the lodge is to be
erected, that warrior who, during the previous year, has done the most
cutting and stabbing in battle is selected to cut the rawhide to bind it,
and while he cuts the strings he counts three _coups_.

The centre post is now placed on the ground, surrounded by the poles and
other smaller posts; and two bands of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_, the Braves,
and the All Crazy Dogs approach. Each band sings four songs, and then they
raise the lodge amid the shouting of the people. It is said that, in old
times, all the bands of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_ took part in this
ceremony. For raising the centre post, which is very heavy, lodge poles are
tied in pairs, with rawhide, so as to form "shears," each pair being
handled by two men. If one of the ropes binding the shears breaks, the men
who hold the pair are said to be unlucky; it is thought that they are soon
to die. As soon as the centre post is up, the wall posts are erected, and
the roof of poles put on, the whole structure being covered with brush. The
door-way faces east or southeast, and the lodge is circular in shape, about
forty feet in diameter, with walls about seven feet high.

Inside the Medicine Lodge, at the back, or west side, in the principal
place in the lodge, is now built a little box-shaped house, about seven
feet high, six feet long, and four wide. It is made of brush, so tightly
woven that one cannot see inside of it. This is built by a medicine man,
the high priest of this ceremony, who, for four days, the duration of the
ceremony, neither eats nor goes out of it in the daytime. The people come
to him, two at a time, and he paints them with black, and makes for them an
earnest prayer to the Sun, that they may have good health, long lives, and
good food and shelter. This man is supposed to have power over the rain. As
rain would interfere with the ceremonies, he must stop it, if it threatens.

In the meantime, the sacred dried tongues have been placed in the Medicine
Lodge. The next morning, the Medicine Lodge woman leaves her own lodge,
and, walking very slowly with bowed head, and praying at every step, she
enters the Medicine Lodge, and, standing by the pile of tongues, she cuts
up one of them and holds it toward heaven, offering it to the Sun; then she
eats a part of it and buries the rest in the dirt, praying to the Ground
Man, and calling him to bear witness that she has not defiled his body by
committing adultery. She then proceeds to cut up the tongues, giving a very
small piece to every person, man, woman, or child. Each one first holds it
up to the Sun, and then prays to the Sun, Na'-pi, and the Ground Man for
long life, concluding by depositing a part of the morsel of tongue on the
ground, saying, "I give you this sacred tongue to eat." And now, during the
four days, outside the lodge, goes on the counting of the _coups_. Each
warrior in turn recounts his success in war,--his battles or his
horse-takings. With a number of friends to help him, he goes through a
pantomime of all these encounters, showing how he killed this enemy, took a
gun from that one, or cut horses loose from the lodge of another. When he
has concluded, an old man offers a prayer, and ends by giving him a new
name, saying that he hopes he will live well and long under it.

Inside the lodge, rawhide ropes are suspended from the centre post, and
here the men fulfil the vows that they have made during the previous
year. Some have been sick, or in great danger at war, and they then vowed
that if they were permitted to live, or escape, they would swing at the
Medicine Lodge. Slits are cut in the skin of their breast, ropes passed
through and secured by wooden skewers, and then the men swing and surge
until the skin gives way and tears out. This is very painful, and some
fairly shriek with agony as they do it, but they never give up, for they
believe that if they should fail to fulfil their vow, they would soon die.

On the fourth day every one has been prayed for, every one has made to the
Sun his or her present, which is tied to the centre post, the sacred
tongues have all been consumed, and the ceremony ends, every one feeling
better, assured of long life and plenty.

Most persons have an entirely erroneous idea of the purpose of this annual
ceremony. It has been supposed that it was for the purpose of making
warriors. This is not true. It was essentially a religious festival,
undertaken for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the people according to
their beliefs. Incidentally, it furnished an opportunity for the rehearsal
of daring deeds. But among no tribes who practised it were warriors made by
it. The swinging by the breast and other self-torturings were but the
fulfilment of vows, sacred promises made in time of danger, penances
performed, and not, as many believe, an occasion for young men to test
their courage.

From the Indians of the tribe, the Medicine Lodge woman receives a very
high measure of respect and consideration. Blackfoot men have said to me,
"We look on the Medicine Lodge woman as you white people do on the Roman
Catholic sisters." Not only is she virtuous in deed, but she must be
serious and clean-minded. Her conversation must be sober.

Before the coming of the whites, the Blackfeet used to smoke the leaves of
a plant which they call _na-wuh'-to-ski_, and which is said to have been
received long, long ago from a medicine beaver. It was used unmixed with
any other plant. The story of how this came to the tribe is told
elsewhere.[1] This tobacco is no longer planted by the Piegans, nor by the
Bloods, though it is said that an old Blackfoot each year still goes
through the ceremony, and raises a little. The plant grows about ten
inches high and has a long seed stalk growing from the centre. White Calf,
the chief of the Piegans, has the secrets of the tobacco and is perhaps the
only person in the tribe who knows them. From him I have received the
following account of the ceremonies connected with it:--

[Footnote 1: The Beaver Medicine, p. 117.]

Early in the spring, after the last snow-storm, when the flowers begin to
bud (early in the month of May), the women and children go into the timber
and prepare a large bed, clearing away the underbrush, weeds and grass and
leaves and sticks, raking the ground till the earth is thoroughly
pulverized. Elk, deer, and mountain sheep droppings are collected, pounded
fine, and mixed with the seed which is to be sown.

On the appointed day all the men gather at the bed. Each one holds in his
hand a short, sharp-pointed stick, with which to make a hole in the
ground. The men stand in a row extending across the bed. At a signal they
make the holes in the ground, and drop in some seed, with some sacred
sarvis berries. The tobacco song is sung by the medicine men, all take a
short step forward, make another hole, a foot in front of the last, and
then drop in it some more seed. Another song is sung, another step taken,
and seed is again planted; and this continues until the line of men has
moved all the way across the bed, and the planting is completed. The
tobacco dance follows the planting.

After the seed has been planted, they leave it and go off after the
buffalo. While away during the summer, some important man--one of the
medicine men who had taken part in the planting--announces to the people
his purpose to go back to look after the crop. He starts, and after he has
reached the place, he builds a little fire in the bed, and offers a prayer
for the crop, asking that it may survive and do well. Then he pulls up one
of the plants, which he takes back with him and shows to the people, so
that all may see how the crop is growing. He may thus visit the place three
or four times in the course of the summer.

From time to time, while they are absent from the tobacco patch in summer,
moving about after the buffalo, the men gather in some lodge to perform a
special ceremony for the protection of the crop. Each man holds in his hand
a little stick. They sing and pray to the Sun and Old Man, asking that the
grasshoppers and other insects may not eat their plants. At the end of each
song they strike the ground with their sticks, as if killing grasshoppers
and worms. It has sometimes happened that a young man has said that he does
not believe that these prayers and songs protect the plants, that the Sun
does not send messengers to destroy the worms. To such a one a medicine
man will say, "Well, you can go to the place and see for yourself." The
young man gets on his horse and travels to the place. When he comes to the
edge of the patch and looks out on it, he sees many small children at work
there, killing worms. He has not believed in this before, but now he goes
back convinced. Such a young man does not live very long.

At length the season comes for gathering the crop, and, at a time
appointed, all the camps begin to move back toward the tobacco patch,
timing their marches so that all may reach it on the same day. When they
get there, they camp near it, but no one visits it except the head man of
the medicine men who took charge of the planting. This man goes to the bed,
gathers a little of the plant, and returns to the camp.

A small boy, six or eight years old, is selected to carry this plant to the
centre of the circle. The man who gathered the tobacco ties it to a little
stick, and, under the tobacco, to the stick he ties a baby's moccasin. The
little boy carries this stick to the centre of the camp, and stands it in
the ground in the middle of the circle, the old man accompanying him and
showing him where to put it. It is left there all night. The next day there
is a great feast, and the kettles of food are all brought to the centre of
the camp. The people all gather there, and a prayer is made. Then they sing
the four songs which belong especially to this festival. The first and
fourth are merely airs without words; the second has words, the purport of
which is, "The sun goes with us." The third song says, "Hear your
children's prayer." After the ceremony is over, every one is at liberty to
go and gather the tobacco. It is dried and put in sacks for use during the
year. The seed is collected for the next planting. When they reach the
patch, if the crop is good, every one is glad. After the gathering, they
all move away again after the buffalo.

Sometimes a man who was lazy, and had planted no tobacco, would go secretly
to the patch, and pull a number of plants belonging to some one else, and
hide them for his own use. Now, in these prayers that they offer, they do
not ask for mercy for thieves. A man who had thus taken what did not belong
to him would have a lizard appear to him in a dream, and then he would fall
sick and die. The medicine men would know of all this, but they would not
do anything. They would just let him die.

This tobacco was given us by the one who made us.

The Blackfoot cosmology is imperfect and vague, and I have been able to
obtain nothing like a complete account of it, for I have found no one who
appeared to know the story of the beginning of all things.

Some of the Blackfeet now say that originally there was a great womb, in
which were conceived the progenitors of all animals now on earth. Among
these was Old Man. As the time for their birth drew near, the animals used
to quarrel as to which should be the first to be born, and one day, in a
fierce struggle about this, the womb burst, and Old Man jumped first to the
ground. For this reason, he named all the animals Nis-kum'-iks, Young
Brothers; and they, because he was the first-born, called him Old Man.

There are several different accounts of the creation of the people by Old
Man. One is that he married a female dog, and that their progeny were the
first people. Others, and the ones most often told, have been given in the
Old Man stories already related.

There is an account of the creation which is essentially an Algonquin myth,
and is told by most of the tribes of this stock from the Atlantic to the
Rocky Mountains, though the hero is variously named. Here is the Blackfoot
version of it:--

In the beginning, all the land was covered with water, and Old Man and all
the animals were floating around on a large raft. One day Old Man told the
beaver to dive and try to bring up a little mud. The beaver went down, and
was gone a long time, but could not reach the bottom. Then the loon tried,
and the otter, but the water was too deep for them. At last the muskrat
dived, and he was gone so long that they thought he had drowned, but he
finally came up, almost dead, and when they pulled him on to the raft, they
found, in one of his paws, a little mud. With this, Old Man formed the
world, and afterwards he made the people.

This myth, while often related by the Blackfoot tribe, is seldom heard
among the Bloods or Piegans. It is uncertain whether all three tribes used
to know it, but have forgotten it, or whether it has been learned in
comparatively modern times by the Blackfeet from the Crees, with whom they
have always had more frequent intercourse and a closer connection than the
other two tribes.

There is also another version of the origin of death. When Old Man made the
first people, he gave them very strong bodies, and for a long time no one
was sick. At last, a little child fell ill. Each day it grew weaker and
weaker, and at last it fainted. Then the mother went to Old Man, and prayed
him to do something for it.

"This," said Old Man, "will be the first time it has happened to the
people. You have seen the buffalo fall to the ground when struck with an
arrow. Their hearts stop beating, they do not breathe, and soon their
bodies become cold. They are then dead. Now, woman, it shall be for you to
decide whether death shall come to the people as well as to the other
animals, or whether they shall live forever. Come now with me to the

When they reached the water's edge, Old Man picked up from the ground a dry
buffalo chip and a stone. "Now, woman," he said, "you will tell me which
one of these to throw into the water. If what I throw floats, your child
shall live; the people shall live forever. If it sinks, then your child
shall die, and all the people shall die, each one when his time comes."

The woman stood still a long time, looking from the stone to the buffalo
chip, and from the chip to the stone. At last she said, "Throw the stone."
Then Old Man tossed it into the river, and it sank to the bottom. "Woman,"
he cried, "go home; your child is dead." Thus, on account of a foolish
woman, we all must die.

The shadow of a person, the Blackfeet say, is his soul. Northeast of the
Sweet Grass Hills, near the international boundary line, is a bleak, sandy
country called the Sand Hills, and there all the shadows of the deceased
good Blackfeet are congregated. The shadows of those who in this world led
wicked lives are not allowed to go there. After death, these wicked persons
take the shape of ghosts _(Sta-au'_[1]), and are compelled ever after to
remain near the place where they died. Unhappy themselves, they envy those
who are happy, and continually prowl about the lodges of the living,
seeking to do them some injury. Sometimes they tap on the lodge skins and
whistle down the smoke hole, but if the fire is burning within they will
not enter.

[Footnote 1: The human skeleton is also called _Sta-au', i.e._
ghost. Compare Cheyenne _Mis-tai'_, ghost.]

Outside in the dark they do much harm, especially the ghosts of enemies who
have been killed in battle. These sometimes shoot invisible arrows into
persons, causing sickness and death. They have hit people on the head,
causing them to become crazy. They have paralyzed people's limbs, and drawn
their faces out of shape, and done much other harm. Ghosts walk above the
ground, not on it. An example of this peculiarity is seen in the case of
the young man who visited the lodge of the starving family, in the story
entitled Origin of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi._

Ghosts sometimes speak to people. An instance of this is the following,
which occurred to my friend Young Bear Chief, and which he related to
me. He said: "I once went to war, and took my wife with me. I went to
Buffalo Lip Butte, east of the Cypress Mountains; a little creek runs by
it. I took eighteen horses from an Assinaboine camp one night, when it was
very foggy. I found sixteen horses feeding on the hills, and went into the
camp and cut loose two more. Then we went off with the horses. When we
started, it was so foggy that I could not see the stars, and I did not know
which way to run. I kept travelling in what I supposed was the direction
toward home, but I did not know where I was going. After we had gone a long
way, I stopped and got off my horse to fix my belt. My wife did not
dismount, but sat there waiting for me to mount and ride on.

"I spoke to my wife, and said to her, 'We don't know which way to go.' A
voice spoke up right behind me and said: 'It is well; you go ahead. You are
going right.' When I heard the voice, the top of my head seemed to lift up
and felt as if a lot of needles were sticking into it. My wife, who was
right in front of me, was so frightened that she fainted and fell off her
horse, and it was a long time before she came to. When she got so she could
ride, we went on, and when morning came I found that we were going
straight, and were on the west side of the West Butte of the Sweet Grass
Hills. We got home all right. This must have been a ghost."

Now and then among the Blackfeet, we find evidences of a belief that the
soul of a dead person may take up its abode in the body of an animal. An
example of this is seen in the story of E-k[=u]s'-kini, p. 90. Owls are
thought to be the ghosts of medicine men.

The Blackfeet do not consider the Sand Hills a happy hunting ground. There
the dead, who are themselves shadows, live in shadow lodges, hunt shadow
buffalo, go to war against shadow enemies, and in every way lead an
existence which is but a mimicry of this life. In this respect the
Blackfeet are almost alone. I know of scarcely any other American tribe,
certainly none east of the Rocky Mountains, who are wholly without a belief
in a happy future state. The Blackfeet do not especially say that this
future life is an unhappy one, but, from the way in which they speak of it,
it is clear that for them it promises nothing desirable. It is a
monotonous, never ending, and altogether unsatisfying existence,--a life as
barren and desolate as the country which the ghosts inhabit. These people
are as much attached to life as we are. Notwithstanding the unhappy days
which have befallen them of late years,--days of privation and
hunger,--they cling to life. Yet they seem to have no fear of death. When
their time comes, they accept their fate without a murmur, and tranquilly,
quietly pass away.


The person whom the whites term "medicine man" is called by the Blackfeet
_Ni-namp'-skan_. Mr. Schultz believes this word to be compounded of
_nin'nah_, man, and _namp'-ski_, horned toad (_Phrynosoma_), and in this he
is supported by Mr. Thomas Bird, a very intelligent half-breed, who has
translated a part of the Bible into the Blackfoot language for the
Rev. S. Trivett, a Church of England missionary. These gentlemen conclude
that the word means "all-face man." The horned toad is called _namp'-ski_,
all-face; and as the medicine man, with his hair done up in a huge topknot,
bore a certain resemblance to this creature, he was so named. No one among
the Blackfeet appears to have any idea as to what the word means.

The medicine pipes are really only pipe stems, very long, and beautifully
decorated with bright-colored feathers and the fur of the weasel and other
animals. It is claimed that these stems were given to the people long, long
ago, by the Sun, and that those who own them are regarded by him with
special favor.

Formerly these stems were valued at from fifteen to thirty head of horses,
and were bought and sold like any other property. When not in use, they
were kept rolled up in many thicknesses of fine tanned fur, and with them
were invariably a quantity of tobacco, a sacred whistle, two sacred
rattles, and some dried sweet grass, and sweet pine needles.

