The Dreaming Stone
A Narrative of Kitkahahki Pawnee History
Based on three stories told by Good Food In Kettle
to James R. Murie and George Dorsey
for The Pawnee Mythology (1906)
Retold by Roger Echo-Hawk
Wishes and wonders could fill the tales of our lives with joy
as if to distill from life’s ambiguities a bright charter of hope
which mystical moments of magic empower us to remember
forever the lofty essences of utter vastnesses beyond memory
bequeathing a man and woman special places upon this planet
giving them rains wrapped up, holy shrines in their keeping
to become known to us, after these bundles, as the Kawarakis
and they had a son and then another son and many daughters
and from the two sons and their wives came many children
until the first man and the first woman grew old and the man
they called him Pitahawirata, Man From the East, he foretold
“Here is my house and it is full and we cannot all dwell here.
In the north we will someday build a house for my oldest son
and in time this will become known as Chaui, Leading City.
And for my younger son we will someday build another house
and people in the future will call it Kitkahahki, Small Town.”
This old man, Man From the East, he kept the original bundles
known as the Kawarakis Bundles, and their ceremonies he kept
and he taught their mysteries to his sons, giving them bundles
rains wrapped up, shrines for their wives to keep in their cities.
To his sons the old man said, “We will build houses facing west
but your children, as they increase, their houses will face east.”
The oldest son had his house in the west upon a stream known
as the Nemaha River, and the younger son built his house south
on the Little Nemaha in those days. And so from the Kawarakis
came the Pitahawirata in the east, and the Chaui went westward
and the Kitkahahki went south, and all of these folk increased.
This happened long ago in the ancient realm of the Kawarakis
a treasured memoir in the forgetfulness that slowly takes hold
of our lingering truths, whatever makes us ourselves in this tale.
And as for what fills lifetime after lifetime... the great wonder
of celestial mysteries filled the Pitahawirata, and mighty gods
of space watched over the Chaui, and among the Kitkahahki
they owned many bundles and understood the powers of stones
one day the Kitkahahki people would bear esoteric knowledge
learning of a god of the earth, a deity made of stone, a divinity
who would speak to the Kitkahahki, and in those days when
at last this god spoke to the Kitkahahki, it would promise fame
it would make them famous among all the people of the earth.
Forgotten ancestors of Good Food In Kettle handed on to her
the wonderful tale of Stone Man and Animal Boy as a record
of Kitkahahki history. Untangling the tale we find two stories
entwined, both afloat in time, weaving together Animal Boy
with Burned Belly, an ancient hero, and Stone Man with cruel
Crow Feathers. In the account of Stone Man and Animal Boy
Pawnee historians explained the establishment of a ceremony
a ceremony handed down from the marriage of Animal Boy
and the daughter of Stone Man, an evil wizard of olden times
who played a fearsome game of murderous human sacrifice
whose magic power arose from stone, from atop a “plateau”
and who casually oppressed his daughter until she hated him
and out of those days long ago men venerated a sacred stone
they sang of Animal Boy many years after they lost the stone
set adrift one day during the Pawnee war with enemy Sioux.
This is the story of a hero and a villain, of good versus evil
the tale of two Pawnee men, one who fell into wicked ways
after finding a stone god on the distant edges of Pawneeland
in the realm we know as Yellowstone, land of the stone deity.
To Stone Man the stone god spoke, saying, “You’ll be called
Stone Man and you will be a great soldier and arrows will not
pierce you.” Hearing the words of this stone god, Stone Man
returned to his people in Pawneeland. But things went awry.
Invulnerable, he enjoyed his strength and he grew arrogant
and he treated everyone badly – so badly they bent their will
to kill him, Stone Man, and they found they couldn’t kill him.
Fortunately for the Kitkahahki, there was a miraculous youth
among the Chaui. Animal Boy they called him; and he saved
the Kitkahahki. And his life seems both sad and heroic because
his story didn’t begin very well and he had trouble and tragedy.
But in the end it turned out well. And from Animal Boy came
a new ceremony of the Kitkahahki, the Holy Stone Man Lodge.
In his mysterious life, if they say he disappeared and returned
this must be because his life echoed the life of an ancient hero
a youth named Burned Belly, of whom they told many tales
in the camps and the cities of the Kitkahahki – tales like this
as if reminiscing, a story told of a time of wonder and terror
evoking an uncertain world filled with ambiguity and mystery.
So when Good Food In Kettle told her stories to James Murie
and when Murie told the stories to George Dorsey and when
they wrote down these tales, well, somehow the accounts of
Animal Boy and of Burned Belly became fused and confused.
Once upon a time there grew up a young man who disappeared
and when he reappeared, he was a magical young man. They
dubbed him Burned Belly, meaning he seemed not only lazy
but also presumptuous, casually taking a seat as he often did
at the fireplace in the center of the earthlodge, a place of honor
daydreaming before the flames so much he’d scorch his belly.
There was also a man who acted oddly and had many names.
They called him Cheat Coyote, Crow Feathers. He stole things
from many people. Yet he was sly and the people didn’t know.
One year when the Pawnee bands gathered to make an offering
of buffalo to the gods, Crow Feathers noticed Burned Belly
a youth dressed in fine buckskin leggings and new moccasins.
Desiring these clothes, Crow Feathers determined to have them.
One day when Burned Belly journeyed alone into the timber
there he found this fellow, Crow Feathers, as if by accident.
And Crow Feathers dared him to turn into some kind of animal.
He at first refused, but finally consented. Taking off his finery
Burned Belly became an eagle, rising and beating great wings.
As the boy flew overhead, Crow Feathers spoke an incantation
“Be an eagle always. Don’t come back to earth.” As he flew
the boy tried to land and discovered to his horror he couldn’t
return to his human form. Crow Feathers picked up the boy’s
moccasins and leggings and went home. The boy was missed.
After a long search, however, the people gave him up for dead.
This is an old story, an ancient theme in American storytelling
the vanquished hero who returns from death to save everyone.
In this Kitkahahki version, Burned Belly came back as a baby:
There was a poor man and woman who lived east of the city.
They had no earthlodge and no tipi, and so they had no choice
but to build a grasslodge. As the old lady gathered grass for it
a bird flew down, falling before her into a bunch of tall blades.
The old woman peered into the grass and there saw a baby boy.
She hurried to tell her husband, “We have a baby grandchild.”
The two wrapped the baby in old skins, but they were so poor
they had nothing to feed the child. They placed him by the fire.
The next morning the child had grown larger. As days went by
the child swiftly grew taller and in only a few days he’d grown
so much that now he could run around the grasslodge, playing.
And suddenly one day he could talk. He ran to the man to ask
“Grandfather, build me a bow and four arrows so I can play
with them.” The old man agreed, making a bow and arrows.
With these the boy set forth for the timber to hunt for game.
But he couldn’t kill anything with the little bow and arrows
so he asked the old man for a larger bow and larger arrows.
The man agreed. Next the boy approached the old woman
The boy asked the woman for a spider-web ring. She cut off
a piece of her robe to make the ring. He hung the ring outside
their grasslodge. The next day he arose early to play, calling
his grandmother to awaken and get the ring and roll it for him.
“Well,” agreed the old lady, “I will roll it.” She rolled the ring
inside the grasslodge and the boy shot at it. The arrow passed
through the ring and the boy said, “Get your knife, grandfather
and skin that buffalo.” When the old man looked at the place
where the ring had been, there lay a dead buffalo. The old man
gave a grunt of satisfaction and he began to skin the buffalo.
The old woman set the buffalo bones around the fire to roast.
They didn’t throw any meat away, for they were poor folk
and they were hungry and hadn’t had meat for a long time.
When this meat was gone, the boy again asked the old lady
to roll the ring and again he shot and killed another buffalo.
Burned Belly continued to kill a buffalo every day. Soon they
had plentiful meat. The old people recognized this boy was
wonderful and had magic powers, but no one else in the city
paid any attention, for he continued to go around everywhere
ragged and dirty, and the people always saw him like that.
No one recognized him for the youth who had disappeared
but he was that same boy. You see, back when he disappeared
the animals took him into their secret holy lodge and they
bestowed magic powers upon him. The animals have powers
to help and to harm humankind, and they helped the youth, so
Burned Belly returned to the people as an anonymous poor boy.
The people were hungry in those days, for an animal roamed
the land, frightening away the buffalo with fearsome howling.
This animal they called the red fox. The leader gave orders
for the people to kill this pesky fox. All of them tried to kill it
or to catch it, but they failed. So the leader instructed his crier
to go through the city and announce that whoever should slay
the red fox would marry his oldest daughter, a beautiful girl.
The crier walked around the city announcing to all the people
what the leader had said. And hearing this news, Burned Belly
in his grasslodge declared, “Grandmother, I’ll kill the red fox
and I will marry the leader’s beautiful daughter.” The old lady
she nearly wept. Then she laid her hands upon the boy’s head
as if to bless him with her good wishes. But instead she said
sadly, “My poor boy thinks he is going to kill the red fox.”
The boy prepared himself anyway and set forth. He wandered
over the lonely prairies until he arrived at a wooded copse.
There he found men fixing pieces of timber to trap the red fox.
Everywhere he went he found men preparing various traps.
Burned Belly went home. “Grandmother,” he said, “the men
are out fixing their traps to catch the red fox. Crow Feathers
has gone out, too. I predict he’s going to take my fox away.
I will make my trap nearby, so we can watch it. Grandmother
go cut a long elm pole and put a sinew string at the small end.
Dig a hole and set the pole in it. Then make a kind of hole
in the ground where the loop of the sinew string will be hidden.
Lay a piece of stick across this and place the bait right there.
When the fox bites the bait it will get caught and will swing
up into the air.” The old woman went out and fixed this trap
as she had been directed by the boy. Then they went home.
Burned Belly couldn’t sleep, thinking excitedly of his trap.
Early the next morning he went to the trap; there was the fox.
