Tales of the North American Indians
Once there was an old man and woman whose three daughters married a young man. The old people lived in a lodge by themselves. The young man was supposed to hunt buffalo, and feed them all. Early in the morning the young man invited his father-in-law to go out with him to kill buffalo. The old man was then directed to drive the buffalo through a gap where the young man stationed himself to kill them as they went by. As soon as the buffalo were killed, the young man requested his father-in-law to go home. He said, “You are old. You need not stay here. Your daughters can bring you some meat.” Now the young man lied to his father-in-law; for when the meat was brought to his lodge, he ordered his wives not to give meat to the old folks. Yet one of the daughters took pity on her parents, and stole meat for them. The way in which she did this was to take a piece of meat in her robe, and as she went for water drop it in front of her father’s lodge.
Now every morning the young man invited his father-in-law to hunt buffalo; and, as before, sent him away and refused to permit his daughters to furnish meat for the old people. On the fourth day, as the old man was returning, he saw a clot of blood in the trail, and said to himself, “Here at least is something from which we can make soup.” In order that he might not be seen by his son-in-law, he stumbled, and spilt the arrows out of his quiver. Now, as he picked up the arrows, he put the clot of blood into the quiver. Just then the young man came up and demanded to know what it was he picked up. The old man explained that he had just stumbled, and was picking up his arrows. So the old man took the clot of blood home and requested his wife to make blood-soup. When the pot began to boil, the old woman heard a child crying. She looked all around, but saw nothing. Then she heard it again. This time it seemed to be in the pot. She looked in quickly, and saw a boy baby: so she lifted the pot from the fire, took the baby out and wrapped it up.
Now the young man, sitting in his lodge, heard a baby crying, and said, “Well, the old woman must have a baby.” Then he sent his oldest wife over to see the old woman’s baby, saying, “If it is a boy, I will kill it.” The woman came into look at the baby, but the old woman told her it was a girl. When the young man heard this, he did not believe it. So he sent each wife in turn; but they all came back with the same report. Now the young man was greatly pleased, because he could look forward to another wife. So he sent over some old bones, that soup might be made for the baby. Now, all this happened in the morning. That night the baby spoke to the old man, saying, “You take me up and hold me against each lodge-pole in succession.” So the old man took up the baby, and, beginning at the door, went around in the direction of the sun, and each time that he touched a pole the baby became larger. When halfway around, the baby was so heavy that the old man could hold him no longer. So he put the baby down in the middle of the lodge, and, taking hold of his head, moved it toward each of the poles in succession, and, when the last pole was reached, the baby had become a very fine young man. Then this young man went out, got some black flint [obsidian] and, when he got to the lodge, he said to the old man, “I am the Smoking-Star. I came down to help you. When I have done this, I shall return.”
Now, when morning came, Blood-Clot (the name his father gave him) arose and took his father out to hunt. They had not gone very far when they killed a scabby cow. Then Blood-Clot lay down behind the cow and requested his father to wait until the son-in-law came to join him. He also requested that he stand his ground and talk back to the son-in-law. Now, at the usual time in the morning, the son-in-law called at the lodge of the old man, but was told that he had gone out to hunt. This made him very angry, and he struck at the old woman, saying, “I have a notion to kill you.” So the son-in-law went out.
Now Blood-Clot had directed his father to be eating a kidney when the son-in-law approached. When the son-in-law came up and saw all this, he was very angry. He said to the old man, “Now you shall die for all this.” “Well,” said the old man, “you must die too, for all that you have done.” Then the son in-law began to shoot arrows at the old man, and the latter becoming frightened called on Blood-Clot for help. Then Blood-Clot sprang up and upbraided the son-in-law for his cruelty. “Oh,” said the son-in-law, “I was just fooling.” At this Blood-Clot shot the son-in-law through and through. Then Blood-Clot said to his father, “We will leave this meat here: it is not good. Your son-in-law’s house is full of dried meat. Which one of your daughters helped you?” The old man told him that it was the youngest. Then Blood-Clot went to the lodge, killed the two older women, brought up the body of the son-in-law, and burned them together. Then he requested the younger daughter to take care of her old parents, to be kind to them, etc. “Now,” said Blood-Clot, “I shall go to visit the other Indians.”
So he started out, and finally came to a camp. He went into the lodge of some old women, who were very much surprised to see such a fine young man. They said, “Why do you come here among such old women as we? Why don’t you go where there are young people?” “Well,” said Blood-Clot, “give me some dried meat.” Then the old women gave him some meat, but no fat. “Well,” said Blood-Clot, “you did not give me the fat to eat with my dried meat.” “Hush!” said the old women. “You must not speak so loud. There are bears here that take all the fat and give us the lean, and they will kill you, if they hear you.” “Well,” said Blood-Clot, “I will go out to-morrow, do some butchering, and get some fat.” Then he went out through the camp, telling all the people to make ready in the morning, for he intended to drive the buffalo over [the drive].
Now there were some bears who ruled over this camp. They lived in a bear-lodge [painted lodge], and were very cruel. When Blood-Clot had driven the buffalo over, he noticed among them a scabby cow. He said, “I shall save this for the old women.” Then the people laughed, and said, “Do you mean to save that poor old beast? It is too poor to have fat.” However, when it was cut open it was found to be very fat. Now, when the bears heard the buffalo go over the drive, they as usual sent out two bears to cut off the best meat, especially all the fat; but Blood-Clot had already butchered the buffalo, putting the fat upon sticks. He hid it as the bears came up. Also he had heated some stones in a fire. When they told him what they wanted, he ordered them to go back. Now the bears were very angry, and the chief bear and his wife came up to fight, but Blood-Clot killed them by throwing hot stones down their throats.
Then he went down to the lodge of the bears and killed all, except one female who was about to become a mother. She pleaded so pitifully for her life, that he spared her. If he had not done this, there would have been no more bears in the world. The lodge of the bears was filled with dried meat and other property. Also all the young women of the camp were confined there. Blood-Clot gave all the property to the old women, and set free all the young women. The bears’ lodge he gave to the old women. It was a bear painted lodge.
“Now,” said Blood-Clot, “I must go on my travels.” He came to a camp and entered the lodge of some old women. When these women saw what a fine young man he was, they said, “Why do you come here, among such old women? Why do you not go where there are younger people?” “Well,” said he, “give me some meat.” The old women gave him some dried meat, but no fat. Then he said, “Why do you not give me some fat with my meat?” “Hush!” said the women, “you must not speak so loud. There is a snake-lodge [painted lodge] here, and the snakes take everything. They leave no fat for the people.” “Well,” said Blood-Clot, “I will go over to the snake-lodge to eat.” “No, you must not do that,” said the old women. “It is dangerous. They will surely kill you.” “Well,” said he, “I must have some fat with my meat, even if they do kill me.”
Then he entered the snake-lodge. He had his white rock knife ready. Now the snake, who was the head man in this lodge, had one horn on his head. He was lying with his head in the lap of a beautiful woman. He was asleep. By the fire was a bowl of berry-soup ready for the snake when he should wake. Blood-Clot seized the bowl and drank the soup. Then the women warned him in whispers, “You must go away: you must not stay here.” But he said, “I want to smoke.” So he took out his knife and cut off the head of the snake, saying as he did so, “Wake up! light a pipe! I want to smoke.” Then with his knife he began to kill all the snakes. At last there was one snake who was about to become a mother, and she pleaded so pitifully for her life that she was allowed to go. From her descended all the snakes that are in the world. Now the lodge of the snakes was filled up with dried meat of every kind, fat, etc. Blood-Clot turned all this over to the people, the lodge and everything it contained. Then he said, “I must go away and visit other people.”
So he started out. Some old women advised him to keep on the south side of the road, because it was dangerous the other way. But Blood-Clot paid no attention to their warning. As he was going along, a great windstorm struck him and at last carried him into the mouth of a great fish. This was a sucker-fish and the wind was its sucking. When he got into the stomach of the fish, he saw a great many people. Many of them were dead, but some were still alive. He said to the people, “Ah, there must be a heart somewhere here. We will have a dance.” So he painted his face white, his eyes and mouth with black circles, and tied a white rock knife on his head, so that the point stuck up. Some rattles made of hoofs were also brought. Then the people started in to dance. For a while Blood-Clot sat making wing-motions with his hands, and singing songs. Then he stood up and danced, jumping up and down until the knife on his head struck the heart. Then he cut the heart down. Next he cut through between the ribs of the fish, and let all the people out.
Again Blood-Clot said he must go on his travels. Before starting, the people warned him, saying that after a while he would see a woman who was always challenging people to wrestle with her, but that he must not speak to her. He gave no heed to what they said, and, after he had gone a little way, he saw a woman who called him to come over. “No,” said Blood-Clot. “I am in a hurry.” However, at the fourth time the woman asked him to come over, he said, “Yes, but you must wait a little while, for I am tired. I wish to rest. When I have rested, I will come over and wrestle with you.” Now, while he was resting, he saw many large knives sticking up from the ground almost hidden by straw. Then he knew that the woman killed the people she wrestled with by throwing them down on the knives. When he was rested, he went over. The woman asked him to stand up in the place where he had seen the knives; but he said, “No, I am not quite ready. Let us play a little, before we begin.” So he began to play with the woman, but quickly caught hold of her, threw her upon the knives, and cut her in two.
Blood-Clot took up his travels again, and after a while came to a camp where there were some old women. The old women told him that a little farther on he would come to a woman with a swing, but on no account must he ride with her. After a time he came to a place where he saw a swing on the bank of a swift stream. There was a woman swinging on it. He watched her a while, and saw that she killed people by swinging them out and dropping them into the water. When he found this out, he came up to the woman. “You have a swing here; let me see you swing,” he said. “No,” said the woman, “I want to see you swing.” “Well,” said Blood-Clot, “but you must swing first” “Well,”‘ said the woman, “Now I shall swing. Watch me. Then I shall see you do it.” So the woman swung out over the stream. As she did this, he saw how it worked. Then he said to the woman, “You swing again while I am getting ready”; but as the woman swung out this time, he cut the vine and let her drop into the water. This happened on Cut Bank Creek.
“Now,” said Blood-Clot, “I have rid the world of all the monsters, I will go back to my old father and mother.” So he climbed a high ridge, and returned to the lodge of the old couple. One day he said to them, “I shall go back to the place from whence I came. If you find that I have been killed, you must not be sorry, for then I shall go up into the sky and become the Smoking-Star.” Then he went on and on, until he was killed by some Crow Indians on the war-path. His body was never found; but the moment he was killed, the Smoking-Star appeared in the sky, where we see it now.