Manataka American Indian Council










Traditional Stories





A Raccoon Tricks Four Blind Men
by John Harrison


"Once there was a raccoon who went up a stream. As he went along suddenly he came to an Indian rope trap. He thought it was that kind, so he raised his left paw, but did not put it down. 'If I put it down, the trap will bite me.' Then all day he stood there, only at night did he go home. The sun rose as he went along the Indian path and soon he came to water.

He kept going on the path, and then there was a long lodge. He peeped in and there four old men were on each side within this house. One of them said, 'Your cooking must be done by now.' 'Yes, it is cooked. Hand the dish here and I will give you some.' The raccoon went in. All four of these old men were blind. Then the old men on the other side said, 'Ho! here is the dish, pass it over.' But then the raccoon said, 'Ho!' and took the dish. The one
being served said, 'What? ' as he had not gotten the dish. 'What happened? I handed it to you and you took the corn,' he said. 'I am saying that no one here handed it to me,' he said. Then he hit him right in his face. He said, 'Ho! We will do it. I said I handed it to you.' Then the other one right in the face he hit him. 'Ho! we will do it,' he said, and he stood up. Now the two fellows got a hold of one another and began to fight each other. It was the raccoon who stood up and did it, hitting them in the face too. 'Well! We will do it,' then all four of them began fighting and then the raccoon laughed as the old men were funny.

The four then went into town and there they knew of him. 'Hoho! Old men, the raccoon is the cause of this,' they said. 'Stand at the door.' Then they did it, but the raccoon had gone out on top of the lodge."

John Harrison, "Story of a Raccoon, " in Paul Radin, Notebooks, Winnebago III, #11a, Freeman #3892 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society)
Story 9, pp. 119-124. Translated by Oliver LaMere.

From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories


A Snake Song Origin Myth
By Paul Radin

This story is told during the Medicine Rite by the spirit-impersonator of the north.

"Ancestors, we send forth our greetings to you. I possess a Snake Song, one that has come down to me and one that I could use, so they told me, whenever I wished to give a life-engendering greeting. This song was obtained from a large yellow snake by a person who had been blessed under the fork of a tree where there was a crow's nest. With a large portion of life was he blessed, with herbs and grasses, beneficent grasses, those that would restore health to a man. Yet, nevertheless, some of them, it is said could cause a person to become weak. All these plants were to bring prestige and honor to the

Now, in the beginning, people associated with these plants just as if they possessed life like ourselves. They were worshipped and honored. Not today do we do so. Yet these herbs and grasses are still being used and are still efficacious.

This Snake Song I shall now sing. Ancestors, we greet you, we greet you!" 


[The Snake Song was omitted in the source.]

Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians.  Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 132.

From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories


Big Eagle Cave Mystery
Craun, Big Eagle Cave Mystery




Three boys went out hunting, but never returned. A war party was sent out to track them, and followed their tracks into a cave. As each member of the war party descended into the cave, he disappeared. The last man heard a death song coming from the cave, a melody that he had never before encountered.

Tcaxcepxedega, Big Eagle, chief of the tribe returned with many men, but every time his men descended, no matter what precautions were taken, the first man in line would always disappear at a certain point in the descent. 

The eerie song was once again heard.

One day a boy appeared leading a blind man who was completely white. The boy  appeared to be one of those who was lost, but he claimed to have come from another tribe to the northwest. The man became noted as a great healer. At the request of the chief, he looked into the matter of the cave. He and the boy descended. As they disappeared, the song of death became louder. Finally the man emerged alone, and embarked on a canoe that sailed away across the lake. Later some adventurers descended into the cave, despite its fearful reputation, and found there a chamber with a single giant empty throne, and laying about it face down, the bones of all the men who had descended into
the cave.

Craun, Big Eagle Cave Mystery, 55-58.

From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories