Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

The Comrades' Pranks


The Comrades' Pranks1
Two boys were living together as comrades. They said to their parents, "We will go to look for people." The father of one of them raised objections, but the other consented, and they went away. On the third night of their journey one of them said, "Let us sleep in separate shelters." "Don't say that, comrade." "*Yes, we shall camp apart." They built a fire and camped apart. -Before going to bed, the one who objected to camping by himself heard the noise of chopping outdoors. It was a dark night. He went out quietly and saw his companion sharpening his legs to a point. He got scared and ran away, pursued by Sharpened-Leg. He climbed up a tree. Sharpened-Leg said, "Now I shall catch you, comrade." He kicked the tree, splitting it in two. It came tumbling down. He kicked his comrade repeatedly, piercing him, but not killing him. Finally, he cured him again.

They traveled on together. That night the man who had fled proposed that they camp apart. In the night, Sharpened-Leg heard snorting outside. Looking out, he saw that his partner had turned into a large buffalo. He was scared and ran away, chased by the bull. On account of his sharpened legs he could not run very fast. He climbed a tree. The bull hooked it until it tumbled down. Then he hooked Sharpened-Leg again and again, ripping every part of his body and nearly killing him. At last, he let him alone.

They traveled on. At nightfall, Sharpened-Leg said, " I wish to urinate." He went outside and turned into a big elk. The buffalo-man was scared and fled, screaming. When the elk was close to him, the buffalo man climbed a tree. The elk uprooted the tree, and repeatedly knocked down the buffalo-man, nearly killing him. At last, it ceased, and made him well again.

The next night when they went to camp, the buffalo-man said, "Let us camp apart." In the night Sharpened-Leg heard a bear growling. He fled, but a grizzly pursued him. He climbed a tree. The bear followed. Both fell down, and the bear bit off half of his companion's nose. Finally he restored him.

Sharpened-Leg said, " I am afraid, let us stop this now, let us be friends again." "No, you were the one to begin." "Let us stop now." "No, let us try once more." Sharpened-Leg begged him to desist, and finally his companion consented. They resolved to live together as friends. "If you try again," said the bear-man, "I shall kill you. Now get your feet again.'' Sharpened-Leg found them, but could not put them on, so the bear-man set them for him. Then they traveled on in peace.

A man living far south dreamt of a man in the north and wished to be-come his comrade. He went in search of him, and they set out traveling together. The Southerner killed a bear and ate its tongue. He said to his companion, "Run away now, some thing queer has happened." He changed himself into a bear and pursued his friend, who fled in terror. The fugitive fell down. The bear just played with him without biting him, then he turned into a man again. The Northerner killed a buffalo and ate its tongue. He turned into a buffalo and pursued his friend, hooking him so as merely to rip his clothes. After a while, he let him alone and resumed human shape.

They traveled on for a long distance. The Southerner killed a moose. "We'll make two fires in the night," he said. He gave half the meat to his comrade. They ate without talking. They began cracking the bones for marrow. Then they counted how many bones each had cracked. The Northerner said, "I have broken all the bones, give me some marrow. If you won't, we'll play at kicking." The Southerner got scared; he chopped off his feet and sharpened his legs. The Northerner saw it and went outside to a tree of his own age to which he said, "If this man speaks to you, answer, 'No."' Then he ran away. Sharpened-Leg came back and said, "Let us play at kicking." The tree repeatedly answered, "No." After a while, Sharpened-Leg went to his comrade's lodge and only found a stump there. He was angry, split the tree, and pursued his companion, holding his feet in his arms. When he had caught up, the Northerner climbed a tree. Sharpened-Leg began splitting it. The Northerner begged the tree to hold him. It obeyed and Sharpened-Leg, striking the thickest part of the trunk with his sharpened leg, got stuck. Then the Northerner jumped down. Sharpened-Leg asked to be freed, but his comrade refused. At last, he said, "If I help you, let us stop these pranks altogether." Sharpened-Leg agreed, then his comrade released him and set his feet for him.

They traveled on. The Northerner had a great deal of power. The Southerner said, "Today we shall meet many people." His comrade replied, "I am not afraid of anything; if lots of people come, I have a war-song." Both of them had rattles. A great many people came their way, and they began to sing. The chief said, "Two friends are coming." The chief wished to test which of the two was the braver. He put them on horseback and had the horses led to a steep river-bank. When the leg-sharpener got close to the water, he got frightened and caught the line. The other man was not scared at all, but whipped his horse onward. Then the chief declared the Northerner to be the braver of the two.


Two young men were living together. One day one of them heard his comrade chopping outside the lodge. He saw that the other man was sharpening his leg to a point, after having chopped off his feet. He was frightened and fled, running for a night and a day. He arrived at some high trees, and climbed up one of; them. Sharpened-Leg pursued him. When he got to the tree, he espied his comrade, and fell to kicking the trunk. With a dozen kicks he split the tree, so that it tumbled down. He looked for his former comrade, whom he found lying on the ground. "Why did you run away? We used to play together." He kicked his comrade with the point of his leg, and killed him. Then he walked away to some other trees. He began kicking these also, but his leg stuck fast, and he died in this position. When the two men did not return to camp, the father of the one slain went to look for them. He got to their lodge, and then followed their tracks until he reached the corpse of his son and the tree where Sharpened-Leg was caught.

Sharpened-Leg was named Canska' (Ground-Hog), and his comrade Umbis'ka (Eagle).

The Magic Springs

An old man was living with his son, his daughter and her husband, who was a great hunter. The two brothers-in-law hunted every day one winter, but could not find any tracks. There was a great deal of snow, and the young husband made himself snowshoes. He passed through an unfrozen spring. When he came home, his wife saw blood on his snowshoes. She said, "I am glad you have killed a moose." "'I have not killed anything, I have merely stepped into a spring." The girl paid no attention to him, but told her father, "My husband has killed some game." The young man was ashamed. His father-in-law said, "Bring me the snowshoes, I want to look at them." When he saw them, he was glad and said, "We'll eat plenty of meat now." He smelt the snowshoes. The young man sat with bowed head, afraid to look up. Finally, he said, "All day I could not find any track or other sign of any game." The girl's relatives said, "You have killed something, for there is blood on your snowshoes." He protested that he had merely passed through a red spring. At last, the old man proposed to go to the spring with him. The next day the father-in-law stripped two trees of their bark and pushed one strip into either end of the spring. Then he told the people to get ready to shoot. He pushed in a stick and called on a moose to come out. A doe appeared and after running a short distance was* shot. Then he cried, "Young moose, come out." A young moose came out, and they shot it. Next he cried, "Big buck, come out." A buck appeared, and was shot. "I have seen many springs like this," said the young man. His brother-in-law said, "Let us look for such springs every day." They skinned the moose, roasted it and ate it. Then they went to a bear spring. The old man looked at it and said, "There is a bear within." He put in bark, and poked the ground. A big black bear appeared, and the young man killed it. They had plenty of fat. The old man said, "Every spring has some kind of game in it in the winter." Now the young man went hunting for a spring every day, and they were no longer in want.

1 This theme is very popular among the Stoneys. Several versions were obtained. The Sharpened-Leg incident occurs both in other combinations (ante, p. 118) and as a distinct story (p. 186). Cf. Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 257 (Arapaho).
2 Cf. Kroeber, (e), p. 87 (Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 112 (Arapaho); Kroeber,
(d), p. 169 (Cheyenne).


Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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