Ute Nation





Porcupine Hunts Buffalo

In olden days when mostly animals roamed this earth, a Porcupine set out to track some buffalo. He asked the buffalo chips, “How long have you been here on this trail?” He kept on asking, until finally one answered, “Only lately have I been here.”

From there Porcupine followed the same path. The farther he went, the fresher the tracks. He continued until he came to a river; there he saw a buffalo herd that had crossed the ford onto the other side.

“What shall I do now?” thought Porcupine as he sat down. He called out, “Carry me across!” One of the buffalo replied, “Do you mean me?” Porcupine called again, “No, I want a different buffalo.” Thus he rejected each member of the herd, one after another, as each asked. “Do you mean me?”

Finally the last and best one in the herd said, “I will carry you across the river.” The buffalo crossed the river and said to porcupine, “Climb on my back.” Porcupine said, “No, I’m afraid I will fall off into the water.” Buffalo said, “Then climb up and ride between my horns.” “No,” replied Porcupine. “I’m sure I’ll slide off into the river.”

Buffalo suggested many other ways to carry him, but Porcupine protested. “Perhaps you’d rather ride inside of me?” offered the buffalo. “Yes,” said Porcupine, and let himself be swallowed by the buffalo.

“Where are we now?” asked Porcupine. “In the middle of the river,” said the buffalo, After a little while, Porcupine asked again. “We have nearly crossed,” said the buffalo. “Now we have emerged from the water; come out of me!” Porcupine said, “No, not yet, go a little farther.”

Soon the buffalo stopped and said, “We have gone far enough, so come out.” Then Porcupine hit the buffalo’s heart with his heavy tail. The buffalo started to run, but fell down and died right there. Porcupine had killed him. Others in the herd tried to hook Porcupine, but he sat under the buffalo’s ribs, where he could not be hooked. Soon the herd tired and ran on their way.

Porcupine came out and said aloud, “I wish I had something to butcher this nice big buffalo with.” Now, Coyote was sleeping nearby, and woke up and heard him. Coyote went to Porcupine and said, “Here is my knife for butchering.” So they went together to the side of the buffalo.

“Let him butcher who can jump over it,” said Coyote. Porcupine ran and jumped, but only partway over the buffalo. Coyote jumped over it without touching the dead animal, so he began to butcher, cutting up the buffalo.

After a little time, he handed the paunch to Porcupine and said, “Go wash it in the river, but don’t eat it yet.” Porcupine took it to the river, washed it, then he bit off a piece. When Coyote saw what Porcupine had done, he became very angry with him and went after him, “I told you not to eat any of the paunch.” Coyote picked up a club and killed Porcupine and placed him beside the buffalo, and went to his home. Then he told his family, “I have killed a buffalo and I have killed a porcupine. Let us go and carry them home.”

Before Porcupine had come out of the buffalo, he said magic words, “Let a red pine grow here fast.” Then at once red pine began to grow under the meat and under Porcupine. It grew very tall and fast. All of the meat and Porcupine rested at the top of the red pine tree, high in the air, Porcupine magically coming alive again.

Coyote and his family arrived and were surprised that all of the meat was gone. They began to hunt for it. “I wish they would look up,” said Porcupine. Then the smallest child looked up and said “Oh!” The family looked up and saw Porcupine sitting on top of the meat in the tall red pine tree.

Coyote said, “Throw down a piece of the neck, we are very hungry.”

“Yes,” said Porcupine. “Place that youngest child a little farther away. “Yes,” they responded and took him to one side.

“Now make a ring and all hold hands upward,” said Porcupine. So the family joined hands and held them up. Porcupine threw down several pieces of the buffalo meat, killing Coyote and those in the ring. Porcupine then threw down the rest of the buffalo meat, and climbed down the tree.

He took charge of the young coyote and fed him all the meat he desired. Porcupine took all the meat he could carry to his home. He and the young coyote became good friends and helped each other hunt buffalo together for a long, long time.

Puma and the Bear

One day Puma took his son hunting with him. The Bear came to Puma’s tent and saw his wife there, and immediately fell in love with her. “I wish to have her for my wife,” he thought. Then he went in to where she was sitting. In only a short time, he proposed that she run away with him. She consented and ran away with the Bear.

When Puma returned, he could not find his wife. “I wonder if she could have eloped with that Bear?” he mused. At first he and his son saw no tracks, but eventually they picked up the couple’s trail. Angry by now, Puma followed the Bear tracks.

