Now Old Man was walking along, and far off he saw many
wolves; and when he came closer, he saw there the chief
of the wolves, a very old one, and sitting around him
were all his children.
Old Man said, "Pity me,
Wolf Chief; make me into a wolf, that I may live your
way and catch deer and everything that runs fast."
"Come near then," said the Wolf Chief, "that I
may rub your body with my hands, so that hair will cover
"Hold," said Old Man; "do not cover my body with
hair. On my head, arms, and legs only, put hair."
When the Chief Wolf had done so, he said to Old
Man: "You shall have three companions to help you, one
is a very swift runner, another a good runner, and the
last is not very fast. Take them with you now, and
others of my younger children who are learning to hunt,
but do not go where the wind blows; keep in the shelter,
or the young ones will freeze to death." Then they went
hunting, and Old Man led them on the high buttes, where
it was very cold.
At night, they lay down to sleep, and Old Man
nearly froze; and he said to the wolves, "Cover me with
your tails." So all the wolves lay down around him, and
covered his body with their tails, and he soon got warm
and slept. Before long he awoke and said angrily, "Take
off those tails," and the wolves moved away; but after a
little time he again became cold, and cried out, "Oh my
young brothers, cover me with your tails or I shall
freeze." So they lay down by him again and covered his
body with their tails.
When it was daylight, they all rose and hunted.
They saw some moose, and, chasing them, killed three.
Now, when they were about to eat, the Chief Wolf came
along with many of his children, and one wolf said, "Let
us make pemmican of those moose"; and every one was
glad. Then said the one who made pemmican, "No one must
look, everybody shut his eyes, while I make the
pemmican"; but Old Man looked, and the pemmican-maker
threw a round bone and hit him on the nose, and it hurt.
Then Old Man said, "Let me make the pemmican." So all
the wolves shut their eyes, and Old Man took the round
bone and killed the wolf who had hit him. Then the Chief
Wolf was angry, and he said, "Why did you kill your
brother?" "I didn't mean to," replied Old Man. "He
looked and I threw the round bone at him, but I only
meant to hurt him a little." Then said the Chief Wolf:
"You cannot live with us any longer. Take one of your
companions, and go off by yourselves and hunt." So Old
Man took the swift runner, and they went and lived by
themselves a long time; and they killed all the elk, and
deer, and antelope, and moose they wanted.
One morning they awoke, and Old Man said: "Oh my
young brother, I have had a bad dream. Hereafter, when
you chase anything, if it jumps a stream, you must not
follow it. Even a little spring you must not jump." And
the wolf promised not to jump over water.
Now one day the wolf was chasing a moose, and it
ran on to an island. The stream about it was very small;
so the wolf thought: "This is such a little stream that
I must jump it. That moose is very tired, and I don't
think it will leave the island." So he jumped on to the
island, and as soon as he entered the brush, a bear
caught him, for the island was the home of the Chief
Bear and his two brothers. Old Man waited a long time
for the wolf to come back, and then went to look for
him. He asked all the birds he met if they had seen him,
but they all said they had not.
At last he saw a kingfisher, who was sitting on a
limb overhanging the water. "Why do you sit there, my
young brother?" said Old Man. "Because," replied the
kingfisher, "the Chief Bear and his brothers have killed
your wolf; they have eaten the meat and thrown the fat
into the river, and whenever I see a piece come floating
along, I fly down and get it." Then said Old Man, "Do
the Bear Chief and his brothers often come out? and
where do they live?" "They come out every morning to
play," said the kingfisher; "and they live upon that
Old Man went up there and saw their tracks on
the sand, where they had been playing, and he turned
himself into a rotten tree. By and by the bears came
out, and when they saw the tree, the Chief Bear said:
"Look at that rotten tree. It is Old Man. Go, brothers,
and see if it is not." So the two brothers went over to
the tree, and clawed it; and they said, "No, brother, it
is only a tree." Then the Chief Bear went over and
clawed and bit the tree, and although it hurt Old Man,
he never moved. Then the Bear Chief was sure it was only
a tree, and he began to play with his brothers. Now
while they were playing, and all were on their backs,
Old Man leaned over and shot an arrow into each one of
them; and they cried out loudly and ran back on the
island. Then Old Man changed into himself, and walked
down along the river. Pretty soon he saw a frog jumping
along, and every time it jumped it would say, "Ni'-nah
O-kyai'-yu!" And sometimes it would stop and sing:
"Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu! Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu! Chief Bear!
Chief Bear! Nap'-i I-nit'-si-wah Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu!"
Old Man kill him Chief Bear! "What do you say?" cried
Old Man. The frog repeated what he had said.
"Ah!" exclaimed Old Man, "tell me all about it."
"The Chief Bear and his brothers," replied the
frog, "were playing on the sand, when Old Man shot
arrows into them. They are not dead, but the arrows are
very near their hearts; if you should shove ever so
little on them, the points would cut their hearts. I am
going after medicine now to cure them."
Then Old Man killed the frog and skinned her,
and put the hide on himself and swam back to the island,
and hopped up toward the bears, crying at every step,
"Ni'-nah O-kyai'-yu!" just as the frog had done.
"Hurry," cried the Chief Bear.
"Yes," replied Old Man, and he went up and
shoved the arrow into his heart.
"I cured him; he is asleep now," he cried, and
he went up and shoved the arrow into the biggest
brother's heart. "I cured them; they are asleep now";
and he went up and shoved the arrow into the other
bear's heart. Then he built a big fire and skinned the
bears, and tried out the fat and poured it into a hollow
in the ground; and he called all the animals to come and
roll in it, that they might be fat. And all the animals
came and rolled in it. The bears came first and rolled
in it, that is the reason they get so fat. Last of all
came the rabbits, and the grease was almost all gone;
but they filled their paws with it and rubbed it on
their backs and between their hind legs. That is the
reason why rabbits have two such large layers of fat on
their backs, and that is what makes them so fat between
the hind legs.
[NOTE. The four preceding stories show the serious side
of Old Man's character. Those which follow represent him
as malicious, foolish, and impotent.]
Once, long ago, the antelope and the
deer met on the prairie. At this time both of them had
galls and both dew claws. They began to talk together,
and each was telling the other what he could do. Each
one told how fast he could run, and before long they
were disputing as to which could run the faster. Neither
would allow that the other could beat him, so they
agreed that they would have a race to decide which was
the swifter, and they bet their galls on the race. When
they ran, the antelope proved the faster runner, and
beat the deer and took his gall.
Then the deer said: "Yes, you have
beaten me on the prairie, but that is not where I live.
I only go out there sometimes to feed, or when I am
traveling around. We ought to have another race in the
timber. That is my home, and there I can run faster than
The antelope felt very big because
he had beaten the deer in the race, and he thought
wherever they might be, he could run faster than the
deer. So he agreed to race in the timber, and on this
race they bet their dew claws.
They ran through the thick timber,
among the brush and over fallen logs, and this time the
antelope ran slowly, because he was not used to this
kind of traveling, and the deer easily beat him, and
took his dew claws.
Since then the deer has had no
gall, and the antelope no dew claws.
[NOTE. A version of the first portion of
this story is current among the Pawnees, and has been
printed in Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk Tales.]