Ah’ani’nin Oral History By Clarena M. Brockie
1 Ah’ani’nin Oral History By Clarena M. Brockie ____ Copyright Clarena Brockie 2013 A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the GRADUATE INTERDISCIPLINARY PROGRAM in AMERICAN INDIAN STUDIES In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of MASTER OF ARTS In the Graduate College The University of Arizona 2012 2 STATEMENT BY AUTHOR This thesis has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University Library to be made available to borrowers under rules of the Library. Brief quotations from this thesis are allowable without special permission, provided that accurate acknowledgment of source is made. Requests for permission for extended quotations from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in part may be granted by the copyright holder. SIGNED: Clarena M. Brockie APPROVAL BY THESIS DIRECTOR This thesis has been approved on the date shown below: Nancy Parezo Professor of American Indian Studies April 11, 2012 Date 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………………………….…4 BODY…………………………………………………………………………………..…5 Chapter I, INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………. 5 Chapter II, BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND LITERATURE REVIEW..….…11 Chapter III, METHODOLOY: CHOOSING AND RECORDING STORIES…….…...39 Chapter IV, THE STORIES…..…………………….…………………………………...51 Chapter V, CONCLUSIONS - WHAT I LEARNED….………………………………166 APPENDIX A…………………………………………………………………………..169 RESEARCH APROVAL………………….……………………………………….…. 169 APPENDIX B…….…………………………………………………………………….174 GR0S VENTRE PULICATIONS….…………………………………….……………174 REFERENCES………………………………………………………………………. .189 4 ABSTRACT In earlier times Ah’ani’nin lived together and in the winter months retold oral histories and stories, especially those which they wanted to impress upon the people as important to remember. Children were taught lessons through oral history. The youth also participated in ceremonies, learned the songs, lived as the Ah’ani’nin taught them and were told the importance of the way of the life of the Ah’ani’nin. This is how they kept a record of their ceremonies, culture, their kinship relations, their economy and governance. By practice and re-telling the history their culture was maintained. Stories were told as the women worked, in the evening when men were off hunting or at social or religious gatherings. In this thesis, I have collected stories about the Ah’ani’nin, stories of legends, history the trickster stories and discussed how these stories in the past helped the Ah’ani’nin and how can they help the people today. 5 CHAPTER I, INTRODUCTION I do not know how many times I have heard an old story told by my great grandpa or grandmother or another relative and said to myself, “Why didn’t I write that don?” When I first came to the University of Arizona I wanted to major in a program that would help me simply preserve my mother’s stories which had been told to her by her grandparents. But the more research I did on the Ah’ani'nin, the more I realized that the Ah’ani’nin have a rich beautiful history with guiding pillars on how to live their lives. It is important to preserve the history of the Ah’ani’nin, especially in light of the principle that knowing who you are helps you to preserve what you have. My history, like that of other Ah’ani’nin individuals and families is filled with oral stories of who we and who our people are and how they lived and continue to live. It is these stories that are in the minds of Ah’ani’nin elders. Sometimes these stories have been written down as a way to record the words. It is thus possible that some versions are sitting on some shelf still unpublished and unknown. These stories need to be spoken again and told in the community. My goal is to listen to and collect the historical stories as told by my family, to record and write about them before they are lost and ensure that these collections are not confined to some musty shelf. In addition to the stories themselves, I want to add to scholarship about them and their role in the Ah’ani’nin culture. How have these stories helped the Ah’ani’nin in the past and how can they help people today? What is their message? The stories recorded in this MA thesis in American Indian Studies come from those elders who still know the oral histories and traditions of the past and they have given permission to record them 6 herein. Unfortunately these storytellers are now but a few and I have selected these interviewees based on their knowledge. Before I begin to relate these stories I would like to place them in their cultural contest. Thus, I begin with the question, who are the Ah’ani’nin? The Ah’ani’nin: Th e People and Their Culture The Ah’ani’nin have been known by several names: the Water Falls people or the Atsina, while early French traders and fur trappers named them Gros Ventre. The sign for water fall is the passing of hands over the stomach and the French thought the Indian were saying “big belly,” hence the French designation, Gros Ventre. But Ah’ani’nin prefer their name, People of the White Clay. An’ani, just means White Clay. They believe that they were made from the white clay that is found along the river bottoms in Ah’ani’nin country. The Ah’ani’nin today live on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north central Montana. Fort Belknap derives its name from William W. Belknap who was the Secretary of War in the 1880s. The fort was a military and trading post that was established on the Milk River, which sits on the north end of the reservation. It became the government agency for the Ah’ani’nin tribe. Fort Belknap (the fort) was sold to the government by T.C. Powers, another influential person who later became Montana’s senator. In 1855 the Blackfeet confederacy, including the Ah’ani'nin, signed a treaty with the federal government called the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The designated area 7 shows the top half of Montana Territory, later designated as the State of Montana (Barry, 1908, p. 7). This was to be the land on which only the tribes would settle. However, in 1878 outside capitalist influences and Euro-American settlers wanted to reduce the size of the reservation and “negotiations” began. It was not until 1888 that the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation was established by Executive Order. In giving up their land these tribes lost an important part of life, their ability to hunt freely and live as they chose. The Ah’ani’nin were once nomadic hunters and warriors. They followed the buffalo which provided them with all the necessities of life, their food, clothing and tipis. The buffalo was the Indian staff of life and the tribe lived a good life. In the nineteenth century, only one herd of buffalo existed in the area between the Bear Paw Mountains (west of the reservation), the Little Rocky Mountains, (also known as Fur Cap Mountains) and the Milk River Valley. Soon thereafter there were no more buffalo for the tribe to hunt. Treaties with the United States government in the 19th century confined Indians to reservation life, which did not allow the freedom to follow the buffalo herds, or were there any buffalo herds to follow. In addition, other Indian Service and Department of Interior regulations, Congressional laws and administrative executive orders for many years forbid the people the freedom to practice their ceremonies, especially the Sun Dance. The Indian Service agents to the Ah’ani’nin even forbade the practice of telling stories at one time. The Dawes Act of 1888 was designed to eliminate the other social 8 organizations and community-centeredness of the Ah’ani’nin by encouraging individual land ownership through allotment. The Indian New Deal of the 1930s was designed to shift the government policy to encourage some cultural preservation, eliminate the problems of the allotment era, while the Indian Reorganization Act established greater tribal involvement in governance on reservations through a democratic and representative government based on the model of the U.S. Constitution (Barry, 1972, p. 231). So much of Native American history has been lost. A significant number of tribes no longer exist and with them their languages, histories and traditional ways of life have vanished. The Ah’ani'nin, a small tribe, was in danger of extinction by the turn of the twentieth century. By 1905 there were less than 500 members compared to over 15,000 people earlier in the century. Today there are only a little over 4,000 tribally enrolled members according to the Fort Belknap Tribal Enrollment office, 2011. This type of population drop and then slow recovery means that special measurers must be taken to ensure the people and their culture survives as well as adapts to changing conditions. Very little has been written about the Ah'ani’nin, their language, history and culture. Most of this scholarship was written before 1958. The most noted scholars were anthropologist, Alfred Kroeber who came in 1903; John Cooper in 1949; Regina Flannery in 1952; and Loretta Fowler in 1984. The information contained in their books is important. Without ethnographic and ethno-historical documentation, it is hard to imagine what knowledge about the old ways would remain, especially for the period when the tribe was going through extraordinary trials and tribulations. Families were 9 encouraged to live individually and this change impacted the tribe’s oral history, traditions and how history, culture and values were taught. Before the reservation period, Ah’ani’nin lived together and in the winter months retold stories, including those about the creation of the world, legendary old times and oral history renditions. Special emphasis was placed on those stories that elders wanted to impress upon the people as important to remember. Trickster stories, Nee Ott, were only told in the winter and children were taught lessons through them. In addition all participated in ceremonies, when the young learned songs and how to live as their Ah’ani’nin ancestors taught them: oral stories told of the importance of their way of life. This is how the people kept and conveyed their history--as records of their ceremonies, discussions of their culture, as well as through kinship and social relations that helped regulate their economy, diplomatic relations and governance. By practicing oral storytelling and through the re-telling of history, Ah’ani’nin culture was maintained. Stories were also told on a daily basis as women worked, in the evening when men were hunting, at social or religious gatherings. Storytelling is the best way to preserve the customs, but with modern life this is not always easy. Saving stories so future generations can share in them through telling in a written form transcribing and then saving them so they can be retrieved and enjoyed is one way of preserving the stories. Another means is to preserve oral traditions is through a telling that is recorded, transcribed, translated into English and then published or distributed. This is not the best way to retain a story, however. One elder I interviewed said that when oral history is 10 translated into English and then transcribed into written history, part of the meaning is lost. Words in one language often do not have a single word equivalent in another language; a phrase or series of word is needed to begin to translate denotative meaning. In addition, what is comical in Ah’ani’nin may not have the same effect in English. Ah'ani'nin elder asked his father why there are discrepancies in the translation of Gros Ventre and his father said, “Sometimes interviewers will put a different slant on the story to suit themselves.” In other words, our cultural preconceptions and assumptions about connotations effects translations. Another reason for differences or variations is that the elders leave something out deliberately if they feel this was an inappropriate for the hearer to know. These cultural practices have made oral history conveyed in the form of translated stories a subject of controversy for historians the extent to which oral history and tradition can increase our understanding of the a chronologically based past, particularly where written documents were based upon the circumstances or conditions under which they were produced. However, for cultures in which history is conveyed through stories, this is not an issue. For most Ah’ani’nin families today, story-telling is almost a thing of the past. But for those who practice oral history, these stories continue. I am delighted when one of my grandchildren says, “Gramma, tell us about old lady iron foot.” It is with this in mind, with the hope that writing down my family’s Ah’ani’nin stories is an important act of cultural preservation. 11 CHAPTER II, BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND LITERATURE REVIEW Oral history has always been an important way for the Ah’ani’nin to maintain their history, culture and tradition. However, oral historians and storytellers are becoming an extinct group. I can often hear them saying they want to tell what they know before they are gone but they need people to closely listen, remember and practice telling the stories at the appropriate times. Collecting these stories is my goal along with understanding their message. This literature review is methodological in scope for it recounts how best to collect these stories and what other authors have done. In addition I will look at what has already been written about the Ah’ani’nin, and what is said about oral stories such as the trickster in my and other tribes. As noted above the Ah’ani’nin are known as the Gros Ventre in publications. Oral history methodologies Oral history is a collection or study of person(s), events, account of the past and is a way of documenting history. Today oral history is written down and provides or enlightens people to what is happening or happened from another perspective. According to Yow, “Thucydides” was the first oral historian to interview people and used this information in a historical thesis “The History of the Peloponnesian War.” It was important for him to have a written record of events. Historically only the “well-to-do” people documented their lives. Official documents preserved by those in power sometimes left out working class people. The “viewpoints” of the non-elite were told by 12 the elite, usually with a particular slant to them that reflected class differences (Yow, 1994, p.11). For the Ah’ani’nin oral history was just that. It was told orally over many centuries and was the only way to learn about accounts of the past. It was a way of educating children as well as adults, and preserving the traditions, values, customs and important events in Ah’ani’nin lives. The history of the Ah’ani’nin are in the memories of the storyteller. Either storytellers were told of these events or witnessed what took place. Stories were told to instill important values or customs to the tribe, or to provide entertainment. Certain stories were only told in the winter, in the evening or at night. I remember my grandmother, Edna Warrior saying how a certain man, Flea would come by when she was a child and she would bug him to tell her stories. Her Grandmother Warrior (Coming Daylight) would tell her to “Just leave him alone.” One day he came by and told my Grandmother Warrior to make tea and bread and he would bring meat and candy. I guess he went to several homes inviting people to come over since he was going to tell stories. When he got to Grandmother Warrior’s home, he went down to the brush. Grandmother Warrior told her granddaughter, Edna, “now go watch and see what he does.” She said she watched him cut a few willows; he shaved them but left a few leaves on the end. She wondered what they were for. Later, as the night went on and stories were told, she got tired and felt herself falling to sleep, but the story teller brushed her nose with the willow leaves and woke her up. She said she quit bugging him after that. 13 There is no one right way to acquire oral histories. Yow makes some recommendations about recording oral history; however that reflect on (1) Researchers should record everything. They will come across information which originally was not part of the research project, but may become important to the project especially when their importance is explained by members of the community; (2) Qualitative researchers learn about a way of life by studying the people who live it and asking them how they think about their experiences. Stories are a wonderful way to learn about culture; (3) Grounded theory is a useful theory to help a researcher understand and interpret information. Proponents of grounded theory such as social scientists Leonard Schwartzman and Alselm Strass insist on approaching research without preconceived notions about how the world works and what are important variables for interpreting research results; (4) Rely on recorded in-depth interviews. The recorded interview, since it is based on a discussion between research participants, can offer answers that no other media can provide. As an example is having knowledge about the context of a story-what was going on at that time in terms of the economy? Was there a drought? Were there big social issues, and if so, what were they? The researcher can ask about what may have been happening prior to or after the event. What is not part of the written record, why was it left out? It is important to ask what is meant by certain statements, that is, what is left unstated or through silence to get the underlying message. Discussion is also important so the interviewee can help the researcher understand or provide a reason why something happened in a particular way. (5) If one does not want to use a grounded approach in which the interviewee decides on what is important and should be 14 the topic of discussion, a researcher can start oral history research with articulated problems or questions that guide the interview process and ask the research participants to tell stories from there. Ethnographer Renato Rosaldo describes this approach as “starting with a set of questions and revising them throughout the course of inquiry which will give you a whole new set of questions” (Yow, 1994, p.8). I selected the in-depth informal interview method to use in recording oral stories. I asked the interviewee tell me a story but I also used stories that had already been written in other historical documents and tried to add anything that may have been missing according to valuable sources. I wanted to know why these stories were significant and included in several published documents. An important part of recording oral history requires understanding how people remember and the nature of the memory. People can generally recall events if they are significant and affect them or their relatives, such as the smallpox epidemic or war. Yow reports that events that lead to well-recalled personal memories have the following characteristics: (1) uniqueness; (2) consequentiality; (3) unexpectedness: (4) and, emotional provocation. Events are easily recalled if a person was personally affected or if there was an association with the event, such as, what happened on 9/11 or if a relative at Pearl Harbor or actual witness, such as the presence my grandmother when Wovoka made the ice appear on the Missouri River. A researcher can seek out such a knowledgeable person and ask to be told of their memories. 15 Once a researcher selects a topic, which in my case was oral history, he or she will find that in the process of researching and interviewing he or she will come across more history than was expected and will find out what is important to a community, that is what events and processes have affected their lives and how they understand the past and how the past affects the present and future. A researcher should look at any published documents about the topic before the interview to familiarize themselves with what is known of the history and discuss old versions. This is what I have done. I read Barry’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation: The first hundred years; I have read The Gros Ventre of Montana, Part I and Part II. I have reviewed Fowler’s Shared Symbols, contested Meanings. I have read the following: Alfred Kroeber’s Ethnology of the Gros Ventre and Myths and tales of the Gros Ventre; War Stories of the Gros Ventre; Vern Dusenberry’s The Significance of the Sacred Pipes to the Gros Ventre; Horse Capture’s Seven Vision’s of Bull Lodge; Horse Capture’s From our Ancestors, Art of the White Clay People; Recollections of Fort Belknap’s past. In addition, I have read depositions of The Boy, a Gros Ventre elder, holy man and son of Lamebull, a Gros Ventre Chief; I have read depositions of my Gramma Warrior and what she said about the life of the Gros Ventres. I have looked at historical document of the Gros Ventre. I reviewed the Handbook of North Americans in particular what is said about Gros Ventre. When analyzing stories and interview data, Yow advises researchers to: (1) rearrange the information into appropriate topics; (2) keep an open mind; (3) try to limit pre-conceived ideas; and, (4) ask what supporting or supplemental historical documents research participants may have. 16 The researcher should meet with the interviewee prior to the interview so that the two are not strangers once the interview begins. Selection of the words used in the interview or when asking for a story to be told is important, to enable the interviewee to understand what the researcher is talking about. Raymond L. Gordon listed several interview skills: (1) wording the questions so they are clear and appropriate for the topic; (2) listening to the narrator; (3) observing the narrator’s nonverbal behavior; (4) remembering what the narrator said; and, (5) judging the relevance, validity and completeness of the answer so that the researcher knows when to ask follow-up questions, including requests for more details quoted (Yow, 1994, p. 66). He suggests beginning the interview with a signed release and consent form and insuring that the equipment is in good working order and there are enough recording tapes. It is always good practice to review the content of the interview with the interviewee for accuracy and completeness. Always give credit to your sources. How do we gather enough stories and, information to instill in the reader a desire to know more about who were the storytellers? It is through the models of authors like Vine Deloria, Jr. that we are enabled to fulfill our desires to preserve the truth of stories. Deloria’s last book The World We Used to Live In, is a collection of oral stories about how medicine men live and their reliance on the Creator. Deloria’s book not only captures the importance of preserving what Native people have been told or taught, but is organized in a way that is based on relevant topics, and see which was helpful to me. These topics include: The Approach of the Sacred; Powers Conferred to the Medicine 17 Men; Continuing Communications; Interspecies Relations; The Land and Cosmos; Sacred Stones; Places Unusual; Exploits of Medicine Men; and, the Spiritual Universe. These stories remind us of who we are as all Native people and lessons from these stories. Another example, Julie Cruikshank’s book, Life Lived like a Story(1992)is the life stories of three Yukon women, Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith and Annie Ned. From the early 1970s to 1984, Julie Cruikshank lived in the Yukon Territory. She wanted to record the stories of people of Athapaskan and Tlingit ancestry, who lived in the southern Yukon Territory at the turn of the 20th century. She wanted to know how the people adapted to social, cultural and economic change. She noticed that men’s stories were mostly connected to historical events, while women’s were about kinships and places. Reading these stories can help me look at differences, pay attention to meanings and how these stories helped in their survival. For me the storyteller emphasizes the language, places, songs/music and people who are all part of a story that relates history. As an Ah’ani’nin woman I am not an outsider. I live this life and my stories are from my own tribe and from my family. I recognize and understand the references to certain customs, taboos, or places and people. I grew up with these storytellers and heard them in my grandmother’s home, my mother’s home and now my home. I participate in the traditional ceremonies. I was there when some of the historical events took place, giving the story more meaning and for me a greater chance that I will remember them. 18 Cruikshank is also the author of The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory. She wrote: “Story telling is a universal activity and may be the oldest of arts” (preface, ix). Contemporary storytelling as actual communication occupies a restricted place in anthropology. Her thesis is that in northern Canada, storytellers of Yukon First Nations ancestry continue to tell stories that make meaningful connections and provide order and continuity in a rapidly changing world. She talks about the difference in recording oral history from an outsider versus an inside perspective. The three elder women use stories to teach lessons to children. However it is harder to teach a cultural outsider even the simplest concepts. How can you convey the story from one culture to another authentically without losing some of its meaning? It is always best to capture local history if you have inside knowledge or if you are a part of the community. It is difficult to talk about yourself, for my mother often told me, “You shouldn’t have to brag about your accomplishments. Other people should do that for you, they know who you are.” Having said that, I need to tell the reader something of myself and why I am different from an outsider working with my tribe. I come from a family of storytellers and our most resourceful relative was Coming Daylight, known to my family as Gramma Warrior. Coming Daylight was one of the informants for authors Dr. Regina Flannery and Dr. Johnson who were at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in the early 1940s and published books on the Gros Ventre in the 1950s. 19 My grandmother and mother were raised by Coming Daylight and were told the old stories of the Ah’ani’nin, People of the White Clay. On the other hand, it was my mother’s father, Dorrance Horseman/BlackWolf, and his family who were the known Story Tellers. Many of the stories in this thesis were told to me by my mother and grandfathers, Ben and Dorrance Horseman. My Aunt Mable Horseman Cochran was also a storyteller. My brother, George Weasel Horse has immerged as a noted storyteller, my nephew Terry Brockie has taken on a religious role within the Ah’ani’nin tribe and his father was a Gros Ventre historian. I come from a large knowledgeable extended family on both sides, maternal and paternal. My family is traditional and I also am a practicing traditionalist. I am aware of restrictions or limitations on performing customs or ceremonies and what knowledge can be shared and what cannot within the community and with outsiders. When an interviewee talks about Sun Dance Sings, I know what that means. When a “sweat” is described, I understand because I have been in one and I know what it looks like, how it feels to be in a lodge, what songs are sung and how long they are. I know these songs. I know how many Ah’ani’nin there are. I have read most books on the Ah’ani’nin and I have conducted research on other topics pertaining to the Ah’ani’nin. Both of my parents are Ah’ani’nin and by today’s standard I would be considered a “full-blood.” I know all of the traditional leaders and many are related to me. I know the importance of preserving our stories. 20 According to Cruikshank, one must pay scholarly attention to “orally narrated” life stories. The documentation of life stories has always been an accepted method in anthropology. Cruikshank discusses the controversy between anthropologists and historians about the extent to which oral history and tradition can increase our understanding of the past, particularly where written documents are biased by the circumstances or conditions under which they were produced. Further she states that oral testimonies are not easily accessible to an outsider (Cruikshank, 1992, p. 3).For Native Americans, oral history constitutes a personal intimate reflection that conveys an important message to the listener. When reading for this literature review I found that there are different ways to record or document history. I have selected what best worked for me, after reading about the problems that interviewers may face when recording oral history or traditions. In addition, these works reinforced the respect for the customs of the interviewee and the necessity of a continuing dialog to insure that proper credit is given. The Gros Ventre Ethnography Ethnographic information based on first hand observation, interviewing, ethnohistory or other forms of scholarly research on the Ah’ani’ninis limited. According to Fowler and Flannery the first mention of the Gros Ventre by the European explorers was in 1772 (Fowler and Flannery, 2001, p. 677). The Gros Ventre are an Algonquianspeaking tribe which suggests they originally migrated from the Woodlands area and later lived in Canada (Flannery, 1953, ix). There has always been scholarly and European, Canadian and American confusion as to who the Ah’ani’nin truly are. When they were 21 identified as people living between the tributaries of the Saskatchewan River in Canada they were referred to as the Water Falls Indians (Fowler and Flannery, 2001, p. 677). According to Fowler, they at different times have been associated with the Blackfeet, Piegan, Blood and Sarcee tribes. This group of five was called by the Cree, the Architinues (Fowler, 1987, p. 49).However, Architinue was also used in referring to the Slave Tribes. In addition they were referenced as the Earchitinues (Fowler and Flanner, 2001, p. 677). Fowler refers to the Gros Ventre as the aaaaanineninah or White Clay people (Fowler, 1987, p. 13). Alfred Kroeber refers to the Gros Ventre as Haaninin(Kroeber, 1908, p. 145). To make the situation even more confusing, Kroeber records links between the Gros Ventre and the Arapaho, reflecting the movements and migrations, the creation and breaking of alliances on the Great Plains during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Arapaho history recalls a group of five people (tribes) of whom the Gros Ventre were one. In reviewing other Gros Ventre historical documents I found no other reference to this group of five who came from the south, but the suggestion is that the Gros Ventre and Arapaho were at one time considered by the Arapaho as one tribe. According to Kroeber, the Gros Ventre had separated from the Arapaho bands by 1700. The group of five Kroeber refers to are probably the Southern Cheyenne, Southern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho, along with the Gros Ventre. Unfortunately Kroeber does not go into further detail about the affiliation and split. Linguistically the Gros Ventre and Arapaho speak a similar language with only slight differences; they can understand each other (Kroeber, 1908, p. 145). 