Myths and Legends of the Great Plains

Page: 33

He took a few of the grains and showed them to the people. He ate some. He did not die. So the people knew Wahkoda had sent this plant to them for food.

Now in the fall, when the prairie grass turned brown, the leaves of this plant turned brown also. Then the [Pg 104] fruit was plucked, and put away. After the winter was over, the kernels were divided. There were four to each family.

Then the people moved the lodges to the place where the plant had grown. When the hills became green, they planted the seed of the strange plant. But first they built little mounds like the one out of which it grew. So the fruit grew and ripened. It had many colors; red, and yellow, and white, and blue.

Then the next year there were many plants and many ears of corn. So they sent to other tribes. They invited them to visit them and gave them of the new food. Thus the Omahas came to have corn.

[Pg 105]



Long ago, the people followed the Missouri River northward to a place where they could step over the water. Then they turned, and were going across the land. Then they met the Padouca [Comanche].

At that time the Ponca had no animals but dogs to help them carry burdens. Wherever they went they had to go on foot, but the people were strong and fleet. They could run a great distance and not be weary. One day when they were hunting buffalo, they met the Padouca. Then they had many battles with them. The Padouca were mounted on strange animals. At first the Ponca thought it was all one animal. The Padouca had bows made from elk horn. They were not very long, nor were they very strong. They boiled the horn until it was soft; then they scraped it, and bound it together with sinews and glue. Their arrows were tipped with bone. They fought also with a stone battle-ax. The handle was a sapling; a grooved stone ax head, pointed at both ends, was fastened to this with [Pg 106] rawhides. So the Padouca were terrible fighters. They protected their horses with a covering of thick rawhide cut in round pieces, and put together like fish scales. They spread glue over the outside and then sand. So when the Comanches fought, the arrows of their enemies glanced off the horses’ armor. Then the Padouca made breastplates for themselves like those of the horses.

When the Ponca met these terrible warriors, they were afraid. They thought man and horse were one. They named it “Kawa” because they noticed the odor of the horse. Then they knew by this odor when the Padouca were coming. When a man smelled the horses, he would run to the camp and say, “The wind tells us the Kawa are coming.” Then the Ponca would make ready to defend themselves. The Ponca had many battles with the Comanches. They did not know how to use the animals, so they killed the horses as well as the men. Neither could they find out where the Padouca lived.