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The hunting grounds of the Winnebagoes 







IP 1 



Interpreter, Winnebago Tribal Councilman, 
and Vice-President, Grand Council 
of North American Indians 



Principal, Chicago Public Schools 

Illustrated with half tones largely from 
photographs by the authors 

1 loot 





Copyright, 1928, by 
Rand McNally & Company 
A ll rights reserved 
Edition of 1930 


Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Bureau of 
American Ethnology for permission to reproduce from 
the Thirty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American 
Ethnology the illustrations on pages 31, 51, 70, 76, 79,107, 
and 152 of this volume. 

Made in U. S. A 



dflubg %irg Jlonaldsntt 

A real friend of American lore 

Battle Hollow , Wisconsin 



Who Are the Winnebagoes? . 9 

Bear Chief’s Arrival.16 

The Contest and What Came of It . . . 26 

The Foolish Hunter.37 

The Story of the Red Bird.47 

The Unlucky Horse .58 

The Ten Brothers and the Strange Sister 64 
Co-no, the Spirit of Gambling .... 75 

The Moons.90 

The Origin of Corn.100 

The Quarrel about a Name.110 

The Otter and the Beaver.123 

The Story of the Rabbit.135 

Wak-jon-ka-gah .149 

A Pronouncing and Defining Vocabulary . . . 163 


Along the hanks of the Wisconsin River 




Almost every boy and every girl in 
America who has good, red blood and a 
strong heart, and who loves fair play, has 
an interest in the Indians. They had been 
living in America for a long, long time 
before Columbus found them, and we would 
all like to know how long ago this was. 
Their skins were a reddish brown; they were 
not white people, although they still had 
many of the customs of the white people 
of long ago. The early Indians had not 
yet learned the use of metals; they had no 
steel knives, iron axes, or plows, nor any 
needles or pins like ours. Instead of all 
these things, they used stones of various 
kinds for all sorts of work. They had stone 
spearheads and arrow points, stone knives 


A map showing that portion of Wisconsin once occupied by 
the Winnebagoes. When the white man first discovered this 
region it was a vast hunting ground abounding in game and fur¬ 
bearing animals. The explorers and fur traders who visited the 
country found numerous Indian villages. The crosses on the 
map indicate the sites of some of the largest of these villages 



and hammers and axes and grinders, and 
even stone ornaments for their ears. Their 
needles and fishhooks they made of bone. 

The pioneers and settlers who came from 
Europe found many different nations and 
tribes of Indians in the various parts of the 
country. Each group of tribes that were 
much alike in language and customs was 
called by the whites one nation. In the 
central region of the United States was the 
Sioux nation, and one of the strongest 
tribes of the Sioux was the Winnebagoes, 
as the accompanying map will show. 

The Winnebagoes were first discovered 
by white men in 1634. Jean Nicolet had 
been sent by Governor Champlain to explore 
the region west of Quebec. Landing from 
Lake Michigan on the east shore of Green 
Bay, in what is now Wisconsin, Nicolet 
discovered first the Pottawatomies, who 
probably had come there across the lake 
from Michigan. And farther south along 
the shores of Green Bay he found the 



The Winnebagoes were described by other 
traders and by missionaries during the next 
few years as a strong tribe of many people. 
One of their villages alone had over five 
thousand men and women living in it. It 
is said that the Winnebagoes used but little 
caution in their dealings with others, relying 
entirely upon their own strength and fear¬ 
lessness for protection. They were very 
crafty, or cunning, and were often at war 
with their neighbors, the Fox, the Illinois, 
and the Pottawatomies. So powerful were 
they that they pushed farther and farther 
into Wisconsin, crowding out or overcoming 
their enemies, until the Winnebago villages 
extended along the Wisconsin River from 
Lake Winnebago to the Mississippi. 

Wherever the Winnebagoes settled, they 
built mounds of earth, some only two or 
three feet high, and others as high as low 
trees and as wide as a large school build¬ 
ing. The lower part of some of these mounds 
probably formed the bases of the larger 
houses or lodges, in which perhaps twenty 



Courtesy Wisconsin Archaeological Society 

Mounds such as this one were built to mark the location 
or possessions of various Winnebago clans 

families lived all together. Some of the 
other mounds were shaped like animals, 
probably to show who the owner of the 
land might be. Thus, a bear-shaped 
mound was made by the Bear families, or 
clan, upon the land which they owned. 
A turtle mound would be made by the 
Turtle clan wherever its land might be; 
and so it was for all the other clans. 



Still other mounds seem to have been 
used to cover the bodies of the dead. They 
were the cemeteries of the Winnebagoes. In 
these mounds are found the bones of men 
and women and often some of their most 
valuable possessions, such as ornaments and 
dishes. If food or wooden articles were 
buried, too, they soon decayed, so now we 
do not find such things. 

When central Wisconsin was settled, the 
government bargained with the Winnebagoes 
for their land, for it was valuable for lum¬ 
bering and for farming. The Indians were 
given land farther west, and today most of 
the Winnebagoes are living in Nebraska. 
They have become farmers, cattle raisers, 
storekeepers — in fact, they do well anything 
that white people do. Some are physicians, 
while others are lawyers, ministers, or school 
teachers. Many of the boys and girls 
attend high school and college. 

A great many white people think of the 
Indians as cruel and deceitful. Even some 
of the histories used in schools, as well as 



stories and tales, lead us to think so. This 
is far from being wholly true, and is very 
unfair to the Indians. As a matter of fact, 
there is really far more cruelty and deceit 
among the white people of a large American 
city today than there ever was among 
the Indians before they learned to drink 
the white man’s whisky. 

The Indians in general were as honest 
as the whites. They were intelligent and 
eager to learn, and their loyalty to their 
friends has never been surpassed by any 
people. Massasoit and Pocahontas were only 
two out of the many Indians who were 
true friends to the early settlers. 

The stories which follow on these pages 
were gathered together to help us better 
understand how the Indians lived and what 
they thought. These stories are still told to 
boys and girls in Winnebago homes. And 
so, if they interest Indian boys and girls, they 
will, without doubt, interest white boys and 
girls too, for boys and girls of every land 
and every race are just about the same. 


Nestling in the beautiful hills of north¬ 
eastern Nebraska, about five miles from the 
Missouri River, were the government offices 
and warehouses for the Winnebago tribe, 
and the cottages of the Indian agent and 
his employees. A flour mill, a blacksmith 
shop, and carpenter and shoe shops were 
maintained there, and at first there was a 
sawmill, as well. The flour mill, shops, 
and cottages were all built by the old-time 
carpentry methods and in large dimensions. 
Large, coarse timbers were mortised and 
pegged together. Iron nails were used only 
in the finishing work. The employees of 
the Indian agency included a miller, a 
farmer, a blacksmith, and a shoemaker, 
together with their assistants. A doctor 
and an interpreter were also maintained at 
the Indian trading post. 

The work of the post was carried on in 
a log house. Surrounding it were many 




other shops and dwellings, making quite a 
good-sized village. Here the Indians came 
to have their implements repaired, to do 
their trading, and to hear the news of the 
day; for most of them lived in the lonely 
ravines or hollows nearer the Missouri 
River. Such a place was Big Bear’s Hollow, 
where Chief Big Bear and his band were 
camped. Honey Creek was another little 
stream flowing into the Missouri River. 
Honey Creek Hollow was so named because 
Old Nace, the tribal bee hunter, had found 
more bee trees in that particular hollow 
than in any other place around. 

Almost every Indian family lived in a 
lodge of the old-time oval shape made with 
a framework of slender poles stuck in the 
ground in a circle, their tops bent over the 
center and bound together with strong 
strings or cords made from the fibers of 
basswood bark. This frame was strength¬ 
ened by other poles placed around the sides 
horizontally, in as many rows as the 
builders saw fit to use. These poles were 



then covered with elm bark or mattings 
made of rushes which overlapped until the 
lodge was rain-proof. At the top a place 
about two feet square was always left open 
for the smoke hole. Some of the lodges 
were made in oblong shape with two or 
more fireplaces within, and even now the 
Indians often speak of old-time lodges with 

Bennett photograph 


These lodges were oval in shape and covered with bark. 
For larger families the lodge was made longer 



as many as ten fireplaces, for Indian families 
were large in those days. 

To this community news came one day 
through the Indian agent that a branch of 
the Winnebagoes which had remained in 
Wisconsin, the native land of the tribe, was 
being moved to this new home in Nebraska. 
The agent told the Indians the day on 
which their relatives were to arrive in Sioux 
City, Iowa, the nearest railroad point. 
Though it was twenty-five miles to the 
north, all the Indians who had teams and 
wagons were instructed to meet the new¬ 
comers and bring them back. 

When the news spread over the reserva¬ 
tion, there was great excitement and expec¬ 
tation, for these Indians had been separated 
from one another for several years, and 
almost everyone in the tribe had near rela¬ 
tives among those who were coming. 

Finally came the time for the arrival of 
the Winnebagoes from Wisconsin. On the 
morrow they were to be put off at the 
railway station, so all the Indians who had 



horses and wagons started out to meet the 
train. All the others came and camped 
out around the agency. The next day was 
a long one, but finally it came to an end. 
As the sun crept down near the tops of the 
western hills, one of the braves who had 
been on the lookout on the higher hills to 
the north came tearing to the Indian camp 
at full speed. His spotted pony, pulled up 
for the sudden stop, sat back on its haunches 
and then stood still, panting. “They are 
coming on the north bottoms!” the young 
Indian shouted. 

The news created the greatest excitement, 
and everyone rushed out of the camp. The 
young women took their pails and hurried 
to the springs in the ravine for fresh water, 
and from every lodge there soon came the 
savory odors of food being prepared for the 
newcomers. This was in accord with Indian 
etiquette: “If a stranger comes in your 
midst, do not stand gazing at him in public 
places. But if you have aught to eat, invite 
him to your home and partake with him, for 



Welcoming the Winnebagoes on their arrival from Wisconsin 

even a kernel of corn is not too little to 
divide with him.” 

At last, just at sundown, the creaking 
wagons came slowly rolling into camp. 
Some were loaded with Indians, and others 
held camping outfits and cooking utensils 



or household goods. In many of the packs 
of the newcomers was much dried venison, 
which the Nebraskans greatly enjoyed, for 
they had had little venison since leaving 
their old home in Wisconsin, the land of 
the pine tree and the deer. 

For several moments all that could be 
heard was “Ho, ho, ho,” as the Indians 
shook hands with their relatives and friends. 
Indians do not kiss or embrace each other, 
and there is some doubt as to whether 
they even shook hands in the primitive 

It was not until the Big Dipper had 
nearly made its complete circuit around the 
North Star that the village grew quiet, for 
each family had to be told everything that 
had happened during all the years of their 

The Indians had no sooner gone to bed, 
it seemed, before Standing Buffalo, the 
village herald, was up and about, singing 
the morning songs and telling the people 
to arise. “The Great Father, the Sun, who 



gives us light and life and growth upon 
Mother Earth, is even now coming over 
the eastern horizon.” Then, as the Indians 
assembled before their lodges in the bright 
sunlight, the children were able to get a 
good view of all these strangers who spoke 
their own language. 

There was Black Hawk, who all these 
years had resisted the pleadings of the 
Great Father in Washington to remove his 
tribe to Nebraska, and who only a few 
days previously had been caught with his 
people at a public feast. At the point of 
the bayonet they had been forced to get 
into box cars on a freight train and be 
shipped like cattle to Sioux City. A chief 
Black Hawk was in appearance as well as 
in action, with strength and leadership 
written on his face. His word was law 
among his people. 

But who was this other great chieftain 
whose words seemed to charm everyone 
like music? Was he another chief of the 
tribe? No, he was Bear Chief, the tribal 

>** .,f 

Bear Chief , the tribal story-teller 



story-teller, the son of old Two Claws, 
and, as his name indicated, a member of 
the Bear clan of the Winnebagoes. He was 
of ordinary stature with a strand of long 
black hair hanging down over each shoulder. 
Two eagle feathers stuck in his hair, on 
the back of his head, denoted his ability 
as a warrior. His face was round, and he 
wore a heavy ornament of conch shell and 
wampum in each ear. A strong bow of 
hickory was his cane. Thrown over his left 
shoulder was a quiver of arrows all well 
feathered and tipped at the points with 
mud-turtle claws, while on his right shoulder 
was slung a carefully folded Hudson’s Bay 
blanket. He wore a buckskin shirt and 
a pair of leggings of the same material, 
with fringes down the outer sides of his 
legs. His moccasins were ornamented with 
colored porcupine quills. 

Thus stood Bear Chief, the story-teller, 
as the children saw him the day after his 


It was in the fall of the year that this 
removal, or migration, of the Wisconsin 
branch of the Winnebagoes took place, and 
it was two or three weeks before the new¬ 
comers had become accustomed to their new 
homes. Some had been taken in by rela¬ 
tives, while others,.who had brought enough 
material to make lodges, now had their own 

It was not long until all the children 
had heard about and had seen Bear Chief, 
but, childlike, they did not know how to 
approach him. One day, as they were 
returning home from a squirrel hunt in the 
woods, young Red Bird, who was a leader 
among the Indian boys, said, “Let's all 
take one shot at that knot in the elm tree. 
The poorest shot shall ask his father to 
speak to Bear Chief about telling us 



“Yes, let’s do it,” they all cried out 
together, for they were eager for the stories. 

“Red Bird will have to shoot first,” said 
Little Turtle, the smallest boy in the 
crowd, as they measured off a good distance 
for an arrow shot and formed in line. 

“All right,” said Red Bird. “I’m not 
afraid, and I believe I can hit it just as 
easily as I would a buffalo’s heart.” 

So he placed his best arrow on his bow¬ 
string and pulled it back its entire length 
several times to see whether the bow still 
retained its full strength and springiness. 
Then he took careful aim and let the arrow 
fly. It went whizzing forth, striking the 
tree just beside the knot. 

“I knew you would miss it!” shouted 
Little Turtle, as the other boys laughed 
in glee. 

“If it had only been a buffalo I would 
have sent the arrow through its heart,” 
said Red Bird. 

Then Green Crow boldly stepped forward 
with his bow and arrow, saying boastfully, 


The day of the shooting contest 

“I’ll show you how to hit the knot. Just 
watch me.” But he let fly his arrow so 
far from its mark that he was unable to 
find it. 

“You are always boasting, Green Crow. 
You wouldn’t have killed the squirrel dang¬ 
ling now at your belt if I hadn’t wounded 
it first,” cried Red Bird. 