22 Oral history suggests that the Gros Ventre believed that they were once a large group that was separated several times. Elders believe that while crossing a large body of water, the water suddenly separated and some were left behind (Kroeber, 1908, p.146). An older woman was chopping the ice for a fish or frozen animal which cause the ice to crack while they were crossing. The breaking of the ice story is also told by the Cheyenne, who lived with the Arapaho. In addition, a similar story is told by the Blackfeet (Kroeber, 1908, p.146). According to my family what was in the ice was a horn and the old lady wanted the horn for her granddaughter to play with. According to my grandmother Edna Warrior, the children would play with horns on the ice. They would spin on the ice with on a long string. Historically the buffalo was the mainstay of the historic Gros Ventre as it was for the other groups mentioned above. The people’s life revolved in part on the buffalo’s seasonal movements. Large buffalo herds migrated to Canada in the early spring while smaller herds remained in the Ah’ani’nin hunting area; their numbers were said to be in the millions in the early 1800s. In the spring the first buffalo hunt, called the seasonal round, was held and lasted a month. Everything the Gros Ventre needed came from the buffalo, including their food, utensils, clothing, ropes, tipis, and bedding. After the big hunt, the spring Pipe rite or Sacrifice Ceremony was held after which the people were free to travel (Flannery, 1953, p.52).Seasonally the people moved in their band groups. According to John Ewers, the Gros Ventre became proficient in their use of the horse for hunting, moving camp and waging war during the period1705 to 1754 (Fowler, 1987, p. 26). Horses were the most valued possessions a person could own. A man with 23 many horses could hunt more buffalo, and as a result build more lodges and have more wives. Having property, multiple wives, and many horses gained respect and high social status for Gros Ventre men. Men took special care of their horses. One Gros Ventre man, Thick, recalled that his maternal uncle told him, “Above all things try to have horses, try to have property, people will respect you and look upon you as somebody” (Flannery, 1953, p. 75). Sharing of food was also an important element in gaining recognition reflecting the core cultural value of generosity. Children were taught to share what they had, even if it was just a little. Visitors stopping by were assured of a meal. The Gros Ventre strove to be wealthy so they could be generous. These values and pursuits for respect are often discussed in oral histories. The basic socio-political organizations of the Ah’ani’nin were a moiety system that consisted of patrilineal bands, cross cut and held together though marriage and young men’s organizations called companies or societies. According to some informants for Dr. Flannery’s book Social Life of the Gros Ventre, they were patrilineal but today’s elders argue that we were and still are matrilineal. One informant said that this is true since we go to the mother’s family for help; such as my mother’s uncle would be her helper. Flannery also states that a child would go with her mother’s clan to be raised by her or his grandmother. In addition, Flannery and Fowler also state that a family would go with a woman’s clan if the clan were wealthy. My mother, Ruby Brockie who was raised by Coming Daylight is adamant that we go with our mother’s clan. Clan members support each other in the fulfillment of religious commitments and would dance with other members or assist them in other ways. The Gros Ventre had a 24 social practice called enemy-friends and in-separable friends. In the case of enemyfriends, two individuals from difference clans, aged-graded societies or the companies could have friendly competitions in games, hunting or counting coup. In the case of the in-separable friends, they probably formed a bond at a very young age that remained for life. They would socialize together, hunt together. Support each other in religious ceremonies. They knew each other’s songs and if one participated in the Sacrifice Dance, the other would also. These friends went into battle together, each looking out for the other. They were so close that it was forbidden for their children to marry. Their families also became close, as close as any relative could be. The Ah’ani’nin had a social system based on their kinship relationships and that told how people should relate to another and their roles within the nuclear and extended family (Flannery, 1953, p. 109). The community played games in the winter and held competitions, such as horse racing, during the summer. Guessing games with dice or buttons were popular hand games. Young boys played with arrows or sticks; other athletic competitions included shiny and sledding; these sleds were called so w haana (Kroeber, 1908, p. 190). Children’s toys included the bull roarer and a buzzer, known as nakaa ta. The roarer was made of wood and the other of buffalo bone. Cleanliness was highly valued. The Gros Ventre believed in daily washing of the body to prevent illnesses and staying away from things that were considered taboo or could cause spiritual sickness. There were three types of medicines for illnesses: first roots were used to cure colds, stomach aches, urinary problems, eye irritations, headaches 25 and fever. Massages and thermotherapy were performed for individuals with arthritis (Fowler and Flannery, 2001, p. 685). The second type of remedy consisted of medicines owned by certain individuals or cures owned by families and were usually only used by that family. Historically the Flat Pipe keepers (see below) in earlier times were the only ones who could use certain roots such as sage and peppermint. The third type of remedy was spiritual rather than ethno-botanically based and involved a request for divine intervention which was only performed by those who had earned the right to doctor by fasting or praying. These were used by individuals recognized as the one with “doctoring power” (Fowler and Flannery, 2001, p. 685). The Gros Ventre people believed in a Supreme Being known as Ixticbeni: Nih’atah (Cooper, 1957, p. 2). Another name for the Supreme Being is Beha: tixtc, meaning master or leader of all, or Ni:nan atc, an older word meaning to think or meditate. A fourth version is Ioena’an meaning father (Cooper, 1957, p. 3). A fifth and final version is Initci:t nihene:henixtc, he who owns life. The Gros Ventre split into two groups when they traveled and each group followed either the Flat Pipe or the Feathered Pipe, under the direction of its Keeper. A keeper would wear his hair in a knot above the forehead, distinguishing him as a medicine man. He and his wife were held in high esteem, and they were considered holy people. Both pipe keepers could not eat birds or bird eggs, were not allowed to comb their hair and they did not bath but cleaned themselves with oil. They could not cut their hair or cry in case of the death of a family member. These two pipes still exist within the Gros Ventre tribe today. 26 Gros Ventre religious ceremonies included sacred dances considered integral to their identity as a people. These religious ceremonies, as described by Kroeber (Kroeber, 1908, p. 229) and Cooper (Cooper, 1957, p. 173) are: The Fly Dance no bao wa; the Crazy Dance haha tya wu; Kit Fox Dance; The Dog Dance hotibya wu; Tomahawk Dance Nana naha w; and Drum Dance Biitaha W. The most important religious ceremony was the Sacrifice Dance or Sun Dance, Aceiha W. There was also one ceremony for women called Benuxtca w Women’s Buffalo Dance (Kroeber, 1908, p. 260). According to Flannery, these ceremonies flourished in the early to mid-nineteenth century but declined with the passing of the buffalo and confinement to a reservation (Fowler, 1987, p. 40-46). By 1779 the Gros Ventre had become shrewd participants in an expansive economic system on the northern Great Plains. They interacted willingly with traders, offering furs in trade for beads, cloth, and cooking utensils. Wanting a large part of this trade meant that different tribes became antagonists. And warfare and raiding with other tribes who were friendly with traders caused the Gros Ventre to distrust traders. In 1810 a story circulated in the American press that the Gros Ventre were attacking several trading posts near forts. As a result they were labeled vicious. Neighboring tribes referred to the Gros Ventre as a “fierce” tribe, a people who were proud and very strong in battle. They were known to have many horses and were protective of their identity and of their territory. They would fight to the death for what they believed in (Fowler, 1987, p. 27). 27 By the 1850s Gros Ventre membership had decreased due to repeated bouts of infectious illnesses, almost continuous warfare, and the fact that religion, though practiced, was no longer the focus of their lives. They were also being pushed to share their lands with settlers. Isaac Stevens, Governor of the Washington Territory assisted in designating smaller territories for the Blackfeet and Gros Ventre in the upper part of Montana territory in the treaty of 1855 (Barry, 1908, p. 7). The land was to remain as their home but this agreement was short lived when another treaty, signed in 1888 significantly reduced the reservation to where Fort Belknap now sits in north central Montana. Reservation life meant a drastic change in culture. During the late 19th century the Ah’ani’nin were encouraged to live in a confined territory, not with other groups and by 1883 Gros Ventre travel was confined to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs described hunting as “a relic of barbarianism and an obstruction to the progress of Indian civilization” (Barry, 1908, p. 47). Instead he encouraged small farms in a land too arid for large scale farms. The federal government outlawed the practice of tribal religions between 1892 and 1904, but this ban was not officially removed until 1934 (Wunder, 1999, p. 12). The end of religious freedom marked the beginning of other restrictions imposed on the Gros Ventre by the federal government. They were restricted from any form of communal life, from participating in informal or formal gatherings or speaking their language. In all cases, these restrictions violated the U.S. Constitutional rights of the people. As a result, depression ascended on the community and the population continued to decline. By 1905 28 the population of the Gros Ventre had dwindled to less than 500 members. Luckily a few people remembered the old ways and their oral history. Creation Narratives According to Regina Flannery, the Gros Ventre had no distinctive creation or origins story or large corpus of separate stories about early times; however, she references the stories of the trickster and cultural hero, Nee Ott, who is a creator of Ah’ani’nin culture and society, and in my opinion constitutes the Gros Ventre views on creation. The story teller sand Native historians for Flannery were Gros Ventre elders, Coming Daylight, Singer, The Boy, Tom Main and Al Chandler (Cooper, 1957, p.v and 3 and Flannery, xiii). There were others, but these were the ones mentioned the most often. These are the people that Flannery choose for her interviews and were recommended by others as being the most knowledgeable. Flannery records how Nee Ott (spider)gave the Gros Ventre people the ability to survive, conduct ceremonies, sacrifice and offer prayer through the Flat Pipe (Fowler and Flannery, 2001, p 683). Nee Ott gave the people the Flat Pipe and with it the instructions on how to live their lives, purify, pray and perform sacred ceremonies. To the Gros Ventre the pipe was the most powerful for prayer. The Flat Pipe, referred to sometimes as Little Turtle, is said to be the most powerful pipe given to the Gros Ventre. According to elder The Boy, Nee Ott, the Earthmaker floated on top of the water with the pipe. According to Flannery there is speculation and uncertainty as to the roles Nee Ott and Earthmaker play on the origins of human beings. The Boy thinks that Nee Ott and Earthmaker are the same. However his father Lamebull said that Nee Ott was a man and 29 never told the people to pray to him but to the Supreme Being (Flannery, 1957: 22). Flannery states that Nee Ott sent a Turtle and a Waterbird below the water and from the mud they brought up, he formed earth, man, and woman after the Great Flood (Fowler & Flannery, 2001:677). According to Kroeber in the Origins Myth, the people were wild before the flood, and that Nee Ott did not like the way they lived and he is the one who causes the flood. This is the story from Kroeber: “The people before the present were wild. They did not know how to do anything. Nee Ott did not like to way they lived and what they did. He thought, ‘I will make a new world.’ He had the chief pipe. He went out doors and hung the pipe on three sticks. He picked up four buffalo-chips. One he put under each of the sticks on which the pipe hung, and one he took for his own seat. He said, “I will sing three times and shout three times. After I have done these things, I will kick the earth, and water will come all over the earth.” Then he began to sing. After he sang three times, he shouted three times. Then he kicked the ground and it cracked. The water came out and it rained for days, and over all the earth was water. By means of the buffalo-chips he and the pipe floated. Then it stopped raining. There was water everywhere. He floated wherever the wind took him. For days he drifted thus. Above him the Crow flew about. All the other birds and animals were drowned. The Crow became tired. It flew about crying, ‘My father, I am becoming tired. I want to rest.’ Three times it said this. After it had said so three times, Nee Ott said, ‘Alight on the pipe and rest.’ Repeatedly the Crow cried to him, and each time was allowed to alight on the pipe. Nee Ott became tired sitting in one 30 position. He cried. He did not know what to do. After he had cried a long time, he began to unwrap the chief pipe. The pipe contained all animals. He selected those with a long breath to dive through the water. First he selected the Large Loon (baasceiby’hi). The Loon was not alive, but Nee Ott had its body wrapped up in the pipe. Nee Ott sang and then commanded it to dive and try to bring mud. The Loon dived. It was not halfway down when it lost its breath and immediately turned back. It came up almost drowned at the place where Nee Ott was. Then Nee Ott took the Small Loon’s body and sang. Then the Small Loon dived. It nearly reached the mud at the bottom. Then it lost its breath and went up again, and nearly dead, reached the place where Nee Ott was. Then he took the Turtle (Baa’n) He sang and it became alive, and he sent it and it dived. Meanwhile the Crow did not alight, but flew about crying for rest. Nee Ott did not listen to it. After a long time the Turtle came up. It was nearly dead. It had filled its feet and cracks along its sides with mud. When it reached Nee Ott, all the mud had been washed away and it was nearly dead. Nee Ott said, ‘Did you succeed in reaching the mud?’ The Turtle said, ‘Yes, I reached it. I had much of it in my feet and about my sides, but it all washed away from me before I came to you.’ Then Nee Ott said to it, ‘Come to me;’ and the Turtle went to him. Nee Ott looked at the inside of its feet and in the cracks on its sides. On the inside of its feet he found a little earth. He scraped this into his hand. Meanwhile the Crow has become very tired. Then Nee Ott when he had scraped the earth into his hand, began to sing. After he sung three times he shouted three times, ‘Little by little let there be enough to make a strip of land large enough for me.” Then he began to drop it, little by little, into the water, opening and closing his hand carefully. And when he dropped it 31 all, there was a little land, large enough for him to sit on. The he said to the Crow, ‘Come down and rest. I have made a little piece of land for myself and for you.’ Then the Crow came down and rested. After it had rested, it flew up again. Then Nee Ott took out from his pipe two long winged-feathers. He had one in each hand, and began to sing. After he had sung three times, he shouted three times, ‘Youh, hou hou,’ and spread his arms and closed his eyes. When he had done this, he said to himself, “Let there be land as far as my eyes can see around me.’ When he opened his eyes, then indeed there was land. After he had made the land, there was not water anywhere. He went about with his pipe and with the Crow. They were all that there was to be seen in the world. Now Nee Ott was thirsty. He did not know what to do to get water. Then he thought, ‘I will cry.’ He cried. While he cried, he closed his eyes. He tried to think how could be get water. He shed tears. His tears dropped on the ground. They made a large spring in front of him. Then a stream ran from the spring. When he stopped crying, a large river was flowing. Thus he made rivers and streams. He became tired of being alone with the Crow and the pipe. He decided to make persons and animals. He took earth, and made it into the shape of a man. He made also the shape of the woman. Then he made more figures of earth, until he had many men and women. When he thought he had enough persons, he made animals of all kinds in pairs. When he had finished making these shapes, he named the tribes of people and the kinds of animals. Then he sang three times and shouted three times. After he shouted, he kicked the ground, and there were living pairs of beings standing before him, animals and men. The reason why men are dark in color is that earth is dark. Nee Ott called the world Turtle because the Turtle was the 32 animal that helped him to make the world. Then he made bows and arrows for men, and told them how to use them. The pipe he gave to a tribe he called Ah’ani’nin (Gros Ventre). Then he said to the people, ‘If you are good and act well, there will be no more water and no more fire.” Long before the water rose, the world had been burned. This is now the third life/world. Then he showed them the rainbow, and said to them. ‘This rainbow is the sign that the earth will not be covered with water again. Whenever you have rain, you will see the rainbow; and when you see it, it will mean that the rain has gone by. There will be another world after this one.’ He told the people to separate in pairs and to select habitations in the world for themselves. This is why human beings are scattered” (Kroeber, p. 59). The earth was referred to a turtle since he helped Nee Ott make earth. Kroeber credits seven informants for his myths and tales, They are: 1. Bill Jones, one of the oldest men of the tribe; 2. Watches-All, an old Gros Ventre Woman; 3. Flea, a young man; 4. Blackbird, an old man; 5. Paul Plumage, a young man; 6. Assiniboine, a young middle-aged man; and, 7. Blackwolf, a middle-aged chief. Kroeber was on the Fort Belknap Indian reservation in 1901 and these were published in 1908, many years before Flannery. Another story recounts how Nee Ott as Keeper of the Gros Ventre medicine bundle, that contains the Flat Pipe, recreated the present world after a flood. “Floating on top of the water with the Flat Pipe, Earthmaker sent a waterbird and turtle below; from the mud they brought up to him, he formed the earth and shaped a man and woman. He also taught the Gros Ventre the Flat Pipe rituals, how to plant tobacco, and taught them to 33 sing (the song was Earthmaker’s first utterance when alone on water)” (Fowler and Flannery, p. 683). In one of the Nee Ott stories, the trickster is said to cut off his hair, so that when Gros Ventre first saw White men with short hair, they thought he was Nee Ott (Cooper, 1957, p.2). The Feathered Pipe came to the Gros Ventre through a storm and is said to have the ability to make rain (Cooper: 1957, p. 77). The Sacred Feather Pipe was also referred to as the Chief Medicine Pipe and has many birds linked to it. John Cooper describes in detail the articles included in the Pipe, what the Pipes look like, and the rituals belonging to each for their care (Cooper, 1957, p. 33). “These pipes seemed to hold the tribe together” (Fowler, 1987, p. 27) for the Gros Ventre people believe the pipes and their proper use are their connection to the Supreme Being. It is said that the original ceremony gave instructions in how to survive and get along with others, as well as how to gain supernatural powers (Fowler and Flannery, 2001:677). The Trickster Stories The Gros Ventre stories of Nee Ott are trickster tales that have been told orally over the years (Kroeber, 1907, p. 59). Cooper refers to Nee Ott as Nihatah, but to the Ah’ani, he is known as Nee Ott. In each story there is an embedded lesson about honesty, humility, trust, guidance, generosity, bravery, and kindness. Nee Ott is said to have a strange sense of humor. Early anthropologist referred to these stories as myth, an anthropological term for a story, grounded in the ancient past during a period when animals could talk and human beings understood them. Myth does not mean that something is false or legendary. Myths carry truths about the past as well as a tribe’s 34 philosophy and world view. Other mythical stories are He who Starved to Death, Last Child, Found in the Grass, Clotted Blood and He who Dreams of Bhaa (Kroeber, 1907, p. 60-91). According to Kroeber the Gros Ventre believe their trickster stories are also origin or creation narratives for they tell how the Gros Ventre came to be and that Nee Ott was a great spirit to whom the Gros Ventre people pray and ask for help. Trickster stories are an important genre in North America. They are told among all the Plains, Prairie, Plateau, Upper Great Lakes, and North Eastern tribes and in Southwest tribes. Who the trickster is varies. This is not to say that there are not cultural differences. The oral traditions of the Haudenoshaunee and Northeastern Algonquians are different from the Gros Ventre, although their trickster tales are similar (Day and Foster, 1996, p. 75). For all these groups the telling of myths and tales occurred in the winter months as a nighttime activity. For the Iroquois the children were restricted from attending, but for the Gros Ventre storytelling was a time of education and children were encouraged to sit and listen and learn. Like the Gros Ventre the stories of Algonquians groups centered on transformative action and change and were dominated by tricksters who were involved in numerous escapades which called into question moral purpose. The Cree and Ojibwa have a transformer cultural hero and a host of animal tricksters, such as the wolverine, hare and raccoon, and a human trickster who is also referred to as a blundering buffoon (Day and Foster, 1996, p. 74). The adventures of the trickster are known collectively as the “wigwam tales.” The traditional histories of the eastern Wabanaki also told of wars with the Inuit and Montagnais. In earlier times when 35 these stories were told, they were recited along with chanting and prayer, which aided in remembering. The Cayuga, the trickster of the northern Iroquoians stories were told by an older honored male, referred to as, “He raises up a story” (Day and Foster, 1996, p. 76). If a story could not be finished he “tied it” for another occasion. Like all other Native groups in North America the Iroquois societies believed that the stories or mythical narratives were true explanations about why certain events happened. In this sense they are no different from the bible, which is simply an oral tradition written down. A set of stories involved a cultural hero, a young person who overcomes hardships and triumphs over evil relatives and brought back important knowledge to the people (Day and Foster, 1996, p. 77). Change and motion and adaption of tricking death and overcoming evil are important aspects of these stories as important as the lessons of how to live properly and respectfully. Native American trickster stories tend to show the Trickster always in motion or on an adventure. He seems to have an unintended sense of humor and makes himself the butt of the lesson. In some cultural traditions, the trickster appears in many forms and wears a variety of masks because he can shift shapes at will. He is known as the raven, rabbit, fox, or coyote being the most prevalent across North America for many (Babcock, 1996, p. 99). His behavior at times is inexplicable, not even the storytellers can provide a logical explanation for erratic or behavior that causes confusion or even chaos. But there is always a reason for trickster’s actions, even if we do not understand them. When asked about the coyote’s contradictory deeds, the Navajo elder Yellow Man 36 said, “If he did not do all those things then those things would not be possible in the world… for through the stories everything is made possible” (Babcock, 1996, p. 101). Tricksters show how one can solve problems, deal with change and also take foreign elements and make them acceptable to a community. Publications on Gros Ventre Oral Traditions and Religions Written documentation is limited for the Ah’ani’nin, in particular the oral stories. Only the Religious Life of the Gros Ventre included stories of tales and traditions of my people. Included in the book’s appendix are: 1. Nih’atah Liberates the Bladder People; 2. Nih’atah Obtains the Buffalo; 3. Earthmaker and the Deluge; 4. Origin of Death; 5. He who starved to Death; 6. Origin of the Feather Pipe (there are five versions in this book); 7. He who dreams of Bha’a; 8. Loss and Recovery of the Flat Pipe; 9. Man Escapes from a Cannibal Dwarf; 10. Found in the Grass, and, 11. Blood Clot. Some of these stories are long forgotten, while others are told during ceremonies, such as He who starved to Death, Origin of the Feather Pipe and Liberation of the Bladder People. Other stories are told in Kroeber’s myths and tales of the Gros Ventre. Unexpectly, there is no reference to oral traditions or how and when they were told in Loretta Fowler’s book, Shared Symbols and Contested Meanings the Gros Ventre Culture and History. The Seven Visions of Bull Lodge, as told by Fred Gone is in and of itself, a biography of a Gros Ventre traditional man, Bull Lodge who was a Pipe Keeper. The most recent publication I used From Our Ancestors, Art of the White Clay People (2009)contains artwork of the Ah’ani’nin. This was compiled by Joe Horse Capture, son of George Horse Capture. There is a reference to an older muslin thought to be lost was on a shelf 37 at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. This rare pictographic muslin painting and the interpretive story were separated. On the heels of Kroeber, Clark Wissler collected Ah’ani’nin items in the early twentieth century. A visit to Berlin’s Ethnographic Museum by Joe Horse Capture provided the answer in Clark Wissler’s documented pages of archival material, called “War Sheet” (Horse Capture, 2009, p.23). It tells the story of brave deeds of the Ah’ani’nin and the story of Horse Capture, Red Whip, and Bull Lodge historical cultural heroes of the Ah’ani’nin. The Significance of the Flat Pipe by Verne Dusenberry, Gros Ventre Legends by Takes a Prisoner/Coming Daylight, translated by Fred Gone, Sr. November 17, 1941 taken at Hays, Montana on March 6-7, 1952; The War Stories of the Gros Ventre was compiled by the Fort Belknap Curriculum Development Project through interviews with Gros Ventre elders and was printed locally in 1982. The stories include: 1. Massacre of Forty Crow Indians on Crow Creek; 2. Red Whip Defends War Party (this has been written many times with slight versions, according to my mother they left an important part of the story out and that was what happened a year later, and I have the conclusion to the story as told by my mother); 3. White Stone; 4. Running Bear (this is a different version as told by my family); 5.The Woman Rescued from a Water Monster; 6. Cut off Head; 7, Young man Becomes a Water Monster; 8. The boy who was raised by Seven Buffalo Bulls; 9. The Woman who revenged Her Brothers; 10. The Woman who married the Snake Indian; 11. The Man Who was Helped by a Wolf; 12. The Man Who Acquired Invulnerability; 13. Found in the Grass; 14. Nee Ott obtains Summer and the Buffalo; 15. Moon Child; 16. The Deserted Children; 17. The Woman and the Horse; 18. The Woman 38 Who Married a Star and Buffalo; 19. Grows Tallest: A Tipi. These are stories of bravery and tell of events that happened to the Gros Ventre people. Fred Gone, Sr. interviewed elders in the 1940s and collected these stories of war exploits. He also told of tribal myths. These were later published by the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council in 1982. He refused to grammatically have them edited and wanted to preserve the story as it was told to him. To Mr. Gone, the spoken word was sacred and should not be changed. Today there is a real danger of losing the important Ah’ani’nin oral history and traditional stories that are told to small circles of listeners. It is with this in mind the following collection of stories preserves the traditional history, culture and custom of the Ah’ani’nin. 39 CHAPTER III, METHODOLOGY: CH00SING AND RECORDING The Stories Oral history of the Ah’ani’nin has always been a way to preserve the culture, history and traditions. Oral Storytelling continues in the home and on special occasions although not as often as in the past. Telling stories is becoming more formal; it now occurs in settings like classrooms and at community gatherings. It is moving away from the home, although some families continue to tell their stories in the evening at the proper time of year. More stories are being shared across families in the hope of maintaining this link to the past as a community activity. The goal of the research was to collect oral history and traditional stories about the Ah’ani’nin, people of the White Clay, and information about how these stories help the Ah’ani’nin understand what messages each story conveys. It is important to preserve the history of the Ah’ani'nin and the significance of who we are. The history of my society is filled with oral stories that tell us who we were. This helps us to know who we are and who we will be. Our history consists of oral stories, unknown to many, most of which have not been recorded. A few of these stories have been recorded by anthropologists or local historian in the past but they are now lost in some book or archival document that no one in our community knows of it. Other stories are in the minds of elders and need to be recorded before they pass on or others may be sitting on some shelf unpublished and hence unknown. The research took place on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation located in north central Montana in 2008 and 2009. The interviews were conducted within the homes of the interviewees after they had been contacted by phone. I chose individuals whom the 40 Gros Ventre felt had the most knowledge of oral stories. Primarily elders or community historians. There are however storytellers who are knowledgeable about the Gros Ventre history and oral stories, but choose not to share information or do not want to be quoted about what they know. The proper way of approaching an elder for information is to offer tobacco and be very patient in getting your response. It is rude to interrupt an elder when they are talking. Some interviews took longer than an hour, in some cases four hours. I have followed this protocol. Some of these stories I already knew about, having read them or heard them from my mother as I was growing up. The stories were recorded by notes, observation and video tape unstructured that involved participants’ observation as I listened to the stories. The video tape was used as some of the persons spoke softly and re-listening to it helped me transcribe the stories. Hopefully the stories can be published for retention. The analysis of the stories, show what kind of lives the Gros Ventre lived, where they lived, who they lived with. They tell of what their value and beliefs are. In addition the stories reflect what they were influenced by. Today those values are still within the Ah’ani’nin, such as to be generous, to be brave, to face your fears, to look out for the less fortunate and to be humble. Storytellers have always existed. There have been Ah’ani’nin who were interviewed by outsiders or community historians and provided information about Gros Ventre by answering questions. And then there are the traditional story tellers. My mother says good storytellers will tell the story as if the audience were there. They will describe the time of the year, the weather, the items of clothing worn, what was happening in detail. 41 Who are the Story tellers? In 2008, I wanted to interview Davie Hawley Jr. but he died before I could interview him. He said that one of the greatest story tellers was Ben Horseman, my grandfather, but according to my mother Davie was a great story teller and he could describe the story as if you were there. The following are the people who contributed part of these stories in my thesis and a small biography of who they are. Most of story tellers selected were relatives of the researcher, as is appropriate. My family is noted for its story telling and I and my relatives are often invited at cultural ceremonies to tell stories. 1. Ruby Brockie – Black Hair Ruby is the great granddaughter of Coming Daylight, who was the oldest informant for Regina Flannery. Coming Daylight took Ruby when she was still a baby and raised her until she was nine years old. Ruby did not speak any English until she was forced to leave her great-grandmother’s home to attend school. Coming Daylight was 84 years old when she started caring for Ruby. Her nickname for Ruby was Nee Sa (grandchild). Ruby was married at age 16 to Henry Brockie and they had ten children. She is the granddaughter of Ben Horseman and daughter of Dorrance Blackwolf. Ruby never went to high school but later on got her GED and attended college at Montana State University-Northern, where she majored in Elementary Education. She was raised in a traditional manner and her mother spoke fluent Gros Ventre as well. She has two children who are retired from the federal government and one from the local school district. One daughter completed her Masters in Nursing at Johns Hopkins University and is currently working on her PhD. One son was valedictorian when he graduated from Haskell Indian Nations University. Two are working at Fort Belknap College, Two are working for Indian Health Service and one for the National Institute of Health and two are at home taking care of children. Both Henry and Ruby are enrolled as Gros Ventre and are proud of who they are. Ruby is the mother to the author, Clarena M. Brockie and has told her stories over the years. She was officially interviewed in 2008. She will be 80 years old in April 2012. 2. George Weasel Horse –Fat Back – Nih Ni Nih, he was also given the name Glider, Na Nah nock. He is 58 years old and will be 59 in November. 42 George is known locally as Stormy Brockie. He recently retired from School District 12 as a baker and does catering locally. From the time he was a young boy Stormy was interested in his grandparents stories. He said he learned so much about the old stories because he took time out to listen. While other children were outplaying, he was listening to his grandparents. He told some stories for the Montana Arts Council and is often asked to tell stories about Gros Ventre. People will ask him, where did you get that story and he will invariably say, “Listening to my grand folks.” George is a product of the boarding school experience. He attended school in Chiloco, Oklahoma. In 1987 he graduated from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, where he enrolled as a baker. 3. Terry Brockie – Indian name Horns I-Nee-I-Nih, as he got older another name was given him, Bay-doe-tsit, which means Red Belt. Terry is 47 years old. His name was given to him by an Assiniboine man, and he said it in Assiniboine, In-Pee-Ag-Gee-Sha. From the time Terry was a young boy he wanted nothing more than to be a traditional Gros Ventre. He started dancing at the local pow wows when he was about five years old. He went to college at Haskell Indian Nations University and transferred to Kansas University. He continued to participate in pow wows at various places across the United States. One day when he returned to Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, (around 1995) he decided he wanted to speak Ah’ani’nin--not just a few words, but fluent. He went on a vision quest, fasting for several days. He made this decision in order to have a good heart and acquire a spirit helper each year. Today he still fasts each year. His aunt Madeline Colliflower was instrumental in helping him learn the language. He works at Hays Lodge Pole School as a teacher in Gros Ventre. He is an active participant in the traditional ceremonies, and is one of the four old men for the Sun Dance. He will receive his bachelor degree in May 2012 from Montana State University in secondary education. He is currently translating oral stories from English to Ah’ani’nin, he speaks fluent Ah’ani’nin. 4. Alphonse Obey – Owns A Roan Horse – Bey-e-nih dak-e-nut-dun, his name as a child was Ges-ee-nin, Little Man. Al is 27 years old. Al is named after his grandmother Warrior’s husband Owns a Roan Horse. His mother is Helena Brockie, a Gros Ventre and sister to the author and his father, Sherwin Obey is a Cree from Piapot First Nations, Canada. Al has spent a lot of time in Canada at the Piapot First Nations since he was five years. The older men took a strong liking to him and he participated in their ceremonies at a young age. At the age of 17 he was selected by Joseph Iron Man to be one of the four old men for the Gros Ventre Sun dance. This is a great honor for no young man has ever been chosen at such a young age for such an honor. He has taken a strong interest in Gros Ventre culture. He is 43 learning the old ways from his Grandpa Joe and also learning the language and stories. 