In a camp there lived a brother and sister. The girl took care of
her brother, cooking and making clothes and beadwork for him. They
lived together for a long time. When the boy was older, he said,
"Sister, I am old enough now, we must part. I'll tell you what to
do. There is a camp near those trees, and within there dwells an old
man with his ten sons. To-morrow one will come for you; follow him
up to the lodge. Before he enters, catch hold of his robe and enter
with him." The next day there came a young man while the boy was
hunting. The girl served him some food. When through eating, he
offered to marry her and bade her follow him. She got her best
clothes and work-bag, and followed him. When they got close to his
camp, he quickened his pace. She ran behind him, but just as he was
entering she looked back to see how far she had traveled. He
entered, and she did not catch hold of his robe. She followed, and
looked around for her husband, but all the ten young men were
dressed alike and looked alike. At the right side of the door an old
man was sitting. She thought the young man next to him was her
husband and sat down beside him, but he declared it was not he that
had brought her there. She sat beside the second, third, fourth and
fifth son, and each refused to recognize her as his wife.
She gave up hope, and sat down by the entrance. It was getting dark.
The old man said, "Sons, you had better go to bed, I want to tell my
daughter-in-law a story." They all went to bed. He began as follows.
"There was a camp, where a brother and sister were living together.
One day the boy told the girl of an old man who had ten sons, one of
whom would take her home. Her brother bade her seize this man's
blanket when he would enter his lodge, but she did not do so. When
she entered, all the sons looked alike. She sat by the first young
man and he would not recognize her as his wife, then she sat by the
second, third, fourth and fifth young man, and none would have her."
Then he continued, "Her blanket must disappear." And the young
woman's blanket was gone. "Her work bag must disappear." And her
work bag was gone. In the same way her moccasins, leggings, and
dress disappeared. Then he said, "Now I wish a blizzard would come
and my sons would thrust her out." The blizzard came, and they
ousted her from the lodge. She wanted to re-enter, but they would
not allow it. She cried for her brother to help her. He appeared and
gathered up her clothes, she dressed, and they went home together.
The boy said to his sister, "Another man will come from the same
Treat him as you did, the first, and follow him.
When he gets to the camp, stand outside after he has entered. If
anyone from inside calls you, go in and sit by the old man." She
obeyed, and again looked for her suitor, and, not finding him among
the first five sons, she sat down by the door. Then she said, "Let
all the sons go to bed, I will tell a story." The old man was
surprised, but told all the young men to go to bed. Then she began.
"'There was a lodge inhabited by a boy and his sister, and in
another camp there dwelt an old man with his ten sons. One day one
of the young men came to woo the girl and brought her home. Her
brother had told her to seize his robe when entering, but she
disobeyed. She could not pick out her suitor and was refused by each
of the first five sons." She sat back and said that she wished some
one to go out and get more wood to put into the fire. One of the
young men rose and did so. Then she said, "I wish he would get
lost." And he got lost. The next son went out. She said, "I wish he
would get lost." And he got lost. In the same way she caused nine of
the sons to get lost. At last the youngest said, 'I was the one that
brought you home the first time." She said, "I wish you would go out
and put more wood into the fire." The fire was blazing. She said, "I
wish the old man would sit in front of me to shield me from the heat
of the fire." He took his knife and sat down in front of her. She
said "All the old man's sons are lost, except the youngest." Then
she said she was too warm, and suddenly pushed him into the fire.
Seizing his knife, she disappeared underground and went back to her
She told her brother how she had killed the old man and his sons. He
said, "We must flee. If the old man returns to life, he will pursue
us." They fled to a big rock, lifted it and both went down, after
replacing it. As soon as they were inside, the old man got to the
rock. He was looking for their tracks, but could not find out where
they were. He walked back to his own lodge, thinking that his sons
might have been transformed into bugs. He could not find any of them
and began to cry. The girl peeped out from the rock and listened to
his crying. Then she said to her brother. "Do you go far away north.
You must find Inktontm1, then you will be safe. I shall go east."
They lifted the rock and separated. She dived into the ground and
came up again. She saw the old man pursuing her, vowing that he
would kill her. When he got close, she went underground again. She
did this four times. After the fourth time, she noticed buffalo
ahead of her. She had made a ball with quills representing the
cardinal directions, while the center stood for the sun and stars.
She ran towards the buffalo. They shied and fled. She took out her
ball and showed it to them, then they waited for her. They looked at
the ball. She laid it on the ground, then they could not move. She
killed the biggest buffalo and cut it up into seven pieces. In the
meantime, her pursuer caught up, crying, "Ball-Girl, I have caught
you, I will kill you!" When he was quite close, she said she was
butchering buffalo to give him food. "That is what I want, I am
hungry." "Well, open your mouth." He opened it wide. She threw in
the quarters, and he swallowed them. Then she threw in the other
pieces, one by one, and he swallowed them. His stomach began to
bulge, his mouth was getting smaller. She kept the head for the
last. "Open your mouth wide," she said; "if you don't eat it, I'll
kill you." He tried to open his mouth wide, but there was only room
for the nose; the horns got caught. She saw he could not swallow the
piece. Picking up her ball, she hit him three times over the head
with it. The fourth time the ball rolled off backwards along the
ground. The earth split along its path, and the old man fell in,
crying that his sons would rise and kill her. Then she took the
ball, threw it up, and kicked it. She rose up into the air. Nine of
the young men came up from the ground in the shape of wolves,
running around the buffalo and scenting her tracks. But she rose
higher and higher to the sky and escaped.2
A man and his wife were camping by themselves. She
was pregnant. While her husband was away, another man would come and
embrace her. Her lover wished to elope with her, but he did not like
to take her with the baby in her womb. So he once entered her lodge
and said, "I want to eat food from your belly." She asked, "How
shall I sit?" "Lie down on your back, and place the dish on your
belly." She obeyed. When he was done eating, he stuck a knife into
her, and took out the child, which he left in the lodge.
Then the lovers fled underground, entering the earth under the
fireplace. When the woman's husband returned, he found the child's
body, and saw that his wife was gone. He split trees and dried up
the creeks where he thought she might have fled. When the lovers
came above ground again, he tracked them. They turned into snakes
and crawled into a hollow tree. He followed in pursuit, and saw the
snakes, but did not recognize them as the fugitives. He thought the
lovers had gone up the tree. He climbed up, but could not find them.
At last he climbed higher still, reached the sky, and became the
1 Ft. Belknap.
2 It was not definitely stated that she became a
ye'a a'mba tabe', literally, Star-shining-daylight-chases.
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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural