Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

Adventures of Two Boys


A chief had two daughters. He addressed the young men, saying, "Whoever brings me a handsome dog, may marry my daughters." The young men went and brought in many dogs, but the chief always said he wanted a different kind. One of-two boys at last brought him some small dogs. The chief was satisfied, and gave him one of the girls in marriage; The second boy, while looking for a dog, got to a beautiful unoccupied lodge. He rested there. It was the dwelling of an ogre.1 When the ogre came home, he said, "I am going to put you to work, you are going to cook for me." The ogre used to cook people and horses. He owned one mule. The mule once warned the boy, "After a while you will get killed." The boy said he wanted to live and asked the mule to help him. "If you run away and see a small dark cloud, that will be the ogre." The boy rode away, mounted on the mule. The mule said, "When the ogre pursues you, you will make me perspire white sweat. Bathe your body in my sweat. The ogre will try to burn you up on a heap of firewood, but with my perspiration on your body you cannot burn up."

After a while the ogre caught up to the boy and made him build a fire. The boy said, "I shall first ride around on the mule." The ogre consented. The boy bathed in the mule's sweat, then he built a fire and undressed. When the fire was crackling, the ogre said, "If you beat me in this trial, you may go away." The boy leapt into the fire, but he remained unscathed. The ogre said, "If you pass through it four times, then you will win." The boy succeeded at each trial. Then the ogre said, "Let me have your horse." When he had taken the mule, he asked, "What did you do when it sweated?" The boy told him, and the ogre was also going to grease himself with the sweat. But the boy had not told him the truth, telling him to ride gently and not to make the mule sweat very much. The ogre followed his directions. When he entered the fire, there was a sound like the report of a gun, then the ogre was all burnt up.

The mule said, "Don't ride me too much and always give me plenty to eat." The boy obeyed. He returned home. On the way he found a beautiful dog. He brought it to the chief, who allowed him to marry his second daughter. The chief had a good stable, and the boy put his mule inside. "How did you get it?" asked the chief. Then the boy told him his story. The mule told the boy not to make him sweat any more, but some people were eager to try. One man asked him very often. The boy refused to let him mount the mule, but he insisted on going through the fire. At last, the boy yielded, and the man rode through the fire, but was burnt up. Thereafter the people were afraid of the mule.

The chief said, "'There are some cattle in the sea. If any one gets them, I will resign my chieftaincy in his favor." His two sons-in-law set out in a canoe. One of them dived down, but was drowned. The mule-owner returned home. After a while he went back, accompanied by another young man. He dived in, and brought up four cattle, which he brought to the chief. Thus he became chief himself.

The old chief had a young child. Having no lodge now, he did not know what to do. He made a little box, put it in the water, and left the boy there. A woman found him and took him home. After he was grown up, his father found him. "Where did you get that child?" he asked the woman. "I found him in the water." "That is the child I left there."

The Lecherous Sister

Virgo cum fratre coire concupivit. Nocte dum omnes dormiunt prope eum decubuit. Frater nesciens quacum coiret cum sorore coiit. In order to discover what girl had visited him, he painted his hands and rubbed them on her blanket.a1 When daylight appeared, all the people went up a hill. The youth watched the women fetching wood. When he saw his sister's robe stained, he was ashamed. He went home and said, "I am going to travel." He prepared his canoe. His sister asked, "Where are you going?" "I am merely playing with the canoe." The girl said, "I will accompany you." "Well, get your things ready, and we'll go together." She ran back. In the mean time, the young man paddled away.