5. Davy Belgarde –Oh-In-Nak-Yeah, Crow Bull, age 58 Crow Bull was the uncle to Coming Daylight, Davy’s great grandmother. Crow Bull was a Pipe Keeper and this was an honor in Gros Ventre tradition. It is considered an honor to be named after someone who owns a place in Gros Ventre history. Davy worked for the Fort Belknap Education Department for many years developing Gros Ventre cultural and historic curriculum for implementation in local schools. He conducted interviews with tribal elders relating to the early days of Fort Belknap (1890-1950s). He was tasked with finding information on the boarding schools, IRA tribal councilmen, traditional leaders among the Gros Ventre, social events, pipe ceremonies, Sun Dance and traditional dances. He was involved in the development of Recollections of Fort Belknap’s Past, and War Stories of The White Clay People. During these projects the interest in the language really was revived; he was responsible for starting the cataloging and archiving information on the language. He has taught Gros Ventre in the local schools. He is a member of the White Clay Society. 6. Preston Stiffarm – E Gibe Nah Nak – Rides High– He is 61 years old He is a descendent of Weasel Bear, a Gros Ventre leader. He is the grandson of Stiffarm, a known medicine and spiritual man among the Gros Ventre. Preston has a bachelor’s degree in Education with an emphasis History from the University of Montana. He worked with Davy Belgarde on publishing the document Recollections of Fort Belknap’s Past, and War Stories of the White Clay People. He worked for the Fort Belknap Education Department’s Ethnic Heritage program and also in the archives at Fort Belknap Education Department. He spent many years interviewing people about the Gros Ventre history. He was a fellow at the History of American Indians at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He is an active participant in the cultural and spiritual ways of his people. He continues to be a valuable source of information on Gros Ventre history. The Fort Belknap Indian Community Council granted permission to conduct this research on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and approval was granted by resolution # 53-08 (Appendix A). A request for research was submitted in early 2008 to the Institutional Review Board at the University of Arizona, and approval was received on July 8, 2008. Interviews were conducted in the summer of 2008 and from January to 44 March 2009. The Fort Belknap Indian reservation has three main communities, which are from 25 to 45 miles apart. In October 2011, I was invited to talk about the Ah'ani'nin and present two of my stories at the National Oral History conference in Denver, Colorado. In these situations story tellers were give given an opportunity to review the story for accuracy. How did I, as a young person get involved in the culture? When I was a young child living in Hays on the Fort Belknap Indian reservation, we did not have television. In the winter months when it was too cold to go out, we had our own entertainment. One of my favorite times was when my grandmother would sit us down and tell stories. Soon my mother was doing the same. When my mother was young and when I was the grandchild our favorite story was Old Lady Iron Foot, and soon my mother’s grandchildren’s favorite story of all time was also Old Lady Iron Foot. But I preferred Last Star and Running Bear. All the stories are significant to the Gros Ventre and some have been included in other books, which I have mentioned. Some of stories have never been written, such as Last Star. Some of the interviewees volunteered information about other topics, like the conditions of the boarding schools, especially the Catholic mission. Here is one story. In the early 1900s there was one case where three young men kept running away from the St Paul’s Mission School. Indian children were taught not to go out at night for fear of the enemy, but these young boys kept running away at night. When they were caught, the school representatives “horsed whipped” them all the way back to the school. On the 45 third attempt, they ran away in a storm and froze to death. One child was found lying over his mother’s grave. I learned other things as well. One of the elders also said that in school some of the children were called “big Indians” because they held onto their culture. Some of the children went to the boarding school at the Fort Belknap agency, because they did not like the mission school. They said they were treated badly and never had enough to eat. Henry Brockie told a story of his father, and other little Gros Ventre boys attending the mission school, stealing eggs because they were starving. They would cook them in a can, but once the eggs were spoiled and they were very sick. His father said he could not eat eggs for a long time after that. Another story was about how children would work in the kitchen at the Catholic mission. The nuns guarded the trash and put it close to the kitchen. One of the children, Fred Lodge, stole the potato peelings to eat. The nuns knew someone took them and started asking questions. When they got to Fred he said, “sie sie, no no, taint take it, chicken take it.” Meaning that he did not take it, the chicken took it. Theresa Lame Bull said at the mission, “They would punish us and whip us if they heard us talk our language. That is how we almost lost our language. Now we are trying to revive it.” As a traditional Ah’ani’nin, many of oral stories were told while visiting with my mother or if we decided to have a session and invite others who we know have stories. I am sure there are many other stories told in other families that I don’t’ know about. The story telling on the history of the Ah'ani'nin for the most part for young people is taught in the classroom or during Native American Week. 46 I have made a list of the story tellers from various periods of time. I got the list from my informants and if I left anyone out it was not intentional. As I said there are those who were interviewed and those who could tell stories. Early to mid-1900s Lamebull (died in 1908) – He was a keeper of the Flat Pipe and a Chief of the Gros Ventre; Stiffarm – He was a noted medicine man within the Gros Tribe; Mouse – He was a brother to Stiffarm; Al Chandler, Sr. – An Informant of Flannery’s and he was married to Cora Chandler (also an informant of Flannery), who was a sister to Ben Horseman; Blackwolf – He is included in Kroeber’s works, war exploits and is the father to Ben Horse; Horse Capture – a Keeper of the Flat Pipe and brother to Thick; Thick – brother to Horse Capture and married to Lamebulls daughter; Charles Buckman – Informant for Flannery; Fork – Noted for story telling; Benny Takes the Bow – Story Teller; Sits on High – Keeper of the Feather Pipe and adoptive father of Al Chandler; Four Bear; Fred Gone, Sr. (He interviewed Gros Ventre in the 1940s); Bracelet; Owns a Roan Horse; Rufus Warrior – raised by Coming Daylight; Tom Main – Tribal Councilman and orator ; Henry Dwarf “Hombre”; Garter Snake – daughter of Bull Lodge – Keeper of the Feathered Pipe; Iron Man- Keeper of the Feathered Pipe; Coming Daylight – Oldest Informant for Flannery and great great-grandmother of author; Singer – friend to Coming Daylight; Flea; 47 Mid to late 1900s John Stiffarm – son to Stiffarm; Paul Stiffarm – son to Stiffarm; Elmer Main – son to Tom Main; James Main – son to Tom Main; Davie Hawley, Jr.; Jim Shortman; Fred Gone Jr.; Bill Cochran, Jr.; Tom Mount; Joe Assiniboine; Mabel Cochran – daughter to Ben Horseman; Christine Capture Cole – granddaughter to Coming Daylight; Mabel Bradley – granddaughter to Coming Daylight; Edna Warrior Ball – granddaughter to Coming Daylight and raised by her; Teresa Walker Lamebull – married to Andrew Lamebull; Dorrance Blackwolf – son of Ben Horseman, grandson of Blackwolf; Madeline Skinner Colliflower – One of the last fluent speakers of Gros Ventre and who taught classes in Gros Ventre. There are families who may have a story teller who is knowledgeable about the Gros Ventre history and oral traditions, but they choose to not share that information or do not want to be quoted for what they know. As one elder said, in each big family there is a story teller. Maybe some I don’t know of. Today’s story tellers are few and some these people were also story tellers in the late 1900s. The people I have listed below are some of today’s story tellers and all are Ah’ani’nin. Ruby Brockie – mother to author and great granddaughter to Coming Daylight who kept her until she was nine years old; Joe Ironman – Keeper of the Feathered Pipe Bundle and Gros Ventre Sun Dance; Preston Stiffarm – Great grandson of Stiffarm and noted historian; Ray Gone, Jr. – grandson of Fred Gone, Sr.; William 48 Main – Councilman and noted historian on Gros Ventre history and son to James Main; Robert Walker – Great grandson to Tom Main and grandson to Theresa Lamebull; George Brockie – Weasel Horse – brother to author, a great story teller, artist, Gros Ventre historian and semi-fluent in the Gros Ventre language; Terry Brockie – A teacher and young man who can speak fluent Gros Ventre, and helper to the Gros Ventre Sun Dance; Alphonse Obey – Helper to the Gros Ventre Sun Dance and learning the history and language of the Gros Ventre; Davy Belgarde – Great grandson to Coming Daylight and Gros Ventre Historian. The Fort Belknap Indian Education Department had several programs where staff interviewed Gros Ventre elders in the 1980s. Some of these stories were printed in a document called War Stories of the Gros Ventre. While reviewing the Fort Belknap College library another frayed document printed by Fort Belknap Education Department in the 1980s, Recollections of Fort Belknap’s Past was discovered. However not all stories were included in these documents and there were many interviews conducted and tapes were either lost or stolen after documents were moved to several departments or left lying in a box. I have tried to find these tapes but most are lost. The stories I selected are stories that I talked to interviewees about the value of them and why they are important in preserving. Some of these stories have never been published or written in any document to my knowledge. Some oral stories were just stories for entertainment in the winter months while others were for teaching or lessons learned. There are the trickster stories that are in a category by themselves. I was 49 surprised to learn there are more stories on this character than I thought and many of these stories also have not been written. All these are still told orally. The family stories were told over the years and new ones were added. They tell about the Gros Ventre and I am sure they were common stories at one time, but people quit telling them. There were so many stories in War Stories of the Gros Ventre People, that I have already listed, but the ones I included as historical stories were the ones that were in The Gros Ventre of Montana as well as War Stories, like He Who Starved to Death, Found In the Grass, Loss and Recovery of the Pipe, Nee Ott Liberates the Bladder People. Each story is a reflection of who the Gros Ventre people are, fearless, strong in their faith and convictions, survivals, and generous to a fault. These stories are in no particular order and all are important. My own regret is that I didn’t do more stories with certain individuals with a wealth of information. I have to continue to make that commitment. One of the interviewees, Preston Stiffarm has a wealth of knowledge and I am sorry I did not record more of his stories. He is currently in a long term health facility in Seattle Washington. This story repeats itself. Before I could interview Davie Hawley, II, he died. According to my mother he was a real storyteller and had so much history on Gros Ventre. He was the one who could tell a story as if we were all there. Another man James Main, wanted me to come back. He was going to sing me an old Gros Ventre song as I didn’t finish interviewing him. He died in a few days after I left his place. Preston wanted to tell me more stories on the Trickster, some I never heard before. I will do my best to collect these when he returns home. He is one of the Gros Ventre historians and much of the 50 information was obtained while he worked as an interviewer for years with people who passed away long ago. He was willing to share this information and wanted to pass it on to preserve it. 51 CHAPTER IV, THE STORIES The following are some stories of the Ah’ani’nin, including family stories that have never been written down or published. I have included some stories from Flannery and Kroeber’s published documents as I feel they are important stories and belong to the Gros Ventre. From Social Life of the Gros Ventre, I selected: (1) Nee Ott Liberates the Bladder People; (2) Earthmaker and the Deluge; (3) Origins of Death; (4) He Who starved to Death; and, (5) Lost and Recovery of the Flat Pipe. From Kroeber’s Myths and Tale I selected: 1. Origin Myth. There is a mystery and controversy as to who Earthmaker was, some say he is Nee Ott, others say Nee Ott came before Earthmaker. According to Kroeber, it was Nee Ott who caused the flood and he also created earth, from the mud of a turtle. From War Stories of the Gros Ventre I selected: (1) Wus Nee a Nee, Running Bear; (2) and Found in the Grass. Although many of these stories were told by my Grandmother to my mother and could be considered family stories, these stories according to a Gros Ventre elder, belong to the people since they are about the people. The family stories are stories that have been told in our family for years, and again depending on who is telling them the version may change. These are the stories that were told when the Ah’ani’nin lived together and in the winter months retold oral history and stories. Special emphasis was placed on those stories the story teller wanted to impress upon the people as important to remember. It was difficult to pick what stories to include so I selected the stories that would reflect the values and customs of the Ah’ani’nin. In the process I sought advice from my 52 interviewees. Some of these stories have never been written down, on passed down orally. They may have changed some but mostly remained the same. These stories tell how the people learned from their oral history. The stories selected are organized into the following: (1) Lessons Learned; (2) Family Stories; (3) Trickster Stories, and (4) Legends of the Ah’ani’Nin stories. (1) LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY When storytelling were a central focus of the Ah’ani’nin, it was a time when it was imperative to listen and learn to ensure a person’s survival. Stories were told that demonstrated what happens when we violate the teaching of our elders. The story of Last Star is a family story and one with a lesson. The lesson to learn was that Last Star was impatient to be a part of something that he was really too young to participant in, and as trauma hit, he realizes this. I am sure at one time many Ah’ani knew of this story but as time goes on only a few remember these old stories. As far back as my mother could remember, it was told in her family and never recorded or written down to her knowledge. The values are patience, respect, listening, survival and strength. A. Last Star Young boys were usually not allowed to go out on scouting parties. Sometimes the party was away from home for over a month or longer. The men usually traveled quickly and often ran into enemies from other tribes. The older boys and young men were allowed to travel with the scouts to take care of the warriors’ moccasins at the end of each day. From so much traveling the warriors would wear out their moccasins and 53 they would have to be repaired. These older boys were thus referred to as the “Moccasin Carriers.” Last Star, was an Ah’ani’ boy on the verge of becoming a young man, and eager to prove himself. The Ah’ani’ men were going out on a scouting party and Last Star wanted to go. He approached one of the leaders and asked him if he could go. However he was told, “You are too young and it will be difficult for you.” Still he insisted on going and went to his uncle who was part of the scouting party. So his uncle, on his behalf made it possible for him to come; even though part of the party felt he was too young. So they told him you can come, not as a scout, but as a “Moccasin Carrier.” Last Star was elated when he heard he could go. This was in the summer, a good time to be out enjoying Mother Earth. Each day out proved to be a great one for Last Star. He traveled with his pack that included buckskin and sinew for repairing moccasins, as well as his own pack of things. And in the evenings by the fire, he would repair the moccasins. He made friends with some of the older men as he proved to be very responsible. The scouting party was looking for not only the next place to camp, but also for a better hunting area. The scouts had been out approximately three weeks when they were surprised by an enemy tribe. Too small in number to wage a war, they scattered and ran in all different directions. Last Star ran for his life for he knew if the enemies caught him they would kill him. Being the young boy that he was, he was confused by his whereabouts and soon was lost. By then he had lost his pack that included everything he had, including those items essential for his survival. 54 He was in a mountainous area and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore. By then it was evening time, with the sun almost down. His moccasins were all ragged from running over rocky areas. He was crying and telling himself he wasn’t as brave as he thought he was. And he thought of his mother and father and he wished he was at their camp. He was traveling through the pines on the top of the mountains. Still he could see, since the moon was out. From afar, he could see a fire at the bottom of a canyon. It was late at night. He wanted to see someone else and was hoping for some help. He arrived at the camp and he could see a person at the fire, but she had a blanket over her head and Last Star couldn’t see her face. Her appearance showed to be a female for she was wearing dress. Last Star said, “Wahey” (hello). The person told him, “See gats, zats bits sits” (come in and eat). He went to her campfire. He was just glad she seemed friendly and he was hungry. This person told him, “Take off your moccasins and I will repair them.” (for she had noticed how ragged his moccasins were.) Last Star asked her, “What’s your name?” But she did not respond as she started to repair his moccasins. It was then he noticed that she was using “ghost thread.” It was known among the Ah’ani’nin that the only ones who used “ghost thread” were the ghosts themselves. Right away Last Star was afraid. He wanted to run, but instead he told her that “Ut in nok go” (I need to go to the toilet). Once he got far enough away, Last Star started to run. He got so far when he could hear someone crashing through the brush. It was the woman with no face. Now he really was afraid, but continued to run. Last Star ran for his life for a second time in a 55 day. As Last Star was coming out of the mountains, it was nearing daylight. He turned often to see the “ghost” following him. As the “ghost” ran, the blanket on her head would bob up and down. Finally the sun was coming over the horizon. Last Star turned to see the “Ghost” fade into the ground just as the sun came into full view, leaving nothing but the blanket there. When Last Star made it home, he was happy to see his family. And he vowed that he would not seek to journey into the adult world until he was ready. B. Old Lady Iron Foot When I was a young girl, one of our favorite family stories was, “Old Lady Iron Foot.” This story was told to my mother by her grandfather and she later told it to her children and grandchildren. My children and grandchildren often say to me, “Grandma tell me the story of ‘old lady iron foot.” This story is about trust, the value of life, especially for children, the importance of listening and relying on the things you were taught as a child, later in a person’s life. In summer the berries that the Ah’ani’nin gathered were the choke cherries (Dy U Win) and June berries (A hedge a Ho In).The Ah’ani’nin would dry the berries or sometimes mix them with dry meat to make “patties.” We didn’t eat dessert, but if one would want to identify these berries and cherries, this would be considered a “sweet” for the Ah’ani’nin. *** 56 The Ah’ani’nin were getting ready to move camp and planned on leaving as soon as possible. Some of the children decided to go off to look for berries and an older girl went with them, as the children couldn’t be left by themselves. The farther they went, the better the berries. Finally they realized they had gone too far and couldn’t travel at night. So they made the best camp they could and gathered themselves together. There were eight children in the bunch. When they arrived home the next day to where their camp was supposed to be, everyone was gone. The day before the camp was getting ready to leave, they knew that the children were missing, but felt that the children could catch up with the camp especially since an older girl was with them. So they left parts of their lodge material to show them the direction they had gone. The children started following the tracks left for them. They traveled for a couple of days, when they came upon an old camp and on the steps of the camp, stood an old lady with an iron foot. She told the children that their families wanted them to stay with her and that they would return for them. At first the old lady was really kind to them. Then the oldest girl noticed that one of the children was missing. She asked what happened to her and the old lady said she must have wandered off. Soon more children were missing and so one night the oldest girl stayed awake to see what was happening to the children. She saw the old lady heating up her foot. When it was hot enough, she laid her iron foot across the throat of the child and killed the child. The girl was really frightened, but was afraid to say anything. 57 Soon only she and her brother remained. That night when the “old lady” was going to kill her brother she shouted, “No, No, I will work for you and help you with your chores.” So the old lady spared her and her brother. The next day she sent the young girl out for wood. The girl found the best wood, birch, easy to burn, but long lasting. But the old lady said, “I don’t use that kind of wood!” So she went out again and brought back diamond willow, a lesser but still good piece of wood. Again the old lady said, “No that’s not the kind of wood I use.” She went out again, but this time she was really distressed and was sitting on a log crying, when a bird appeared to her. The bird told her not to cry, “I will show you the kind of wood she likes.” So the young girl brought the old lady old, the rotted wood, full of worms that the old lady preferred. The old lady demanded, “Who told you I burn this kind of wood?” The young girl said she just thought it would please her. The next chore for the young girl was to bring her water. The young girl found clear, cold water by the creek, which she brought back. The old lady spat the water out and said, “That is not what I use.” So she went out and brought river water but this too did not satisfy the old lady. So again she went out and this time she was really distressed as the old lady seemed to delight in her fear. Again the bird appeared saying to her, “I will show you the kind of water she likes,” which was stagnant, stinky, slimy water. The bird told her, “The old lady has no intention of keeping her promise but will kill you and your brother. Tonight you must escape.” The bird told her, “Tell the old lady that your 58 brother needs to go to the bathroom and when you leave, place this needle on the steps and put it where the old lady will use her good foot.” She brought the water to the old lady and said, “Grandma, look what I brought you.” The old lady was suspicious, and again she asked the young girl, “Who told you I use this kind of water?” “No one” said the young girl, “I just thought this is the kind of water you would like.” That night she did what the bird told her to do; she said to the old lady, “Grandma my brother needs to ‘Ut in nok go.” (go to the bathroom) At first she didn’t want her to go with her brother, but the young girl told her that her brother was afraid of the dark. As soon as they got outside, she placed the needle on the side where the old lady would step. Then they fled, running as fast as they could to get away from the old lady. The old lady, not knowing they already left, hollered at the children and told them “Nun Ho” (hurry up). But the needle responded in the young boy’s voice saying, “When I go to the bathroom I pee like a river and when I poop, it’s like a mountain.” Finally the old lady decided to investigate why they were taking so long. As soon as she stepped outside, she stepped on the needle, “Ouch, Ouch” she proclaimed. The needle was really stuck on her foot and it took her a while to get the needle out. In the meantime, the young children traveled all night. The young girl kept looking back and said to her brother, “nun ho, nun ho.” (hurry, hurry) That night there was a big moon, making their travel easier. Towards morning, in the distance she could see a river up ahead. She turned to look and she could see the old lady coming as fast as she could, limping along the way. The children got to the river and there was a “water 59 monster with horns.” They said, “Please, please, take us across. There is someone after us.” The water monster said, “Yes, I will take you across, but first you must pick nits in my head.” The young boy had on a beaded necklace, so they pretended to pop the beads in their mouth to sound as if they were killing his nits. Finally the water monster told them, “Get between my horns and do not open your eyes until we get there.” Then the water monster went beneath the water and soon they were on the other side. The children got off and continued on their journey, thanking the water monster for his help. The water monster told them not to worry about the old lady. When the water monster returned to the other side, the old lady was there, demanding that he take her across. He told her, “I will, but first you must pick my nits and kill them with your teeth.” The old lady spat, sputtered, calling his nits, “dirty lice.” Finally the water monster said, “Get on my back, I will take you across.” Half way across, the water monster dove underwater, killing the old lady. Within a short while the children found their camp. Their parents were really happy to see them and the children told their story. The people were sad to hear what had happened to the other children and they said that they left a trail of items along the way to show where they were going, but the old lady must have removed them to her camp. From that day forward the people decided that from then on they would not let their children wander too far from camp without an adult. 60 C. Wus Nee A Nee “Running Bear” My youngest son carries the name, Running Bear. My mother said that if someone asked you where you got your name from you needed to defend yourself and say how it came to be. Someone once asked my mother how my son got his name and he also told her that his Indian name was Running Bear. She asked him how he got his name. He could not tell her and she told him “Well this young man, my grandson, was named after his relative Running Bear and she told him, I know the story of Running hear.” Before we relate this story, I must include a note about the homelands of Ah’ani’nin. The Ah’ani’nin territory extended from the Missouri Breaks and north into what is now Canada where the Sarcee Indians now reside. In the old days the Ah’ani’nin traveled extensively through this area. At this time the tribe was organized by their clans; when the group separated into smaller units after the spring hunt and Sacrifice Dance, they traveled and camped with their clan relatives. They all came together for sacred ceremonies and the telling of stories. This is a story of a relative of the Brockie family. The following story is both a family story and a story of learning. The protagonists were told through a vision not to do something yet they did it anyway and as a result they suffered the consequences. This story has two versions. I am telling the story from the War Stories of the Gros Ventre, printed by the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council through the Fort Belknap Education Department, (p. 24-43). This is a different version than that of my 61 mother’s. In her story according to her paternal grandfather, Ben Horseman, Wus Nee a Nee was left behind. In this story, the Ah’ani’nin were camped near the White River, now called the Judith River. It was customary for men to seek visions for direction or supernatural power. The Ah’ani’nin had a custom called inseparable friends. Running Bear, a young Ah’ani’nin went off with his friend, Burnt Off to fast to seek a vision. When a person would fast they would choose a place and someone to help them. The spiritual person would choose a place where they would spend three or four days without water or food. Or they could choose for themselves where they wanted to fast. *** Running Bear and Burnt off decided they would go to the highest peak, which was located in the Belt Mountains, now called the Little Belt. They fasted for four days and nights. Running Bear never received any visions, but Burnt Off was told not to partake in any war parties until the snow flies. If he disregarded the order, something could happen to him. Both of these young men were well respected and known for their bravery and success during confrontations. According to Burnt off, Running Bear also could not participate in warring parties. So summer continued without their participation. Soon the older men began to notice the Running Bear and Burnt Off were not participating in hunting or scouting parties, and they wondered about it since these two young men were noted for their bravery. 