Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology



An old woman had a married daughter. Both the husband and wife died, and then their only son lived with his grandmother. The other people in the camp said, "You two, go away, we don't want you here." They moved away. When ever they were hungry, the boy went out to hunt. The other people were starving. One man said, "The poor boy has lots of food." Then they went and stole his meat. The old woman cried. Her grandson said, "Don't cry, we'll get some more food." He went out again, and killed plenty of game. Seeing what a good hunter he was, the chief gave him his daughter in marriage. Once the boy killed a big moose. The people went for the meat. The boy put the blood in a bag, and his wife put it on her back. The boy walked behind, and pierced the bag with a pointed stick. "You are losing all the blood," he said to his wife. She said she would wash as soon as they got home.

The orphan grew taller and taller all the time. The people did not know how to kill game. The orphan was the first to make a buffalo-pound. By sweating, he made himself handsome. All the women liked him.a1

There was once an orphan boy, whom no one cared for. He stayed with his grandmother at some distance from the camp. One man asked him, "How do you get so fat? Where do you get food from ?" "My grand-mother has plenty of food." The man went to the boy's lodge, and, finding plenty of food, stole it. The old woman cried. The boy said, "Don't cry, we'll get more food. In the morning we shall find moose and buffalo meat." They went to sleep. The next morning, there was moose and buffalo meat in their lodge. The orphan said, "Don't go near their camp, those people don't like us." The people said, "Sore-Belly is fat again, they must have some food." Sore-Belly knew they were going to steal the meat. He went home. When the men tried to steal his meat, he seized them by the wrist and broke their arms.b2 The chief saw that he was strong and gave him his daughter for a wife. The boy was very ugly. The chief ordered the couple to make a sweat-lodge. "What kind of a young man would you like for a husband?" the boy asked his wife. "A handsome young man." Then Teze'xnin went inside and sweated, while his wife waited outside. At last he told her to open the door, and came out as a handsome youth.b3

No one liked
eze'xnin, because he was ugly. The chief had a pretty daughter as yet unknown to any man. The boy was watching her. Uno die puellam mingentem conspexit. Quod cum vidisset, puer eodem loco minxit. Quo facto puella gravida facta est. Pater eam interrogavit,"Quis te gravidam fecit?" "Nescio" respondit. A child was born. The chief summoned all the young men to his lodge. All came readily, except Teze'xnin, who was the last to arrive. "Let each of you take the child," said the chief, "whoever is wetted by it, shall be recognized as its father." The child was handed to everyone present, but did not wet any of them. At last the chief said, "Give it to Teze'xnin." The child urinated on him, and the chief decided that he was the baby's father. The girl did not like him. Sore-Belly asked, "What sort of a looking young man would you like to have?" "I want a nice young man with a light complexion and reddish (sic) hair." The boy asked his grandmother to erect a sweat-lodge. He went in four times, then he re-appeared as just the kind of man his wife desired.

An old woman was scraping a moose-skin. She piled up the scrapings in a heap and put them in a pail, which she hung up. She went out to fetch wood. When she returned, she heard a child crying. The scrapings had turned into a boy. The woman was very glad, and made a bed of moss for him. Having no milk, she brought him up on soup. He grew every night. After four days he was as large as a fourteen year old boy.

The chief had a daughter, who refused to marry. (The boy hero causes this girl to conceive in the way described in the preceding version). When she had borne a son, her father summoned all the young men and declared that the one wetted by the infant would be recognized as its father. The child was handed from one man to another, but did not urinate on anyone. One man, Hog, drank some water, spat it out on himself and pretended to have been wetted by the child, but the people had noticed what he had done. At last the child urinated twice on the old woman's ward, and the poor boy was accordingly recognized as its father.

