Music: Releasing Buffalo Spirits by The Native American Flute Ensemble
Long ago a very old man and his wife lived alone and hunted for game, but it was scarce and they were hungry.
One day the man discovered some buffalo tracks and followed them to the place where the animal had stopped. There he found only a big clot of
blood, which he wrapped in his shirt and carried home.
The old man told his wife to boil the blood, and she put it into the kettle with water from the creek. But before it came to a boil over the fire, they heard
cries inside the kettle.
The man ran up to it and pulled out a baby, a little boy, who had somehow formed out of the blood clot.
The old couple washed the baby and wrapped him up. By the next morning he had grown much larger, and that day he continued to grow until he
could crawl about by himself.
The second day he was able to walk a little; by the third day he was walking with ease. The couple called him Blood Clot and came to treat him as
The old man made little arrows so that the child could learn to shoot. Soon Blood Clot needed much larger arrows, and with them he began to hunt
birds and other small game. He never brought the game home himself, but sent the old man for it.
One day Blood Clot returned from hunting and said, "I have killed something with a striped back."
The man went out and fetched an animal bigger than a mouse, which he cooked for the three of them. The next day the boy announced, "I have killed
a white short-tailed animal." It was a cottontail, which the man also cooked.
The day after that, Blood Clot went father and killed a badger. "I have killed an animal in a hole in the ground," he said, and the man brought the
creature home and cooked it.
The following day when the boy returned, he said, "I have killed an animal with black ears and a black tail." To the old man's joy, it was a female
deer. The three of them ate and were happy.
Next Blood Clot said, "I have killed a big fellow with big antlers." It was an elk, so again the family feasted on meat. The old man gave the boy a
full-sized bow and arrows, and Blood Clot went into the mountains and shot a mountain goat. "I have killed an animal with big horns in the
mountains," he said when he came down. "Every day," the old man said proudly, "he kills a different kind of animal.
Now their troubles were over, and they had an easy time. Blood Clot killed a mountain lion. Then he tracked and shot an otter: "I have killed an
animal with nice fur, living in the water." The old man tanned the skin to make strings for tying the boy's braids. The following day Blood Clot
found a beaver: "I have killed a water animal with a tail of this size."
At last there came a day when Blood Clot said, "I want to visit the village where many people live. Before that, I will go on my last hunt for you, all
day and all night. First I want you to tie up the tent, put rocks on the edge, and fasten the door lest the night wind carry it away. Though the wind
will be strong, don't go outdoors and don't be afraid. I will call when you can come out."
The old couple obeyed, and he hunted all night while they were sleeping. About daybreak they heard a big noise, forerunner of a wind that threatened
to tip over the tent. The man was frightened and wanted to go out, but his wife held him back, reminding him of what their son had said.
When daylight came, they heard their son's voice: "Come on out; I'll show you something." They unfastened the door and saw dead buffalo lying all
around. "I have done this for you," Blood Clot said. "Dry the meat and hides; save the meat and it will last you for a long time."
The young man asked his mother to fix him a lunch, and she gave him pemmican. "Now my parents have plenty of food," he said. As he left, they
cried and asked him to return.
Wearing buckskin leggings, carrying a quiver of mountain lion skin, Blood Clot began to travel. After a few days he reached the village.
At the outskirts he asked for the chief's house, and a man told him, "It is in the center." There he found the chief with his wife and daughter. They
invited him to sit down, and the chief asked him where he came from and what his tribe was. "I don't know what tribe I belong to. I have come to
visit you," Blood Clot replied. The chief stepped outdoors and shouted to the people to come and meet their visitor. The villagers were starving for
lack of game, but all gathered at the chief's house and sat down.
The chief said, "Do any of you know the tribe of this young man?" People named the tribes-Deer, Elk, Otters, Beavers, and others. They asked him
whether he belonged to any of these, but he thought not.
