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Thread: I Really Don't Know Why

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
























    IKTOMI is a spider fairy. He wears brown deerskin leggins

    with long soft fringes on either side, and tiny beaded moccasins on

    his feet. His long black hair is parted in the middle and wrapped

    with red, red bands. Each round braid hangs over a small brown ear

    and falls forward over his shoulders.

    He even paints his funny face with red and yellow, and draws

    big black rings around his eyes. He wears a deerskin jacket, with

    bright colored beads sewed tightly on it. Iktomi dresses like a

    real Dakota brave. In truth, his paint and deerskins are the best

    part of him--if ever dress is part of man or fairy.

    Iktomi is a wily fellow. His hands are always kept in

    mischief. He prefers to spread a snare rather than to earn the

    smallest thing with honest hunting. Why! he laughs outright with

    wide open mouth when some simple folk are caught in a trap, sure

    and fast.

    He never dreams another lives so bright as he. Often his own

    conceit leads him hard against the common sense of simpler people.

    Poor Iktomi cannot help being a little imp. And so long as he

    is a naughty fairy, he cannot find a single friend. No one helps

    him when he is in trouble. No one really loves him. Those who

    come to admire his handsome beaded jacket and long fringed leggins

    soon go away sick and tired of his vain, vain words and heartless


    Thus Iktomi lives alone in a cone-shaped wigwam upon the

    plain. One day he sat hungry within his teepee. Suddenly he

    rushed out, dragging after him his blanket. Quickly spreading it

    on the ground, he tore up dry tall grass with both his hands and

    tossed it fast into the blanket.

    Tying all the four corners together in a knot, he threw the

    light bundle of grass over his shoulder.

    Snatching up a slender willow stick with his free left hand,

    he started off with a hop and a leap. From side to side bounced

    the bundle on his back, as he ran light-footed over the uneven

    ground. Soon he came to the edge of the great level land. On the

    hilltop he paused for breath. With wicked smacks of his dry

    parched lips, as if tasting some tender meat, he looked straight

    into space toward the marshy river bottom. With a thin palm

    shading his eyes from the western sun, he peered far away into the

    lowlands, munching his own cheeks all the while. "Ah-ha!" grunted

    he, satisfied with what he saw.

    A group of wild ducks were dancing and feasting in the

    marshes. With wings outspread, tip to tip, they moved up and down

    in a large circle. Within the ring, around a small drum, sat the

    chosen singers, nodding their heads and blinking their eyes.

    They sang in unison a merry dance-song, and beat a lively

    tattoo on the drum.

    Following a winding footpath near by, came a bent figure of a

    Dakota brave. He bore on his back a very large bundle. With a

    willow cane he propped himself up as he staggered along beneath his


    "Ho! who is there?" called out a curious old duck, still

    bobbing up and down in the circular dance.

    Hereupon the drummers stretched their necks till they

    strangled their song for a look at the stranger passing by.

    "Ho, Iktomi! Old fellow, pray tell us what you carry in your

    blanket. Do not hurry off! Stop! halt!" urged one of the singers.

    "Stop! stay! Show us what is in your blanket!" cried out

    other voices.

    "My friends, I must not spoil your dance. Oh, you would not

    care to see if you only knew what is in my blanket. Sing on! dance

    on! I must not show you what I carry on my back," answered Iktomi,

    nudging his own sides with his elbows. This reply broke up the

    ring entirely. Now all the ducks crowded about Iktomi.

    "We must see what you carry! We must know what is in your

    blanket!" they shouted in both his ears. Some even brushed their

    wings against the mysterious bundle. Nudging himself again, wily

    Iktomi said, "My friends, 't is only a pack of songs I carry in my


    "Oh, then let us hear your songs!" cried the curious ducks.

    At length Iktomi consented to sing his songs. With delight

    all the ducks flapped their wings and cried together, "Hoye! hoye!"

    Iktomi, with great care, laid down his bundle on the ground.

    "I will build first a round straw house, for I never sing my

    songs in the open air," said he.

    Quickly he bent green willow sticks, planting both ends of

    each pole into the earth. These he covered thick with reeds and

    grasses. Soon the straw hut was ready. One by one the fat ducks

    waddled in through a small opening, which was the only entrance

    way. Beside the door Iktomi stood smiling, as the ducks, eyeing

    his bundle of songs, strutted into the hut.

    In a strange low voice Iktomi began his queer old tunes. All

    the ducks sat round-eyed in a circle about the mysterious singer.

    It was dim in that straw hut, for Iktomi had not forgot to cover up

    the small entrance way. All of a sudden his song burst into full

    voice. As the startled ducks sat uneasily on the ground, Iktomi

    changed his tune into a minor strain. These were the words he


    "Istokmus wacipo, tuwayatunwanpi kinhan ista nisasapi kta,"

    which is, "With eyes closed you must dance. He who dares to open

    his eyes, forever red eyes shall have."

    Up rose the circle of seated ducks and holding their wings

    close against their sides began to dance to the rhythm of Iktomi's

    song and drum.

    With eyes closed they did dance! Iktomi ceased to beat his

    drum. He began to sing louder and faster. He seemed to be moving

    about in the center of the ring. No duck dared blink a wink. Each

    one shut his eyes very tight and danced even harder. Up and down!

    Shifting to the right of them they hopped round and round in that

    blind dance. It was a difficult dance for the curious folk.

    At length one of the dancers could close his eyes no longer!

    It was a Skiska who peeped the least tiny blink at Iktomi within

    the center of the circle. "Oh! oh!" squawked he in awful terror!

    "Run! fly! Iktomi is twisting your heads and breaking your necks!

    Run out and fly! fly!" he cried. Hereupon the ducks opened their

    eyes. There beside Iktomi's bundle of songs lay half of their

    crowd--flat on their backs.

    Out they flew through the opening Skiska had made as he rushed

    forth with his alarm.

    But as they soared high into the blue sky they cried to one

    another: "Oh! your eyes are red-red!" "And yours are red-red!"

    For the warning words of the magic minor strain had proven true.

    "Ah-ha!" laughed Iktomi, untying the four corners of his blanket,

    "I shall sit no more hungry within my dwelling." Homeward he

    trudged along with nice fat ducks in his blanket. He left the

    little straw hut for the rains and winds to pull down.

    Having reached his own teepee on the high level lands, Iktomi

    kindled a large fire out of doors. He planted sharp-pointed sticks

    around the leaping flames. On each stake he fastened a duck to

    roast. A few he buried under the ashes to bake. Disappearing

    within his teepee, he came out again with some huge seashells.

    These were his dishes. Placing one under each roasting duck, he

    muttered, "The sweet fat oozing out will taste well with the

    hard-cooked breasts."

    Heaping more willows upon the fire, Iktomi sat down on the

    ground with crossed shins. A long chin between his knees pointed

    toward the red flames, while his eyes were on the browning ducks.

    Just above his ankles he clasped and unclasped his long bony

    fingers. Now and then he sniffed impatiently the savory odor.

    The brisk wind which stirred the fire also played with a

    squeaky old tree beside Iktomi's wigwam.

    From side to side the tree was swaying and crying in an old

    man's voice, "Help! I'll break! I'll fall!" Iktomi shrugged his

    great shoulders, but did not once take his eyes from the ducks.

    The dripping of amber oil into pearly dishes, drop by drop, pleased

    his hungry eyes. Still the old tree man called for help. "He!

    What sound is it that makes my ear ache!" exclaimed Iktomi, holding

    a hand on his ear.

    He rose and looked around. The squeaking came from the tree.

    Then he began climbing the tree to find the disagreeable sound. He

    placed his foot right on a cracked limb without seeing it. Just

    then a whiff of wind came rushing by and pressed together the

    broken edges. There in a strong wooden hand Iktomi's foot was


    "Oh! my foot is crushed!" he howled like a coward. In vain he

    pulled and puffed to free himself.

    While sitting a prisoner on the tree he spied, through his

    tears, a pack of gray wolves roaming over the level lands. Waving

    his hands toward them, he called in his loudest voice, "He! Gray

    wolves! Don't you come here! I'm caught fast in the tree so that

    my duck feast is getting cold. Don't you come to eat up my meal."

    The leader of the pack upon hearing Iktomi's words turned to

    his comrades and said:

    "Ah! hear the foolish fellow! He says he has a duck feast to

    be eaten! Let us hurry there for our share!" Away bounded the

    wolves toward Iktomi's lodge.

    From the tree Iktomi watched the hungry wolves eat up his

    nicely browned fat ducks. His foot pained him more and more. He

    heard them crack the small round bones with their strong long teeth

    and eat out the oily marrow. Now severe pains shot up from his

    foot through his whole body. "Hin-hin-hin!" sobbed Iktomi. Real

    tears washed brown streaks across his red-painted cheeks. Smacking

    their lips, the wolves began to leave the place, when Iktomi cried

    out like a pouting child, "At least you have left my baking under

    the ashes!"

    "Ho! Po!" shouted the mischievous wolves; "he says more ducks

    are to be found under the ashes! Come! Let us have our fill this


    Running back to the dead fire, they pawed out the ducks with

    such rude haste that a cloud of ashes rose like gray smoke over


    "Hin-hin-hin!" moaned Iktomi, when the wolves had scampered

    off. All too late, the sturdy breeze returned, and, passing by,

    pulled apart the broken edges of the tree. Iktomi was released.

    But alas! he had no duck feast.



    ALONE within his teepee sat Iktomi. The sun was but a

    handsbreadth from the western edge of land.

    "Those, bad, bad gray wolves! They ate up all my nice fat

    ducks!" muttered he, rocking his body to and fro.

    He was cuddling the evil memory he bore those hungry wolves.

    At last he ceased to sway his body backward and forward, but sat

    still and stiff as a stone image.

    "Oh! I'll go to Inyan, the great-grandfather, and pray for

    food!" he exclaimed.

    At once he hurried forth from his teepee and, with his blanket

    over one shoulder, drew nigh to a huge rock on a hillside.

    With half-crouching, half-running strides, he fell upon Inyan

    with outspread hands.

    "Grandfather! pity me. I am hungry. I am starving. Give me

    food. Great-grandfather, give me meat to eat!" he cried. All the

    while he stroked and caressed the face of the great stone god.

    The all-powerful Great Spirit, who makes the trees and grass,

    can hear the voice of those who pray in many varied ways. The

    hearing of Inyan, the large hard stone, was the one most sought

    after. He was the great-grandfather, for he had sat upon the

    hillside many, many seasons. He had seen the prairie put on a

    snow-white blanket and then change it for a bright green robe more

    than a thousand times.

    Still unaffected by the myriad moons he rested on the

    everlasting hill, listening to the prayers of Indian warriors.

    Before the finding of the magic arrow he had sat there.

    Now, as Iktomi prayed and wept before the great-grandfather,

    the sky in the west was red like a glowing face. The sunset poured

    a soft mellow light upon the huge gray stone and the solitary

    figure beside it. It was the smile of the Great Spirit upon the

    grandfather and the wayward child.

    The prayer was heard. Iktomi knew it. "Now, grandfather,

    accept my offering; 'tis all I have," said Iktomi as he spread

    his half-worn blanket upon Inyan's cold shoulders. Then Iktomi,

    happy with the smile of the sunset sky, followed a footpath leading

    toward a thicketed ravine. He had not gone many paces into the

    shrubbery when before him lay a freshly wounded deer!

    "This is the answer from the red western sky!" cried Iktomi

    with hands uplifted.

    Slipping a long thin blade from out his belt, he cut large

    chunks of choice meat. Sharpening some willow sticks, he planted

    them around a wood-pile he had ready to kindle. On these stakes he

    meant to roast the venison.

    While he was rubbing briskly two long sticks to start a fire,

    the sun in the west fell out of the sky below the edge of land.

    Twilight was over all. Iktomi felt the cold night air upon his

    bare neck and shoulders. "Ough!" he shivered as he wiped his knife

    on the grass. Tucking it in a beaded case hanging from his belt,

    Iktomi stood erect, looking about. He shivered again. "Ough! Ah!

    I am cold. I wish I had my blanket!" whispered he, hovering over

    the pile of dry sticks and the sharp stakes round about it.

    Suddenly he paused and dropped his hands at his sides.

    "The old great-grandfather does not feel the cold as I do. He

    does not need my old blanket as I do. I wish I had not given it to

    him. Oh! I think I'll run up there and take it back!" said he,

    pointing his long chin toward the large gray stone.

    Iktomi, in the warm sunshine, had no need of his blanket, and

    it had been very easy to part with a thing which he could not miss.

    But the chilly night wind quite froze his ardent thank-offering.

    Thus running up the hillside, his teeth chattering all the

    way, he drew near to Inyan, the sacred symbol. Seizing one corner

    of the half-worn blanket, Iktomi pulled it off with a jerk.

    "Give my blanket back, old grandfather! You do not need it.

    I do!" This was very wrong, yet Iktomi did it, for his wit was not

    wisdom. Drawing the blanket tight over his shoulders, he descended

    the hill with hurrying feet.

    He was soon upon the edge of the ravine. A young moon, like

    a bright bent bow, climbed up from the southwest horizon a little

    way into the sky.

    In this pale light Iktomi stood motionless as a ghost amid the

    thicket. His woodpile was not yet kindled. His pointed stakes

    were still bare as he had left them. But where was the deer--the

    venison he had felt warm in his hands a moment ago? It was gone.

    Only the dry rib bones lay on the ground like giant fingers from an

    open grave. Iktomi was troubled. At length, stooping over the

    white dried bones, he took hold of one and shook it. The bones,

    loose in their sockets, rattled together at his touch. Iktomi let

    go his hold. He sprang back amazed. And though he wore a blanket

    his teeth chattered more than ever. Then his blunted sense will

    surprise you, little reader; for instead of being grieved that he

    had taken back his blanket, he cried aloud, "Hin-hin-hin! If only

    I had eaten the venison before going for my blanket!"

    Those tears no longer moved the hand of the Generous Giver.

    They were selfish tears. The Great Spirit does not heed them ever.



    BESIDE a white lake, beneath a large grown willow tree, sat

    Iktomi on the bare ground. The heap of smouldering ashes told of

    a recent open fire. With ankles crossed together around a pot of

    soup, Iktomi bent over some delicious boiled fish.

    Fast he dipped his black horn spoon into the soup, for he was

    ravenous. Iktomi had no regular meal times. Often when he was

    hungry he went without food.

    Well hid between the lake and the wild rice, he looked nowhere

    save into the pot of fish. Not knowing when the next meal would

    be, he meant to eat enough now to last some time.

    "How, how, my friend!" said a voice out of the wild rice.

    Iktomi started. He almost choked with his soup. He peered through

    the long reeds from where he sat with his long horn spoon in


    "How, my friend!" said the voice again, this time close at his

    side. Iktomi turned and there stood a dripping muskrat who had

    just come out of the lake.

    "Oh, it is my friend who startled me. I wondered if among the

    wild rice some spirit voice was talking. How, how, my friend!"

    said Iktomi. The muskrat stood smiling. On his lips hung a ready

    "Yes, my friend," when Iktomi would ask, "My friend, will you sit

    down beside me and share my food?"

    That was the custom of the plains people. Yet Iktomi sat

    silent. He hummed an old dance-song and beat gently on the edge of

    the pot with his buffalo-horn spoon. The muskrat began to feel

    awkward before such lack of hospitality and wished himself under


    After many heart throbs Iktomi stopped drumming with his horn

    ladle, and looking upward into the muskrat's face, he said:

    "My friend, let us run a race to see who shall win this pot of

    fish. If I win, I shall not need to share it with you. If you

    win, you shall have half of it." Springing to his feet, Iktomi

    began at once to tighten the belt about his waist.

    "My friend Ikto, I cannot run a race with you! I am not a

    swift runner, and you are nimble as a deer. We shall not run any

    race together," answered the hungry muskrat.

    For a moment Iktomi stood with a hand on his long protruding

    chin. His eyes were fixed upon something in the air. The muskrat

    looked out of the corners of his eyes without moving his head. He

    watched the wily Iktomi concocting a plot.

    "Yes, yes," said Iktomi, suddenly turning his gaze upon the

    unwelcome visitor;

    "I shall carry a large stone on my back. That will slacken my

    usual speed; and the race will be a fair one."

    Saying this he laid a firm hand upon the muskrat's shoulder

    and started off along the edge of the lake. When they reached the

    opposite side Iktomi pried about in search of a heavy stone.

    He found one half-buried in the shallow water. Pulling it out

    upon dry land, he wrapped it in his blanket.

    "Now, my friend, you shall run on the left side of the lake,

    I on the other. The race is for the boiled fish in yonder kettle!"

    said Iktomi.

    The muskrat helped to lift the heavy stone upon Iktomi's back.

    Then they parted. Each took a narrow path through the tall reeds

    fringing the shore. Iktomi found his load a heavy one.

    Perspiration hung like beads on his brow. His chest heaved hard

    and fast.

    He looked across the lake to see how far the muskrat had gone,

    but nowhere did he see any sign of him. "Well, he is running low

    under the wild rice!" said he. Yet as he scanned the tall grasses

    on the lake shore, he saw not one stir as if to make way for the

    runner. "Ah, has he gone so fast ahead that the disturbed grasses

    in his trail have quieted again?" exclaimed Iktomi. With that

    thought he quickly dropped the heavy stone. "No more of this!"

    said he, patting his chest with both hands.

    Off with a springing bound, he ran swiftly toward the goal.

    Tufts of reeds and grass fell flat under his feet. Hardly had they

    raised their heads when Iktomi was many paces gone.

    Soon he reached the heap of cold ashes. Iktomi halted stiff

    as if he had struck an invisible cliff. His black eyes showed a

    ring of white about them as he stared at the empty ground. There

    was no pot of boiled fish! There was no water-man in sight! "Oh,

    if only I had shared my food like a real Dakota, I would not have

    lost it all! Why did I not know the muskrat would run through the

    water? He swims faster than I could ever run! That is what he has

    done. He has laughed at me for carrying a weight on my back while

    he shot hither like an arrow!"

    Crying thus to himself, Iktomi stepped to the water's brink.

    He stooped forward with a hand on each bent knee and peeped far

    into the deep water.

    "There!" he exclaimed, "I see you, my friend, sitting with

    your ankles wound around my little pot of fish! My friend, I am

    hungry. Give me a bone!"

    "Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the water-man, the muskrat. The sound

    did not rise up out of the lake, for it came down from overhead.

    With his hands still on his knees, Iktomi turned his face upward

    into the great willow tree. Opening wide his mouth he begged, "My

    friend, my friend, give me a bone to gnaw!"