The fox swung up and down, so the boy had to jump around
as he tried to pull it down. At last he caught the end of its tail
and bounced up and down with the fox. Finally, the fur shook
out of its tail and the boy fell to the ground. As he stood up
someone struck him on the side of the head and a voice spoke
“Get out of my way! This is my red fox. I am going to kill it
and then take it to the leader and I shall marry his daughter.”
The boy looked at the fur in his hand and he found he had
the whole hide of the red fox. Feeling satisfied, he went home.
The man who had struck him was, of course, Crow Feathers.
As Burned Belly entered the lodge of his grandmother he said
“Grandmother, I have here the red fox. Crow Feathers tried
to take it away from me, but I have it here.” The old woman
took the fox hide from him and hung it up on the grasslodge.
Crow Feathers took his stolen fox home. But the body needed
to be whole, so he placed fake fur upon it, and when the leader
saw, he gladly gave his daughter in marriage to Crow Feathers.
He tied the fox to a long pole and set the pole in the ground.
Each day the people went to Crow Feathers’ house to see it.
As the people came near the fox pelt, its fur loosened and fell
to the ground. These fox hairs were not red, but were instead
a bluish color. Surprised, the people whispered to each other,
“Why, this fox is not red.” Still the buffalo did not appear
anywhere near the city, but the boy had his magic bow and
his arrows and the ring and each day his grandmother rolled
the ring and he shot at it. Each time they would find a buffalo
lying dead in the place where the ring fell. The old man would
skin the buffalo and the old woman would jerk it and dry it.
Meanwhile, Crow Feathers married the leader’s daughter
And everybody talked about it hopefully, for they suffered
from hunger and they all looked to Crow Feathers for help
hoping he would reveal his ability to aid them in some way.
One day Burned Belly said to his grandmother, “Take a roll
of pemmican and visit the leader’s house. Sit at the entrance
of his house, and when you grow weary, arise then, and drop
the pemmican. The people will notice and the leader will see
and he will call you back. When he calls you back to ask what
the thing is that you have dropped, tell him it is a piece of fat
with which you grease the boy’s eyes.” The old woman agreed
and when she dropped the pemmican, people felt astonished
And when they called her back, she told them that the thing
was fat to grease her grandchild’s eyes with. “But,” said she
“if you wish, you may grease your lips with it.” The old lady
headed home. It so happened that the leader had another girl
a younger daughter, and he told this girl to follow the old lady
to see what she had at her house. The girl went forth. Peeping
into the grasslodge, she saw the real red fox hanging there
on the side of the lodge, and it glowed, making the lodge red.
She also noticed many parfleches filled with buffalo meat
around the lodge. The boy sat beside the fire, warming his
belly. The girl didn’t enter the lodge. Instead, she went home.
When the old woman returned, the boy told her the leader’s
younger daughter had been there to see him. The old woman
nearly cried. “Why, my poor grandson, you must not think
you have any chance to marry the leader’s daughter. I will go
to see what the girl wanted.” Leaving, she soon saw the girl
just as she entered the city. When the old woman returned
the boy said, “Grandmother, I want you to take a parfleche
and lay the red fox upon it and carry it to the leader’s house.
Tell him I want the younger daughter for my wife.” And so
the old woman went to the leader’s earthlodge and she set
the fox and meat in the entrance and she spoke the message
“My grandson sends these things to the leader. Let him hang
the fox pelt by the other fox, and let the people see them.
Also let the leader summon all of his friends and feed them
with this meat, and as they eat, let him send for my grandson
and let my grandson sit beside the leader’s younger daughter
so they may eat together and become husband and wife.”
The leader listened gladly to the old woman’s words. He
sent for his friends, telling them to gaze upon the red fox.
The people were astonished, for they saw that the lodge
glowed very red. The leader, after he had eaten some meat
he said, “The poor boy shall sit by my daughter, and yes, she
shall be his wife. Send word to Crow Feathers, that my new
son-in-law may dwell in his earthlodge with him.” The boy
appeared and sat down by the girl. The leader said, “My boy
this very day you shall be my son-in-law. You shall live with
Crow Feathers, my other son-in-law.” The boy and his wife
set forth for the home of Crow Feathers. But first they arrived
at a pond. The boy entered the water and when he emerged
he was a fine-looking young man. He wore a cap made from
woodpecker’s feathers and his robe had pretty stars upon it.
At the earthlodge of Crow Feathers, they set up their bed
over on the north side of the house, while Crow Feathers
had his bed in the south. That night Crow Feathers peered
over at them, seeing something strange. There seemed to be
sparkling fire somehow shining upon the young man’s robe.
Some kind of enchantment made the robe glitter as if filled
with many lights. The next morning Crow Feathers noticed
how Burned Belly looked handsome, dressed up very fine.
He decided to imitate the young man in dress. And his wife
she fumed, for when Burned Belly first came to their home
she asked her younger sister if she could pour water into her
bowl to wash up, and the sister refused. The next morning
the older sister offered again, “You may take my bowl and let
your husband wash his face in it.” But again, the younger girl
refused, insisting, “I have my own bowl for my husband.”
The next day Burned Belly went off into the timber to catch
a woodpecker. He brought it home. The next morning he told
his wife to follow him to his grandmother’s grasslodge to eat.
He placed the woodpecker on top of his head. As they walked
the woodpecker flapped its wings and whistled wonderfully.
Crow Feathers saw the boy’s woodpecker and liked it. So he
trekked out into the timber and somehow he caught one and
brought it home. In the night Crow Feathers saw a marvelous
sparkling upon the young man’s robe. He grunted and took up
a branch of a tree and he struck the bed of hot coals, knocking
coals onto his own robe. In the morning he picked up his robe
to find it badly scorched. Undaunted, he took the woodpecker
and tied it upon his head, to his hair, while saying to his wife
“Let us go out; the people ought to see my power.” Thinking
how impressed he felt with Burned Belly’s things, he pictured
the admiration he would get from everyone. So Crow Feathers
stepped out proudly to show the people, but the woodpecker
started pecking at his head. It pecked hard. He began to bleed
and blood ran down his face. His wife hurried up to whisper
“You are being hurt. Let me take that bird off.” So she untied
the angry flapping bird from his bloody head. It flew away.
One day Burned Belly told the leader to have the crier inform
all the young men to tie their ponies close by, for some of them
would get sent to look for buffalo. There was joy in the city
as the men staked out their ponies. Early the next morning
the leader selected several young men to search for buffalo.
He told them to investigate certain hills. Scouting those hills
seeing no buffalo, they returned, riding in to the camp to report
the absence of buffalo in the hills. Hearing this, Burned Belly
told the leader to have the crier go through the city and tell
the hunters that they should go to a certain vale for the scouts
had brought back news that buffalo were sleeping in that valley.
The men mounted their ponies, gathering at the leader’s house.
Mounting his own horse, the leader led them out of the city.
Crow Feathers felt pleased, for he got his pony and went along
while Burned Belly stayed home. The hunters rode to the hills
and after they had all gathered upon one of the hillsides, the
scouts who had gone out earlier said, “We came here and we
saw no buffalo.” While they talked, Burned Belly appeared.
“Look,” said he, “yonder in the valley you can see buffalo.
Surround them and kill them.” The men looked in the valley
and suddenly they saw buffalo. The leader divided the men
into several groups and when the robe was thrown into the air
all the men rode toward the buffalo. The buffalo rose and ran
but the people came from every side, so the buffalo ran about
in a circle. That day everyone got a chance to slay a buffalo
even those hunters with poor horses. Crow Feathers charged
among the men. Singling out a buffalo, he chased it around
until at last he wounded it. Darkness began gathering. Finally
he succeeded in killing the buffalo. But he found it was a poor
thin bull, unfit to eat. Nevertheless, he took pride in his success.
He skinned it and took the meat home, feeling very pleased, for
as he saw it, he had killed a buffalo, and no doubt Burned Belly
being afoot, would fail. But as soon as the people surrounded
the buffalo, Burned Belly ran, and when he came to a fat cow
he pulled its beard and then went on. From the sides of some
he pulled hairs and the hairs became hearts. From the beards
of others he pulled hairs and these became tongues. Running
to one very plump cow, from its tail he pulled out some hair
and these became a whole buffalo. The boy was first to arrive
home. He told his wife to fix a place for him to put the meat.
She spread out some tree branches and Burned Belly reached
under his robe and took out meat, hearts, and tongues to place
upon the tree branches. Finishing, there sat an impressive pile
of very fine fat meat. In the night came riding Crow Feathers.
Carrying into the earthlodge his sorry game, he saw a huge pile
of fine meat sitting on branches. Asking Burned Belly’s wife
about this meat, she said her husband had brought it in his robe.
After this incident, Crow Feathers tried to murder Burned Belly
but the animals wielded their magic to protect him from harm
and one morning they found Crow Feathers dead in his bed.
So that’s the story told of Burned Belly, a hero of olden times
a figure in a tale told far & wide, reflecting structures of belief
a legend updated with horses and earthlodges to make it seem
more contemporary, more plausible, maybe a little more... hip.
Hearing the tale of Burned Belly, people thought Animal Boy
might be a hero like that, too. Like Burned Belly, Animal Boy
married the pretty daughter of a leader of another community.
And as with Burned Belly, Animal Boy found a mighty rival
in the person of Stone Man. Hearing Animal Boy had magic
Stone Man sneered, for his power came from a deity of stone
atop a strange “plateau” overlooking the world as it once was.
So one day the wife of Animal Boy went to the creek for water
and on her return she found Stone Man waiting along the path.
She ignored him. Stone Man decided to stop her anyway – he
rudely demanded a drink of water from her. This is what young
lovers do when they’re courting. He said, “If you just give me
a little sip from your bucket I will let you pass.” “No,” replied
the woman, “I can’t let you drink from my bucket of water, for
my husband will know.” But Stone Man said he didn’t care.
He took the vessel from the girl’s hand and he drank from it.
