Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

War Tales


Long ago the Stoneys were camping near the Saskatchewan. Some Kootenay were living in the mountains. The Stoneys made a raid on their camp, and the Kootenay ran away. Only two of them remained and hid on a tree. The Stoneys thought that all had fled, and pursued them, catch-ing some, while 'others escaped to the mountains, whence they rolled down large rocks on the pursuers. The Stoneys turned back. One Kootenay squaw ran back towards the old camp with her child. The Stoneys plundered the camp, found the two hidden boys, and carried them off, singing a war-song.

The next winter the Shuswap came to the Stoneys on their snowshoes and made friends with them. One Shuswap, however, was angry on ac-count of the attack on the Kootenay and stayed alone, never untying his snowshoes. At last he succeeded in embroiling the Stoneys and Shuswap. In the fight the Stoneys captured two women and three children. In the spring the captives ran away at night. For a while they could not get any food except gopher. The Shuswap thought both were dead. After a while one of them starved. Of the Kootenay captives, one did not care to live with the Stoneys and committed suicide. The other Kootenay took a Stoney girl to wife, and had a boy. Afterwards he also committed suicide.

There was a Stoney named Saddle. His father had killed six Shuswap in a battle, but one of them escaped because of his many dreams. After the fight was over, Saddle asked, "Where is my brother?" "He is chasing the long-haired Shuswap." Saddle followed his brother. His brother had a knife tied to either hand. After going some distance, Saddle heard a noise. The Shuswap had taken away his brother's knives and pushed them into his sides, nearly killing him. "Brother, this Shuswap drove his knife in here." Saddle pursued the Shuswap, a knife tied to each of his hands. He cried, "Come here, I wish to kill you." The Shuswap knew that there was just one thing Saddle was afraid of: dried wood. Accordingly, he used a club of dried wood, and Saddle fled. The Shuswap went to a steep mountain. There a Stoney attacked him and slashed him again and again with his knife. For a-long time the Shuswap remained alive. He said, "If I wanted to, I could kill all the Stoneys." Saddle returned, and cut off his head and his long hair. Then the Shuswap's body stood up headless. A great deal of blood issued from it, and there were many snakes and frogs inside the body. The eyes of the head remained open. Saddle took the scalp.

The Stoneys and Cree were fighting on account of women. The Stoneys killed many of the Cree and lost only one of their own men. The Cree were angry. They again came to the Saskatchewan to attack the Stoneys. One of them, however, said, "We had better go home, the Stoneys are hard fighters." Seven Cree went to the Stoney camp north of Edmonton and hid in the brush. The Stoneys moved camp, only one of them remaining behind. When he finally went after the rest of his people, singing as he went along, the seven Cree approached and nearly killed him with a shot in the shoulder. The Cree thought he was dead, but he supported him-self and began to shoot back at them. The Stoneys ran back and were attacked by the Cree, who wounded Jacob Bear's-Paw1 in the wrist, break-ing his bone. The Cree made an enclosure, but the Stoneys leapt in and knifed them. The Stoneys are called Hopa'maksa, because they cut their enemies' throats. The Stoneys killed all the Cree. The creek where this took place is called Cahi'abi-wintca'-kte-bi-wa'pta (Cree-them-they-killed creek).

There were two comrades. One went traveling, while the other stayed at home. The traveler did not return; he had been killed. His comrade went on a war-expedition. He arrived at the enemy's camp and entered the chief's lodge. The chief's wife offered him water, but he did not drink it. The chief offered him his pipe, but he refused to smoke it. After a while, the chief looked for something behind the bed and showed his visitor his dead friend's heads. The young man was furious. The chief took a knife and, offering it to his guest, said, "Kill me." The man would not take it, then the chief stabbed him with it, but without killing him. The young man pulled out the blade and killed his enemy with it. When all the people rushed in to capture him, he killed some more, and fled. They pursued him, but he turned into an antelope and escaped.

The Kootenay were fighting the Stoneys and were repulsed. They fled back to the mountains. Two women, one of them blind, strayed away from their people. In the winter they would pick the bones of buffalo discarded by the Stoneys. They had hardly any clothes. One Kootenay, who had seen them running at a distance, reported it to the chief. The chief said, "In the spring we shall look for them." In the spring they were found by their people. One of the women had no clothes, using a coating of mud in place of moccasins. The Kootenay provided both with food and clothes.