In the daytime, in pleasant weather, these sacred bundles were hung out of
doors behind the owners' lodges, on tripods. At night they were suspended
within, above the owners' seat It was said that if at any time a person
should walk completely around the lodge of a medicine man, some bad luck
would befall him. Inside the lodge, no one was allowed to pass between the
fireplace and the pipe stem. No one but a medicine man and his head wife
could move or unroll the bundle. The man and his wife were obliged always
to keep their faces, hands, and clothing painted with _nits'-i-san,_ a dull
red paint, made by burning a certain clay found in the bad lands.

The _Ni-namp'-skan_ appears to be a priest of the Sun, and prayers offered
through him are thought to be specially favored. So the sacred stem is
frequently unrolled for the benefit of the sick, for those who are about to
undertake a dangerous expedition, such as a party departing to war, for
prayers for the general health and prosperity of the people, and for a
bountiful supply of food. At the present time these ancient ceremonies have
largely fallen into disuse. In fact, since the disappearance of the
buffalo, most of the old customs are dying out.

The thunder is believed to bring the rain in spring, and the rain makes the
berries grow. It is a rule that after the first thunder is heard in the
spring, every medicine man must give a feast and offer prayers for a large
berry crop. I have never seen this ceremony, but Mr. Schultz was once
permitted to attend one, and has given me the following account of it. He
said: "When I entered the lodge with the other guests, the pipe stem had
already been unrolled. Before the fire were two huge kettles of cooked
sarvis berries, a large bowlful of which was soon set before each guest.
Each one, before eating, took a few of the berries and rubbed them into the
ground, saying, 'Take pity on us, all Above People, and give us good.'

"When all had finished eating, a large black stone pipe bowl was filled and
fitted to the medicine stem, and the medicine man held it aloft and said:
'Listen, Sun! Listen, Thunder! Listen, Old Man! All Above Animals, all
Above People, listen. Pity us! You will smoke. We fill the sacred pipe. Let
us not starve. Give us rain during this summer. Make the berries large and
sweet. Cover the bushes with them. Look down on us all and pity us. Look
at the women and the little children; look at us all. Let us reach old
age. Let our lives be complete. Let us destroy our enemies. Help the young
men in battle. Man, woman, child, we all pray to you; pity us and give us
good. Let us survive.'

"He then danced the pipe dance, to be described further on. At this time,
another storm had come up, and the thunder crashed directly over our heads.

"'Listen,' said the medicine man. 'It hears us. We are not doing this
uselessly'; and he raised his face, animated with enthusiasm, toward the
sky, his whole body trembling with excitement; and, holding the pipe aloft,
repeated his prayer. All the rest of the people were excited, and
repeatedly clasped their arms over their breasts, saying: 'Pity us; good
give us; good give us. Let us survive.'

"After this, the pipe was handed to a man on the right of the
semi-circle. Another warrior took a lighted brand from the fire, and
counted four _coups_, at the end of each _coup_ touching the pipe bowl with
the brand. When he had counted the fourth _coup_, the pipe was lighted. It
was then smoked in turn around the circle, each one, as he received it,
repeating a short prayer before he put the stem to his lips. When it was
smoked out, a hole was dug in the ground, the ashes were knocked into it
and carefully covered over, and the thunder ceremony was ended."

In the year 1885, I was present at the unwrapping of the medicine pipe by
Red Eagle, an aged _Ni-namp'-skan_ since dead. On this occasion prayers
were made for the success of a party of Piegans who had started in pursuit
of some Crows who had taken a large band of horses from the Piegans the day
before. The ceremony was a very impressive one, and prayers were offered
not only for the success of this war party, but also for the general good,
as well as for the welfare of special individuals, who were mentioned by
name. The concluding words of the general prayer were as follows: "May all
people have full life. Give to all heavy bodies. Let the young people grow;
increase their flesh. Let all men, women, and children have full life.
Harden the bodies of the old people so that they may reach great age."

In 1879, Mr. Schultz saw a sacred pipe unwrapped for the benefit of a sick
woman, and on various occasions since he has been present at this
ceremony. All accounts of what takes place agree so closely with what I saw
that I give only one of them. Mr. Schultz wrote me of the first occasion:
"When I entered the lodge, it was already well filled with men who had been
invited to participate in the ceremony. The medicine man was aged and
gray-headed, and his feeble limbs could scarcely support his body. Between
him and his wife was the bundle which contained the medicine pipe, as yet
unwrapped, lying on a carefully folded buffalo robe. Plates of food were
placed before each guest, and after all had finished eating, and a common
pipe had been lighted to be smoked around the circle, the ceremony began.

"With wooden tongs, the woman took a large coal from the fire, and laid it
on the ground in front of the sacred stem. Then, while every one joined in
singing a chant, a song of the buffalo (without words), she took a bunch of
dried sweet grass, and, raising and lowering her hand in time to the music,
finally placed the grass on the burning coals. As the thin column of
perfumed smoke rose from the burning herb, both she and the medicine man
grasped handfuls of it and rubbed it over their persons, to purify
themselves before touching the sacred roll. They also took each a small
piece of some root from a little pouch, and ate it, signifying that they
purified themselves without and within.

"The man and woman now faced each other and again began the buffalo song,
keeping time by touching with the clenched hands--the right and left
alternately--the wrappings of the pipe, occasionally making the sign for
buffalo. Now, too, one could occasionally hear the word _Nai-ai'_[1] in
the song. After singing this song for about ten minutes, it was changed to
the antelope song, and, instead of touching the roll with the clenched
hands, which represented the heavy tread of buffalo, they closed the hands,
leaving the index finger extended and the thumbs partly open, and in time
to the music, as in the previous song, alternately touched the wrappers
with the tips of the left and right forefinger, the motions being quick and
firm, and occasionally brought the hands to the side of the head, making
the sign for antelope, and at the same time uttering a loud '_Kuh'_ to
represent the whistling or snorting of that animal.

[Footnote 1: My shelter; my covering; my robe.]

"At the conclusion of this song, the woman put another bunch of sweet grass
on a coal, and carefully undid the wrappings of the pipe, holding each one
over the smoke to keep it pure. When the last wrapping was removed, the man
gently grasped the stem and, every one beginning the pipe song, he raised
and lowered it several times, shaking it as he did so, until every feather
and bit of fur and scalp hung loose and could be plainly seen.

"At this moment the sick woman entered the lodge, and with great
difficulty, for she was very weak, walked over to the medicine woman and
knelt down before her. The medicine woman then produced a small bag of red
paint, and painted a broad band across the sick woman's forehead, a stripe
down the nose, and a number of round dots on each cheek. Then picking up
the pipe stem, which the man had laid down, she held it up toward the sky
and prayed, saying, 'Listen, Sun, pity us! Listen, Old Man, pity us! Above
People, pity us! Under Water People, pity us! Listen, Sun! Listen, Sun! Let
us survive, pity us! Let us survive. Look down on our sick daughter this
day. Pity her and give her a complete life.' At the conclusion of this
short prayer, all the people uttered a loud _m-m-m-h_, signifying that they
took the words to their hearts. Every one now commenced the pipe song, and
the medicine woman passed the stem over different parts of the sick woman's
body, after which she rose and left the lodge.

"The medicine man now took a common pipe which had been lighted, and blew
four whiffs of smoke toward the sky, four toward the ground, and four on
the medicine pipe stem, and prayed to the Sun, Old Man, and all medicine
animals, to pity the people and give them long life. The drums were then
produced, the war song commenced, and the old man, with a rattle in each
hand, danced four times to the door-way and back. He stooped slightly, kept
all his limbs very rigid, extending his arms like one giving a benediction,
and danced in time to the drumming and singing with quick, sudden
steps. This is the medicine pipe dance, which no one but a pipe-owner is
allowed to perform. Afterward, he picked up the pipe stem, and, holding it
aloft in front of him, went through the same performance. At the
conclusion of the dance, the pipe stem was passed from one to another of
the guests, and each one in turn held it aloft and repeated a short
prayer. The man on my right prayed for the health of his children, the one
on my left for success in a proposed war expedition. This concluded the

Disease among the Blackfeet is supposed to be caused by evil spirits,
usually the spirits or ghosts of enemies slain in battle. These spirits are
said to wander about at night, and whenever opportunity offers, they shoot
invisible arrows into persons. These cause various internal troubles, such
as consumption, hemorrhages, and diseases of the digestive organs. Mice,
frogs, snakes, and tailed batrachians are said to cause much disease among
women, and hence should be shunned, and on no account handled.

Less important external ailments and hurts, such as ulcers, boils, sprains,
and so on, are treated by applying various lotions or poultices, compounded
by boiling or macerating certain roots or herbs, known only to the person
supplying them. Rheumatic pains are treated in several ways. Sometimes the
sweat lodge is used, or hot rocks are applied over the place where the pain
is most severe, or actual cautery is practised, by inserting prickly pear
thorns in the flesh, and setting fire to them, when they burn to the very

The sweat lodge, so often referred to, is used as a curative agent, as well
as in religious ceremonies, and is considered very beneficial in illness of
all kinds. The sweat lodge is built in the shape of a rough hemisphere,
three or four feet high and six or eight in diameter. The frame is usually
of willow branches, and is covered with cow-skins and robes. In the centre
of the floor, a small hole is dug out, in which are to be placed red hot
stones. Everything being ready, those who are to take the sweat remove
their clothing and crowd into the lodge. The hot rocks are then handed in
from the fire outside, and the cowskins pulled down to the ground to
exclude any cold air. If a medicine pipe man is not at hand, the oldest
person present begins to pray to the Sun, and at the same time sprinkles
water on the hot rocks, and a dense steam rises, making the perspiration
fairly drip from the body. Occasionally, if the heat becomes too intense,
the covering is raised for a few minutes to admit a little air. The sweat
bath lasts for a long time, often an hour or more, during which many
prayers are offered, religious songs chanted, and several pipes smoked to
the Sun. As has been said, the sweat lodge is built to represent the Sun's
own lodge or home, that is, the world. The ground inside the lodge stands
for its surface, which, according to Blackfoot philosophy, is flat and
round. The framework represents the sky, which far off, on the horizon,
reaches down to and touches the world.

As soon as the sweat is over, the men rush out, and plunge into the stream
to cool off. This is invariably done, even in winter, when the ice has to
be broken to make a hole large enough to bathe in. It is said that, when
the small-pox was raging among these Indians, they used the sweat lodge
daily, and that hundreds of them, sick with the disease, were unable to get
out of the river, after taking the bath succeeding a sweat, and were
carried down stream by the current and drowned.

It is said that wolves, which in former days were extremely numerous,
sometimes went crazy, and bit every animal they met with, sometimes even
coming into camps and biting dogs, horses, and people. Persons bitten by a
mad wolf generally went mad, too. They trembled and their limbs jerked,
they made their jaws work and foamed at the mouth, often trying to bite
other people. When any one acted in this way, his relations tied him hand
and foot with ropes, and, having killed a buffalo, they rolled him up in
the green hide, and then built a fire on and around him, leaving him in the
fire until the hide began to dry and burn. Then they pulled him out and
removed the buffalo hide, and he was cured. While in the fire, the great
heat caused him to sweat profusely, so much water coming out of his body
that none was left in it, and with the water the disease went out, too.
All the old people tell me that they have seen individuals cured in this
manner of a mad wolf's bite.

Whenever a person is really sick, a doctor is sent for. Custom requires
that he shall be paid for his services before rendering them. So when he is
called, the messenger says to him, "A---- presents to you a horse, and
asks you to come and doctor him." Sometimes the fee may be several horses,
and sometimes a gun, saddle, or some article of wearing-apparel. This fee
pays only for one visit, but the duration of the visit is seldom less than
twelve hours, and sometimes exceeds forty-eight. If, after the expiration
of the visit, the patient feels that he has been benefited, he will
probably send for the doctor again, but if, on the other hand, he continues
to grow worse, he is likely to send for another. Not infrequently two or
more doctors may be present at the same time, taking turns with the
patient. In early days, if a man fell sick, and remained so for three weeks
or a month, he had to start anew in life when he recovered; for, unless
very wealthy, all his possessions had gone to pay doctor's fees. Often the
last horse, and even the lodge, weapons, and extra clothing were so parted
with. Of late years, however, since the disappearance of the buffalo, the
doctors' fees are much more moderate.

The doctor is named _I-so-kin-[)u]h-kin,_ a word difficult to
translate. The nearest English meaning of the word seems to be "heavy
singer for the sick." As a rule all doctors sing while endeavoring to work
their cures, and, as helpers, a number of women are always present. Disease
being caused by evil spirits, prayers, exhortations, and certain mysterious
methods must be observed to rid the patient of their influence. No two
doctors have the same methods or songs. Herbs are sometimes used, but not
always. One of their medicines is a great yellow fungus which grows on the
pine trees. This is dried and powdered, and administered either dry or in
an infusion. It is a purgative. As a rule, these doctors, while practising
their rites, will not allow any one in the lodge, except the immediate
members of the sick man's family. Mr. Schultz, who on more than one
occasion has been present at a doctoring, gives the following account of
one of the performances.

"The patient was a man in the last stages of consumption. When the doctor
entered the lodge, he handed the sick man a strip of buckskin, and told him
to tie it around his chest. The patient then reclined on a couch, stripped
to the waist, and the doctor kneeled on the floor beside him. Having
cleared a little space of the loose dirt and dust, the doctor took two
coals from the fire, laid them in this place, and put a pinch of dried
sweet grass on each of them. As the smoke arose from the burning grass, he
held his drum over it, turning it from side to side, and round and
round. This was supposed to purify it. Laying aside the drum, he held his
hands in the smoke, and rubbed his arms and body with it. Then, picking up
the drum, he began to tap it rapidly, and prayed, saying: 'Listen, my
dream. This you told me should be done. This you said should be the
way. You said it would cure the sick. Help me now. Do not lie to me. Help
me, Sun person. Help me to cure this sick man.'

"He then began to sing, and as soon as the women had caught the air, he
handed the drum to one of them to beat, and, still singing himself, took an
eagle's wing and dipped the tip of it in a cup of 'medicine.' It was a
clear liquid, and looked as if it might be simply water. Placing the tip of
the wing in his mouth, he seemed to bite off the end of it, and, chewing it
a little, spat it out on the patient's breast. Then, in time to the
singing, he brushed it gently off, beginning at the throat and ending at
the lower ribs. This was repeated three times. Next he took the bandage
from the patient, dipped it in the cup of medicine, and, wringing it out,
placed it on the sick man's chest, and rubbed it up and down, and back and
forth, after which he again brushed the breast with the eagle
wing. Finally, he lighted a pipe, and, placing the bowl in his mouth, blew
the smoke through the stem all over the patient's breast, shoulders, neck,
and arms, and finished the ceremony by again brushing with the wing. At
intervals of two or three hours, the whole ceremony was repeated. The
doctor arrived at the lodge of the sick man about noon, and left the next
morning, having received for his services a saddle and two blankets."

"Listen, my dream--" This is the key to most of the Blackfoot medicine
practices. These doctors for the most part effect their cures by
prayer. Each one has his dream, or secret helper, to whom he prays for aid,
and it is by this help that he expects to restore his patient to health. No
doubt the doctors have the fullest confidence that their practices are
beneficial, and in some cases they undoubtedly do good because of the
implicit confidence felt in them by the patient.

Often, when a person is sick, he will ask some medicine man to unroll his
pipe. If able to dance, he will take part in the ceremony, but if not, the
medicine man paints him with the sacred symbols. In any case a fervent
prayer is offered by the medicine man for the sick person's recovery. The
medicine man administers no remedies; the ceremony is purely
religious. Being a priest of the Sun, it is thought that god will be more
likely to listen to him than he would to an ordinary man.

Although the majority of Blackfoot doctors are men, there are also many
women in the guild, and some of them are quite noted for their
success. Such a woman, named Wood Chief Woman, is now alive on the
Blackfoot reservation. She has effected many wonderful cures. Two Bear
Woman is a good doctor, and there are many others.

In the case of gunshot wounds a man's "dream," or "medicine," often acts
directly and speedily. Many cases are cited in which this charm, often the
stuffed skin of some bird or animal, belonging to the wounded man, becomes
alive, and by its power effects a cure. Many examples of this might be
given but for lack of space. Entirely honest Indians and white men have
seen such cures and believe in them.


In the olden times the Blackfeet were very numerous, and it is said that
then they were a strong and hardy people, and few of them were ever
sick. Most of the men who died were killed in battle, or died of old
age. We may well enough believe that this was the case, because the
conditions of their life in those primitive times were such that the weakly
and those predisposed to any constitutional trouble would not survive early
childhood. Only the strongest of the children would grow up to become the
parents of the next generation. Thus a process of selection was constantly
going on, the effect of which was no doubt seen in the general health of
the people.

With the advent of the whites, came new conditions. Various special
diseases were introduced and swept off large numbers of the people. An
important agent in their destruction was alcohol.

In the year 1845, the Blackfeet were decimated by the small-pox. This
disease appears to have travelled up the Missouri River; and in the early
years, between 1840 and 1850, it swept away hosts of Mandans, Rees, Sioux,
Crows, and other tribes camped along the great river. I have been told, by
a man who was employed at Fort Union in 1842-43, that the Indians died
there in such numbers that the men of the fort were kept constantly at work
digging trenches in which to bury them, and when winter came, and the
ground froze so hard that it was no longer practicable to bury the dead,
their bodies were stacked up like cord wood in great piles to await the
coming of spring. The disease spread from tribe to tribe, and finally
reached the Blackfeet. It is said by whites who were in the country at the
time, that this small-pox almost swept the Plains bare of Indians.

In the winter of 1857-58, small-pox again carried off great numbers, but
the mortality was not to be compared with that of 1845. In 1864, measles
ran through all the Blackfoot camps, and was very fatal, and again in 1869
they had the small-pox.

Between the years 1860 and 1875, a great deal of whiskey was traded to the
Blackfeet. Having once experienced the delights of intoxication, the
Indians were eager for liquor, and the traders found that robes and furs
could be bought to better advantage for whiskey than for anything else. To
be sure, the personal risk to the trader was considerably increased by the
sale of whiskey, for when drunk the Indians fought like demons among
themselves or with the traders. But, on the other hand, whiskey for
trading to Indians cost but a trifle, and could be worked up, and then
diluted, so that a little would go a long way.

As a measure of partial self-protection, the traders used to deal out the
liquor from the keg or barrel in a tin scoop so constructed that it would
not stand on a flat surface, so that an Indian, who was drinking, had to
keep the vessel in his hand until the liquor was consumed, or else it would
be spilled and lost. This lessened the danger of any shooting or stabbing
while the Indian was drinking, and an effort was usually made to get him
out of the store as soon as he had finished. Nevertheless, drunken fights
in the trading-stores were of common occurrence, and the life of a
whiskey-trader was one of constant peril. I have talked with many men who
were engaged in this traffic, and some of the stories they tell are
thrilling. It was a common thing in winter for the man who unbarred and
opened the store in the morning to have a dead Indian fall into his arms as
the door swung open. To prop up against the door a companion who had been
killed or frozen to death during the night seems to have been regarded by
the Indians as rather a delicate bit of humor, in the nature of a joke on
the trader. Long histories of the doings of these whiskey trading days have
been related to me, but the details are too repulsive to be set down. The
traffic was very fatal to the Indians.

The United States has laws which prohibit, under severe penalties, the sale
of intoxicants to Indians, but these laws are seldom enforced. To the north
of the boundary line, however, in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian
Mounted Police have of late years made whiskey-trading perilous
business. Of Major Steell's good work in putting down the whiskey traffic
on the Blackfoot agency in Montana, I shall speak further on, and to-day
there is not very much whiskey sold to the Blackfeet. Constant vigilance is
needed, however, to keep traders from the borders of the reservation.

In the winter of 1883-84 more than a quarter of the Piegan tribe of the
Blackfeet, which then numbered about twenty-five or twenty-six hundred,
died from starvation. It had been reported to the Indian Bureau that the
Blackfeet were practically self-supporting and needed few supplies. As a
consequence of this report, appropriations for them were small. The
statement was entirely and fatally misleading. The Blackfeet had then
never done anything toward self-support, except to kill buffalo. But just
before this, in the year 1883, the buffalo had been exterminated from the
Blackfoot country. In a moment, and without warning, the people had been
deprived of the food supply on which they had depended. At once they had
turned their attention to the smaller game, and, hunting faithfully the
river bottoms, the brush along the small streams, and the sides of the
mountains, had killed off all the deer, elk, and antelope; and at the
beginning of the winter found themselves without their usual stores of
dried meat, and with nothing to depend on, except the scanty supplies in
the government storehouse. These were ridiculously inadequate to the wants
of twenty-five hundred people, and food could be issued to them only in
driblets quite insufficient to sustain life. The men devoted themselves
with the utmost faithfulness to hunting, killing birds, rabbits,
prairie-dogs, rats, anything that had life; but do the best they might, the
people began to starve. The very old and the very young were the first to
perish; after that, those who were weak and sickly, and at last some even
among the strong and hardy. News of this suffering was sent East, and
Congress ordered appropriations to relieve the distress; but the supplies
had to be freighted in wagons for one hundred and fifty or two hundred
miles before they were available. If the Blackfeet had been obliged to
depend on the supplies authorized by the Indian Bureau, the whole tribe
might have perished, for the red tape methods of the Government are not
adapted to prompt and efficient action in times of emergency. Happily, help
was nearer at hand. The noble people of Montana, and the army officers
stationed at Fort Shaw, did all they could to get supplies to the
sufferers. One or two Montana contractors sent on flour and bacon, on the
personal assurance of the newly appointed agent that he would try to have
them paid. But it took a long time to get even these supplies to the
agency, over roads sometimes hub deep in mud, or again rough with great
masses of frozen clay; and all the time the people were dying.

During the winter, Major Allen had been appointed agent for the Blackfeet,
and he reached the agency in the midst of the worst suffering, and before
any effort had been made to relieve it. He has told me a heart-rending
story of the frightful suffering which he found among these helpless

In his efforts to learn exactly what was their condition, Major Allen one
day went into twenty-three houses and lodges to see for himself just what
the Indians had to eat. In only two of these homes did he find anything in
the shape of food. In one house a rabbit was boiling in a pot. The man had
killed it that morning, and it was being cooked for a starving child. In
another lodge, the hoof of a steer was cooking,--only the hoof,--to make
soup for the family. Twenty-three lodges Major Allen visited that day, and
the little rabbit and the steer's hoof were all the food he found. "And
then," he told me, with tears in his eyes, "I broke down. I could go no
further. To see so much misery, and feel myself utterly powerless to
relieve it, was more than I could stand."

Major Allen had calculated with exactest care the supplies on hand, and at
this time was issuing one-seventh rations. The Indians crowded around the
agency buildings and begged for food. Mothers came to the windows and held
up their starving babies that the sight of their dull, pallid faces, their
shrunken limbs, and their little bones sticking through their skins might
move some heart to pity. Women brought their young daughters to the white
men in the neighborhood, and said, "Here, you may have her, if you will
feed her; I want nothing for myself; only let her have enough to eat, that
she may not die." One day, a deputation of the chiefs came to Major Allen,
and asked him to give them what he had in his storehouses. He explained to
them that it must be some time before the supplies could get there, and
that only by dealing out what he had with the greatest care could the
people be kept alive until provisions came. But they said: "Our women and
children are hungry, and we are hungry. Give us what you have, and let us
eat once and be filled. Then we will die content; we will not beg any
more." He took them into the storehouse, and showed them just what food he
had,--how much flour, how much bacon, how much rice, coffee, sugar, and so
on through the list--and then told them that if this was issued all at
once, there was no hope for them, they would surely die, but that he
expected supplies by a certain day. "And," said he, "if they do not come by
that time, you shall come in here and help yourselves. That I promise
you." They went away satisfied.

Meanwhile, the supplies were drawing near. The officer in command of Fort
Shaw had supplied fast teams to hurry on a few loads to the agency, but the
roads were so bad that the wagon trains moved with appalling slowness. At
length, however, they had advanced so far that it was possible to send out
light teams, to meet the heavily laden ones, and bring in a few sacks of
flour and bacon; and every little helped. Gradually the suffering was
relieved, but the memory of that awful season of famine will never pass
from the minds of those who witnessed it.

There is a record of between four and five hundred Indians who died of
hunger at this time, and this includes only those who were buried in the
immediate neighborhood of the agency and for whom coffins were made. It is
probable that nearly as many more died in the camps on other creeks, but
this is mere conjecture. It is no exaggeration to say, however, that from
one-quarter to one-third of the Piegan tribe starved to death during that
winter and the following spring.

The change from living in portable and more or less open lodges to
permanent dwellings has been followed by a great deal of illness, and at
present the people appear to be sickly, though not so much so as some other
tribes I have known, living under similar conditions further south.