Then Flying Cloud, the chief’s son, 
shot, and hit the knot on the edge. With 
a feeling of safety and a proud air he 
stepped aside for Little Turtle, who now 
was examining his arrows. Little Turtle 


was the youngest and the smallest of the 
boys, but his father had taken great pains in 
teaching him how to shoot an arrow. He 
had cautioned his son always to keep his 
arrows straight and to be sure not to swing 
his bow hand to either side while the arrow 
was leaving the bow. So, because he had 
heeded all of this training, he now placed 
a very straight arrow in his bow and with¬ 
out the least sign of excitement pulled back 
on the arrow. “Snap!” went his bowstring. 

The other boys shouted merrily at his 
misfortune. But Little Turtle immediately 
pulled the extra string into place with one 
jerk of his hand, and then, again placing the 
arrow, he aimed and let it fly. 

To the surprise of all the boys, the 
arrow went straight to the center of the 
knot. They did not say much, but Green 
Crow, upon whom had fallen the lot to ask 
his father to speak for Bear Chief’s stories, 
said, “I know it was an accident.” 

The boys, merrily talking of the day’s 
hunt and the contest, went home, for it was 



growing late in the evening. Before they 
separated for their lodges after reaching 
camp, Green Crow told his father of the 
day’s hunt with his playmates. And he 
told him how, on the way home, they had 
had a contest and how he had lost not 
only the contest but his arrow as well. 
He explained to him the bargain by which 
the loser was to beg his father to ask Bear 
Chief to tell them the stories for which he 
was so noted. Old Crow did not answer 
him immediately, but for several moments 
sat silently smoking his long calumet. 
Finally he spoke. 

“Son,” said he, “how many times have 
I cautioned you that to shoot straight you 
must first have a straight arrow and a 
steady bow hand? See to it that you 
observe these things hereafter. I will see 
Bear Chief in the morning, but it is a 
custom among our people that a young 
man or boy seeking stories must perform 
some act of veneration for the one from 
whom he seeks the story.” With this wise 


counsel to his son Old Crow, with his 
family, retired for the night. 

The next morning Old Crow had his 
squaw prepare an especially good breakfast. 
Stepping across to the lodge of Bear Chief, 

Wooden spoons made by the Indians 

he respectfully asked him to come over and 
partake of the meal. Bear Chief came 
back with him and, after they had eaten, 
Old Crow repeated to him the story of the 
contest of the day before, telling how his 
son had lost and how as a result it fell to 
his lot to beg for the stories. 

Bear Chief was by that time in a happy 
mood and gladly consented to tell the boys 
a story. “But,” said he, “as it has been 
the custom of our people to teach the 
young mind to retain what it hears, I must 



ask the young braves to gather some nice, 
dry wood and to bring in a good fire log 
for this evening, in order that we may be 
comfortable in the lodge and have light as 
well for the story.” 

As soon as Bear Chief had departed, 
Green Crow lost no time in finding his 
companions, for they were anxiously await¬ 
ing him. He told them of Bear Chief’s 
consent and of his request for firewood. 
How delighted they all were! Red Bird 
said he would borrow his mother’s pack 
strap, which was made of buffalo hide. 
And Little Turtle was sure he could take 
his father’s ax, which he always kept keen 
and sharp. Flying Cloud and Green Crow 
were to do the packing, or carrying, while 
the others were to cut and tie the wood in 

Soon the boys were tramping down the 
ravine into the woods, talking merrily and 
wondering what the story of the evening 
would be. They worked with such energy 
that they soon had two good-sized bundles 


or packs of nice, dry wood which Green 
Crow and Flying Cloud proceeded to carry 
to camp. The bundles were light at first, 
but seemed to get heavier and heavier, so 
that the boys had to lay them down sev¬ 
eral times and rest before reaching camp. 
There they threw down their packs and 
with perspiration running down their faces 
returned for the next loads. Those seemed 
heavier than the first, but at last the boys 
carried them, too, into camp. Then came 
their final load, the big fire log. It was a 

The boys on their way to the camp with the big fire log 
for Bear Chiefs lodge fire 



fine, long, dry log from which some one 
had peeled the bark to cover his lodge. 
This log the four boys partly carried and 
partly dragged into camp. 

The young braves, having now made 
good their word, were happy, and each 
returned to his father’s lodge for the eve¬ 
ning meal. With the appetites of hungry 
bears they did full justice to the jerked 
meat and corn which their mothers had 
prepared for them. And eagerly they waited 
for the dusk, for that was when Bear Chief 
had told them to come to his lodge. 

At last, since everything comes to those 
who have earned it, dusk began to come. 
Since it was but a few rods to Bear Chief’s 
lodge, they arrived there in good time, just 
as the stars began to peep out here and 
there in the heavens and a perfect and 
silent night fell upon the village. The 
boys stood outside the lodge for several 
moments, longing but hesitating to go in. 
Finally Red Bird told Green Crow to go 
in first. 


“No,” said that young brave, “I asked 
for the story and it is up to one of you 
boys to go in first.” 

So Little Turtle stepped forward and 
opening the door flap, which was made out 
of a buffalo robe, led the way inside the 
lodge, which was of the ordinary oval shape, 
covered with rush mattings. The four boys 
took their seats on the north side of the 
lodge. The entrance was on the east end 
and Bear Chief was seated at the rear or 
west end. At the south end sat Bear 
Chief’s squaw, making moccasins for her 
chief out of smoked buckskin. Behind 
Bear Chief, hanging from the lodge frame, 
were his bow and quiver of arrows. Around 
the edge of the lodge hung several bags 
made of basswood fiber and decorated in 
different colors and designs. The mattings 
lying around the lodge fire were made of 
beautifully colored rushes woven together. 

Bear Chief sat smoking his long pipe, 
the calumet. As the four boys entered, 
he calmly took the last few puffs. Then, 



knocking the ashes out against the poles 
around the hearth, he carefully placed the 
pipe in its case and hung it up in the 
frame of the lodge. 

“Ho, ho, my grandsons,’’ said Bear 
Chief, for so does an old man call young 
boys. “To begin with, let us have a good 

At once the boys rushed out. Flying 
Cloud and Little Turtle each brought in an 
armful of wood, while Red Bird and Green 
Crow managed to drag in the big log and 
to place one end of it in the fire in the 
center of the lodge. Flying Cloud and 
Little Turtle then proceeded to place the 
smaller sticks around the end of the log. 
Soon the fire began to burn brightly, and 
the boys took their seats again. 


“Flying Cloud, my grandson,” said Bear 
Chief, “will you please turn around that 
stick that has its big end in the fire?” 

So Flying Cloud turned it around and 
placed the smaller end in the fire. 

“There,” said Bear Chief. “It is good. 
The old people say that if you burn your 
fire sticks with the big or lower end first 
there will come a long, cold winter. There¬ 
fore Indians are always careful about the 
way they place their fire sticks in the fire. 
And in everything else they are careful. 
There is always a natural way and an 
unnatural way, a good way and a poor 
way of doing things. To do things in an 
unnatural way only means that you pro¬ 
long your labor and waste time. [Here Red 
Bird looked at Green Crow as much as to 
say, “You did that.”] Now, grandsons, 
you have exerted yourselves well for a 
story. And because it was on your return 




from the hunting trip that it occurred to 
you to ask for a story, I shall tell you a 
hunting story this evening.” 

The fire was now crackling and burning 
nicely, sending forth a blaze which filled 
the lodge with a beautiful glow of light, 
and made the shadows play along the wall. 

‘‘Long ago our people, the Winnebagoes, 
lived in Wisconsin; this word means the 
Country of the Pines. It was the custom 
of the old people to encourage the young 
people to fast, for they knew that the 
Great Spirit created the different forces 
which our people know as spirits. And he 
also created the different animals, the birds 
of the air, and the fishes of the lakes and 
streams, each one with its own habits and 
its own means of protection. So it was to 
learn of these things and to obtain knowl¬ 
edge of the mysteries of the Great Spirit 
and his creation that the people encouraged 
fasting. They told their children to go up 
into the cliffs or hills away from human 
habitations and there to fix their thoughts 



upon the things they longed to learn about, 
and to pray and receive inspiration from 
the Great Spirit and his creation. 

“A certain young Indian who wished to 
become a great hunter heeded thus the 
counsel of his parents. He fasted and fasted, 
and learned the ways of the forests and the 
habits of the animals of the woods and of 
the birds of the air. This young man 
seemed to have power to go out and kill 
almost any animal or fowl that he wished, 
and he was known and respected among 
his tribe for his skill in hunting. 

“At this time the tribe was living along 
the shores of the Fox River in the Country 
of the Pines. One day, in the spring, as 
the ice in the rivers began to break up, 
this young man became restless, for he was 
eager to eat duck’s flesh. As the days 
passed, he hungered more and more, and 
mentioned his desire many times to his 
companions. So anxious and impatient was 
he that one day he said, ‘I am so hungry 
for duck’s meat that as soon as the ducks 



come north I am going to slaughter many, 
and first I am going to render out the fat 
and bathe in that. Then afterward I shall 
slaughter a great many more and have a 
great feast on them.’ He could think of 
nothing else as time went on, until at last 
there came a day when spring seemed to 
be in the sunshine and the wind. The 
weather was fine, and the first geese and 
ducks migrating northward appeared in the 
southern sky. Each day brought more and 
more of them. At last, one day, the very 
heavens seemed to be black with them, and 
it was then that the young man slung his 
quiver of arrows over his back and selected 
his best bow. Thus armed, he started out 
for his favorite hunting place on the banks 
of the Fox River where he had gone many 
times before and killed all the ducks he 
wanted. There he seated himself, certain 
that it would not be long before he would 
start home with a load of ducks, to carry 
out his desire to bathe in their fat, and to 
top off with a feast on their meat. He 

A river scene in the Country of the Pines 


waited patiently, but all the ducks seemed 
to know his intention, for none of them 
would fly within shooting distance of him. 

“Thus he spent the day; in the evening 
he went home without a duck. But he 
consoled himself with the belief that this 
was just an unusual occurrence. He was 
not worried as to whether or not he could 
kill the ducks if they came near enough to 
him, for the young man was a sure shot 
with the arrow. 

“The next morning he arose just at day¬ 
break and was off again to the water’s 
edge. Here he sat waiting and waiting all 
day, but he waited in vain, just as on 
the day before, and went home somewhat 
discouraged, although still hopeful for the 
morrow. Again the third day he went and 
with the same result. Now among the 
Winnebago tribe of Indians, and among 
many other tribes, the number four is con¬ 
sidered a magic, or sacred, number. It is 
thought that the same things happen only 
four times, that the fourth time is the last 



time, and after that it is useless to try 
again. So the young man went a fourth 
day to his favorite place upon the river 
bank, but again he sat waiting in vain 
all through the long hours. 

“Finally, as the sun began to sink in 
the west, he called to mind the inspiration 
he had received in fasting, and his past 
ability as hunter and marksman. Now, all 
Indians who fast have individual chants or 
songs, calling forth all the powers of their 
being; and this young man had his. With 
uplifted face he stood and sang his song, 
which meant, ‘It is I, it is I; it is I, it is I.’ 

“Even while he sang he thought he heard 
a sound in the distance, and he listened 
eagerly. Far down the river came a flock 
of ducks flying in V formation, as we often 
see them in the spring when they migrate 
to the northern lakes. And it was the 
leading duck he heard singing the very 
same song that he sang, ‘It is I, it is I. 
The blue sky in the heavens my body is. 
It is I.’ 



“The flock came nearer and nearer until 
it was almost over his head. He placed 
an arrow in his bow and, with the leading 
duck almost touching the tip of his arrow, 
let it fly. But the arrow shot out into 
space, and the flock of ducks flew on and 
disappeared in the distance. 

“The young man went home in very 
low spirits, and that night he lay in his 
deerskin, wide awake and restless, watch¬ 
ing the moonlight and shadows flicker across 
his tepee and listening to the sighing of the 
wind among the leafless trees. Soon he 
heard some one come softly to the side of 
his lodge and whisper his name, saying, ‘I 
am after you. Come with me.’ 

“A spirit then directed his soul to leave 
his body still sleeping in the tepee, and to 
come away to the upper regions, to the 
lodge of the Bird Spirits. There, in his 
dream, the leading Spirit counseled him, 
saying, ‘Young man, you have not spoken 
as you should of holy things. You have 
said things that you should not have said. 



Our bodies are all like the sky above you, 
so how could you kill us if we were not 
willing you should? The Great Spirit made 
us for food, and as such we have blessed 
your people. But we are not mere play¬ 
things. So henceforth be careful how you 
talk and keep in mind all that we have 
told you.’ 

“With this the soul of the young man 
was taken down again to his own home 
and back into the physical state, into his 
earthly body. 

“The next morning the young man went 
out early, and it was almost no time at 
all before he had shot all the ducks he wanted 
for food for himself and for his neighbors. 
But he did not take the promised bath in 
the fat of the ducks. 

“Now then, grandsons,” said Bear Chief, 
“nearly all Indians observe these rules. 
When I was a young boy myself, my 
father taught me very strictly never to 
play with food or to waste it, or to kill 
more than was necessary for food.” 



Old Bear Chief stopped speaking and 
took down his pipe for a smoke. 

“Green Crow here always tries to kill 
more squirrels than are needed for food, 
Grandfather,” said Red Bird. 

“It is not right,” said Bear Chief. “And 
now, grandsons, if tomorrow you will fast 
a half day, in the evening I will tell you 
another story.” 


The boys were up early the next morn¬ 
ing. Each one told his parents about the 
promised story and about the fast they 
must keep first. As they met at Flying 
Cloud’s lodge, each boy had his bow and 
arrows, and had blackened his face as a 
symbol of humbleness before the Great 
Spirit. It is said by the old Indians that 
he who refrains not from the use of char¬ 
coal will receive blessings. 

Thus the boys started for the woods to 
shoot and to while away the morning until 
noon, when they were to break their fast. 
They went eastward down a little stream 
until they came to a big elm tree under 
which they stopped to play. Red Bird spied 
a squirrel up in the tree and shot an arrow 
at it but missed, and the arrow got caught 
in the branches. Then what a jolly time they 
had trying to shoot the arrow down! By 
and by one of Green Crow’s arrows was 



Red Bird with his bow and arrow on his way to the woods 

caught, also. It was so near noon when 
they finally shot Red Bird’s arrow down 
that they went home, leaving Green Crow’s 
arrow still up in the tree. As soon as they 


'ri oof 


reached home they were given food to eat 
and oh, how good it tasted! Bear Chief 
was indeed right when he said that it was 
wrong to waste food. 

That evening four anxious boys started 
again for Bear Chief’s lodge. They entered 
with expectant hearts and found Bear Chief 
sitting in his usual place. He greeted them 
with a smile and asked them if they had 

“Yes,” answered the boys in unison. 
“Yes, and we have learned the lesson about 
not wasting food.” 

