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Myths and Legends of the Great Plains

Page: 51

WHY THE WOLVES HELP IN WAR

Dakota

Once upon a time an Indian found a wolf den, and began digging into it to get the cubs.

Wolf Mother appeared, barking. She said, “Pity my children,” but he paid no attention to her. So she ran for her husband.

Wolf Father soon appeared. He barked. Still the man dug into the den. Then Wolf Father sang a beautiful song. He sang, “O man, pity my children, and I will teach you one of my arts.” He ended with a howl which caused a fog. When the Wolf Father howled again, the fog disappeared.

The man thought, “These animals have mysterious gifts.” So he tore up his red blanket into small pieces. He tied a piece around the neck of each of the wolf cubs, as a necklace. Then he painted them with red paint and put them back into the den.

Wolf Father was very grateful. He said, “When you go to war hereafter, I will go with you. I will bring about whatever you wish.” Then the man went away.

[Pg 154] After a while the man went on the warpath. Just as he came in sight of the village of the enemy, a large wolf met him.

Wolf said, “By and by I will sing. Then you shall steal their horses when they least suspect danger.”

So the man stopped on a hill close to the village. And the wolf sang. After that he howled, making a high wind arise. The horses fled to the forest, but many stopped on the hillside. When the wolf howled again, the wind died down and a mist arose. So the man on the warpath took as many horses as he pleased.


[Pg 155]

HOW RABBIT ESCAPED FROM THE WOLVES

Cherokee

Once upon a time, Wolves caught Rabbit. They were going to eat him, but Rabbit said he would show them a new dance. Now the Wolves knew that Rabbit was a good dancer, so they made a ring around him.

Rabbit pattered with his feet and began to dance around in a circle, singing,

On the edge of the field I dance about,
Ha’ nia lil! lil! Ha’ nia lil! lil!

Then the Rabbit stopped a minute. He said, “Now when I sing ‘on the edge of the field,’ I dance that way”—and he danced over in that direction; “and when I sing ‘lil! lil!’ you must all stamp your feet hard.”

The Wolves liked that. They liked new dances.

Rabbit began singing the same song, dancing nearer to the field, while all the Wolves stamped their feet. He sang the song again, dancing still nearer the edge [Pg 156] of the field. The fourth time he sang it, while the Wolves were stamping their feet as hard as they could. Rabbit made one jump off and leaped through the long grass. The Wolves raced after him, but Rabbit ran for a hollow stump and climbed inside. When the Wolves got there, one of them put his head inside, but Rabbit hit him on the eye and he pulled his head out. The others were afraid to try, so they went away and left Rabbit in the stump.



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