Vowing to tell her husband, the girl took back the pot. At home
she told her husband of Stone Man’s insolence, his disrespect.
Animal Boy mused, “I know he is my enemy. He will attempt
to starve the Pawnee. I must go after him and see what I can do.
I may try to kill him and I may not. He is a man of great power.
But this I know: if he has animal power I will prevail over him.”
Animal Boy took up his bow and arrows for the first time since
he married his wife. Heading into the hills, there sat Stone Man.
As Animal Boy approached, Stone Man spoke, “My son, do not
try to harm me.” The boy took an arrow, set it upon the string
and he shot it. The arrow bounced off Stone Man where he sat.
Each time Animal Boy shot at Stone Man, his arrow rebounded.
The animal power seemed to depart from him and he felt empty
and sad. He went home. Stone Man also felt a sense of distress.
He decided to leave the Land of the Three Rivers, taking down
his tipi, packing up his ponies. He journeyed west with his wife.
He traveled far until he came to a hilly country of many stones.
He found a round dome where hot water bubbled up, and he lay
near it, resting. With his wife he began building an earthlodge.
Completing the lodge, in the hills he found a fine stone to set
on the altar in the west of the lodge. Next, by his magic power
Stone Man made all the buffalo wander west, so the Pawnees
could not find them and get meat, just as Animal Boy predicted.
The Chaui suffered greatly and one day the wife of Animal Boy
died from hunger. Grieving, Animal Boy vanished from the city.
Each day Stone Man killed buffalo, and he brought home meat
which his wife jerked and dried. From the hides she made robes
and parfleches, and in the parfleches his wife stored the meat.
As it turned out, she was pregnant, and she gave birth to a girl.
But then she died, leaving Stone Man alone with his daughter.
In that time, as with the Chaui, the Kitkahahki people suffered
for there were no buffalo in the country and many went hungry.
The leader gave orders for young men to scout through the land
seeking buffalo. Traveling in pairs, they visited many different
regions of the realm. Two young men went west for many days.
At last they could get no farther, for the two had nothing to eat.
They climbed to the top of a high hill and lay down and looked
toward the west, and off in the distance they saw an earthlodge.
They arose and when they neared the earthlodge they stopped
to wait until sunset. As twilight fell, they approached the lodge
and heard a man speaking Pawnee. Encouraged, they entered.
As they entered the lodge the man said, “My daughter, people
are coming into our earthlodge. Sit up; we will see who it is.”
At the entrance stood the two scouts, looking hungry and thin
for they had eaten nothing while scouting the land. Stone Man
greeted them, “Nawa.” He gestured to the fireside and waited
for them to take seats. After they sat down, Stone Man asked
many questions, wishing for news of Animal Boy. So he felt
glad to hear Animal Boy had disappeared after losing his wife.
Stone Man uttered a grunt of satisfaction. He said, “Daughter
fix some food for these men to eat, for they have brought news
of our people.” The girl placed a pot on the fire and put pieces
of buffalo meat into the water. The men ate till they were filled
and they lay next to the fire. Resting, they heard strange noises
in the earthlodge, and as they stirred to investigate the sounds
Stone Man spoke up and ordered them to lie still and not move.
In the morning the two men were given something to eat, then
Stone Man told the girl to give each a parfleche of dried meat.
He told them, “Now you must return to your people. Tell them
I am here and there are many buffalo here, and that I will give
everyone something to eat. Tell them that I have a lodge here
and I do not get hungry.” The two Pawnees put the parfleches
upon their backs and departed. In the Land of the Three Rivers
the two scouts spoke about Stone Man. They mentioned buffalo
so the Kitkahahki leaders met in council and agreed to journey
to the west, to distant Yellowstone, to the land of the stone god.
Thus the Kitkahahki moved west. And with them, some Chaui.
When these folk arrived in Yellowstone, Stone Man told them
to make their camp south of his earthlodge. He invited the men
to visit his earthlodge for meat. The girl placed full parfleches
before them and the leaders gladly distributed the dried meat.
As they did so, Stone Man studied the young Kitkahahki men.
The next day Stone Man summoned the men to his earthlodge
and when they had returned, he gestured at one with his lips
“I have a daughter and I want this young man to marry her.”
Their leader answered, “We will leave it to the young man.
If he is willing, let him marry her.” The girl waited outside
the earthlodge, wearing her fine buckskins and a yellow robe
draped over her shoulders. The lucky young man had noticed
she looked beautiful. He eagerly stepped forward to accept
“I will do as you command; I will become your son-in-law.”
Stone Man responded, “I am satisfied. Now I give everyone
a handful of buffalo. Go west and you will find these buffalo.”
Stone Man invited the young man to sit down beside the girl.
In the night, the three sat around the fireplace and Stone Man
began talking to the young man, outlining what he expected.
The young man didn’t quite understand, and so said nothing.
At last Stone Man told the two to go to bed. Now this should
have been their opportunity to have sex and consummate their
union, but they soon found otherwise. When the man moved
to make love with her, Stone Man would grunt loudly and say
“Why do you move? Lie still.” They had to lie still that night.
When the girl tried to whisper to the man, Stone Man knew it.
And learning that this man had no power of any kind, he said
“My son, though you lay by my daughter, you aren’t married.
Today we’ll play the hoop game; we’ll play here in my lodge.”
The south end of the lodge looked gloomy. A mysterious pool
seemed to sulk in the dark, and from it a searing rivulet issued.
They began to play. The ring was rolled; they threw their sticks.
When the young man threw his stick he heard Stone Man grunt.
They chased the ring to the north side of the earthlodge, then as
they ran together to the south, Stone Man grunted horribly and
he cast the unfortunate man into the pool. And a few days later
Stone Man again invited the men to his earthlodge. He selected
another man to be his son-in-law and he treated this young man
as he had the first one, throwing him down into the deadly pool.
Every time Stone Man selected a new son-in-law, he promised
buffalo to the Kitkahahki, telling them where they should hunt.
Suspecting something horrible, the people suffered from hunger
and the young men vanished one by one in Stone Man’s lodge.
In his lonely wanderings, Animal Boy learned from the animals
news of his people and what was happening to the young men.
Promising protection, the animals sent him to rescue his people.
In the far west, at Yellowstone, in the land of the deity of stone
he arrived as the Kitkahahki men entered Stone Man’s lodge
so he got in line and went inside. When Stone Man spied him
standing among the men, he said, “I want the young man with
the woodpecker cap upon his head.” Agreeing to the invitation
Animal Boy asked, “I wish to have my two errand men here.”
Stone Man assented and said, “My son, I want you to send one
of your errand men to tell the leader there will be many buffalo
near the camp at daylight.” So Animal Boy sent one of his men
and the people gladly heard this news. That night after bedtime
the girl whispered to Animal Boy, “I think I know you. I hope
you will slay my father; he has murdered many young men.”
Animal Boy responded, “I am afraid I cannot kill your father
but the animals are with me and with their help I may do so.”
As he said this, Stone Man heard them. “Do not stir or move
my children. Lie still. Do not talk.” The next day Animal Boy
went out with the men and killed a buffalo and brought in meat.
He hadn’t made love with his wife, but he would be a husband.
Stone Man angrily scolded him. In the night he said, “My son
you are not yet married to my daughter. If you will get plums
for me, you may have my daughter.” But since it was winter
there were no plums to find. “These plums,” added Stone Man
“must be all whitish and they must have no specks.” The man
went to bed with the girl. As the girl tried to talk again to him
again Stone Man demanded, “Daughter, do not move or talk.”
In the morning Animal Boy said, “My wife, your father asked
for plums. I shall go and get them for him, for I want you to be
my wife.” He put his robe over his shoulders and started south.
After traveling for some distance he stopped to sing this song:
My father, Grizzly Bear
My father, Cinnamon Bear
My father, White Bear
My father, Black Bear
Help me! Help me!
I want plums for my father-in-law.
He thinks I can’t get them.
Come, my fathers, help me!
The grizzly came and looked around, but he found no plums
the cinnamon bear came next, but could not find any plums
the white bear appeared there, but could not find any plums
but when the black bear arrived, he said: “My son, I am from
the south where the plums stay upon the trees nearly all winter.
Do not cry; I will get the plums for you. Come, let us go where
there is a plum bush.” On one hillside they found plum bushes.
The black bear crawled beneath the plum bushes and growled
“My son, spread your robe over these bushes and shake them.”
Animal Boy did as he was told. He heard something dropping
on the ground. Looking under the bushes he saw many plums.
He selected only those that had no specks or spots upon them.
Being made through magic power, they were nearly all good.
The boy took the plums home, gave them to his wife, and said
“Take these plums to your father. I hope he will enjoy them.”
The girl carried the plums to her father and gave them to him.
Stone Man was surprised, but as he picked them up one by one
he declared harshly, “This plum is no good and I can’t eat it.”
He threw each plum aside until he had none left. That night
Stone Man had another task for Animal Boy, instructing him
to fetch some of the finest timber with no crooks or knots in it
and to make him a fine bow and arrows. Animal Boy went out
to the southwest, to hilly country with swamps in the bottoms.
There he cried and called upon the mountain lion for the bow.
A mountain lion appeared, “Stop crying, my son, for I have a
magic bow here. The wood is imitation of ash. There is sinew
on the back of the bow and it is not the sinew of a buffalo. No.
The sinew is from my tail. The bowstring is also from my tail.”
The boy felt glad to get this magic bow. Next, in the bottoms
there he cried, “My father, listen to me. When I was among
the animals far away, the rushes, flag roots, and other weeds
that grow in ponds promised me help when I might need it.
Have them give me arrows of different colors, four in number
and let them be straight.” And some voice close by him spoke
“Spread your robe upon the rushes. Shake the robe; then take
the robe off and pull up four stems of rushes. Put these inside
your robe. Throw the robe on the ground four times and open
the robe and you will find the four arrows you are looking for.”
Animal Boy couldn’t see who had spoken, but after throwing
the robe four times on the ground, he opened it and there were
four arrows: red, white, yellow, and black; very fine arrows.