    "Ha! ha!" laughed the muskrat, and leaning over the limb he

    sat upon, he let fall a small sharp bone which dropped right into

    Iktomi's throat. Iktomi almost choked to death before he could get

    it out. In the tree the muskrat sat laughing loud. "Next time,

    say to a visiting friend, 'Be seated beside me, my friend. Let me

    share with you my food.'"



    AFAR off upon a large level land, a summer sun was shining

    bright. Here and there over the rolling green were tall bunches of

    coarse gray weeds. Iktomi in his fringed buckskins walked alone

    across the prairie with a black bare head glossy in the sunlight.

    He walked through the grass without following any well-worn


    From one large bunch of coarse weeds to another he wound his

    way about the great plain. He lifted his foot lightly and placed

    it gently forward like a wildcat prowling noiselessly through the

    thick grass. He stopped a few steps away from a very large bunch

    of wild sage. From shoulder to shoulder he tilted his head. Still

    farther he bent from side to side, first low over one hip and then

    over the other. Far forward he stooped, stretching his long thin

    neck like a duck, to see what lay under a fur coat beyond the bunch

    of coarse grass.

    A sleek gray-faced prairie wolf! his pointed black nose tucked

    in between his four feet drawn snugly together; his handsome bushy

    tail wound over his nose and feet; a coyote fast asleep in the

    shadow of a bunch of grass!--this is what Iktomi spied. Carefully

    he raised one foot and cautiously reached out with his toes.

    Gently, gently he lifted the foot behind and placed it before the

    other. Thus he came nearer and nearer to the round fur ball lying

    motionless under the sage grass.

    Now Iktomi stood beside it, looking at the closed eyelids that

    did not quiver the least bit. Pressing his lips into straight

    lines and nodding his head slowly, he bent over the wolf. He held

    his ear close to the coyote's nose, but not a breath of air stirred

    from it.

    "Dead!" said he at last. "Dead, but not long since he ran

    over these plains! See! there in his paw is caught a fresh

    feather. He is nice fat meat!" Taking hold of the paw with the

    bird feather fast on it, he exclaimed, "Why, he is still warm!

    I'll carry him to my dwelling and have a roast for my evening meal.

    Ah-ha!" he laughed, as he seized the coyote by its two fore paws

    and its two hind feet and swung him over head across his shoulders.

    The wolf was large and the teepee was far across the prairie.

    Iktomi trudged along with his burden, smacking his hungry lips

    together. He blinked his eyes hard to keep out the salty

    perspiration streaming down his face.

    All the while the coyote on his back lay gazing into the sky

    with wide open eyes. His long white teeth fairly gleamed as he

    smiled and smiled.

    "To ride on one's own feet is tiresome, but to be carried like

    a warrior from a brave fight is great fun!" said the coyote in his

    heart. He had never been borne on any one's back before and the

    new experience delighted him. He lay there lazily on Iktomi's

    shoulders, now and then blinking blue winks. Did you never see a

    birdie blink a blue wink? This is how it first became a saying

    among the plains people. When a bird stands aloof watching your

    strange ways, a thin bluish white tissue slips quickly over his

    eyes and as quickly off again; so quick that you think it was only

    a mysterious blue wink. Sometimes when children grow drowsy they

    blink blue winks, while others who are too proud to look with

    friendly eyes upon people blink in this cold bird-manner.

    The coyote was affected by both sleepiness and pride. His

    winks were almost as blue as the sky. In the midst of his new

    pleasure the swaying motion ceased. Iktomi had reached his

    dwelling place. The coyote felt drowsy no longer, for in the next

    instant he was slipping out of Iktomi's hands. He was falling,

    falling through space, and then he struck the ground with such a

    bump he did not wish to breathe for a while. He wondered what

    Iktomi would do, thus he lay still where he fell. Humming a

    dance-song, one from his bundle of mystery songs, Iktomi hopped and

    darted about at an imaginary dance and feast. He gathered dry

    willow sticks and broke them in two against his knee. He built a

    large fire out of doors. The flames leaped up high in red and

    yellow streaks. Now Iktomi returned to the coyote who had been

    looking on through his eyelashes.

    Taking him again by his paws and hind feet, he swung him to

    and fro. Then as the wolf swung toward the red flames, Iktomi let

    him go. Once again the coyote fell through space. Hot air smote

    his nostrils. He saw red dancing fire, and now he struck a bed of

    cracking embers. With a quick turn he leaped out of the flames.

    From his heels were scattered a shower of red coals upon Iktomi's

    bare arms and shoulders. Dumbfounded, Iktomi thought he saw a

    spirit walk out of his fire. His jaws fell apart. He thrust a

    palm to his face, hard over his mouth! He could scarce keep from


    Rolling over and over on the grass and rubbing the sides of

    his head against the ground, the coyote soon put out the fire on

    his fur. Iktomi's eyes were almost ready to jump out of his head

    as he stood cooling a burn on his brown arm with his breath.

    Sitting on his haunches, on the opposite side of the fire from

    where Iktomi stood, the coyote began to laugh at him.

    "Another day, my friend, do not take too much for granted.

    Make sure the enemy is stone dead before you make a fire!"

    Then off he ran so swiftly that his long bushy tail hung out

    in a straight line with his back.



    IN one of his wanderings through the wooded lands, Iktomi saw

    a rare bird sitting high in a tree-top. Its long fan-like tail

    feathers had caught all the beautiful colors of the rainbow.

    Handsome in the glistening summer sun sat the bird of rainbow

    plumage. Iktomi hurried hither with his eyes fast on the bird.

    He stood beneath the tree looking long and wistfully at the

    peacock's bright feathers. At length he heaved a sigh and began:

    "Oh, I wish I had such pretty feathers! How I wish I were not I!

    If only I were a handsome feathered creature how happy I would be!

    I'd be so glad to sit upon a very high tree and bask in the summer

    sun like you!" said he suddenly, pointing his bony finger up toward

    the peacock, who was eyeing the stranger below, turning his head

    from side to side.

    "I beg of you make me into a bird with green and purple

    feathers like yours!" implored Iktomi, tired now of playing the

    brave in beaded buckskins. The peacock then spoke to Iktomi: "I

    have a magic power. My touch will change you in a moment into the

    most beautiful peacock if you can keep one condition."