“Grandsons, I am going to tell you 
tonight about the orphan boy, but first we 
must have a better fire and a good seat.” 
So he leaned over and poked the fire into a 
blaze and then squirmed about to make for 
himself a comfortable seat. “All right now, 
boys,” said he, “you listen. 

^Xong ago there was a village in the 
forest built in the circle in which Indians 
usually build their villages. On the out¬ 
skirts lived an old woman with her young 



grandson, for the boy’s father and mother 
had died, leaving him an orphan. The life 
of the village went along quietly, as life in 
most villages does, until one day there came 
a bird with beautiful red feathers. It flew 
into a tall tree in the middle of the village 
circle, causing a red glow of light to spread 
over all the lodges. It was such a hand¬ 
some bird that the chief wanted its feathers. 
He offered one of his two beautiful daughters 
in marriage to anyone who would kill the 
bird, so all the young men took their bows 
and arrows, each of them expecting to win 
a bride. 

“Each day the young men came to the 
foot of the tree, and among the crowd was 
a man called the Ape, who was a cheat in 
everything he did. Each youth was allowed 
to take one shot at the bird, and whenever 
anyone’s arrow came close to it a shout of 
excitement would go up. Drawn by this 
shouting and noise, the orphan boy came 
too, dirty and uncared for, with his hair 
matted on his head. Each day upon his 



return home he told his grandmother about 
the contest and asked that he might go 
and try his bow and arrow on the bird. 
And though his grandmother scolded him, 
every day he would quietly sneak away to 
the contest. 

'“Oh, here comes the orphan boy! Let 
him try!’ everyone cried each day as he 
joined the crowd. So he would place an 
arrow in his bow and shoot at the bird. 
The Ape, who was always there, also shot 

This is a blunt-headed arrow. Killed with such an arrow , 
the bird did not bleed to death. Thus the plumage was not soiled 
and it could be used for robes and headdresses 

at the bird at the same time and always 
came very close to it, causing the crowd to 
send up a shout. 

“Thus the Winnebagoes shot for three 
days. On the fourth day the contest was 



continued, and as usual the orphan boy 
stepped up to shoot. Just as he let his 
arrow fly, the Ape also shot, but it hap¬ 
pened to be the orphan boy who hit the 
bird, causing it to fall to the ground. But 
the Ape claimed it, taking it away from the 
orphan and presenting the bird to the chief, 
who thanked him and gave him his elder 
daughter in marriage. 

‘In the scuffle the orphan boy snatched 
a single bright red feather, and this he 
carried home under his blanket. Soon the 
feather changed into a much brighter and 
more beautiful bird than the one which had 
been shot. The boy showed his wonderful 
red bird to his grandmother, telling her all 
that had happened. 

“As the grandmother still very much 
doubted his ability to shoot, the orphan 
boy braided a rawhide hoop and told her to 
roll it across the floor of the wigwam. She 
did as she was bidden, and the boy shot it 
right through the center. The hoop fell in 
the middle of the lodge in the form of a 



yearling buffalo heifer. Then the orphan 
boy told his grandmother to cook some of 
the meat of the heifer and take it to the 
chief for his meal. 

“This she did, but when she took the 
meat to the chief’s lodge she passed it 
under the door flap, saying, ‘This is for the 
chief from his son-in-law.’ Then she slipped 
away unobserved. 

“The chief ordered his women to see 
who it was, but the old grandmother was 
nowhere to be found. 

“This the old woman did for four days 
in succession. On the fourth day the women 
saw her and discovered that it was the 
orphan’s grandmother who brought the deli¬ 
cious meal of buffalo meat. And when they 
went to question her about what she had 
done, they found there the orphan with the 
beautiful bird. 

“The chief was told of all this, and he 
called the orphan boy to his lodge and gave 
him in marriage his second daughter, who 
was even more beautiful than the elder 

The beautiful daughter of the chief 



daughter. But because the boy was so dirty 
and unkempt, the Ape and his wife were 
very careful not to touch him and to keep 
all their things out of his reach when he 
came in. The wife of the orphan scolded 
them, telling them they ought to have pity 
upon him. 

“On the fourth day of their marriage his 
wife cried all day over his pitiable state. 
The next morning the orphan asked his wife 
to take a walk with him into the forest. 
They walked a long way until they came 
to a large lake. There he told his wife to 
note him carefully so that she would recog¬ 
nize him again, showing her a scar on his 
leg. Bidding her have no fear, he dived 
down into the lake. He did not come up 
again, and finally she began to fear that he 
had been drowned. There she sat and wept 
until finally she fell asleep. Late in the 
afternoon a beautiful young man in wonder¬ 
ful robes came and wakened her. 

“‘Come, wife,’ he said, ‘it is time for 
us to go.’ 



“‘You are not my husband,’ she replied, 
for she did not recognize this stranger. ‘My 
husband dived into the lake here and has 
not returned.’ 

“Then the stranger showed her the scar 
upon his leg. He told her that he had gone 
into the lake to transform himself, and that 
all these things were but to test her love. 
At this she was very happy. 

“Upon their return from the lake his 
sister-in-law recognized the orphan boy at 
once, and after that there was no end of her 
calling him ‘Brother.’ 

“The orphan’s skill with the bow and 
arrow made him a wonderful hunter, so 
that he supplied the whole village with 
meat, and finally, upon the death of his 
father-in-law, became the chief. 

“Now, my grandsons,” said Bear Chief, 
“tomorrow evening I shall tell you about the 
unlucky horse. It is time for you to return 
to your lodges for the night but, before you 
go, tell me what you are going to remember 
out of tonight’s story.” 



“The beautiful red bird that came from 
a feather,” exclaimed Green Crow, who was 
always the quickest to speak. 

“No, grandsons, that is not the best 
thing to remember.” 

The boys sat and thought. None of them 
wanted to say anything until he was sure 
he was right. Then Little Turtle’s eyes 
sparkled with a sudden thought, and he 
whispered, “I’m going to remember that any 
boy, even if he has no father or mother, can 
succeed in almost anything he tries to do.” 


The next day the boys were so eager 
for the evening story that the day seemed 
very, very long, but after they had wandered 
far through the woods and had played all 
the different games they knew, the evening 
did finally come, and the stars began to 
twinkle in the heavens. Eating very little 
supper, they met early and started for 
Bear Chief’s lodge, taking their seats on 
the north side. 

“Ho, grandsons,” came his usual greeting. 
Slowly he finished his long pipe of kinni- 
kinnick and, after knocking the ashes out 
against the fire log, carefully placed the 
pipe in its case and hung it on the poles of 
the lodge. 

“Grandsons,” said he, “did you notice 
the spotted horse at the last dance which 
Big Bear gave? It was running loose 
among the picketed ponies and seemed to 
belong to no one.” 




“Oh, yes,” cried the boys in unison. 
“And it is a fine horse, too.” 

“I wish I owned it,” said Green Crow. 

“Well, that is the horse I mean, and 
you must let it alone,” continued Bear 
Chief. “Not so many years ago the Omaha 
Indians went on a hunt with the Winne- 
bagoes. Big Bear’s son, whose name was 
‘Comes-Traveling-over-the-Country,’ was one 
of the party from the Winnebagoes. This 
Indian was a great warrior and knew no 
fear. As you know, the buffalo hunters 
generally go out in the spring of the year 
when the new grass is long enough to make 
good grazing, so that they may have plenty 
of food for their horses. They take their 
fastest horses and go well armed, because 
they often meet Indians from unfriendly 
tribes with whom they must fight. 

“So this hunting band of which I am 
speaking started west on the Platte River 
bottoms of Nebraska in the spring. In 
those days many herds of buffalo roamed 
there. The party went west as far as the 



village of the Pawnee Indians who lived 
where Genoa, Nebraska, now is. There 
they all visited for a time, and there it was 
that this spotted horse was presented to an 
Omaha Indian. The horse had previously 
been owned by a Pawnee warrior who had 
been killed on its back while fighting with 
the Sioux. 

“It was because of the tragic death of 
its owner that the Pawnees presented the 
horse to the Omaha while he was on this 
buffalo hunt. One day, while the Omahas 
and Winnebagoes were chasing the great 
buffalo herd, they suddenly came upon a 
band of Sioux warriors, and immediately a 
fierce battle took place. The Omaha on 
his spotted horse happened to get too far 
to one side and was chased by a small 
party of Sioux. While fleeing from them 
the horse stumbled, throwing his rider to 
the ground. He feigned death and was 
shot at by a Sioux Indian as he lay there. 
But the arrow went between his body and 
his arm. The Sioux, supposing him dead, 


The Bear clansmen were the soldiers of the tribe and carried 
some kind of weapons or soldier's sticks. The bonnet of feathers 
was not worn in the forests. Instead of the bonnet a headdress 
made from a deer tail was worn 



leaped from their horses and scalped him 
alive, for he lay perfectly still. 

“Ever after that this Indian was known 
as the ‘Scalped Omaha.’ He lived for many 
years among his own people and among 
the Winnebagoes, for he had a Winnebago 

“Wasn’t he lucky?” chirped Green Crow. 
“He didn’t have any more hair to take 
care of. But he must have been a funny¬ 
looking Indian.” 

“Yes, he was a queer-looking Indian. 
He looked a whole lot like a bald-headed 
white man. After the battle in which the 
Omaha lost his scalp, his spotted horse 
was presented to Comes-Traveling-over-the- 
Country, Big Bear’s son. Comes-Traveling- 
over-the-Country sent the horse back home 
with his father, who returned with the regu¬ 
lar hunting party in the fall of the year. 

“But Comes-Traveling-over-the-Country 
went on farther west with a hunting band 
of Pawnees who were going for more 
buffalo, for, as I have already said, he was 



a great warrior and loved adventure. And 
from that day to this no one has ever 
seen him. Some say that the war party 
was overtaken by an epidemic and that he 
died of the sickness. Others say that he 
was captured by the Sioux and taken west 
as a captive, but no one knows what really 
became of him. He was the last owner of 
the beautiful spotted horse that you saw at 
the dance.” 

“I don’t want anything to do with that 
unlucky horse,” thought each one of the 
boys to himself. As they said good night 
to the old story-teller they thanked him 
for telling them all the good stories about 
their people, and promised that they would 
not forget a word but would, when they 
were old men, tell the same stories to other 
boys at night about the log fire. 


“Well, sons, what story shall I tell you 
tonight?” asked Bear Chief, as the boys 
stole softly into his lodge the next evening. 
The night was cold and windy, but within 
the lodge it was cheery and warm. The fire 
log burned brightly. Its sparks snapped 
like popping corn and its smoke curled up 
into the shadows, then out through the smoke 
hole above, where it seemed to float between 
the stars, away, away overhead. 

“Tell us something about the animals 
of the woods and of the prairies,” answered 
Little Turtle. “Tell us where they all came 
from, and whether they, too, ever think 
about things as we do. Are the buffalo 
and the deer just animals, or are they 
really like us inside?” 

“Well, I cannot tell you all about that, 
but if you will listen to the story my grand¬ 
father told me when I was a young man, 



then perhaps you can answer some of your 
questions yourself. Anyhow, I’ll tell you 
about the quail and some of the other 
animals and birds. 

“Once there was a long, ten-fireplace 
lodge in which lived ten brothers, each one 
having a separate fireplace for himself. 
When they went out to hunt, it was the 
custom of the brothers to go all together 
along a single trail to a place some distance 
from the lodge. Here they would stop, 
seating themselves in a circle. They would 
smoke together, and then all would depart 
in different directions in search of game. 
In the evening they would return to this 
same place and come home over the single 
trail. The eldest brother would always 
bring a buffalo, then would follow the next 
younger brother with a moose, and the 
third with a bear. The fourth brother would 
bring a black-tailed deer, and so on down 
to the youngest brother, who would alw'ays 
bring a quail. Thus they lived, each day 
going on the chase. 



“One day, as the eldest brother returned 
in the evening with his usual pack of buffalo, 
he discovered a woman sitting outside the 
lodge, so he rushed the last few steps home 
and greeted her. ‘Oh, sister, I am so glad 
you have come,’ said he, and, after inviting 
her into the lodge, he hurried about and 
cooked the tongue of the buffalo that he 
had just brought. When it was ready, he 
placed it before her, but said, ‘Sister, it 
would seem as if I meant to discourage 
your eating, but, little sister, please do 
not eat too much, for my brothers are yet 
to come.’ So, after taking only a few 
bites from the tongue, she put it aside. 

“And sure enough, she had no more than 
stopped eating when the second brother 
came. As soon as he came within hearing 
distance, the eldest brother shouted to him 
and told him about the arrival of their sister. 
The second brother rushed home, and, after 
greeting her, he also quickly cooked for 
her the tongue of the moose that he had 
brought. Thus it went on with each 


brother. As he came home, each brother 
cooked for her the tongue of the animal that 
he had brought, until at last there was 
only the tenth, or youngest, brother left. 

“Finally, late in the evening, he came 
home and the eldest brother told him also 
of the arrival of their sister and of how 
each brother had cooked something for her. 
But the tenth brother did not make any 
reply or even cook for his sister. Instead, 
to the surprise of the others, he ignored her 

“Thus things went on until one day the 
ninth brother asked the youngest why he 
ignored their sister. The youngest brother 
replied, ‘Our eldest brother has counseled 
us from the time we were little, and he has 
told us all the things that he knew, but not 
until the arrival of this woman did I know 
that I had a sister. She may not be what 
she seems. Maybe she is not really our 

“Thus they argued with him day after 
day as they sat in the woods before they 

Li ' " 


separated for the hunt. At first they were 
angry with him, then they laughed at his 
doubts, but at last they admitted that he 
might be right after all. 

“He finally won over all his brothers 
except the eldest one, who still continued 
to regard the woman as his sister. But at 
last, one day, as they sat smoking before they 
departed on the chase, he asked his brothers 
their reasons for suspecting her. They told 
him that he was the eldest and had told 
them from time to time all that he knew 
of things in general, but that he had never 
mentioned a sister. For that reason they 
supposed that she was an impostor. 

“And thus, at last, the eldest brother, 
too, was won over to their way of thinking, 
and they decided to send back a spy to see 
what the woman was doing in their absence. 
They decided to send their youngest brother, 
so he turned himself into a little bird and 
flew to the top of their lodge, where he 
alighted and listened. Lo and behold, the 
woman was talking over to herself her 


plan for killing them all that same eve¬ 
ning. ‘ I will waylay them on their way 
home and kill them one at a time, which 
will be easy, but I wonder if I will be able 
to kill the youngest brother. Ah! He might 
even now be somewhere around listening to 
me,’ said she. 