62 During Berry Ripening Season (August), a well-known Ah’ani’ warrior, Sitting Woman, was taking a large party of Ah’ani’nin out to look for Crow. By now the Ah’ani’nin were camped near the Big River (Missouri). They left and Running Bear and Burnt Off did not go along. Running Bear and Burnt Off were sitting smoking and visiting, when an elder Ah’ani’ warrior, Sun White Cow, approached them. Sun White Cow asked Running Bear why they were not partaking in the raids. Running Bear told him, “As soon as the snow flies we will go, but not sooner. ” Sun White Cow said he was taking a party out and wanted Running Bear to go. Running Bear said to go on but he was staying. Sun White Cow told Running Bear, “It is only the helpless, feeble and women who stay. If you want to stay, you can put on a dress and stay.” He was calling Running Bear a coward. Quick to anger, Running Bear said he would go; disregarding the warning. They would leave at dark from a designated place. Sun White Cow was elated but he worried about why Running Bear had said at first he would not go. Running Bear had not told Sun White Cow about the vision. After Sun White Cow left, Burnt Off wanted to know if Running Bear meant what he said about going and if so he was going with him. But he said, “Remember the Spirit’s warning.” Burnt Off told Running Bear, “I know you must consider your family’s standing with the tribe.” Burnt Off added that he was alone and had no one to consider. So they prepared themselves for war and joined the war party after dark. There were seven warriors. They were Wolf Chief, Dog Sleep, Many Plumes, Blood Man, Red Eye Brows, also known as Eats, and two others, their names unknown. With Sun White Cow, Running Bear and Burnt Off, they made a party of ten. They 63 started for Crow Country and soon met up with Sitting Woman’s party camped on Willow Creek, now Flat Willow. But they did not want to camp with them or wanted to be seen by them, so they camped farther down river. In the middle of the night, Sun White Cow was taking his party on, but Blood Man spoke up and decided to stay with Sitting Woman’s party. So they went on without him. Sun White Cow pushed his party on; they crossed water, and the prairies, camping only for short rests. Soon they reached the Shell River (Musselshell) and shortly after the Elk River (Yellowstone) and proceeded to the Big Sheep River (Big Horn). Once there, they found a place to camp with a good spring. Along the way they killed a buffalo and decided to slice and dry their meat. In the evening the scouts went out looking to see if they were in a safe place to camp. When on a scouting party, there were always scouts posted who traveled the area insuring safety. Unknown to them they were in close proximity to the Crows. When Ah’ani’nin warriors found out they prepared themselves for battle, first making a sweat tent and making offerings of flesh, asking for protection. After cleansing themselves, they decided to sleep for a while, all but Wolf Chief. He would stay awake on the lookout for the enemy. Suddenly he heard drums and what sounded like a victory song. He alerted others but they couldn’t hear it and made fun of him telling Wolf Chief, “It must be the wax in your ears.” Wolf Chief could not rest and he noticed that the sleepers were also restless. He woke them up and told them their restless sleep was a bad omen. The same warrior who had given him a bad time before now said, “You must be afraid.” Sun 64 White Cow spoke up and said, maybe he is right and we need to be moving on. Maybe we can find where the Crows are camped. This was the time of the season where the sky is smoky and the air is not clear, making the scouting difficult. They descended off the mountain, near a small creek on the east slope, near a lot of wild plums. Unknown to the Ah’ani’nin warriors the Crows were in the same area searching for plums. The Ah’ani’nin warriors followed this creek into the Big Sheep River (Big Horn). Sun White Cow sent two of his fastest runners to scout ahead. The rest watched the scouts move up and over the hill. They appeared to be ducking here and there. Soon they fled back and informed Sun White Cow that the whole Crow tribe was moving up the creek, singing a victory song. The Ah’ani’nin leader, Sun White Cow, told them to hide quickly. But they mistakenly hid in the biggest plum brush, a favorite picking area of the Crows. It was a thick area of brush, and they were able to hide without being seen by the Crows. Sun White Cow told two scouts to crawl out and keep an eye on the Crows. However, the women gathered in the area, where the two scouts were hiding. One of two women picking close to the scouts spied them and fled. The women all ran and alerted the Crow men. The two scouts were able to retreat with the other Ah’ani’nin. Sun White Cow ordered two scouts to stand guard. One was Running Bear. Soon a woman appeared; she was an Ah’ani’nin Woman, who had been captured by the Crow many years before. They recognized her; her name was Woman Chief. She was wellrespected among the Crow. She spotted these two Ah’ani’nin but having been gone so 65 long, she did not recognize them. But she still understood their language. She ran and they shot after her, giving away their exact location. Soon they were surrounded by Crows, who immediately started firing into the brush. The Ah’ani’nin dug a trench. One Ah’ani’nin man told Running Bear and his friend, if either of you gets shot, I would like your gun as I am unarmed. Crows descended on where Running Bear and his companion scout were. The man without a gun was shot between his eyes. Running Bear and Burnt Off would shift position after each attack. However, there were too many Crows. Running Bear saw the other scout shot on the right side of his chest and he died shortly after. Running Bear called out and said that the other scout had been killed. Sun White Cow said to stay where he was, or the Crow would kill him off first. Running Bear wanted to better his position and he spied a Crow trying to sneak up on him. The Crow had in his hand two small willows tied together, a custom of the Crow for counting coup. He would either touch the enemy or kill him. The Crow rose up to kill Running Bear, but before he could do anything, Running Bear shot him in the mouth, killing him instantly. In the meantime, a one-sided battle was going on as the Crow warriors were shooting repeatedly into the brush. The Ah’ani’nin would carefully aim when they could and they knew their shots hit their marks by the crying of the Crows. Suddenly Running Bear was hit on the right forearm, and then the bullet entered his back, breaking his shoulder bone, breaking his arm as well, with the bullet lodging in his arm. Running Bear bled profusely and soon fainted. While lying on the ground, he also was hit in the head by another bullet, which left only a flesh wound. When he awoke 66 his scalp was covered in blood. Confused and weak, he didn’t know where he was at first. Soon he realized his predicament and wondered where his friend Burnt Off was. He felt that he was not going to survive and called his friend, who answered him immediately. Running Bear told him he was wounded and that the other scouts had been killed. Burnt Off told him he too was wounded on his foot and that he would try to get Running Bear to his trench. Burnt Off crawled to his friend. When he got there, they both realized that they were of no use to their group. Running Bear told his friend to gather all the guns and ammunition so they could defend themselves. Burnt Off was able to get Running Bear to the trench but Sun White Cow would not let him in. He said, “Leave him out there he is going to die anyway.” Running Bear was moving in and out of consciousness but could understand what was going on. Red Eye Brow or Eats was a medicine man and he would jump out of the trench and charge the Crows, taking one or two out before retreating to the trench. Running Bear saw blood squirt out of Eats’ sides, so he knew that he was wounded. He soon found out that all of the warriors were wounded in various places on their bodies. Still they fought on, Eats, would jump out of the trench every so often to keep the Crows at bay. Soon someone from the Crow side spoke Piegan and asked what tribe they were. They named several tribes before they finally got to Ah’ani’nin and one of the Ah’ani’nin who spoke Piegan responded, “Yes, we are Ah’ani’nin.” Soon a woman asked if they really were Ah’ani’nin and if they knew of her brothers, Sitting Woman and Blackcrow. The Ah’ani’nin recognized her as the woman, Two Strikes who left the Ah’ani’nin years before and had made her home with the Crow. She asked who they were and they called 67 out their names. When Many Plumes called out, she was touched with pity since he was a relative. She told them they should do what they could to escape as the Crows were going to kill all of them, if not that day then the next. The fighting stopped for a while. But that night several fires were built to keep the Ah’ani’nin from escaping. In the meantime while the Crows were being distracted, Sitting Woman, who had followed Sun White Cow, slipped into the Crow camp and stole all their horses. Remember, Sun White Cow had wanted to beat Sitting Woman to the Crows. Sitting Woman was very cautious. A Gros Ventre, Black Raven, in Sitting Woman’s party wanted to help Sun White Cow, but Sitting Woman decided to leave Sun White Cow at the mercy of the Crows. In the middle of the night, Sun White Cow sent the only Ah’ani’nin not wounded to scout for an escape route. He didn’t return immediately but since there was no indication that he had been caught; it was believed that he had found an opening. Sun White Cow sent Running Bear to check for an opening. Running Bear followed the directions of Sun White Cow. He tried the creek first but there were two camp fires there, so he went in the other direction of the stream and found it was not as closely guarded. He half crawled and floated down the stream. He made it without being seen, so we went back and informed the rest of the Ah’ani’nin, who were anxiously waiting. They knew instantly their chances were slim, but they were ready. As fast as they could, they proceeded with Burnt Off lagging in the rear due to his leg injury. Running Bear stayed in the back, not wanting to leave his childhood friend. As they were all escaping, Running Bear and Burnt Off found a robe they decided to keep with them. 68 These two moved in a westerly direction towards the Big Sheep River (Big Horn). They were moving fast despite their wounds. Sun White Cow wanted to be rid of the two most injured men since they would slow their escape. Sun White Cow wanted to put as much distance between the Crow their group. Running Bear showed the robe to Sun White Cow, who took it away from them. The two young men, Running Bear and Burnt Off, were left alone. At this time of the year Big Sheep River was shallow and their crossing was not that difficult. When daylight came they were on the west side of the Big Sheep River and were looking for a place to hole up for the day. They spotted a valley where they could go. To their surprise, they caught up with Sun White Cow. Sun White Cow was adamant about getting as far away from the Crows as possible. They made crutches for Burnt Off, using the robe to make the crutches easier to handle. The remainder was used for bandages for his injuries. Once they were on their way, it was difficult for the two friends as they had to stop often for Burnt Off. Falling behind, they continued to follow the direction of Sun White Cow’s group. They could see them far off killing buffalo. This would have been in the area where Pryor, Montana now stands. Catching up with the group, Running Bear could see where they had already eaten and were resting. Sun White Cow felt pity for them and gave them the leftovers. It was at this point that they separated from the group. Sun White Cow wanted to leave them but after some thought felt that he would have to deal with Running Bear’s family if he left him. He went back and told Running Bear to leave his friend. Running Bear did not want to leave his childhood friend and told Sun White Cow to leave them. Sun White Cow and the 69 warriors started on their way. But Sun White Cow knew that it was not good leaving Running Bear so he went back and pleaded with Running Bear, telling him that his family needed him. Running Bear could not be persuaded to leave his friend. So Sun White Cow ordered his warriors to take him by force. He was able to get away and went back to his friend Burnt Off and told him that is was not his wish to leave him. Burnt Off told him to "leave me and spare yourself.” Both cried and with tears streaming down his face, Running Bear went with Sun White Cow. It was a sad thing to witness as both were hardened warriors and used to the hardships of life. The other warriors looked on solemnly not saying a word. Burnt Off, left to his own wits to survive, prepared himself for what lay ahead. He started on in the direction they had gone. Late in the day it was warm and climbing a slope was difficult for him. Discouraged and desperate, he stopped and lay face down in some tall grass and just thought about his life. He wasn’t down long, before he began to hear small bells ringing, as if worn by someone. Thinking this was the enemy, he prepared to die. Silently, he sang his brave heart song. The noise stopped at his feet, but he did not look up and the noise circled his body. Still he did not look up. Finally a voice in his own language told him that he pitied Burnt Off. He told him to sit up and he did. And there was a coyote, who told him, “Come on, soon they will find you.” He told the coyote, “My foot is injured and I can hardly move.” He told him to take the crude bandage off and the coyote began to lick his wound. He said there was something in his foot and he used his claws to get out a large sliver. Pus and blood came out of the wound 70 and immediately Burnt Off felt relief. The coyote told him, “I have a cave nearby and I will take you there.” So with the help of the coyote, they traveled to the cave. Burnt Off was really sick and may have been getting gangrene. The coyote nursed him back to health and Burnt Off spent the rest of the summer season with the coyote. It was said the coyote would find food, regurgitate it so the Burnt Off would have something to eat. When it was time for him to go, the coyote told him not to be afraid, that his foot was healed and he could walk on it. The coyote told Burnt Off he would travel with him and help him along the way. They set out on their journey and by evening they had reached Arrow Creek which flowed into the Elk River (Yellowstone). They rested for a while and then went on. At dark they made it to the Elk River, where Billings, Montana now stands. They continued to travel until dawn, at which time they found a place to rest in thick brush. For several weeks they traveled, resting during the day to avoid any enemies. By now the Ah’ani’nin had moved camp from the White River (Judith Gap) to Many Houses (Fort Benton). Fall was in full season with the nights almost as long as the days. Burnt Off never questioned the wisdom of the coyote and followed his directions. When they crossed the Missouri River, they were in Ah’ani’nin country. When they reached the Bear River (Marias) they were within a few miles of the Ah’ani’nin encampment. Burnt Off was elated to be so close to home and when they topped the hill he could see the tipis. The coyote told Burnt Off, “You can go home now.” He left the coyote at the top and traveled down occasionally stopping to see if the coyote was still there. As he got to the bottom, he turned to look and the coyote was gone. He felt a 71 touch of sadness; both at leaving the coyote, who saved his life and wondering if his friend, Running Bear made it home. Unknown to Burnt Off, Sun White Cow and his warriors had troubles of their own. Because of their wounds, Sun White Cow and his travelers could not move as fast as they wanted. At Elk River they killed a buffalo and took what they could carry. Soon they reached Shell River and camped there for several days. While they were there, two Blood Indians and one Piegan approached their camp. These two tribes had lived with the Ah’ani’nin at one time, so they traveled with them. The Bloods, seeing how injured the Ah’ani’nin were, wanted to do them in. But the Piegan man said no and warned them that if they continued with their plot he would let the Ah’ani’nin know. Some of the Ah’ani’nin understood Blackfeet and were able to interpret what they said. Therefore the Ah’ani’nin were on alert when around the Bloods. By the time they reached the No Summer Mountains (Snowy Mountains) they met a party of Piegan, led by Running Rabbit. When Running Rabbit saw the condition of the Ah’ani’nin, he was moved to pity and gave them clothing and meat. The Piegan that was traveling with the Bloods told Running Rabbit how the Bloods wanted to kill the Ah’ani’nin. Running Rabbit was livid and told the Bloods to leave, adding if they tried to return he would kill them. They stayed with the Piegan until they were well enough to go home. When they left, the Piegan supplied them with moccasins and dried meat to help them on their way. Unfortunately, they could not bring Running Bear as his injuries were too severe. After a couple of weeks, Running Bear’s family came for him. Somehow he had survived. His 72 mother and father and brother brought him home by travois. Running Bear was glad to be home but he felt sorrow over his friend Burnt Off. He thought by now he is probably dead. When they arrived home, to Running Bears surprise not only was Burnt Off alive, but he had arrived before any of them. Both were happy and grateful to see one another. They also remembered how they failed to listen to the message in the dream. This is what they sought by fasting, but they did not obey the instructions of the spiritual vision. The story of Running Bear has two versions. Some Elders, in the version, insist it was Running Bear who was left. 2. STORIES OF THE TRICKSTER Trickster/Nee Ott seems to have started out as a very holy person often referred to as Earthmaker among the Ah’ani’nin. He is a great spirit who became more established with the Ah’ani’nin and as this happened he seemed to take on a more human form. In old times he lived among the people and had a wife and family. He was always having adventures, getting into trouble, and causing life to change; sometimes he was considered a blundering fool. He can shift shapes at will and fool many unsuspecting people; hence the name ‘trickster.” The Ah’ani’nin say that their trickster is also a cultural hero who was with them from the beginning of time. Nee Ott gave them the Flat Pipe and with it the instructions on how to live their lives, the ability to survive, knowledge of how to purify, pray, and perform sacred ceremonies. Nee Ott’s name also means “spider.” According to the 73 Ah’ani’nin the spider despite its small size can do many wonderful things with its web. It can go up or down and generally is in control of the most difficult situation. As a sacred being, if a spider is killed it is said that rain will come. Despite the crazy stories of Nee Ott, he is in command of all situations. The Ah’ani’nin believe these trickster stories tell of how they as a distinct people came to be and that Nee Ott was a great spirit to whom the Ah’ani’nin could pray and ask for help. Nee Ott is especially important because he told our people how to pray to the Supreme Being. There is a story of how Nee Ott, as the original keeper of the Ah’ani’nin medicine bundle, the Flat Pipe, recreated the world after a devastating flood. He taught the Ah’ani’nin the Flat Pipe rituals, and how to sing (the song was Earthmaker’s first utterance when alone on the water). In one of the Nee Otts stories Nee Ott is said to cut off his hair, so that when the Ah’ani’nin first saw a White man, they thought he was Nee Ott. The numerous Ah’ani’nin stories of Nee Ott have been told orally for centuries. In each story, there is a lesson to be learned about honesty, humility, trust, guidance, generosity, bravery, humor, and kindness. The stories also make clear that it is important to listen to what a wise person is trying to tell you. Nee Ott is said to have a strange sense of humor. The following stories are told within the author’s family and with extended family relatives. 74 D. Nee Ott ’s infidelity Nee Ott liked to look at women and sometimes he got into trouble as he took his to another level. Nee Ott must have had many wives as time when on. But in this case, he was young and had only one wife. His wife was not at home, but had gone to looking for roots and berries. While his wife was gone, Nee Ott noticed a beautiful young maiden and knew that he had to have her. So he pretended to be single. He spent several days romancing the young maiden, until finally she gave in to his advances. The young maiden was really taken with Nee Ott and believed his words of love to her. They met daily down by the water. This went on for some time and the young maiden was very impressed with him. Before long news in camp arrived that the women who were out getting roots and berries were on their way home with their scouts and protectors. When Nee Ott heard this he knew he didn’t want to get into trouble, but he wanted to see the maiden one more time. Everyone was talking of the women root gatherers’ return and who were coming back; somehow the young maiden found out that Nee Ott had a wife. She was just devastated and felt really bad. But later she became so angry that she planned her revenge. She thought of Nee Ott’s beautiful hair and how the Ah’ani’ men valued their hair. She enticed Nee Ott to spend one more night with her. Nee Ott thought,“Well, one more night won’t hurt.” So they made a plan to meet. After their lovemaking, Nee Ott fell asleep. While he was asleep, the young maiden put caca burrs into his hair, as many as she could. These are sticky burrs, with lots of needles on them. When Nee Ott 75 awoke his head felt light. He had beautiful long hair. His touched his head and felt that his hair was all over and all tangled with caca burrs. When he would spin his head, his hair would go all over. He tried and tried but couldn’t get the burrs out. He knew he had to do something, so he cut his beautiful hair off. His hair was now all short and sticking up all over. When his wife saw him, she was very shocked and asked, “What happened to your beautiful hair.” He told her that “When you didn’t return, I thought you had died, so I cut my hair in mourning for you.” (which was their custom) Thinking he had gotten off, they went to their home, but she eventually found out and he sure took a licking from her. Of course him being the trickster, she eventually forgave him. E .Nih ’atah loses his eyes: Eyes go up into the Tree: Nih’atah was walking along trail. It seems that he was always traveling on some adventure. He came upon a man doing tricks with his eyes. They say this man was another trickster. He would make his eyes leave their sockets and return. He was just impressed. He asked the man, “Give me that trick.” “No, No” said the man, “It is too dangerous.” But Nee Ott was persistent. Finally the man said, “Okay, I will give you the power, but you must listen to my instructions and do exactly what I tell you.” The man told Nee Ott that he could only have his eyes leave him four times. Nee Ott said, “Yeah, yeah, I will do what you tell me.” So the man went on his way. Nee Ottc ould hardly wait to try his new tricks. He said Da Da Ga Day(which meant I am thinking about shooting it)“Eyes go up into the tree,” so there went his eyes into the trees. Nee Ott was amazed as he could see all over. He went on and continued to have his eyes go here and 76 there. Finally he got to the last time, the fourth time. He told himself that the first one was just a practice. So again he said, “Eyes go up into the tree,” and there went his eyes. He said, “Eyes come back,” and they wouldn’t come back. He said it again, “Eyes come back.” Again nothing happened. After several more tries he realized that he was not going to get his eyes back. He fumbled about, banging into things. He was crawling along, feeling his way, when he came upon a mouse. He was quick to grab the mouse. He told that mouse he wanted one of his eyes. The mouse refused, but Nee Ott told the mouse, “I will squeeze you and squeeze until you give me an eye.” So the mouse relented and gave him an eye. The eye was so tiny he could hardly see. He was bumping into things. Finally he ran into a young buffalo calf that pitied him and gave him an eye. So there is Nee Ott, with a small mouse eye and a huge buffalo calf eye. Nee Ott was glad he could now see. After some time he did get his eyes back, supposedly after he learned his lesson. He said to himself, “Next time I will pay better attention.” F. Nee Ott and the Buffalo Skull After several days the Creator must have pitied Nee Ott because he got his eyes back. He said to himself, how wonderful it is to be able to have his senses, to hear and to see. As he was walking along he could hear noises. Thinking maybe he was hearing things, he stopped. He heard just a faint sound but when he bent, he heard it more clearly. His eyes spotted a buffalo skull where the noise was coming from. He peered into the buffalo skull and saw that the mice are having a pow wow. Dancing was going on. The mice were in their full regalia, and they were in competitions. Nee Ott said to 77 himself, “What beautiful dance outfits, and how well they dance! This is a good pow wow and I want to get a closer look.” So he pushed his head in further. He was really enjoying himself. When the pow wow was over, the mice left. Nee Ott tried to remove himself, but realized that his head was stuck. He could not get the buffalo skull off his head. The skull was heavy and he must have looked a sight. He tried banging his head into a tree but all he got was a headache. The buffalo skull would go from side to side, throwing him off balance. Walking along he came upon an old grandmother, who was caring for her beautiful granddaughter. Nee Ott said to his self, “I know how I can get this skull off.” So he went to the young maiden. He put his hands on her body but she resisted and called for her grandmother. The grandmother came with an ax and hit Nee Ott with full force on his head. The buffalo skull broke and Nee Ott made a speedy escape. He knew if he stuck around the grandmother would give him a severe beating. He smiled to himself that again, trickster was able to come out okay. G. Nee OttObtains the Buffalo Long ago the buffalo were owned by one man. Nee Ott was again traveling along when he came upon a camp with several tipis. The people were very hungry for they had no meat. The buffalo were being kept in a cave with a long tunnel by a man who did not want to share. Nee Ott felt that this was a shame and set forth with a plan for how he would get the buffalo from the man. Nee Ott was a trickster so if he had a plan, he was keeping it to 78 himself. He told the people to leave this area since they had no food and needed to go where there was food. When the people left, Nee Ott turned himself into a mangy pup. Before long, a small child, the daughter of the man who had the buffalo wandered into the deserted camp. She spotted a little puppy. Just as how all children love little puppies, she too fell in love with the pup. She took him home to her folks but they immediately felt it was the trickster. The wanted her to get rid of him, and leave him to die. But she was persistent, and she wanted to keep him. Finally they could not say no to their child. So the puppy was kept in the lodge with the family and fed very well. He had lots of buffalo meat. Their lodge was directly outside the cave where the buffalo were kept. The man did occasionally give the Ah’ani’nin a buffalo or two. Once a day the man would let the buffalo wander out for water and grazing and in the evening he would bring them in. Nee Ott in his disguise watched the situation. In front of the man he did his best to appear as a real dog, scratching, stretching and barking. The man would tell Nee Ott, “I know you are not a real dog; you are the trickster.” So the puppy would play with the little girl, gaining her trust and affections. Everyday Nee Ott watched the movements of the man, especially when he took the buffalo out and when he brought them back. He watched to see if there was any time the man let his guard down. One evening the pup decided that he would hide in the scrotum of one buffalo. He successfully achieved his first small goal and was able to stay hidden while the buffalo passed by the man. He was now inside a cave. Once inside, he turned himself into a huge ferocious dog and started barking at the buffalo. The dog was 79 strange to the buffalo and they were suddenly afraid; they started to mill about and finally they stamped. They ran toward the opening of the cave. The man heard the buffalo and suspected that Nee Ott had caused the problem. The man tried to keep the buffalo from running outside, but the buffalo had fear in their eyes; with their nostrils snorting and blowing air, they were not going to be stopped! The man should have gotten out of the way, but his greed and selfishness got the best of him and he was trampled to death. Nee Ott wanted to make sure the buffalo did not come back to the cave, so he chased and barked at them till they were running in all directions. Nee Ott turned himself back into his old self. He went to the man’s lodge and had sex with his wife. He then left and went back to the Ah’ani’nin main camp. Upon arriving he told the people what he had done and that the keeper of the buffalo was now dead. They could now hunt as much buffalo as they needed. Since that time the buffalo have lived upon the ground and the Ah’ani’nin have had plenty of meat and not been hungry. H. Nee Ott, The Island and the Ducks In one of his many travels Nee Ott ended up on an island. How he got there was anyone’s guess. It was cool and in the fall. He wandered about looking for something to eat. The island was really beautiful, but did not seem to have any food, at least not the kind he liked. After some time he was getting really hungry. Finally looking over a hill, he spotted some ducks. They were very fat and were playing by the water. Nee Ott wanted them for supper. He thought to himself, what can I do to get their attention and also make them trust me? 80 He approached the ducks and told them how beautiful they were. He said, “We are going to have a beauty contest, but there is one rule. You must close your eyes.” As they were standing in line with their eyes closed, he twisted their necks, until one opened her eyes and saw what he was doing. “Save yourselves,” she yelled, “He is the trickster.” There is a certain kind of duck today that never closes its eyes. They can thank Nee Ott for that. Pleased with himself that he now had something to eat, Nee Ott set about making a fire with a spit to roast his ducks. The fire was just right, so he set about putting two ducks over the fire. Soon the smell of the ducks could be detected miles away. The juicy ducks were just about right for eating. In the meantime, a hungry coyote, (another trickster) following his nose came upon the scene. He was starved. He too had been abandoned at the island. He watched Nee Ott and knew the trickster would be hard to fool. So he too set out a plan for how he could trick the trickster. He said to his self, “I know what I will do!” The coyote found some alkali to roll in, and soon he was covered with gray and white looking hairs. The coyote started to drag one leg and approached Nee Ott. He asked Nee Ott to share some of his good fortune. Nee Ott was eating by now and had put two more ducks on the spit. He told the coyote to “Go away, I got this meal myself. You can do that too.” The coyote insisted again and kept bothering him, telling him how At Tabeno (pitiful) he was. So finally Nee Ott was forced to pay attention to him. He told the coyote, “I’ll tell you what. If you can beat me at the race, you can have one of these ducks. In fact I will give you half of them.” Nee Ott was confident and thought, “I will 81 win hands down. This old crippled coyote will never beat me.” So they agreed they would run around the island and the first one back would be the winner. Once they started out, Nee Ott could see that the coyote was having a hard time. The coyote had rigged up a stick as a cane to help him along. Soon Nee Ott was showing off, running backwards, and running circles around the coyote. After a while he got tired, “Heck, I am going to show this ‘slow as turtle coyote’ how fast I really am!” Without a look back he took off; he wanted to hurry back to his ducks anyway. As soon as he got out of sight, the coyote raced back and had himself a wonderful feast. Nee Ott came flying into his camp. It had not taken him long to get back but he was all out of breath. Showing off had exhausted him and he wanted to replenish himself with his ducks. He walked back to his fire and to his amazement; all that was left was bones. The coyote had tricked the trickster! All Nee Ott could say to himself was, “I have to make a plan to get off this island.” Another version of this story was how, Nee Ott had taken a rest while his ducks were cooking. He told his butt, “Now keep an eye on these ducks.” Then he fell asleep and so did his butt. Soon other animals were all around the roasting ducks and ate them up. Nee Ott was so mad at his butt that he took a burning stick and was burning his butt. His butt would say, “Ouch, Ouch, letting out large farts.” He said he would teach his butt a lesson, all the while burning himself: sort of like cutting off your nose to despite your face. 82 I. Nee Ott and the Basket of Cherries One day Nee Ott was walking when he noticed a Basket of Cherries floating along a river. It was filled with ground cherries made with grease, called “berry grease.” This was a delicacy to the Ah’ani’nin. It was very rich and tasty, but it had side effects; one could not eat too much or one would get ill. Seeing the basket get closer Nee Ott called out, “Come closer, I want to eat you.” The Basket of Cherries told Nee Ott, “No, you have no self-control and you will get sick.” Not to be deterred, Nee Ott ran along the river and told the Basket of Cherries, “Come near, I won’t eat that much.” The Basket of Cherries told him, “I don’t believe you. You are the Trickster. You will eat me all up.” Nee Ott was after all the Trickster and said, “I am starving and need you. I promise, I won’t eat that much.” So the Basket of Cherries relented. Nee Ott was wise, but sometimes he didn’t want to listen to anyone else’s wisdom. He ate all the “berry grease” and finished off the basket. Pleased with himself, he started home. Soon he was releasing gas, first in small amounts, but after a while he couldn’t contain himself. Each time he farted, his whole body shook, and rose. After a while he was having a hard time keeping on the ground. As he walked and farted, he grabbed a hold of brush to hold himself down. Soon he was going up and down all the way home. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to return once he was in “the air.” By the time he arrived home he was barely staying on ground. He got into his tipi and told his wife what he had done. He told her to “pile everything on me so I will stay down.” Soon she had all their belongings piled as high as she could put them. He told her “Now get on my back.” He tried to hold himself in from farting, but by doing that 83 he only built lots of gas. Finally there was just one big boom. Everything they owned was blown to smithereens, including his wife. Nee Ott f in d s “d ry mea t J. After so many traumas Nee Ott decided he would just take it easy. It was a beautiful day as he walked along the river; he could see birds and other animals. He thought that life was good. By afternoon, he decided to take a rest. He found some flat rocks along the river, and seeing how comfortable they were, he decided to rest there. It was starting to get really warm. He fell asleep on the rocks and while he was sleeping the weather turned very warm. He awoke to find that he had burnt himself in the sun. Since he only had a breech cloth on, the part of his buttocks that was exposed was extremely burnt. He said, “I will find a cool place to walk, away from the river.” As he was walking along, he noticed that he could see something brown in small pieces. He looked closer and found that they were dried meat. He was elated. Another delicacy of the Ah’ani’nin was dried meat. The more he walked the more pieces he found. When he quit paying attention to the trail of dry meat, he looked about him and thought the place looks familiar; and then he realized he had been walking circles and the dried meat he was eating was his own dried flesh! K. Nee Ott Liberates The Bladder People Nee Ott was out wandering around. He has been traveling for some days without seeing anyone. One morning he spotted a lodge and went over to see if he could get a bite of food from the people. A man and woman were there and they invited him in. They told him that he could rest there, but they had no food. The man turned to his wife 84 and said, “I can see that he is tired and hungry but we have no food to give him. Let our children go on a hunt and so we will have something to feed him.” Nee Ott was very happy that they would go through all this trouble to get him food. Nee Ott waited, but no food appeared. During the night he woke up to hear sounds near the lodge. Someone dragged something along and left it by the lodge. Nee Ott thought this was an odd way to be bringing something in the night, but he just waited. After a while he could hear no movement. Finally the man told his companion to bring in the food so they could eat and also feed their guest. When the companion came in, she had all sorts of meat: kidneys, liver, and delicacies from insides of a buffalo, i.e. many folds, tripe. They ate the meat raw until they were full. Nee Ott thought that this was a strange custom, to bring meat at night. He wondered how this happened. He wanted to ask, but knew this was not an accepted practice to ask about one’s meal. He was so full, he happily fell asleep. The next day Nee Ott spent the whole day with the couple. Again when night fell, the man said in a loud voice, “My children go hunt for meat that we may feed our guest.” Even though the man called to his children, Nee Ott could not see them. The same thing happened as it had the previous night. Nee Ott thought impolite or not, I am going to ask the man how he does this. “How is it that this food is so good and who are your children?” he asked him. The man responded, “Do you really want to know?” Nee Ott, being a curious man said of course he wanted to know. “All right” the man said, “come to this rising ground here and I will show you.” When they left the lodge the man told him, “look up and you will see the 85 thing I use.” Nee Ott looked up and saw a bladder above the door. The man said, “This is what I use.” The man took the bag and told Nee Ott “I use this bag to get whatever I need; I use it to make a living, to hunt and get all my needs met. You will see. Make your heart strong.” The man untied the bag, and soon adults began to come out of the bag. The crowd got bigger and bigger. When he had enough people, he closed the bag and tied it up again. These people were at the mercy of the man. He told them to hunt and get the choicest pieces of meat for him and his guest. Nee Ott stayed for a while and each day the same thing happened. They ate until they were full. Then Nee Ott decided to move on. While away he began to think how he could make this type of hunting happen for himself. He wanted to have this bladder. He made a plan. He began to cut himself and began crying as he moved back towards the man’s camp. The man and his wife heard Nee Ott crying, but they also knew he was tricky and decided not to notice him. Nee Ott kept crying and cried into the night as they slept. The next day Nee Ott was gone. They went and looked for him but could not find him. Finally the woman found him not far from their lodge, sleeping. The man approached Nee Ott and told him “Come into my lodge.” Nee Ott came in and sat down, but didn’t say anything for a while. Finally the man said, “Why did you cut yourself and why do you make yourself suffer so?” Nee Ott said, “I have a good reason. I am alone, all my family, my wife, my children have been killed by my enemies. Everything I own is destroyed and gone. I have nothing and I don’t know how I am going to survive. You 86 have been kind to me inviting me into your home. I wanted to use your bladder to seek revenge on my enemies who destroyed me.” The man immediately said no because he knew that the trickster was sly. He told Nee Ott that he would abuse the power and not have a care for how he used the bladder. Nee Ott begged all the more. The man and woman refused to answer and were silent on the matter. Nee Ott never gave up; he continued to cry and moan over his family, begging for help. He was so pitiful that the man and woman finally relented. The woman told the man, “By the pitiful behavior, he has displayed, I think he has given up his tricky ways. Have pity on him, for he has suffered a lot.” The man agreed. The man began immediately to give the trickster instructions on the bladder’s use. He told him not to use the bladder except on rare occasions when he felt the need to revenge an enemy or needed food. Nee Ott promised, “Yes, yes, I will do what you ask.” The man told him further that there was another rule, the most important rule, one that must be obeyed. “You have to sleep with your head facing the direction you are going to travel.” This must be strictly followed. Nee Ott anxious to get started quickly agreed. The last words the man told Nee Ott were, “Now remember use the bladder only when you really need it.” Nee Ott set off on his journey and as evening came he got ready to camp. He kept wondering if the bladder would work for him. No longer able to contain himself, he said to the bladder, “My children, I am hungry and need something to eat, go find me some food.” Soon he had all the meat he could eat. He ate to his heart’s content and finally fell asleep. In the morning, he awoke to find only the bladder, there were no leftovers or 87 any sign that there had ever been any meat. Again he started on his journey, taking the bladder with him. He repeated this same scenario for several nights and each morning it was the same. Nee Ott got to thinking, “What if something happens to me, what they will do?” So he told the Bladder people from his camp, “If something should happen to me where I am killed I give you the following directions, “Make a sweat house with a mound of earth in front of it. Someone should have a filled pipe and should stand at the mound of earth and invite the Creator four separate times with a stop after each invitation. Then give a second invitation, this time to ‘You that Follow One Another’ (sun and moon). This invitation should be given four different times. Then you should likewise give an invitation four separate times to the ‘Four Holy Old Men.’ Next you should give the invitation four separate times to ‘You-that-Starved –To- Death.’ Then you should give one invitation only to all those who are to take part in the sweat, naming each one and saying: ‘Come and join the sweat.” Nee Ott told them all these things in the event of his untimely death. He told them to “Do this for four days and then wait. After some time, I will appear and I will join you.” Nee Ott traveled four days and four nights. He had slept four times after leaving the man’s lodge. On the morning of the fourth night, he could hear sounds of a camp. He had followers from his main camp with him and he said to them, “Stay here.” He crawled up a hill and looked over. As far as he could see, there were tipis, with smoke seeping out the tops. He was so fascinated that he did not notice some hunters of these people who had come between him and his people. 88 The hunters killed Nee Ott. They captured the bladder and brought it to their camp. They were curious as to what it was and why Nee Ott had carried it with him. As it was still tied up, they untied it. The people began to emerge out of the bladder, more and more came out. The hunters could not stop them. Soon they were outnumbered and all the hunters were killed and all the people at the camp were killed. The Bladder people were now without a leader, and they wondered “What should we do?” But they remembered what Nee Ott had told them to do if he were killed. They begin to build the sweat and added the mound in front. Soon all who were going to sweat were assembled there; one took the pipe, filled it, then stood on the mound and did exactly as Nee Ott had told them. In a loud voice he invited the Creator to come and sweat with them. After the fourth calling, someone appeared walking from the direction the caller was facing. Then the caller went on as Nee Ott had told them, inviting each one as directed. As all were being called, the person walking kept getting closer. When all of the invitation was done, the person arrived. It was Nee Ott and he said to them, “My children, I am back and I am going to sweat with you.” They all gathered into the sweat, except the man with the pipe who stood at the mound. Once they were seated inside, Nee Ott said to the man outside, “Come in, hand me the pipe.” He then told him to “Go get that dry buffalo chip out of the fire and bring it to me.” The man did so, putting it in front of Nee Ott. Rubbing peppermint between his fingers, he put it on the chip to make incense. He took the unlit pipe and passed it over the incense three times. 89 Nee Ott took hold of the pipe with his left hand, around the stem of the pipe, next to the bowl. He put his right hand around the pipe stem farther towards its mouth. He held the pipe up, level towards the smoke, and then he raised the stem end of the pipe upwards until the pipe was nearly vertical and held it towards the sun. Finally he reversed the stem towards his mouth. When he was done, Nee Ott turned to the Bladder People and told them, “Now you are free; you won’t have to go back into the bladder again.” Nee Ott prayed to the Creator, while still holding the pipe, and asked that he bless his decision to liberate the people. He asked that the people continue to do whatever he did while he was with them. They were told to stand at the mound and put a buffalo skull on the mound in such a way that the forehead would be level with the ground. He said the children needed to get an elder man to cut off a little piece of flesh from the children’s arms and to offer it to the Creator by putting it on the top of the buffalo skull. The older people needed to cut flesh in the shape of the moon off their own arms from between the shoulder and elbow, and from between the elbow and wrist, from off their thighs to the knee and from off their legs between the knee and the ankle and from off their chest. They should cut off as much as they could stand and not fail in doing so. The bits of flesh again would be placed on the top of the skull. Nee Ott instructed them also on how to make a sweat lodge, including constructing the mound, how to heat the rocks and how to place the pipe on the mound. Within the sweat lodge there was a resting place for Nee Ott just inside to the east entrance. Two people that assisted would remain outside. One was directed to take two 90 sticks tied together and place a live coal between them. Then Nee Ott lit the pipe with this coal. Everyone in the sweat lodge also smoked and when they were done, one of those assisting outside moved the pipe to the top of the mound. After this the two assistants closed the doors to the sweat, one faced east and another faced west. Once the doors were closed Nee Ott began to sing, it was the most beautiful song, and soon the other people in the sweat were singing with him. They continued to sing while Nee Ott began to pray, and some of the people prayed with him. Soon they heard a woman’s voice, a very beautiful voice singing the same song. Two of the songs had words that translated as follows. The first song started with, “My holiness have pity on me.” According to Ah’ani’nin belief Nee Ott was praying to himself, because he had the power to do many things. The second song was “Something long (string-rope) have pity on me.” (This may have been Last Child who was a water monster’s child and part of the story of He Who Starved to Death, others refer to the long string as maybe a spider string or that we as individuals need to stretch ourselves to assist others). When the songs were sung, the water was ready. All of these songs were sung three times. The third song was sung without words and the people imitated the songs of the “hell diver.” After the third song was sung, water was sprinkled on the rocks. Once they were finished, Nee Ott told them all about the pipe they were going to get and how to use it. Then suddenly the Flat Pipe appeared. This pipe is also known as Little Turtle and it is the same pipe the Ah’ani’nin have today. Ever since this time the Ah’ani’nin have done their sweat this way, as well as piercing. 91 Nee Ott also decided why there must be death. These stories are how the Earthmaker provides direction on life and death. L. Earthmaker and the Deluge The Flat Pipe in ancient times had a Keeper known as the Earthmaker. The Earthmaker knew all things and also knew that earth would soon be covered with water. He got ready to survive the flood. He appeared to be the only one who knew of the flood, because no one else was getting ready. He made himself a big raft of logs, got on it and he took the Flat Pipe with him. *** After some time all the earth was covered with the water. Earthmaker floated around on the raft for quite a while. As far as he could see, there was only water. He floated everywhere, just him, and the pipe on the raft. A period of time had passed when he saw the top of a mountain sticking out. He drifted over to the mountain and when he landed he could see there were many birds and some animals. Earthmaker was happy to see the birds and animals. He was tired of being by himself. He was aware that the beaver, the helldiver (mud hen), turtle and muskrat were all water beings. He asked each one to dive down to get some earth from the bottom of the water. Helldiver was the first to drown, as evidenced by his floating body. The Keeper took the mud from the folds of Helldiver’s feet and saved it. Next the Turtle made the same effort but he too floated to the surface drowned. Earthmaker saved the mud from the turtle’s neck. The Beaver then dove into the water, wanting to help, but drowned as well. He had no mud on his body, indicating he may not have made it to the bottom. The next water being was the Muskrat 92 and like the Beaver he also died and had no mud. The Earthmaker took the mud and set it out to dry in the sun. The Earthmaker took a pinch of the dirt and rolled it between his fingers. He faced east and held up the pinch of dry dust towards the east, then moved his finger back towards his shoulder and sang Nee Ott first song, “My holiness have pity on me.” He repeated the motion, praying and bringing the pinch of earth to his shoulder and singing the same song. He repeated this a third time and at the end of the song he let go of the dust between his thumb and index finger. He said, “Go as far as the eyes can reach” and immediately ground appeared above the water. He then took another pinch of dirt and faced the south and completed the whole procedure again. Then he turned to the east repeating these same motions, singing the same song. He repeated this in all directions and each time more ground appeared. When at last he was done, all the birds and animals gave their own songs rejoicing that now they had ground again. The Keeper with his pipe was now on dry earth and he began to travel by himself. He never went anywhere without his pipe. As he traveled he realized that he was the only human survivor of the flood. After some time, he began to get lonely. So he set out to make another man like himself. He took mud, shaped it into a human being, held it in his hand and blew on it three times. After the third breath, a man appeared. Now he had a male partner. Soon all three were traveling together, the Keeper, the Flat pipe and the man. They traveled all over. But the Keeper knew that for the people to multiply, they needed a woman. So while the man slept, he took the last lowest rib on the man’s left 93 side and blew on it three times. After the third breath, a woman appeared. He told them to be together and increase their mankind, The man and woman lived together and had many children. Earthmaker continued to live with them. The Keeper then decided to teach them about the Pipe, the Keeper’s Lodge and other important practices. He said, “Whenever the Pipe changes hands to another Keeper, all the societies in the tribes, age societies, soldiers, Stars, Grass Dancers, Crazy Dancers and so forth should be there and sing their songs, just like the birds and animals sang when I first made the land again. If they get mixed up, they must say, ‘We have lost track of our songs,’ and then stop singing. But they only do this after three mistakes before they quit singing for good.” The people continued to go and follow all the instructions of the Flat Pipe. M. Origins of Death When Earthmaker was done making man and woman and all earth, the man, woman and animals were sitting on the ground admiring all of their beautiful surroundings. Earthmaker decided to put them to a test, with him being the judge. He asked them, “How is it going to be as you are going to multiply? Once you die, shall you stay dead or shall you come back to life again?” The man took a buffalo chip and threw it into the water; the chip sank and soon floated back to the surface. The man said, “This is how I can cause it to be; we come back to life again.” The Bear then interjected, “No. We cannot do that, since the Earth would not be able to hold all of the people. There will be not enough to eat or places to live.” Bear 94 took a rock and threw it in the water saying, “Here is the way I want life to be.” The rock sang and remained down. Earthmaker, seeing the wisdom in his answer decided this is the way it shall be. N. Lost and Recovery of The Flat Pipe The following story is a significant story to the Ah’ani’nin as it is one that is never forgotten and retold many times. It tells of how the Assiniboine became friends with their old enemy, the Ah’ani’nin. This story is included in Flannery’s book and she gives credit to The Boy, a Gros Ventre elder for this story. However following story is not verbatim of her story. Today the Ah’ani’nin remember it well. *** The Ah’ani'nin went about with their lives. Soon there were other tribes in the area, some friendly tribes and others not so friendly. The Ah'ani’nin had enemies but none more so with the Sioux and Assiniboine. They went about fighting with their enemy. One time the Ah’ani’nin were camped along the White River, which empties into the Missouri River. This particular spot was just south of the Bear’s Paws Mountains. Suddenly they were attacked from all sides by the Assiniboine and Sioux and their allies the Cree. These tribes were determined to wipe out the Ah’ani’nin. Knowing they were outnumbered, the people nevertheless continued to fight for their lives. The Ah’ani’nin lost the battle and in the turmoil the Flat Pipe was stolen by the Assiniboine. The man who took the pipe was older and very respected within his tribe. He took the pipe and assured himself that he would look after it. The pipe was put in a place of honor within his lodge. When winter came as the first snow falls, the man had a 95 dream. In his dream, the Flat Pipe told him to “Take me home, I want to go back to my people.” The man never said anything about the dream to anybody. He thought it was just a dream. But after a while he had another dream. This time the Flat Pipe told him, “You must take me home to my father and mother. If you do not, something bad will happen to your tribe. You will go hungry, and suffer greatly.” Still the man told no one about his dream. In the middle of winter it started to snow; it snowed for days and never stopped. The snow was so deep no one could hunt or travel. The Assiniboine were hungry and suffering. Again the man had a dream. This time the Flat Pipe told him, “If you don’t bring me back, I will wipe all of you off the face of earth.” Now the Assiniboine man was alarmed and worried. The next day he invited all the prominent men into his lodge. His wife fed them and after they had eaten and smoked, he told them about his dreams. They discussed this development among themselves and thought that the Flat Pipe and its power was the cause of their problems. Even though the Ah’ani’nin were their sworn enemy, they decided that the best decision was to return the pipe; they wanted no more hardship. So the man told the Flat Pipe, “I am going to return you to your family, as soon as the grass returns in the spring.” The following night the man dreamt again about the pipe and the Flat Pipe told him to go up into the hills and there he would find four buffalo to feed his people. The Pipe also said “The snow will melt and you will be able to hunt again and your people won’t be so cold.” The next day the man told the people about the dream he had. He and Assiniboine hunters did as the Pipe had instructed. When they found the buffalo, the 96 snow was still high, but with their best hunters they were able to get the buffalo and feed their people. After three days the warm winds came and the snow melted, and soon there were more buffalo to feed their people. Before long the people were strong again. Spring came earlier than expected that year and with it came the new grass. The Assiniboine prepared themselves to return the Flat Pipe and the man who took it was in the lead with the Flat Pipe on his back, as they proceeded into Ah’ani'nin country. As soon as the Ah’ani’nin saw the Assiniboine coming towards them, they prepared for battle. But as the Assiniboine got close, they noticed the Flat Pipe on the man’s back. The Ah’ani’nin surrounded the Assiniboine but did not attack. They made peace on the spot and the peace was a lasting peace. From that day forward the Ah’ani'nin and Assiniboine have never fought again. At that time the Assiniboine lived east of the Ah’ani’nin and were not part of the present reservation. The Assiniboine has been affected by smallpox and had lost many of their people. They had also lost their horses and were destitute. The Ah’ani’nin were happy to have the Flat Pipe back and they pitied the Assiniboine, so they invited them to stay. And they have. 3.FAMILY STORIES Every family has its history. These stories can be about anything. Some family stories are sad, moving or comical. The storytellers conceptualize and construct the story. The following stories are from the family of the researcher. In the spring of each year and usually during the changing of the seasons, the Ah’ani’nin men leave their homes and fast. These fasts were for spiritual cleansings as well as for asking for certain 97 visions. In addition an Ah’ani’nin man could make a promise to fast if his wish were granted. These fasts could include both young men and old men. When a man fasts he will take only what is necessary with him: his pipe bag, tobacco, maybe a buffalo robe and possibly an eagle bone whistle. He will spend four days fasting and at the end of the fast will go home. Sometimes he goes there only for cleanings, asking the Supreme Being to bless him and his family with another year good year free from sickness and bad luck. At other times, a man may be seeking a vision or direction for his life, or fulfilling a promise to fast once a wish has been granted. In the old stories of the Ah’ani’nin, there is a man named Chief He Who Starved Himself to Death. In the Religious Life of The Ah’ani’nin, written by John Cooper (1957), it was said that He Who Starved Himself to Death was able to coax horses out from the water. McCann Butte is a land point located on the west side of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and was at one time part of the Ah’ani’nin tribal original land. It sits by itself on the north side of the Bears Paw Mountains. After the allotment act of 1887, many Indians were forced to move from the Bears Paw Mountains; some even left personal property when they left the Bears Paws. However, McCann Butte continued to be the Sacred Mountain for the Ah’ani’nin where they could fast and seek visions. The following story was told to me by my mother Ruby Brockie, who was told the story by the Brockie family. 98 O. Bear Nose This is the story of “Bear Nose” an Ah’ani’nin man who decided one spring that he would do his yearly spiritual and physical cleaning and fast on what is now known as “McCann Butte.” As the story it told, no one knows what Bear Nose may have seen during his fast or if he told anyone about his fast. But on the fourth day, he climbed down McCann Butte. It was a beautiful day and he was happy that he had completed his promise. On his way down, Bear Nose could see a man with a determined walk coming towards him. When the man got to Bear Nose, he told him he had something to show him. He told him to follow him. He proceeded to take Bear Nose to a lake and as they watched, horses started to emerge from the water: blacks, sorrels, spotted, appaloosas, chestnut browns, buckskins, palominos, and bays. They were all different sizes and shapes. The man told him, “These are yours,” and he helped him round them up and drive them to his home at Fort Belknap. This had to have taken place in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Bear Nose died in the 1930s. When he died, he was living with his relative, Clarence Brockie. Clarence made a small cabin for him to live in and he still had some of the off-spring of those horses left. Today McCann Butte is still a sacred place for Ah’ani’nin to fast. Ben Hofeldt a friend of the Fort Belknap people would let the people pass through his land for fasting. He died in the last few years and for a while after that, the Ah’ani’nin had difficulty 99 getting permission to pass over the land. However, this has been resolved, although some of the people from Fort Belknap don’t want to fast there as many rattle snakes live there. There are other places located in the Bears Paws where the Ah’ani’nin fast. These sacred sites include: Stands Tall (Baldy Butte), near the Rocky Boy Reservation; Running Crow, Eagle Child, both in the Fur Cap Mountains, (Little Rockies Mountains). Some people have gone as far as the Sweet Grass Hills near the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Chief Mountain, in the Glacier National Park regions. *** In May of each year the Ah’ani’nin decorate the graves by St. Paul’s Mission. It is located at the foothills of the Little Rockies Mountains, near the town of Hays. At one time the Mission served as the boarding school for many Ah’ani’nin children. They had their own garden, grew alfalfa and wheat, and raised chickens, pigs and cattle. Within the school property was a cemetery. My grandmother said that part of the alfalfa field that exists on this property today, covered the graves of Ah’ani’nin. Grandma Warrior, or Coming Daylight as she was also known would cry when she told how her relatives were buried there and at some point the school decided to plowed all these graves under. The new cemetery is now located west of the old grave site. So many of the graves cannot be identified anymore, but still people clean up the area out of respect. Some families left many years ago and only their family graves remain. Others still care for these left behind. Once while I was walking with my mother at the cemetery, I found the grave of Teresa Aurelia Brockie. I have a sister named Teresa Nellie Rose Brockie. She is named 100 after my father’s sister Theresa Nellie Brockie, who was named after Teresa Aurelia. This story was told to me by my mother Ruby Brockie. P. Teresa Aurelia Brockie It is said that Teresa Aurelia was the daughter of Victor Brockie, my grandfather Clarence’s brother. Both Victor and Clarence served as tribal councilmen. Victor Brockie served off and on from 1942 until 1959. Clarence was on the first tribal council and was the Tribal Chairman for about 15 years of that time. He died as the Chairman in 1949, serving on the council for 18 years, longer than any other councilman. His son Henry “Prince” Brockie served on the tribal council for 12 years, his granddaughter, and (the author) Clarena Brockie for four years. Today her son, Andrew was re-elected in 2011 for his third term. This is the story of Teresa Aurelia Brockie. The Brockies lived near Curly Head canyon on the north side of the Little Rockies Mountains at the southern end of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. When Teresa was a young girl she became very ill and the family did everything they could to help her. Then it became apparent that she was going to die. She must have known herself how things were going to be. Her family asked her what she wanted, she never asked for riches or for the sky. All she told them she wanted was, “Dy U Win” (chokecherries). The family asked an Ah’ani’nin medicine man if he would help. So he came to their house. They prepared a meal for him and talked for a while before he got started. He asked for a branch from the chokecherries bush. He took a small cloth, covered the cherry branch and started to pray. I guess the branch started to shake and when he lifted the cloth off, big, fresh choke 101 cherries were hanging in thick bunches from that branch. Teresa got her small wish before she died. My mother used to remember the name of the medicine man, but as she got older, she forgot. Q. B rad ley’s The following story was told to me by my mother Ruby Brockie. Another version of the story is also told by some members of the Bradley family and is listed within this story. The Ah’ani’nin were said to have roamed from the Missouri Breaks and up into Canada. Ah’ani’nin and the River Crows lived together in the 1860s, which may account for them practicing some of the same dances or having relatives within the Crow tribe. In the area of Fort Benton, Fort Browning (which no longer exists) and Fort Belknap, the following tribes lived: Blackfeet, consisting of three associated tribes, the Blackfoot, Blood and Piegan; the Ah’ani’nin; the Sarcee; the River Crow; Assiniboine; and, Cree. When first identified by European and American explorers in the 1600s, the Ah’ani’nin were living with the Blackfeet between the two branches of the Saskatchewan River. To the west of the Ah’ani’nin Territory was Fort Benton, Montana, (known as Many Houses) where many tribal members went to trade. Many of the traders and military men took up living with the Indian women from the area. Some of the now enrolled Ah’ani’nin have ancestors such as Colonel Healy and Colonel Bell. *** 102 This is the story of Bradley Richardson and his descendants. Bradley Richardson was a military soldier at Fort Benton. He was living with an Ah’ani’nin woman, although some say she was a Crow. She moved with Bradley to Fort Benton and took on the garb of the white settlers; they had two children. Bradley Richardson became a wealthy man and owned a lot of property near Fort Benton. The military would often escort stage coaches, especially if they carried valuables. On one such trip, the stage coach was traveling through the Missouri Breaks. The Missouri Breaks are just what the words say, breaks in the river where water moves quickly. The area may appear flat, but suddenly there are short arroyos in the landscape, that gradually gets bigger; like those near the Fred Robinson bridge and at the bottom near this big break is the Missouri River located 35 miles south of the Little Rockies Mountains. This is a haven for many wild animals, such as elk, deer, fox coyotes, and mountain lions. The area is covered with cotton wood trees, quaking aspen, wild sage and evergreens. It was also a good place for warriors to hide and many battles were fought there. At the bottom of the breaks is the Missouri River. Before the current bridge crossing was constructed, a ferry brought the people to the opposite side of the riverbank. Some would swim with the horses and cattle. Some of the tribal people tell stories of crossing by swimming. The river is dangerous with many strong currents. On this one occasion, Bradley Richardson was part of a military escort, traveling through the “breaks.” A stage coach was attacked by young Ah’ani’nin men, who stole its cache of gold. When news reached the Fort that the stage coach had been attacked and that one of those killed was Bradley Richardson, his wife knew that there would be 103 trouble. So she got her children ready, changed into her tribal clothing and rode horseback towards the Ah’ani’nin territory. She thought her children would be safe there. But one day the military showed up with the family of Bradley Richardson. They took the young girl, but couldn’t find the boy, so they gave up. His mother hid him in the lining of her tipi. He grew up to be a respected man within the Ah’ani’nin tribe and his name was Steve Bradley. He took his father’s name as his last name. Another version of this story was that the woman who was with Richardson was a Crow woman living with her husband at Many Houses (Fort Benton). When she left, she tried crossing the Missouri River horseback with her two children; the boy fell off and was swept down river. Thinking he died, she went on with her daughter. The boy was found shortly after near the Missouri River by a group of Ah’ani’nin hunters. He was taken to an Ah’ani’nin woman named Singing Pipe. It was she who raised Steve Bradley. They gave him his father’s first name. Richardson’s family says that Bradley did not die but survived the attack. He returned to the east and married again. Years later Steve’s granddaughter, Rita, tried contacting Bradley Richardson’s eastern descendants but his family said the story of Steve and his sister was not true. They did not want to be related to Indians and told Rita not to bother them anymore. The family wondered what happened to Steve’s sister. But one day they were approached by their Crow relatives, who said they were related by this Crow woman who had been with Bradley Richardson. 104 At one point the family did not talk very much about this story since Steve was enrolled as a full-blood Gros Ventre, by Singing Pipe. Today many Bradleys’ live on the Fort Belknap Indian reservation. His daughter-in-law, Mabel Bradley was the first woman to get elected to the tribal council. As far as the gold is concerned, it has never been found and the story is that it was buried in the Missouri Breaks. R. Dorrance Horseman Dorrance was a famous Ah’ani’nin story teller. Many people loved to hear him tell stories because he sometimes embellished them—producing what settlers called “tall tales.” He would tell his grandchildren of how his garden was so big he had to get a compass to get out of his garden when he was on horse-back. He said his potatoes were so large that only three could fit into a wheel barrel. Dorrance was married twice and after his second wife died he moved into a trailer and lived near “old Hays.” It was said that in the morning he would get up early and in typical Ah’ani’nin fashion holler in Ah’ani’nin “Nee nah stick in,” good morning, greet the sun and he would say, “Well, I’m still here!” *** One day sitting at home, he wished for trout. So he thought, I don’t have a fishing pole, but I can make one. So he took a pole, some twine and a small hook. On his merry way he headed for the creek. He took out his pole, set it and waited for the fish to bite. After some time, he had caught no fish, not even one bite. Well he thought, "I hear of people singing while they are fishing, so I'll try it." There’s the old man and the sea and I'll be Dorrance and the creek. So he started to sing a Gros Ventre song, “Hey hah, hey 105 hah, yut ott hey!” Suddenly one fish jumped out of the water. Soon a whole school of fish was jumping out of the water. At one point, one of the fish took her fin, covered her mouth and rattled her tongue, “Lou Lou Lou Lou.” (This was a practice of Ah’ani’nin women when they were happy, proud or want to honor someone.) Of course everyone had a good laugh, for up to that point they had believed him. Dorrance tells another story of how when they were children in the 1920s, his father, Ben Horseman was one of the organizers of the Hays Fair, held near the foot of the Little Rockies Mountains at the Hays Fair grounds. In the fall of each year the Ah’ani’nin hosted a fair. There would be teepees, a rodeo, many games and displays of garden items for competition, as well as canning by the local women. The events were attended by people from far away as well as local residents. At one of the stands, Dorrance saw a man eating oranges. Dorrance tells that before the oranges hit the ground, Dorrance and his sister Mabel, would grab them and eat the leftovers. One of the local ranchers, told their father Ben about his children and what they were doing. Ben and his wife Mamie were prominent people among the Ah’ani’nin, being ranchers and organizers of the fair. Their parents were really embarrassed. So when the kids got home, Dorrance said, “Papa had a bag of oranges for them and said since they liked oranges so much you can eat this bag of oranges, so he watched them while they ate it.” That was their punishment for begging. Dorrance later changed his last name to Blackwolf, who was his father’s father. Blackwolf is mentioned in Barry’s document and is noted as a historian and storyteller. Blackwolf recalls his war exploits. Ben Horseman was Dorrance’s father. 