One summer, there were three camps on the margin of a big lake, one
was Sioux, and the two others belonged to Assiniboine bands. In the
middle of the lake there was an island called "the old woman's
home." Once the weather was cloudy. It began to rain and the rolling
of thunder was heard. Suddenly a flash of lightning struck the
island and lingered there for some time. Something was drawn up from
the island. It was an animal writhing like a snake. The thunder-bird
lifted it up to the clouds until its tail disappeared amidst a peal
of thunder. While the monster was borne up, all the on-lookers had
their hair standing on end, and the manes of their horses were also
bristling up. Anything loose and light was raised in the same way.
After the thunderstorm was over, snow fell in the afternoon until it
lay knee-deep on the ground. Then all the lake dried up, and all
kinds of animals died.
(The narrator afterwards examined the site and found a
turtle-skeleton of human size and remnants of some horned animals;
the island was covered with feathers. The story-teller's aged
mother, who professes to have witnessed the encounter of the
thunder-bird with the water-monster, added some particulars. The
thunder-bird dropped his enemy three times before finally carrying
him up, and each time there dropped a blaze of fire. The snow
continued to fall for four days after the contest. A rainbow-like
reflection of red, white, and blue streaks was seen on the island,
and the clouds overhanging it were shaped like buffalo-horns
pointing towards the island.)
A man was walking high up in the mountains. He came to, Thunder's
house and saw the young bird there. "Where are your parents ?" "They
are far away, but they will soon be back." "When are they coming
back?" "It is about time for them to be home now." "I should like to
see them from near-by, hide me somewhere." The young bird hid the
man under its wing. The father came in. "Has no one been here?"
"No." "Some one must be here." "No, no one has come." "Hold up your
wings, let me look under them." The bird raised its wings. The old
Thunder saw the man and threw both him and his son out of the eyrie.
"The nest must be cleansed, it smells after a man." The mother-bird
arrived. "Where is our son?" "I have thrown him outside." The
mother-bird went out and brought him in again. The old man said,
"You have picked him up again, but you must cleanse the house."
The Women Who Married
Two women were in a tipi at night. They were not
asleep, but were looking out of the smoke-hole. The younger one said
to her sister, "I wish I could marry that fiery star. You can have
the smaller one for a husband." They could see the stars quite
close. The older girl said, "Stop talking about the stars, you are
crazy." Still the younger continued, saying, "I should like to marry
the larger star, you can have the smaller one." The next day the
camp was moved. The two girls packed their belongings in rawhide
bags and slung them on their backs with a shoulder-strap. The
younger girl's strap tore, and she was obliged to stop and mend it.
Then her sister's strap tore, and she had to fix hers. All day long
the two girls' straps tore alternately, so that they fell behind the
rest of the people. By night they had not yet caught up, and were
obliged to camp by themselves. About midnight two men came to their
lodge; one was old, the other was young. "What were you saying last
night?" asked the older of the two. The girl did not reply. He asked
her again. The fourth time she answered, "We were talking about the
stars last night." "What were you saying about the stars?" "I said I
should like to marry the bigger star, and my sister could have the
little one." "I am that bigger star, "said the old man, "you wanted
to have me, let us go home now." The stars took the girls to the
sky. The country was fine, but the girls felt lonesome. They were
digging tipsi'n roots one day. The star came over and said, "Don't
dig near those trees." When he had gone away, the younger woman saw
some roots near the trees, and said, "I'll dig the roots over
there." " Don't dig them, the star has forbidden it." The girl would
not listen, but began to dig until she had made a large hole. She
looked down, saw the earth below, and recognized her own country.
She became homesick and began to cry. The older woman asked, "What
is the matter?" '"Come here and look down." The other woman looked
down, and also fell a-crying. Spider approached them, and asked,
"What are you two crying about?" "We belong down there. Our country
is below, it is far off, and we cannot get back." "You can get back
easily; if you wish, you can return home." "Help us, and we'll be
happy." Spider tied each to a rope, and connected the two ropes with
a string. "While you descend, you must shut your eyes. If you feel
something, don't look. Only when you strike the ground, you may open
Spider began to lower them. When the feet of the younger struck
something, she opened her eyes, and both were sticking in the fork
of a cottonwood. They could not climb down in any way, and began to
A wolverine passed by. They called out to him, "Sweetheart, help
us." The wolverine answered, "If you two promise to marry me, I
shall help you." They agreed, and the wolverine took them down. They
were taken to his house, and saw many good-looking women there, but
all had one leg broken. While the wolverine was out hunting, these
women told the newcomers to run away because the wolverine would
climb up to the smoke-hole and jump down on them, breaking their
legs also, in order to prevent them from escaping. They said, "If
you see something queer while fleeing, don't touch it, but keep on
The girls fled. After four nights' running, they heard a sound, and
stopped to listen. They found a nice, fat, clean baby lying on its
back, crying. The older girl passed by without paying any attention
to it. The younger, however, turned back, saying, "Poor child, I
want to take it." Her sister warned her, but she took the infant,
and made it dance up and down. The child moved its feet, and managed
to open her dress. "Look, sister, at what the baby is doing." Again
the older warned the younger girl, but in vain. Suddenly the baby
turned into the wolverine, and threw the woman on the ground. Tunc
major natu puella fuste copulatoris dorsum verberavit. Ille "'Vehementius
verbera" inquit "ut quam pro-fundissime mentulam inserere possim."
