Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

The Wolverene and the Wolves


The Wolverene And The Wolves1

In the winter, four big wolves and a wolverene were staying on a hill. The Wolverene did not like the place, because it was too cold there. When-ever the wolves wanted fire, they piled up wood and jumped across. The Wolverene wanted to learn how to make fire. The wolves taught him, but said, "Don't play too much." The Wolverene tried the trick once, and succeeded. He liked it, went off some distance, and tried once more. He performed the trick several times as he went along. At last he came to a river covered with ice. The Wolverene got to a spot where the cover was thin and fell in. He got cold, so he piled up wood and wanted to make a fire. But he could not make one by jumping now. He looked around for some flint, but could not find any. The wolves had stolen his flint. He chased them. At last he saw their fire from the top of a hill. One wolf said, "My friend, the Wolverene is coming." The Wolverene said, "I have lost my flint." The wolves replied, "We have not seen it," but he could see that they had it. The Wolverene was so cold that he had to walk up and down continually. The wolves said, "Sit in here, we will cover you with our blanket." When he got to them they covered him with their tails and began to break wind.2 "You are breaking wind, you are causing a foul odor." "No, we did not break wind; if you don't like it here, you can go to look for fire elsewhere." The Wolverene was very angry, but he stayed with them all winter.


Long ago Skunk was larger than a horse and was able to kill anyone. He had slain many people and the survivors were fleeing from him. One old marten could not run fast enough, and pretended to be dead at Skunk's approach. "I wonder how long he has been dead," said Skunk. He put his finger in his anus and -smelt it. "He must have died to-day," he said, and went on. He met a wolverine, working by a beaver-dam. "What are you doing?" "I am trying to kill beaver; what are you looking for?" Skunk said, "You are not telling me the truth." Wolverene said, "Let us smoke together." Skunk said, "I want to smoke alone." They got angry at each other. Skunk was about to kill Wolverene with his filth, but Wolverene went close, and closed his anus so that he could not void filth. As soon as Fox saw this, he ran away and told the other people, "He cannot defecate." All ran towards Skunk, only Lynx lingered behind. "Where is Lynx? Tell him to join us in killing Skunk." Lynx came along slowly. He said, "Take him into the timber." There he climbed a tree, and, seizing Skunk with his legs while the others held him, he bit his neck through, killing him. They built a large fire and burnt up Skunk. There was lots of fat in his body. From the small spots on his corpse, there developed the skunks of to-day. That is why the skunks are small now.

The Blind Dupe4

A man was living alone with his wife and child. The other people were jealous of him, because he was the best hunter and always had the best skins. Suddenly he became blind. He taught his wife to shoot, and for a time she hunted every kind of game. Once she shot a buffalo, but pretended not to have caught any game. Then she left her husband. The blind man walked about crying. He became thirsty, and went to look for water. After groping about, he got to a lake. Here he sat down and cried. A mno'za (gull?) heard him and approached. "Where is your wife? At her lodge there is plenty of meat." The man begged to be cured of his blindness. The mno'za told him to dive three times in the lake. He dived, and after the third plunge he came out seeing as well as ever. He looked about for his wife until he found her. She had plenty of meat. He cut off her breasts, killing her, and fed the mno'za with them. Then he took his child and looked for his people. After a while he found them. He married a second time, and lived in seclusion with his wife. Once he went to fight against another tribe and was killed. His wife and child were captured. The captors ran away, but met a party of Stoneys, who were about to kill the woman, but spared her when she was heard speaking Stoney. Thus she rejoined her tribe.

The False Comrade5

After some time had elapsed, the enchanted youth's comrade said, "I am going to follow my comrade." He set out and reached the white man's house. His friend's wife came to meet him and mistook him for her husband. "Where is my comrade?" "It is yourself." "No, tell me where he is." "No, it is yourself, let us two go home and eat." She took him home, and he ate. She would not let him go, thinking he was her husband, but finally he escaped.

He got to a place where he thought his friend might be. He set down his iron dog, bidding it hunt for his lost friend. The dog searched a stable, then ran on, scented, and followed the tracks. Finally, they got to a place where two elk were lying. He thought, "This is perhaps the place, these two may have killed my friend, and I will kill them." He gave chase, following them into the brush. Suddenly it got dark. He built a fire. "Here I will sleep." Having unsaddled his horse, he covered himself up. Suddenly something was heard coming through the brush, and an old woman was standing by the fireplace, warming herself. The youth thought, "This, I presume, is the one that killed my friend." Then he said to her, "Grandmother, sit down and warm yourself while I sleep." "Do so, my grandchild," she replied. He covered himself with a blanket, but pierced it, so that he was able to peep through a little hole. He pretended to sleep and began snoring. Suddenly she said, "Rise, grandchild, the sparks are going to fall on you." She said it repeatedly, yet he stirred not. Again she said, "They will burn you, grandson," but he continued to-snore. Then she said, "I do not mean anything by what I say, but I am going to have some more trees." She untied her medicine-bag taking it from inside her dress. She rubbed medicine on a stick and was going to touch the youth. He lay watching. Suddenly he rose and seized her by the wrist. "Yes, grand-mother, what are you about to do?" he asked. "O, grandson, I am an object for commiseration, spare me. Yonder is your friend, and his dog, and all his property." Still he held her by the wrist. He untied her medicine bag; one medicine in it was for making sunlight, the other for trans-forming people, a third for restoring them. He touched her with the trans-forming medicine. Then she turned into a large, ugly tree with many limbs and bees' nests. The youth did not take the day-making charm, but took the other two. Then he touched his friend, and his friend's trans-formed horse and dog with-the restorative medicine. He also touched a stranger, who stood up laughing, and other people. All assumed their natural shape once more. Then he spoke to them, saying, "Go wherever you have come from." Then they scattered in various directions. There were also white people among them. Only the witch remained a tree.'

Then the two comrades walked homeward. The rescuer said to his friend, "Comrade, on my way I got to a white man's house, and a pretty girl came out. I asked her, 'Where is my comrade?' and she said, 'It is yourself."' When he had told the whole story, his friend was angry (from jealousy). "Go ahead, lead, comrade," he said to his rescuer. The-other man walked ahead without looking back. Then the jealous man shot him and abandoned him. He got to the white man's house. There he questioned the woman, and she told him what had really happened. When ho heard it, he returned to where he had left his friend. He found his corpse. With the life-medicine he touched it and restored him to life, but his comrade was offended and went straight to their camp to tell his story. Later the jealous man arrived there. His father said, "I have heard how you killed your partner and afterwards restored him. You have nothing more to seek here; be off. The other youth was so ashamed of his treatment at the hands of a comrade that he had already gone away from the camp.

1 Recorded by Mr. Skinner among the Cree.
2 Cf. Grinnell, (c), p. 149 (Blackfoot).
3 Cf. Russell, p. 218 (Cree); Lowie, p. 270 (Shoshone).
4 Cf. Petitot, p. 84 (Loucheux), p. 226 (Hare); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 286 (Arapaho); G. A. Dorsey, (c), p. 32 (Osage).
5 Ft. Belknap. Translated from a text.

Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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