106 S. Stanley Rye and his Geese This story was told by Dorrance Horseman and was used in a high school speech debate and the young girl who recited it won the debate. My mother told me this story. *** It took a long time for the Ah’ani’nin to become adjusted to reservation life and living permanent in one place all year round since they were used to hunting and traveling. But by the early part of the 1900s, the Ah’ani’nin embraced a settled life of raising cattle and farming. Stanley Rye lived on the southern end of the Fort Belknap Indian reservation, near an area called Eagle Child and Running Crow. Mr. Rye had geese as well as chickens. It was a fine spring day when he noticed that five of his geese had disappeared. A local rancher lived near the southern end of reservation border, close to where Stanley Rye lived, and he also had geese. So Stanley set out to the ranchers place. Upon his arrival, the white man asked him, “Hello chief, can I help you?” (No matter a man’s position with the tribe, to a non-Indian, all Indians were called “chief.”) Stanley told him that some of his geese were missing. So Mr. Whiteman called his wife out and sure enough, they had five extra geese. The white man asked him, “How are we going to identify them?” Stanley said, “I’ll show you.” And Stanley started to sing Indian. He had no drum, but his voice carried and the geese were used to the singing, at least the ones that he owned did. Stanley worked himself into a nice rhythm. 107 Suddenly those that belonged to Stanley started to dance. Sure enough, they started to follow Stanley as he sang. Their feet were moving to the sound of his singing and all five followed him. I guess some of them were bobbing up and down. One even had a crooked neck and each time it moved, its crooked neck would move with her. T. Jake Running Crow The following story is told by the author. It demonstrates how some stories may get started and then spread. *** Near the southwest end of the Fort Belknap Indian reservation is a place called “Running Crow.” It’s a steep bend in the road and very dangerous. At least five people are known to have wrecked their cars on the road. It wasn’t until the last five years that I knew where the name came from. It honors a man named Jake Running Crow lived in this area. In the fall of 2006, I wanted to take some canned vegetables and fruit up to an older lady, “Sweetie” Bell, who lives on the top of Running Crow, among the pine trees. She has a lovely place, and from her home one can see Lake 17, located near the Three Buttes. My mother had told me that “spirits” were bothering Sweetie. Sweetie Bell had left the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation years ago. Her father’s name was Tom Bell and his parents were Takes the Prisoner I and Colonel Bell, a nonIndian military man who lived at Fort Belknap. Sweetie was married to a non-Indian whom she had divorced later in life. After that she moved home and has been at Fort 108 Belknap for the last 15 years or so. She traded for 80 acres of land near Running Crow and now lives up there by herself. While visiting her one day I asked her about her story I heard about her and she told me the following story: One evening Sweetie was sitting at home in her double wide trailer, just enjoying the evening. All of a sudden she felt as if someone was watching her. She turned and there looking in at her from her “bay” window was a man on horseback. Sweetie said he had a duster on, was dressed in black, with a cowboy hat. He was really nice looking, with small birdlike eyes, sitting tall on his “blooded horse.” She never got scared but said that they both looked at each other. She thought, “There is no way he could be up that high, even on a horse to see into her window.” The trailer was built up on one side. Suddenly he started to disappear, first the top part of him, then the horse. All of a sudden there was nothing but a bird’s wing left. Sweetie went outside to look but nothing was there. But since that time she has been poked in the ribs and has occasionally heard noises, but has not seen that man since. I found the story to be really fascinating and told my mother I wondered if it could be “Jake Running Crow.” At that time, my mom said it was thought that he was from Oklahoma. I had decided to start having story telling at my home and I invited one of my good friends, Preston Stiffarm, who worked on a tribal program on oral tradition. This was under the Fort Belknap Education Department where we both worked years ago. I invited him as well as his brother Gerald to my home. This was during the winter; it started to snow while he was there. I told him the story of Sweetie Bell and he said, 109 “It’s funny that you should mention that. I ran into Annie K. Mount recently.” She had been staying up near Running Crow at her dad’s small cabin. I guess she was fighting with her companion. She told him that at night a man rides up to their house, dressed in a duster with a black hat and black clothes. She had never seen him before and believes it to be a spirit. She said he races up to their cabin, walks around it and leaves. So she asked Preston (my friend) if he could come and “smug” their place.” I told him that I wondered if it was that Jake Running Crow. My mom had told me that her Aunt Mabel had a picture of Jake Running Crow and I wanted to look at it and show Sweetie to see if this was the same person that she had seen. When I had mentioned the name Jake Running Crow to Preston, he said, “I’m going to tell you a story that my father Tommy Stiffarm told me.” Tommy’s father was Stiffarm, a well-known medicine man of the Gros Ventre. It is said that he was a powerful medicine man. Preston said his dad told him that Jake Running Crow would help old man Stiffarm when he doctored. Once when he was doctoring, Jake Running Crow told old man Stiffarm to look at his back. Preston said, “Jake Running Crow bent his shoulder blades and when he did, there were ‘bird wings’ in place of his shoulder blades.” As I started asking about Running Crow I discovered that one of the staff members where I worked, Harlan Mount, had a pair of spurs that were given to his grandfather, Rocky Mountain by Jake Running Crow. Another staff member had a picture of him. 110 I kind of forgot about the story after that. In March 2007, the Hays/Lodgepole basketball team made it to the State competitions. My nephew was the coach and I had several family members playing; I decided to go and took my mother as well as my grandchildren with me. One morning we were eating breakfast in one of the local restaurants in Great Falls, Montana. Sitting next to us was a man I had not seen in many years. He is my age, married to a Crow woman, and has been living on her reservation for years. I told my mother who he was, so she told him hello. He turned and started visiting with us and said that he had brought his grandson with him. He said that this was his grandson, “Jake Running Crow.” Both my mother and I were kind of surprised. He proceeded to tell us that the Nez Perce family were related to Jake Running Crow, and that his grandmother Clementine Nez Perce was Jake Running Crow’s sister. This was a surprise. The Nez Perce family is Gros Ventre, but it is said that old man Nez Perce was really a Nez Perce, and they he stayed at Fort Belknap when Chief Joseph and his family were traveling through. I can only wonder who Jake Running Crow is and why this information came my way? Is this something I should pursue? U. Ee-sta-stoke The following story is told by my great grandfather, Ben Horseman. I was present when the story was told to my parents but I didn’t hear it until later. The story has been retold many times. In this version, it contains what Horseman said about his granddaughter, the author when she was but a young girl. 111 The author’s great grandfather, Ben Horseman was a great story teller and many family members inherited his ability to tell a story. His father was Blackwolf and his mother An Aye (long hair). His Indian name was Ee-sta-stoke. This was a story that was told about him. *** When Ee-sta-stoke was a young man he lived with his mother. His father had been gone for some time. His mother later married Rider and he had a sister Cora who married Al Chandler. One morning when he was young, the camp crier was running through the camp giving a warning. A bear was approaching their camp at a slow rambling pace. A creek ran on the east side of the camp where he was approaching. Immediately the warriors were preparing to protect their camp and to bring the bear down with arrow or bullets. The bear fell, face down. It was considered a coup to touch the enemy, including the bear, and whoever could touch the bear, could ask for the choicest pieces of meat. A young group of men with a company name, the Knifes, gathered about. It was Ee-sta-stoke, a member of the Knives, who wanted to be the first to touch the bear. Although he was a member of the Knives, he was younger than many of them. He and his mother lived a hard life, having no father and he wanted something for his mother. They were pitiful and they would have meat for a while. He also thought that it would be an honorable thing and he would be remembered for what he did. So he proceeded to cross the creek. Feeling extra brave as he thought the bear dead, he climbed on his back. As soon as he got on his back the bear sensed someone 112 there and stood up on his hind legs. He was a large bear and he moved forward with the small young boy, Ee-sta-stoke on his back. He barely made it across the creek and collapsed with the young boy still clinging to the bear. Because of his bravery, Ee-sta-stoke was given the first choice of meat that he wanted. He did not choose the choicest meat but nevertheless, he and his mother had meat to last them for some time. At some point in his life Ee-sta-stoke developed the ability to foresee things and at times could make predictions. One day he was watching his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He looked at them and he saw his great granddaughter move about playing. He said that of all my grandchildren, this one is going to make a difference. She will have many achievements in her life, she will excel at what she does. It was said she would be a fighter and have faith in what she believed. Because of his prediction, she was given another Indian name as she got older. She was given the name Watsi when she was born by her great -great Grandmother Warrior, who was also known as Coming Daylight. Her Grandmother Warrior died two months after she was born. Coming Daylight was attributed as much of the history recorded by anthropologist Regina Flannery. Watsi’s other new name is Ow-wah- zackeats, Brings Plenty, given to her by her brother George Weasel Horse. Her English name is Clarena Brockie and she currently serves as the Dean of Students at the Aaniiih Nakoda College. Ho! Ah ani nin, gah hates, Ow- wah-zack eats! 113 4. LEGENDS OF THE AH’ANI’NIN The following stories are very unique to the Ah’ani’nin. They are legends of the people and tell of survival and things that are important to the Ah’ani’nin. They are stories included in Flannery and Johnson’s books, as well as Kroeber’s. V. He-who-starved-to-death In the early times of the Ah’ani’nin people, they lived in a land of plenty game and their lives were good. Whatever their needs were they were able to meet them. There lived a man who was known as the Keeper of the Flat Pipe. As he was the keeper of the Flat Pipe, when he had his first son, the boy was declared to be the Pipe Son according to custom. The child was cherished as he was the first child and his parents showered all their affections on him. However a new child came along and when this happened, the attention switched to the second son. So they made him the Pipe child and he got all the attention and affection from his parents. The oldest son became very jealous of his little brother, prompted by all the favor showered on the young boy. Up to the coming of the second child, the family seemed to have the balance and harmony to maintain a good life. The distraught older son became unhappy and this caused dissention in the family. As they grew up the older son was an excellent hunter and warrior, he had earned the right to carry medicine on his person. While the older son was out hunting buffalo one day, the Ah’ani’nin camp came under attack from an enemy. By now the Pipe Child was also a young man and he wanted to show the people that he was capable of all their respect and praise. The younger brother wished to distinguish himself and so to prove 114 himself worthy of the esteem which his parents and other people had for him. He decided to fight. He knew that his brother had medicine and wanting to protect himself, he took his brother’s medicine. It was a very rare red otter skin and was his brother’s war medicine. The medicine was very powerful and when he wore it, he was rewarded in battle. In the middle of the battle, the older son returned home. Seeing that the Ah’ani’ nin were in the midst of a fight, he hurried to get his medicine. But the Red Otter skin was gone. Immediately he knew where it was, he demanded of his parents, “Where did my Red Otter skin go?” They told him that your brother took it into battle with him. The older brother was upset and he thought to himself when this battle if over I will show him what happens when you take something that doesn’t belong to you. Sure enough, he gave him such a verbal bawling out, that the younger son was ashamed to be seen in public. He told his younger brother, “If you want a Red Otter skin, you must earn it, you know where they come from.” It was an honor to steal from your enemy but from your own camp stealing was frowned upon. The older son could not see that the younger man looked up to him and wanted to also prove that he could be good in battle as well. The younger son felt so bad that he refused to go anywhere and when he did he went off by himself. He felt that he shamed his family. His parents also felt bad as this was their favorite child and he was grieving. He told them that he wanted to get a Red Otter of his own. The parents were very frightened for him as they knew the place where the Red Otter came from and it was a dangerous place. He was determined to go to his 115 place despite the warning of his family and friends. Soon he set out for his journey following the direction of the rising sun and the place where the red otter lived. He traveled many days and night and in evening by himself he would cry over his foolishness. Finally he came upon a large camp of lodges. He entered the camp unafraid, by now he was determined to get the Red Otter for himself even at the risk of his own life. These were other Ah’ani’nin from another clan and they were happy to see someone from another clan as they could ask them news of their relatives and friends. They asked “Why are you so far from home, what are you doing here?” Everyone knew he was a Pipe Child and that his father was a Keeper of the Pipe, an honored position among the Gros Ventre. He told them, “I am traveling to the place where the Red Otter live.” Since the Red Otter was rare, the older people all knew the stories of the place and they feared it. They told him, “You must return to your people, surely there were other ways of obtaining medicine. This is a dangerous place and no one has ever returned from there.” However the Pipe Child was not dissuaded, he was going to get his Red Otter. The next day he set out in the direction of the rising sun. For days he went along his path. Towards evening one day he came upon another large camp. He was recognized as the son of the Keeper of the Pipe, therefore the Pipe Child and awarded a big welcome from the Ah’ani’nin. When they became aware of where he was going, they told him, “You can turn back, no one will think any different, this is a dangerous place.” But he was a determined young man and he was going to take this risk. When he reached a third camp and once again given a warm welcome, he was glad to be with the people. He told them of his journey and where he was going. They 116 told him, “No one wants to go there, it is too dangerous.” He insisted on going and after they knew he could not be persuaded they told him, “We accept your determination, but now you must listen to our advice if you are going to continue on this journey.” We know that you have come a long way and you have you mind set on this otter. But listen carefully to what we have to tell you.” They told him, “Tomorrow as you start your journey just before the sun rises, go in that direction. After traveling for a few days you will come upon a lodge sitting by itself by a large lake. Before you get to this lodge, you are to start crying and as you cry, walk around the lodge. As night falls find your place to sleep at the foot of the first pole to the left of the lodge door. When night comes the next day, go the foot of the second pole and sleep there. Repeat this same process until you have slept at all the thirty poles. After you have done this, a man who sits in the lodge will ask you to come inside. He will ask you ‘Why are you torturing yourself like this?’ You will answer him by telling him your story and that you want the Red Otter. Your wish will be granted as you have earned this by your fasting and sleeping at each pole without any food or water. Whatever this man tells you to do, listen to him, follow every little detail he asks, as there is another dangerous obstacle for you to overcome. The man will give you the red otter but he will also offer you one of the many birds he has. Including a certain red bird that is very evil and tricky. If you pick this bird, he will bring you great danger. Once you touch the bird, he will take you to an island, where no one lives and no one survives. You will starve to death there or drown trying to escape.” The young man was quick to listen to this advice. He sat without interrupting and carefully took all this in. The next day, he started traveling in the direction of the rising 117 of the sun. He carried no food with him and he was always hungry and traveling was making him exhausted. Finally he came over a high hill and sure enough there was the lone lodge near the water as they told him. He felt relief and as he got closer he started to cry as told. He began walking around the lodge. At nightfall he slept at the bottom of the pole to the left of the lodge as told. After each day he found his spot near the foot of each pole and slept. And each day he walked around the lodge, crying. He repeated this for many days and after a while he was getting really weak. Before long he was half way through the thirty poles, but he could no longer stand up. By now he was at the pole straight back from the opening of the door. He had to crawl around the lodge as he cried and crawl to the next pole. Soon he could only roll himself over until he finally reached the last pole. He had no fluids in his body and his voice was hoarse and he could shed no tears only pitiful sounds. When he reached the last pole, he passed out. After some time he woke up and he could hear a man talking, he was telling his wife to bring my son inside. She went to get him and was astonished by his appearance. She told her husband, “He is dying and is nothing but bones.” The Pipe Child could not move, so she dragged him along. Finally he was laid gently on a soft bed of robes. The man said to his wife: “Give him a drink of water.” With that, she held a small shell filled with the water and gave it to the young man to drink. The Pipe Child thought, “This small shell of water will not quench my great thirst.” But the man spoke to him in a kind voice, “Go ahead and drink. You will get enough.” As long as he was thirsty, the shell stayed full of water. 118 Next he told his wife: “Give the young man food to eat.” So he she gave him four small pieces of meat on the shell. He said to himself, “I will not get full on these four small pieces of meat they will not satisfy my great hunger.” But the man told him: “Do not worry. Go ahead and eat the meat.” He began eating the meat, and as he ate, there was always four pieces after he took one piece. He stayed in the man’s lodge, sleeping four nights and at the end of this time he felt like he was fully recovered from all that has happened. The man then asked him, “What is it that you want and why have you tortured yourself so? The young man replied, “I was deeply hurt by the words of my older brother who was angry at me for taking his red otter skin. He was gone at the time and I used it in battle to protect our family from the enemy. And I wanted to show my family that I was capable of that. But my brother saw this as only me stealing it. I was so hurt that I could not stay in my home and I spent days alone. I finally said to myself that I would get my own red otter so I left home, traveling toward the rising of the sun to acquire a red otter skin. I was told this is the place to come.” The man said, “I will give you what you ask for, you have earned it. In addition, I also have many birds here long the shore and you can take one with you. When you have picked this bird, comeback and get your red otter skin and I will also give you instructions on the Red Otter’s use.” The young man went along the shore and after a while there was a big flock of the most beautiful birds in different colors and shapes. He was astonished by their beauty. He walked among them and they seemed tame and did not fear him. There were many and he could not decide which one he wanted. Finally he decided on one. But each time 119 he reached for this bird, a red bird got in his way. He ignored the red bird and continued to reach for the other bird. He remembered his warning about the evilness of the red bird. Again, each time he reached for the other bird, the red bird got in his way. So he stopped to look at the red bird, he thought the bird didn’t seem that harmful, he was not that big. He was also a very beautiful bird, being all pure red in color and with a bunch of red feathers forming a beautiful arch on his head. He made his mind up he would pick the red bird in all his beauty. Failing to hear those warnings, he grabbed bird’s legs. When he closed his hands on the bird’s legs, the bird pulled him up in the air. Soon he was soaring with the bird. He was afraid he would fall and never released his grip. Up and up they went, soon there was nothing but water all below him. Finally they reached an island and the bird dropped the man there. When he got his bearing, he decided to see where he was at. As he walked through the different areas on the island, he noticed there were many skeletons. He felt a sense of fear and danger. These people had met a terrible fate. Now this was his fate. He looked in vain for food but only found a few berries, some washed ashore moss and when he could he caught a frog to devour. There was the white clay reminding him of who he was. He rationed this out to himself. There was no way he could swim back to the shores where he first grabbed a hold of the red bird. After a while he began to pity himself and cried asking for divine intervention to save him. Soon he began to see the red bird flying above him, taunting him, “Oh, the one who eats rosebush berries is still alive,” and then would fly away. 120 One day as the young man sat along the shore, crying and pitying himself making promises if he was ever free, suddenly there near the water was a little water snake. He picked up the snake and looked at it. It was one of the few living, moving things he had seen after arriving. He decided, “I’m going to give him something to remember me by,” so he took a small necklace he had on his neck and he tied it around the neck of the little water snake and laid down the snake again unharmed. Time went on and he realized that he was there for over thirty days on the island. He was hungry weak, tired and again reduced to skin and bones. He was so weak, he could barely walk, but he tried his best, hoping someone would hear him crying out. Suddenly he thought he heard something, so he stopped. Soon he could hear singing. The voice was getting louder, so he waited. He heard the words, “I am here and I am coming.” Then the singing stopped and he heard a voice said: “Man, my father sent me here to call you to our lodge.” It was the small snake and he told the man, “Hang on to me and I will take you there.” The small snake dove under the water and the man held on. After some time they came to a large lodge and on the lodge was painted two big water monsters, their heads meeting at the door. The small water snake told him, “Go inside. This is my father’s lodge.” He entered the lodge and within it he was astonished to see a big water monster lying at the back of the lodge. He told the man, “Come here, sit by me don’t be afraid. So he sat down near the water monster’s head. The water monster said, “You have done something which must be rewarded. You are the man who tied the necklace around the neck of the little water snake. This little water snake is my 121 last child. And his name is, ‘The Last Child.’ Now listen to me and you will see your parents and all things which you hold dear, for I have pitied you and I am going to rescue you from your desperate plight and also reward you for what you have done for ‘The Last Child.” The water monster began to sing these words, “Hair Rope, have pity on me.” When he was done, he gave the young man a hair rope made of the long hair from the forelegs of the buffalo and from the back of the neck of buffalo bulls. Then he told the young man, “Use this Hair Rope to get revenge on the red bird, which so ruthlessly carried you away and left you alone on the island to die. Lay the Hair Rope in a circle on the round as if setting a trap and say, ‘I want a fat young buffalo to be here.’ When you say these words immediately a young buffalo will appear. You will become that young buffalo and soon birds of all kinds will come around and eat you. The red bird will come as he likes buffalo and if the red bird even so much as steps inside the ring of Hair Rope, you will trap him and he cannot get lose. He will be completely at your mercy. If that plan does not fool him, ask for a fat elk and if he still is not fooled, then ask for a fat deer. If that fails, wish for a white-tailed deer. If all these fail, ask for a fat young wolf and he will come. The wolf is his favorite and this will not fail. Despite his small size, the red bird is very powerful above all on top of the ground. I am the ruler under the water. I will give you my power and it will be yours for all time to come. This power will follow you everywhere and will be used by all generations of men and will be used for the purpose of revenge.” When he was done talking he told the young man, “Get on my neck 122 and I will take you to the mainland. But do not open your eyes until I say to you, ‘Now get off.’” The young man was elated, tired and weak he grabbed a hold of the water monster’s neck and they started for the mainland. They traveled for a long time and suddenly the young man heard a sound like the scraping on rocks. Anxious to be on the shore he thought they had reached the mainland and faint as he was he forgot what the water monster told him to wait for his voice to “get off” so he opened his eyes too soon and suddenly he was back at the island. The monster scolded him, saying “I told you, you cannot open your eye until it was time.” Then the water monster told him, “That was the one and only power I had to help you. There is nothing further I can do for you.” The young man was devastated, he felt that he was a millions miles from home now, further then he had ever been. The red otter skin had vanished from his mind, he only wanted to go home. Crying again, he did this daily for a long time. Tired and weak, as he was walking along the shore one day crying he heard a voice. He stopped under a big tree and as he went under it he heard a voice saying, “Stop crying and look up to me. I am the bald eagle and I am very powerful. I am taking pity on you and am going help you.” Looking up the young man saw a bald eagle sitting on one of the bigger branches. The eagle said to the young man, “I am transferring my lodge to you and you are to have my body as a flag when you put up my lodge. I am going to take you to the mainland. You must do what I say and you will succeed. But if you do not do as I say, as you did with the water monster, I will not succeed. Take a hold of my tail feathers 123 with both hands and close your eyes. You are not to open them until you touch the ground with your feet.” The young man did as he was told and grabbing the eagle’s tail feathers and closed his eyes. The eagle screeched loudly, raised his wings and took flight. As he soared the young man could feel that he was being carried higher and higher. He said to himself that this time I am not going to open my eyes until my feet feel the ground under them, as the eagle told him. He could feel the eagle soaring in a circle and soon he felt the ground under his feet. When he opened his eyes he was at the front of the lodge where he had slept and suffered so much for thirty nights. He stood there for a while thinking, “What shall I do?” Soon he could hear the voice of the man who owned the lodge and the told him to come in. He entered the lodge sat down by the man. The man said to him, “I am so sorry for you and have much pity for what you have gone through. The red bird is evil and without compassion. But now that you have gone through all these things required and are still alive, I will give you the red otter skin and also horses and a bunch of leg hoofs of the buffalo to use for a bell (rattle--dew claws) on the horse’s neck.” The man took down the hoof bell-dew claws from its place on one of the poles of the lodge and told the young man to follow him to the shore. Upon arriving at the shore the man shook the dew claws violently and a beautiful black stallion with a bob tail came out from the water. The man now told him, “This is your horse and he is the father of all the horses that I am going to give you. And here is what you must do to get back home with these horses. These horses must not be abused or treated badly nor shall they be killed. Whoever of your people mistreats them 124 will not own any horses for in a mysterious way he will lose his ownership. When I transfer these dew claws (bell) from my hand to yours, shake it as you saw me do, turn around, and go back to where you came from toward the setting sun. When night comes you must lay your head forward when you sleep, and for four nights you are not to look back or around, but walk with your head down and your eyes on the ground. If you do not do as I say, the horses will disappear and you will have gone through all this suffering in vain. But if you carry out what I say, you will have wealth, happiness, long-life, and a ‘renown’ (everyone will know who you are) that shall last for a long time to come. Finally I am giving you all my power and my whole being, but there is one other condition. Namely, you are not to give a single thing, a horse or anything else, to your brother. It was he who caused all your suffering and deprivation all this long time. As you travel home you will pass four Gros Ventre camps and at these camps the people will be happy to see you knowing that you have accomplished a great thing. You are to give to each man, woman and child a horse, and in the following manner. Stop a good distance before you get to each camp with your horses and call one man from the camp and tell him to go and announce to the other people to bring all of their ropes, that ‘HeWho-Starved-To-death’ would give them each a horse. Now start towards the setting sun from where you came and do as I have told you.” Immediately after the man put the hoof dew claws in the hand of He-Who-Starved To-Death, he started toward the setting sun, shaking the claws as he went along. It was difficult for him not to turn around as he could hear the tramping of the horses behind him, and feel their breath at his neck, sometimes nearly running over him in their 125 frolicking and play. But he had made up his mind firmly to do as he was told for he had had bitter experiences when he did not listen. When night came he lay down with his head toward the setting sun as he had been told and repeated this each night as he got ready for bed. When he arrived at the first camp he did what he was told by giving a horse to each person there. When he got to the fourth camp, it was his home. The people were astonished to see him and looked in wonder at all the horses. His family and friends were elated to see him and gave him a hero’s welcome. He proceeded to give each person a horse except to his older brother. To him he would not give a single horse or anything else. It was now his brother’s turn to have shame, for he denied his younger brother any honor over using his red otter skin. The older brother wept almost continually and was rarely seen in camp after that. The younger son, Pipe Child of the Keeper of the Flat Pipe was now home. He had earned his name and from that day forward he was known as He-Who Starved-To-Death. But he still had one more goal to accomplish. When he was fully rested and recovered from his trials and tribulations he began to think about the red bird and how he caused him so much suffering. He wanted revenge and began his plan. He prepared for what the monster instructed and he sweated on four different days and in the sweat lodge told his story to his people. The first of the four sweats were to prepare himself for getting ready for his revenge on the red bird. The next three days he also sweated a total of four times on four different days, and each day after the sweat, he went away from the camp to a knoll and laid down his Hair Rope trap. He stood in the middle of the circle of the Rope he said, “Let a young fat 126 young buffalo lie here,” and immediately he turned into a buffalo. Before long a great number of birds flew from every direction, came to the exact stop to eat of the fat buffalo. When some time had passed the red bird appeared there. He landed some distance down windward from where the fat young buffalo lay. He was a powerful bird so when he asked one of the other birds to give him a piece of fat meat, they immediately complied. He hopped over to the fat tossed to him and suspiciously inspected it carefully. Then he suddenly flew up and flew in a circle over the buffalo and said, “The one who eats rosebush berries cannot trap or fool me, he does not have the power nor is he clever enough,” and with that the red bird flew away. He-Who-Starved-To-Death left and went back to camp. He was not done with the red bird. Some time went by before he prepared to capture the red bird again. He found a spot away from the main camp in a different area and again set his hair rope trap. This time he said, “Let there be a fat young elk to lie here,” and instantly he turned into a fat elk. As in the first trap, birds from all directions came there to eat the fat meat. Sure enough before long, there was the red bird watching and asking for something to eat. He carefully inspected the small piece of meat as he had done before and he knew it was the his enemy disguised as elk. He told the man “You cannot trap me, you are not clever enough.” But He-Who-Starved-To-Death was patient and again he set his Hair Rope trap for the