At last one old man said, "I think I know from the power in him, although I may be mistaken. I think he is one of the Buffalo."
Blood Clot thought about it, and finally agreed. The people of the village asked Blood Clot to stay and marry the chief's daughter. He agreed to this as
well, and the wedding was held.
That evening he asked his father-in-law to bring one arrow from the tipi. When the chief returned, Blood Clot told him to have all the tipi's fastened
and to warn the people that they should stay indoors, for there would be a great storm.
The chief told the villagers, and at daybreak when they heard a big noise, they cried out in fear but did not leave their tipi's.
Then Blood Clot called to the chief, who came out to find dead buffalo before every lodge. At his son-law's bidding he summoned the whole village for
a feast, and they were all happy.
Blood Clot stayed there until one day when a group of villagers went out to hunt buffalo. Long before this, he had told his wife, "You know the buffalo
calf? I am part of that, it is part of me, so you must never say the word 'calf'."
When the party killed some buffalo and were butchering, another herd came running past. His wife pointed and called, "Kill that calf!" Immediately
Blood Clot jumped on his horse and galloped away, changing as he did so into a buffalo.
His wife cried and attempted to catch him, but in vain. From that time on, Blood Clot ran with the buffalos.
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|Pokoh, The Old Man
A Ute Legend
Pokoh, Old Man, they say, created the world. Pokoh had many thoughts. He had many blankets in which he carried around gifts for men. He
created every tribe out of the soil where they used to live.
That is why an Indian wants to live and die in his native place. He was made of the same soil. Pokoh did not wish men to wander and travel, but to
remain in their birthplace.
Long ago, Sun was a man, and was bad. Moon was good. Sun had a quiver full of arrows, and they are deadly. Sun wishes to kill all things.
Sun has two daughters (Venus and Mercury) and twenty men kill them; but after fifty days, they return to life again.
Rainbow is the sister of Pokoh, and her breast is covered with flowers.
Lightning strikes the ground and fills the flint with fire. That is the origin of fire. Some say the beaver brought fire from the east, hauling it on his
broad, flat tail. That is why the beaver's tail has no hair on it, even to this day. It was burned off.
There are many worlds. Some have passed and some are still to come. In one world the Indians all creep; in another they all walk; in another they
all fly. Perhaps in a world to come, Indians may walk on four legs; or they may crawl like snakes; or they may swim in the water like fish.
|Porcupine Hunts Buffalo
A Ute Legend
In olden days when mostly animals roamed this Earth, a Porcupine set our to track some buffalo. He asked the buffalo chips, "How long have you
been here on this trail?" He kept on asking, until finally one answered, "Only lately have I been here."
From there Porcupine followed the same path. The farther he went, the fresher the tracks. He continued until he came to a river; there he saw a
buffalo herd that had crossed the ford onto the other side.
"What shall I do now?" thought Porcupine as he sat down.
He called out, "Carry me across!"
One of the buffalo replied, "Do you mean me?"
Porcupine called again, "No, I want a different buffalo." Thus he rejected each member of the herd, one after another, as each asked, "Do you mean
Finally the last and best one in the herd said, "I will carry you across the river." The buffalo crossed the river and said to Porcupine, "Climb on my
Porcupine said, "No, I'm afraid I will fall off into the water."
Buffalo said, "Then climb up and ride between my horns."
"No," replied Porcupine. "I'm sure I'll slide off into the river."
Buffalo suggested many other ways to carry him, but Porcupine protested. "Perhaps you'd rather ride inside of me?" offered the buffalo.
"Yes," said Porcupine, and let himself be swallowed by the buffalo.
"Where are we now?" asked Porcupine.
"In the middle of the river," said the buffalo.
After a little while, Porcupine asked again.
"We have nearly crossed," said the buffalo. "Now we have emerged from the water; come out of me!"
Porcupine said, "No, not yet, go a little farther."
Soon the buffalo stopped and said, "We have gone far enough, so come out."