    "Yes! yes!" shouted Iktomi, jumping up and down, patting his

    lips with his palm, which caused his voice to vibrate in a peculiar

    fashion. "Yes! yes! I could keep ten conditions if only you would

    change me into a bird with long, bright tail feathers. Oh, I am so

    ugly! I am so tired of being myself! Change me! Do!"

    Hereupon the peacock spread out both his wings, and scarce

    moving them, he sailed slowly down upon the ground. Right beside

    Iktomi he alighted. Very low in Iktomi's ear the peacock

    whispered, "Are you willing to keep one condition, though hard it


    "Yes! yes! I've told you ten of them if need be!" exclaimed

    Iktomi, with some impatience.

    "Then I pronounce you a handsome feathered bird. No longer

    are you Iktomi the mischief-maker." Saying this the peacock

    touched Iktomi with the tips of his wings.

    Iktomi vanished at the touch. There stood beneath the tree

    two handsome peacocks. While one of the pair strutted about with

    a head turned aside as if dazzled by his own bright-tinted tail

    feathers, the other bird soared slowly upward. He sat quiet and

    unconscious of his gay plumage. He seemed content to perch there

    on a large limb in the warm sunshine.

    After a little while the vain peacock, dizzy with his bright

    colors, spread out his wings and lit on the same branch with the

    elder bird.

    "Oh!" he exclaimed, "how hard to fly! Brightly tinted

    feathers are handsome, but I wish they were light enough to fly!"

    Just there the elder bird interrupted him. "That is the one

    condition. Never try to fly like other birds. Upon the day you

    try to fly you shall be changed into your former self."

    "Oh, what a shame that bright feathers cannot fly into the

    sky!" cried the peacock. Already he grew restless. He longed to

    soar through space. He yearned to fly above the trees high upward

    to the sun.

    "Oh, there I see a flock of birds flying thither! Oh! oh!"

    said he, flapping his wings, "I must try my wings! I am tired of

    bright tail feathers. I want to try my wings."

    "No, no!" clucked the elder bird. The flock of chattering

    birds flew by with whirring wings. "Oop! oop!" called some to

    their mates.

    Possessed by an irrepressible impulse the Iktomi peacock

    called out, "He! I want to come! Wait for me!" and with that he

    gave a lunge into the air. The flock of flying feathers wheeled

    about and lowered over the tree whence came the peacock's cry.

    Only one rare bird sat on the tree, and beneath, on the ground,

    stood a brave in brown buckskins.

    "I am my old self again!" groaned Iktomi in a sad voice.

    "Make me over, pretty bird. Try me this once again!" he pleaded in


    "Old Iktomi wants to fly! Ah! We cannot wait for him!" sang

    the birds as they flew away.

    Muttering unhappy vows to himself, Iktomi had not gone far

    when he chanced upon a bunch of long slender arrows. One by one

    they rose in the air and shot a straight line over the prairie.

    Others shot up into the blue sky and were soon lost to sight. Only

    one was left. He was making ready for his flight when Iktomi

    rushed upon him and wailed, "I want to be an arrow! Make me into

    an arrow! I want to pierce the blue Blue overhead. I want to

    strike yonder summer sun in its center. Make me into an arrow!"

    "Can you keep a condition? One condition, though hard it be?"

    the arrow turned to ask.

    "Yes! Yes!" shouted Iktomi, delighted.

    Hereupon the slender arrow tapped him gently with his sharp

    flint beak. There was no Iktomi, but two arrows stood ready

    to fly. "Now, young arrow, this is the one condition. Your flight

    must always be in a straight line. Never turn a curve nor jump

    about like a young fawn," said the arrow magician. He spoke slowly

    and sternly.

    At once he set about to teach the new arrow how to shoot in a

    long straight line.

    "This is the way to pierce the Blue overhead," said he; and

    off he spun high into the sky.

    While he was gone a herd of deer came trotting by. Behind

    them played the young fawns together. They frolicked about like

    kittens. They bounced on all fours like balls. Then they pitched

    forward, kicking their heels in the air. The Iktomi arrow watched

    them so happy on the ground. Looking quickly up into the sky, he

    said in his heart, "The magician is out of sight. I'll just romp

    and frolic with these fawns until he returns. Fawns! Friends, do

    not fear me. I want to jump and leap with you. I long to be happy

    as you are," said he. The young fawns stopped with stiff legs and

    stared at the speaking arrow with large brown wondering eyes.

    "See! I can jump as well as you!" went on Iktomi. He gave one

    tiny leap like a fawn. All of a sudden the fawns snorted with

    extended nostrils at what they beheld. There among them stood

    Iktomi in brown buckskins, and the strange talking arrow was gone.

    "Oh! I am myself. My old self!" cried Iktomi, pinching

    himself and plucking imaginary pieces out of his jacket.

    "Hin-hin-hin! I wanted to fly!"

    The real arrow now returned to the earth. He alighted very

    near Iktomi. From the high sky he had seen the fawns playing on

    the green. He had seen Iktomi make his one leap, and the charm was

    broken. Iktomi became his former self.

    "Arrow, my friend, change me once more!" begged Iktomi.

    "No, no more," replied the arrow. Then away he shot through

    the air in the direction his comrades had flown.

    By this time the fawns gathered close around Iktomi. They

    poked their noses at him trying to know who he was.

    Iktomi's tears were like a spring shower. A new desire dried

    them quickly away. Stepping boldly to the largest fawn, he looked

    closely at the little brown spots all over the furry face.

    "Oh, fawn! What beautiful brown spots on your face! Fawn,

    dear little fawn, can you tell me how those brown spots were made

    on your face?"

    "Yes," said the fawn. "When I was very, very small, my mother

    marked them on my face with a red hot fire. She dug a large hole

    in the ground and made a soft bed of grass and twigs in it. Then

    she placed me gently there. She covered me over with dry sweet

    grass and piled dry cedars on top. From a neighbor's fire she

    brought hither a red, red ember. This she tucked carefully in at

    my head. This is how the brown spots were made on my face."

    "Now, fawn, my friend, will you do the same for me? Won't you

    mark my face with brown, brown spots just like yours?" asked

    Iktomi, always eager to be like other people.

    "Yes. I can dig the ground and fill it with dry grass and

    sticks. If you will jump into the pit, I'll cover you with sweet

    smelling grass and cedar wood," answered the fawn.

