Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

The Woman Stolen by the Buffalo


An old man was living with his wife, his daughter and son-in-law. His seven sons-dwelt apart. Once the young girl went for water and never returned. Her husband told his brothers-in-law, and they all looked for her. They found that she had been kidnapped by a buffalo. Her husband concealed himself where the buffalo used to get their water. At sunset his wife came, and he caught her. "Come home," said the man, "and we will stay with your brothers." The woman said she just wanted to go back for her bag. At first the man refused to let her go, but finally he consented. He waited for her to return, but she informed the buffalo her husband was in the brush, requesting them at the same time not to kill him. They captured him and brought him to the camp. His buffalo rival stripped him naked and tied his hands and legs to a tree-stump. His former wife made a fire and put the burning ashes on his flesh. She turned into a buffalo-cow. There was a big lake between the Indian and the buffalo camp. The buffalo-woman went close to the Indian camp. She lured people to her own camp, where all the buffalo would come out and kill them. One day her former husband's brother came up to her camp and saw his brother tied to the tree. He went back and told his people. The man by this time was nearly burnt to death. The old buffalo allowed him to return home, but his wife wanted to keep him there. She asked his own father to let her have him back, and when he refused she killed ten Indians. The people cured him by greasing his scalds. Four times the buffalo-woman tried to re-capture him, but failed. She killed people with her horns or her excrements. The Indians would slip when treading on her excrements and get killed.

The old father bade his son make a bow and arrows. For the feathers he used those of the ie'mbin. Then the man offered to race his former wife, each staking the lives of ten buffalo or Indians, respectively. All the buffalo came to the Indian camp. The man tied an ie'mbin head to his own. They began to race around the lake. The buffalo-woman defecated to make her opponent slip. She ran ahead for a time. Then he took his bow and arrows, shot one above his wife and flew above her as a bird, defecating on her back. He defeated her, and ten buffalo were slain. When the buffalo-woman arrived at the goal, her horns were of an orange color. The people told her that the buffalo had been killed. She replied, "We shall race again tomorrow. I wager twenty buffalo against twenty Indians." The next day they started before sunrise. The man won again in the same way, and twenty buffalo were killed. Then the woman proposed to fight him in a trial of strength. Her husband knew that she was only vulnerable in her anus and neck. He made a hundred arrows, two of them with a bull's-eye (?) point. The woman said, "We will fight at noon." The Indian tied the bird's head to his own and took his arrows. He walked till he got close to a wood. There he stood near his people. The buffalo rushed at him, hooking everything in her way. When she got close, snorting, the man took his two bull's-eye arrows and shot them, but they merely glanced off her skin and fell down. The Woman now thought he was unable to hurt her. But he took one of his other arrows and shot it at her neck. It went clean through her body, and passed out at the anus. She leapt back. He shot a second arrow at her neck, and continued shooting in this way until he had discharged all his hundred arrows. The buffalo was killed in this way. Before dying, she said, "When I am dead, turn my feet towards the mountains." But instead, they turned them towards the plains, that is why there are plenty of buffalo in the plains.

The man piled up wood and burnt her body. There was plenty of iron inside. He took none of it. A knife-blade leapt out of the fire, and was taken by a child, who hid it under his clothes. The man had warned the boy against taking it, but he disobeyed and was killed by it. Then the man picked up all the iron and burnt it again. After this, the buffalo no longer killed people. Then the man found one piece of bone and there from restored his wife to human form. He took her to his father-in-law, who had been continually bewailing the loss of his relatives. "It has been pretty hard for me to recover my wife. I was nearly killed by the ashes she put on my neck." The old man said, "Do to her whatever you like." The man slit off her nose and threw it away. She cried. He then-cut off her breasts and killed her.

The Abducted Wife

The people were camping together. One man went into another man's lodge and stole his wife. The lovers stayed by a small creek. At first they were poor, but after a while they had a nice lodge and good clothes. They moved into the timber and pitched their lodge there. The woman was pregnant. After a while she gave birth to a child. When her husband was out hunting, she felt lonesome, so her husband looked for other people and brought home her brother, who thenceforth lived with her. One day the man had brought, home some game. His wife had no water in the lodge and went out to fetch some. In the darkness she mistook the road, and while dipping in her pail she was caught by something that pulled her beneath the water. She screamed, and her husband and brother ran up, but failed to find her.

