Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

The Giants


Seven young men were living together in a lodge. One day all of them went out in search of game. While they were resting near a hill, one of them went over the hill and did not return. Another went after him, and also disappeared. A third man went to look for his lost companions, but did not come back. Then the fourth youth said, "I am going to look; if anyone has killed them, I will kill him." So he went to the summit, and there he beheld some shining object on a high cut-bank. He could not resist, but was drawn on by the reflection. Though he sat down and tried to hold himself down by the grass, the reflection pulled him along, the faster the nearer he got. At last he bumped against something. It was a spear, which caught him by his clothes. There he hung until a very large man came along the coulee, packing something on his back. When close to his captive he said, "My spear does good work for me, it has killed another man for me, I'll take him home." He tried to release the impaled youth, but his prisoner clung tight, so the giant took a club to maul his head. The young man said, "Nor you will spoil him by shedding his blood." The giant said, "That is so, I did not think of that." So he plucked out the spear with his prisoner and wrapped him up in a blanket in order to suffocate him. But the man said, "No, let him thrust his head outside, so the people can look at him alive." So the giant carried him on his back. In passing through a forest, the captive seized the limb of a tree, hung to it, and then suddenly let it go. He did this several times, and each time the giant thought he had got caught in a tree.

It was getting late. The captive said, "Let this animal rest here, you are tired. Hang him upon a tree and get him tomorrow." "Yes, I did not think of that." The giant followed his prisoner's directions and set him on a tree. As soon as he was gone, the youth unwrapped himself, covered a log with the blanket, and put dirt and rotten wood inside the covering. He also took the spear and sat down near the top of the tree. The next day the giant came after him, accompanied by his wife and child. The woman picked up wood and built a fire. When the fire was started, the giant reached for the blanket, chopped up the log, and threw it into a pot of boiling water. The foam rose and was taken for grease, which the cannibals rubbed on their lips. They began to eat the rotten wood. Suddenly the young man cried, "Are you not going to take the man down?" The giant said, "That's the man I put up there.' The youth said, "You must look at your man, or he will fly away." He threw a handful of mud into the giant's eyes, so he could not see. Then he seized the spear, and stabbed him. The giant fell to the ground. His wife laughed. She asked her son, "What shall we do? Let us go home and have the other people decide what to do." They went home. The giant rose with the spear sticking in his head, and followed. When he reached his lodge, they unpinned the front of the cover, so that he was able to enter with his spear. The wise men of the tribe called to cure him, but no one knew how to remove the barbed spear.

At last one man said, "Call Inkton'mi, he seems to know everything." So they called him. The chief said, "You are wise, examine this man, and save him." Inkton'mi went into the lodge, and looked at him. His wife told him what had happened. He said, "You should have called me immediately. You may still save him, but there is only one way. Get a small hatchet, lay him flat on his back, and drive pegs through his feet so he won't slide. If one of you says, 'Hit him hard,' you will kill him. Knock the spear through his anus." He went out. He knew the patient had a good horse. While he was gone, one giant drove the spear in, killing the patient. After a while Inkton'mi came back. He said, "Why did you not drive it all in and pull it out of his anus? You have killed him by not obeying me, and I shall kill you." The people began to coax him, and gave him the giant's best horse. While leading it off, Inkton'mi said, "I don't care how many giants are killed, provided I get a horse."