Both girls struggled with him, and finally prevailed, killing him.
Then they went to look for their mother. They struck a river, and
saw people passing in canoes. They hailed one man, asking him to
ferry them across. He said, "My boat is not good, it is too light,
and might upset. The boat behind with a tail at the end is good."
When the boat indicated approached, they asked the man inside to
ferry them across. He stopped and allowed them to leap in, but
instead of taking them to the opposite bank he followed the course
of the other canoes. They got to a place where many people were
camping near the bank of the river. These were saying, "Old Diver (cia'ga=hell-diver?)
has brought two women." Diver pointed behind, and told the women,
"That's not my name, it's the one behind there they call Diver."
Diver camped near the rest of the people. In the night he heard the
people dancing. He ordered the women not to look at the dance,c1
when he went out to see it himself. The younger girl wished to see
it, and followed. As a result, she also became a diver. The dancers
were ducks and geese. The transformed woman returned to her sister,
and said, "Diver is ugly, let us flee." In their places they put
bees and ants, covering them up with blankets; then they ran away.
Diver came home after the dance. He called the
younger girl. "Wake up, I wish to go to bed." There was no answer.
At last he picked up a blanket, and covered himself with it. After a
while he felt the ants beginning to bite him, but thought it was
merely the girls pinching him. He moved to the older girl's couch,
and saying, "I'll sleep with both," extended his arms, as though to
embrace both women. Then the bees began to buzz, and bit his face
Diver was angry, and began to pursue the fugitives. The women got
thirsty and lay down on their bellies to drink water. Diver got into
the water, and killed them with his bow and arrows. When he got
home, the people asked, "Where are those two women?" He replied that
he had been unable to find them. After some time the people detected
the corpses. Diver feigned great grief. He stayed by a lake, and
moaned. That is why the divers make such mournful sounds to-day. He
killed an animal, cut out its guts, filled them with blood, and
carried them home. The people looking at him said, "Perhaps he will
commit suicide, he feels so lonesome." When at a distance, he
pierced the guts with an arrow. The people saw the blood oozing, and
said, "He is killing himself now."c2
Diver plunged into the water, and came up unseen near the shore of a
distant lake. But the next day he was heard saying, "I have killed
my wives myself." The people said, "He killed those two handsome
women. We shall kill him." They had a council to decide how they had
best dispatch him. They could not approach him, because he was
hiding in a large lake. At last they said, "Let Tosna' (some kind of
shell-fish) drink up all the water in the lake." Tosna'commenced to
drink, until he swelled to the size of a hill. The people said,
"Look at Tosna', he is getting big." Mninku'n (a bird) was there.
Tosna' had drunk up nearly all the water; there was just a little
left in the middle of the lake, and there Diver became visible now.
All the people tried to kill him with stones. Then Mninku'n broke
Tosna's shell. Be-fore Diver could be killed, Tosna' disgorged all
the water back into the lake, and Diver escaped.c3
2 Ft. Belknap. The idea of an
antagonism between Thunder and a water-being occurs among the
Winnebago and Iowa. J. 0. Dorsey (b), pp. 424-425. Cf. also Riggs,
p. 142 (Dakota); G. A. Dorsey, (a), p. 73 (Pawnee); Id., (e), p. 102
(Wichita). According to Mr. Skinner's field notes, the conception is
shared by the James Bay Cree.
b1 Cf. Kroeber, (e), p. 88 (Gros Ventre); J. 0.
Dorsey, (d), p. 30 (Omaha).
c1 For the following incidents, cf. Riggs, p. 149
(Dakota) and Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 272 (Arapaho).
c2 In an Albany Cree tale taken down by Mr.
Skinner, Diver, after killing his brother, resorts to the same
c3 In several respects, the Stoney version
resembles that of the Micmac. Cf. Rand, Legends of the Micmac (New
York-London, 1894) pp. 160, et seq., 306 et seq. The corresponding
Shuswap tale (Teit, p. 687) introduces the wolverine as a character,
but in a different connection, and the other incidents also differ.
The girls' cannibal husband is said, however, to cut off their feet
in order to test their fatness. The widespread initial incident is
found in Wissler and Duvall, p. 58 (Blackfoot); Kroeber, (e), p. 100
(Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 321 (Arapaho); Simms, p. 301
(Crow); Riggs, p. 90 (Dakota); G. A. Dorsey, (a), p. 60 (Pawnee);
Id., (d), p. 14 (Arikara); Id., (e), p. 298 (Wichita).
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