red bird as he had been told to do and in the order prescribed, -- this time, the third time he turned into a fat deer. This went on with a fourth time he was a fat white-tailed deer and finally the fifth time he turned himself into a fat wolf. The fifth and last time 127 He-Who-Starved-To Death knew that if he put perfume on himself, and the red bird would be fooled and would not know that the meat from the fat wolf was really He-WhoStarved-To-Death. Sure enough by the time the red bird realized it was not really wolf meat, it was too late. He excitedly tried to step outside the circle, but he was already there and the trap closed. But still he flew up, not knowing he was trapped, he begin calling He-Who-Starved-To-Death names, taunting him. He-Who-Starved-To-Death proceeded to do what he had been told to do by the water monster, by the bald eagle and by the man at the lodge by the water’s edge. He was also a Pipe Child and he knew the Flat Pipe also had power. He felt that he had the hereditary right to use some of the rites of the Flat Pipe. He was determined to wage allout war against the red bird and totally destroy him. By now he was not fooled by the red bird and knew he had great power and could make life on top of the ground almost unbearable for anyone that he did not like or get along with. So he prayed with the Pipe. The red bird flew higher and higher out of sight into the clouds. He-WhoStarved-To-Death prepared himself and getting himself presentable, he brushed down his hair, sat down facing the rising sun, and began to sing the song of the water monster at his home under the water. He begin moving his hands as if pulling something down from above with a rope, and at the end of each song he uttered the sacred words of the Pipe song, “Yo-ho-ho-ho.” He sang the song a number of times and would watch and before long the red bird appeared, spiraling towards him. When He-Who-Starved-To-Death saw this, he got really excited, with renewed courage he sang with all his heart, and when he was done, he jerked the rope violently with all his strength. The red bird come crashing 128 down in a cloud of dust at his feet, one leg securely was snared in the Hair Rope trap. “Listen red bird,” said He-Who-Starved-To-Death, “I have you at last. Since you have no pity for any human or animal, I am going to give you far worse and more cruel punishment than you inflicted on me. In the end you will be destroyed and the human race will know that I did this and it will be remembered for all time. In a little while you will no longer live.” He proceeded to pluck the feathers off the red bird and soon there were only a few down feathers around the bird’s beak. The once proud red bird was reduced to a pitiful sight, and realizing it, closed his eyes and was filled with shame. HeWho-Starved-To-Death taunted the bird and moving him this way and that way, twisted his beak as he jerked him around, “If you are as powerful as you claim, save yourself. For now you have no feathers on your body, soon it will be winter and you will have nothing to protect yourself from the coming cold, you will freeze.” He continued to taunt the bird until finally the red bird got angry. He raised his head, opened his eyes and said to He-Who-Starved-To-Death, “You are right, I am the most powerful one on top of the ground, and now I will show you. Your power cannot touch me. Watch.” With that, the bird shook himself violently and when he stopped, all his feathers were in place on his body. He was returned to his former self, and let the man know of his strength, reminding the man of his weakness and with that he flew up and disappeared into the clouds. He–Who-Starved-To-Death sat there amazed. He soon recovered and he began to sing the song belonging to the Hair Rope trap as he has been taught to do by the water monster under the water and repeated the same pulling-down motions he had made 129 before. He looked and could see the red bird crashing down. As before he began plucking him as he did the first time, but the red bird was able to get his feathers back again. Four times in all He-Who-Starved-To-Death repeated what he was taught by the water monster and each time the bird got his feathers back again. But he did not sway, he was determined. The fifth time he began singing, and believed the red bird had lost his power the fourth time. He knew this was it, sure enough on this fifth trial after he had sung the song a number of times, the red bird appeared, crashing out of control at his feet with the Hair Rope trap still attached to one of his legs. Again, he plucked all the bird’s feathers off. The red bird still believed his had his power and shook himself violently as he had done the other four times, but all his efforts failed and his feathers did not come back again. He-Who-Starved-To-Death taunted the bird, telling him, “You are alone and you have lost your power.” He continued this to his heart’s content until he tired of it. Finally he said to the bird, “You have no pity for anyone, not me or anything. And you put me on that island against my will and I almost died. I look at you and still you have no respect or pity. Nor do you honor me with me true name ‘He who starved to death’ for you alone call me “He Who Eats Rosebush Berries,’ and I will not be moved by any pleading or prayer you might make. On the other hand, I doubt whether you will even pray for you are too proud and think too much of yourself. You think that you do not need anyone’s help. It took me a long time to trap you and to get revenge. But now I see 130 you are completely conquered. Winter is coming soon and you will starve and freeze to death. I will leave you to your fate.” He-Who-Starved-to-Death, the Pipe Child and the second son of the Keeper of the Flat Pipe, for all that he had been through and the promises made to him, was now given the honor to be the ruler of all the people who lived on top of the ground. He added many rites to the Flat Pipe rite,---the invocation of the Last Child, the Hair Rope, and the song of the water monster. From that day on he became a great man with the Ah ani nin. Long after he died his name was called upon when the Ah’ani’nin prayed in earnest and to this present day, he is called upon in prayer to assist the Ah’ani’nin. W. Found-In-the-Grass Long ago the Ah’ani’nin lived in another land in which it was dangerous to travel and where there were many mysterious happenings as this story relates. The clans lived in separate camp sites that were great distances from each other. Getting wood, going out to hunt or even visiting each other were big challenges. There was a man and a woman who lived in a separate area from their clan camp and had no children. The man was an excellent hunter and therefore spent a lot of time out hunting. He hunted every day and sometimes did not return for many days. One day he told his wife he was going to hunt in a dangerous part of the country, because the meat there was abundant. At this time he learned that his wife was pregnant. He was really happy as this was going to be their first child. Worried about his wife he told her, “Do not answer any calls or voices to come into the lodge, even if they are calls of help under any circumstances till I return.” 131 He set out on his journey. Before he left he told his wife, “We need new bedding and clothing for the baby, so I am going to hunt in the fur bearing country. Remember you are to remain quiet if anyone approaches you remain in the lodge, do not answer voices whether animal or human, then no harm will come to you.” He proceeded to get ready to leave. As soon as he left, she got ready for the long wait and fixed her place to appear as if no one was there. Soon she was preparing for winter, getting her lodge in order and making everything she needed for the baby. One day she was in her lodge and she heard someone moaning. She remained really quite and never made a sound. The moaning went away but after some time the sound came back. It sounded like a human. The woman immediately put away her work. The call for help sounded so horrible she wanted to go outside. But she remembered what her husband had told her. So she remained as silent as possible. Soon the calls for distress seemed to be getting closer to her lodge and she was sure it was a human. Again she sat very still, thinking if I remain so the calls will go away. She thought if the maker of the moans tries to fight his way into this lodge, I am going to fight for my life and my baby’s life. Soon she could hear someone groping along the lodge as if looking for an opening. The intruder went around the lodge several times. As he went by the opening he would stop as if trying to find the opening way inside the lodge. The woman finally felt that she was in no condition to defend herself and despite her husband’s warning, she called out to this person and told him where the opening was. 132 She felt real pity for this person. The person cried out for joy when he heard her tell him how to come in. He removed the barriers and entered. When the stranger entered the lodge the woman was shocked, for he was a very old man and blind. She led him over to a place of honor. He spoke to her kindly and thanked her for her hospitality. All her fear left her for she felt she could handle this old blind man. And besides he seemed like a kind man who would not harm her. She went about preparing a meal for him as she knew that he must have gone a long time without a meal. The woman did her best with the meal and put the food in one of her best bowls. She placed the food before the old man. He felt about for the food and when he touched the bowl, he told her, “I don’t eat my food in this kind of bowl.” Sensing he was no ordinary man, the woman used another bowl that she rarely used. She thought to herself, this man may have power even though he is blind. So she was very careful. She placed the other bowl in front of him. Again he said, “This is not the kind I use.” She took out her shell bowl. Again the old man said “I cannot eat until you put the food in the right item.” So she took off her moccasin and put the food in that. This time he told her, “You are nearer to what you should use than you think but not yet.” So she took off her leggings and used them, but still he would not eat the food. So she took off her dress and used that. He told her, “I know you are trying to meet my customs but if you just try one more time to put my food in the thing that I use for the bowl, you will succeed.” Finally she thought of what she still had not used, so she laid on the floor and 133 placed the bowl on her stomach. The old man responded in a loud voice, “You have guessed how I eat my food, what I use for a bowl.” The old man used a big knife to cut up the meat and she could see him slashing away. When he was done eating her told her, “I am going to make a prophecy, so lie still a moment.” He told her she was a courageous woman and very wise. She would be known throughout the country and her descendants will be the greatest of all men. Before that happens he told her however, “there are some things that I must do for the prophecy to become true.” Finding the woman naked, he cut her stomach open and took out twin boys, who was pregnant with. He held one of the twins and said, “You will be known as twin,” and threw him to the side of the door. The other twin he now held in his hands and said.“You will be known as “Guyahnoo,” and threw this baby to the other side of the door. The old man after completing the horrific deed, wiped his knife clean and left, leaving the woman to die. The husband returned home after his long dangerous journey. The hunt had been very successful. He arrived home loaded with furs, and meat. He had some on a sleigh and some on his back. When he neared the lodge he felt something was wrong. He removed all the heavy furs and called to his wife to come see what he had brought. When she did not respond, he felt a great fear. Nevertheless, he thought maybe she was sleeping. So he entered the lodge. What met with his eyes was an unbelievable sight. It 134 was total chaos. His beautiful wife laid dead on the floor, her stomach cut open and her body nude. His thoughts raced and he started to regret leaving her alone. “How could I have been so selfish in my desire for hunting?” He took his hair out of the braids, a sign of mourning. Now he was alone. Finally after sitting and wondering about what had happened, he took his wife’s body and laid her on a robe. He continued to think, “What am I going to do?” He finally came to the conclusion that he was going to just stay put and think of how he would avenge the brutal and shameful killing of his wife. He spent his days crying and mourning for his wife. He would leave in the morning but he kept a close ear to see if anyone, human or animal came near. He talked to people and listened. He wanted to inquire if anyone knew what had happened to her. At sundown he would return to the lodge and spend the evening there. As time went on, he made a habit of doing this every day. One evening he came home to find some of his belongings scattered about and some gone. He decided not to make an issue and soon forgot about it. However, the intrusion happened repeatedly for several days. Finally he began to wonder who was taking his things and scattering them about. He decided he would use his wits to trick or trap them into exposing themselves. 135 One day he set out from his lodge, crying, and he would stop every so often and cry some more. He tried to make it sound as if he were far away. He then rushed back into his lodge, just in time to see two young boys begin to play with his arrows and other things. They were surprised to see him home early. He chased them, but as soon as they got to the two poles by the entrance to the lodge, they disappeared down the poles on each side of the door. He was just amazed and wondered, “Who are these two young boys?” He repeated the same trick the next day. He was determined to find out who these boys were. He started to cry again and made a sound as if he was far away. Soon he could hear one boy say, “Our father is far away, so we can now come out and play.” Sure enough the boys went into the lodge as soon as they thought he left. But he was waiting for them and was able to trap one boy. The boy fought desperately to get away, but the man held him fast. The man did his best to let the boy know he meant him no harm. Finally the boy agreed not to protest and he told the man that he would not disappear down the pole but would stay with him. After some time the boy knew that the man meant him no harm; he started to get used to living with him. The man asked him to help in tricking the other boy to come out of his hiding place. The man again started crying and acting like he was far away. Soon the boy started telling the other boy to come out of his hiding place. But the other boy told him, “Since my father has tricked you into coming out of your hiding place, you have a bad smell.” But his brother kept coaxing him, telling him it would be okay. Finally the second boy came out and started to play 136 with his brother. The man caught him and would not let him go until he promised to live on top of the ground with him and his twin. The man was elated to find out that these boys were really his sons and that now he was no longer alone. They remained where they were living in the same home where their mother had died. The father was hoping that someday the man who killed his wife would return and he would have his revenge. He made arrows for his sons to play with and told them not to pick up the arrows once they used them, that he would make new ones. He allowed them only two arrows a day to play with. His sons grew up rapidly and became very proficient in the use of the arrows. One day the sons told their father to make a sweat lodge with an opening facing the east and another opening in the top. They told him to dig a pit in the front of the sweat and gather stones to heat in the pit. He was then told to build another pit inside of the sweat lodge exactly in the middle. “Once the rocks were heated,” they said, “Bring in your wife and face her head to the north on the west side of the sweat.” He did exactly as he was told and when he did he told his sons, “Everything is ready.” The boys came, carrying the bow and arrows their father had made them. They told their father to carry the stones from the outside pit to the inside pit and to leave the flap open while they prayed. He did as he was told, with each of his sons standing on each side of the door facing east. The sons raised their eyes upward and invited the 137 Supreme Being to come and join them in the sweat lodge ceremony, so their prayers would be answered. Once they were done praying they told their father to pour water on the rocks and close the lodge. When this was done, one of the boys shot his arrow straight up into the opening, saying, “Look out, my mother, the arrow is coming down and it might fall on you and hurt you if you do not move.” Again they told their father to open the sweat and pour more water on the rocks and close it again.” This time the other twin shot his arrow into the air, repeating the same words to their mother. This time the lodge started moving. Once more the father was told to open the sweat and pour more water on the rocks and then close it. Again the first boy shot his arrow up, saying the same words. This time the sweat shook violently. The fourth and last time the lodge was opened by the father and more water was poured on the rocks and the lodge was closed again. The other twin shot his arrow in the air saying the same words as before and this time the arrow hit the ground outside the sweat. Their mother rushed out alive from the west side of the sweat lodge. The father and sons were there to greet her. They were all happy to be together. They continued to stay where they were and the father went hunting again. This time the twins stayed with their mother. One day when their father was gone, the boys wandered off from the lodge to see how good they were with their bow and arrows. First they saw a prairie chicken, but missed on all their tries. However the chicken did not fly, 138 so one of the twins, forgetting his father’s warnings not to pick up the arrows, reached down for the arrow. Before his brother could stop him, he shot the chicken again. Instantly there was a loud noise, and a mighty wind stirred. The boys were really frightened and ran to get back into their lodge. Only one boy made it, while the other was blown into the air and in his hands was the opening to the lodge. He blew all over the sky and finally fell back to earth and landed in a tall growth of grass. He still had ahold of the flap to the lodge in his hand. Not knowing what to do, he lay down covering himself with the flap. He lay there for several days, afraid to wander about in a strange land. One day he heard voices coming in his direction. Afraid, he crouched as low as he could and listened. As the voices got closer he noticed they were talking in Ah’ani’nin. The people were from the big camp and were out cutting grass for their horses. An old woman was helping and she walked closer and closer to the hiding boy. She finally discovered him under the flap and invited him to come live with her. She said, “Come live with me, I will adopt you, I will be your grandmother and you will be my grandson.” So the young boy went with her and lived in the big camp. As time went on, he grew into a fine young man. However their lives were harsh and hunting was difficult due to the dangers of their environment. One day a beautiful Black Fox was seen near their camp. Whenever the fox came near, things would disappear from their camp. He stole the people’s meat, ropes, sinew and raw hide straps used for their travois. The people tried without any success to catch 139 the black fox, but he was too cunning and shrewd. He would chew up anything left outside and leave it in a big mess. The Black Fox was brave and soon was raiding the lodges of meat. Finally the chief of the tribe called the camp crier and told him, “Tell everyone I am offering a big reward to whoever can catch the fox.” The reward was his oldest daughter and she was the most beautiful girl in the village. He told them that whoever catches the fox could have his daughter immediately and take her as his wife. All the young men were excited about the challenge and wanted to be the one who married the maiden. But they all failed. The young man “Found-In-The-Grass” said to his grandmother, “I was going to try.” He told her to make a trap and he would direct her on how it is to be done. His grandmother did not question him but did as she had been told. She set about to make the trap. When she was finished he told her, “Set it just outside the door of our lodge.” They soon went to lie down for it was nightfall by the time she was done. The young man stayed awake all night and checked the trap every now and then. Towards morning he was beginning to get tired. He fell asleep and his grandmother woke him saying, “The trap is sprung, but there is no fox.” After examining the trap he noticed black hairs in it. He told his grandmother, “I am sure I caught the fox, but someone stole him.” He told his grandmother to go to the chief’s camp and see if anyone had brought it to him. She went to find out. Sure enough the Crow bird had brought in the fox and was immediately given the oldest daughter. 140 The young man thought about it and told his grandmother that she needed to tell the chief that the prize was really his, that he had caught the fox and the Crow stolen it. The chief believed them, but it was too late. He had already given his oldest daughter. So he said, “I tell you what, I will let you take my second daughter; she too is beautiful and old enough to be married.” The old woman returned to her grandson and told him what the chief had said. He pondered it for a while and asked his grandmother for advice. She told him, “Take the younger daughter and let there be peace.” So the young man prepared to receive the second daughter. The old woman and her grandson brought the young maiden to their home. So the reward for the fox was settled. Time passed and another era began. The people were starving and needed meat. They could not hunt freely due to the dangers involved. So the chief sent his wife to the Crow, who was the husband of the eldest daughter. He told Crow to run the buffalo over the buffalo run, so they would have meat to eat. Crow sent another message back, “I will be running the buffalo at daybreak, so be ready.” The people were happy and got ready to help with the buffalo run. The chief directed the men to sit at two mounds on the way in to scare the buffalo into the run. At daylight everyone was in position. They sat there all day, but Crow could not run the buffalo in. They went home and said they would try again the next day. But again Crow failed. 141 All this time the young man who married the second daughter had gone into seclusion. His hair was all unkempt and he was dirty. Since Crow failed to bring in the buffalo and had given up, the young man told his grandmother, “Go tell the chief I will run in the buffalo. Have the men sit on the mounds again.” The chief did as he was told, sending the men out to sit on the mounds. The young man set out early the next day. He gathered up buffalo chips and told them, “Now turn into buffalo and go into the buffalo run so that my people can eat.” Then plucking a special kind of grass, he told the grass, “Now you turn into poor, mangy buffalo and join in the run. When you get to the pitfall make sure one of your legs get caught in the corrals.” Soon the grass became the live, mangy buffalo. The young man followed behind as the buffalo passed the mounds and ran into the buffalo run. The hunt was very successful. The people were happy and went about skinning the buffalo. They wanted to know, “Who was it that ran in the buffalo?” The young man heard them and said, “It was I, Found-In-The-Grass.” After they were all through, Found-In-The-Grass called his grandmother and told her to look for the buffalo that had his foot caught on the corral. His grandmother found him, a straggly old buffalo. She told her son, “How can we get meat off this thin buffalo?” Found in the Grass loosened the buffalo and gave him a kick in the rump. Soon the buffalo turned into a fat, healthy buffalo which they killed. They skinned him and cut the meat into pieces so they could carry it to their lodge. 142 Found-In-The-Grass looked for a certain intestine and filled it with bull’s blood, tying both ends. Then he secured the intestine with straps, so that it would not break apart. He, along with his grandmother prepared all their buffalo to go home. But he would not let his wife help, telling her that on the last trip he would have her carry the intestine filled with the blood. They would walk single file, with his grandmother first, the wife and Found-In-The-Grass last. While they were carrying the meat home the wife noticed her sister collecting heads of the buffalo. She asked her “Why are you doing that?” and her sister told her, “The Crow is a scavenger and he is not particular about what he eats, so I am getting him these heads.” Besides the people have no respect for him now because he could not get the buffalo into the runs. All the while the Crow perched on the corral. When they began the final trip, Found-In-The-Grass’s wife commented about Crow. Crow heard what they were saying and was very offended. He flew about in the air, making loud noises. He scolded his wife, who was really ashamed. Found-In-The-Grass, his wife and grandmother got ready to go single file with the intestine filled with blood. She carried the intestine on her back as she had been instructed. Crow and his wife watched, admiring them. Found-In-The-Grass punched a hole in the intestine and blood spilled over his wife. She immediately became the most beautiful woman. But the wife of Crow became upset and very jealous of her sister. At the same time she was sad, having to live with Crow. 143 All the people were happy since everyone had enough meat and no one was starving anymore. The woman set about making dry meat. It took them days to do this as this was the biggest buffalo hunt ever known for the Ah’ani’nin. During this time, the wife of Found-In-The-Grass confided in his mother that Found-In-The-Grass was the most handsome man and smelled of the rarest beautiful perfume. But when she went to hold him, he turned into the same ugly and unkempt man that he always was. The mother told her, “Don’t tell anyone of this. Have confidence in him, as he has just completed the greatest hunt of all. Everything will be okay.” However, the mother of the wife of Crow heard this and told her daughter about it and soon everyone in the camp knew of it. One day the wife of Found-In-The-Grass was visiting her sister and the conversation soon turned to Found-In-The-Grass. How was it that at night he turned into this handsome man, but when the sun came up, he was again an ugly, unkempt, man? The wife of Crow did not believe it, and said that her sister must have had a bad dream or imagined it. So the wife of Crow decided to find out for herself and she set out for their lodge. She saw that Found-In-The-Grass was the same as he always was, and soon she was making fun of him and calling him names. She finally told him, “You are shameful in fooling my sister. She is young and innocent and it is shameful for you to fool the people. You just want to get noticed and be known for something. But you will not succeed since you are not powerful enough.” Found-In-The-Grass said nothing but endured the tongue lashing from his sister-in-law. 144 Crow’s wife went home and her sister was there. She advised her, “Leave Found-in-The- Grass, for there is nothing to what he says. He is not powerful nor is he a handsome man at times. In the event that he does get power he will end up using it for evil purposes and destroy the Ah’ani’nin.” But Found-In-The-Grass’s wife was faithful to him and would not leave nor take the advice of her sister. While everyone was making dry meat, Found-In-The-Grass told his wife to go see the Chief, her father, and tell him to again take the men out the next day and post them at the mounds and they would run the buffalo again. Found-In-The-Grass then did as before going to the buffalo chips, commanding them to turn into buffalo and the grass into mangy buffalo. Like on the first run, he found the people at the pitfall skinning the buffalo. Again he called his grandmother to help him. They found another pitiful buffalo caught on the corral; and as before Found-In-The-Grass turned it into a fat buffalo. And s before, he filled the intestine with the blood of the buffalo, securing it fast with straps. Crow’s wife again gathered the buffalo heads for Crow to eat. She looked at Found-In The-Grass with contempt and as she gazed at him, he turned into the most handsome man. She decided she would steal him from her sister. Found-In-The-Grass, his wife and grandmother were getting ready to take the intestine during the last trip. Crow’s wife could not stand it; she rushed over and begged Found-In-The- Grass to let her carry the intestine. She wanted to be the most beautiful when the blood spilled out. Found-In-The-Grass granted her request and she got in line 145 with the others. Found-In-The- Grass did as before but instead of Crows wife becoming the most beautiful, she turned into a, loathsome creature, horrible to look at. When she realized what had happened to her, she was so ashamed. She tried to get support from Crow to use his power to help her, but he had none. And he was more concerned about the scrapes of food on the ground than with his wife’s appearance. Found-In-The-Grass told her, “Go your way and leave us alone. Don’t bother us and mind your own business.” One day Found-In-The-Grass told his grandmother and wife, “I want to visit the other camp of the Ah’ani’nin. But his grandmother didn’t want him to go, saying the trail was too far and in between the two groups lived a big wolf with magic powers. No one could escape him and once he had his sights on someone he used his powerful jaws to draw that person in with his mysterious powers. And that was not the only danger. At the next village was a man who told stories, and when the people listened to him, they fell asleep. Once they were asleep, he hit them on the head and killed them. His grandmother further told Found-In-The-Grass, “You have a wife now, and there is no need for you to leave. Besides you already completed one of the biggest feats ever. You need no further ambition.” But Found-In-The Grass told them gently, not to worry about him, as he was a grown man who did not need direction. “I am not afraid of anything and I am making this trip.” Unable to make him change his mind, they started getting things ready for him 146 to take, such as dried meat, pemmican and fat. He gathered his weapons, extra clothing, and bedding. Found-In-The-Grass left and was gone many days. Finally he came to a rise in the ground and there was a clearing in the trail. There was the Great Wolf that his grandmother warned him of. He approached him cautiously but the wolf opened his mouth and instantly Found-In-The-Grass was drawn to the wolf and swallowed up. But Found-In-The-Grass was prepared for this and began slashing left and right and soon the wolf was dead. Found-In-The- Grass came out unharmed but he was amazed to see all the remains of human bones. He took them all out and put them in a pile and said, “Get up, you weaklings and go back to the camp you came from.” Suddenly they were all alive and they returned to where they had come from. Found-In-The-Grass finally arrived at the big camp. He cautiously circled the camp several times and finally entered the lodge of an old woman. She invited him in and had him sit in a place of honor. She seemed to know all about him and had heard about the great deeds he had done with the buffalo hunts. He asked her for something to eat since he had not eaten for a long time. She told him that she was happy that the wolf had not been able to kill him but that he had to be careful since it was dangerous where they lived. She told him of a man who told stories and when the people fell asleep he hit them on the head and killed them with his stone hammer. She told him that they were poor and hungry most of the time because it was too dangerous for them to hunt. What little food she had hidden under her 147 bed was what she shared with him. She urged him to be on his way and out of this dangerous place. He told her not to worry about him; he was a man and could take care of himself. Seeing that she had only a small amount of food, he only ate a small portion and gave the rest to her. That night the man who told stories invited Found-In-The-Grass to his lodge for storytelling. He said “My stories will put you to sleep. Surely you are tired and will want the needed sleep. Then I will cover you with robes so you sleep well.” Found-InThe-Grass pretended to yawn like he was sleepy and soon was pretending to be snoring. The man got his stone hammer ready but before he could hit Found-In-The-Grass the young man jumped up and asked the man, “What are you doing?” The man was so shocked that his stories did not work on Found-In-The-Grass that he lost his balance and fell. Found-In-The-Grass shot him full of arrows and killed him. Found-In-The-Grass looked around the lodge and found a pile in the corner. It was covered by robes but on closer inspection he saw it was a pile of human bones with the most recent ones on top. He felt sorry for these people who had been fooled by the story teller. So he told them, “Get up you weaklings and go back to the place you came from.” Immediately they were all alive and returned to their homes. Found-In-The-Grass went back to the old woman’s lodge and stayed with her for the night. The next night he told the old woman to go out and tell all the people in the camp that he was going to do a buffalo run. The chief was very glad and obeyed all the commands that Found In-The-Grass gave them. They placed the men on the mounds to 148 run the buffalo and he used the chips and grass as before. He did this twice as he had at the other village and he and old woman took the mangy buffalo. The people were all happy saying “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to us.” Found-In-The-Grass decided to go to the next Ah’ani’nin camp. The old woman said, “When you go in that direction there is a big river to cross; it is dangerous as a water monster lives there. When people ride on his back to get across, mid-way he dives down and soon they drown. Not only that, there is a gambler named Crooked Bull in the next camp who entices people into playing games with him. If he loses he gets really angry and turns into a raging bull and gores people to death.” He told the old woman “Do not worry about me as I am a grown man and can take care of myself.” Found-In-The-Grass went on his way despite the warnings of the old woman. After traveling many days through the forest, Found-In-The-Grass came to the river with the monster. He approached the river cautiously and sure enough there was the river monster, asleep. He got right on his head and the monster proceeded to take him across the river. But before the monster could dive, Found-In-The-Grass stabbed him to death. The monster sank, leaving a trail of red blood. Found-In-The-Grass swam to the other side and stood on the shore and said, “All those who drowned by the monster and can hear my voice, come alive.” A great number of people came out of the water. He told them “Go back to the camps where you came from.” 149 He next came upon a great village of the Ah’ani’nin and soon found a lodge owned by another old woman. She too knew of him and had heard of his great deeds. She invited Found-In-The-Grass to come in and sit in a place of honor. She wanted to know how he was able to escape the river monster. She told him they were poor people and had troubles of their own, because of the Crooked Bull. Found-In-The-Grass told the woman how he had been able to kill the river monster and he said he was not afraid of Crooked Bull. She set about getting him something to eat. She had her meat hidden in robes on her bed; it was just a small piece of meat. Before long a camp crier arrived, telling Found-In-The-Grass that Crooked Bull wanted to play the Shooting Arrow Wheel game with him. Found-In-The-Grass played the game, and soon he lost most of his clothes to Crooked Bull. A crowd had gathered to watch. But the tides changed and Found-In-The-Grass started to beat him at his own game. Crooked Bull lost almost everything and seeing that he was losing he turned into a raging bull and was going to kill Found-In-The-Grass. But Found-In-The-Grass disappeared and all that was left was one feather, a plume. Crooked Bull looked about and could not find Found-In-The-Grass, but he could hear him. Found-In-The-Grass whispered, “Your time has come and you will no longer be able to take lives with your rage. You are going to be wiped off the face of earth.” Found-In-The-Grass sent many arrows into Crooked Bull before he turned back into a human. He proceeded to Crooked Bulls lodge and sure enough there were the remains of those he had killed. And like before he commanded them to come to life. Immediately appeared the people who died and they too went back to their homes. 