    "Say," interrupted Ikto, "will you be sure to cover me with a

    great deal of dry grass and twigs? You will make sure that the

    spots will be as brown as those you wear."

    "Oh, yes. I'll pile up grass and willows once oftener than my

    mother did."

    "Now let us dig the hole, pull the grass, and gather sticks,"

    cried Iktomi in glee.

    Thus with his own hands he aids in making his grave. After

    the hole was dug and cushioned with grass, Iktomi, muttering

    something about brown spots, leaped down into it. Lengthwise, flat

    on his back, he lay. While the fawn covered him over with cedars,

    a far-away voice came up through them, "Brown, brown spots to wear

    forever!" A red ember was tucked under the dry grass. Off

    scampered the fawns after their mothers; and when a great distance

    away they looked backward. They saw a blue smoke rising, writhing

    upward till it vanished in the blue ether.

    "Is that Iktomi's spirit?" asked one fawn of another.

    "No! I think he would jump out before he could burn into

    smoke and cinders," answered his comrade.



    ON the edge of a forest there lived a large family of badgers.

    In the ground their dwelling was made. Its walls and roof were

    covered with rocks and straw.

    Old father badger was a great hunter. He knew well how to

    track the deer and buffalo. Every day he came home carrying on his

    back some wild game. This kept mother badger very busy, and the

    baby badgers very chubby. While the well-fed children played

    about, digging little make-believe dwellings, their mother hung

    thin sliced meats upon long willow racks. As fast as the meats

    were dried and seasoned by sun and wind, she packed them carefully

    away in a large thick bag.

    This bag was like a huge stiff envelope, but far more

    beautiful to see, for it was painted all over with many bright

    colors. These firmly tied bags of dried meat were laid upon the

    rocks in the walls of the dwelling. In this way they were both

    useful and decorative.

    One day father badger did not go off for a hunt. He stayed at

    home, making new arrows. His children sat about him on the ground

    floor. Their small black eyes danced with delight as they watched

    the gay colors painted upon the arrows.

    All of a sudden there was heard a heavy footfall near the

    entrance way. The oval-shaped door-frame was pushed aside. In

    stepped a large black foot with great big claws. Then the other

    clumsy foot came next. All the while the baby badgers stared hard

    at the unexpected comer. After the second foot, in peeped the head

    of a big black bear! His black nose was dry and parched. Silently

    he entered the dwelling and sat down on the ground by the doorway.

    His black eyes never left the painted bags on the rocky walls. He

    guessed what was in them. He was a very hungry bear. Seeing the

    racks of red meat hanging in the yard, he had come to visit the

    badger family.

    Though he was a stranger and his strong paws and jaws

    frightened the small badgers, the father said, "How, how, friend!

    Your lips and nose look feverish and hungry. Will you eat with


    "Yes, my friend," said the bear. "I am starved. I saw your

    racks of red fresh meat, and knowing your heart is kind, I came

    hither. Give me meat to eat, my friend."

    Hereupon the mother badger took long strides across the room,

    and as she had to pass in front of the strange visitor, she said:

    "Ah han! Allow me to pass!" which was an apology.

    "How, how!" replied the bear, drawing himself closer to the

    wall and crossing his shins together.

    Mother badger chose the most tender red meat, and soon over a

    bed of coals she broiled the venison.

    That day the bear had all he could eat. At nightfall he rose,

    and smacking his lips together,--that is the noisy way of saying

    "the food was very good!"--he left the badger dwelling. The baby

    badgers, peeping through the door-flap after the shaggy bear, saw

    him disappear into the woods near by.

    Day after day the crackling of twigs in the forest told of

    heavy footsteps. Out would come the same black bear. He never

    lifted the door-flap, but thrusting it aside entered slowly in.

    Always in the same place by the entrance way he sat down with

    crossed shins.

    His daily visits were so regular that mother badger placed a

    fur rug in his place. She did not wish a guest in her dwelling to

    sit upon the bare hard ground.

    At last one time when the bear returned, his nose was bright

    and black. His coat was glossy. He had grown fat upon the

    badger's hospitality.

    As he entered the dwelling a pair of wicked gleams shot out of

    his shaggy head. Surprised by the strange behavior of the guest

    who remained standing upon the rug, leaning his round back against

    the wall, father badger queried: "How, my friend! What?"

    The bear took one stride forward and shook his paw in the

    badger's face. He said: "I am strong, very strong!"

    "Yes, yes, so you are," replied the badger. From the farther

    end of the room mother badger muttered over her bead work: "Yes,

    you grew strong from our well-filled bowls."

    The bear smiled, showing a row of large sharp teeth.

    "I have no dwelling. I have no bags of dried meat. I have no

    arrows. All these I have found here on this spot," said he,

    stamping his heavy foot. "I want them! See! I am strong!"

    repeated he, lifting both his terrible paws.

    Quietly the father badger spoke: "I fed you. I called you

    friend, though you came here a stranger and a beggar. For the

    sake of my little ones leave us in peace."

    Mother badger, in her excited way, had pierced hard through

    the buckskin and stuck her fingers repeatedly with her sharp awl

    until she had laid aside her work. Now, while her husband was

    talking to the bear, she motioned with her hands to the children.

    On tiptoe they hastened to her side.

    For reply came a low growl. It grew louder and more fierce.

    "Wa-ough!" he roared, and by force hurled the badgers out. First

    the father badger; then the mother. The little badgers he tossed

    by pairs. He threw them hard upon the ground. Standing in the

    entrance way and showing his ugly teeth, he snarled, "Be gone!"

    The father and mother badger, having gained their feet, picked

    up their kicking little babes, and, wailing aloud, drew the air

    into their flattened lungs till they could stand alone upon their

    feet. No sooner had the baby badgers caught their breath than they

    howled and shrieked with pain and fright. Ah! what a dismal cry

    was theirs as the whole badger family went forth wailing from out

    their own dwelling! A little distance away from their stolen house

    the father badger built a small round hut. He made it of bent

    willows and covered it with dry grass and twigs.

    This was shelter for the night; but alas! it was empty of food

    and arrows. All day father badger prowled through the forest, but

    without his arrows he could not get food for his children. Upon

    his return, the cry of the little ones for meat, the sad quiet of

    the mother with bowed head, hurt him like a poisoned arrow wound.