A Kootenay stole a Piegan's son, took him across the mountains, and kept him for a year. He owned many good horses, and one of them was a fast race-horse. The young Piegan said to himself, "In the summer I shall go back to the people." One summer night he fled with two of his captor's best horses. The fugitive knew only one path, while the Kootenay knew all the roads. The Kootenay told his people to head off the young man by traveling along the shortest route. They caught sight of him and pursued him, but his horse was fast and he got across the mountains. The Kootenay chased him beyond Porcupine Hill. The Piegan reached the top of a hill, and tied up his horse in the wood. The Kootenay passed him, but, looking back, he saw the young man leading his two horses and went back. When he was close, he said, "I don't like your stealing the horses. I told you you could take whichever horse you liked best. Now, which of us two is strongest, shall have the three horses. If you kill me, take my scalp and the three horses, and if I win I will do the same to you." They undressed and stood close to each other. The Kootenay looked into the Piegan's eyes; the Piegan looked scared. The Kootenay killed him, scalped him, left the corpse, and rode back with his three horses.

The people were camping together. One chief said to a scout, "Go to the top of the hill. If you spy any people, indicate the direction they come from by flashing a mirror." The young man went and discovered some enemies stealing the people's horses. He signaled to his people, and they went in pursuit of the thieves. The enemy did not run, but prepared for a fight. They killed the chief. Then all his followers became furious. They rushed on the enemy with their knives, slaying all save a single man. They stripped off all his clothes, even his moccasins, and bade him return where he came from. He had a hard time of it, his feet were worn out. The people recaptured their horses. One Stoney was killed by a shot in the shoulder, which passed out at the other side. The people moved camp.

The Flathead had heard that the Stoneys were the best fighters. Five Flatheads went on a horse-raid. Three Stoneys pursued them. They went around the Flathead, who did not know the country. One of the Stoneys had a mule which began to bray. The Stoneys headed off the enemy and shot at the Flathead, but missed, only killing one of their horses. The Flathead riding it jumped on another horse. Now the enemy only had four Stoney horses. The Stoney captured the five saddled horses of the Flathead. The enemy retreated to the brush. One Stoney in the camp heard the report of the guns. He went to look at the fight. The fighting Stoneys shouted, "Don't stand there, that's where they are aiming at!" But he went close and was shot in the mentula. The Stoneys were angry, rushed on the Flathead, and knifed one of them.. The wounded Stoney lived four days more, then he died. The Flathead never attacked the Stoneys again.

Twenty-two Cree were traveling together; one of them was an orphan. They heard the sound of a woman crying in a coulee, "Let me alone! Let me alone!" When they got close, they could not see anyone. Again they heard the same cry. The orphan knew what was the matter, but would not tell his companions. At last, they found that it was Porcupine's wife, whom her husband was beating in a coul6e. Porcupine explained that she had been unfaithful to him. He also said, "'You had better go home, or all of you will be killed." The chief said, "No, we are looking for a fight." After two days' journey they met some hostile Indians who killed them all, except the orphan and one other man who was wounded in the leg. The orphan went home. After ten days the other man began to crawl along on his hands until they got sore. He found a lodge-pole, cut it in two, and walked on the fragments as stilts. He got so hungry that he ate his buffalo robe. He reached a wood and built a fire there. A woman came up in search of firewood. She had tied up her pony at the entrance to the forest. The man noticed the pony, leap to nit, and rode away. When near his own camp, he hid in a gully. He heard his parents lamenting his loss. Suddenly he stepped forth. "I am not dead, I am here." His parents kissed him and were very glad.

1 Father of one of the present chiefs.

Assiniboin Mythology

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied .

Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



Indian Myths and Legends

Indian Genealogy

Indian Gifts

Heirloom Native American seeds packaged for giving. Navajo Blue Corn, Bloody Butcher Corn, Greasy Beans, Cherokee Purple Tomato, Cheese Pumpkin, Sonoran Mild Chile, Navajo Red Seeded Watermelon, Hopi Black Pinto Beans.
Order now for Spring planting!!


Submit Data/Comments


Add/Correct a Link

Copyright Indian Mythology, 2006