How The Man Found His Mate
- Blackfoot -
EACH tribe has its own stories. Most of them deal with the same subjects, differing only in immaterial particulars.
Instead of squirrels in the timber, the Black-feet are sure they were prairie-dogs that Old-man roasted that time when he made the mountain-lion long and lean. The Chippewas and Crees insist that they were squirrels that were cooked and eaten, but one tribe is essentially a forest-people and the other lives on the plains -- hence the difference.
Some tribes will not wear the feathers of the owl, nor will they have anything to do with that bird, while others use his feathers freely.
The forest Indian wears the soft-soled moccasin, while his brother of the plains covers the bottoms of his footwear with rawhide, because of the cactus and prickly-pear, most likely.
The door of the lodge of the forest Indian reaches to the ground, but the plains Indian makes his lodge skin to reach all about the circle at the bottom, because of the wind.
One night in War Eagle's lodge, Other-person asked: "Why don't the Bear have a tail, grandfather?"
War Eagle laughed and said: "Our people do not know why, but we believe he was made that way at the beginning, although I have heard men of other tribes say that the Bear lost his tail while fishing.
"I don't know how true it is, but I have been told that a long time ago the Bear was fishing in the winter, and the Fox asked him if he had any luck.
"'No,' replied the Bear, 'I can't catch a fish.'
"'Well,' said the Fox, 'if you will stick your long tail down through this hole in the ice, and sit very still, I am sure you will catch a fish.'
"So the Bear stuck his tail through the hole in the ice, and the Fox told him to sit still, till he called him; then the Fox went off, pretending to hunt along the bank. It was mighty cold weather, and the water froze all about the Bear's tail, yet he sat still, waiting for the Fox to call him. Yes, the Bear sat so still and so long that his tail was frozen in the ice, but he didn't know it. When the Fox thought it was time, he called: "'Hey, Bear, come here quick -- quick! I have a Rabbit in this hole, and I want you to help me dig him out.' Ho! The Bear tried to get up, but he couldn't.
"'Hey, Bear, come here -- there are two Rabbits in this hole,' called the Fox.
"The Bear pulled so hard to get away from the ice, that he broke his tail off short to his body. Then the Fox ran away laughing at the Bear.
"I hardly believe that story, but once I heard an old man who visited my father from the country far east of here, tell it. I remembered it. But I can't say that I know it is true, as I can the others.
"When I told you the story of how Old-man made the world over, after the water had made its war upon it, I told you how the first man and woman were made. There is another story of how the first man found his wife, and I will tell you that.
"After Old-man had made a man to look like himself, he left him to live with the Wolves, and went away. The man had a hard time of it, with no clothes to keep him warm, and no wife to help him, so he went out looking for Old-man.
"It took the man a long time to find Old-man's lodge, but as soon as he got there he went right in and said: "'Old-man, you have made me and left me to live with the Wolf-people. I don't like them at all. They give me scraps of meat to eat and won't build a fire. They have wives, "He went up on the steep hillside and commenced to roll big rocks down upon her lodge" but I don't want a Wolf-woman. I think you should take better care of me.'
"'Well,' replied Old-man, 'I was just waiting for you to come to see me. I have things fixed for you. You go down this river until you come to a steep hillside. There you will see a lodge. Then I will leave you to do the rest. Go!' "The man started and travelled all that day. When night came he camped and ate some berries that grew near the river. The next morning he started down the river again, looking for the steep hillside and the lodge. Just before sundown, the man saw a fine lodge near a steep hillside, and he knew that was the lodge he was looking for; so he crossed the river and went into the lodge.
"When the man heard the woman crying, it made him sorry and he ran down the hill to her. She sat down on the ground, and the man ran to where she was and said: "'I am sorry I made you cry, woman. I will help you fix your lodge. I will stay with you, if you will only let me.'
"That pleased the woman, and she showed the man how to fix up the lodge and gather some wood for the fire. Then she let him come inside and eat. Finally, she made him some clothes, and they got along very well, after that.
"That is how the man found his wife -- Ho!"
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