    "I'll beg meat for you!" said he in an unsteady voice.

    Covering his head and entire body in a long loose robe he halted

    beside the big black bear. The bear was slicing red meat to hang

    upon the rack. He did not pause for a look at the comer. As the

    badger stood there unrecognized, he saw that the bear had brought

    with him his whole family. Little cubs played under the

    high-hanging new meats. They laughed and pointed with their wee

    noses upward at the thin sliced meats upon the poles.

    "Have you no heart, Black Bear? My children are starving.

    Give me a small piece of meat for them," begged the badger.

    "Wa-ough!" growled the angry bear, and pounced upon the

    badger. "Be gone!" said he, and with his big hind foot he sent

    father badger sprawling on the ground.

    All the little ruffian bears hooted and shouted "ha-ha!" to

    see the beggar fall upon his face. There was one, however, who did

    not even smile. He was the youngest cub. His fur coat was not as

    black and glossy as those his elders wore. The hair was dry and

    dingy. It looked much more like kinky wool. He was the ugly cub.

    Poor little baby bear! he had always been laughed at by his older

    brothers. He could not help being himself. He could not change

    the differences between himself and his brothers. Thus again,

    though the rest laughed aloud at the badger's fall, he did not see

    the joke. His face was long and earnest. In his heart he was sad

    to see the badgers crying and starving. In his breast spread a

    burning desire to share his food with them.

    "I shall not ask my father for meat to give away. He would

    say 'No!' Then my brothers would laugh at me," said the ugly baby

    bear to himself.

    In an instant, as if his good intention had passed from him,

    he was singing happily and skipping around his father at work.

    Singing in his small high voice and dragging his feet in long

    strides after him, as if a prankish spirit oozed out from his

    heels, he strayed off through the tall grass. He was ambling

    toward the small round hut. When directly in front of the entrance

    way, he made a quick side kick with his left hind leg. Lo! there

    fell into the badger's hut a piece of fresh meat. It was tough

    meat, full of sinews, yet it was the only piece he could take

    without his father's notice.

    Thus having given meat to the hungry badgers, the ugly baby

    bear ran quickly away to his father again.

    On the following day the father badger came back once more.

    He stood watching the big bear cutting thin slices of meat.

    " Give--" he began, when the bear turning upon him with a

    growl, thrust him cruelly aside. The badger fell on his hands. He

    fell where the grass was wet with the blood of the newly carved

    buffalo. His keen starving eyes caught sight of a little red clot

    lying bright upon the green. Looking fearfully toward the bear and

    seeing his head was turned away, he snatched up the small thick

    blood. Underneath his girdled blanket he hid it in his hand.

    On his return to his family, he said within himself : "I'll

    pray the Great Spirit to bless it." Thus he built a small round

    lodge. Sprinkling water upon the heated heap of sacred stones

    within, he made ready to purge his body. "The buffalo blood, too,

    must be purified before I ask a blessing upon it," thought the

    badger. He carried it into the sacred vapor lodge. After placing

    it near the sacred stones, he sat down beside it. After a long

    silence, he muttered: "Great Spirit, bless this little buffalo

    blood." Then he arose, and with a quiet dignity stepped out of the

    lodge. Close behind him some one followed. The badger turned to

    look over his shoulder and to his great joy he beheld a Dakota

    brave in handsome buckskins. In his hand he carried a magic arrow.

    Across his back dangled a long fringed quiver. In answer to the

    badger's prayer, the avenger had sprung from out the red globules.

    "My son!" exclaimed the badger with extended right hand.

    "How, father," replied the brave; "I am your avenger!"

    Immediately the badger told the sad story of his hungry little

    ones and the stingy bear.

    Listening closely the young man stood looking steadily upon

    the ground.

    At length the father badger moved away.

    "Where?" queried the avenger.

    "My son, we have no food. I am going again to beg for meat,"

    answered the badger.

    "Then I go with you," replied the young brave. This made the

    old badger happy. He was proud of his son. He was delighted to be

    called "father" by the first human creature.

    The bear saw the badger coming in the distance. He narrowed

    his eyes at the tall stranger walking beside him. He spied the

    arrow. At once he guessed it was the avenger of whom he had heard

    long, long ago. As they approached, the bear stood erect with a

    hand on his thigh. He smiled upon them.

    "How, badger, my friend! Here is my knife. Cut your favorite

    pieces from the deer," said he, holding out a long thin blade.

    "How!" said the badger eagerly. He wondered what had inspired

    the big bear to such a generous deed. The young avenger waited

    till the badger took the long knife in his hand.

    Gazing full into the black bear's face, he said: "I come to do

    justice. You have returned only a knife to my poor father. Now

    return to him his dwelling." His voice was deep and powerful. In

    his black eyes burned a steady fire.

    The long strong teeth of the bear rattled against each other,

    and his shaggy body shook with fear. "Ahow!" cried he, as if he

    had been shot. Running into the dwelling he gasped, breathless and

    trembling, "Come out, all of you! This is the badger's dwelling.

    We must flee to the forest for fear of the avenger who carries the

    magic arrow."

    Out they hurried, all the bears, and disappeared into the


    Singing and laughing, the badgers returned to their own


    Then the avenger left them.

    "I go," said he in parting, "over the earth."



    IT was a clear summer day. The blue, blue sky dropped low

    over the edge of the green level land. A large yellow sun hung

    directly overhead.

    The singing of birds filled the summer space between earth and

    sky with sweet music. Again and again sang a yellow-breasted

    birdie--"Koda Ni Dakota!" He insisted upon it. "Koda Ni Dakota!"

    which was "Friend, you're a Dakota! Friend, you're a Dakota!"

    Perchance the birdie meant the avenger with the magic arrow, for

    there across the plain he strode. He was handsome in his paint and

    feathers, proud with his great buckskin quiver on his back and a

    long bow in his hand. Afar to an eastern camp of cone-shaped

    teepees he was going. There over the Indian village hovered a

    large red eagle threatening the safety of the people. Every

    morning rose this terrible red bird out of a high chalk bluff and

    spreading out his gigantic wings soared slowly over the round camp

    ground. Then it was that the people, terror-stricken, ran

    screaming into their lodges. Covering their heads with their

    blankets, they sat trembling with fear. No one dared to venture

    out till the red eagle had disappeared beyond the west, where meet

    the blue and green.