Late that evening, the young man descended from the tree and walked towards the giants' camp. When it was quite dark, he arrived there. He walked on, listening carefully. In one lodge he heard many girls playing. Approaching from the rear, he cut a hole in the tipi-cover, and saw a woman. Erectam mentulam in tentorii orificium inseruit. The inmates of the lodge all smelt something. "Something has peeped in that smells like a ruminant (ta)." All went out. The young man ran away, pursued by the women. He stopped at one lodge, peeped in, and found a giantess with her child. He entered and sat beside her. She said, "Here is a ruminant," and looked for her ax, but he said, "No, I am your brother." She believed him, opened a buffalo parfleche, and, taking out wild turnips and sarvis berries, cooked a soup and served it to her visitor, calling him her brother. In the evening. her husband came home, unsaddled 'his horse, and made a noise, "Oh!" showing how tired he was. "Here's a ruminant for me," he said, when he saw the youth. "No, that's my brother." The giant recognized him as his brother-in-law, pulled out flannel, a white blanket, a new muzzle-loader, a bow and arrows, and presented them to his visitor. The young man made himself leggings of the flannel, and a white coat of his blanket. Then he went to stand outside the lodge. Inkton'mi, hearing about him, came and said, "Brother, come to my lodge." Then every one said he was Inkton'mi's brother. Inkton'mi gave him the dead giant's horse, some white blankets, and a new muzzle-loader, and bade him stay with him for some time. The youth remained there for a few days, then he returned to his "sister." The "sister" told him he had better go away, as the giants might kill him. If he went, she would get him food for the journey. So she prepared some corn, both loose and on the cob, and got him pemmican and other victuals. Inkton'mi said, "Brother, when you leave the camp, don't look back until you have passed to the other side of the hill." The young man went, but he thought he would look back anyway. But as soon as he turned around, something drew him back to the camp he had left. His "sister" said, "You were told not to turn back. Eat some corn when you start again, but don't look back." He obeyed this time, and did not turn around until he had crossed the hill. He got to the place he had started from. He found his three lost brothers there, and told them his story.

The Old Husband And The Young Lover

An old woman's grandson desired to steal the youngest of another mans four wives. The old man was a great dreamer. The boy went to his camp at night and eloped with the woman coveted. The husband dreamt what was happening, woke up, and gave chase. When he got close to the fugitives, they suddenly disappeared, having changed into ants. After looking for them everywhere, the old man went home. When asleep, he again saw them walking, woke up, and pursued them. They disappeared, changing into tall grass. The next time they turned into cottonwoods. When the old man could not find them, he went home again. The lovers went to their old grandmother. the boy was combing his mistress's hair. When the old man saw this in a dream, he was furious and gave chase once more. They fled. Before going, the youth gave his grandmother some tobacco, bidding her offer it to the old man. When the cuckold arrived, she offered him the tobacco, and while pursuing the lovers he smoked it. For a month he pursued them without overtaking them. The young man, in the mean time, found many horses and made many fine things. He killed a porcupine and ordered his wife to make porcupine garments. Out of the animal's skull-bones he made himself a pipe. One day they heard the sound of shooting and moved towards the marksman, but could not find him. The next morning the boy said, "It is your brother. I have dreamt of him, and we shall see him." They moved camp and found the woman's brother by a lake. The boy lent his brother-in-law a horse, and the latter went to his camp and told the people whom he had met. He returned, saying, "That old man is there, he may kill you." Nevertheless, they accompanied him to the camp, and the woman went to her father's lodge.

The old husband invited both the elopers to his tent, but only his rival went there. He wore his porcupine clothing. The old man filled his pipe, and they smoked. The old man thought he would kill his rival while asleep, but the young man had mysterious power and knew his thoughts. Finally, the old husband said, "I shall give you plenty of food, but if you don't eat it all up, I will kill you." He gathered plenty of food, cooked it, and set it before his guest. All his friends were there, while his opponent only had his brother-in-law with him. "To-day we will have a hot sun," said the youth, snatching up his porcupine garments. Before beginning to eat, he smoked his porcupine pipe. Then he went outside and called all the animals to come in and eat. A big bear, a mountain-lion, a wolf, a coyote and a lynx came into the lodge: The old man was terrified. They ate up all the food and walked out again. Then the youth caught the sunbeams and pulled them down' like a rope. It was getting hotter all the time. The old man was perspiring. He jumped into, the water, but it was boiling hot. The youth told his wife and her brother to put on porcupine clothes. Thus they escaped injury, but the old man and his friends were all burnt up.

An old man had two wives. One of them was young and the young men were after her, so the old man watched her closely whenever she went to ease herself. One day a young man asked her to elope with him while her husband was sleeping. A big snowstorm arose, and they eloped. After a while, the storm ceased When the old man woke up, he found his wife gone. He' saw the tracks in the snow going down hill. From the hill he saw the youth hugging his wife. He was furious and pursued them, but suddenly their tracks disappeared. They had changed into icicles hanging down from a tree. After a while, they traveled on. He pursued them again, but again they turned into icicles. He walked back and saw them once more. They were camping in the brush and had made a fire. He caught up to them, took off their clothes, extinguished their fire, and left them to perish in the cold. Then he went home with their clothes. As soon as he was gone, the young man went off for a while and soon returned with plenty of clothing, which he had found on the other side of the hill. Thus they did not freeze. The old husband dreamt about his victims and saw that they were well provided with clothes. He went back and took the clothes away once more, heaping them up in a pile before his own lodge. When he woke up, the pile had turned into snow. He went back and found the fugitives clad in their own clothes again. Four times he took their garments away, and each time they recovered their clothes in the same fashion.

