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INDIAN WHY STORIES - CONTENTS



WHY THE CHIPMUNK'S BACK IS STRIPED
HOW THE DUCKS GOT THEIR FINE FEATHERS
WHY THE KINGFISHER ALWAYS WEARS A WAR-BONNET
WHY THE CURLEW'S BILL IS LONG AND CROOKED
OLD-MAN REMAKES THE WORLD
WHY BLACKFEET NEVER KILL MICE
HOW THE OTTER SKIN BECAME GREAT MEDICINE
OLD-MAN STEALS THE SUN'S LEGGINGS
OLD-MAN AND HIS CONSCIENCE
OLD-MAN'S TREACHERY
WHY THE NIGHT-HAWK'S WINGS ARE BEAUTIFUL
WHY THE MOUNTAIN-LION IS LONG AND LEAN
THE FIRE-LEGGINGS
THE MOON AND THE GREAT SNAKE
WHY THE DEER HAS NO GALL
WHY INDIANS WHIP THE BUFFALO-BERRIES FROM THE BUSHES
OLD-MAN AND THE FOX
WHY THE BIRCH-TREE WEARS THE SLASHES IN ITS BARK
MISTAKES OF OLD-MAN
HOW THE MAN FOUND HIS MATE
DREAMS
RETROSPECTION


INDIAN WHY
STORIES

SPARKS FROM WAR EAGLE'S
LODGE-FIRE

FRANK B. LINDERMAN
[CO SKEE SEE CO COT]


I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE BOOK TO MY FRIEND
CHARLES M. RUSSELL
THE COWBOY ARTIST
GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL
THE INDIAN'S FRIEND

AND TO ALL OTHERS WHO HAVE KNOWN AND LOVED OLD MONTANA

FOR I HOLD THEM ALL AS KIN
WHO HAVE BUILDED FIRES WHERE NATURE
WEARS NO MAKE-UP ON HER SKIN


PREFACE


THE great Northwest--that wonderful fron-
tier that called to itself a world's hardiest
spirits--is rapidly becoming a settled country;
and before the light of civilizing influences,
the blanket-Indian has trailed the buffalo over
the divide that time has set between the pioneer
and the crowd. With his passing we have lost
much of the aboriginal folk-lore, rich in its
fairy-like characters, and its relation to the
lives of a most warlike people.

There is a wide difference between folk-lore
of the so-called Old World and that of America.
Transmitted orally through countless genera-
tions, the folk-stories of our ancestors show
many evidences of distortion and of change in
material particulars; but the Indian seems to
have been too fond of nature and too proud of
tradition to have forgotten or changed the
teachings of his forefathers. Childlike in sim-
plicity, beginning with creation itself, and
reaching to the whys and wherefores of nature's moods
and eccentricities, these tales impress
me as being well worth saving.

The Indian has always been a lover of nature
and a close observer of her many moods. The
habits of the birds and animals, the voices of
the winds and waters, the flickering of the
shadows, and the mystic radiance of the moon-
light--all appealed to him. Gradually, he for-
mulated within himself fanciful reasons for the
myriad manifestations of the Mighty Mother
and her many children; and a poet by instinct,
he framed odd stories with which to convey his
explanations to others. And these stories were
handed down from father to son, with little
variation, through countless generations, until
the white man slaughtered the buffalo, took to
himself the open country, and left the red man
little better than a beggar. But the tribal
story-teller has passed, and only here and there
is to be found a patriarch who loves the legends
of other days.

OLD-man, or Napa, as he is called by the
tribes of Blackfeet, is the strangest character
in Indian folk-lore. Sometimes he appears as
a god or creator, and again as a fool, a thief,
or a clown. But to the Indian, Napa is not the
Deity; he occupies a somewhat subordinate
position, possessing many attributes which have
sometimes caused him to be confounded with
Manitou, himself. In all of this there is a curi-
ous echo of the teachings of the ancient Aryans,
whose belief it was that this earth was not the
direct handiwork of the Almighty, but of a
mere member of a hierarchy of subordinate gods.
The Indian possesses the highest veneration for
the Great God, who has become familiar to the
readers of Indian literature as Manitou. No
idle tales are told of Him, nor would any Indian
mention Him irreverently. But with Napa it
is entirely different; he appears entitled to no
reverence; he is a strange mixture of the fal-
lible human and the powerful under-god. He
made many mistakes; was seldom to be trusted;
and his works and pranks run from the sub-
lime to the ridiculous. In fact, there are many
stories in which Napa figures that will not
bear telling at all.

I propose to tell what I know of these legends,
keeping as near as possible to the Indian's
style of story-telling, and using only tales told
me by the older men of the Blackfeet, Chip-
pewa, and Cree tribes.


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