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Native American Stories : The Sharpened Leg


Tales of the North American Indians

The Sharpened Leg


There was a man whose leg was pointed, so that by running and jumping against trees he could stick in them. By saying ‘naiwatoutawa,’ he brought himself back to the ground. On a hot day he would stick himself against a tree for greater shade and coolness. However, he could not do this trick more than four times. Once while he was doing this, White-man came to him, crying, and said: “Brother, sharpen my leg!” The man replied: “That is not very hard. I can sharpen your leg.” White-man stood on a large log, and the other, with an axe, sharpened his leg, telling him to hold still bravely. The pain caused the tears to come from his eyes.
When the man had sharpened his leg, he told him to do the trick only four times a day, and to keep count in order not to exceed this number. White-man went down toward the river, singing. Near the bank was a large tree; toward this he ran, then jumped and stuck in it. Then he called himself back to the ground. Again he jumped, this time against another tree; but now he counted one, thinking in this way to get the better of the other man. The third time, he counted two. The fourth time, birds and animals stood by, and he was proud to show his ability, and jumped high, and pushed his leg in up to the knee. Then coyotes, wolves, and other animals came to see him; some of them asked how he came to know the trick, and begged him to teach it to them, so they could stick to trees at night.
He was still prouder now, and for the fifth time he ran and jumped as high as he could, and half his thigh entered the tree. Then he counted four. Then he called to get to the ground again. But he stuck. He called out all day; he tried to send the animals to the man who had taught him. He was fast in the tree for many days, until he starved to death.

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