Monday, December 5, 2016
The Wolves and the Treacherous Wives (Blackfoot Tale) 1909
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Once a man had two wives of whom he was very jealous, so jealous that he pitched his lodge far out from any camp. He had a habit of sitting upon a buffalo-skull on the top of a high hill. Naturally his wives became very lonesome, and wished to get back to their people. So they decided to make way with him, and one day they dug a pit on the top of the hill where he usually sat, covered it with willows and turf, put the buffalo skull back in its place, and arranged everything as it was before. The next day the man went out to the top of the hill as usual, and sat down upon the buffalo-skull. As he did so, the cover of the pit gave way and he fell to the bottom, beneath the brush and earth. Thc women watched from the camp, and, when they saw him fall, took down their lodges and moved back to the camp. When the people saw them coming in, they said, “Where is your husband?” They replied, that, as he had been gone eight days, he must have been killed. Now the man was at the bottom of the deep pit, and unable to get out. A gray wolf happened to pass by, and, hearing some one in the ground, spoke to him. The man explained to the wolf how he had been deceived by his wives, and begged to be released from the trap. The gray wolf promised to help him out if he could. So he set to work digging a tunnel toward the bottom of the pit; but, when he had almost reached the man, he went out and called together all the wolves and coyotes. When they were all assembled, the old gray wolf had a talk with them, explaining that a man was caught in a deep hole, and that he had taken pity on this man. He wished to have him dug out, and promised to give him as a son to the first one to reach him by tunnelling. The gray wolf himself promised that he would wait until all the other wolves and coyotes were in their holes to their tails before he began to dig. As soon as the wolves and coyotes began to dig, the old gray wolf went to the hole which he had already dug, and, as soon as the others were in to their tails, he rushed down into his own hole, soon reaching the man. Then he drew him out, set him down upon the ground, and called in a loud voice, “Ho-o-o! Ho-o.o! Wolves and coyotes, you need not wear out your nails digging for the man, because I have him out already.” This gray wolf had great power for he was the chief of the wolves, so the man became his son and went away with the pack.
Now the people in the camp always set traps and snares around the buffalo-drive to catch wolves. They had done this always, but now they began to notice that all the traps and snares would be sprung and the bait taken, without catching a single wolf. The reason was, that the man (who was now a wolf) would go around to all the traps and snares and spring them, after which the pack would eat the bait. The people knew nothing of this. Sometimes when the people heard the wolves at night, they noticed a strange voice among them, and, as they listened from night to night, they thought it sounded more and more like a person. They began to talk about it, and said, “There must be a person with the wolves who throws our traps.” When they came to this conclusion, they decided to keep watch during the night until they found out why the traps were thrown. One night the watchers saw a large wolf go to the traps and throw them, after which the pack came up and ate the bait. Then the people decided to capture this man-wolf. “When he came the next night to throw the traps, a large number of men surrounded him and roped him. He fought and bit viciously, but they succeeded in dragging him into a lodge. When they made a light, they saw that he was a man with wolf hair and claws. Then they began to consider whether any of their people were missing, and at last they remembered the husband of the two women, and noticed that the wolf had eyes like this man. They called in his two wives, who recognized him at once. Now the people kept the man with them, and gradually got him back to human ways. At last he became to all appearances a man again. After a time he again took his wives out from the camp, where they lived alone. One day he went out to visit the chief of the wolves. Now the wolves and coyotes became as people and lived in a large camp. The chief of the wolves invited the man to move over and camp with them. There were a great many arrows lying on the ground around the camp of the wolf-people, and the chief of the wolves warned the man as follows, “My son, you must not pick up any of the arrows you see on the ground around here, for they are mine.” One day, a long time after, the man forgot the warning of the chief of the wolves, and picked up one of the arrows. Immediately it became coyote dung; and all the camp, except the man and his wives, became wolves and coyotes again. Now the man was very sorry, and went to the chief of the wolves to make amends. He finally offered his two wives to them. Then the wolves and coyotes set upon the two women and ate them. Thus they were punished for their evil doings.