Story Of Pretty Feathered Forehead

There was once a baby boy who came into the world with a small cluster

of different colored feathers grown fast to his forehead. From this he

derived his name, "Pretty Feathered Forehead." He was a very pleasant

boy as well as handsome, and he had the respect of the whole tribe. When

he had grown up to be a young man, he never, like other young men, made

love to any of the tribe's beauties. Although they were madly in love
/> with him, he never noticed any of them. There were many handsome girls

in the different camps, but he passed them by.

One day he said: "Father, I am going on a visit to the Buffalo nation."

The father gave his consent, and away went the son. The father and

mother suspected the object of their son's visit to the Buffalo nation,

and forthwith commenced preparing a fine reception for their intended

daughter-in-law. The mother sewed together ten buffalo hides and painted

the brave deeds of her husband on them. This she made into a commodious

tent, and had work bags and fine robes and blankets put inside. This was

to be the tent of their son and daughter-in-law. In a few weeks the son

returned, bringing with him a beautiful Buffalo girl. The parents of the

boy gave a big feast in honor of the occasion, and the son and his wife

lived very happily together.

In the course of time a son came to the young couple, and the father was

very proud of his boy. When the boy became a year old, the father said

to his wife: "I am going for a visit to the Elk nation." The mother

was very sad, as she knew her husband was going after another wife. He

returned, bringing with him a very beautiful elk girl. When the Buffalo

woman saw the elk girl she was very downcast and sad, but the husband

said: "Don't be sad; she will do all the heavy work for you."

They lived quite happily together for a long time. The Elk girl also

became the mother of a fine boy. The two boys had grown up large enough

to play around. One day the Elk woman was tanning hides outside and the

two boys were playing around near their mothers, when all at once the

buffalo boy ran across the robe, leaving his tracks on the white robe

which his step-mother had nearly completed. This provoked the elk woman

and she gave vent to her feelings by scolding the boy: "You clumsy flat

mouth, why couldn't you run around my work, instead of across it?" The

buffalo cow standing in the door, heard every word that the elk woman

had said, and when she heard her son called flat mouth it made her

very angry, although she did not say a word to any one. She hurriedly

gathered some of her belongings and, calling her son, she started off in

a westerly direction.

The husband being absent on a hunting expedition did not return until

late in the afternoon. Upon his return his oldest boy always ran out

to meet him, but this time as the boy did not put in an appearance, the

father feared that something had happened to the boy. So hurriedly going

to his tent he looked around, but failing to see the boy or his mother,

he asked his elk wife, where the boy and his mother were. The elk

wife answered: "She took her boy on her back and started off in that

direction," (pointing towards the west). "How long has she been gone?"

"Since early morning." The husband hurriedly caught a fresh horse and,

without eating anything, rode off in the direction taken by his buffalo

wife and boy. Near dark he ascended a high hill and noticed a small tent

down in the valley. It was a long distance down to the tent, so it was

very late when he arrived there. He tethered his horse and went into

the tent and found the boy and his mother fast asleep. Upon lying down

beside them the boy awoke, and upon seeing his father, motioned to him

to go outside with him.

On going outside the boy told his father that it would be useless for

him to try and coax his mother to return, as she was too highly insulted

by the elk wife to ever return. Then the boy told about what the elk

wife had said and that she had called him flat mouth. "My mother is

determined to return to her people, but if you want to follow us you

may, and perhaps, after she has visited with her relatives a little

while, you may induce her to return with you. In the morning we are

going to start very early, and as the country we will travel through

is very hard soil, I will stamp my feet hard so as to leave my tracks

imprinted in the softest places, then you will be able to follow the

direction we will take."

The two went into the tent and were soon fast asleep. The father, being

very much fatigued, slept very soundly, and when he awoke the sun was

beating down upon him. The mother and boy were nowhere to be seen. The

tent had been taken down from over him so carefully that he had not been

awakened. Getting his horse, he mounted and rode after the two who had

left him sleeping. He had no trouble in following the trail, as the boy

had stamped his feet hard and left his little tracks in the soft places.

That evening he spied the little tent again and on getting to it found

them both asleep. The boy awoke and motioned for his father to go

outside. He again told his father that the next day's travel would be

the hardest of all. "We will cross a great plain, but before we get

there we will cross a sandy hollow. When you get to the hollow, look at

my tracks; they will be deep into the sand, and in each track you will

see little pools of water. Drink as much as you can, as this is the only

chance you will get to have a drink, there being no water from there to

the big ridge, and it will be dark by the time you get to the ridge. The

relations of my mother live at that ridge and I will come and talk to

you once more, before I leave you to join my mother's people."

Next morning, as before, he awoke to find himself alone. They had left

him and proceeded on their journey. He mounted again and when he arrived

at the sandy hollow, sure enough, there, deep in the sand, were the

tracks of his son filled to the top with water. He drank and drank until

he had drained the last one. Then he arose and continued on the trail,

and near sundown he came in sight of their little tent away up on the

side of the ridge. His horse suddenly staggered and fell forward dead,

having died of thirst.