Next he found a place of rocks and stones and there he stood.
He began to cry again, and again he heard a voice that spoke
to him, “Place the arrows in your robe, then pick up the finest
stones you can find; place these stones with the arrows, roll up
the robe, and throw them on the ground four times.” The man
did as he was told. When he opened the robe, each arrow had
a flint arrowhead set upon it. He felt pleased. Arriving home
with a smile he handed the bow and the arrows to his wife
“Give these to your father.” But Stone Man was not pleased.
“How crooked these arrows are,” he chided, “this bow isn’t
a good one. I’d like to have the finest feathers of swift hawks
for these arrows, and I would like to have the finest gray wolf
for a quiver.” Having no magic power of his own, Animal Boy
wasn’t arrogant like Stone Man. He depended on the good will
and help of the animals. The next day, feeling humble, he went
out alone and he wept. A swift hawk approached him. “My son
do not cry; we know what you want. See, a flock of swift hawks
are flying overhead; they will drop for you their finest feathers.”
When the man looked up he saw many hawks flying overhead
and soon the feathers began to fall. He picked up these feathers
and took them home. Again he went out and cried. A wolf came
it said, “My son, we know what you want. See, over yonder hill
come wolves. I will give you four wolves, for your father-in-law
really wants four hides instead of one.” The wolves approached
and the four leading wolves stood side by side and Animal Boy
spread his robe over them and shook it. And removing the robe
four wolf hides lay revealed. The man went home with his hides.
Handing these wolf hides and hawk feathers to his wife, he said
“Give these to your father.” Taking them, Stone Man felt glad.
“These are fine. This quiver, bow, and arrows shall be hung up
in the southeast inside the lodge. But now I want another quiver
of arrows and a bow to hang up in the southwest of the lodge.
And I also want one more quiver to hang up in the northeast.
Then I will be satisfied.” Animal Boy left with his errand men
into the timber, and there they made the other bows and arrows.
They took the bows and arrows to the lodge and they tanned
the wolves’ hides and made them into quivers. They presented
these to Stone Man. And Stone Man felt astonished, exclaiming
as if pleased, “Wonderful man! Wonderful man! Son-in-law!”
Many things he demanded from Animal Boy. But with the aid
of the animals, he fulfilled Stone Man’s oppressive demands.
At last Stone Man decided to end the charade and slay the man.
“My son, tomorrow we’ll play the hoop game. And if you lose
you will forfeit your life and all the people shall turn into stone.
If I lose, the spring in my lodge will bubble up, and the people
will always remember that this was my home.” Animal Boy
went out that night and wept. The animals appeared before him
one by one to promise aid. An otter handed him a bit of root
advising him, “Keep this root in your mouth, for Stone Man
will attempt to throw you in the deadly pool of boiling water.”
Returning to the lodge, Animal Boy lay down beside his wife.
Stone Man grunted, “Children, lie still and be good children
for tomorrow we shall play with the sticks.” Taking courage
the girl murmured to Animal Boy, “I hope you kill my father
for he is a very evil person; he has thrown many young men
into that boiling water.” Animal Boy said nothing, turning
away from her. The next day Stone Man took down his sticks
and ring. Setting the sticks in the south side in the lodge, he
called to Animal Boy. They took up the sticks and Stone Man
picked up the ring. They ran toward the north. The ring rolled
and then the sticks flew. They picked up the sticks and again
they ran. This time they ran toward the pool of boiling water.
After going back and forth several times, Stone Man grunted
and he thrust the boy toward the boiling water. Now, when
Stone Man touched the boy and pushed him, the boy fell and
struck the edge and he slid across the pool with the quickness
of an otter, unscalded. Several times Stone Man pushed him
but he always escaped. Then Stone Man saw the man actually
turn into a real otter, and seeing this, he despaired, “You win
so we will quit.” They sat down and the girl fed them. Later
Stone Man conceded, “Since you won, the people shall live
and I’ll give up my intention to turn them all into stones. But
I have one final request. I’d very much like to have you drive
to me a four or five year-old buffalo, so I can chase it around
my earthlodge, or let it chase me around. I have four quivers
and many arrows and it would be fun.” Although it was night
Animal Boy arose and went out of the lodge and walked west.
He came to the place where he thought the buffalo might be.
He stood up and cried, “My father, I am in need of your help.
This man who lives in the earthlodge wants me to drive him
a buffalo to battle.” Weeping, Animal Boy opened his eyes
and there stood a man with long hair and a dirty face, and he
wore a robe with horns, and he said, “My son, I am the leader
of all these buffalo. I know of Stone Man, the man who lives
in the earthlodge. And I will take you to the god who gives him
the power he possesses. Come with me.” And so Animal Boy
followed him to a plateau. On top of this plateau sat a stone.
“This is the stone god. You must throw many rocks at the top
of this stone until you break off many small pieces, and throw
more rocks at the sides of the stone. In this way you can take
the magic power from this stone deity and from Stone Man.”
Doing as he was told, the task took all night. “Now,” the man
spoke, “let us go to where the buffalo wait; we will select one
for you to herd to the lodge.” Daylight broke as they reached
the herd. The strange man uttered loud cries, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
A herd of buffalo stood up and soon surrounded the two men.
A young buffalo bull with thick wool stepped out, approached.
“This,” said the strange man, “is the buffalo that you must take.
It has great powers; its horns are flint so when it fights the man
it will kill him. Follow it. It will lead you back to the earthlodge.
When this bull begins knocking pieces of stone from the man
have your errand men pick them up and pound them into gravel
then have your wife pick up the pieces of stone and throw them
into the boiling water.” Animal Boy followed the buffalo bull.
In the afternoon they reached the lodge. Stone Man was sitting
upon the earthlodge, watching the boy herding the buffalo bull.
Stone Man stood up and said to himself, “He is a wonderful
young man; but after I slay the buffalo bull, I will kill him
and he will never marry my daughter.” Inside the earthlodge
the magic buffalo ran around and stopped on the north side
with its tongue out, as if it were winded. Stone Man climbed
down from the top of the earthlodge, went inside. Taking up
one of the quivers, he withdrew the bow, pulling the string.
It felt satisfyingly taut. Running to where the buffalo stood
Stone Man grunted. The buffalo galloped away as Stone Man
shot at it. Instead of piercing the flesh, the point of the arrow
became tangled in the hair. Stone Man couldn’t kill the buffalo
and after shooting all the arrows from the first quiver, he told
his daughter to bring the next quiver. He continued to shoot
at the buffalo, but could not kill it. He used all of the arrows
from the second quiver; then he called for his daughter to bring
another quiver. This quiver didn’t have very many arrows in it
they soon gave out. He called for the fourth quiver. This quiver
contained the four colored arrows. They were not real arrows
for they were made of rushes. The magic buffalo knew this
so it sat down with its tongue out. Stone Man grunted happily
and ran to the buffalo. It took no notice. Shooting the arrows
they had no effect. After shooting the final one, he happened
to pass near the buffalo. The buffalo bull suddenly jumped up
and it hooked Stone Man with its horn, and a piece of stone
flew off through the air, whistling. Stone Man began grunting
as the magic buffalo kept hooking him, knocking pieces off
until it had Stone Man down. Now the errand men hurried up
and began to hurl rocks at Stone Man, shattering him in pieces.
The girl picked up the pieces to toss them into the boiling pool.
As soon as the fragments splashed into the water, steam filled
the earthlodge and floated out of the smoke hole. Animal Boy
and the errand men and the girl left and hurried to the camp.
The next morning they returned to the lodge and they found
that it had turned into solid stone, but still retained the shape
of an earthlodge. This is why there are geysers in the west
at Yellowstone, hot boiling water shooting out of the ground.
Animal Boy at last married his wife. When the Kitkahahki
returned eastward, Animal Boy and his wife went with them
and they built a city somewhere upon the Dirty Water River.
Animal Boy started an animal lodge among the Kitkahahki
performing many miracles in the course of their ceremonies.
In the Doctor Dance, Animal Boy placed a rock at the foot of
the altar – a rock knocked off Stone Man by the magic buffalo.
Stone Man’s daughter, the wife of Animal Boy, had picked up
the rock to keep. She also took part in the ceremonies. She had
men shoot her with arrows and those arrows would bounce off.
Animal Boy lived into old age and he left many children. They
learned the ceremony from their mother. And they kept the rock
from Stone Man and they called this Kitkahahki animal lodge
the Holy Stone Man Lodge, and in the years that followed they
set the stone next to the altar. But one day this stone was lost.
This happened during a buffalo hunt – in battle with the Sioux.
The Sioux assaulted the Kitkahahki, chasing them into a ravine
& the keeper hid the stone, not wanting the enemy to capture it.
But the Sioux killed the keeper that day, a sad day long ago, &
after the keeper died, the survivors couldn’t find the stone. It is
still hidden where its last keeper placed it, there in Pawneeland.
The Kitkahahkis decided they’d still hold that ceremony. Good
Food In Kettle told James R. Murie: “To this day the ceremony
is still kept up by the priests. Songs are still sung about Animal
Boy, all about his wanderings, all about his wonderful doings.”
Dark magic whispers to itself in the dim corners of the world
and we do not yield to fear every day – yet when we do, it is
as if some terrible agony must be withdrawn from our bodies.
Long ago when the Kitkahahki dwelt near the Nemaha River
in old days becoming ever dim, when Good Food In Kettle’s
grandmother’s grandmother lived, sometime in the mid-1700s
something odd happened, something mysterious and frightful
when one day a group of women left the city to gather wood.
While gathering dry limbs, one of the young girls strayed off.
She found a tree broken by wind; the hollow trunk of the tree
lay upon the ground and some mysterious power prompted her
to peer into the hollow log. There she saw a child. This child
had a tiny face and hardly any hair and at the end of thin arms
long fingernails grew from its little fingers. Noticing the girl
the pathetic child reached out emaciated arms to her. The girl
got so frightened at the pitiful, strange sight she couldn’t think
for a moment what to do, peering down at it in a shocked daze.