“The little brother then flew back to the 
others and reported the woman’s plan to 
kill them that evening. The brothers held 
a hurried council and decided to leave for 
other parts of the country right then and 
there. They agreed to travel in different 
directions in order not to leave such a plain 
trail. Each evening they were to come 
together, and start again in the same fashion 
the following morning. Having decided all 
this, the ten brothers took their departure 
at once. 

“ In the meantime the woman waited for 
their return to kill them, but they did not 
come. She grew more and more impatient 
and finally realized that they must have 
run away. Raising her skirts up to her 




Many of the Winnebago whips were used by the Indians as 
weapons of defense. Sometimes these whips were made from the 
arm bone of an enemy 

knees to enable her to run freely, she took 
an elkhorn war club and gave chase, mut¬ 
tering all the while threats that they should 
not escape her. She ran over the single 
trail to the place where they always had 
separated, and, sure enough, there were their 


trails leading in different directions. Taking 
up one of the trails, she rapidly followed it. 

“The brothers had traveled ever so far, 
and were coming together for the night 
when the woman finally came in sight of 

them. As she ran, she called to them, ‘You 


might as well give up, for I will overtake 
you no matter where you go.’ 

“‘Brothers,’ said the eldest one, ‘it is 
going to be very difficult, so come together 
here.’ And as they came into a group, 
Ku-nu, the eldest brother, exerted himself 
and changed them all into buffaloes, and 
they started to run on again. As they ran 
they mingled with other buffaloes which 
were running wild, and these animals soon 
got tired and stopped. But the brothers 
continued to run on for a great distance 
until they were tired of being buffaloes, 
when once more they ran on as people. 
Even then the woman gained upon them. 

“The second brother then called them 
together, and this time they ran away as a 
herd of moose, mingling with other wild 



moose to cover their tracks. After a time 
the third brother exerted himself, and they 
were turned into bears and then, of course, 
ran through thick timber and brush land as 
bears are wont to do. The fourth brother 
helped them to run as black-tailed deer, 
and then, as each brother in turn exerted 
himself, they ran as different animals. 

“But the woman gained upon them con¬ 
stantly until each one of the brothers save 
the tenth had tried his power. Then the 
eldest cried, ‘Oh, little brother, I beseech 
you to try to do something to help us!’ 

“So the little brother, by whistling, ‘Bob- 
white, bobwhite,’ changed the brothers into 
a flock of quail, and thus they flew off. 
But the eldest brother was heavy and had 
to run for some distance before he was able 
to rise from the ground, and the woman 
nearly caught him. 

“They flew for a long way until finally 
they alighted in a very tall tree on top of 
a high cliff. There they were resting in the 
branches when the woman came up and 


struck the tree with such force that they 
nearly dropped off. This she continued to 
do until the eldest brother again appealed 
to the youngest to try to do something, so 
the youngest brother began to whistle again, 
‘Bobwhite, bobwhite, bobwhite, bobwhite.’ 
At the fourth whistle there appeared in 
the west a dark cloud. Before long there 
came a heavy storm with lightnings and 
thunders, and the lightning or thunder birds 
struck the woman dead, thus saving the 
ten brothers. 

“Coming down from the tree, they 
started back for their home and, though it 
was a great distance away, finally reached 
it safely. There they held a council, and 
the eldest brother said, ‘Well, brothers, we 
came here on earth to enjoy its food, and 
we have had our fill so far as meat is con¬ 
cerned, but as yet we have tasted little of 
the vegetation, so let us henceforth go out 
as beings which eat such things.’ 

“And they started forth in the form of 
different animals. The eldest brother was 



a buffalo, the second was a moose, the third 
was a bear, the fourth was a black-tailed 
deer, each brother taking the form of one 
of the animals they had been when they 
fled. The youngest brother went forth as a 
quail, and even to this day the Indians say 
that it is a sure sign of rain when a quail 
whistles. And the fact that the eldest 
brother was not able to rise quickly from 
the ground, but ran so far before flying, is 
the reason given for quail sometimes run¬ 
ning so far before they begin to fly.” 


“Now, grandsons,’’ said Bear Chief, as 
the boys came again for their evening story, 
“I have decided to tell you tonight about 
Co-no, who was an evil spirit. There are 
many kinds of evil spirits and you will 
come to know them as you grow older. 
Some people do not call them ‘evil spirits,’ 
but ‘bad habits’ instead. 

“The Great Spirit created the earth and 
all things, and when this was finished he 
then created man. But this man he found 
to be imperfect and not made as he should 
be, so he cast him aside to the north, as 
imperfect or unfinished. The Great Spirit 
then made man as he is today and found 
him satisfactory. The man first created and 
cast aside, however, did not die, but lived 
on, and this imperfect being, created by the 
Great Spirit, became the source of all evil. 

“After a time some evil things began to 
appear among the people, and one of them 




An Indian 

came in the form of a man, and 
was named Co-no. This Co-no 
lived on the earth and went about 
among the Indians, gambling 
with them at whatever game they 
could play. Because he was a 
powerful spirit, he won from 
them their wampum and other 
possessions. There came at last a 
time when he had won all their 
smaller possessions from them, 
so that the people did not know 
what else to put up as stakes in 
their games. Then Co-no sug¬ 
gested to them that he was will¬ 
ing to play them for their rights 
in all the things that grew upon 
Mother Earth, such as squashes, 
corn, beans, and all other vege¬ 
tables, also the fruits and trees, 
as well as the animals. In fact, 
he would play for all the things 
of the earth which were of benefit 
to the Indians. 


“So, hoping to win back from him some 
of the things they had lost, the people con¬ 
sented to play with him again. Co-no thus 
began to win from them the necessities of 
life. First they lost the corn, which was 
their main food; then the squashes and 
beans and the fruits; and finally all the 
fishes of the waters and the smaller animals 
like the muskrats, rabbits, beavers, fawns, 
and so on, even to the larger animals like 
the deer, antelopes, moose, buffaloes. Thus 
Co-no won from them, one at a time, the 
things of the earth until he had won even 
all the trees, and there was nothing left 
save the people themselves. 

“Next Co-no offered to play for the 
women. So, in hope of winning back the 
things they had lost, and because they had 
nothing upon which to exist, neither food, 
clothing, firewood, bark or skins for shelter, 
nor any other thing except their own bodies, 
the men consented, and once more the game 
was started. The men put forth their utter¬ 
most efforts, but Co-no began to win, and 



by the end of the fourth day he had won 
all the women of the people, thus leaving 
only the men, who knew not what to do. 

“Then Co-no began to gather his win¬ 
nings together, and he took all the corn 
that grew on the earth and put it into one 
small field by his lodge in order to guard 
it, and he did likewise with all the other 
things. He took all the maples and other 
sap-bearing trees and made one large tree 
out of them, from which the sap flowed in 
a thick syrup. Then he took all the women 
and girls and made them into one beautiful 
woman whom he took as his wife to keep 
house for him. Thus lived Co-no with all 
the earthly things, which he guarded so 
closely that the men began to suffer and 
to starve. 

“It was then that some of the good 
spirits, aware of these conditions, decided 
to help their people. So he who is known 
as the Rabbit, the son of the Great Spirit, 
with the Turtle, called Kae-cha-gae-ga, the 
Thunder, Ha-shootch-ga, and Red Horn, 


Wak-jon-ka-gah, another son of the Great 
Spirit, as well as many other powerful and 
good spirits, came among the people as 
human beings and challenged Co-no to a 
game. Co-no wondered what they had to 
play for. When he asked them, they replied 

Woven bags made by the Indians 

that inasmuch as he had won all they had 
save their bodies, they would therefore put 
up themselves, for there was no use of 
living on. And they said that, should he 
win, they would become his slaves. At this 
Co-no was much delighted. They therefore 
set a day for the game. 

“When the day for the game arrived, 
the Rabbit and his allies, with all the 
people, were there on one side, and Co-no 



and his allies, the evil spirits, or bad habits, 
were arrayed on the other side. Co-no sug¬ 
gested that they play the ‘Jack-straw’ game. 
This is the game, you know, my grandsons, 
where we drop down a handful of sticks 
and then force a pointed stick down through 
the middle of the pile to divide out an odd 
or an even number. 

“When all was ready the sticks were 
dropped, and Co-no was the first to play. 
He had brought the Partridge to do the 
playing for him. The Partridge, instead of 
using a pointed stick as is usual, forced his 
bill down through the center of the pile and 
separated out an even number. But the 
Turtle, who was there aiding his people, 
took such a long, deep breath that he drew 
one of the sticks away, making an odd 
number for the Partridge and Co-no. Great 
was their surprise and disappointment at 
this, for they had never failed to make 
their point before. 

“It was then the people’s turn to play, 
so the Rabbit brought forth an extremely 


tall blue Crane with a very long bill to 
divide the sticks for him. The Crane stepped 
up and forced his long bill down through 
the center of the sticks, dividing out an even 
dozen. Thus the first day of the game was 
one of victory for the people, and they 
went home with a great many of their 
former possessions. Now Co-no was very 
anxious for another game, so another day 
to play was set. 

“On the day set for the second game, all 
the good spirits and the bad ones, too, came 
again. Co-no wanted to play the game of 
‘Stare,’ in which the opponents must sit and 
stare at each other with wide-open eyes. The 
people drew aside to counsel together, for 
they were sure that Co-no would use the 
Owl, who could keep his eyes open without 
blinking longer than any other being in the 
world. And they were in doubt as to whom 
they could use that would stand such a 
long strain of staring. Finally the Thunder, 
Ha-shootch-ga, who was there to help, said 
that if anyone could stand it for half a 



day, or until noon, then he could exert 
himself to overcome their opponent. Then 
Wak-jon-ka-gah spoke up and said he could 
stand it until the middle of the day. The 
Thunder being told Wak-jon-ka-gah to stir 
in his seat as soon as he grew tired after 
the middle of the day. This would be a 
signal for help. Thus prepared, they arrayed 
the combatants in the game. 

“As had been expected, Co-no brought 
forth the Owl as his gamester. The oppo¬ 
nents sat staring at each other all the fore 
part of the day without ever closing their 
eyes or winking even the least little bit, 
until a little after noon, when Wak-jon-ka- 
gah shifted around in his seat. Co-no’s 
followers, taking this as a sign of weakness, 
sent up a shout of joy. It was then that 
the Thunder being exerted his power, and 
by shooting a raindrop into the Owl’s eye 
made him wink. All the people sent up a 
great shout of joy, for they had won the 
day. Co-no disputed the fairness of this 
act on the part of the Thunder being, but 


the Turtle, who was very talkative, finally 
convinced him that Wak-jon-ka-gah really 
had won. 

“Again the happy people went home, this 
time bearing a great many more of their 
former possessions. And then, as was to be 
expected, Co-no challenged them to another 
game on the morrow. 

“Upon arriving at their home, the Rabbit 
and his friends planned the morrow’s game, 
finally deciding to play it in the lodge of 
the Forked Man, which stood within a large 
hill. This Forked Man, who was clever and 
powerful, was so named because he had two 
bodies on one pair of legs. These bodies 
were complete, each with a pair of arms 
and a head. 

“The Rabbit and his friends told the 
Forked Man to stay away from home so 
that they might go into his lodge to play. 
They also instructed him to come home 
late in the afternoon and to pretend to be 
very angry at the players for entering his 
home. Now this was all so planned because 



Co-no was a very clever and powerful 
being, and his opponents wanted the game 
to be broken up before it was finished. 

“The next day, according to their plans, 
Co-no was asked to come and play the 
game at the lodge of the Forked Man. To 
this he agreed, and soon after his arrival 
the bets were all placed and the gambling 

“‘Peg’ was the game. They used a 
small, four-sided peg numbered on each side 
and with pointed ends, so that when it was 
struck with a stick it would fly up. When 
it fell the number on the side that was up 
counted points for the one that had struck 
the peg. It was an exciting game, and 
Co-no and his opponents played and played, 
sometimes losing and sometimes winning. 
The game was at a winning point for the 
Rabbit and his friends when the Forked 
Man returned. As soon as he came in he 
yelled at them very angrily, brandishing a 
huge club, and asking who gave them per¬ 
mission to gamble in his lodge. Finally he 


ordered them all out. This confusion and 
excitement gave the Rabbit and his friends 
an opportunity to grab the stakes and run 
away. Thus they overcame Co-no for the 
third time. 

“They had now won back everything 
but the woman, and the Rabbit decided to 
try his arts in winning her away from 
Co-no. He went to her while Co-no was 
away and courted her, but she would not 
listen to him. A second and third time he 
went, but was still unsuccessful. So the 
fourth time he dressed himself up and 
changed his features until he looked exactly 
like Co-no. Then he went and hid near 
the lodge. Soon Co-no left, but not with¬ 
out first cautioning his wife against the 
wiles of the Rabbit. 

“Co-no had no more than gone out of 
sight when the Rabbit went into the lodge, 
but the woman thought it was her husband. 
Imitating the voice of Co-no, the Rabbit 
said, ‘ In afterthought I decided to come 
back and get you, for this Rabbit is really 



A group of elks 

very clever, and he might deceive you some 
way. So you had better come with me.’ 
The woman, thinking it was Co-no, got 
ready and followed him away. 

“This was how the wily Rabbit and his 
allies won back the woman from Co-no. 
Everything else, as you know, had already 
been won back and distributed among 
the people.” 



XYl th€ fOTCSt Courtesy Field Museum of Natural History 

“Wasn’t there any trouble when the things 
were distributed, Bear Chief?” asked Little 
Turtle. “Did everyone get just what he 
had had before?” 

“Well, now, there was some trouble, I 
remember, for it was then that the Elk 
lost his front teeth; you know, he has none 
now in his upper jaw. He was greedy and 
wanted some things different from what 



they had been before. Among other foolish 
ideas, he thought he would like to eat the 
flesh of man. So the Rabbit went out and 
gathered some very sour berries, the juice 
of which he offered to the Elk, saying, ‘If 
you wish to make the flesh of human beings 
your food through life, here is some of 
their blood. Try it.’ When the Elk drank 
the juice, it knocked out all of his front 
teeth, so he decided not to eat human 
flesh, as even the blood was too strong. 
Those teeth have never grown back in. 

Courtesy Field Museum of Natural History 

A family of black bears 


“And the Bear had consented to give 
his flesh for human food, but he wanted no 
daylight, but night all the time. Then when 
the people wanted any of his meat to eat all 
they would need to do would be to reach out 
into the dark behind their lodge seats and 
drag him forth, pulling him by the hair. But 
the councilors said, ‘Not so, Bear! You are 
too bad tempered to endure that very long.’ 

“But at last things got distributed among 
the people about as we have them today, 
but even now Co-no gambles with us through 
our own laziness, waste, and other bad habits.” 

“That was a good story, Bear Chief,” 
said Red Bird. “I well understand why 
everyone says you are the best story-teller 
among our people.” 

