An old woman had a married daughter. Both the husband and wife died,
and then their only son lived with his grandmother. The other people
in the camp said, "You two, go away, we don't want you here." They
moved away. When ever they were hungry, the boy went out to hunt.
The other people were starving. One man said, "The poor boy has lots
of food." Then they went and stole his meat. The old woman cried.
Her grandson said, "Don't cry, we'll get some more food." He went
out again, and killed plenty of game. Seeing what a good hunter he
was, the chief gave him his daughter in marriage. Once the boy
killed a big moose. The people went for the meat. The boy put the
blood in a bag, and his wife put it on her back. The boy walked
behind, and pierced the bag with a pointed stick. "You are losing
all the blood," he said to his wife. She said she would wash as soon
as they got home.
The orphan grew taller and taller all the time. The people did not
know how to kill game. The orphan was the first to make a
buffalo-pound. By sweating, he made himself handsome. All the women
There was once an orphan boy, whom no one cared for. He stayed with
his grandmother at some distance from the camp. One man asked him,
"How do you get so fat? Where do you get food from ?" "My
grand-mother has plenty of food." The man went to the boy's lodge,
and, finding plenty of food, stole it. The old woman cried. The boy
said, "Don't cry, we'll get more food. In the morning we shall find
moose and buffalo meat." They went to sleep. The next morning, there
was moose and buffalo meat in their lodge. The orphan said, "Don't
go near their camp, those people don't like us." The people said,
"Sore-Belly is fat again, they must have some food." Sore-Belly knew
they were going to steal the meat. He went home. When the men tried
to steal his meat, he seized them by the wrist and broke their arms.b2
The chief saw that he was strong and gave him his daughter for a
wife. The boy was very ugly. The chief ordered the couple to make a
sweat-lodge. "What kind of a young man would you like for a
husband?" the boy asked his wife. "A handsome young man." Then
Teze'xnin went inside and sweated, while his wife waited outside. At
last he told her to open the door, and came out as a handsome youth.b3
No one liked
eze'xnin, because he was ugly. The chief had a pretty daughter as
yet unknown to any man. The boy was watching her. Uno die puellam
mingentem conspexit. Quod cum vidisset, puer eodem loco minxit. Quo
facto puella gravida facta est. Pater eam interrogavit,"Quis te
gravidam fecit?" "Nescio" respondit. A child was born. The chief
summoned all the young men to his lodge. All came readily, except
Teze'xnin, who was the last to arrive. "Let each of you take the
child," said the chief, "whoever is wetted by it, shall be
recognized as its father." The child was handed to everyone present,
but did not wet any of them. At last the chief said, "Give it to
Teze'xnin." The child urinated on him, and the chief decided that he
was the baby's father. The girl did not like him. Sore-Belly asked,
"What sort of a looking young man would you like to have?" "I want a
nice young man with a light complexion and reddish (sic) hair." The
boy asked his grandmother to erect a sweat-lodge. He went in four
times, then he re-appeared as just the kind of man his wife desired.
An old woman was scraping a moose-skin. She piled up the scrapings
in a heap and put them in a pail, which she hung up. She went out to
fetch wood. When she returned, she heard a child crying. The
scrapings had turned into a boy. The woman was very glad, and made a
bed of moss for him. Having no milk, she brought him up on soup. He
grew every night. After four days he was as large as a fourteen year
The chief had a daughter, who refused to marry. (The boy hero causes
this girl to conceive in the way described in the preceding
version). When she had borne a son, her father summoned all the
young men and declared that the one wetted by the infant would be
recognized as its father. The child was handed from one man to
another, but did not urinate on anyone. One man, Hog, drank some
water, spat it out on himself and pretended to have been wetted by
the child, but the people had noticed what he had done. At last the
child urinated twice on the old woman's ward, and the poor boy was
accordingly recognized as its father.
The chief was displeased with his son-in-law, and disowned both him
and his daughter. It was in the winter. He ordered that both, as
well as the boy's foster-grandmother, be tied up, and moved camp.
The old woman had a little dog. When the people had gone, she asked
the dog to untie them, and it freed them all. Then the boy asked the
two women to pick up rags of blankets and strips of buckskin. He
ordered his wife to erect a sweat-lodge, and went in to sing. Out of
the rags he made buckskin robes and handed them outside, then he
shut the door again. After a while he produced a fine white blanket.
