Indian Mythology | Assiniboin Mythology

The Wolf Wife


A man dreamt of a she-wolf and took her to wife. He slept with her in his lodge. The old man saw his son sleeping with her. After a while, the young man consorted with another woman. The wolf was angry and killed her, then she departed and gave birth to a child that looked partly human and partly wolf-like. When grown-up, the boy looked for his father and, lived with him. He was a good hunter and ran so fast that he could catch the fleeing deer. After a while he found his mother and took her to her husband, who was very glad.1

The Antelope-Woman.2

Some men were hunting antelope. Having located the game, they approached a wood. One of them said, "I want to stop here, wait for me by that hill." It was so hot that all of them stripped and carried their clothes along. They waited for the young man, but he did not return. He met a beautiful girl. He approached her and asked, "What are you doing here?" "I am looking for roots." "Who is with you?" "No one. Where are you going?" "I am looking for antelope." "I shall follow wherever you go." He asked her whether there was anyone with her, and again she answered there was not. He was about to embrace her, when suddenly a friend of his appeared and asked, "What are you doing?" The young man jumped up, and the woman, turning into an antelope, disappeared in the brush. He followed her. His friend pursued him, but could not catch him, so he returned to camp and told the young man's father. All went to look for the young man in the brush. One man discovered the hero and signaled to the other men looking for him, but the lost youth said, "Friend, let me go, I have become a male antelope, and she is my wife now." They wanted to catch both, but they escaped. Nothing more was heard of the young man.

From that day the Indians believe that antelopes may turn into women and lure away men.

The Red Hawk And The Black Hawk

A lot of people were starving. The Red Hawk was waiting to devour them. He met the Black Hawk and told him, "Many people are going to starve here, and we can have lots to eat." The Black Hawk said, "I wish to help the poor people." The Red Hawk said, "You cannot get the better of me in anything." The Black Hawk answered, "I do everything slowly, nevertheless you cannot beat me. We'll see which of us is the better." Red Hawk said, "If I beat you, I'll eat those starving people." In the night both went into a wood. They saw many rabbits. Red Hawk was used to hunting rabbits, while Black Hawk generally killed mice. After a while, a rabbit came along. Red Hawk said, "Kill this rabbit." Black Hawk flew in pursuit, seized it, but could not fly with it. It ran a little distance, then he killed it. It was the first rabbit he had ever killed. The two birds went to another place, where there was plenty of timber. They saw some mice. "Catch those mice," said the Black Hawk. Red Hawk flew after them, but his wings struck the trees, making a noise. He thought he had caught one, but when he brought it back he found it was only some dung. Black Hawk saw that it was only a dog's excrements. Four times Red Hawk tried to catch mice, but at each trial he only caught some dung. Then he bade Black Hawk try. Black Hawk flew noiselessly and caught the mice. Red Hawk was beaten and went away. The Black Hawk taught men to hunt. They killed game then, and did not starve.


Some people were camping; Frog lived nearby. One of the men in the tribe had many good-looking children, while all of Frog's children were ugly. While the children were all playing together one day, Frog stole the youngest of the good-looking children, which was just beginning to walk. He raised it. "How is this?" asked one of Frog's children; "this child is handsome, and all the rest of us are ugly." "Oh, I washed him in red water, that is why he is handsome." At last, the man whose child had been stolen re-captured the kidnapped boy. He was very angry at Frog. Frog was scared and went into the water. That is why frogs live there now.

The Crane And The Otter

Some birds lay eggs early in the season, some later, but the crane is the last to hatch. When the young ducks and geese were flying away to a warmer country, the young crane was still too weak to fly. Winter was approaching. The mother-bird asked Otter to keep the bird for her during the winter; in return she would reward her in the spring. Otter kept her ward in a warm hole. Once Osni' (Cold) came to the camp, killed Otter, and carried off the young crane to his home, where he made him stir the fire for him with his bill. He was never allowed to go anywhere else. He was starving and became ugly; the fire burnt his back, so that the crane's skin is of a reddish-brown color now. In the spring, when the south side of the hills was warm while the northern side was still frozen, the young crane knew his mother would return soon. He went into the sunshine and called her. He continued to do so later in the spring. Osni' cried, "Come in here, stop that noise, my grandson." The crane cried all the louder. Osni' pursued him and nearly caught him, when suddenly a clap of thunder was heard and the lightning struck Osni' and tore him to pieces. The Crane was there, and asked her young one how he had been treated during the winter. He told her that Otter had treated him well, while Osni' had abused him. The old bird looked for another otter, and said to him, "Henceforth the cold (osni') will never kill you." Thus she paid the Otter for his services. This is why the Otter can live in the water throughout winter without freezing.


A man saw some elk on the other side of a river, which he could not cross. "I wish," said he, "that some one would take me across." An elk came to get him. The elk was thin and bony, so the man said, "I want to ride another one." Then a fat elk came. He rode across, and, as soon as they had gotten to the other side, he drove his knife into the elk. At first he could not pierce its skin, but with the second stroke he killed it.4

While he was skinning the elk, a wolf approached, and asked, "Where do you camp?" "My camp is over there by the river." "Wait here, I will tell your people." Then he piled up the meat, and covered both the food and the man with a skin. The cover was heavy and when the wolf was gone the man tried to get out. He got himself covered with blood. When he got out at last, he had turned into the bird Wi'skedidi'n.

The Loon And The Bald-Headed Eagle

A Bald-Headed Eagle was perched on a tree slanting towards a lake, where a Loon was swimming around. Seeing the Eagle, the Loon asked, "What are you sitting there for?" "I am just watching for something to kill." "You are never able to kill anything." "Why do you speak to me like this?" "You are a bird that is never able to kill anything, that is why I am telling you so." "You are a miserable bird yourself, yet you are abusing me." The Loon replied, "You are a poor one; if you wanted to catch me, you would never succeed." "You'll see whether I am not able to kill anything," said the Eagle, flying towards the Loon, who dived into the water. The Eagle flew directly above him, waiting to swoop down as soon as the Loon came up to breathe. When the Loon was exhausted, he tried to rise under some trees, but the Eagle was straight above him. At last, he dived underground so as to reach another lake. But the Eagle followed and continued to hover above him. The Loon went to a third lake, and after-wards to a fourth, but the Eagle still pursued him. At last, the Eagle got angry, turned into Thunder and killed the Loon with a flash of lightning.

1 Obviously a very fragmentary version.
2 Ft. Belknap. Cf. Wissler and Duvall, p. 162 (Blackfoot); G. A. Dorsey, (a), p. 354 (Pawnee).
3 Cf. Schoolcraft, p. 246 (Ojibwa).
4 Cf. Lowie, p. 267 (Shoshone); G. A. Dzrsey, (e), p. 271 (Wichita).

Assiniboin Mythology

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Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, 1909



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