Like other Indians, the Blackfeet have been several times a prey to bad
agents,--men careless of their welfare, who thought only about drawing
their own pay, or, worse, who used their positions simply for their own
enrichment, and stole from the government and Indians alike everything upon
which they could lay hands. It was with great satisfaction that I secured
the discharge of one such man a few years ago, and I only regret that it
was not in my power to have carried the matter so far that he might have
spent a few years in prison.

The present agent of the Blackfeet, Major George Steell, is an old-timer in
the country and understands Indians very thoroughly. In one respect, he has
done more for this people than any other man who has ever had charge of
them, for he has been an uncompromising enemy of the whiskey traffic, and
has relentlessly pursued the white men who always gather about an agency to
sell whiskey to the Indians, and thus not only rob them of their
possessions, but degrade them as well. The prison doors of Deer Lodge have
more than once opened to receive men sent there through the energy of Major
Steell. For the good work he has done in this respect, this gentleman
deserves the highest credit, and he is a shining example among Indian

As recently as 1887 it was rather unusual to see a Blackfoot Indian clad in
white men's clothing; the only men who wore coats and trousers were the
police and a few of the chiefs; to-day it is quite as unusual to see an
Indian wearing a blanket. Not less striking than this difference in their
way of life, is the change which has taken place in the spirit of the

I was passing through their reservation in 1888, when the chiefs asked me
to meet them in council and listen to what they had to say.

I learned that they wished to have a message taken to the Great Father in
the East, and, after satisfying myself that their complaint was well
grounded, I promised to do for them what I could. I accomplished what they
desired, and since that time I have taken much active interest in this
people, and my experience with them has shown me very clearly how much may
be accomplished by the unaided efforts of a single individual who
thoroughly understands the needs of a tribe of Indians. During my annual
visits to the Blackfeet reservation, which have extended over two, three,
or four months each season, I see a great many of the men and have long
conversations with them. They bring their troubles to me, asking what they
shall do, and how their condition may be improved. They tell me what things
they want, and why they think they ought to have them. I listen, and talk
to them just as if they were so many children. If their requests are
unreasonable, I try to explain to them, step by step, why it is not best
that what they desire should be done, or tell them that other things which
they ask for seem proper, and that I will do what I can to have them
granted. If one will only take the pains necessary to make things clear to
him, the adult Indian is a reasonable being, but it requires patience to
make him understand matters which to a white man would need no
explanation. As an example, let me give the substance of a conversation had
last autumn with a leading man of the Piegans who lives on Cut Bank River,
about twenty-five miles from the agency. He said to me:--

"We ought to have a storehouse over here on Cut Bank, so that we will not
be obliged each week to go over to the agency to get our food. It takes us
a day to go, and a day to come, and a day there; nearly three days out of
every week to get our food. When we are at work cutting hay, we cannot
afford to spend so much time travelling back and forth. We want to get our
crops in, and not to be travelling about all the time. It would be a good
thing, too, to have a blacksmith shop here, so that when our wagons break
down, we will not have to go to the agency to get them mended."

This is merely the substance of a much longer speech, to which I replied by
a series of questions, something like the following:--

"Do you remember talking to me last year, and telling me on this same spot
that you ought to have beef issued to you here, and ought not to have to
make the long journey to the agency for your meat?" "Yes."

"And that I told you I agreed with you, and believed that some of the
steers could just as well be killed here by the agency herder and issued to
those Indians living near here?" "Yes."

"That change has been made, has it not? You now get your beef here, don't
you?" "Yes."

"You know that the Piegans have a certain amount of money coming to them
every year, don't you?" "Yes."

"And that some of that money goes to pay the expenses of the agency, some
for food, some to pay clerks and blacksmiths, some to buy mowing-machines,
wagons, harness, and rakes, and some to buy the cattle which have been
issued to you?" "Yes."

"Now, if a government storehouse were to be built over here, clerks hired
to manage it, a blacksmith shop built and another blacksmith hired, that
would all cost money, wouldn't it?" "Yes."

"And that money would be taken out of the money coming next year to the
Piegans, wouldn't it?" "Yes."

"And if that money were spent for those things, the people would have just
so many fewer wagons, mowing-machines, rakes, and cattle issued to them
next year, wouldn't they?" "Yes."

"Well, which would be best for the tribe, which would you rather have, a
store and a blacksmith shop here on Cut Bank, or the money which those
things would cost in cows and farming implements?"

"I would prefer that we should have the cattle and the tools."

"I think you are right. It would save trouble to each man, if the
government would build a storehouse for him right next his house, but it
would be a waste of money. Many white men have to drive ten, twenty, or
thirty miles to the store, and you ought not to complain if you have to do

After this conversation the man saw clearly that his request was an
unreasonable one, but if I had merely told him that he was a fool to want a
store on Cut Bank, he would never have been satisfied, for his experiences
were so limited that he could not have reasoned the thing out for himself.

In my talks with these people, I praise those who have worked hard and
lived well during the past year, while to those who have been idle or
drunken or have committed crimes, I explain how foolish their course has
been and try to show them how impossible it is for a man to be successful
if he acts like a child, and shows that he is a person of no sense. A
little quiet talk will usually demonstrate to them that they have been
unwise, and they make fresh resolutions and promise amendment. Of course
the only argument I use is to tell them that one course will be for their
material advancement, and is the way a white man would act, while the other
will tend to keep them always poor.

Some years ago, the Blackfeet made a new treaty, by which they sold to the
government a large portion of their lands. By this treaty, which was
ratified by Congress in May, 1887, they are to receive $150,000 annually
for a period of ten years, when government support is to be withdrawn. This
sum is a good deal more than is required for their subsistence, and, by the
terms of the treaty, the surplus over what is required for their food and
clothing is to be used in furnishing to the Indians farming implements,
seed, live stock, and such other things as will help them to become

The country which the Blackfeet inhabit lies just south of the parallel of
49°, close to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and is very cold and
dry. Crops can be grown there successfully not more than once in four or
five years, and the sole products to be depended on are oats and potatoes,
which are raised only by means of irrigation. It is evident, therefore,
that the Piegan tribe of the Blackfeet can never become an agricultural
people. Their reservation, however, is well adapted to stock-raising, and
in past years the cattlemen from far and from near have driven their herds
on to the reservation to eat the Blackfoot grass; and the remonstrances of
the Indians have been entirely disregarded. Some years ago, I came to the
conclusion that the proper occupation for these Indians was
stock-raising. Horses they already had in some numbers, but horses are not
so good for them as cattle, because horses are more readily sold than
cattle, and an Indian is likely to trade his horse for whiskey and other
useless things. Cattle they are much less likely to part with, and besides
this, require more attention than horses, and so are likely to keep the
Indians busy and to encourage them to work.

Within the past three or four years, I have succeeded in inducing the
Indian Bureau to employ a part of the treaty money coming to the Blackfeet
in purchasing for them cattle.

It was impressed upon them that they must care for the cattle, not kill and
eat any of them, but keep them for breeding purposes. It was represented to
them that, if properly cared for, the cattle would increase each year,
until a time might come when each Indian would be the possessor of a herd,
and would then be rich like the white cattlemen.

The severe lesson of starvation some years before had not failed to make an
impression, and it was perhaps owing to this terrible experience that the
Piegans did not eat the cows as soon as they got them, as other Indian
tribes have so often done. Instead of this, each man took the utmost care
of the two or three heifers he received. Little shelters and barns were
built to protect them during the winter. Indians who had never worked
before, now tried to borrow a mowing-machine, so as to put up some hay for
their animals. The tribe seemed at once to have imbibed the idea of
property, and each man was as fearful lest some accident should happen to
his cows as any white man might have been. Another issue of cattle was
made, and the result is that now there is hardly an individual in the tribe
who is not the possessor of one or more cows. Scarcely any of the issued
cattle have been eaten; there has been almost no loss from lack of care;
the original stock has increased and multiplied, and now the Piegans have a
pretty fair start in cattle.

This material advancement is important and encouraging. But richer still
is the promise for the future. A few years ago, the Blackfeet were all
paupers, dependent on the bounty of the government and the caprice of the
agent. Now, they feel themselves men, are learning self-help and
self-reliance, and are looking forward to a time when they shall be
self-supporting. If their improvement should be as rapid for the next five
years as it has been for the five preceding 1892, a considerable portion of
the tribe will be self-supporting at the date of expiration of the treaty.

