Myths and Legends of the Great Plains

Page: 27

Then he began to sing,

Dance with your eyes shut;
If you open your eyes
Your eyes shall be red!
Your eyes shall be red!

When he said and sang this, the geese, ducks, and swans danced with their eyes shut. Then Unktomi rose up and said,

I even, even I
Follow in my own;
I even, even I,
Follow in my own.

So they all gabbled as they danced, and Unktomi, dancing among them, commenced twisting off the necks of the fattest of the geese and ducks and swans. But when he tried to twist off the neck of a large swan and could not, he only made him squawk. Then a small duck, called Skiska, partly opened his eyes. He saw Unktomi try to break the swan’s neck, and he made an outcry:

Look ye, look ye!
Unktomi will destroy us all.
Look ye, look ye!

[Pg 86] At once they all opened their eyes and attempted to go out. But Unktomi threw himself in the doorway and tried to stop them. They rushed upon him with their feet and wings, and smote him and knocked him over, walking on his stomach, and leaving him as though dead. Then Unktomi came to life, and got up, and looked around.

But they say that the Wood Duck, which looked first, had his eyes made red.

Then Unktomi gathered up the ducks and geese and swans he had killed and carried them on his back. He came to a river and traveled along by the side of it till he came to a long, straight place where he stopped to boil his kettle. He put all the ducks and geese and swans whose necks he had twisted into the kettle, and set it on the fire to boil, and then he lay down to sleep.

As he lay there, curled up on the bank of the river, he said, “Mionze [familiar spirit], if anyone comes you wake me up.” So he slept.

Now a mink came paddling along on the river, and coming close to Unktomi’s boiling place, saw him lying fast asleep. Then he went there. While Unktomi slept, he took out all the boiling meat and ate it up, putting the bones back into the kettle. Then Unktomi waked up. He sat up and saw no one.

“Perhaps my boiling is cooked for me,” he said.

[Pg 87] He took the kettle off the fire. He poked a stick into it and found only bones. Then he said, “Indeed, the meat has all fallen off.” So he took a spoon and dipped it out; nothing was there but bones.

This is the story of Unktomi and the Bad Songs.

[Pg 88]



Once Pheasant saw a woman beating corn in a wooden mortar in front of her lodge.

“I can do that, too,” said Pheasant.

“I don’t believe you,” said the woman.