A high wind began to blow, obliterating most of the tracks. The next day Puma found them again and followed on. “Perhaps they are in that cedar wood,” he thought. As he moved closer, he heard voices and recognized his wife’s and the Bear’s.

He sent his son to circle the wood, approaching from the other side of the wood to force the Bear out toward Puma. The woman said “Puma is very strong.” “But I am stronger,” said the Bear, seizing a cedar tree and pulling it from the ground. “He is stronger than that,” said the woman.

The Bear had his moccasins off when Puma’s son attacked. Quickly the Bear put on his moccasins, but in his haste he put them on the wrong feet. Then, not knowing who was coming behind him, he ran forward into Puma. The two grappled and Puma threw the Bear to the ground. The Bear rose up again and charged at Puma, who thrust the Bear down against a rock and broke the Bear’s back.

Then Puma sent his wife away into the woods, letting her know that he did not want her for his wife again. Puma and his son left on another hunting trip to find a new wife and home for themselves.

Two Fawns and a Rabbit

Two young Fawns sat on the ground talking about their condition. They were two boys without a mother. “We used to have a deer for our mother,” they said. Rabbit came to them and said “I’m hungry. I’ve travelled without eating, and I’ve come a long way.”

The Fawns said, “We have nothing to eat here; our food is not here.” Where is it?” asked Rabbit. “It is not here, I say to you again,” said one Fawn.

Rabbit said, “Tell me where it is, I am hungry and I want to eat.” He continued talking about the Fawns’ food for a long time. But they concealed from him how they obtained it.

Then Rabbit said, “I think you both are too lazy to get the food. Show me the path and I will go after it; I will cut off enough for all of us and bring it here.”

“But we never eat here,” the Fawns said. Rabbit said, “You boys do not know me. I am your grandfather. You did not recognize me; that is why you hid your food from me.” The one boy nudged the other and whispered to him, “I think he is our grandfather; I will tell him where we eat.”

For a while, the other boy said nothing. Then he spoke up and said, “What we eat is not on the ground; our food is far up in the sky; and we eat at a certain time. When we ask for our food, something always comes down from the sky; it is white like a cloud. At the end of the cloud it’s like a person; it has an eye, a mouth, and it watches us. It comes only at a certain time. If we ask before time, it will think someone else wants our food. But when it’s time for us to ask for it, we will hide you out of sight.” Then they hid him.

One ran toward the East, the other toward the West; then they ran toward each other. When they met, they cried like young animals at play. They circled about, met each other again, crying, and gradually came nearer to the tent. Something white came down from the sky. Rabbit saw it coming. It looked like a cloud with a face above it; like a man sitting on their food.

The boys took up dull knives, and when the food arrived, they cut off a piece. They cut more than usual, so there would be enough for their grandfather. Then the cloud flew upward as fast as lightning.

The Fawn boys cut up their food and called Rabbit to come out and eat with them. The food tasted good and sweet, and Rabbit wanted more and asked the boys to make the thing come again. The Fawns said, “But it only comes at set times.” Rabbit replied, “I will live with you, for your food is very good.” He made a burrow in the brush nearby and watched.

The food did come down again. The person riding on it looked around like an antelope watching. Rabbit took a bow and arrow from his quiver. Just before the cloud came low enough for the boys to cut off another piece of food, Rabbit shot at the manlike object on the cloud. The white object fell down in a heap.

“I thought that was what it would do,” said the older brother to the younger, as if blaming him. Rabbit said to them, “Well, my grandchildren, I will leave you now. You have something to eat and it will last you a long time. After you have consumed all of it, you will go to the mountains and eat grass and become Deer.”

Two Grandsons

A man lived on a large rock with his two grandsons. “You had better go hunting and bring home something for us to eat. I am hungry. Go to the hills, sit on top, and watch in all directions; then you may find something,” Grandfather said.

The two grandsons went off and watched in the brush. An elk came directly at them. One boy said, “I see an elk, let’s kill it.” The other said, “My older brother, let us run away. I am afraid.” The older said, “No. Sit still. It is an elk. I shall shoot it as our grandfather directed.” The other said, “No. I am afraid.”

When the older was about ready to shoot, his younger brother fled, crying, “Let’s run away. I am frightened.” Then the elk started back. The older one said, “What is it? Are you crazy? I was nearly ready to shoot that elk.” The younger still said, “I was frightened; but I understand now it is an elk. Let us go after it; it cannot have gone far.”

