Monday, March 14, 2016

About American Indian Stories

About American Indian Stories

Stories Of American Indians.

The Indians everywhere are fond of stories. Some of their stories are about themselves and their own deeds; others recount the past deeds of the tribe; many are about some wise and good man, who lived long ago, and who taught them how they should live and what dances and ceremonies they should perform; some are attempts to explain why things are as they are; others tell of the creation of the world.
Of these many stories some may be told at any time and anywhere, while others are sacred and must only be told to certain persons on particular occasions. Among some tribes the“old stories” must not be told in the summer when the trees are full of green leaves, for the spirits of the leaves can listen; but when winter comes, and snow lies on the ground, and the leaves have fallen, and the trees appear to be dead, then they may tell their stories about the camp-fire in safety. We can give only a few of these stories from three different tribes.

A Story Of Glooskap.

The Algonkin tribes of Nova Scotia, Canada, and New England had a great many stories about a great hero named Glooskap. They believedhe was a great magician and could do wonders. In stories about him it is common to have him strive with other magicians to see which one can do the greatest wonders and overpower the other. Glooskap always comes out ahead in these strange contests.Usually Glooskap is good to men, but only when they are true and honest. He used to give people who visited him their wish. But if they were bad, their wish would do them far more harm than good.

One of the Glooskap stories tells of how he fought with some giant sorcerers at Saco. There was an old man who had three sons and a daughter. They were all giants and great magicians. They did many wicked things, and killed and ate every one they could get at. It happened that when he was young, Glooskap had lived in this family, but then they were not bad. When he heard of their dreadful ways he made up his mind to go and see if it was all true, and if it were so, to punish them. So he went to the house. The old man had only one eye, and the hair on one half of his head was gray. The first thing Glooskap did was to change himself so that he looked exactly like the old man; no one could tell which was which. And they sat talking together. The sons, hearing them, drew near to kill the stranger, but could not tell which was their father, so they said, “He must be a great magician, but we
]will get the better of him.” So the sister giant took a whale's tail, and cooking it, offered it to the stranger. Glooskap took it. Then the eldest brother came in, and seizing the food, said, “This is too good for a beggar like you.”
Glooskap said, “What is given to me is mine: I will take it.” And he simply wished and it returned.
The brothers said, “Indeed he is a great magician, but we will get the better of him.”
So when he was through eating, the eldest brother took up the mighty jawbone of a whale, and to show that he was strong bent it a little. But Glooskap took it and snapped it in two between his thumb and finger. And the giant brothers said again, “Indeed he is a great magician, but we will get the better of him.”
Then they tested him with strong tobacco which no one but great magicians could possibly smoke. Each took a puff and inhaled it and blew the smoke out through his nose to show his strength. But Glooskap took the great pipe and filled it full, and at a single puff burnt all the tobacco to ashes and inhaled all the smoke and puffed it out through his nostrils.
When they were beaten at smoking, the giants proposed a game of ball and went out into the sandy plain by the riverside. And the ball they used was thrown upon the ground. It was really a dreadful skull, that rolled and snapped at Glooskap's heels, and if he had been a common man or a weak magician it would have bitten his foot off. But Glooskap laughed and broke off a tip of a tree branch for his ball and set it to rolling. And it turned into a skull ten times more dreadful than the other, and it chased the wicked giants as a lynx chases a rabbit. As they fled Glooskap stamped upon the sand with his foot, and sang a magic song. And the river rose like a mighty flood, and the bad magicians, changed into fishes, floated away in it and caused men no more trouble.

Scar-Face: A Blackfoot Story.

There was a man who had a beautiful daughter. Each of the brave and handsome and rich young men had asked her to marry him, but she had always said No, that she did not want a husband. When at last her father and mother asked her why she would not marry some one, she told them the sun had told her he loved her and that she should marry no one without his consent.
Now there was a poor young man in the village, whose name was Scar-face. He was a good-looking young man except for a dreadful scar across his face. He had always been poor, and had no relatives and no friends. One day when all the rich young men had been refused by the beautiful girl, they began to tease poor Scar-face. They said to him:—
“Why don't you ask that girl to marry you? You are so rich and handsome.”
Scar-face did not laugh at their unkind joke, but said, “I will go.”
He asked the girl, and she liked him because he was good; and she was willing to have him for her husband. So she said: “I belong to the sun. Go to him. If he says so, I will marry you.”
Then Scar-face was very sad, for who could know the way to the sun? At last he went to an old woman who was kind of heart. He asked her to make him some moccasins, as he was going on a long journey. So she made him seven pairs and gave him a sack of food, and he started.
Many days he traveled, keeping his food as long as he could by eating berries and roots or some animal that he killed. At last he came to the house of a wolf.
“Where are you going?” asked the wolf.
“I seek the place where the sun lives,” said Scar-face.
“I know all the prairies, the valleys, and the mountains, but I don't know the sun's home,” said the wolf; “but ask the bear; he may know.”
The next night the young man reached the bear's house. “I know not where he stops. I know much country, but I have never seen the lodge. Ask the badger; he is smart,” said the bear.
The badger was in his hole and was rather cross at being disturbed. He did not know the sun's house, but said perhaps the wolverine would know. Though Scar-face searched the woods, he could not find the wolverine.
In despair he sat down to rest. He cried to the wolverine to pity him, that his moccasins were worn out and his food gone.
The wolverine appeared. “Ah, I know where he lives; to-morrow you shall see: it is beyond the great water.”
The next morning the wolverine put the young man on the trail, and at last he came to a great water. Here his courage failed; he was in despair. There was no way to cross. Just then two swans appeared and asked him about himself.
When he told his story, they took him safely over. “Now,” said they, as he stepped ashore, “you are close to the sun's house. Follow that trail.”
Scar-face soon saw some beautiful things in the path,—a war-shirt, shield, bow, and arrow. But he did not touch them.
Soon he came upon a handsome young man whose name was Morning Star. He was the child of the sun and the moon. They became great friends.
Together they went to the house of the sun, and there Morning Star's mother was kind to Scar-face because her son told her that Scar-face had not stolen his pretty things. When the sun came home at night, the moon hid Scar-face under some skins, but the sun knew at once that some one was there. So they brought him forth and told him he should always be with Morning Star as his comrade. And one day he saved his friend's life from an attack of long-beaked birds down by the great water.
Then the sun and moon were happy over what he had done and asked what they could do for him. And Scar-face told them his story, and the sun told him he should marry his sweetheart. And he took the scar from his face as a sign to the girl. They gave him many beautiful presents, and the sun taught him many things, and how the medicine lodge should be built and how the dance should be danced, and at last Scar-face parted from them, and went home over the Milky Way, which is a bridge connecting heaven and earth.
And he sat, as is the custom of strangers coming to a town, on the hill outside the village. At last the chief sent young men to invite him to the village, and they did so. When he threw aside his blanket, all were surprised, for they knew him. But he wore rich clothing, he had a beautiful bow and arrow, and his face no longer bore the scar. And when he came into the village, he found the girl, and she knew that he had been to the sun, and she loved him, and they were married.