    In vain tried the chieftain of the tribe to find among his

    warriors a powerful marksman who could send a death arrow to the

    man-hungry bird. At last to urge his men to their utmost skill he

    bade his crier proclaim a new reward.

    Of the chieftain's two beautiful daughters he would have his

    choice who brought the dreaded red eagle with an arrow in its


    Upon hearing these words, the men of the village, both young

    and old, both heroes and cowards, trimmed new arrows for the

    contest. At gray dawn there stood indistinct under the shadow of

    the bluff many human figures; silent as ghosts and wrapped in robes

    girdled tight about their waists, they waited with chosen bow and


    Some cunning old warriors stayed not with the group. They

    crouched low upon the open ground. But all eyes alike were fixed

    upon the top of the high bluff. Breathless they watched for the

    soaring of the red eagle.

    From within the dwellings many eyes peeped through the small

    holes in the front lapels of the teepee. With shaking knees and

    hard-set teeth, the women peered out upon the Dakota men prowling

    about with bows and arrows.

    At length when the morning sun also peeped over the eastern

    horizon at the armed Dakotas, the red eagle walked out upon the

    edge of the cliff. Pluming his gorgeous feathers, he ruffled his

    neck and flapped his strong wings together. Then he dived into the

    air. Slowly he winged his way over the round camp ground; over the

    men with their strong bows and arrows! In an instant the long bows

    were bent. Strong straight arrows with red feathered tips sped

    upward to the blue sky. Ah! slowly moved those indifferent wings,

    untouched by the poison-beaked arrows. Off to the west beyond the

    reach of arrow, beyond the reach of eye, the red eagle flew away.

    A sudden clamor of high-pitched voices broke the deadly

    stillness of the dawn. The women talked excitedly about the

    invulnerable red of the eagle's feathers, while the would-be heroes

    sulked within their wigwams. "He-he-he!" groaned the chieftain.

    On the evening of the same day sat a group of hunters around

    a bright burning fire. They were talking of a strange young man

    whom they spied while out upon a hunt for deer beyond the bluffs.

    They saw the stranger taking aim. Following the point of his arrow

    with their eyes, they beheld a herd of buffalo. The arrow sprang

    from the bow! It darted into the skull of the foremost buffalo.

    But unlike other arrows it pierced through the head of the creature

    and spinning in the air lit into the next buffalo head. One by one

    the buffalo fell upon the sweet grass they were grazing. With

    straight quivering limbs they lay on their sides. The young man

    stood calmly by, counting on his fingers the buffalo as they

    dropped dead to the ground. When the last one fell, he ran thither

    and picking up his magic arrow wiped it carefully on the soft

    grass. He slipped it into his long fringed quiver.

    "He is going to make a feast for some hungry tribe of men or

    beasts!" cried the hunters among themselves as they hastened away.

    They were afraid of the stranger with the sacred arrow. When

    the hunter's tale of the stranger's arrow reached the ears of the

    chieftain, his face brightened with a smile. He sent forth fleet

    horsemen, to learn of him his birth, his name, and his deeds.

    "If he is the avenger with the magic arrow, sprung up from the

    earth out of a clot of buffalo blood, bid him come hither. Let him

    kill the red eagle with his magic arrow. Let him win for himself

    one of my beautiful daughters," he had said to his messengers, for

    the old story of the badger's man-son was known all over the level


    After four days and nights the braves returned. "He is

    coming," they said. "We have seen him. He is straight and tall;

    handsome in face, with large black eyes. He paints his round

    cheeks with bright red, and wears the penciled lines of red over

    his temples like our men of honored rank. He carries on his back

    a long fringed quiver in which he keeps his magic arrow. His bow

    is long and strong. He is coming now to kill the big red eagle."

    All around the camp ground from mouth to ear passed those words of

    the returned messengers.

    Now it chanced that immortal Iktomi, fully recovered from the

    brown burnt spots, overheard the people talking. At once he was

    filled with a new desire. "If only I had the magic arrow, I would

    kill the red eagle and win the chieftain's daughter for a wife,"

    said he in his heart.

    Back to his lonely wigwam he hastened. Beneath the tree in

    front of his teepee he sat upon the ground with chin between his

    drawn-up knees. His keen eyes scanned the wide plain. He was

    watching for the avenger.

    "'He is coming!' said the people," muttered old Iktomi. All

    of a sudden he raised an open palm to his brow and peered afar into

    the west. The summer sun hung bright in the middle of a cloudless

    sky. There across the green prairie was a man walking bareheaded

    toward the east.

    "Ha! ha! 'tis he! the man with the magic arrow!" laughed

    Iktomi. And when the bird with the yellow breast sang loud

    again--"Koda Ni Dakota! Friend, you're a Dakota!" Iktomi put his

    hand over his mouth as he threw his head far backward, laughing at

    both the bird and man.

    "He is your friend, but his arrow will kill one of your kind!

    He is a Dakota, but soon he'll grow into the bark on this tree!

    Ha! ha! ha!" he laughed again.

    The young avenger walked with swaying strides nearer and

    nearer toward the lonely wigwam and tree. Iktomi heard the swish!

    swish! of the stranger's feet through the tall grass. He was

    passing now beyond the tree, when Iktomi, springing to his feet,

    called out: "How, how, my friend! I see you are dressed in

    handsome deerskins and have red paint on your cheeks. You are

    going to some feast or dance, may I ask?" Seeing the young man

    only smiled I

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  3. Lounge   -   #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    A place somewhere
    Too much to read

  4. Lounge   -   #3
    chalice's Avatar ____________________
    Join Date
    May 2003
    And the moral of the story is...

    Stay the feck aff the apple.

  5. Lounge   -   #4
    cliff notes
    no way I reading that much

  6. Lounge   -   #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    The Burrito Land , MEXICO.
    did anybody actually read that ?
    i started but this happened -_-

  7. Lounge   -   #6
    RGX's Avatar Unstoppable
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    I read a bit, then gave up.

  8. Lounge   -   #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Originally posted by chalice@16 March 2004 - 01:13
    And the moral of the story is...

    Stay the feck aff the apple.

    How remarkably intuitive.

  9. Lounge   -   #8
    namzuf9's Avatar Poster
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    The Armpit Of The Universe.
    Are you high?

    can I have some of wot ur on ron?


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