150 As before Found-In-The-Grass had the buffalo run, with the chips and grass. The people were happy for he had saved them from starvation and was able to rid them of Crooked Bull. The chief offered the man his oldest beautiful daughter in marriage. But he refused saying that he had a wife in a camp far away. He told the old woman he was going on to the next camp of Ah’ani’nin. The old woman warned him of the dangers. Again he said he was a grown man and he could take care of himself. This time the dangers were a tree that fell on people and a man who wanted to play football, and when he lost he used his iron leg to kill people by kicking them to death. Found-In-The-Grass tricked the tree into breaking itself in many pieces when it had no one to fall on. He commanded all who had died by the tree to come back to life and return to the places they came from. In the next village an old woman told him of the man who kicked people to death. Soon the football player was calling him. They played football and Found-In-The-Grass beat the football player in front of all the people. When the man got angry his leg turned into iron. He was now mad and wanted to use his iron leg on Found-In-The-Grass. However, he missed and his leg got caught on a knotty tree branch. The man could not remove it, the people laughed and Found-In-TheGrass blew a breath on him and he blew into the air. He flew into a tree and Found-InThe-Grass shot him to death with his arrows. He went to the man’s lodge and found many bones. He commanded these to come to life and return to where they came from. 151 He again did a buffalo run as before, using the chips and grass and help of the old woman. Found-In-The-Grass stayed with the old woman, helping her jerk her meat and the people were very happy. Found-In-The-Grass soon knew that he must go to the next camp to help their people. This time it was a buffalo head that was used for a ferry and a big bear with great forearms that were killing the people. He was able to fool the buffalo head, who sank to the bottom of the water and was destroyed. He called all those who had been fooled by the buffalo head to return to life and go back to their homes. After many days, he reached the big camp and he saw an old lodge with a woman who lived there. She was scraping a buffalo hide as he entered. She called him to sit in a place of honor and she asked him, “Where are you going and how did you escape all these dangers along the way?” He replied, “I have come a long way and it has taken me many moons to get here. And I have destroyed evil along the way.” He asked her why she was scraping the hide. She said, “I am so hungry that I was trying to scrap enough meat to eat off this hide.” He told her to keep to scraping because he too was hungry and had not eaten in a while. “Make enough for both of us,” he said. After they had eaten, Found-In-The-Grass told the old woman to tell the chief and all the people that they were going to have a buffalo run. The old woman said, “We cannot have a buffalo run, the bear will catch us and eat us before we can. And if anyone tries to stop the bear, she points her big forearm at them and they died immediately.” Found-In-The-Grass told her not to worry about the bear; he would kill it. The old 152 woman did not believe that he could do all this, but she set out to see the chief as requested. Soon they were having a buffalo run. The bear, hearing of the run, threatened the people telling them, “I will destroy anyone who tries to get the buffalo before me and my cubs.” Again Found-In-The-Grass used the buffalo chips and grass to make the buffalo. But the old woman would not help in the skinning once all the buffalo were caught. She said the bear would come and get them. Found-In-The-Grass told her not to be afraid for he would protect her. So the woman, although fearful, helped him prepare the meat for carrying. When everyone left, there was just the two of them and two young bear cubs, who were licking up all the scraps. One of the cubs disappeared and when he returned he said, “My mother the big bear wants all the meat brought to her lodge.” Found-In-The-Grass told the old woman, “Go and tell her I don’t intend to carry out her wishes.” The old woman said she was afraid and said the bear will “point her forearm at me and kill me.” But he insisted that no harm would come to her if she just did as he said. She was also afraid of Found-In-The-Grass since she knew he had power, so she went to the bear and told her what Found-In-The-Grass had said. The bear was angry and said, “Tell him to do as I wish or I will enforce the rule myself.” The old woman went back and forth between the bear and the man. Finally the bear went to the corrals where the buffalo run had ended and told Found-In-The-Grass to pack up all the meat and bring it to her lodge. The bear told him this four times and she said if he did not do as she said, she would enforce her rule. But he paid her no attention to her. 153 At last the bear pointed her forearm at him. But instead of killing him like all the others, her arm broke off. She howled and groaned so loud that she thought everyone in the camp would hear her. Found-In-The-Grass took a kidney from a buffalo and told the bear how it was done and pointed the kidney at the bear and she fell over dead. The cubs ran over to her but Found-In-The-Grass told them to go back to the forest where they belonged. Their place was not among humans. They left and were never seen again. Found-In-The-Grass and the old woman brought all their meat back to her lodge. The meat of the bear was divided among the people. The human slaves who worked for the mother bear were released and went back to their clans. They had one more buffalo run before Found-In-The-Grass prepared to return home. The chief offered him his most beautiful daughter but he told him he already had a wife at home. So it was that Found-In-The-Grass returned home in great triumph, back to wife and his grandmother. He had destroyed all things human and animal that had made traveling difficult and unsafe for the Ah’ani’nin. He also taught the art of running the buffalo and he made traps to catch the black fox. He ruled his camp with great wisdom for many years. So it was the prophesy pronounced by the blind man came to pass. *** Found-In-The-Grass is a story of great faith and survival. Sometimes our journey takes us where we do not necessarily want to go but for the benefit of all we meet challenge. We can overcome our obstacles no matter how insurmountable they seem and 154 trust in our ability to overcome all odds. We need to believe in ourselves when the impossible seems to be unachievable. There is always hope. X. Red Whip There are noted warriors throughout Indian country, men such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Geronimo. For the Ah’ani’nin one of the most famous historical events tells of a battle where Red Whip gained notoriety and became a cultural hero for the Ah’ani’nin. This story has been written in several different versions, but all of them fail to tell the ending of the story. My mother told me her accounts of history as told to her by her grandparents. Sometime after Red Whip died, a Bureau of Indian Affairs agent, Superintendent Wellington had some of Red Whips items and he moved them to a museum in Lewistown. Wellington told the story of Red Whip and he got this version from a man named Powerface. This story was told after Red Whip’s family died, it was also printed in War Stories of the White Clay People. Who does the story belong to? According to my mother, the Ah’ani’nin. *** In the late 1860s the Ah’ani’nin lived together with the River Crow. At this time they were camped on the White River, now known as Judith River. In the early spring a group of Crow warriors went out on a war party to look for their enemy, the Sioux. Within their party were three Ah’ani’nin men. At this time of the year the snow was still 155 deep and in some areas muddy as it was starting to melt. These young Ah’ani’nin men were Red Whip and his in-separable friend, Good Strike and another man named Turtle. They traveled along the White River until it came to the Big River, now known as Missouri River. They camped for the next and in the morning made preparations to cross the river. When the Ah’ani’nin came to the river, they would always pray and sing to Last Child, the water monster to insure a good crossing. Once across the river they traveled until they reached Big Coulee, now known as Cow Creek. By then it was getting late, so they decided to camp. They didn’t want to travel late as the weather could change. The Ah’ani’ camped together, finding good shelter. That night as Red Whip slept, he had a dream. In his dream he was told that if they wanted to be successful, they should follow the course of the Big River. In his dream if they followed the advice, they would come home successful with a herd of horses. But he was told they should not travel to the Fur Cap Mountains. This is now the southern location on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and called the Little Rockies. In his dream, he could see the Fur Cap Mountains and the spirit told him to “look” and as he did he could see the bottom of the mountain splashed with red blood. The next day he was really concerned and told the party of men of his dream. The Crows mocked him, accused him of being a coward and told him if he was afraid to go home and put a dress on. When the Crows prepared to leave, Red Whip and his companions left them and went on their own. After traveling several miles, Red Whip 156 noticed that his friend, Good Strike was quiet and reserved. He asked him in Ah’ani “What is bothering you, what is the matter?” He told Red Whip to go on with Turtle, “I will catch up with you later.” Maybe it was that he didn’t like to be called a coward. Both him and Red Whip were very young men and easily offended. However Red Whip and Turtle continued on their way, leaving Good Strike to his journey. After some time Red Whip and Turtle stopped, from where they were they could still see Good Strike. They sat down to smoke and waited for him. Finally after waiting for a long time, they went up on a high ridge and looking in the direction of where the Crow were, they could see Good Strike join the Crows. Red Whip didn’t want to leave his best friend to fate, so he and Turtle followed Good Strike. That evening they caught up with the Crows, just before they began making camp. They were on Bull Creek. Good Strike was elated to see that his friend Red Whip changed his mind. That night Good Strike was laughing, playing tricks on everyone, more so with his friend Red Whip. That night they slept side by side, but Good Strike didn’t even bother to sleep. He continued with his pranks, and Red Whip told him to quit. He was having the time of his life and continued with his behavior. Finally the Crow Leader told him that he had to stop, they needed rest and it was a bad omen for Good Strike to act that way. He told him, “Your soul must have left your body that is why you can’t sleep and why you are so happy.” He finally settled down and slept. In the morning Red Whip could not find his Medicine War Charm. Warriors in battle wore something for protection. This war charm was said to be a powerful one. Finally Good Strike seeing that his friend was upset returned the charm. Soon the party 157 was on their way to the Fur Cap Mountains (Little Rockies). As they got closer, they stopped on a high ridge and decided to smoke. It was a clear, cool day, snow had melted in some areas but there was still a lot left. Suddenly one of the warriors noticed something moving in the trees near the bottom of the mountains. One of the warriors had a telescope, so he retrieved it to have a look. It was a hunter stalking a buffalo. As they watched, the hunter was successful in bringing a buffalo down with his rifle. They decided they would follow him. They got themselves ready by removing their clothing, leaving only their breech cloths, war charms, which they wore in their hair or around their neck. They painted their faces. The leader of the Crow said we are going to attack this man. He selected three warriors who were swift runners to go with him. He told the rest to continue on to Bull Creek so their enemy would be between them. Red Whip and his good friend Good Strike were among the swift warriors with the Crow leader. Below them was a small coulee, so the party followed along this creek until they came to a larger coulee that ran directly into the mountains. They followed it until it took them to the bottom of the mountains. By then they were only a couple hundred yards from the hunter. They charged their enemy, but he was also swift and ran in the direction of where the other warriors were. He didn’t get very far before he was shot. By his clothing, they knew he was a Sioux. They ate from the buffalo and sat down to smoke. Red Whip was not satisfied, he knew that something was not right. This Sioux man should not be here alone. So he spoke up, “This Sioux man being here alone 158 does not seem right. He just can’t be here alone, there must be others somewhere.” Again the Crow leader ridiculed him, saying he was afraid. He told him to go home, “If you are afraid, don’t go out on war parties stay home.” These were bitter words for Red Whip to swallow. He was calling him a coward and denouncing his manhood. The leader knew that Red Whip was just a young man, inexperienced and not many war experiences to his credit. Unknown to Red Whip, his predictions were just about to come true. They were at the bottom of the mountain and suddenly they heard the chilling, unmistakable, terrorizing sounds of war cries. Red Whip turned to look at the Crow leader and said, “I knew he was not alone.” As he turned to look up the mountainside and there was a whole tribe of Sioux descending upon them. It looked to be about a 100 Sioux. It was more than the Crow could have imagined and they were not prepared for it. Red Whip and his companions were more prepared because they knew that things did not look right. Red Whip could have left with his Gros Ventre companions, but he saw that they were needed. He began hollering at the Crows to prepare themselves. Some were so scared, they needed extra coaxing to arouse them from their stupor. Red Whip had on his famous medicine war charm that had been handed down for generations. It was made of otter skin and had an eagle whistle attached to it. They were retreating from the Sioux trying to run for their lives, but as they were going they would charge the Sioux to keep them from overrunning them. It was a battle for their lives. Red Whip would jump out and charge the Sioux. He killed many that day and injured many as well. When Red 159 Whip charged them he blew his whistle. No matter what the Sioux did, they could not kill him. It was as if the bullets went around him. They soon recognized that he must have power, he must be supernaturally protected. The Red Whip had taken charge of the party and soon had retreated to a small coulee. The battle went on and there two of the Crows who had burrowed themselves into a snow bank, died. Blood was ever where. They knew this area was not enough protection, so they moved to a bigger coulee. The Sioux crowded them and want to destroy all of them. Whenever they got close Red Whip would charge them injuring or killing some. It was Red Whip who kept them at bay. Red Whip ran between warriors, encouraging them to be brave, to fight a good battle. One Crow warrior was so frightened that Red Whip to had stop, hammered him in the chest and said, “look around you, can you see all those Sioux? They have no intention of capturing you, they want your scalp. Wake up! Be a man, pull yourself together and get your gun. Holler war cries and try to save yourself.” The Crows easily let Red Whip lead, seeing how he came to the rescue for everyone. Soon they were retreating at a faster space, which made it easier for Red Whip to protect them. Soon the distance between them was great and they knew they had a chance of survival. The Sioux stopped and watched as they got away. Red Whip and Good Strike turned to look at the Sioux, when off to the side a Sioux warrior squatted and took careful aim at Good Strike. Red Whip told him to jump around and confuse him. But Good Strike thought they were too far away. Red Whip saw the smoke from the gun and not too long 160 after a smacking sound. Good Strike responded, “I am hit.” He tried to walk and soon fell flat on his face. He got up and tried again. Again he fell. When the Sioux saw this there were war hoops as they struck the enemy. Despite the danger, Red Whip came to his friends rescue and pulled him to safety. He was really afraid once he seen his friends injuries. The bone on his ankle was shattered. Bullets were flying all around as they made it to the washout. Once there, both Red Whip and his friend knew that his injuries were life threatening. The bone was protruding and he was bleeding profusely. Red Whip could tell that he was in severe pain. He did what he could to make his friend comfortable. By now the others in their party had already high tailed it out of there. Good Strike told his friend Red Whip, “Leave me, I am hurt beyond help. Save yourself. Nothing can be done for me even if you get me out of here. It has always been my heart’s desire that my enemies tussle and wrestle over my hair.” Good Strike was a handsome man and had long flowing hair that fell down his back. He then began to unloosen his braids and let his hair loose. Red Whip was not going to leave his friend no matter what. He continued to blow his eagle bone whistle, shoot and drive the enemy back. He would run back and check on his friend. As he did this the Sioux would rain bullets upon them, not wanting them to escape. By now the enemy had advanced closer to their shelter. Red Whip knew the danger in letting them get close. The warriors were so close he could hear them talking. When they were close enough Red Whip blew his whistle, jumped out of the washout. It took them by surprise and he was able to take some of them out and wounded several. He pushed them back but as he was returning as fast as he could to the 161 washout, Red Whip heard a sound behind him. He pretended not to notice and slackened his pace. He wanted his enemy to get as close as he could. The enemy warrior now knew he was close enough to kill Red Whip and advanced on him as fast as he could. When Red Whip could hear the sound of heavy breathing, he turned rifle ready and shot his enemy full in the chest. His enemy was surprised as he had his arm raised in the act of killing Red Whip. Red Whip hollered and brandished his gun, saying to Good Strike, “Here is one for you to lay on.” This meaning is so much more than words. This was Red Whip’s act of protecting his friend and telling him, “If you must go, then so does your enemy, who will go before you do.” In addition it demonstrates their livelong tie of “inseparable” friends love and loyalty. For Red Whip put his own life in danger to protect his friend. He kills the enemy first laying out the mat with bodies for his friend to lay on when Good Strike is killed. Red Whip was not seeking notoriety or calling attention to himself. In the Ah’ani’nin customs, friends were as a sacred blood tie and even in death it does not mar its existence. The significance is important as these young men were only around 18 years old and shows how they valued what they were taught. After Red Whip killed the Sioux he jumped back into the washout with his friend. Good Strike again pleaded with him to leave him and save himself. Good Strike asked him to come closer. He hugged him and kissed him; he knew he was facing death. He told Red Whip, “Look at my leg soon I will be out of my misery.” By now the leg was swollen twice and looked to be infected, the marrow was seeping out and his leg was 162 smeared with blood and dirt. He kissed his friend Red Whip to let him know it was okay to leave him and that he released him from any sacred tie of friendship, he was free to go. Red Whip knew by now he had no choice but to obey his friend Good Strike’s request. He told him, “Okay, I am going to leave you, but before I leave I am going to drive these Sioux back once more before I leave you.” Red Whip blew his whistle and jumped out. He fired continually, driving the Sioux back. As he was retreating, he could see his enemies taking careful aim at him. He stopped and he fired his gun, wounding one and killing the other. He shouted, “That is another one for you to lay on!” He started to leave, but as he was leaving, he could hear his friend crying. He ran back. He scolded Good Strike and told him not to cry, be brave. But Good Strike silenced him saying, “These tears are for my mother who will have no one to care for her now. You must think of her and look after her.” Good Strike took his looking glass from around his neck and gave it to Red Whip, saying, “Give this to my mother.” He had a sewing kit and he gave this also to Red Whip for his mother. He told Red Whip, “Give these to her as well and tell her to keep the little bay mare of mine. Tell my mother not to grieve me, but rather to feel proud of her son that he fought a great battle and died a brave man.” Good Strike stopped talking and Red Whip told his friend, “You must sing, sing our brave heart songs.” Then Red Whip started to sing this song and Good Strike joined him. Red Whip kissed his friend and bid him farewell. He told him, “I am going to drive the enemy back one more time before leaving you.” Red Whip blew his whistle and jumped out of the washout and charged 163 their enemy. He drove them back as far as he could. He turned to take the coulee that his escaping party took. As he was leaving he could hear his friend singing the brave heart song. It did Red Whip’s heart well to hear his friend sing this song and he did not feel so bad about leaving him. Then he ran as fast as his legs could carry him. It was close to noon when Red Whip and his party were first jumped by the Sioux. Now it was late afternoon, a cool breeze blowing. Red Whip knew he was fleeing for his life. He wanted to be out of there before he could hear his friend’s cries in the throes of death. He ran a couple of times before he stopped on a hillside. He looked back and he could see a mass of warriors descending where his friend Good Strike was. The scene that he took in would be with him for the rest of his life. He tore his eyes away with an effort that pierced his heart and he walked slowly up the hill. When he was on top of the hill, he scanned the area towards the Missouri breaks to see if he could see his party, but there was no indication of them. He continued on and would stop occasionally to check for his party. He traveled on in a westerly direction in the path of his party. Avoiding the roughest places helped him cover ground faster. Before long he caught up with them, they had stopped as several were wounded and needed to rest. He had a sad and aching heart by the time he got to where they had stopped. He remembered the ridicule the Crow warriors had given him. When he arrived he told him what cowards they were, he blamed them for the loss of his friend. He went so far that 164 one man gave him his coat in forgiveness. Remember they had abandoned their clothing when they prepared for battle. When they had traveled quite a distance, Red Whip told Turtle they needed to get away from the Crows. Red Whip felt that the Crows would not soon forget what he said. They were still in the process of absorbing the events of the day. Once they knew they were far from the Sioux, Red Whip felt they would attack both he and Turtle. Red Whip could have left Turtle but he was looking out for the safety of him. Soon both were looking for a place of safety where they could get away. When they came to one, Red Whip and Turtle stopped and pretended to be busy doing something that delayed them. This gave the Crows a chance to get out of sight, just before dusk. Red Whip and Turtle did not go back in the direction where Good Strike was killed but traveled in another direction along the Big River (Missouri). Soon they came upon an old trading post called Clagget, Montana that was situated below the town of Many Houses (Fort Benton). After reaching Clagget, they inquired about the Gros Ventre encampment and they were told there was one on Bear River (Marias). However they did not go to the big encampment but traveled on to the smaller scattered clannish encampments. Red Whip was but a young man and in that short span, he made history with the Ah’ani’nin. The actions of Red Whip shows how well he was trained in the culture and customs of the Ah’ani’nin, as well as his military skills. That he was chosen to be a 165 protector of his people by spiritual powers was evident. An experience warrior could not have done it better. He was able to think clearly and rely on the belief in his power. The end part of this story has not been told. The author’s mother tells of how a year later Red Whip, Good Strike’s mother and a small following of family and friends returned to give Good Strike a proper burial. To their surprise, when they came upon the area, a burial had been set up. Good Strike was lying on a raised burial platform. He had not been mutilated nor was his hair cut. His hair fanned out on both sides of his chest. His rifle lied by his side. He was given an honorable burial for their bravery and the spiritual power of Red Whip. Today this area is not far from Running Crow or Eagle Child. At a place where we used to pick berries, my brother said, “I think this is where the battle took place.” 166 CHAPTER IV, CONCLUSION: WHAT I LEARNED These are only a few of the stories told by the Ah’ani’nin. It would take a lot longer to gather all the stories of the Ah’ani’nin. That some of these stories have been told over and over without having been written down is amazing. According to one historian some of the stories such as Found-In-The-Grass and Blood Clot are widespread, told in other tribes as far away as Alaska. This shows how we are all related in some way: stories link between tribes. The goal of the researcher has been to collect oral history and traditional stories about the Ah’ani’nin, the People of the White Clay. Their history is filled with oral stories that tell who they are and where they have been. Many of these stories have not been recorded or if they were, the story is now lost in some public or archival document that no one knows of. Newer versions need to be recorded because oral history is a living continuous process as well as a collection of narratives. There is never just one version; we need all of the versions. Before reservation life the Ah’ani’nin lived together and in the winter months retold oral history and stories. Special emphasis in storytelling has always been placed on those stories they felt were important for the people to remember. When youth participated in ceremonies in some way, they learned the songs, and stories as they lived as their Ah’ani’nin ancestors taught them. This is how the people kept records of their ceremonies, culture, kinship relationships, economy and government. 167 I hope the reader enjoyed these stories as much as I did. They tell of a beautiful strong people who by remembering their own lessons survived today. They are lessons and values that include the importance of the sacrifice of self for all, bravery by having no fear to meet your maker, respect for the Supreme Being, respect for your ways of knowing and being and the consequences of ignoring that advice. To the Ah’ani’nin generosity and bravery are some of the most important values and a reflection of who you are. A leader is chosen by these values, as well as how he treats his people and looks after them. A child learns by demonstration and storytelling is part of the education an Ah’ani’nin child. The concept of oral history for many people living in the Fort Belknap Indian Community is that it is a thing of the past, replaced now by schools. However for the people who want to preserve traditional Ah’ani’nin ways, oral history stories will continue. It is important to preserve the history of the Ah’ani’nin in order to understand the significance of who we are. These are stories of survival, lessons learned, family history and Ah’ani’nin ways of knowing and being. Some may have changed slightly, based on how much the orator wanted to add to make the story more interesting or exciting. But their basic message remains the same. Today Ah’ani’nin oral history is told during traditional rituals such as the Sun Dance ceremonies, the Pipe ceremonies, traditional gatherings, Sun Dance singings, hand game ceremonies and at family gatherings. The stories selected in this thesis are mostly family stories, stories from older documents such as the War Stories of the Gros Ventre. 168 The legends of the Ah’ani’nin are very old stories, stories such as Found-In-The-Grass and Cut-off Head. According to one story teller these are transnational, the same stories are told in other parts of this country. He felt that these stories show how we are connected as people. While these stories continue in a traditional way, a more formal setting for story telling is taking place today in the classroom in local elementary schools and secondary school as a frame. There continues to be a priority to record and document as much as possible of the remaining stories, legends and history of the Ah’ani'nin. These efforts are being done by the Aaniiih Nakoda College and other individuals who want to insure these stories take their place in history of the Ah’ani’nin. Among the Ah’ani’nin when a person wants to impress something upon people to listen to he will start with Ah'Ah'hey, which translates to mean something of old. We need stop and to listen. Ott Doe Nee Nee Tha (that is the way it is) 169 APPENDIX A RESEARCH APPROVAL 170 171 172 173 174 APPENDIX B GROS VENTRE PUBLICATIONS 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 REFERENCES Barry, E.E. (197 4). The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation: The first hundred years. 1855- 1955, Bozeman, MT: Big Sky Books. Cooper, J.M. (1957). The Gros Ventre of Montana: Part II –Religion and ritual. (R. Flannery, Ed.). Washington, DC: Catholic University of American Press. Cruikshank, Julie. (1992). Life Lived Like a Story, University of Nebraska Press Deloria, Vine, Jr. (2006). The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Golden Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing. DeMallie, Raymond I., Ed. (2001). Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 13, Part I & Part II. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. Dusenberry, Vern. (1961). The significance of the sacred pipes to the Gros Ventre of Montana. Ethnos, 26(1-2), 12-29. Flannery, R. (1953). The Gros Ventre of Montana: Part I – Social life. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America. Fort Belknap Education Department. (1986). Recollections of Fort Belknap’s Past; Fort Belknap Education Department (1982). War Stories of the Gros Ventre. Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Montana Fowler, Loretta. (1987). Shared Symbols, Contested Meanings. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. Horse Capture, Joe. (2009) From our Ancestors, Art of The White Clay People. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minneapolis Institute of Art. Kroeber, A.L. (1908-reprint). Gros Ventre myths and tales: Anthropological papers of the American Museum of Natural History, I (III), 55-139. New York. Weaver, Jace, Editor. (1998). Native American Religious Identity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Wunder, John, Editor, (1999). Native American Cultural and Religious Freedoms, Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska, Garland Publishing, Inc. Yow, Valarie Raleigh, (1994), Recording Oral History: A Practical Guide for Social Scientists, Sage Publications.
* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project
Second Generation Navajo Relocatees: Inheriting Intergenerational Losses Due to P.L.... by Aresta La Russo
Medicine Wheel Journey: An Autobiographical Approach to Developing an Indigenous-centered Helping Framework