Manataka American Indian Council
Wedding of the Cat and Mouse
Long ago there lived a family of great mountain cats near the village of the Brule Sioux. Igmu, chief of the Mountain Cat clan sent his eldest daughter, Wisoma to Itunkala, chief of the Mouse clan with a message. “Bring all your people to the river where the two legged humans live.” Wisoma told Itunkala, “we shall feast together on the food of the humans while they are gone to hunt buffalo. Only old women are there to protect their stores.”
Itunkala was leery of the invitation and asked the beautiful Wisoma, “Why does chief of the Cat clan want to share human food with us?”
Wisoma was not prepared to answer such a direct question by the wise Itunkala but offered, “My father has not told me why he wishes to share food with you. Maybe he thinks our two clans can secure the food easier if we work together.”
Itunkala thought about this and said, “You are a smart cat Wisoma. Tell your father our clan will accept his invitation provided you marry one of our warriors so our two clans may always work together.”
Surprised, yet flattered by the suggestion, Wisoma asked, “How is it that we may have children? I am so big and your warriors are so small.” “Aha,” replied Itunkala, “You indeed are a smart cat, but be pleased to know that one of my warriors has special medicine that makes him big like you when the need arises.”
With this Wisoma returned to her father’s camp and told him of Itunkala’s offer and the special Mouse medicine. “Yes!” replied Igmu; “They took the bait. We will immediately arrange the marriage.”
So it was with much excitement a great feast and marriage ceremony were arranged. The big Cat clan and the Mouse clan
met at the river and warriors were selected from each clan to go on the dangerous raid on the village of the humans.
The chiefs decided a plan of attack. The Mouse clan warriors would sneak into the human village and chew holes in the backs of the teepees holding the baskets of food. Then the big Cat warriors would come and carry the baskets back to the camp. Then the wedding and big feast would take place.
Just as the warriors were about to leave, the trickster Coyote wandered into their midst. “What do we have here, are you planning a feast?” asked Coyote. Igmu, chief of the Mountain Cat clan was first to answer. “We don’t need a lazy coyote here. We have many things to do and you are not invited.” Coyote not easily dissuaded, looked around and said with a smile, “It looks to me you are planning to raid the humans, but I cannot understand why this gathering also looks like a wedding celebration. How can this be?”
Itunkala, chief of the Mouse clan said, “Coyote, we are planning both and you are invited. There will be plenty of food for everyone after the raid and one of my warriors will marry Wisoma daughter of Chief Igmu. With that Coyote looked surprised and said, “How can a little mouse marry such a big cat, don’t you know cats are not supposed to marry mice?”
Chief Itunkala then took coyote aside and whispered to him about the special Mouse medicine. With a smile on his face, Coyote trotted off in the direction of the Mouse warriors and village of the humans. An hour later the Cat warriors followed.
Late that night, amid much excitement and happiness the Mountain Cat warriors came dragging and pushing large heavy baskets back to the riverside camp. However, something was wrong. The Mouse warriors and Coyote did not return. “Where are my warriors!” cried Itunkala. “Where is my husband to be!” exclaimed Wisoma. Wisoma ran away crying.
The Mountain Cat warriors explained they could not account for any of the Mouse warriors because it was so dark and the mice are so small. One big warrior Cat said, “They must have been there because they made holes in the teepees.”
A great sadness came over Itunkala and his clan members. “Sorry we can not stay and enjoy all the food with you Chief Igmu. Our sons must have perished and we are very sad. We will go now. However, a promise is a promise and your daughter Wisoma must come and become one our clan” With a tear in her eye, Wisoma said goodbye and left with the Mouse clan.
After the Mouse clan had departed, Chief Igmu let out a great cry! “Ah ho! We fooled the Mouse clan into making it easy for us to get the human food and our warriors must have eaten all the mouse warriors. I also have one less mouth to feed. What a great day!”
One Cat warrior pawed the ground and timidly spoke, “I am sorry Great Chief, we did not eat any of the Mouse warriors like we planned because we did not see them anywhere.” The chief was not unhappy. “No matter, look at all the food we have for ourselves. Let’s take it back to our village and have a big feast.”
Back in the village of the Mouse clan, the Chief, Coyote and all the Mouse warriors were laughing, feasting and preparing for a wedding. “The big dumb Cats must have carried those baskets of stones all the way back to their village before discovering our joke,” snickered Coyote. “Yes that is right and for your help in bringing the food back you are given the newest member of our clan for a wife. Coyote, you and Wisoma are to be married. You, are our special medicine.” declared the Chief laughing.
So it was on that night Wisoma and Coyote were married and the name of the new Clan was Puma – part mountain cat and part Coyote.
Are you marrying a Cat, a Mouse, or a Trickster?
Native American Courtship and Marriage Traditions
by Leslie Gourse
A specialist in music biographies and jazz histories, Gourse here sets off in a new direction with a treatment of love, courtship, marriage, and family traditions among several North American tribes, including the Hopi, Navajo, Iroquois, and Oglala Sioux. She describes old traditions and their evolution during modern times, and provides hints for brides and grooms who would like to incorporate these customs into their wedding ceremonies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR. Hippocrene Books, Inc. Soft Cover, 119pp. $14.95
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