She stood up and looked to see where the other women were
but she couldn’t see them. Gazing into the hollow tree again
there sat the child grinning and making motions with its hand
as if signaling, summoning her. She suddenly felt frightened
so frightened she couldn’t stir her legs to run. And her scalp
seemed to draw up into a knot on the top of her head. Again
she looked at the weird child. This time the girl noticed how
the child wore yellow paint upon its face, and black paint
lined the edge of the hair. Heart beating fiercely, the girl ran
to the other Kitkahahki women where they gathered wood.
Hearing about the child in the log, they wondered at her tale
and went to see the weird sight. Peering into the hollow log
it lay empty. Suddenly the girl began screaming and it was
an odd sound like the scream of a fox, not a human sound.
Something exerted a mysterious influence over the poor girl.
Hearing her, the women looked up to see a fox running away.
And the girl... she wanted to run to the fox and she screamed
and yipped like a fox. Those women held her as she yelled.
And they gathered their wood upon their backs to trek home
walking back to the city of the Small Town folk. On the way
the girl slowly became like a wild thing, very wild she was
when they reached home. They sent for her uncle, a doctor.
Entering the earthlodge he thought the girl must have seen
one of the little people. A creature of wonder. “It is human
and it has power; it is not a fox,” said he. The man ordered
that the poor delirious girl be held down and for live coals
to be gathered upon the ground next to her. And untying his
medicine bundle, the doctor laid herbs upon the live coals.
Smoke arose. The women gathered to help. They leaned
the ill girl over this smoke so she could inhale it. Preparing
a decoction, when the doctor made her drink this tea, she
began vomiting, throwing up white clay mixed with fox fur.
And setting his mouth here & there upon his niece’s flesh
the doctor began drawing forth hair from her with his mouth
this horrible hair emerged from her arms, her legs, her body.
They smoked the girl again until she grew calm. Seeing her
recover, her uncle said if any hairs remained inside the girl
no worry; these hairs would emerge in time. She’d get well.
That is what we call “undoing the harmful magic of animals.”
When this young woman entered middle age she complained
of a pain in her wrists. Her skin became irritated. White clay
came out of her again. But she got well and lived to a good
old age among the Kitkahahki, and she bore many children.
Long ago a fateful star fell in Pawneeland, falling like lightning
into the tales of that time, a long time ago when the Kitkahahki
had many ceremonies, but before they had their doctor dances.
When Good Food In Kettle told this story she said it had been
passed down to her as a story about her ancestors, her family.
They dwelt in a city along the shores of the Dirty Water River
and there among the Kitkahahki was born one day a girl baby.
She bore a small birthmark on her forehead. Some said of it
“It is the picture of the moon.” Others thought it resembled
a meteor or star. As this baby girl grew up everyone noticed
her peculiar actions. In the daytime she usually stayed inside
her family’s earthlodge. At night she stepped outside to stand
near the entrance, or she would climb upon their earthlodge.
She always gazed up into the night at something in the heavens
and sometimes the young girl seemed to be counting the stars.
Her mysterious ways surprised the people. Her aged father said
“Let the friends and relatives of this girl leave her alone.” She
had full freedom to run around through the timber or anywhere
wherever she wanted to go. But as she grew older her parents
began keeping her in the lodge. In olden times, in those days
it was customary for the elders to make mats for young women
made of rushes, and a pillow from the hide of a yearling calf.
They left the hair on the hide, and they sewed the pillow with
sinew and stuffed the pillow with buffalo hair. When it rained
they rolled up their mats and placed the pillows upon the beds.
During the day they were used around the fireplace in the lodge.
The old people made the mats and a pillow for this young girl
for she had grown into a beautiful young woman and she knew
how to care for her pillow and mats, and for her buffalo robe.
One day as the family sat around the fireplace in their lodge
all at once the girl jumped up to walk outside, saying, “Mother
I believe there is going to be a rainstorm.” The men looked at
one another. The women all said, “It will not rain, for it is clear
there are no clouds.” But as the girl turned back into the lodge
it thundered outside. She declared, “I knew it was going to rain.
Do you all hear that?” The people arose and went out and stood
facing west, seeing great dark clouds rolling over Pawneeland.
The girl did not go out with them, but sat down on her pillow
by the fireplace. She bowed her head, sitting there. The people
returned inside and began to roll up their mats. Spreading them
upon their willow beds, they lay beneath them, for they knew
the earthlodge would leak, not well covered with grass and dirt.
The girl still sat by the fire. Her father, curious, every so often
he would pull the mat back from his face to look at the girl.
She sat with bowed head, now and then looking up at the hole
in the top of the lodge where the lightning flashed repeatedly.
After a while she arose and walked outside, soon returning
to her place by the fire. At last she pulled her mat over beside
the northwest post; here she placed her pillow and lay down.
The rain had begun; now it began pouring down. The old man
noticed how his daughter would stick her head out of her robe
and it so happened that as she peered out like that, a brilliant
stroke of lightning fell with a clap of thunder in the earthlodge.
Smoke filled the air. Everyone lay stunned. And as the father
of the girl came back to consciousness, he saw fire smoldering.
He thought a stroke of lightning had fallen into the earthlodge.
Stepping over where his daughter lay, he saw smoke emerging
from her head, a wisp rising from a round hole. She lay dead.
Lifting her head, he saw that the pillow also had a round hole.
He removed the pillow and there in the ground was another hole
and smoke wafted up from it. The man cried out, “People, arise
my daughter has been killed by lightning.” The people gathered
but they felt afraid to go near a place where lightning had struck.
The clouds were swiftly fading, and now the sun shone brightly.
The father began digging where the lightning had hit, digging
until he touched something with his fingers. He held up a stone
in the shape of a woman. It had a head, shoulders, and a body.
It gleamed with many colors. He told his wife to place a piece
of tanned buffalo hide upon the earthlodge altar. He happened
to have an eagle carcass and he pulled out the downy feathers
and he piled these feathers on the hide, on the earthlodge altar
and here he arranged the meteor figurine. Bringing cedar limbs
he laid them on glowing coals in the fireplace. And preparing
a decoction from cedar nuts and skunk scent, he poured this
into a wooden bowl and dropped a flint into it. Setting coals
beside the wooden bowl, he lit cedar limbs to smolder lightly.
He instructed everyone in the lodge to wash with the decoction
and to purify themselves in the cedar smoke. He smeared each
person’s face with mud from where the lightning had struck.
The man asked each person to approach the altar and pray
and he was first to stand before the stone and offer a prayer
“Father, there lies my daughter. You took her life from her.
I will not cry, for you have come to take her place, to take
the place once filled in my heart by my beautiful daughter.
Falling here from the heavens, you have taken my daughter.
Keep the power that you had while you were in the heavens.
Give me your powers; teach me to use them; from this time
you will be my father.” After everyone had spoken like this
to the stone, they swept out the lodge and the people bathed.
The next day the girl’s father summoned his male relatives
and he told them that the lightning had struck his daughter.
He spoke of the stone he had found, saying it was not a flint
but that it was a stone figurine in the shape of a human body.
The men sat in a circle watching while they laid the girl out
where she had been killed. And the father wondered whether
he should bury the stone with the girl, or whether to keep it
there on the altar in the lodge. Taking out a pipe and filling it
a man lit it, and he arose, approaching the stone on the altar
where he blew a few whiffs as an offering. When he spoke
he said, “Father, smoke. You will be one of us; you’ve taken
one of our daughters, but we know you are from the heavens
you have great powers. You will remain here.” After smoking
the man passed on the pipe, and he took up the stone to pass it
over the body of the girl. Then he set it back down in its place.
Every time they refilled the pipe, they poured out the ashes
on the ground before the stone. After their smoking ended
each man took hold of the figurine and lifted it in his hands.
It was small but very heavy, and so they called it “iron stone.”
They buried the dead girl on a high hill overlooking the city.
Standing beside her burial, the father spoke: “I do not mourn
for I believe that the gods in the heavens favored my daughter
so they have taken her.” The people went home, but the father
he still lingered beside the grave. Grieving there, he fell asleep
and he dreamed. In his dreaming his daughter appeared, alive.
With her hair braided smoothly, eleven eagle feathers stood
strung together at the back of her head, arrayed there to look
like a shining moon. And a bright star blazed on her forehead.
She said to her father, “My father, the gods have favored me.
I am no longer among our people; I reside beside the moon
among the celestial gods. The stone that fell into your lodge
was what killed me, a deity falling from the heavens, not
the lightning. Linger no longer at this grave, for I am soon
to turn to stone; I will not hear you when you speak to me.
Go home and make your bed on the north side of the figurine.
Rest your pillow near it and it will speak to you in your sleep
and when you pray to it, it will listen to you. Since it is a god
come among you, all the gods will favor you in many things.”
The girl disappeared. And opening his eyes, the father found
for a long moment he couldn’t see. For the girl’s bright aura
had dazzled his sight. When he could see, night had fallen.
He walked home and told his wife he had seen their daughter
in a dream and she had instructed him to sleep beside the stone.
“Husband, do what our daughter told you to do.” So the father
made his bed beside the stone. Deep in sleep, in another dream
he saw a man standing at the head of his bed. This man spoke
“My son, I liked your daughter. I came to her and I killed her.
Having lost my place in the heavens, I am now here with you.
I am a god. Keep me at the altar and do not permit the people
to approach me where I sit; keep them away. And cover me
with the hide of a buffalo. Dig a little hole there before me
and in this hole pour some water, so you will have fresh mud
to paint on my body. You see I do bear soft downy feathers
upon my head. You did right when you set downy feathers
upon my head. See, my robe is turned with the hair outside.
My face is daubed with mud; red paint is around my mouth.
I hold in my right hand a thing that resembles a gourd rattle.
In my left I hold an eagle wing; you can see I am a doctor.