Then he transformed himself into a handsome young man. His wife was
now very fond of him. He made many arrows and went out to hunt. The
moose ran away, but he turned into a moose and killed many of them.
They had plenty of meat now, and were very rich. They lived in the
woods for a long time.d1
Two girls were playing together. A poor orphan boy wished to join
them, but they would not let him. When they walked away, he followed
them. Then they told him to go away and play by himself. The boy
went to his grandmother. "Grandmother, make some nice things for me,
those girls have abused me." She made him a new pair of leggings and
In the night he went to the girl's lodge, but they cried, "Go away,
you stinking one."
After a while there was a famine, but the boy continued to kill
game. Then one of the girls thought she had better marry the boy,
seeing that he was such a good hunter. She went to his grandmother,
and said, "I will stay with your grandson." "Well, you will never be
hungry if you marry that boy." The girl arranged her bed in the
boy's tent. When the boy came in, he was a little shy at first.
"Here is your wife," said his grandmother, The boy said, "You called
me 'stinking one,' why do you come here?" The girl began to cry, The
boy said, "Before taking you to wife, I shall go somewhere." He set
out, and killed two moose. After traveling for two days, he met some
people who were nearly starved. They asked him where he came from.
"A two day's journey from here; you'll starve if you don't come
along with me." The chief said, "The boy has plenty to eat, let us
go with him." They went with him. The boy killed plenty of moose and
elk, and distributed meat among all the people. His name was
Sore-Belly said to the people, "If I kill any game, don't step over
the meat." Once the people transgressed the taboo, and all the moose
ran away to the south. The boy went out several times without
killing any game. One night he did not return. His wife tracked him
a whole day without finding him. At last, he returned after five
days' absence, and brought back all the moose. They liked him; he
used to dream of them.
After a while some one again stepped over some moose meat. Teze'xnin
said, "Someone has stepped over some meat again, the moose are going
away." His wife asked, "Which way did they go?" "Northward." After a
while she got hungry and asked her husband to hunt moose. He said,
"If I go, I'll never come back, you'll never see me again." She
replied, "If you let me die, I'll never see you either." The boy
started out for the moose. His wife tracked him, but could not find
him and returned home. The old grandmother asked, "Where is your
husband?" "He is far away, I could not find any man's footprints,
but only moose tracks." The boy never returned, he turned into a
moose. Then the people had to live on rabbits and gophers, until
they found buffalo.
a.1 A Teton folk-tale recorded by
Curtis, III, pp. 111-118, is largely based on the Poor Boy motive.
An old woman, whose people are expropriated by Waziya, clandestinely
obtains a clot of blood, which develops into a mysterious boy.
Bloodclot sets out to win the chief's daughter by shooting a red
eagle and red fox, but is met by Iktomi, who makes him stick to a
tree, returns clad in his garments, and in the guise of the hero
marries the older daughter. Bloodclot is freed from his position on
the tree by an old woman who brings him up with her grandson. He
destroys Waziya, and as a reward receives the chief's younger
daughter for his wife, but is despised by his sister-in-law on
account of his assumed ugliness. He shoots the fox and the red
eagle. The latter flies home and is to be doctored, but Bloodclot
intercepts the physician, learns his secrets, lays him low, plays
his part, and kills the bird. He bathes, becomes transformed into a
handsome boy, and is recognized as the wonder-worker he is, while
Iktomi is obliged to seek safety in flight. The haughty
sister-in-law now makes advances, which, however, are spurned by the
a.2 Literally, Sore-Belly. Elements of this myth
occur in Petitot's collection, pp. 447-449 (Cree).
b.2 This incident is told of Crow-Head, a mythic
hero of the Chipewyan of Lake Athabaska.
b.3 For the deformed transformed motive, cf.
Kroeber, (e), p. 81 (Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 348
(Arapaho); Kroeber (d), p. 171; Curtis, III, p. 117 (Dakota); J. 0.
Dorsey, (d), p. 606 (Omaha); Schoolcraft, p. 72 (Ojibwa).
c.1 This tale was recorded by Mr. Alanson Skinner
among the Cree of James Bay.
d.1 This version rather closely resembles a
Kootenay tale (Boas, Einige Sagen der Kootenay,
Verhandlungen der Berliner anthropologischen Gesellschaft, 1891. p.
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