Myths and Legends of the Great Plains

Page: 23

Enlarged from a sketch in Report of the Bureau of Ethnology

Enlarged from a sketch in Report of the Bureau of Ethnology

[Pg 71]



I went three times on the buffalo hunt. When I was there the first time, I was small; therefore, I did not shoot the buffaloes. But I used to take care of the pack horses for those who surrounded the herd. When they surrounded the herd at the very first, I spoke of shooting at the buffaloes. But my father said, “Perhaps the horse might throw you suddenly, and then the buffalo might gore you.” And I was in a bad humor.

My father went with me to the hill. We sat and looked on them when they attacked the buffaloes. And notwithstanding my father talked to me, I continued there without talking to him. At length one man was coming directly toward the tents in pursuit of a buffalo bull. And the buffalo bull was savage. He attacked the man now and then.

“Come! Go thither,” said my father. I tied a lariat [Pg 72] on a large red mare that was very tall. And taking a very light gun which my father had, I went over there. When I arrived the buffalo bull was standing motionless. The man said he was very glad that I had come. The buffalo bull was savage. The man shot suddenly at him with a bow and wounded him on the back. And then he attacked us. The horse on which I was seated leaped very far four times, and had gone off, throwing me suddenly. When the buffalo bull had come very close, he wheeled around and departed. So I failed to shoot at him before he went. I reached home just as my mother was scolding my father about me. When the horse reached home with the bridle sticking to it, she knew that I had been thrown. My father said nothing at all, but sat laughing. Addressing me, he said, “Did you kill the buffalo bull?” And I did not speak.


[G] The author, Frank La Flèche, an Omaha Indian, was about twelve years old when this occurred.

[Pg 73]



When whippoorwills sing together at night, “Hohin, hohin,” one says in reply, “No.” If the birds stop talking at once, then the person will die soon. But if the birds continue talking, then the man will live a long time.

The gray screech owl foretells cold weather. When the night is to be very cold, then the owl cries out; it sounds just as if a person’s teeth chattered. When the owl cries out, all people wrap themselves in their thickest robes; and they put plenty of wood on the fires.

The Ski-bi-bi-la is a small gray bird, with a black head, and spotted on the breast. It lives in the woods, and it answers a person who calls to it. When this bird says, “Has it returned?” people are glad. They know that spring is near. When a boy hears the bird ask this question, he runs to his mother; she tells him he must answer, “No; it has not yet returned.”