I am not the lightning; I am a celestial deity of the heavens.
I have taken the place of your dead daughter. From this time
I’ll teach you to be a doctor. I once stood high in the heavens
I know where the animals have their hidden lodges. Now I’ll
open a new entrance, and after opening it, the animal lodges
will dwell in the earth. With my power you will understand.”
The next day the father fasted. At a nearby creek he bathed.
Entering the lodge, he scooped up mud from the holy place.
He laid his hands on the stone and said, “My father, my heart
is glad, for I saw you last night in my dream. This mud I daub
on my head and face. Upon some high hill I will stand and fast.
If it is your wish that I should fast and mourn, let me know.”
Leaving the lodge, the father journeyed west. At the first hill
he stopped and began to cry; he lingered there until nightfall
when he fell asleep. He dreamed he saw again the same man
and this man told him not to mourn or fast; that in the future
he would be told where to go, and where to stay, and when
the animal lodge would be opened to him. So he left the hill
and went home, and he slept by the altar and he did not dream.
For several nights he slept beside the altar without dreaming.
And one rainy night the man lay next to the altar and the stone
and while it rained and stormed he slept and he dreamed at last
he dreamed he saw a man who represented the stone; this man
told him the time had come for him to journey to a distant land
to the animal lodge. The man awoke; the rainstorm had passed.
He went out and stood upon the lodge and wept. He lingered
there upon the lodge until another rainstorm arose and passed
and when he slept that night he dreamed again of the deity
who told him, “Tomorrow you must leave the Kitkahahki city.
You must travel to the animal lodge called Swimming Mound
up the Dirty Water River. Your people shall journey with you
and also the stone. At the mound, place the stone there upon it
take your place upon the south side of the stone, facing north.
Once in a while walk around the stone in a circle, trampling
the grass. Pay no heed to all the mysterious voices you hear.
You must remain upon this mound until a rainstorm arises.
When it thunders, watch the banks of the Dirty Water River
for where the lightning strikes the riverbank; there you must go.
Carry the stone with you to a clump of trees upon the riverbank.
There you will see where the lightning has struck many times.
The dirt shall have been cleared away, and you will find a hole.
Crawl into this hole and set the stone at the entrance. Continue
on in the cave, deep into Swimming Mound. As you approach
the hidden lodge of the animals, you’ll hear mysterious noises.
You will hear the sound of animals rubbing their sacred stick.
When you hear this, sit down and you will soon see an animal
coming up from the lodge. This animal will pass you on its way
to the entrance where it will see the stone, and it will turn back
and it will pass you again, returning to the hidden animal lodge.
The animals will seek a way to move the stone from the entry.
While they are meditating over this, step out among them. They
will see you and will request that you remove the stone for them.
Tell the animals that they must give you their power before you
remove the stone.” Before dawn the man woke. Taking his pipe
he filled it to smoke. He offered several whiffs to the figurine
and set the pipe down and laid his hands upon the stone, saying
“Father, I dreamed about you, seeing you as a man in my dream
you told me to go to the Swimming Mound. May everything
I saw in my dream come true, for as soon as the sun appears
I will move with my family to Swimming Mound, doing what
you have said for me to do. Father, take pity upon me.” Pouring
out the ashes from his pipe on the ground by the stone, rubbing
his hands over it, saying, “Father, let all these things that I saw
last night come true.” Before the sun rose he roused the women
and told them to cook some dried meat. They began cooking
as they sat on the east side of the lodge. On the west side sat
the man with bowed head, with the robe wrapped about his legs.
When all his family had taken their seats around the fireplace
the man announced, “My kinfolk, make preparation to move
we will go to Swimming Mound upon the Dirty Water River.
My father has spoken to me in a dream.” The young men left
to drive their horses from the hollow in the hills. After breakfast
the women began to make ready for the journey, hiding things
in a cache at the entrance of the lodge. Saddles they lowered
there, ready to set upon their ponies. And they said nothing
to other Kitkahahkis. At dawn they gathered all their saddles
their meat, corn, tipi, and everything to pack upon the ponies.
As day broke over Pawneeland they started to the southwest.
And for many days they journeyed up the Dirty Water River.
When they arrived at Swimming Mound the women pitched
a tipi in the river bottom. Folding the stone in his buffalo robe
the man walked up the mound, noticing there was no wind
but as soon as he made a place for the stone, the wind began
to blow, blowing up each side of the mound as if Swimming
Mound might be blowing its breath up over the stone, or as if
the animals in the mound might be sending this wind to blow
odors of the people away from the stone. So the man stood up
as he had been told and in the dark he heard strange sounds
deep within the mound. It sounded like the rubbing of sticks
and drumming. The man had no fear. He stayed all night. By
dawn the wind ceased. And he fasted upon the mound all day.
The second night he again heard strange noises and whistling.
He heard what sounded like a strong wind. He noticed a herd
of elk grazing around the hill, and he closed his eyes, “Father
should I listen to these animals? Will they give me power?”
He began to wearily weep. He fainted and fell. In his swoon
he noticed a man nearby painted with red paint, head decked
with small downy feathers. The man held in his right hand
a reed whistle and over his shoulders he wore an elk-skin robe
he spoke, “My son, you see I am a great man. All these elks
do what I say. Please leave this place, for this is our residence
and we do not like your presence. If you leave, I will give you
this robe and whistle; I will give you great power. This stone
sitting before you... it came from the heavens. Take it with you
it draws lightning. It will kill many of my people if left here.”
The man recovered. He stood up again and cried. When the sun
arose, the man saw the strange person standing in front of him
he knew it was the elk. All day the man mourned on the mound.
At noon he observed many eagles flying overhead. Alighting
all around the mound, a second man stood up, his head decked
with soft downy eagle feathers and his body covered with clay.
This second man said, “My son, leave this place; take the stone
with you and we will give you great power; for I control all of
the birds that you see. Swimming Mound is our place of peace.
If the celestial stone remains on Swimming Mound we’ll get
rainstorms here all the time. Some of my birds will be killed.”
The man awoke and the birds disappeared. That night the man
stood by the stone. In the darkness strange noises began again.
The man could hear people singing; he heard honking just like
a flock of geese. Looking toward the river, he saw fire leaping
up from the surface of water. As the man stood there watching
he thought he saw creatures swimming, all kinds of fish, beaver
mink, and other animals. He seemed to know that these animals
wanted him to remove the stone. But he paid no heed to all this
and instead he closed his eyes and he began to weep in the dark.
The next day as the sun rose he saw many colors. As it climbed
higher he saw colors coming everywhere. He rubbed his eyes
and looked again and the colors glimmered like many rainbows.
He glanced at the stone figurine, at its rainbow colors, and said
“The same colors I see everywhere.” All day as he stood there
upon Swimming Mound he saw many, many colors everywhere.
When night came the man began to feel frightened. Trembling
a little, he thought to himself, “What do I fear? All this time
I’ve been here. What is there left to fear?” Deciding to leave
a green light suddenly shined from within the stone. He said
“Father, make me feel brave. Let me not leave you for fear
of the animals.” And his fear went from him. He began to cry
and while he wept, he heard strange noises again. This time
he didn’t pay any attention to them until he heard a loud noise
in the nearby timber. Now he felt scared again and trembled.
He wondered, “Should I run?” Again he looked at the stone
and the green light appeared and his fear vanished from him.
He heard the noise in the timber again, and then it sounded
louder, as if approaching, and he opened his eyes to see what
might be coming. He thought he glimpsed a white-legged horse.
When he looked at the stone again, it began to emit bright light.
Then the noise stopped and now there stood before him a man.
The stone glowed so brilliantly, he could see the man plainly
This strange man had a bearskin robe draped over one shoulder.
Around his ankles he wore bear claws. His face was painted red.
From his mouth jutted two tusks, and when this strange person
breathed, varicolored dust puffed forth, settling upon the stone.
But the stone’s light seemed to dispel the dust. The strange man
spoke, “My son, on Swimming Mound I dwell with many of my
children. And I go forth from here to slay animals and people.
You come to this mound bringing that stone, and I don’t like it
for the stone fell from the heavens. It’ll bring rain and lightning
and it will kill my children.” The man closed his eyes and cried
with a loud cry. The light in the stone went out and the stranger
turned into a bear and he trotted away. Queer noises continued
all night. The next morning was cloudy. All day clouds roiled
above the mound, angrily churning the heavens, but the man
heard no thunder, saw no lightning. He thought it might be time
for it to thunder, for his dream to come true. So he took courage.
As evening fell he saw a dark cloud approaching from the west.
Claps of thunder and jabs of lightning drifted toward the mound.
He heard drumming, the rubbing of sticks, the honking of geese
the howling of coyotes and the growling of bears. The clouds
boiled in from the west and thunder broke overhead. He closed
his eyes under drenching rain. A din like a hailstorm passed.
Presently a bright stroke of lightning opened his eyes. Thunder.
He thought he saw lightning strike the ground and he saw fire
and smoke on the mound over beside the river. Again & again
lightning struck. Soon the storm encircled the man and a bolt
of lightning struck him down. The storm passed away; the sky
cleared. Lying there stunned, he saw a man, and he knew him
to be the stone figurine. This man spoke to him, “My son, all
I have told you to do, you have done. The animals who dwell
at Swimming Mound wanted to frighten you away from here.
These creatures have never been friendly with humankind.
Instead, they have taken delight in killing and eating people.
Now they will talk to you in their hidden lodge this very night
they will give you great powers. Arise, carry me to the place
on the Dirty Water River where the lightning fell many times.
There the entrance to the animal lodge has been opened to you.
Go through the entrance and stay near the animal lodge. They
will ask you to remove me. Do not listen to them. When they
have taught you all their secrets, only then may you pick me up
and carry me back to your tipi. Place me outside, in the west.
Hang up all the things that the animals shall have given you.”
The man arose and walked to the bank of the river. He saw
where the lightning had struck the bank. He even saw a tree.
