Manataka™ American Indian Council
LEGENDS OF OLD:
A Chipewyan Story
One medicine man pointed at it and asked the boy, "Do you see that red sky? That is your father's blood."
This made Crow-head suspect that one of the medicine men had killed his father. He went home, where he was living with his grandmother, and began to cry.
"Why are you crying?," grandmother asked.
"I heard those men talking about my father," said Crow-Head.
"There is no use crying, you will be a man some day," grandmother consoled.
The next day the people were fishing. Crow-head punched a hole in the ice and
began angling with a hook. The Indians caught nothing, only Crow-head caught a
large trout. He pulled out its soft parts, and hid the bones under his deerskin
capote. He started towards the medicine man who had killed his father, pulled
out the fish spine, and broke it over him. When the people went home that
evening, they missed the medicine man. They did not know what was the matter
with him. One man went out and found him lying dead by his fishing rod. This was
the first time Crow-head ever killed anyone. By breaking the fish spine, he had
broken that of his enemy and thus killed him.
Crow-head was displeased and said to his grandson, "We will make a birch bark canoe and leave."
In a coulee they found fine birch bark. Some Indians from the rocks on either side pelted them with snowballs.
"That's nothing," replied Crow-head.
They took the bark for the canoe and returned. In the meantime the bad Indians,
who were Cree, had killed all the Chipewyan. Crow-head piled all the corpses
together in a heap. He was a great medicine man. He began to make a canoe. Worms
began to come to the corpses. Then he took his crow-skin, laid it on the dead
bodies, and told the boy not to wake him until the next day at noon. While he
was sleeping, worms crawled into his nose, ears, and mouth.
The Cree started homewards, but Crow-head, lying on the maggots, caused them by
his magic to return to the same place. The little boy cried, thinking his
grandfather was dead. He pushed the old man, but Crow-head pretended to be dead.
At last, the boy pulled him by his beard, then Crow-head awoke and beheld the
Cree. The Cree was surprised to get back to their starting point and, seeing the
two survivors, decided to kill them also. Crow-head rose, walked to the river,
shaved off the bark of a rotten birch, made peep-holes in the tree, hid the boy
in the hollow, and ordered him to watch.
The Cree, thinking he was but a child, said, "There is no use killing a child like that with a pointed arrow."
So they shot at him with blunt points, but all the arrows grazed off. Then they pulled ashore, and Crow-Head fled to the brush, pursued by the enemy. When far from the canoes, he threw off his blanket, took a deer horn which he carried for a weapon, and ran among the enemy, breaking each man's right arm and left leg.
Then they said, "This is Crow-head."
They retreated towards their canoes, but Crow-head smashed every one of them. Then he summoned his grandson from his hiding place. The Cree had spears, and Crow-head told the boy to take them and kill their enemies. The boy did as he was bidden.
The Cree said to the boy, "If it were only you, you could not do this to us."
And they made a "crooked finger" at him.
Crow-head asked the boy, "What are you crying for?"
"I thought you were lost," said the boy.
"There is no use crying, all our people are alive again," said Crow-head.
They started to join the resuscitated Indians. They heard some one playing ball, laughing and singing. Putting ashore, they heard the noise of crying. They went into a lodge and asked what the crying was about.
"Two friends of ours are lost, they have been killed by the Cree."
Then they recognized Crow-head and his grandson. The two girls who made
fun of Crow-head's crow-skin were not restored to life by him.
Crow-head said, "There is no use in running away, they will kill me first."