Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology



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 place.

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 brother's lodge.

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 Morning-Star.

1 Ft. Belknap.
2 It was not definitely stated that she became a star.
3 Yexī'agEn ye'a a'mba tabe', literally, Star-shining-daylight-chases.

Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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