He went to the tree and just beyond it he saw a hole. Entering
at the very entrance he smoothed a place with his right foot
to set down the stone. He crawled into the hole for a distance
until it opened, so he could stand up. Continuing on, he heard
the noises of drumming and of many geese. At last he arrived
at the animal lodge. Flickering light revealed a big fire within.
He sat down. Waiting there underground beside the entrance
he heard great noises and soon saw a small animal emerging
from the lodge. The animal passed him; a mink. It seemed not
to notice the man. It disappeared toward the mouth of the cave.
In a short while it returned, running past the man. As soon as it
entered the lodge, the drumming stopped and the noises ceased.
Moments later a great noise burst out among the animals, but
there was no drumming. Hearing the clamoring of the animals
the man became afraid and he shrank back into the shadows.
For some time the din of the animals continued, and it ceased
a man came forth. This stranger saw the man in the shadows
and spoke, “My brother, the animals have sent me out to you.
They want you to remove the stone at the entrance. They also
want to know how you got in here. And why are you here? I
am a fire-maker for the animals. I do not care to be among
humankind. There is another man who is also a fire-maker
for the animals. Will you go away and remove the stone?”
“No,” answered the man, “I will not remove the stone until
the animals have taken pity upon me, giving me the ceremony
of the doctors.” The stranger, the fire-maker, went back inside
the lodge and for a time there was silence within. Returning
the fire-maker said, “My brother, the animals have agreed
to take pity upon you, for you can remove the stone. They
all feel afraid to touch it because it comes from the heavens.
Come in where the animals can see you. And when you enter
you must weep and be meek. Ask the animals to aid you and
they will do so.” The man arose and followed the fire-maker
in the lodge. All the animals arose and walked around the fire.
Then all was dark; the man could not see what was going on.
When he could see, he found himself on his back at the south
side of the lodge. He stood and began to cry, and as he cried
he talked, requesting of the animals their doctor ceremony.
When he stopped crying the fire-maker told him to stand
west of the fireplace. On the ground he saw several things
that looked like pieces of ice. The fire-maker came and said
“These things were taken from your stomach by the animals.
You will now place them in your mouth. As you receive them
in your mouth, stamp your feet. The stuff will once again enter
your stomach. You will then possess the power to mesmerize
and to throw things into people’s stomachs.” The fire-maker
took up one of the things and placed it into the man’s mouth
and told him to stamp his feet. The man did so. The thing
seemed to melt away in his mouth. When they finished with
all the pieces, the fire-maker told him that he now had power
just like the animals. They gave the man a seat at the entrance.
Looking about, he saw all kinds of animals sitting in a circle.
One of the fire-makers was a scalped man; the other – the one
who had talked to him – he now gave an account of his life.
“In my youth I knew nothing; my mind was not good and I
used to run at random throughout the city. Once in a while I
knew what I was doing. But one time when I seemed to be
out of my head a strange being came to me in a snowstorm
and led me away, and by some mysterious agency took me
into the animal lodge. The animals cared for me and cured me.
I learned that before my birth my father killed a black-tail deer
so when I was born I always acted crazy. Now that I am well
I wish to always stay with the animals and to wait upon them.”
The man stayed in the lodge for several nights so the animals
could teach him sleight-of-hand performances. They told him
many things. They said that when he should build the animals’
medicine-lodge he should kill several snipe and several cranes
and he should skin them and hang the skins inside the lodge.
When the animals had taught him all of their powers they said
he must go out and bring in the stone figurine. The man went
and he brought in the figurine and he set it upon the west side
of the lodge right before the leading animals. These creatures
were known as the Big-Medicine-Animals. Now one by one
all the animals went to the stone and blew their breath upon it.
The last to go was a skunk. It said, “My son, I know lightning.
I get my power from it. I can also make rainbows in the night.”
The skunks gave the man power to cleanse and heal people
from the lightning shock. After all the animals had breathed
upon the stone figurine, they said, “Take the stone with you.
Power from the heavens and the animal power you shall have.
And this lodge shall be known as the Stone-Medicine-Lodge.
When you hold the ceremony and perform the mysterious rites
of the animal lodge, you shall set the stone in front of the altar.
The other altar shall be of cottonwood and willows. Now we
will give you a dead beaver to place upon the second altar.”
The medicine-men’s power to do sleight-of-hand and songs
he learned. And when the animals had finished teaching him
they told him to go home and bring them tobacco, a black silk
handkerchief, and a shell. They told him to take the figurine
with him back to his home. They gave him many animal skins
and many soft downy feathers. He picked up the stone and he
set it into the soft feathers. They guided him out of the lodge
and it was evening. The man returned to his camp. He found
that he could see clearly in the night. He arrived at his tipi
and he went inside with the stone. He set it at the west side
and hung his skins on the tipi poles above the stone figurine.
He fell fast asleep. In the morning when one woman awoke
she made a fire, noticing the things hanging on the tipi poles
and seeing the stone and the man. Waking the other women
she pointed to where the man lay. The women felt very glad.
They cooked some corn, knowing he would make an offering.
He awoke and went out, taking with him his pipe and pouch.
He went up on a high hill and filled his pipe, and he prayed
“Now, Father Sun, you shall smoke.” The man filled the pipe
and he held it in his hand until the sun came up in the east
then he lighted the pipe. Drawing forth a few whiffs, he held
the pipe, stem towards the east, where the Sun was coming up
and he prayed, “Father, smoke, and make true all these things
that I have heard and seen. The heavens took my daughter.
She is dead, but I think she now stands in the heavens as a star.
Give me your power so that I may understand mysteries.” He
emptied the pipe bowl and passed his hand over the pipestem
and gesturing with his hand toward the sun, he walked home
and took his seat by the stone and all the other sacred things.
He again filled his pipe and smoked, offering a few whiffs
to the stone and a few whiffs to the things hanging on the pole.
The people lingered at Swimming Mound. Nearly every day
the man disappeared, and when he returned he brought roots
and he brought herbs. He told the people not to pay attention
to him, for the animals would care for him. One day he left
and did not return for some time. When he at last appeared
they found he could not understand what anyone said to him.
He had fallen under the influence of some mysterious power.
When he went away the next day, the women watched him.
They once saw him appear as a deer, as a coyote, and he flew
like an eagle. A mysterious power guided him to the herbs
and roots which he dug up. For many days this power lay
upon him. When the man recovered, he said, “It is now time
that we return to our people.” The women brought their ponies
and they packed their things upon them and they started east.
Each night, after the people had pitched their tipi, the man
placed the stone in the west and hung the things upon the pole.
Then he sat down and smoked. After he had smoked and eaten
he sang songs that the women had never heard. He kept singing
nearly all night every night. And so they journeyed homeward
journeying to the Kitkahahki city upon the Dirty Water River.
The people greeted them very gladly and gave them many gifts.
And that very night the man invited his male relatives to visit
and he told them all that had happened and what he had seen
in the animal lodge at Swimming Mound, guest of the animals
speaking to the people of the powers he’d received, he desired
of them certain presents and native tobacco. The men willingly
gathered these things and gave them to him. Thanking them
he left the earthlodge. A long time later he returned, telling
how gladly the animals had received the gifts and the smoke.
Now he said he wanted the people to help him build a lodge
and they agreed to help him build a doctor’s ceremonial lodge.
So that fall several men cut forks for the circle in the lodge.
All of the timber they cut and hauled to the city and piled up.
The women brought elm-bark strips to tie the timber, hanging
these strips to dry, and other people brought willow branches.
They went on their buffalo hunt, and winter set in on the hunt.
The hunters had success and much meat they brought home.
The man invited his male relatives to his lodge, to teach them
the doctor songs. And they liked the songs and they discussed
the lodge they would build for the ceremony and the songs.
In early spring they selected a place in the center of the city
ten forks they stood up in a circle to support the poles, and
they completed the lodge when the women planted the corn.
The corn rose up. After the leaders issued orders for the hunt
the old men held bundle ceremonies to secure from the gods
success in hunting. The man sent for his relatives, requesting
them to kill several kinds of snipe and crane for their skins
and to kill many buffalo and dry the meat for his ceremony
With these instructions the people set forth and it wasn’t long
before they found and killed many buffalo, drying much meat.
The man invited the Kitkahahki leaders and their assistants
one night to his new earthlodge and there he addressed them
“We are seated in my lodge. The young men are roasting ribs
at the fire. The leaders must know what I have in mind to do.
The heavens slew my daughter and the thing that killed her
I have here with us.” The man arose and he took up the stone
and he placed it before the leaders. “In my sleep I have talked
with this stone. I have done everything that it told me to do.
I stood upon Swimming Mound; I stayed there several days.
With the help of this stone I entered the lodge of the animals.
The animals taught me many wonderful things. They taught
their songs. They told me to hold sleight-of-hand performances
in this lodge which you helped to build. My friends have killed
many buffalo; you see the meat in front of my lodge. The meat
will be jerked and dried and stored in parfleches, kept ready
for the sleight-of-hand performances which we will soon hold.
When we return to our city, corn will be plentiful, and meat.
Food will be plentiful for the sleight-of-hand performances.
I want the leaders to know that I will reveal something new
for our people.” Everyone felt pleased, hearing these words.
Now they knew why so many took meat to this man’s lodge.
So when the Kitkahahkis returned to their earthlodge city
upon the shores of the Dirty Water River, they all prepared
to hold sleight-of-hand performances. The women gathered
corn from their fields and cured it, building fires to roast and
cure the corn. And in his lodge the man sent for his relatives
selecting two young men to serve as his errand men. These two
he told to wear their buffalo robes with the hair on the outside.
He told them to take eagle wings and brushes of wild sage to
sweep the lodge, and when the lodge was swept, he told them
to bring wild sage and they brought the wild sage for the altar
on the west side of the lodge. The man put the pelt of a beaver
on the altar and the sage, and he set the stone before the beaver.
He cast the rest of the aromatic wild sage around the earthlodge.