From there he proceeded on foot. When he got to where the tent stood he

entered, only to find it empty. "I guess my son intends to come here and

have his last talk with me," thought the father. He had eaten nothing

for three days, and was nearly famished. He lay down, but the pangs of

hunger kept sleep away. He heard footsteps outside and lay in readiness,

thinking it might be an enemy. Slowly opening the covering of the door,

his son looked in and seeing his father lying awake, drew back and ran

off up the ridge, but soon returned bringing a small parcel with him.

When he entered he gave the parcel to his father and said: "Eat, father;

I stole this food for you, so I could not get very much." The father

soon ate what his son had brought. When he had finished, the son said:

"Tomorrow morning the relatives of my mother will come over here and

take you down to the village. My mother has three sisters who have their

work bags made identically the same as mother's. Were they to mix them

up they could not each pick out her own without looking inside so as to

identify them by what they have in them. You will be asked to pick out

mother's work bag, and if you fail they will trample you to death. Next

they will tell you to pick out my mother from among her sisters, and you

will be unable to distinguish her from the other three, and if you fail

they will bury you alive. The last they will try you on, in case you

meet the first and second tests successfully, will be to require you

to pick me out from my three cousins, who are as much like me as my

reflection in the water. The bags you can tell by a little pebble I will

place on my mother's. You can pick my mother out by a small piece of

grass which I will put in her hair, and you can pick me out from my

cousins, for when we commence to dance, I will shake my head, flop my

ears and switch my tail. You must choose quickly, as they will be very

angry at your success, and if you lose any time they will make the

excuse that you did not know, that they may have an excuse to trample

you to death."

The boy then left, after admonishing his father to remember all that

he had told him. Early next morning the father heard a great rumbling

noise, and going outside, he saw the whole hillside covered with

buffalo. When he appeared they set up a loud bellowing and circled

around him. One old bull came up and giving a loud snort, passed on by,

looking back every few steps. The man, thinking he was to follow this

one, did so, and the whole herd, forming a half circle around him,

escorted him down the west side of the range out on to a large plain,

where there stood a lone tree. To this tree the old bull led him and

stopped when he reached the tree. A large rock at the foot of the tree

served as a seat for the man. As soon as he was seated there came four

female buffaloes, each bearing a large work box. They set the boxes

down in a row in front of the man, and the herd crowded around closer in

order to get a good view. The old bull came to the front and stood close

to the bags, which had been taken out of the four boxes.

The man stood up, and looking at the bags, noticed a small pebble

resting on the one next to the left end. Stepping over he pulled the bag

towards him and secretly pushed the little pebble off the bag, so that

no one would notice it. When they saw that he had selected the right

one, they set up a terrific bellow.

Then came the four sisters and stood in a line before the man. Glancing

along from the one on the right to the last one on the left, he stepped

forward and placed his hand on the one next to the right. Thanks to his

boy, if he hadn't put that little stem of grass on his mother's hair,

the father could never have picked out his wife, as the four looked

as much alike as four peas. Next came the four boy calves, and as they

advanced they commenced dancing, and his son was shaking his head and

flopping his ears and switching his tail. The father was going to pick

out his boy, when a fainting spell took him, and as he sank to the

ground the old bull sprang forward on top of him, and instantly they

rushed upon him and he was soon trampled to a jelly. The herd then moved

to other parts.

The elk wife concluded that something had happened to her husband and

determined upon going in search of him. As she was very fleet of foot it

did not take her long to arrive at the lone tree. She noticed the blood

splashed on the base of the tree, and small pieces of flesh stamped

into the earth. Looking closer, she noticed something white in the dust.

Stooping and picking it out of the dust, she drew forth the cluster

of different colored feathers which had been fastened to her husband's

forehead. She at once took the cluster of feathers, and going to the

east side of the ridge, heated stones and erected a wickieup, placed the

feathers inside, and getting water, she sprinkled the stones, and this

caused a thick vapor in the wickieup. She continued this for a long

time, when she heard something moving inside the wickieup. Then a voice

spoke up, saying: "Whoever you are, pour some more water on and I will

be all right." So the woman got more water and poured it on the rocks.

"That will do now, I want to dry off." She plucked a pile of sage and in

handing it in to him, he recognized his elk wife's hand.

They went back home and shortly after the buffalo, hearing about him

coming back to life, decided to make war on him and kill him and his

wife, she being the one who brought him back to life. The woman, hearing

of this, had posts set in the ground and a strong platform placed on

top. When the buffalo came, her husband, her son and herself, were

seated upon the bough platform, and the buffalo could not reach them.

She flouted her red blanket in their faces, which made the buffalo wild

with rage. The hunter's friends came to his rescue, and so fast were

they killing the buffalo that they took flight and rushed away, never

more to bother Pretty Feather Forehead.