“But you must not forget, boys,” 
reminded Bear Chief, “that often the bad 
spirits are in our own hearts and, unless we 
are watchful and strong-hearted, they will 
make us do bad things. We must learn to 
do only what the good spirits tell us. 
Good night, grandsons.” 


“Bear Chief, please tell us another story,” 
begged Green Crow. “You see, we have 
brought a great pile of wood for the fire 
tonight, and today while we were hunting 
along the creek we gathered willow bark for 
you to dry and make into kinnikinnick to 
smoke during the long days of winter. Will 
you tell us how the months were made?” 

“Well, well, my grandsons,” the old 
man answered, as he looked into the eager 
faces of Green Crow, Little Turtle, Red 
Bird, and Flying Cloud, “I thought every 
boy knew all about that.” 

“We think we do know,” piped up Little 
Turtle, “but we want to hear your story, 
and then we will be sure we are right. 
We’ll be quiet while you tell us.” 

“Ho! Ho! Ho! It certainly looks as 
though I could not get out of it this time. 
This is the way my grandfather told me 
the story. 




“A long, long time ago the good spirits 
and the bad ones divided things among 
themselves, but sometimes they did not 
agree, for the evil spirits wanted too much; 
they were selfish. One day they all held a 
council to decide how long the seasons 
should be. The Wild Turkey strutted out 
before all the others, spreading his tail 
feathers. He said that the year should have 
as many moons in it as there were spots 
on his tail feathers. 

“But the councilors said that would be 
much too long. Then the Partridge strutted 
out as had the Turkey, and wanted as many 
moons, or months, as there were spots in 
his tail. But the spirits said that his tail 
was too large, also, and had too many 

“Then the little Chipmunk ran out into 
a sunny spot among them. When he talked 
he squealed with his funny little voice, and 
each time he squealed he jerked his tail up 
over his back, just as chipmunks always 
do. He wasn’t really bragging, but you 



Notice the stripes on the hack of the little chipmunk. He has 
six yellowish-white stripes and six black ones—as many as there 
are months in the year 

could see that he was just a little proud of 
his shiny coat, his bushy tail, and the 
handsome stripes along his back. In his 
squeaky little voice he suggested that every 
year have as many moons as there were 
stripes on his back. There were, as you 
well know, six yellowish-white stripes and 
six black ones. The councilors said they 



guessed that it would be about right to 
have twelve moons, or months, every year, 
and that the white stripes could be the 
winter months, and the black stripes the 
summer months. 

“Now which one of you boys is sure he 
can name for me the first three months of 
our summer?” 

“I can,” sang out Little Turtle, as he 
began to count on his fingers. “First comes 
the Planting Moon, Wo-ju-je-we-ra, when 
the women and girls plant the seeds of 
corn, squash, and all the other good things. 
The white men call this moon May. Then 

“Oh, but we also call that moon My-ta- 
woos-we-ra, the Drying Moon,” interrupted 
Green Crow. “Don’t you know, that’s when 
all the rain and the water from the melting 
snow is dried up?” 

“You keep still, Green Crow,” cried 
Little Turtle, “you will get your turn. I 
was just going to say that after the Plant¬ 
ing Moon comes the month when the corn 



must be hoed and when the strawberries 
are red. June is not near so good a name 
for it as My-ra-oon-we-ra. And then comes 
the hot month when the chokeberries are 
ripe in the woods, when the wild geese 
drop their feathers, which we find floating 
along the lake, and when the corn grows 
its plumes or tassels. And I know its 
name, Wixo-tee-ra.” 

Here Bear Chief held up his hand for 
order, for each of the other boys wanted to 
name the rest of the moons. “Red Bird,’’ 
said he, “you name the other three black 
stripes of the chipmunk’s back, which are 
also summer months.” 

“The fourth moon,” said Red Bird, “is 
We-ta-jox-he-we-ra. This is when we roast 
the ears of corn over the fire, and when we 
have our feasts, and open the Sacred 
Bundles and pray for good health and 

“That is right — very good,” nodded Bear 
Chief. “And what do we call the time 
when the rice is laid up to dry?” 



“Oh, that is Psin-na-ke-tu-we-ra. The 
white people call it September, and it has 
many other names. If you had asked me 
when the bobolinks and blackbirds were 
getting ready to fly away for winter, I 
would have said, Ho-zaza-kay-we-ra. Or I 
might have told you it was the moon, 
called Ho-wy-zhook-we-ra, when the elk 
calls through the woods for his mate. And 
then comes the most pleasant moon of all, 
the Indian summer. It’s not too hot then, 
nor too cold. The fishing and hunting are 
good, and the smoke of the camp fire 
makes a blue haze wherever you look. It 
is Cha-my-na-xo-we-ra, the Deer-digging 

Now r all the boys tried to speak at once. 

“All right, Little Turtle,” said Bear 
Chief, “you show us whether or not you 
know the first three white stripes of the 
Chipmunk, the winter months.” 

“Cha-kee-roo-xay-we-ra,” replied Little 
Turtle, “is the month when the deer mate 
and when all the corn, squashes, beans, 



dried berries, and roots of the sweet flag 
and water lily are put away for the winter. 
That is the moon when we move into our 
warm and snug winter lodges. 


The notches on the front of the stick 
represent moons, or months; those on 
the sides, years. Some Indians cut the 
yearly notch when the first thunder of the 
season was heard. 

Sometimes four or six-sided sticks were 
used, one side being used for each member 
of the family. These calendar or record 
sticks were handed down from one gen¬ 
eration to another. 

“Then comes Cha-hayo-wak-sho-we-ra, 
when the deer shed their antlers. In this 
month comes the white man’s Christmas, but 
I like it because the hunters come in with fat 
venison and bear and elk, and the women 
make warm winter clothes from the furs, tan¬ 
ning them with the brains of the animals. 



“And the next white stripe on the Chip¬ 
munk’s back is Honch-we-cho-nee-we-ra, 
when the young bears are born. Sometimes 
we call it We-ter-i-we-ra, the hard or cold 

“That was well done, my son, and you 
must remember that when the young bears 
are born we who are members of the Bear 
clan have our big feast in honor of the Bear 
Spirit. We cover our faces with charcoal 
to show our humility, and ask him to pro¬ 
tect the women and children, to bring us 
plenty of game for our hunters, and, should 
we be attacked, to make our weapons sharp 
for our defense. 

“And now you are last, Flying Cloud. 
See if you can name the other three moons 
of the year.” 

“The other boys had the easy ones,” 
answered he, “but I can do my part just 
as well as they did. The fourth white 
stripe of the Chipmunk’s back is for Honch- 
we-ra-gnee-ra, the second Bear Moon, and 
the next stripe is for the Raccoon Moon, 



Wa-kay-kee-roo-xay-we-ra, when the trappers 
get most of their skins, and the young 
people make love to each other. And the 
last moon is the time when the wild geese 
have returned and are laying their eggs. 
We do not call it April but a much better 
name, Ho-ro-gee-nah-we-ra.” 

“That was good, my son. You have 
said nothing while the other boys wanted 
to talk, and this shows that you have 
learned a valuable lesson—to say little and 
to think a great deal. 

“Before we let the fire burn down, I’ll 
tell you all why there is a large full moon 
every month and why it gets smaller. 
When the moon is full, the evil spirits 
begin to nibble at it, to put out its light, 
for evil spirits like the darkness best. Each 
night they eat away a part of the moon, 
until in two weeks it is almost gone. But 
the Great Spirit will not permit them to 
take advantage of the darkness to go about 
the world doing mischief, so he makes a 
new moon. He makes a little of it each 



night for the next two weeks until finally 
a big new moon hangs in the sky again. 
Then he rests, and the evil spirits begin all 
over again. 

“Boys, our wood is all burned up, and 
out in that big oak tree I hear the owl 
calling. Listen! Hear that ‘Who-o-o-o! 
Who-o-o-o!’ It is time for us all to go 
to sleep. Good night, my sons. Come 
again tomorrow night for another story.” 

“We’ll surely do that, Bear Chief,” the 
boys called as they left his lodge. “Good 


The day following the story of the moons 
the boys went out with their bows and arrows 
to while away the long day, for they could 
hardly wait for the next story that Bear 
Chief had promised them. They went down 
to the ravine to see if Green Crow’s arrow 
was still caught in the big elm tree. If the 
arrow was there they would try to shoot it 
down. They chatted merrily as they went 
along, and soon reached the place. Sure 
enough, the arrow was still there, lodged 
up in the branches of the big tree. Then 
the boys began to shoot at the arrow in 
an effort to dislodge it. It was such great 
fun that the boys lost all sense of time, 
and it was nearly noon when Little Turtle 
finally hit the arrow and brought it to the 
ground. But he had shot with such force 
that he had cracked the point of the arrow 
and thus had made it useless for further 


Little Turtle shooting at the arrow lodged in the big elm tree 



“I just know that Little Turtle broke 
my arrow on purpose, because it was such 
a good one and so well feathered that when 
he wanted to trade one of his poor arrows 
for it I refused him,” complained Green 
Crow. But Little Turtle replied that if 
Green Crow’s arrow was such a good one 
he, himself, ought to have shot it down 
long before. 

By this time the boys’ stomachs were 
beginning to call for food, so they idled 
along toward camp, playing that familiar 
old game of Indian boys of seeing how 
many shots it took to shoot their way back. 
Before they parted for their different lodges 
Green Crow said, “ I wonder what story 
Bear Chief will tell us tonight.” 

‘‘I don’t know,” replied Flying Cloud, 
“but he said it would be a good one, so I 
am satisfied.” And he started for his father’s 
lodge, while the other boys also went their 
separate ways. 

That evening four expectant and eager 
boys were headed for Bear Chief’s lodge. 



Green Crow led the way, for their many 
visits had given him much courage. 

“Ho, ho,” Bear Chief greeted them from 
his usual place as they entered and took 
their seats. “Well, grandsons, how did you 
spend the day?” 

“We were very busy, Bear Chief,” 
answered Flying Cloud. “Do you remem¬ 
ber the first day you asked us to fast for 
a story?” 

“Yes,” answered Bear Chief. 

“Well, that day Green Crow lodged one 
of his arrows in a tree, and today we went 
to shoot it down. The time went so fast 
that it was late in the afternoon before we 
got home, and we certainly were hungry.” 

“And that corn my mother gave me for 
supper surely was good,” added Red Bird. 

“Corn, corn,” said Bear Chief. “That 
is what I am going to tell you about this 
evening, grandsons, and I am glad Red 
Bird mentioned it, for I am going to begin 
my story now. Cc orn is one of the most 
wonderful gifts made to the Indian race 



by the Great Spirit. Almost all Indian 
tribes have some beautiful legend about it, 
the legends varying with each tribe] I 
shall tell you the legend as it is told by 
our own people, the Winnebagoes. 

“In one of my other stories I told you 
about how the evil spirits have always 
worked against human beings, and about 

how the good spirits have 
always helped the people. 
After one of these periods 
of great warfare between 
the good and evil spirits, 
in which the evil ones 
were defeated and over¬ 
come, the good spirits went 
about to organize a lodge, 
or society, known as the 
Sacred Medicine Lodge. 
You will learn much more 
about this society as you 
grow older. 

“The good spirits all 
met together and each one 



contributed some good thing or some power 
to aid the people in overcoming bad things. 
And it is said that it was at this large gather¬ 
ing that the great Mother Earth came as a 
woman. After each spirit had made its gift, 
it came the turn of Mother Earth to con¬ 
tribute hers. She stepped forth and addressed 
the leading spirit, saying, ‘Look, grandson, 
look upon my breast.’ And as the chief 
spirit looked, there sprang forth from the 
breast of Mother Earth a plant which grew 
bigger and higher. Then there came forth 
leaves and tassels, and an ear of corn, all 
ripe and ready to eat, formed on its stalk. 
‘This, grandson,’ she said, ‘I give to your 
people that they may use it as food as 
long as they exist.’ 

“All the spirits present responded, ‘Ho, 
ho, ho! Great Mother Earth, you have con¬ 
tributed one of the most important foods 
of the human race.’ 

“Now, boys,” said Bear Chief, “I have 
told you the legend of the origin of 
Indian corn, or maize as our people call 



it, but I wonder if any of you know how 
it is preserved to keep for a long time.” 

“I do!” cried Green Crow. “My mother 
boils the ears in a large kettle when it is 
just coming out of the roasting-ear stage. 
Then she shells it off from the cob and 
dries it in the sun.” 

‘‘That’s quite right, Green Crow. Now, 
Red Bird, do you know of another way?” 
asked Bear Chief. 

‘‘Yes, Bear Chief. My mother boils the 
hardened kernels of the corn in hard-wood 
ashes until the little skins, or hulls, come 
off. Then she cleans it and boils it over 
into a nice hominy.” 

‘‘You, too, are right, Red Bird. Now- 
let us hear from Little Turtle.” 

‘‘Well, I saw my mother once roast the 
corn and then dry it and put it away,” 
said Little Turtle. 

‘‘Now, Flying Cloud, let’s hear from 

‘‘Well, last roasting-ear time my father 
dug a deep pit in the earth about up to 



his shoulders and about 
as wide as twice the 
length of my little bow. 

Then we all went out 
and gathered many 
stones and much wood. 

And then we gathered 
a lot of corn and piled 
it by the pit. What fun 
we had husking the corn! 

My father braided a 
long whip for me out 
of the green husks. 

“When all the corn was husked and 
ready, my father built a terribly hot fire 
in the pit and threw in the stones on top 
of the fire. When the stones were red hot 
he picked out all the stubs of the wood 
which had not burned up. Then he placed 
a layer of green husks over the hot stones, 
and upon the husks he piled the corn and 
then another layer of husks. Through the 
layers of husks he made holes all along 
the edge of the pit in line with the four 

A wooden mortar and pestle 
made by Indians 



directions of the compass, north, east, west, 
and south, with another hole in the center. 
Then he made us sit down while he poured 
water into the holes, for he said it was the 
custom to do so. Oh, what a great, roar¬ 
ing sound the steam made when it blew off 
through the holes! And my father said, 
‘Ho, our champion has come,’ just as is 
always said at that time. 

“After the water had been poured in, 
my father hurriedly covered the whole pit 
with dirt. It was customary, he told us, 
to open the pit before sunrise the next 
morning. So we did this, and oh, how 
delicious the corn was! I just could not 
get enough of it. But we had to shell it 
off from the cobs with clam shells and 
spread it out on rush mattings to dry in 
the sun.” 

“Grandson, you have just related in full 
one of the oldest methods of drying corn; 
it was done in this way long before we 
were able to get the white man’s kettles 
to use. 



