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How the Blackfoot got the Buffalo Jump (Piskun)


Sketch by John Mix Stanley (c. 1853) Glenbow Museum

One day Napi was out on the Plains and became hungry and pleaded to the Great Spirit to help him and give him something to eat. The Great Spirit heard his prayers and said " Alright Napi, mound up the dirt as big as you can eat".

Napi started mounding up the dirt and the more he worked the hungrier he got, until he had a big mound and was tired out as he wasn't used to working so hard for something to eat, as the Creator usually fed him when he asked.

The Creator said " I see you have become greedy with me helping you too much so I will make the mound of dirt something you can eat, but you will have to learn to kill it", with that the Great Spirit turned the big mound of dirt into a Buffalo which charged Napi and he started running, more in fear of his life than thinking how to kill it, he ran across the plains, the Buffalo close behind him. Finally he saw a tree and thought, "If I can make it to the tree I can get away from this beast and then plan how to kill it."

As he neared the tree he saw a big branch sticking out, low enough for him to reach but high enough to get away from the Buffalo. He was running as hard as he could and the Buffalo was gaining on him, just as he reached the tree and swung up the Buffalo ran under him and disappeared. After he got over his fright and came down from the tree he found that the tree was on the edge of a cliff and the Buffalo has ran off it and was laying at the bottom.

The Great Spirit spoke to him and said "Now Napi your greed almost got you hurt but I will give you another chance, I will put Buffalo on the Plains if you share your kills with your brothers the meat eaters and your people". Which he did and showed the people how to use the Buffalo Jump. One is at Two Medicine River, another on Milk River as well as many others all over the Blackfoot Hunting Grounds.

Napi (Old Man) of the Blackfoot is the equivalent of Iktomni, the trickster, of the Sioux, as is Old Man Coyote of the Crow.

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The Theft from the Sun

Once Old Man was traveling around, when he came to the Sun's lodge, and the Sun asked him to stay awhile. Old Man was very glad to do so.

One day the meat was all done, and the Sun said, "Kyi! Old Man, what say you we go and kill some deer?"

"You speak well," replied Old Man. "I like deer meat."

The Sun took down a bag and pulled out a beautiful pair of leggings. They were embroidered with porcupine quills and bright feathers. "These," said the Sun, "are my hunting leggings. They are great medicine. All I have to do is put them on and walk around a patch of brush, when the leggings set it on fire and drive the deer out so I can shoot them."

"Hai-yah!" exclaimed Old Man. "How wonderful!" He made up his mind he would have those leggings, even if he had to steal them.

They went out to hunt, and the first patch of brush they came to, the Sun set on fire with his hunting leggings. A lot of white-tail deer ran out, and they each shot one. That night, when they went to bed, the Sun pulled off his leggings and placed them to one side.

Old Man saw where he put them, and in the middle of the night, when everyone else was asleep, he stole them and went off. He traveled a long time, until he had gone far and was very tired and then, making a pillow of the leggings, lay down and slept.

In the morning, he heard someone talking. The Sun was saying, "Old Man, why are my leggings under your head? He looked around, and saw he was in the Sun's lodge, and thought he must have wandered around and got lost, and returned there. Again the Sun spoke, and said, "What are you doing with my leggings?"

"Oh," replied Old Man, "I couldn't find anything for a pillow, so I just put these under my head."

Night came again, and again Old Man stole the leggings and ran off. This time he did not walk at all, he just kept running until pretty near morning, and then lay down and slept.

You see what a fool he was. He did not know that the whole world is the Sun's lodge. He did not know that, no matter how far he ran, he could not get out of Sun's sight.

When morning came, he found himself still in the Sun's lodge. But this time the Sun said: "Old Man, since you like my leggings so much, I will give them to you. Keep them." Then Old Man was very glad and went away.

One day his food was all gone, so he put on the medicine leggings and set fire to a piece of brush. He was just going to kill one deer that was running out when he saw that the fire was getting close to him. He ran away as fast as he could but the fire gained on him and began to burn his legs. His leggings were all on fire.

He came to a river and jumped in, and pulled off the leggings as soon as he could. They were burned to pieces.

Perhaps the Sun did this to him because he tried to steal his leggings.

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[ Introduction | Deeds and Prophecies of Old Man ]
[ How the Blackfoot got the Buffalo Jump ]
[ How a Piegan Warrior Found the First Horses ]
[ The Creation | The Story of the Buffalo Dance ]
[ The Piqued Buffalo-Wife | The Wise Man of Chief Mountain ]
[ The Wematekan's are Earth Spirits ]
[ Water Spirit's Gift of Horses | A Hunting Trip ]
[ Coyote and the Rolling Rock | Sacred Otter ]
[ Origin of the Sweat Lodge | The Story of Two Brothers ]
[ Women Who Married Star Husbands ]
[ How the Worm Pipe Came to the Blackfoot ]
[ WOMAN CHOOSES DEATH ]

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