Indian Mythology | Blackfoot Mythology

The Bad Weapons


     Once Old Man was fording a river, when the current carried him down stream, and he lost his weapons. He was very hungry, so he took the first wood he could find, and made a bow and arrows, and a handle for his knife and spear. When he had finished them, he started up a mountain. Pretty soon he saw a bear digging roots, and he thought he would have some fun, so he hid behind a log and called out, "No-tail animal, what are you doing?" The bear looked up, but, seeing no one, kept on digging.

     Then Old Man called out again, "Hi, you dirt-eater!" and then he dodged back out of sight. Then the bear sat up again, and this time he saw Old Man and ran after him.

     Old Man began shooting arrows at him, but the points only stuck in the skin, for the shafts were rotten and snapped off. Then he threw his spear, but that too was rotten, and broke. He tried to stab the bear, but his knife handle was also rotten and broke, so he turned and ran; and the bear pursued him. As he ran, he looked about for some weapon, but there was none, not even a rock. He called out to the animals to help him, but none came. His breath was almost gone, and the bear was very close to him, when he saw a bull's horn lying on the ground. He picked it up, placed it on his head, and, turning around, bellowed so loudly that the bear was scared and ran away.

The Buffalo Rock

A small stone, which is usually a fossil shell of some kind, is known by the Blackfeet as I-nis'-kim, the buffalo stone. This object is strong medicine, and, as indicated in some of these stories, gives its possessor great power with buffalo. The stone is found on the prairie, and the person who succeeds in obtaining one is regarded as very fortunate. Sometimes a man, who is riding along on the prairie, will hear a peculiar faint chirp, such as a little bird might utter. The sound he knows is made by a buffalo rock. He stops and searches on the ground for the rock, and if he cannot find it, marks the place and very likely returns next day, either alone or with others from the camp, to look for it again. If it is found, there is great rejoicing. How the first buffalo rock was obtained, and its power made known, is told in the following story.

     Long ago, in the winter time, the buffalo suddenly disappeared. The snow was so deep that the people could not move in search of them, for in those days they had no horses. So the hunters killed deer, elk, and other small game along the river bottoms, and when these were all killed off or driven away, the people began to starve.

     One day, a young married man killed a jack-rabbit. He was so hungry that he ran home as fast as he could, and told one of his wives to hurry and get some water to cook it. While the young woman was going along the path to the river, she heard a beautiful song. It sounded close by, but she looked all around and could see no one. The song seemed to come from a cotton-wood tree near the path. Looking closely at this tree she saw a queer rock jammed in a fork, where the tree was split, and with it a few hairs from a buffalo, which had rubbed there. The woman was frightened and dared not pass the tree. Pretty soon the singing stopped, and the I-nis'-kim [buffalo rock] spoke to the woman and said: "Take me to your lodge, and when it is dark, call in the people and teach them the song you have just heard. Pray, too, that you may not starve, and that the buffalo may come back. Do this, and when day comes, your hearts will be glad."

     The woman went on and got some water, and when she came back, took the rock and gave it to her husband, telling him about the song and what the rock had said. As soon as it was dark, the man called the chiefs and old men to his lodge, and his wife taught them this song. They prayed, too, as the rock had said should be done. Before long, they heard a noise far off. It was the tramp of a great herd of buffalo coming. Then they knew that the rock was very powerful, and, ever since that, the people have taken care of it and prayed to it.

[NOTE. I-nis'-kims are usually small _Ammonites_, or sections of _Baculites,_ or sometimes merely oddly shaped nodules of flint. It is said of them that if an I-nis'-kim is wrapped up and left undisturbed for a long time, it will have young ones; two small stones similar in shape to the original one will be found in the package with it.]

The Elk

     Old Man was very hungry. He had been a long time without food, and was thinking how he could get something to eat, when he saw a band of elk on a ridge. So he went up to them and said, "Oh, my brothers, I am lonesome because I have no one to follow me."

     "Go on, Old Man," said the elk, "we will follow you." Old Man led them about a long time, and when it was dark, he came near a high-cut bank. He ran around to one side where there was a slope, and he went down and then stood right under the steep bluff, and called out, "Come on, that is a nice jump, you will laugh."

     So the elk jumped off, all but one cow, and were killed.

     "Come on," said Old Man, "they have all jumped but you, it is nice."

     "Take pity on me," replied the cow. "My child is about to be born, and I am very heavy. I am afraid to jump."

     "Go on, then," answered Old Man; "go and live; then there will be plenty of elk again some day."

     Now Old Man built a fire and cooked some ribs, and then he skinned all the elk, cut up the meat to dry, and hung the tongues up on a pole.

     Next day he went off, and did not come back until night, when he was very hungry again. "I'll roast some ribs," he said, "and a tongue, and I'll stuff a marrow gut and cook that. I guess that will be enough for tonight." But when he got to the place, the meat was all gone. The wolves had eaten it. "I was smart to hang up those tongues," he said, "or I would not have had anything to eat." But the tongues were all hollow. The mice had eaten the meat out, leaving only the skin. So Old Man starved again.

Blackfoot 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 .

Blackfoot Lodge Tales



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