The man packed the baby, and moved to the river. The baby was crying incessantly. The husband climbed a hill to look for his kidnapped wife, but found no trace of her. One day the brother called his sister, "Your baby is lonesome, come out." He sat down by the water. Some-thing came up and walked on the waves. At first he was scared, then he recognized his sister. "I will nurse my boy, don't throw him in the water, I'll come close." "I am glad to see you," said the boy, "I will tell my brother-in-law, we'll get you back." She told him she was human only down to her waist. After nursing the babe, she returned to the water, and her brother noticed that she had a beaver-tail. He told her husband, and they moved close to the place where she had appeared. The woman's father came there and proposed that they should catch the beaver and seize the woman. They dried up the water at the dam and found the beaver-houses. They watched the entrance. They tried to force the door. "If you see beavers," said the old man, "catch them." They broke in the door with an axe and found plenty of beavers surrounding the woman. The woman said, "This beaver wants me only for one more year. During that time he will instruct me." But the people did not listen to her. They tied a rope around her body and dragged her out. For two nights they continued to watch her. She nursed her child, but kept the lower part of her body covered before the people. On the third night they loosened her bonds. She did not eat anything but willow-leaves. When not watched, she swam off to an island. The people followed her, but she turned into a bear. They ran away. As a bear, she had two cubs. She then returned to her husband's lodge with bear's paws and a beaver tail. "I am having a hard time," she declared; "I am partly human, partly a beaver, partly a bear." Her father said, "You talk like an Indian, so you are an Indian." Her cubs ran off. She felt lonesome and followed them. At last, she returned to camp and hanged herself on account of her tripartite body. Her husband thus addressed the corpse: ''I married you first, but you were bad and ran away." He cut up her body, threw the slices away, and said, "If you want to go to a bear, you may go; if you wish to go to a beaver, you may go."

The Reformed Adulteress1

A man was living with his wife. One day he was looking for game. When he returned, his wife was gone. At first he thought she might have gone for wood, but he could not find a trace of her. He returned, wondering where she had gone. A crow came flying and continued to circle around above him. "What are you flying around for? I'll kill you." "If you talk to me that way, I won't tell you where your wife is." The man then promised him whatever food he wished, and also flannel an-d bells to wear around his neck. The crow said, "Go to that creek. It will be dark by the time you get there. Travel all the next day till you get to a camp. Your wife is there; a young man from that band has stolen her. Wait till it gets dark. I'll be there to show you where to go."

When the young man had reached the camp indicated, the crow came and told him where his wife was. After dark the man peeped into her lodge and saw her there, then he stepped back. When all the people were asleep, he painted himself so as to become unrecognizable, crawled to the lodge, and listened. They were sleeping, and his former wife was lying next to the wall. He pulled up the pegs, raised the cover, and awakened her. She turned her head and asked, "Who are you?" The crow had told him to answer, "I am the man that spoke to you in the brush to-day." "What do you want?" "I want to elope with you to-night." She picked up her property and crawled out. Following the crow's directions, he did not speak to her for some time. He walked ahead, assuming a different gait from his customary one. She followed him until daylight, when she recognized him. She was very sorry. He abused her all the way home. When ever he now went out hunting, he asked the crow to watch her, so she could not run off. He once killed a buffalo, dressed it, and butchered it. Then he asked the crow to invite all his friends to the feast. The crow did so, and they ate up the meat. The crow's favorite piece was the head, the other birds ate the rest. The crow came back, thanked the man, and offered to continue watching his wife. One day the crow told him, "The man who stole your wife before is sneaking around again." The man watched for his rival then. One day the crow was tired and wanted to fly about, so he said to the husband, "Climb up to the top of a tree with the woman, tie her hands and feet to the trunk, and cut off all the limbs so your rival cannot climb up." Accordingly, he left his wife on the tree. Before leaving, he said to the crow, "Go wherever you wish, but Whenever you get to a high tree look back to see whether she is still there." While he was gone, her lover came, but he was not able to climb the tree. The man returned and got a travois. He said to the crow, "Let us take her down and let her cook. Take the rope up there and put it over her head, then peck off her bonds." To the woman he said, "Tie the end of the rope to that tree." When the crow had released her, she climbed down the rope. The man said to her, "The next time I'll put you up the same way. If you don't behave properly, I will not kill you directly, but I'll chop down the tree so that it will kill you." The woman was scared. She hardly ever moved from the camp now. One day her husband took her to a hill, rolled a big rock on a buffalo robe, wrapped it up in the robe, tied it with rope, and tied the woman's ankle to it. When he was through, he rolled the rock down hill, and she was obliged to run after it till it stopped. Then he took her home. She promised that if he stopped his cruel treatment she would behave as she ought to; saying that if she did not do so, he should kill her. Then he promised to stop his mal-treatment of her. She lived like a good woman thereafter, and they were happy together. The man then told the crow he could go away.

1 Ft. Belknap

Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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