The chief was displeased with his son-in-law, and disowned both him and his daughter. It was in the winter. He ordered that both, as well as the boy's foster-grandmother, be tied up, and moved camp. The old woman had a little dog. When the people had gone, she asked the dog to untie them, and it freed them all. Then the boy asked the two women to pick up rags of blankets and strips of buckskin. He ordered his wife to erect a sweat-lodge, and went in to sing. Out of the rags he made buckskin robes and handed them outside, then he shut the door again. After a while he produced a fine white blanket. Then he transformed himself into a handsome young man. His wife was now very fond of him. He made many arrows and went out to hunt. The moose ran away, but he turned into a moose and killed many of them. They had plenty of meat now, and were very rich. They lived in the woods for a long time.d1

Two girls were playing together. A poor orphan boy wished to join them, but they would not let him. When they walked away, he followed them. Then they told him to go away and play by himself. The boy went to his grandmother. "Grandmother, make some nice things for me, those girls have abused me." She made him a new pair of leggings and moccasins.

In the night he went to the girl's lodge, but they cried, "Go away, you stinking one."

After a while there was a famine, but the boy continued to kill game. Then one of the girls thought she had better marry the boy, seeing that he was such a good hunter. She went to his grandmother, and said, "I will stay with your grandson." "Well, you will never be hungry if you marry that boy." The girl arranged her bed in the boy's tent. When the boy came in, he was a little shy at first. "Here is your wife," said his grandmother, The boy said, "You called me 'stinking one,' why do you come here?" The girl began to cry, The boy said, "Before taking you to wife, I shall go somewhere." He set out, and killed two moose. After traveling for two days, he met some people who were nearly starved. They asked him where he came from. "A two day's journey from here; you'll starve if you don't come along with me." The chief said, "The boy has plenty to eat, let us go with him." They went with him. The boy killed plenty of moose and elk, and distributed meat among all the people. His name was Sore-Belly.

Sore-Belly said to the people, "If I kill any game, don't step over the meat." Once the people transgressed the taboo, and all the moose ran away to the south. The boy went out several times without killing any game. One night he did not return. His wife tracked him a whole day without finding him. At last, he returned after five days' absence, and brought back all the moose. They liked him; he used to dream of them.

After a while some one again stepped over some moose meat. Teze'xnin said, "Someone has stepped over some meat again, the moose are going away." His wife asked, "Which way did they go?" "Northward." After a while she got hungry and asked her husband to hunt moose. He said, "If I go, I'll never come back, you'll never see me again." She replied, "If you let me die, I'll never see you either." The boy started out for the moose. His wife tracked him, but could not find him and returned home. The old grandmother asked, "Where is your husband?" "He is far away, I could not find any man's footprints, but only moose tracks." The boy never returned, he turned into a moose. Then the people had to live on rabbits and gophers, until they found buffalo.

a.1 A Teton folk-tale recorded by Curtis, III, pp. 111-118, is largely based on the Poor Boy motive. An old woman, whose people are expropriated by Waziya, clandestinely obtains a clot of blood, which develops into a mysterious boy. Bloodclot sets out to win the chief's daughter by shooting a red eagle and red fox, but is met by Iktomi, who makes him stick to a tree, returns clad in his garments, and in the guise of the hero marries the older daughter. Bloodclot is freed from his position on the tree by an old woman who brings him up with her grandson. He destroys Waziya, and as a reward receives the chief's younger daughter for his wife, but is despised by his sister-in-law on account of his assumed ugliness. He shoots the fox and the red eagle. The latter flies home and is to be doctored, but Bloodclot intercepts the physician, learns his secrets, lays him low, plays his part, and kills the bird. He bathes, becomes transformed into a handsome boy, and is recognized as the wonder-worker he is, while Iktomi is obliged to seek safety in flight. The haughty sister-in-law now makes advances, which, however, are spurned by the hero.
a.2 Literally, Sore-Belly. Elements of this myth occur in Petitot's collection, pp. 447-449 (Cree).
b.2 This incident is told of Crow-Head, a mythic hero of the Chipewyan of Lake Athabaska.
b.3 For the deformed transformed motive, cf. Kroeber, (e), p. 81 (Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 348 (Arapaho); Kroeber (d), p. 171; Curtis, III, p. 117 (Dakota); J. 0. Dorsey, (d), p. 606 (Omaha); Schoolcraft, p. 72 (Ojibwa).
c.1 This tale was recorded by Mr. Alanson Skinner among the Cree of James Bay.
d.1 This version rather closely resembles a Kootenay tale (Boas, Einige Sagen der Kootenay,
Verhandlungen der Berliner anthropologischen Gesellschaft, 1891. p. 163-165).

Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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