Manataka American Indian Council


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Fish Dog Skins

Blackfoot Legend

Some Indians from the West, over the mountains, (Rocky Mountains of Northern Montana and Southern Alberta Canada) came to trade with this Blackfoot band.

They were called "Snake Indians" as their designs were jagged and looked like a snake. Among there trading goods were some skins that looked like a dog, but had feet like a beaver and a kind of fish tail. When asked where these came from, they were told they lived in the Big Water where the Sun sets and some came up the Big River where they lived.

The fur was finer than a beaver or martin and one skin traded for 5 buffalo robes or a horse or equivalent. One warrior asked to go back with the Traders to see these "Devil Fish" and maybe get some for himself. He gave the leader one of his finest horses for the privilege and was invited. He took horses and robes and other trade goods to trade for these "Devil Fish"  with whatever tribe in the West or at the Big Water that had them.

When he returned he had two "Fish Dog" skins, some shells (sea shells) and related this story:

The "Snakes" took him back to their Camp. Since the "Devil Fish" hadn't been seen for a long time they sent one of their tribe to go with him to another tribe to the West of them along the Big River. Most of these people lived on fish, catching them by spearing them and dried them just like the Blackfoot did with Buffalo. He traded and moved west until he came to the Big Water where the Sun sunk. There he traded the last of his trade goods, even his moccasins and clothes for their clothes, shells from the edge of the Big Water, and as many "Devil Fish" Fish Dog Skins as his last horse could carry. He saw the Devil Fish swimming at a distance. They came out on the shore and barked like a dog and were in herds like the buffalo.

Some said they could be eaten, but he didn't taste any, as the Blackfoot don't eat dog. On his way back he traded some and had some stolen. He was only able to make it home with two, one of which was offered to the Sun for his safe journey and protection. The other one was used to wrap his Medicine Bundle, which was been handed down through his family.

Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories