Long ago there was water everywhere. Sitcon'ski
was traveling about in a moose-skin boat. He saw the Muskrat coming
towards him, holding something in its paws. "What are you holding
there?" "Nothing." "Let me see, and I'll take you into my boat." The
Muskrat showed him the mud it was holding in its paws. Sitcon'ski
took it, saying, "I am going to make the earth out of this." He
rubbed the mud between his palms, breathed on it, and thus made the
At that time the Muskrat had a tail such as the Beaver now has.
Sitcon'ski met them and said, "Change tails. You have a
small body Muskrat, your tail is too large." This is how the Beaver
got its tail.1.2
All the earth was flooded with water. Inkton'mi
sent animals to dive for dirt at the bottom of the sea. No animal
was able to get any. At last he sent the Muskrat. It came up dead,
but with dirt in its claws. Inkton'mi
saw the dirt, took it, and made the earth out of it.
Inkton'mi was wearing a wolf-skin robe. He said, "There shall be as
many months as there are hairs on this skin before it shall be
summer."2.4 Frog said, "If the winter
lasts as long as that, no creature will be able to live. Seven
months of winter will be enough." He kept on repeating this, until Inkton'mi
got angry, and killed him. Still Frog stuck out seven of his toes.
Finally, Inkton'mi consented, and
said there should be seven winter months.
Inkton'mi then created men and
horses out of dirt. Some of the Assiniboine and other northern
tribes had no horses. Inkton'mi
told the Assiniboine that they were always to steal horses from
whole earth was covered with snow. Inkton'mi
was called to the sky by some supernatural beings, who asked him to
help them get rid of the snow. "If you help us, you'll be able to
fool people and to make any-thing talk excepting water."' Inkton'mi
was satisfied. Then one of the beings said, "Far east, beyond the
extremity of the snow-field, there is a man who keeps the summer
weather, there it is always summer." Then he asked Inkton'mi
to try to steal the good weather out of the owner's lodge, to one of
the poles of which it was tied. The owner was very wakan',
and knew immediately whenever anyone approached his lodge. For that
reason it was very hard to steal the good weather. He also had
servants, birds among them, to help him watch. He said if anyone
stole the summer, it would be well, but until people got it by theft
he would keep it for himself. Inkton'mi said to the supernatural
beings, "If I go down to the earth again, I must have the power to
make things talk right away." They consented. Then he declared he
would get the summer, and descended to the earth.
Inkton'mi lay down on the highest point covered with snow. He was
shivering, and built a fire. Seeing a jack-rabbit, he said, "Younger
brother, come here." The Rabbit went to him. "Brother have you seen
any animals around here?" "Yes." "Which ones ?" "The Wolf, the
Coyote, the Red Fox, and some birds." "Brother, bid them come here
to see me, that am their brother." "In the night Rabbit ran off, and
delivered his message. The next morning all came to Inkton'mi. Inkton'mi
said, "Brethren, we'll look for summer weather, steal it, and bring
it to this country." One of them asked, "What is summer?" But Inkton'mi
replied, "Don't ask any questions, do what I tell you, and it will
be good for us. We'll start tonight."
They set out towards the east, and traveled many months. Finally,
they got to the end of the snow. Inkton'mi planted a long pole
there, and on the top of it placed the Tcedan', a
fast-flying bird (sailing-hawk?). In front of it, on summer-ground,
stood the Rabbit, before him the Coyote, in front of the Coyote the
Red Fox, then the Wolf, the Fox, and the Kata'-pknada'dan
(an owl-like bird). Inkton'mi encouraged his assistants, then he
called the Kata'-pknada'dan and bade him fly to a large
lodge facing towards the east. Inkton'mi's
party had approached it from the rear. "Fly to that camp very
carefully, get to the smoke-hole, and peep in to see whether the
good weather is tied up anywhere inside. Don't let the owner see
you." The bird flew to the tipi, and alighted on a pole. As he was
looking in, the owner asked, "What are you doing?" The
Kata'-pknada'dan did not reply. The man seized a
firebrand and struck the bird's nose, burning it. When he lowered
the stick, the bird flew off. "I wonder what they are trying to do."
He summoned a servant, and bade him build a fire outside and keep
Inkton'mi was waiting for the Kata'-pknada'dan's return.
The bird told him that the good weather was in the lodge, and its
owner was seated under it. "That is all you have to do," said
Inkton'mi. "I needed you because you are a bird that can fly
noiselessly." Then he encouraged the Fox, bidding him steal the good
weather. Inkton'mi wore a fox-skin clout. "Follow me," he said to
the Fox, "I'll go up to the servant and talk to him.
I'll stand in front, so he won't be able to see you. Then you can
jump at the bag containing the summer and rush out again." Inkton'mi
walked towards the lodge with his clout hanging to the ground, and
the Fox following. When they approached the tipi, the servant said,
"Inkton'mi is coming. What do you wish to see my brother about?"
Inkton'mi took out some glue and closed the servant's mouth. Then he
choked him, and threw him into the fire. '"Let us go nearer," he
said to the Fox. When they got very close, he said, "Crawl in from
the rear, snatch off the bag and run out. He'll pursue you, but run
between my legs, get to the other animals, and pass the bag to the
next in line." The Fox crawled in, while Inkton'mi waited at a
distance. He seized the bag, and ran, pursued by the owner. While he
was passing between Inkton'mi's
outspread legs, the man caught hold of the trailing fox-skin
breechclout. Inkton'mi also seized it, crying, "I have caught him!"
The man turned the skin over. "You must be sitting on him." "No, I
seized him, perhaps he has gone underground, let us look in there."
The owner looked everywhere, but did not find anything. "Let us
think about it," said Inkton'mi. They sat down, and considered, the
matter. Inkton'mi' was carrying his
arrows and his pipe with him.
After a while, the owner saw that the Fox had passed the bag to the
Wolf, who ran on with it. The Red-Fox took it from the Wolf, and
passed it to the Coyote, who ran and gave it to the Jack-Rabbit. The
Jack-Rabbit carried it close to the snow bank. The owner gave chase,
but all the animals disappeared underground, where he had no power.
At last the Rabbit passed it to the Tcedan'. The Tcedan'
rose from the top of his pole, and flew away with the heat. The
owner sent wakan' birds after him. The Tcedan' first
soared high up, then suddenly darted down, skimming the surface of
the snow. The birds returned to the owner, telling him they could
not find the fugitive. The owner cried, and returned to his home,
where Inkton'mi' met him.
Inkton'mi' sprinkled water on his
face, and pretended to be perspiring from his exertions in the
owner's behalf. "Did you catch him? I tried to find him, but
failed." He feigned great anger, tore up the earth with a knife, and
threatened to kill the thief with it. "Let us track him," he
suggested. The owner said, "No, I'll go back. Perhaps he has
returned it to its place. See if you can get him for me." Inkton'mi'
promised to pursue the thieves, and walked to the summit of a hill,
where all his helpers were seated around a fire. Inkton'mi'
said, "Brethren, we have it now. Bring that bag down." The Tcedan',
who was coming on the wing, brought it down. "Let us see whether it
is the right one." He untied the bag, and, as he spread it open, the
snow on which they were seated disappeared, they were sitting on the
bare ground, and the leaves were sprouting on the trees. "I think we
have the right one, now let us get something to eat." All went away
to hunt for food, and each returned with something to eat. The next
day he said, "Let us go home." He tied up the bag, and the ground
was covered with snow again.
They traveled on. Inkton'mi' said,
"Stop, brethren, I'll try to do something." He opened his bag again,
making a path of. bare ground ahead of them to travel on. After a
while he made another path. clear of snow. Thus they continued
traveling. After a while, the Wolf and the Foxes said they were
tired of walking on the bare ground. "Let me know when your feet get
tender, and I'll change off." So Inkton'mi'
closed the bag, and made snow once more. At last, he said, "I am
going to take this bag up there; when I come back to the earth, I'll
have a talk with you." So Inkton'mi'
ascended to the sky with his bag.
Inkton'mi' gave the bag to
said, "I shall call up every species of animals and ask what kind of
weather they prefer, and for how long a period. For the present, I
shall make summer." So he untied the bag, and it was summer. He
called up all the beasts and all the birds. Frost (Wazi'ya) was
there too. Otce'giyeya'bi said, "Inkton'mi
will be the judge, the animals will plead." One animal said, "Let
the winter last forty months." But another answered, "No, we have
just had a long winter, that is not at all good." A third one
suggested that there should not be any winter whatsoever. Inkton'mi
looked at the last speaker, and said, "Get out of here, you come
from the man we stole this from." Frost said, "You ought to have
winter part of the time; summer alone would not be good, you ought
to change." The Fox said he wanted snow for part of the year. The
Wolf, Coyote, Rabbit and the birds all agreed with him.
Then Inkton'mi asked them in regard
to human beings in the world. "How long ought they to live?" One
said, "Let them live forever." "No," said another, "there would be
too many, they would drive us out of the country." A third debater
thought people ought to die whenever they were taken sick. A fourth
said, "There is no use to put them on the earth, if they are to
die." Still another said, "Let those that get sick die, but let them
come back to life again after four days." At last Inkton'mi'
said, "No, let there be people to enjoy the world, but when they die
they shall not return. Their souls will go elsewhere, but their
bodies must not come back."
Then they discussed the seasons again. Frog was there with his pipe.
He was the last one to speak, and said, "Let there be six months of
winter and six months of summer."3.2 Inkton'mi
snatched up a club, and hit him over the head, saying, "That is too
short a time." Frog stretched out his hands. Then Inkton'mi took
pity on him, and helped him sit up again. "I'll do as you say, there
shall be six months of winter, and six months of summer." Then he
said to Frost, "All are through talking, I shall judge as best I
know how. You must go far north, and stay there. When the winter
comes, you may take charge for half the year. You may make some days
of cold weather, but don't make it too cold, or we'll keep you here,
and then there will not be any more winter." Frog agreed to these
terms. Then Inkton'mi bade all the
animals dive into a hole containing fat. "This will get into your
bodies," he said, "and will keep you warm in the winter."
1.4. The younger
Henry (Coues, p. 521) has Eth'tome causing the flood by his
misconduct and then embarking in a twig-canoe with a pair of each
species of animals; the Muskrat dives for earth. A similar version
appeared in the Journal of American Folk-Lore,Vol.V,1892, p.73.
The Assiniboine myths here presented were all collected at Morley,
Alberta and Ft. Belknap Montana. Those not credited in footnotes to
the latter division of the tribe were recorded at Morley.
1.1 Cf. Petitot, p.
473 (Cree); Wissler and Duvall, p. 19 (Blackfoot); Kroeber, (e), p.
59 (Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 16 (Arapaho); Simms, p. 281
(Crow); Schooleraft, p. 39 (Ojibwa); Hoffman, p. 134 (Menomini);
Jones, p. 365 (Fox).
1.2 The same incident is recorded in a Cree myth,
Annual Archeological Report for 1904, pp. 93-94.
2.3 Ft. Belknap.
2.4 Cf. Teit, p. 626 (Shuswap).
Belknap. Cf. Kroeber, (e), p. 65 (Gros Ventre); Simms, p. 283
(Crow). For the theft of heat, kept in a bag, cf. Petitot, p. 373,
(Chipewyan), Teit, p. 624 (Shuswap).
3.1 Great Spirit?
3.2 Cf. Lowie, p. 274 (Shoshone); Simms, p. 284
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