After four years had elapsed, the old man met the young one and challenged him to a contest. The youth invited him to his lodge. Two big wolves were guarding the door, and within there were two large bears with which the host's child was playing. The old man drew back when he saw the wolves, but at last he entered. "Sit down by my wife," said the young man, and his guest took a seat beside his former wife. He desired to go out for micturition, but was afraid of the wolves. The two men agreed to exchange lodges. The young man's child took away the wolves and bears, and then the old man occupied his rival's lodge. Thinking that he had great powers, the old man proposed a trial of strength. He put his spear in the fire. The young man said, "Bring your gun here, I should like to see it." When he had brought it, the young man broke it in two and flattened it with his hands. The old man began chewing his spear, but the young man swallowed half of it, pulled it out again, and made a pistol and bullets of it. The old man could not take out the spear he was chewing, because by his magic his opponent caused it to stick in his body. The young man went home. The old husband cried for help. When he was nearly dead, his opponent just looked at him, and he was well again and the spear came out. The old man departed, and let the young man alone for a time. After a while, he came again, seeking to kill the youth, but his opponent took two locust-tree (?) spines and, shooting them into his heart, killed him.

Lodge-Boy And Thrown-Away's Father

A man was living with his wife, who was pregnant. He had a large supply of dry meat. Once, before starting on a hunt, he said to his wife, "If you should hear someone calling you, don't listen to him. He will call you four times, but don't look at him." When he was gone, the woman heard someone calling her. The person calling finally asked, "Where is the door of your lodge?" She answered, "You know where it is." Then the man entered. She offered him food. The stranger said, "That is not the way I am used to eat. Put the food on your belly." She obeyed, and he ate from her belly.a1 Then he cut open her belly, pulled out two children from it, then ran around every lodge-post with the woman, went to the fireplace, and thence descended underground with her.

When the hunter returned, he found his twin sons crying. He called the wolves, set up a good lodge for them, and bade them guard his children while he went in pursuit of his wife. Then he ran around every lodge-post and descended through the fireplace. After a while he went above ground, and saw lots of people camping by a lake. His wife's lodge was also there. He went to an old woman's tent, and asked, "Where is my wife's lodge?" "Your wife is here, but these people are bad, they will not give her up to you. While you are sleeping, they will try to kill you by the aid of their manitous." They tried, but they could not kill him. The hunter said, "Grandmother, tell those people to let me alone." The old woman went to them and returned, saying, "These people want you to swim in the lake." They stuck a big post in the middle of the lake and told him to dive in, shake the post and return to shore. He went in, did what he was told, and returned in safety. They bade him try again. He dived, and did not come back to the surface all day. The people thought he was drowned, but in the night he returned to the old woman's lodge. She told him the people were going to cook him. He said, "When I am cooked, take all my bones with some hair, pile them up, cover them with a blanket, and cry, 'Wake up!' Then I'll wake up again." His enemies cooked him. The old woman followed his instructions. When the bones were piled up, she cried, "Grandson, you are sleeping a long time, wake up!" He stood up sound, and said, "I will tell you something. When the sun shines into the lodge, you and my wife shall hold my clothes." Then he went to his enemies' lodge. The sun shone in. The old woman and his wife held his clothes. He pulled down the sun, it grew hotter, and all his enemies were killed. He took his wife home. Their twins were beginning to run about. The woman raised them.

1 Ft. Belknap
a1 Cf. Wissler and Duvall, p. 40 (Blackfoot); Lowie, p. 280 (Shoshone); Kroeber, (e), p. 78 (Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 342 (Arapaho); Simms, p. 303 (Crow); J. 0. Dorsey, (d), p.-215 (Omaha); Lasley, p. 176 (Fox); G. A. Dorsey, (a), p. 91 (Pawnee); Id., (e) p. 91 (Wichita).

Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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