Then Porcupine hit the buffalo's heart with his heavy tail. The buffalo started to run, but fell down and died right there. Porcupine had killed him.
Others in the herd tried to hook Porcupine, but he sat under the buffalo's ribs, where he could not be hooked. Soon the herd tired and ran on their way.
Porcupine came out and said aloud, "I wish I had something to butcher this nice big buffalo with."
Now, Coyote was sleeping nearby, and woke up and heard him. Coyote went to Porcupine and said, "Here is my knife for butchering." So they went
together to the side of the buffalo.
"Let him butcher who can jump over it," said Coyote. Porcupine ran and jumped, but only partway over the buffalo. Coyote jumped over it without
touching the dead animal, so he began to butcher, cutting up the buffalo.
After a little time, he handed the paunch to Porcupine and said, "Go wash it in the river, but don't eat it yet."
Porcupine took it to the river, washed it, then he bit off a piece. When Coyote saw what Porcupine had done, he became very angry with him and
went after him, "I told you not to eat any of the paunch."
Coyote picked up a club and killed Porcupine and placed him beside the buffalo, and went to his home. Then he told his family, "I have killed a buffalo
and I have killed a porcupine. Let us go and carry them home."
Before Porcupine had come out of the buffalo, he said magic words, "Let a red pine grow here fast." Then at once a red pine began to grow under the
meat and under Porcupine. It grew very tall and very fast. All of the meat and Porcupine rested at the top of the red pine, high in the air, Porcupine
magically coming alive again.
Coyote and his family arrived and were surprised that all of the meat was gone. They began to hunt for it.
"I wish they would look up," said Porcupine. Then the smallest child looked up and said, "Oh!" The family looked up and saw Porcupine sitting on
top of the meat in the tall red pine tree.
Coyote said, "Throw down a piece of the neck, we are very hungry."
"Yes," said Porcupine, "Place that youngest child a little farther away."
"Yes," they responded and took him to one side.
"Now make a ring and all hold hands upward," said Porcupine. So the family joined hands and held them up. Porcupine threw down several pieces
of the buffalo meat, killing Coyote and those in the ring. Porcupine then threw down the rest of the buffalo meat, and climbed down the tree.
He took charge of the young coyote and fed him all the meat he desired. Porcupine took all the meat he could carry to his home. He and the young
coyote became good friends and helped each other hunt buffalo together for a long, long time.
|Puma and the Bear
A Ute Legend
One day Puma took his son hunting with him. The Bear came to Puma's tent and saw his wife there, and immediately fell in love with her. "I wish to
have her for my wife," he thought. Then he went in to where she was sitting.
In only a short time, he proposed that she run away with him. She consented and ran away with the Bear.
When Puma returned, he could not find his wife. "I wonder if she could have eloped with that Bear?" he mused. At first he and his son saw no tracks,
but eventually they picked up the couple's trail. Angry by now, Puma followed the Bear tracks.
A high wind began to blow, obliterating most of the tracks. The next day Puma found them again and followed on. "Perhaps they are in that cedar
wood," he thought. As he moved closer, he heard voices and recognized his wife's and the Bear's.
He sent his son to circle the wood, approaching from the other side of the wood to force the Bear out toward Puma. The woman said, "Puma is very
strong." "But I am stronger," said the Bear, seizing a cedar tree and pulling it from the ground. "He is stronger than that," said the woman.
The Bear had his moccasins off when Puma's son attacked. Quickly the Bear put on his moccasins, but in his haste he put them on the wrong feet.
Then, not knowing who was coming from behind him, he ran forward into Puma. The two grappled and Puma threw the Bear to the ground. The
Bear rose up again and charged at Puma, who thrust the Bear down against a rock and broke the Bear's back.
Then Puma sent his wife away into the woods, letting her know that he did not want her for his wife again. Puma and his son left on another hunting
trip to find a new wife and home for themselves.