It is commonly believed that the Indian is hopelessly lazy, and that he
will do no work whatever. This misleading notion has been fostered by the
writings of many ignorant people, extending over a long period of time. The
error had its origin in the fact that the work which the savage Indian does
is quite different from that performed by the white laborer. But it is
certain that no men ever worked harder than Indians on a journey to war,
during which they would march on foot hundreds of miles, carrying heavy
loads on their backs, then have their fight, or take their horses, and
perhaps ride for several days at a stretch, scarcely stopping to eat or
rest. That they did not labor regularly is of course true, but when they
did work, their toil was very much harder than that ever performed by the
white man.

The Blackfeet now are willing to work in the same way that the white man
works. They appreciate, as well as any one, the fact that old things have
passed away, and that they must now adapt themselves to new surroundings.
Therefore, they work in the hay fields, tend stock, chop logs in the
mountains, haul firewood, drive freighting teams, build houses and fences,
and, in short, do pretty much all the work that would be done by an
ordinary ranchman. They do not perform it so well as white men would; they
are much more careless in their handling of tools, wagons, mowing-machines,
or other implements, but they are learning all the time, even if their
progress is slow.

The advance toward civilization within the past five years is very
remarkable and shows, as well as anything could show, the adaptability of
the Indian. At the same time, I believe that if it had not been for that
fateful experience known as "the starvation winter," the progress made by
the Blackfeet would have been very much less than it has been. The Indian
requires a bitter lesson to make him remember.

But besides this lesson, which at so terrible a cost demonstrated to him
the necessity of working, there has been another factor in the progress of
the Blackfoot. If he has learned the lesson of privation and suffering, the
record given in these pages has shown that he is not less ready to respond
to encouragement, not less quickened and sustained by friendly
sympathy. Without such encouragement he will not persevere. If his crops
fail him this year, he has no heart to plant the next. A single failure
brings despair. Yet if he is cheered and helped, he will make other
efforts. The Blackfeet have been thus sustained; they have felt that there
was an inducement for them to do well, for some one whom they trusted was
interested in their welfare, was watching their progress, and was trying to
help them. They knew that this person had no private interest to serve, but
wished to do the best that he could for his people. Having an exaggerated
idea of his power to aid them, they have tried to follow his advice, so as
to obtain his good-will and secure his aid with the government. Thus they
have had always before them a definite object to strive for.

The Blackfoot of to-day is a working man. He has a little property which he
is trying to care for and wishes to add to. With a little help, with
instruction, and with encouragement to persevere, he will become in the
next few years self-supporting, and a good citizen.


Above Persons,
Adoption of captives,
Adultery, penalty for,
Adventure, Stories of,
Adventures of Bull Turns Round,
Affirmation, solemn form of,
Alcohol, agent of destruction,
Algonquin myth,
Algonquin tribes,
All Comrades,
All Crazy Dogs,
Allen, Major,
All-face man,
_Amelanchier alnifolia_,
_American Anthropologist_,
American Hero Myths,
Ancient customs dying out,
Ancient Times, Stories of,
Animals, birth of,
  creation of,
Animal powers,
Animal powers and signs,
Animals to be food,
Antelope, method of taking,
  where created,
_Anthropologist, American_
Armells Creek,
Assinaboines (tribe),
Authority of "sits beside him" woman,

Back fat (of buffalo),
Bad Weapons, The,
Bad Wife, The,
Badger Creek,
Battle near Cypress Mountains,
Bears, The
Beaver, how taken,
  Medicine, The,
Belly River,
Berries created,
Berry of the red willow,
Big Eagle,
Big Nose,
Big Topknots,
Bighorn, where created
Birch tree
Bird, Thomas
Birds created
Birth of the animals
Black Elks (Blackfoot gens)
  (Blood gens)
Blackfat Roasters
  as known to the whites
  country, boundaries of
  Genesis, The
  in War, The
Black Doors
Black Patched Moccasins
Blood (tribe)
Blood People
Boiling meat
Bow River
Bowls of stone
Box Elder Creek
Boys, advice to
Brave (band of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi),_
Bravery held in high esteem
  proofs of required
Braves, duties of
Braves' society
Brinton, Dr.
Brush created
  bringing to camp
  corral of Cheyennes
  driven over cliffs
  Dung (gens)
  eating the people
  hunting disguised
  slaughter, modern
  value of to the people
Buffalo Lip Butte
Buffalo Rock, The
  what it is
Buffalo song
Bull bats
Bull berries
Bulls' society
Bunch of lodges
Buttes created

  root, how prepared
Camp arranged in circle
Camp, order of moving
Canadian mounted police
Casey, Lieutenant
Cattle issued
Cause of disease.
Centre post of Medicine Lodge
Ceremony of Medicine Lodge
  of unwrapping pipe-stem
  buffalo corral of
Children in lodge
  sports of
  training of
Children, The Lost
Chinook winds
Choke-cherries, how prepared
Clark (W.P.)
Clay images, of buffalo
  in human shape
Clot of blood
  made of buffalo hide
Cold Maker
Confederation of three tribes
Corral of Cheyennes, buffalo
Cosmology, Blackfoot
Counting _coup_
  _coup_ at Medicine Lodge
Country of the Blackfoot
_Coup_, _et seq_.
  among Blackfeet.
  different tribes.
  counting, in early times.
"Covering" the slain.
Cowardice, penalty for.
Coyotes, how taken.
Creation, _et seq_.
Cree (tribe), _et seq_.
Crimes to be punished.
Crops in Blackfoot country.
Crow (tribe).
Cups, how made.
Custer, General, xiv.
Customs, ancient, dying out.
Customs, Daily Life and.
Cut Bank River.
Cutting rawhide for Medicine Lodge.
Cypress Mountains.
Daily Life and Customs.
Dance, medicine pipe.
  young women's.
Dawson, Mrs. Thomas, xiv.
Dead return to life.
Death, origin of.
Deer, how taken.
Deer Lodge.
Diseases introduced by whites.
Dog and the Stick, The.
Dogs beasts of burden, _et seq_.
  killed at grave.
  not eaten.
Dogs Naked.
Don't Laugh band.
Double Runner, vii, xv.
Dream helper, _et seq_.
  originates war party.
  person, _et seq_.
Dreaming for power, _et seq_.
Dreams, 3 _et seq_..
  belief in.
Dried meat.
Dried Meat (gens).
Duties of first wife.
Eagle catching.
Early Finished Eating.
  wars bloodless.
Eggs of waterfowl, how cooked.
E-kus'-kini, _et seq_.
Elbow river.
Elk, how taken.
Elkhorn arrow.
Elk River.
Everyday life, _et seq_.
Family names.
Fast of Medicine Lodge woman.
Fast Runners, The.
Fat Roasters.
Feast, invitations to.
Feasting in the camps.
Fighting between Bloods and Piegans.
Fire, how obtained.
First killing in war.
  medicine pipe.
  shelter to sleep under.
  stone knives.
Fish spears,
Flat Bows,
Flesh of animals eaten,
Fleshers, how made,
Flint and steel,
Food of war party,
_Forest and Stream_,
Fort Conrad,
Four Bears,
Fox, The,
Fungus for punk,
Fur animals, how caught,
Future life,

Game, hidden,
  in Blackfoot country,
Game played by prairie dogs,
Genesis, The Blackfoot,
Gentes of the Blackfeet,
  now extinct,
  Woman, Heavy Collar and The,
Ghosts' Buffalo, The,
Ghosts, camp of the,
Girls, carefully guarded,
  outfit for marriage,
Girl stolen,
Gown of women,
Grease on red willow bark,
Great Bear (constellation),
Grizzly Bear,
Grooved arrow shafts,
Gros Ventres,
Ground Man,
Ground Man (of Cheyennes),
Ground Persons,

Hair, care of,
  mode of wearing,
Handles of knives,
Hats of antelope skin,
Head chief, how chosen,
Heavy Collar,
  and the Ghost Woman,
Help from animals,
Hill where Old Man sleeps,
Horned toad,
Horses cause of war,
  killed at grave,
  when obtained,
How the Blackfoot lived,
  alone punished,
Husband's personal rights in wife,
  power over wife,
  property rights in wife,

  origin of,
Implements of the dead,
  made of buffalo hide,
Indian a man,
  sign language,
Indians and their Stories,
  general ignorance about,
Infants lost,
Invitation to feasts,
"It fell on them" creek,

