Manataka American Indian Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGENDS OF OLD:

 

 

 

Dog-Chief

A Blackfoot Legend

 

 

Once there was a very nice girl the daughter of a head man, and many young men sought her for a wife. One of the men in the camp owned a very large dog. It was a brindle. One time this girl borrowed this dog, hitched him to a travois, and went out for wood.

 

After this she borrowed him many times, and he became used to her. Whenever he came about she always fed him and petted him, and whenever she went for water he went with her.

 

One day as the girl was going along she said aloud, "I wish you were a young man, then I would marry you." Now the dog heard and understood. That night he turned  himself into a man and went to the lodge where the girl was sleeping. She awoke and found some one kissing her. She put out her hand, felt the man, and noted that his hair was fine and that he had finely shaped limbs. When he went away she wondered who it could be.

 

She never had anything to do with other men. She had two brothers, and for that reason she did not wish to say anything about it. She thought the person might have been one of her suitors. So she thought to herself, "If he comes, next time I will mark him." So that evening she took some white earth, mixed it with water in a cup, and stirred it with a stick-weed. That night the strange visitor came again, and, as he caressed the girl, she rubbed some of the white earth on his hair, on his robe, and on his back.

Now the next day there was a dance in the camp, and while it was going on, the girl went out and looked around. Though she could see every man in the camp, none of them wore the marks of her paint. Now she wondered who he could be.

 

As she turned away, she saw a dog in the distance. It was her travels dog, and as he came up she saw stripes of white paint on him, just as she had marked her strange visitor. Now she thought to herself, "It can't be the dog; but surely that is the paint. Now to-night he will come again, and I will try it once more." That night the man came again. This time she took his middle finger, and, putting it into her mouth, bit it very hard so as to cut it through with her teeth. Now she was the daughter of the chief  of the tribe. The next day there was to be a dance, and she requested her father to order the young men to dance holding up their hands. Her father did this, and as they danced she looked closely at all their hands, but saw
no bruises on them.

 

As she looked away, she saw the travois dog again. As he came up, she noticed that he was lame, and when she examined his foot, she found that one of his toes was nearly cut in two. Then she went to the man and asked him for the loan of the dog to go for water. She put him to the travois and went. When out of sight of the camp, she took the dog into the brush, turned to him and said, "Here, it is you that visits me at night."


The paint was on him yet, and he was very lame.

Then the dog became a man, took off the travois and stood up. He was a fine young man. He said to the girl, "Well, it was your fault, you wished it."
 

Then the dog-man took her into the brush. The girl said, "Let us go far away from the camp. This is a disgrace to me." "Well,"' said the man, "I will be a dog again, and you may drive me home with the water; but to-night, when all the people are asleep, we will leave the camp and no one will ever know about this." So they took the water home, and the girl got all her things together, some food and some moccasins. When it was dark, she told her mother that she was going out for a while. When she was out of sight, the dog-man appeared and they went away together. The next morning the chief called out about the camp, asking if any one had seen the girl. Then the man who owned the dog called out about the camp, saying, "My large travois dog has gone. Has any one seen him?"

The dog-man and the girl went far off. They were gone four years. They had two children, a boy and a baby-girl. The children were real people, for the dog-man was now a person. 

 

They all returned to the camp of the girl's people, and the dog-man called at the lodge of his former owner. When he came to the door he said, "Can I stay here a while?" "Yes," said the owner. The dog-man had ten dogs with him.

 

One day the man said to him. "To what tribe do you belong ?" "Well," said he, " I belong to a tribe living far away."

 

"Then how is it," said the man, "that you speak our language?" The dog-man replied, "Because our people speak the same language as you."

 

Now the dog-man always wore his moccasins, and whenever he had occasion to change them, he went outside, where no one could see him. About this the people became suspicious. Whenever his wife would cook a meal, he would say that he would eat outside; and some of the people who watched him saw that he ate his meat raw.

 

So one day his former owner said to his wife, "I believe he is not a person. Sup- pose we look at him when he has his moccasins off." So one time, when the dog-man was asleep, they saw his foot sticking out of the bed. He had feet like a dog.

 

During this time the parents of the girl began to see a resemblance in the wife of the dog-man to their lost daughter. They began to have suspicions also.

 

Now the dog-man thought to himself, "I guess they know all about it." So one day he said to his former owner, "Do you know that I am a dog?" "Yes," said the man. "Well," said the dog- man, " I am your old brindle."

 

Now the girl went over to her parents and told them the story. She explained everything as it had happened. Now, when the news was spread in the camp, all the men stood around and began to make remarks.

 

They said, " Now, you see all the fine young men refused her: so she married a dog." The dog-man was very angry because of this abuse, so he requested his wife's people and the people of his former owner to move camp that night. So they moved. When they had camped again, not far away, the dog-man began to call out like a dog, and all the dogs in the camps joined him at once.

 

Now the people were all afoot because they had no travois dogs. So they held a council, and sent four men over to the dog-man's camp to get the dogs back; but when they came there the dog-man barked, and all the dogs jumped upon the four men and killed them. Then the people begged of him to give. up the dogs. At last he consented. So they got their dogs back.

Now this dog-man had a dog-skin for a medicine, which he gave to his wife's brother. This man called in a number of young men, and organized a society. This society was called "The Dogs." After a time the son of the dog-man became a chief, and, like his father's ancestors, he was a great runner. He led the buffalo over the drive, and pursued enemies in battle. His sister became a good woman, a great worker, economical, etc. These children were real persons. There were no traces of dog in them.


Anthropological Papers American Museum of Natural History, Vol. II, 1908. From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.

 

 

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