Other men brought in bird skins. He pierced these with sticks
one stick from the head to the tail and another across the wings.
These birds he hung up in the lodge in the west and the north
and another in the east, and another in the south. Here & there
he hung other smaller species of snipe. And all of these birds
the people would see they were something wonderful, magical.
He sent the errand men for dry ash wood, four dry ash limbs.
The first was a large timber from which they peeled the bark
in which they carved notches. The small limbs they shaved
smooth, about the length of a man’s arm. The notched pole
they placed in front of the altar, and the sticks they placed
across the pole. Old doctors also took part, a great company
of men in the lodge. The doctor’s wives brought many kettles
of corn. At each meal they untied a parfleche and dried meat
they set beside the fireplace to cook. Doctors visited the lodge
who knew the strange secrets of animals or of heavenly bodies
and they begged for permission to take part in the ceremonies.
The man thanked them, telling them to select seats in the lodge.
When all had been made ready, the man set two water drums
in front of the altar. He told the men to form a procession to go
into the timber to cut young cottonwood trees and willow trees.
The cottonwoods they would stand in the west, south, and north
with two more placed near the entrance of the ceremonial lodge.
They would set the willows like little booths within the lodge.
As their procession started toward the timber, the man began
yelling and grunting and he grabbed them to throw them down.
Some of them vomited up a corncob, a piece of root, or a stick.
Coming at last to a creek, the man waved an eagle wing at them
and they ran into the water. “You must wash clean,” he said
“for you will perform many wonderful things in the ceremony
and you must bathe every day.” In the timber they cut down
two cottonwood trees and many willows and the man headed
another procession, the two errand men carrying a cottonwood
and many men carrying willows, and finally two men carrying
the other cottonwood. Nearing the city the man again waved
his eagle wing, shouting and grunting and knocking the men
to their knees. Each of these doctors kept power in his stomach
and this the man siphoned from them, finding out in this way
the animal clan to which each man belonged. A Pawnee only
revealed his animal identity when wounded. In pain he would
imitate the animal of his clan. Arriving at the lodge in the city
singers sang songs about entering, and four times they circled
the earthlodge before entering it, and entering the earthlodge
a great cacophony arose. For each man imitated his animal as
they circled the fireplace; four times they circled the fireplace.
The two errand men took places on each side of the entryway
opposite from the other two cottonwood men over in the west.
At the altar sat four singers. The men carrying willows built
little booths for each animal clan and having all arranged now
the men left to gather their animal skins, medicine, and paints.
Meat they ate together. And they prepared, these Kitkahahkis
who knew the magical powers of stones, for what they called
“the rubbing which belongs to the powers of stone,” for this
symbolizes the mighty sound of several thunderclaps at once.
On the second day each man went out upon the hills to mourn
to sleep, to do whatever they wished, except they couldn’t go
home, and they had to stay celibate; no sex with any women.
Out in the hills they ate wild sage and swam in the waters and
they rubbed wild sage on themselves through the day and night.
On the third day they sang and the man leading the ceremony
sang and on the fourth morning at dawn he arose to summon
the men, requesting some to accompany him into the country
and they walked far to a stand of cedars. Alone the leader went
in the green cedar forest and the other men thought they heard
bear cubs bawling frightfully and these men made ready to flee
when the leader emerged with a cedar tree for the ceremony.
And when they appeared at the Kitkahahki city with the tree
all of the Kitkahahkis rejoiced. The men stood this cedar tree
on the south side of the lodge beside the booth of the bear clan.
That night the animal doctors did many amazing performances
what the Pawnees called, in the time of Good Food In Kettle
“sleight-of-hand tricks.” These “tricks” were feats of wonder.
Through the power of the stone figurine, the owner of the stone
produced lightning. They doused the fire, and in the dark lodge
some doctors stood on the west side waving a dyed buffalo hide
and as the owner of the stone gestured with it before this hide
as several men squirted water from their mouths upon the stone
lightning flashed, a miraculous wonder, the power of the stone.
The first night of the sleight-of-hand performances, the leader
set water drums in front of the altar and he instructed the men
“All put mud, downy feathers, and animal skins on your bodies.
We want now to regurgitate animal power from our stomachs.
We want the people to see these powers.” He and three men
ran around the fireplace, taking up handfuls of ashes from it
throwing the ashes as offerings to the four world-quarter gods.
They stood in a line, and as each man stamped his feet he fell
to the ground, face down. Now objects they called “powers”
they saw sitting upon the ground. They left them lying there
as they took their seats in the west. Men took up the drums
and sang and the doctors emerged out of their willow lodges
to dance. But when the singers stopped singing, the doctors
toppled and lay stunned and in a few moments all fell quiet.
As the men revived, they gathered before their willow lodges.
The leader told an errand man to place a wooden water bowl
west of the fireplace. The leader and the other three men then
stood before the powers, which looked much like ice or glass.
The leader picked one up with his thumb and finger so people
could see it, then he dropped it into the water and he lifted
the wooden bowl to his mouth and he swallowed the water.
Stamping his feet and beating his body with his open palms
the leader stood and announced, “Now, doctors, this power
that I have within me, which I have swallowed, I will keep.”
The other three men followed suit, and then all the doctors.
Night after night they performed. And all the Kitkahahkis
took notice. Other doctors appeared and asked permission
to participate in this ceremony. And finally on one evening
just before they began their sleight-of-hand performances
a soldier of distinction entered the earthlodge and he spoke
“Doctors,” he said, “I am here to ask for your permission
to take part in your ceremonies. For I desire to perform my
sleight-of-hand tricks, and I wish for these brother doctors
to see me perform them.” All the doctors answered, “Nawa
it is well. Let our brother come and play in this earthlodge.”
So the soldier said, “For three days I will make preparation
and on the fourth night I will appear here and I will perform.”
This man had great renown as a famous soldier, a man of war.
He had quested into far realms and had captured many horses
and it seemed very easy for him to return home with horses.
Upon his forehead he always painted himself red. When he
appeared at the doctor’s lodge, he had daubed from his mouth
a line of white clay to his ears, with more clay around his eyes
and white clay covered his hair; and on top of his head he set
a little soft downy feather and another he tied in his scalplock.
He wore a robe upon his shoulders and about his waist he tied
a belt with eagle legs filled with native tobacco. And he wore
a soldier’s insignia: an otter collar bearing a single ear of corn.
On the day after visiting the lodge, he strolled through the city
until he came across a poor boy. “Come with me to my lodge”
he said, “I have something to say to you.” The boy followed.
Sitting together in the soldier’s earthlodge, a bowl of soup
with dried meat they set before this poor boy for him to eat.
After the hungry boy had eaten, the soldier said, “Boy, I want
your help. I plan to perform my magic in the doctor’s lodge.
Will you help me? Will you perform with me?” The boy arose
he walked to the soldier and blessed him, passing both hands
over the man’s head. “You have taken pity upon me. I am poor
and I will do whatever you wish me to do.” The next afternoon
the two left the city to climb a high hill. There they dug until
sticky mud appeared; this wet clay they carried back to the city
to the soldier’s lodge. After sweeping the lodge the next day
the soldier told the boy to make four mud ponies, making them
as perfect as possible. The boy began making the mud horses.
Finishing each pony, he set it in the light where rays of the sun
shined down through the smoke hole of the soldier’s earthlodge.
On the fourth day, four ponies stood there in the rays of the sun
and the boy sat beside them, moving them to catch the sunlight.
And the two men practiced the soldier’s sleight-of-hand tricks.
The soldier sang and danced and his magic succeeded. So they
felt very satisfied. That night they attended the doctor’s lodge.
There the Kitkahahki soldier, renowned in war, and the boy
the poor boy, together they made the four mud ponies walk.
The soldier sang. When he moved his robe, the ponies trotted.
When he stamped his feet, the ponies stopped. He felt pleased.
All the doctors wondered. This soldier hadn’t ever been known
as a doctor. But all the doctors of the stone felt very impressed
they gave many gifts to the soldier. At the end of the ceremony
the soldier told the boy to gather up in his robe the four ponies
to take them to a nearby creek. And when they got to the creek
the soldier told the boy to throw the mud ponies into the water.
After the boy threw them into the water, they went home. But
the fickle god that blessed the soldier felt offended – the horses
should have been retired into a cave, not thrown into the creek.
The soldier lost his power and never again captured horses. He
died poor. And this was the first ceremony of the stone doctors.
In the summer of 1853 the Kitkahahkis set out to hunt buffalo.
The stone’s owner, the leader of the Kitkahahki stone doctors
he accompanied the hunters and he had the figurine with him.
By then it had been wrapped with offerings: a handkerchief
skunk hide, calico, cotton. When the hunters reached the head
of the Dirty Water River, they found themselves surrounded
by an enemy alliance. They retreated into a ravine. One leader
rode east to a camp of Potawatomis to ask for aid, telling them
enemies had surrounded the Kitkahahki hunters. They would
all be killed. The Potawatomi leader asked a doctor to select
twenty young men with medicine-bags to mount their horses.
And they rode to battle. When they appeared, riding in a line
the enemy saw them approaching and turned to charge them.
Ten of the Potawatomis moved forward to meet the charge
and they fired their rifles. Each blast brought down an enemy.
The enemy kept coming, but now the other ten Potawatomis
moved up and took aim and each shot killed another enemy.
The first ten men had reloaded by then; forward they went
as the enemy charged again. And again ten enemies fell dead.
At last they rode up to where the dead bodies of the enemy lay.
Taking their knives, they cut out the hearts from those enemies
to keep them in their medicine-bags. And they painted blood
on their faces and their guns; and seeing this, the enemy grew
frightened. So that day the Potawatomi saved the Kitkahahki.
And the owner of the stone bundle survived this deadly battle.
Afterward, when the man found his pack-horse, he discovered
that the bundle had vanished. In the years that followed, men
died who knew and took part in the stone doctor’s ceremony
and so the ceremony came to an end among the Kitkahahki.