Jackson, William,

Kettles of stone,
Kill Close By,
Kipp, Joseph,
Kit-fox (society),
Knives of stone,

Ladles of horn,
  of wood,
_Lari p[=u]k'[=u]s_
Lesser Slave Lake,
Life among the Blackfeet,
Little Birds,
Little Blackfoot,
"Little Slaves,"
Lodge for dreaming,
  of stone,
Lodges, ancient,
  how made,
  decoration of,
  of chiefs of the _I-kun-uk'-kak-tsi,_
Lone Eaters,
  Medicine Person,
Long Tail Lodge Poles,
Lost Children, The,
Lost Woman, The,
Low Horn,

Mad Wolf,
Maker, the,
Many Children,
  Lodge Poles,
March of the camp,
  of war party,
Marriage, girl's outfit for,
  how arranged,
  of important people,
  poorer people,
  prerequisites for,
  prohibited within gens,
Material advancement,
  how made,
Medicine leggings,
Medicine Lodge, the,
  Pipes and Healing,
  rock of the Marias,
Miles, General,
Milk River,
Missouri River,
Monroe, Hugh,
Morning Star,
Mother-in-law, meeting,
  not to be spoken to,
Mountains created,
  for the dead,
Muddy River,
Murder, penalty for
Musselshell River,

Name, changing,
  unwillingness to speak,
New Mexico,
Night red light,
No parfleche,
North Bloods,
North, Major,
North Saskatchewan River,
Northwest Territories,
Number of wives,

Oath, Indian,
Obstinate (gens),
Office not hereditary,
Old Man,
  and the Lynx,
  character of,
  disappearance of,
  known to other tribes,
  makes first weapons,
  makes fire sticks,
  sleeps, hill where,
  Stories of,
Old Man's predictions,
  Sliding Ground,
Origin of the _I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi_,
  medicine pipe,
  worm pipe,
Orpheus and Eurydice,
Other game,
Owl Bear,
Owls ghosts of medicine men,
Owner's seat in lodge,

Parfleche soles of moccasins,
Past and the Present, The,
Pawnee _coups_,
  Hero Stories and Folk Tales,
Peace with Gros Ventres broken,
  the Snakes, The,
Penalty for adultery,
  for cowardice,
  for murder,
  for theft,
  for treachery,
Pend d'Oreille,
People created,
Physical characteristics,
Pictographs of _coups_,
_Pi-n[)u]t-u'-ye is-tsim'-o-kan_,
Pipe dance, medicine,
  of the Soldier Society,
Pipes, material of,
  etymology of,
  bringing buffalo to,
  how constructed,
  of the Blackfeet,
  of the Crees,
  of the Sik'-si-kau,
Places chosen for dreaming,
Plants, medical properties of,
Plunder from the south,
_Pomme blanche_,
Power, dreaming for,
  of herbs,
  to bring on storms,
Powers, animal,
  in sweat house,
  to the Thunder,
Preparations for burial,
  for dreaming,
  for the attack,
  for war parties,
Presents to husband from father-in-law,
  to the sun,
Product of the buffalo,
Property buried with dead,
  of Brave Society,
  of deceased, disposition of,
_Psoralea esculenta_,
Punishment for hunting alone,
  for infidelity,
  for stealing tobacco,
Purification by smoke,

Quarrels between the three tribes,

Rabid Wolf,
Rabies, cure for,
Race, the,
Raven Band of the _I-k[)u]n-uh'-kah-tsi_,
Red Deer's River,
  Old Man,
  River half-breeds,
  Round Robes,
River, Badger,
  North Saskatchewan,
  Old Man's,
  Red Deer's,
  St. Mary's,
Roasting meat,
Rock, The,
Ross, Miss Cora M.,
Running Rabbit,
Russell, William,

Sacred bundles, where kept,
Sacred objects,
  things connected with eagle catching,
Sacrifices to sun,
  of war party,
Sand Hills,
Sarvis berries,
  Berry Creek,
Saskatchewan River,
Saskatoon Creek,
Schultz, J.W.,
Scout of war party,
Screech Owl,
Seats in lodge,
Secret helper,
Seeking the Sun's Lodge,
  Thunder's Lodge,
Seldom Lonesome,
Self-torturings in Medicine Lodge,
Seven Persons,
Seven Persons Creek,
Shelter for war party,
  to sleep under,
_Shepherdia argentea_,
Short Bows,
Sign language,
Signs and powers of animals,
_Siks-in'-o-kaks_ (Blackfoot),
"Sits beside him" woman,
Skidi tribe,
Skull taken into eagle pit,
Sleeping for power,
Small Brittle Fat,
Small Leggings,
Smell of a person,
Smoking, rules in,
Snakes (tribe),
  Peace with, The,
Social organization,
Societies of the All Comrades,
Song, antelope,
  war party,
_Spai'-yu ksah'-ku_,
Spanish lands,
Spear heads,
Sports of children,
  of adults,
Spotted Tail's camp,
St. Mary's River,
Starvation winter,
Steell, Major,
Stolen by the Thunder,
Stone bowls,
  pointed arrows,
Stories of Adventure,
  of Ancient Times,
  of Old Man,
Story of the Three Tribes, The,
Struck by the Thunder,
Suicide among girls,
Sun dogs,
Sun River,
Sun's Lodge,
Sun's Lodge, seeking the,
Surrounding buffalo,
Sweat bath,
Sweat lodge,
  houses for Medicine Lodge,
Sweet Grass Hills,
Swindling the Indians,

Taking horses,
Teton River,
The Bad Weapons,
  Beaver Medicine,
  Blackfoot Genesis,
  Blackfoot in War,
  Buffalo Rock,
  Dog and the Stick,
  Ghosts' Buffalo,
  Past and the Present,
  Theft from the Sun,
  Wonderful Bird,
Theft from the Sun, The,
  penalty for,
They Don't Laugh,
Things sacred to the Sun,
Three Tribes, The Story of,
  brings the rain,
  steals women,
Tobacco, Indians',
Tobacco thief punished,
Tongues for Medicine Lodge,
Touchwood Hills,
Training of children,
Transmigration of souls,
Trapping wolves,
Treachery, penalty for,
Treatment of dead enemies,
  of women,
Trial by jumping,
Trivett, Rev. S.,
Two Medicine (Lodge Creek),
  War Trails,

Under Water People,
Uses of buffalo products,

Version of the origin of death,
Visitor's seat in lodge,

War bonnet,
  bonnet of Bulls Society,
  clubs, how made,
  journeys, duration of,
  journeys to the southwest,
  lodges, how built,
  with the Gros Ventres,
War parties,
Warrior's outfit, contributions to,
Whiskey trading,
White beaver,
Wife, standing of,
  duties of first,
  The Bad,
Wind Maker,
Wolf Calf,
  Man, The,
Wolves, rabid,
Woman doctors,
Woman, standing of,
  The Lost,
Woman's dress,
  seat in lodge,
Wonderful Bird, The,
Wood for bows,
Woods Bloods,
Worm People,

Yellowstone River,
Young Bear Chief,
  women's dance,
Younger sisters potential wives,


Although GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL (1849-1938) won distinction as an
ethnologist, author, editor, and explorer, perhaps his most enduring
achievement was that cited by President Coolidge when he presented the
Theodore Roosevelt Gold Medal of Honor to Grinnell in 1925: "Few have done
as much as you, and none has done more, to preserve vast areas of
picturesque wilderness for the eyes of posterity...."  It was largely
thanks to Grinnell that Glacier National Park was created, and in
Yellowstone Park, as the President said, he "prevented the exploitation and
therefore the destruction of the natural beauty."  Grinnell was a member of
the Marsh, Custer, and Ludlow expeditions in the 1870's, and during those
years prepared reports on birds and mammals of the northwestern Great
Plains region which are still authoritative. From those years, also, dates
his interest in the Indians, particularly the Pawnee, Blackfoot, and
Cheyenne. Among the score of books resulting from his lifelong study of the
Plains tribes, _The Fighting Cheyenne_ (1915) and _The Cheyenne Indians_
(1923), _Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales_ (1889), and BLACKFOOT LODGE
TALES (1892) are perhaps the best known. A friend of the famed North
brothers, who commanded the Pawnee Scouts, Grinnell encouraged Captain
Luther North to set down his recollections, and contributed a foreword to
the book. Titled _Man of the Plains_, this work was published for the first
time in its entirety by the University of Nebraska Press (1961).

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