“Now, boys, it is growing late, and we 
must all get to bed. I must urge you 
again to dwell upon these stories in your 
minds, so that you may remember them 
a long, long time.” 

“Don’t worry, Bear Chief, we’ll surely 
do that,” put in Little Turtle. 

“Good for you, Little Turtle. I’m sure 
you will be a great man some day. Good 


One morning not long after this Flying 
Cloud was up bright and early. It was his 
habit to be up early, for his father was a 
chief, or leader, of the tribe and saw to it 
that the boy should be an example for all 
other boys. But Flying Cloud was still 
only a boy, and his father had not yet 
taught him many of the small things a 
man should know. So he could hardly be 
blamed for getting into a quarrel with 
Green Crow over whose name was the best. 
This is how it came about. 

The four boys were roaming about the 
woods that morning, learning to read all 
the signs to be found there by sharp eyes. 
There were tracks in the soft mud near the 
springs of water, where the animals had 
come during the night to drink. There 
were tramped-down places in the thickets 
where the rabbits ran. There were fresh 
scratchings at old rotten logs where skunks 




had hunted for beetles and the large white 
grubs in the wood. And there were many 
places where foxes had tried to dig out wood¬ 
chucks from their burrows. Fresh scratches 
on one tree told that some large animal 
had tried to crawl up in a hurry. The boys 
thought it must have been a porcupine. 

As they were looking for the porcupine 
they saw a crow’s nest in the top branches 
of this big oak. Thinking that perhaps 

The hoys saw a crow's nest in the top of a big oak tree and 
began to shoot into it 



Mr. Porcupine might be fast asleep in the 
crow’s nest, they began to shoot into it. 
But no “porky” was there, and no crows. 
Flying Cloud it was who shot away the 
last twigs of the nest. And as he did so he 
said, “Let it go, fellows. It is only a 
crow’s nest, and I for one don’t like crows 

“Do you mean me? My name is 
Crow,” snapped Green Crow. “A crow is 
just as good as a cloud, any time.” 

“But my name is a chief’s name, and 
is much better than yours ever can be,” 
retorted Flying Cloud. 

Thus they quarreled back and forth 
until they almost came to blows. Little 
Turtle and Red Bird grew tired of their 
foolish, angry talk, and to put a stop to it 
they interfered. 

“Oh, come on back to camp,” they said, 
“and tell your troubles to Bear Chief. He 
knows all about names, and he knows 
whose name is best. If one of us is a 
Cloud, another a Turtle, and two of us are 


named after birds, there must be a reason. 
Let’s find out and stop quarreling about it.” 

Flying Cloud readily agreed to this 
plan, but Green Crow objected, just as he 
usually did to anything anybody else sug¬ 
gested. He always was sure he knew and 
was right, even if he wasn’t. But at last 
he agreed, and the four boys turned their 
steps homeward. They found Bear Chief 
stretching over a willow frame the skin of 
a beaver he had caught the night before. 

“Ho, ho, ho, grandsons. I was just 
thinking about you, and wondering what 
mischief you might be in this time. This 
beaver skin made me think about the story 
of the Otter and the Beaver. But first tell 
me what brings you here so early in the 

Neither Green Crow nor Flying Cloud 
wanted to tell about their quarrel, but 
Little Turtle quickly told the chief what 
the trouble was. 

“Now isn’t my name just as good as 
Flying Cloud’s?” whined Green Crow. 



m&xw.: r> 


“Your name is just as good as you 
make it. You can make it a good name 
or you can make it one to be ashamed of,” 
slowly answered the old man. “Have you 
not yet learned how we all get our names?” 

“No, we have not, and I for one would 
certainly like to know,” said Red Bird 
looking at the other boys, who nodded in 

“Come to my lodge this evening, grand¬ 
sons, and I’ll tell you what your names 
mean. But it is a sacred story, and we 
must have plenty of wood to make enough 
smoke. The good spirits, who will also be 
listening, will feel honored by the smoke. 
And you boys must end your quarreling, 
for many a worthy matter has been ruined 
by a quarrel between friends.” 

The boys felt better by this time, for 
they had told their troubles to some one 
else. As they left, they all wanted to rub 
their hands on the beaver skin and admire 
it, and they wondered what Bear Chief 
planned to use it for. Soon they had 


stacked up a large pile of wood, enough to 
make smoke for many, many spirits, or 
maybe to last Bear Chief over several 
evenings. And they noticed that as soon 
as Green Crow had something else to do 
and to think about, he forgot to be sulky. 

It was still only dusk when the boys 
made their way to Bear Chief’s lodge. 
Clouds of gnats danced before their faces, 
overhead a nighthawk circled in search of 
his supper, and off in the woods a screech 
owl cried out in his loneliness. In the dried 
leaves near at hand faint rustlings told 
that the smaller prowlers were stirring. But 
in his lodge the old story-teller had a 
bright fire blazing, and awaited them at the 
far side of his hearth. 

“Grandsons,” said he, “I am glad to 
see you happier than you were this morn¬ 
ing; this is as it should be. As for the 
story, I had planned to tell you about the 
Otter and the Beaver, but that can wait for 
another time. This evening you want to 
learn about your names. 



Bennett photograph 

Ku-nu, the eldest son , and Hi-nu f the eldest daughter , of a 
Winnebago family 

“First, there are the birth names, which 
are the same in all families of the Winne¬ 
bago tribe. The first male child, or boy, 
is always called Ku-nu. And, since four is 
the sacred number with us, there are four 
names, in this order: Ku-nu, He-nu, Ha-ga, 
and Nan-xi. And the four names for the 
daughters are: Hi-nu, Wi-ha, Ak-sia-ga, and 



“If there should be more than four 
boys, the fifth one would be Nan-xi’s little 
brother, or Little Nan-xi, the sixth would 
be the little brother of the fifth, or Little, 
Little Nan-xi, and the seventh would be 
the little brother of the sixth, and the 
eighth would have still another ‘little’ 
added to his name, or something which 
means the same. 

“And if there should be more than four 
sisters, they would all be little sisters of 
the fourth, named as the boys were. The 
fifth would thus be Little Hi-nunka, the 
sixth would be Little, Little Hi-nunka, 
and the others would have more and more 
‘littles’ added to the Hi-Nunka. 

“The second system of naming is by the 
clans, or groups of families. The Great 
Spirit has seen fit to create many different 
peoples in different places, who like differ¬ 
ent things and speak different languages. 
So it is with us. He has given to some of 
us a love for the woods, to others a love 
for the lakes and waters. We think the 



most about the things we know the best, 
and we express our thoughts with the aid 
of those things we have known from child¬ 
hood. It was believed by our forefathers 
that when the Great Spirit created the 
earth and all the things that are on it he 
also created the people and told them that 
they were to live upon it. And as it was 
very necessary to distinguish between one 
another, we were to choose some animal or 
bird or creature of the waters for which to 
name ourselves. So each of us is named, 
you see, after some color or habit of our clan 
namesake. One of you boys is ‘Little 
Turtle,’ one is ‘Red Bird,’ another ‘Green 
Crow,’ and one is ‘Flying Cloud.’ 

“The clans which are named after the 
things of the earth or of the waters are 
known as the lower clans. Those named 
after the birds or the thunder are the upper 
clans. And each clan has some particular 
work to do in the tribe. Some are chiefs, 
others are warriors, runners, or heralds, but 
none is greater than another. A thunder 

A Winnebago chief with his son and daughter. 
They are all in buckskin holiday dress 



clansman can be named ‘Flying Cloud,’ 
you see. I, myself, am Bear Chief, of the 
Bear clan. 

“No one name can be greater than any 
other, and I am very glad that the quarrel 
among you has passed without any further 
trouble, and that you came to me to get 
the true story about your names. But here 
is another way of naming people, and I 
warn you that there one name may mean 
more than another. You must be careful, 
for each of you will earn the name that 
you get. 

“Should an enemy come by surprise and 
attack the village, each warrior is expected 
to spring to action and defend his people. 
Should he overcome his enemy or by some 
other worthy act defend his people, then 
he is entitled to choose for himself some 
name fitting or appropriate to his deed. 
The people will thereafter respect this name 
and the man who earns it, and he will be 
honored in the ceremonies and councils of 
his tribe. 


“And now, grandsons, heed carefully the 
fourth kind of a name you may be given. 
Should you be lazy and worthless, with no 
ambition or aim in life, or should you be a 
coward or a thief or a liar, or should you 
be boastful in telling of your deeds, the 
people will soon learn your fault. The 

women and children will call you by your 
birth name, but will add to it the word for 
your bad habit. This name will follow you 
to your grave, and you will be known as 
‘Ku-nu the Coward,’ or ‘He-nu the Boaster,’ 
or perhaps something worse. And even 

though you may change your wrong ways 
and correct your bad habit, yet will the 

bad name always stay yours. So, grand¬ 
sons, watch out. Be careful that no such 
disgrace comes to you. 

“As I have said before, we are a people 
who speak by means of stories. As you go 
on through life, when you sit by your 

lodge fires on such evenings as this you will 
hear in your memories the voice of Bear 
Chief telling these stories. But now it is 



getting late, and I am sure we do not want 
to be called ‘Nighthawks,’ so we must all 
get to bed.” 

“Bear Chief, before we go I want to 
thank you for your story,” said Green 
Crow. “I shall not boast after this that 
my name is better than that of some one 
else, as I did this morning.” 

“Neither shall I,” added Flying Cloud. 
“Nor I,” “Nor I,” put in the other boys. 

“That is good, grandsons. Don’t forget 
to come tomorrow night for the story of the 
Otter and the Beaver. Good night.” 


On the day after the boys had quarreled 
and had heard Bear Chief’s story about 
their names, they spent most of their time 
at home helping their mothers. It was 
such a fine day that Flying Cloud’s mother 
took advantage of it to tan a deerskin 
she had been keeping for just such weather. 

The hair of the deerskin she had taken 
off before by rubbing over it a paste of 
wood ashes and water, and then scraping 
it with the sharp edge of a clam shell. 
Today she was rubbing off the flesh and 
fat from the inside of the skin, and knead¬ 
ing into it on both sides the brains of the 
deer. Flying Cloud had broken open the 
deer’s skull with a heavy stone ax and had 
taken out the brains, for, you know, the 
brains of an animal are said to be the best 
means for tanning its skin. 

The next step was to make a frame on 
which to stretch the hide. Flying Cloud 




and his mother had gone to the woods and 
cut four poles of ash, each one about the 
thickness of the boy’s arm and twice as 
long. These poles they tied together to 
make a square frame, using cords made 
out of the strong fibers of the basswood 
bark. The frame was a little larger than 
the deerskin, but when Flying Cloud’s 
mother had punched holes all around the 
outer edge of the hide and had begun to 
lace it to the frame with strong thongs of 
buckskin, the hide slowly stretched until it 
nearly filled the frame. 

The next process was to take a pole 
with a dull, blunt end and rub it back 
and forth over the skin, to soften it and 
to dry it, all the while rubbing in the deer 
brain to tan it into leather. All this was 
hard work, so Flying Cloud was a great 
help to his mother, while at the same time 
he was learning something worth knowing. 

Flying Cloud did not see anything of 
the other boys until the evening meal was 
over. Of course, there was the flesh of the 



same deer to be eaten, for his mother had 
kept the venison wrapped carefully in green 
leaves of the wild sage and sweet flag. 

When the boys gathered as usual, only 
Little Turtle was absent. But they gave a 
few whistles of their whippoorwill signal, 
and he came rushing up to the waiting 
group. When the boys reached Bear Chief’s 
lodge, they found him at his favorite place 
by the fire, while Wi-ha, his squaw, was 
working with her back to the fire. They 
could not see what she was doing and were 
too polite to try to find out. 

“Well, grandsons, I hope each one of 
you has spent the day doing something 
useful. It is said by the old people that 
he who does not arise with the sun and 
take advantage of all the daylight will 
soon die, for he does not appreciate light 
and life and all they offer.” 

So Flying Cloud then told of his share 
of the day’s work with his mother. And 
Little Turtle explained that he had been 
tramping the woods looking for his father’s 



lost pony, which he had finally found; that 
was the reason he was almost late. Red 
Bird said he had helped his mother carry 
clothes to the river and beat them with a 
stick on a smooth, flat stone. Green Crow, 
too, gave a good account of himself, for 
he had spent most of the day with his 
grandmother looking for herbs for making 

Bennett photograph 

It was a fine day , so Flying 
Cloud and his mother had been 
busy tanning a deerskin 

Green Crow and his grand¬ 
mother on their way to gather 
herbs to be used for making 



medicine. They had found sarsaparilla, 
ginseng, wild garlic, pipsissewa, rosinweed, 
and many other herbs. 

“Well, well, it is good to hear these 
things of you,” said Bear Chief, “for the 
story I am going to tell you tonight has 
to do with industry and with our ways of 
living. You have seen from my stories 
that our people, the Winnebagoes, and, in 
fact, all other Indians, are great observers 
of the animals and birds, and from them 
we learn many fine lessons. 

“Once, a long time ago, as my grand¬ 
father used to tell the story, the people 
were overcome by evil spirits and mon¬ 
strous animals. There was sadness and 
sorrow over all the earth. Then the Great 
Spirit heard the cries of the people and 
sent a hero to them to destroy those bad 
things. This hero went about over the 
earth fighting with all the evil things that 
hurt the people. And there came a time 
when he was so victorious over all the 
great monsters that they would not come 



back any more. But the people had lived 
so long in evil ways that they had forgot¬ 
ten how to keep themselves clean and 
strong in body and in mind. 

“So this hero went about the earth 
again to invite all the animals of the land 
and the birds of the air and the beings of 
the water to come to a great gathering. 
At that time they were each to give some 
power to make the people better. The 
Eagle and the Swan were sent to the upper 
regions with this invitation, and the Bear 
and the Wolf were sent as runners over the 
earth and lower regions. Each went forth 
young and in the very prime of life, but 
when they returned they were old and 
weary. The Eagle and the Swan had lost 
the small feathers from their heads and 
were bald, while their wing feathers were 
so worn and thin that they could hardly 
fly. The Bear and the Wolf returned so 
old that their fur had all been worn off, 
and they came hobbling in with the aid of 
cedar staves. They came and stood before 



the hero, saying, ‘To this age will the 
people come if they receive your teachings 
and perform them.’ 

“After saying this, each one shook him¬ 
self vigorously and became as he had been 
before, young and strong and in the prime 
of life. This was to show us that when we 
grow old and die, after a life of industry 
and usefulness, our souls, or spirits, may 
become young again in another life outside 
of or beyond the bodies we now have. 

“Then all the animals began coming 
toward the gathering place, exerting their 
best powers in order that the people might 
gain some benefit and learn how to lead 
better lives. The Otter, with his mate, 
started from the seas at the east, and the 
Beaver, with his mate, came from the lakes 
and rivers of the north. At first they came 
under the waters, but, knowing that the 
people could not imitate them in this, they 
then swam upon the surface. Then they 
dived down four times, and each time, as 
they came up, there came with them a 



Courtesy New York Zoological Society 

Otters live in families , and they have taught the Indians 
many useful things , for an otter is strong and cunning and has 
great courage 

young one of their own kind. So there 
were four young Otters and four young 
Beavers. Finally they all landed on an 
island in the great lake where the father 
of each family dived back into the water 
and brought up a large whitefish to feed 
his young. Then all the Otters and Beavers 
went on to their destination. 

“Grandsons, all this was to teach us 
that we should live in families, and that 



Courtesy Field Museum of Natural History 

Beavers , like otters , live in families. They are wise and 
industrious in their ways , and the Indians learned many useful 
lessons from them 

the mother should care for the young and 
that the father should seek food and pro¬ 
tect his family. Thus do the Otter and 
the Beaver teach us, for the Otter is strong, 
courageous, and very cunning, while the 
Beaver has great wisdom and industry. 
You know that he cuts down trees, moves 
timbers, and builds dams in the rivers to 
make ponds; and that he makes his lodge 
out in the deep water, safe from the wolf 



and the fox, with his food stored securely 
under the water and the ice. Tonight I 
have told you of only the Otter and the 
Beaver, but as you grow older and have 
sharper eyes you will learn the whole story 
of what each of the animals did at that 
great gathering to help the people to do 

“When I was a young boy, my father 
trapped and killed a beaver, and after 
tanning its hide well my mother made a 
nice warm cap for me. And on the eve¬ 
ning when I was admitted to the lodge fire 
of the brave men and boys my father 
called me to him, telling me to place more 
wood on the fire. Then he asked me to be 
seated while he told me this same story I 
have told you tonight. With the eyes of 
memory I can see it all now: my mother 
and my father sitting beside the lodge fire 
just as we are sitting here. And just so 
you shall see me in your memories in after 
years. And whenever you see a beaver 
brought into camp you will recall the great 



lesson which the human race has learned 
and is still learning from it. 

“Now, grandsons, I believe my wife has 
a surprise for you. I have watched her 
working as hard as a beaver all day and 
all this evening. Let us see what it is, 

“It is nothing very much, my chief,’’ 
she said. “It is only a cap apiece for the 
boys. That beaver skin you tanned was a 
large one, and I have made it into caps 
for four boys. The caps will be good and 
warm for winter.” 

Wi-ha handed the caps over to Bear 
Chief, and he passed them to the boys. 
Oh, what nice warm caps they were! Red 
Bird was so happy that he just could not 
keep from dancing the friendship dance 
around the lodge fire. And the other boys 
joined him, whooping with happiness and 
swinging their new beaver caps high above 
their heads. 

As the boys left, they repeated their 
thanks over and over again to Bear Chief 



for the story and to his wife for the new 
beaver caps. And they could be heard in 
the distance whooping and calling like the 
whippoorwill as they separated, each going 
to his own lodge. 

Bear Chief also thanked his wife for the 
great trouble she had taken in making 
the caps from the beaver skin for the boys, 
but she was as pleased as he was. They 
both knew that this would help the boys 
to remember the story and to lead the life 
of courage and industry it described. 


“Well, well, grandsons, where are you 
going this morning? You look as though 
you were off for a hunting trip. Is it rab¬ 
bits you are after? ” 

“You are a good guesser, Bear Chief,’’ 
answered Green Crow. 

“ No, I was not guessing, my son. I 
have just come in from the woods where 
almost everywhere in the snow I saw rabbit 
tracks, so I thought a really wise boy would 
try to get a rabbit dinner. Besides, those 
arrows you have are not the kind to make 
me think you are after buffalo, or even deer. 
So was I guessing very hard? Before you 
go, let me see your arrows.” 

Now Little Turtle’s father had made 
him some new arrows. He had taken great 
pains with them, using several colors of 
paint and a few straight feathers of the 
wild turkey. When the other boys saw 
these arrows there was nothing else to do, 




of course, but to have their fathers make 
them arrows, too. After much coaxing each 
boy had secured his father’s help. 

The men had gone into the woods where 
the young hickory trees were reaching up 
among the older trees straight toward the 
light. Here they had secured long, straight 
saplings without any side branches or knots; 
arrows from such wood were sure to fly 
straight and true. Each father had made 
four arrows for his son. Little Turtle’s 

Little Turtle's father has made him some new arrows , and 
the boys are starting off on a hunting trip 



arrows were tipped with turkey feathers 
colored red. Flying Cloud’s were blue, 
Green Crow’s were bronze or greenish black 
like a blackbird’s neck, while Red Bird had 
yellow feathers on his arrows. 

The boys had gone hardly more than 
half a mile from the village before they 
came upon a dense thicket of weeds and 
brush where the rabbit tracks were so 
numerous that they knew this must be a 
playground for the little furry folk. 

In a short but serious council the boys 
planned their attack. Little Turtle and 
Flying Cloud were to go around the edge 
of the brush to the farther end of the thicket 
and wait there for the rabbits to come out, 
while Red Bird and Green Crow were to go 
through the brush, scaring the game and 
driving it ahead of them. As soon as the 
other boys had had time to get to their 
places, Red Bird and Green Crow advanced 
through the thicket with loud yells and much 
breaking of the brush, making enough noise 
to scare a moose, had there been one there. 



They had gone only halfway through 
the brush when Little Turtle drew back 
his best arrow and let it fly. With a shout 
he ran forward and snatched up a dead rab¬ 
bit to show the other boys. But just then 
Flying Cloud took aim and shot. And he, 
too, got his rabbit. By that time the boys 
were so excited that they were not ready 
for the next three rabbits that ran out of 
the brush. They shot, but missed by a 
wide distance, and there were no more rab¬ 
bits in that thicket. 

The boys went on more than a mile, but 
found no more game. Of course there was 
no use in going back the way they had 
come, so they made a circle homeward. 
They were growing discouraged when Red 
Bird cried, “Ho, ho! Here are tracks of 
quail, and there under that old log is the 
place where they slept last night.’’ The 
boys used more caution now as they crept 
quietly forward along the tracks of the 
birds, with Green Crow in the lead. Soon 
he stopped very still, motioning the other 



boys to come up behind him and spread 
themselves out fanwise. 

There under a low-hanging bush were 
the quail all clustered together because 
they were cold. Each boy placed an arrow 
upon his bowstring, took careful aim, and 
shot. So nearly at the same second did 
they do this that three of the birds instantly 
fell. Red Bird had missed. 

The boys were now happy again. They 
had three quail and two rabbits, and started 
with them straight for home and the warm 
lodge. They were trudging along over the 
snow and had almost reached the village 
when Red Bird suddenly stood still and 
exclaimed, “I say, boys, I have an idea.” 

“What is it?” cried the others. 

“Let’s make a feast for Bear Chief with 
this game we have killed on our first hunt¬ 
ing trip.” 

“That’s a good idea, Red Bird. How 
did you ever happen to think of it? Let’s 
do it!’-’ exclaimed Flying Cloud. “But 
whose mother will make the feast for us?” 



“I’ll ask my mother. It was my idea, 
and I’m sure my mother will do it,” insisted 
Red Bird. 

The boys fairly ran the rest of the way 
home. Red Bird took the game and entered 
his lodge while the rest waited outside. He 
told his mother all about the hunt and how 
he had suggested that the boys prepare a 
feast for Bear Chief. 

“Mother, will you cook the feast for 
us?” he asked. 

“Certainly,” she replied. “Bear Chief 
has been good to my son and his friends. 
I am ready to begin now if you boys will 
tend the fire.” 

How the boys did hurry about for wood 
to make a slow, hot fire! Two of them 
skinned the rabbits and got the quail ready 
for roasting. Soon Red Bird’s mother had 
the game baking on sharp sticks before the 
fire. Then the boys ran over to Bear Chief’s 
lodge to invite him and his wife to the feast. 

The sun was just setting at the close of 
the short winter day when the meal was 



Bennett photograph 

Red Bird ’s mother preparing the feast the hoys are going 
to give Bear Chief and his wife 

ready. The quail had been roasted with 

their feathers still on them, which saved the 
sweetness of their flesh. The rabbits had 

been wrapped in leaves of wild sage and 
horehound, and the odors of the roasting 
meat were just as savory as the meat was 

You may guess how much Bear Chief 

enjoyed this feast in his honor, and how 

much his wife, Wi-ha, liked a meal that she 
had not cooked. And you may guess, too, 



how delighted the boys were to know they 
had done something to repay the old man 
and his wife for all their kindness. When 
the meal was over, Bear Chief thanked the 
boys for their thoughtfulness and Wi-ha 
made a deep bow before Red Bird’s mother 
as a sign of her great appreciation. 

“Grandsons,” said the story-teller, “I 
want you all to come over this evening for 
another story, a Rabbit story. Will you 
come? ” 

“Ho, ho, ho, Grandfather Bear Chief! 
That we will,” the boys all shouted joy¬ 
fully. And just as soon as it seemed proper 
for them to do so they followed him to 
his lodge. 

“Come in and take your places, grand¬ 
sons.” As he rose to put wood on the fire, 
the boys could see that the old man was 
unusually happy. “Boys, I want to thank 
you again for those rabbits and quail with 
which you feasted my wife and me. I am 
sure your success today means that you will 
all be great hunters when you are men, and 



that your families will never lack for food. 
As I ate the rabbit I remembered a story 
my grandfather told me one winter’s eve¬ 
ning long ago, when I was a boy about your 
age. This is the story: 

“ In all the legends of the Winnebagoes, 
the Rabbit, or Hare, takes the most promi¬ 
nent part in defending the people. And it 
is also said that in the earliest times the 
animals could change into human beings 
and back again whenever they wished. Now 
the Rabbit lived with his grandmother, 
Mother Earth, who appears in our legends 
as a woman. The Rabbit spent his time 
going about doing good to people and fight¬ 
ing the monsters which were destroying 
them. Every day he went out looking for 
something good to do. 

“One day he came upon a great monster 
which had a long, long tongue. When this 
tongue was stretched out it could lap up 
whole villages of people, just as a dog laps 
up water. The Rabbit began to wonder 
how he could destroy this monster, but it 



was so much larger than he was that to 
try to attack it himself was useless. Sud¬ 
denly it occurred to him to hide a little 
flint knife upon his body and then to let 

The Rabbit was the principal hero of the Winnebagoes. 
He was supposed to spend his time going about doing 
good and fighting for them 

himself be swallowed just as many unfor¬ 
tunate people had been. Then he could 
cut his way out of the monster’s stomach 
and thus save many lives. 

With his knife he went to a place where 
the monster would probably pass. There 


he sat and sang, ‘Oh, you who lap them 
in with your tongue, come and lap me in.’ 

“As the monster came near, it heard the 
song and looked all about, but could see 
no one. But the Rabbit kept singing his 
song, and at last the monster saw a tiny 
rabbit by the wayside. It said to itself, 
‘ Perhaps this is the thing that is singing the 
song.’ So it lapped the Rabbit up and 
swallowed him. 

“There, inside the monster, the Rabbit 
found many people who had also been 
swallowed. Taking his flint knife, he began 
to cut into the monster’s side. The great 
creature became sick and coughed four 
times. The fourth time he coughed forth 
the little Rabbit he had swallowed. He 
looked this little creature all over but could 
see no knife nor any other weapon, so he 
swallowed him again. And once more the 
Rabbit started to cut his way out of the 
monster’s huge stomach. This he finally 
succeeded in doing, and so saved all the 
people whom he found there. 




“Another time, my grandfather said, the 
Rabbit was wandering about over the earth 
when he came upon the tracks of some large 
creature. The tracks seemed to go straight 
east and west, but the Rabbit could not 
understand who could make such a strange 
path. Each day he went out hoping to 
solve this riddle, but always he was too 
late to see the animal. Then he asked his 
grandmother about it. 

“‘Grandmother,’ said he, ‘I want you 
to weave me a net that I can stretch across 
the path and catch that strange creature.’ 

“Then Mother Earth went out and gath¬ 
ered nettles. With their fibers she spun 
strong strings and made a net. This net 
the Rabbit took and stretched across the 
path of the thing that made the strange 
tracks east and west. He hastened home 
and went to bed, sure that on the morrow 
he would learn what the creature was. 

“The next morning the Rabbit went out 
early. Lo and behold, the creature was 
caught and held in the netting. He tried 



to get near it and find out what it was, but 
such a terrible heat came from it that he 
could not get at all close. So he ran home 
and told his grandmother. She, too, went 
out to see. And when she saw what it was 
she scolded the little Rabbit severely. 

‘“You bad, wayward, disrespectful little 
creature, don’t you see that in your net 
you have caught the Sun which gives life 
and light and warmth to the people? Make 
haste and loosen it. Set it free.’ 

“The Rabbit tried to get close up to the 
Sun, but the heat was so great that he was 
not able to free it. Then he hurried home 
and borrowed his grandmother’s flint knife. 
Armed with this he tried again, but still the 
heat was too great for him. 

“Suddenly it occurred to him to turn 
around and back up to the net. This he 
tried to do, but even in this position he 
was burned. Then he thought of the hap¬ 
piness of the people, and with one great 
effort backed up close enough to cut the 
Sun free. The heat burned off part of his 



tail, but just the same the Rabbit was happy, 
for he had helped his people. And then the 
Sun went on its way to the west. 

“ Grandsons, those are the two best rabbit 
stories I know; my own grandfather told 
them to me. And now we must say good 

“Good night, Bear Chief,” answered the 
boys as they rose to go. Red Bird was the 
last boy to leave the lodge, and as he crept 
through the door he looked back and said 
with a smile, “Now I know, Bear Chief, 
why the rabbit has such a short little tail.” 


The weather had been cold and stormy, 
and for several evenings the boys had 
missed going to Bear Chief’s lodge. But 
at last came a fine night when the stars 
in the deep sky seemed to be trying to out¬ 
shine one another. When Flying Cloud 
stood behind his father’s lodge and gave the 
call of the whippoorwill, his cry sounded 
in and out among the lodges of the other 
families in the Winnebago village and on 
out into the deep shadows of the pine for¬ 
ests beyond. Of course, there never are any 
whippoorwills in the northern woods in 
winter, for these birds are among the earli¬ 
est to start on the way for their winter 
homes, leaving in late August, the Moon 
of the Roasting Ears. 

The cry of the whippoorwill, however, 
was by this time well known to all the 
people in the village as the call of the four 
boys, and tonight everyone knew that some 




plan was on foot among them. A little 
watching would have discovered four quick 
shadows darting among the lodges toward 
the home of the old story-teller. 