The young woman returned crying. Her brother was already far away. She called out to him, "Ere you return, all your people will be killed." The man paid no attention to his sister, but paddled on. In the night he dreamt that his sister had killed all the people. Returning home, he found that she had really killed all by lightning and was flying about as a bird. "My brother is back, all the people are dead." She was going to kill him too, but he had many dreams, and invoked the Thunder, so that she could not hurt him. She did not come near him then. Now he wanted to kill her, having dreamt of various birds. He called on a hawk to catch her, but when it came near her, she frightened it away, crying, "Big-Eyes, what are you coming here for?" She flew from tree to tree. At last she was exhausted, and another hawk caught her. Then her brother came, killed her, and cut her to pieces. She had burnt up her own parents. He cut up her flesh, and left a slice in every fireplace in the camp. Then he bade all the people wake up. They became alive, and were glad to have been rescued. They divided into two bands, which moved in different directions.

In one of these bands there was an orphan boy living with his grand-mother. (There follows the tale of the wonderful orphan who secured food while other people starve. Vid. p. 134).

Two young women, as yet unknown to man, tried to seduce their brother. The boy was ashamed and asked his father to build a nice canoe for him. His father made one, and put plenty of food inside. The boy did not say anything to his sisters, but his mother told them their brother was going away. The sisters ran after their brother. He pretended to step aside to ease himself, but in reality he pulled out in his canoe. The girls saw him far out. They called to him to return. When he refused to pay any attention to them, they cried, "You will get drowned in the sea." They called on a big fish, bidding him devour the boy, but the boy had dreamt of the fish and cried, "Don't hurt me, it is I." The fish spared him.

The two sisters were playing with the children of the camp. They said to them, "We will play bear, but you must not touch our anus." They played for a while. Finally, a boy touched the anus of both girls. Then they turned into real bears and killed all the children, as well as the other people, save an orphan boy and girl who had hidden in the moss. They also spared their own parents, but they burnt their skin and blinded them with lightning. The orphans traveled away.

The eagle said to the boy, " All your people have been killed by your sisters. Your parents are alive, but they are burnt." The boy returned to the camp. He saw smoke rising from one lodge, and found his parents there. Thinking their bear-daughters were returning, the old couple were terrified, but the boy made himself known to them. Then they rejoiced. He asked, "Why are all these people dead?" "Your sisters have killed them all." "When do you expect them to come back?" "At noon you will see a black cloud. Your sisters are in it; they cause the thunder." The youth called upon the birds to kill his sisters. There was a rock jut-ting out from the water; he fashioned it into an eagle. The girls caught sight of their brother, and were frightened. They went up a tree. At last, they lit on the rock. Then the stone eagle seized them and held them until the boy came, who killed the women, burnt up their flesh and pulverized it. He took his parent's into a sweat-lodge and cured them of their blindness. Then he asked his father to look for a piece of hair in every lodge. The old man brought the hair to him. Then he went around the next day, calling on all the dead to get up and build a fire. All woke up.1 The young man told his parents and the other people they would have no more trouble, and went away to the sea, where he married.

The orphan children came near starving; they did not know at first how to make fire. (There follows the tale of the orphan children. The orphan boy is' identified with the sun-catcher.)

The Witch.2

A woman owned a bitch. One day the bitch said, "I am going to give birth to two pintos." The woman and the dog simultaneously gave birth to twins. Both the boys and the pintos grew fast. One day one of the boys was riding his pinto. He heard something coming. He built a fire. Suddenly he saw an old woman standing on the other side of it. Both went to sleep. The woman woke up, rose, and put medicine on the boy, killing him. When he did not return, his brother went to look for him. Finding his brother's corpse, he also went to sleep there. He heard the witch coming. "That's the one that killed my brother," he thought. The old woman lay down. "My grandson, I am tired out." "You can rest on the other side." He did not sleep, but kept watching her. She thought he was asleep. She had two medicines, one for poisoning, and the other for resuscitating people. When she tried to poison him, he seized her and killed her with her own medicine. With the other he restored his brother to life.

1 Waxnun'jange wakan'.
a1 Cf. Wissler and Duvall, p. 107 (Blackfoot); Dorsey and Kroeber, p. 209 (Arapaho); Kroeber, (d), p. 181 (Cheyenne).
b2 Cf. " The False Comrade," p. 205.


Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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