When they neared the elk again, the younger brother wanted to turn to shoot at it. The older brother wanted him to stay behind, but did not persuade him. When ready to shoot, the younger again ran off shouting, and the elk escaped. The older brother scolded him harshly. The younger one said, “I was afraid that it would jump on me. I became too frightened.”

The younger brother begged the older boy not to send him back home, as the older brother wished. When they approached the elk another time, he again asked his older brother to allow him a shot, saying, if he missed, the other could be ready and still try to kill the elk. But the same thing happened as before.

The older brother became very angry with his younger brother. It was not yet sunset, but the younger persuaded the older to again go after the elk; so they went around ahead of it. Older brother tied the arms, legs, and mouth of his brother. The elk came close. Younger one tried to scream. At the same time the older brother shot and killed the elk.

Younger brother tossed and thrashed about, trying to scream and flee. “Are you crazy? I have killed the elk,” said the older. “Have you truly?” asked the younger. Then the older loosened his brother and showed him the dead elk. “What kind of Deer is it?” asked the younger. “It’s an elk,” replied the older one. “Hurry! Get some brush for a fire. Let’s skin it and go home quickly. There may be bad persons coming about here.”

“I’ll get some brush presently,” said the younger. “Make the fire quickly,” said his brother. “I want to roast some meat and eat it, then go home. Be quick.” “No, I want to rest now,” said the younger. He would not help his older brother. So the older one alone skinned the game and cooked some of the meat. Then he said, “Let’s go home now. There may be some bad things about. I am frightened.”

“No, I am afraid to go. I cannot go home. Let us stay here all night; there is nothing bad about,” said the younger. Then the older urged him no more and said, “Let us sleep in a cedar tree. Make a bed there.” The younger agreed and made a bed in the top of the cedar after they had buried the meat for safekeeping. Then they slept.

In the middle of the night the younger one said, “I am hungry. I will go down and eat.” The older one awoke and said, “What in the world is the matter with you? Sleep now, eat tomorrow.” But the younger one insisted on going down to eat. Finally the older one said, “Very well.” So, the younger brother went down, made a large fire, and cooked a whole shoulder of the elk. He began to eat and enjoy himself. He heard cries from far-off in all directions. The younger brother said, “What is it? Is someone approaching? Come here then and eat with me.” The older brother remained in the cedar tree.

Someone came to the opposite side of the fire. It was a large man. The younger brother said, “Come, friend, eat; I have good food; sit down there.” No answer came from the man. “Here is something to eat,” said the boy, holding elk meat out to the man. He did not take it. He did not answer even when he was repeatedly spoken to. Then the boy hit him on the head and knocked him down. When he went closer until he stood by the man’s head, suddenly the man reached out and caught him in a violent grip.

“Oh, Oh! Let me go!” cried the boy. The man continued to hold his legs in a tight grip. “Let me go! Older brother, come and help me, this stranger is holding me down.” But the older brother was angry at being disturbed so he did not come down from the tree.

The man squeezed the younger boy harder, then picked him up and carried him away. The older brother, half-awake, heard his brother’s cries grow weaker and weaker as the distance grew greater. Then there were no more cries.

In the morning the older brother came down from the cedar tree. Crying aloud for his brother, he followed the tracks. They led him to a lake and right down into the water. He could go no farther. He went back, dug up the elk meat, and went home, telling the whole experience to his grandfather.

His grandfather said, “Tomorrow we will go and see that place.” The older son went with his grandfather to the lake and watched it. Grandfather said, “Wait here while I go down. I will follow the tracks.”

He did not come back until noon, then emerged carrying a dead man, and laid him down.

“Is this the man who killed your brother? Deep in the water I found him. I am going back again, wait here,” said the grandfather. He did not return until sunset and said, “This is another man. I entered his house and killed him. Now open his mouth and look between his teeth.”

The boy saw a little meat between the teeth. His grandfather said to him, “Take a stick and pick out the meat from his teeth. The boy did so and made a little pile of it. Then the old man told him to cut open the dead man. When the boy had done so, his grandfather asked, “Do you see any bones or other parts? Pick them out.”

The boy did as he was told, and then did the same to the other man. They put the meat and bones into a hollow stone and carried them home. They left it standing outside, at a short distance from the tent. Then they slept.

Early in the morning his grandfather called, “He is shouting, Wuwuwuwu! Do you hear him?”

“Yes,” said the older brother. They both answered with a loud shout. Then younger brother came walking from the woods, saying, “Grandfather, older brother, I have risen from the meat!”

All three clasped each other warmly, happy to be together again– grandfather and his two grandsons.


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