“Ho, ho, ho, grandsons. Come right 
in.” Bear Chief and his wife smiled as the 
boys filed in and took their places on the 
north side of the lodge. “My wife and I 
were just talking about you not more than 
the length of a locust song ago, wondering 
what had become of you. What have you 
boys been doing?” 

“The weather has been so cold, Grand¬ 
father, that we have been staying close at 
home,” answered Red Bird. 

“I am glad you came this evening, 
grandsons, for the winter evenings are long 
and pass slowly when my wife and I are 
all alone. You are the only boys we 
have now.” 

For a few minutes the boys waited in 
silence and watched the smoke curl slowly 
out of Bear Chief’s pipe. And they were 
interested, too, in watching his wife’s swift 



bone needle as she made high, fur-lined 
moccasins for the old man to wear in 

“Bear Chief,” she said at last, “why 
don’t you tell the boys the story about 
Wak-jon-ka-gah tonight? That is always 
an interesting story, and a funny one, too.” 

“Well, now, that’s a good idea,” he 
replied. “You stir up the fire, Green 
Crow, while I get my thoughts together 
and try to remember how the story starts.” 
And you may be sure that not Green Crow 
alone, but all the boys brought in enough 
wood to keep the fire going a long while. 
Then the story began. 

“Wak-jon-ka-gah was the eldest son of 
the Great Spirit, and the one who was 
always doing strange or foolish things. You 
remember I told you that in the times long 
ago there were monsters and evil spirits 
who overcame the people. The cries of the 
people went up to the Great Spirit until 
he looked down upon them and saw their 
condition. So he sent four of his sons to 



destroy the evil spirits and to save the 
people and teach them the ways of life. 
Those four sons represented four different 


These pouches were 
made of animal skins. 
In early days they were 
ornamented with porcu¬ 
pine or bird quills, but 
later beads were used. 
In them the Indians 
kept various things to 
please the good spirits 
and to drive away the 
evil ones. They called 
these things good medi¬ 
cine or bad medicine 

characters, so that the people might see in 
actual life the things that would hinder 
them and those that would do them good. 
Wak-jon-ka-gah, the eldest son, represented 
the foolish things of life, and in the stories 
of our people he lived those foolish things, 
and did them. 



“The second son was the Boaster. The 
third son was the Warrior, or the Turtle, 
and the fourth was the Wise One, or the 
Rabbit, who finally succeeded in saving the 
people. Each one of these sons helped to 
teach the people, and as you grow older 
you, yourselves, will see these sons of the 
Great Spirit and learn from them in your 
own lives. 

“But now about Wak-jon-ka-gah. Once 
he was going along with a large pack on 
his back. He came to a great river and 
turned to follow its banks, just to see 
what was beyond the next bend. It wasn’t 
long until he came to a wide sand bar 
upon which were many geese and ducks. 
They spied him right away and said to 
each other, ‘Oh, there goes Wak-jon-ka-gah. 
Let’s call him over here and have him sing 
for us to dance.’ So they called to him 
and he went over on the sand bar where 
they were. 

“‘Wak-jon-ka-gah, can you sing any 
songs ?’ they asked him. 



“‘Why, to be sure I can,’ he said. 
‘This big pack on my back is nearly all 

“With that he set his pack on the 
ground, much to the joy of the ducks and 
geese. Then he ordered them to build a 
long lodge out of tall bluejoint grass and 
to make it very tight, with only one small 
door in the end. When it was finished, he 
told them all to go inside, where they 
strutted around, very happy over the dance 
that was coming. 

“Now, it was part of the foolishness of 
Wak-jon-ka-gah to think himself very wise 
and very smart. So he seated himself at 
the entrance, completely filling the door¬ 
way. When all was ready, he told the 
geese and ducks to dance in a circle around 
the edge of the lodge and above all things 
to keep their eyes closed, for if they danced 
with them open their eyes would become red, 
a great disgrace among the bird tribes. 

“With these instructions Wak-jon-ka-gah 
started to sing, and the ducks and geese 



started to dance, and each duck and each 
goose came near him as it danced around 
the lodge. And because he was the eldest 
of the Great Spirit’s creations he sang thus: 

“‘Oh, younger brothers, he who opens 
his eyes shall have red eyes. His eyes 
shall be red if he opens them.’ 

“ Wak-jon-ka-gah sang his best, and the 
ducks and geese danced better than they 
had ever danced before, circling slowly past 
him and keeping time to his music. He 
noted them all carefully, and whenever a 
big, fat goose came dancing by he seized it 
and wrung its neck. As it died, each goose 
made a squawking sound. 

‘“That’s right, that’s right,’ Wak-jon- 
ka-gah cried. ‘They who dance should 
give a whoop once in a while.’ And then 
he seized another bird and wrung its neck. 
This he kept up, singing all the while, 
until a large pile of fine geese and ducks 
lay beside him. 

“Finally an old bird of the teal family 
grew suspicious of the whoops, for they did 



not sound just natural, so she danced close 
to where Wak-jon-ka-gah sat and opened 
her eyes the least tiny bit. Just then she 
saw him seize a goose and wring its neck. 

“‘Oh, he is killing us all!’’ she cried in 
alarm. ‘Save yourselves!’ 

“The geese and ducks fluttered madly 
about and soon broke through the grass 
sides of the lodge, escaping in all directions. 
But ever since then all the teals have had 
little red eyes. 

“‘Ah, thus a man enables himself to 
eat,’ said Wak-jon-ka-gah to himself, full of 
pride at his smartness. Then from his 
pack he took a large kettle and with water 
from the river cooked all the birds he had 
killed. While they were cooking, he pre¬ 
pared a table of green boughs upon which 
to pile the meat. When all was ready he 
seated himself to eat, but just as he raised 
the first morsel to his mouth two large 
trees near by were swayed by the wind so 
that they rubbed together and made a 
squeaking sound. 



“‘Wough, why do you annoy me just 
as I am about to eat?’ grumbled Wak-jon- 
ka-gah. Again he raised the goose meat 
toward his mouth, but again the wind 
blew, and again the trees rubbed together 
and squeaked. Thus it happened four times 
before he had even had a bite. 

“After the fourth time Wak-jon-ka-gah 
jumped up and climbed one of the trees, 
reaching between them to try to separate 
them. But just then the wind blew again, 
and his fingers were caught between the 
trees so that he could not release himself. 

“‘Ah, younger brothers,’ he pleaded 
with the trees, ‘ I was only joking when I 
scolded you. Please let me go.’ 

“‘No, Wak-jon-ka-gah, that we cannot 
do. The Great Spirit created us only trees. 
We have no will of our own and cannot 
do anything of ourselves. Only the winds, 
the spirits, or some other power can make 
us act. We are helpless.’ 

“Because the wind had stopped blowing, 
Wak-jon-ka-gah was caught and could not 



get away. As he hung there he spied a 
pack of wolves going by along the river’s 
edge. Now, if he had kept still they would 
never have known that he was anywhere 
at hand. But he did just the other thing 
because he was so foolish. 

“‘Oh, you wolves, don’t come this way. 
Go a little farther away,’ he yelled to 

“ Hearing the noise of some one yelling, 
the wolves stopped and looked about. 

“‘O-ho, it is Wak-jon-ka-gah,’ they 
cried. ‘What can be the matter with him, 
away up there in a tree? Let us go and 
find out.’ So the wolves came toward him. 
Again he urged them to keep away, but 
they saw that he could not drive them off 
because of the trouble he was in. So they 
ate up all his food. 

“‘Please, younger brothers, at least you 
can leave me the broth, if I let you have 
the meat,’ he entreated. But the wolves 
drank the broth, too, and then ran away. 
Then at last Wak-jon-ka-gah, exerting all 



his strength, forced the two trees far enough 
apart to get his fingers out. 

“He slid down the tree and looked 
about. The wolves had eaten all his food 
and drunk the broth. The geese and ducks 
had all escaped up and down the river. 
Now he had had nothing to eat, and his 
fingers hurt where they had been pinched 
between the trees. 

“‘Certainly I must be foolish,’ he said 
to himself. ‘No wonder people call me 

“Now, grandsons, that is one of many 
stories about Wak-jon-ka-gah,” said Bear 
Chief. “And as the evening is getting late, 
don’t you think we had better stop for 
tonight and get into our beds?” 

“Grandfather Bear Chief, if Wak-jon-ka- 
gah had all that power, why didn’t he use 
it in the first place and save himself all 
that trouble?” asked Flying Cloud. 

“I wish it had been me,” said Green 
Crow. “I would at least have come down 
before the wolves got there.” 



“That is just the lesson the story is 
intended to teach,” replied the old story¬ 
teller. “Don’t you see that we are all 
Wak-jon-ka-gahs, in one way or another, 
and that we do many things that are fool¬ 
ish and could have been prevented if we 
had thought hard enough or fast enough? 
What do you think about it, Little Turtle? 
I see that you want to say something.” 

“That is just what I was thinking,” 
said Little Turtle. “I can see now that I 
am a Wak-jon-ka-gah. The other night I 
was thirsty and looked in the water jar, 
but found it empty. It was growing late 
and I did not think anyone else would be 
wanting a drink that night, so I did not 
take the jar to the spring as I should have 
done. But in a few minutes my mother 
saw the empty jar and went to the spring 
herself. Then I took a drink. I can see 
now that I let the wolves get the best of 
me that time.” 

Green Crow, who was always the first 
to criticize others, admitted that he had 



done the same thing a great many times, 
and he hung his head as he admitted it. 

“Well, grandsons,” said Bear Chief, “I 
am glad you liked the story and that you 
understood it. You must thank my wife 
for it.” 

“Grandmother,” cried the boys, turning 
to Wi-ha, “we certainly do thank you for 
this story and for your part in all the 
others. And we thank you, too, for the 
good, warm beaver caps we are finding so 
snug and comfortable these winter days. 
Good night.” 

Soon the “whippoorwills” could be heard 
as they disappeared in the distance, and 
silence settled down upon the lodges of the 
Winnebago village. 

The ceremonial pipe of the Winnebagoes, called the calumet 


Ak-sia-ga (ahk-see-ah'gah), the third daughter of a family 
Cha-hayo-wak-sho-we-ra (chah-hao-wahk'shu-wee-ra), antler- 
shedding moon—December 

Cha-kee-roo-xay-we-ra (chah-kee-roo'gha-wee-ra), the deer¬ 
mating moon—November 

Champlain (sham-plen'), Samuel de, born 1567, died 1635; 

founded Quebec, 1608; discovered Lake Champlain, 1608 
Cha-my-na-xo-we-ra (Chah-ml-nuh-gho'wee-ra), the deer¬ 
digging moon—October 
Co-no (ko-no')> the eldest son 
Ha-ga (hah'gah), the third son 

Ha-shootch-ga (hah-shootch'gah), red horn; a thunder spirit 
He-nu (hay'nuh), the second son 
Hi-nu (hee'noo), the eldest daughter 
Hi-nun-ka (hee-nun'kay), the fourth daughter 
Honch-we-cho-nee-we-ra (honch-wee-cho'nee-wee-ra), the first 
bear moon, the month when the young bears are born— 

Honch-we-ra-gnee-ra (honch-wee-rah'gnee-rah), the last bear 
moon—F ebruary 

Ho-ro-gee-nah-we-ra (ho-ro-geen'ah-wee-rah), the fish-spawning 
moon, the month when the fish can be seen as the ice 
clears away—April 

Ho-wy-zhook-we-ra (ho-wy-zhook'wee-rah), the elk-calling 

Ho-zaza-kay-we-ra (ho-zay'zah-kay-wee-rah), the bobolink 



Illinois (il-li-noi'), French from the Indian il-li-ni , men. A 
confederacy of Algonquian tribes formerly occupying 
southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and sections of 
Iowa and Missouri 

Kae-cha-gae-ga (kay-chah'gae-ga), the turtle 

Ku-nu , another form of Co-no 

Massasoit (mas-a-soyt'), Great Chief, Chief of Wampanoags, 
father of King Philip, and loyal to Plymouth colonists in 
1621. Died 1661 

Missouri (miz-zu'ri), muddy water, or great muddy 

My-ra-oon-we-ra (my-ra-ung'wee-rah), the cultivating moon — 

My-ta-woos-we-ra (my-tah-woos'wee-rah), the earth-drying 

Nan-xi (nahn-ghee'), the fourth son 

Nebraska (ne-bras'ka), shallow or broad water. A name given 
to the Platte River by the Sioux Indians 

Nicolet (ni-co-lay'), Jean, the first white man to visit the 
Winnebagoes, in 1634 

Omaha (o'ma-ha), “up stream,” or “those going against the 
wind or current.” One of the tribes of the Sioux nation 

Osage (o-sag'), derived from Wazhazhe , a chief of a band of 

Pawnee (paw-nee'), derived from pariki , meaning a horn, 
because of a custom of wearing the hair erect, stiffened 
with paint and fat. An Indian tribe which first lived 
in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas 

Pocahontas (po-ca-hon'tas), “she is playful.” Born 1595, 
died 1617. Daughter of Powhatan and the legendary 
deliverer of Captain John Smith; married John Rolfe of 
Virginia colony 

Pottawatomi (pot-ta-wat'o-mi), “people of the place of fire.” 
A tribe living along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, 
from Michigan into Wisconsin 


Psin-na-ke-tu'we-ra , a Sioux word for September 

Sioux (su), “snake, adder, or enemy.” A group of tribes which 
had similar languages and lived in the plains region of the 
Missouri, upper Mississippi, and Red River of the North. 
Generally “Sioux” refers to the Dakota Indians only 

Wa-kay-kee-roo-xay-we-ra (wah-kay-kee-roo'ghay-wee-rah), the 
raccoon moon—March 

Wak-jon-ka-gah (wahk-chon'kah-gah), undependable, foolish, 

We-ta-jox-he-we-ra (wee-tah-chok'he-wee-rah), corn-popping 
moon, month when the roasted ears of corn burst— 

We'ter-i-we-ra, a Sioux word for the hard or cold month— 

Wi-ha (wee'hah), the second daughter 

Winnebagoes (wm-e-ba'gos), “people of the filthy water.” A 
tribe of Siouan Indians living across central Wisconsin. 
They called themselves “ Ho-chunk-er-rah” 

Wisconsin (wis-kon'sin), derived from Ouisconsin. A name 
occasionally used to designate the group of tribes living 
on the banks of the Wisconsin River, including the Sauk, 
Fox, and others 

Wixo-tee-ra (or “wah-chotch'rah-wee-rah”), the corn-tassel 
moon, or the moon that makes them gray; when the corn 
tassels appear and the fields look gray—July 

Wo'-ju-je-we-ra, a Sioux word for “planting moon” — May 


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