The Four Brothers Or Inyanhoksila Stone Boy
Alone and apart from their tribe dwelt four orphan brothers. They had
erected a very comfortable hut, although the materials used were only
willows, hay, birch bark, and adobe mud. After the completion of their
hut, the oldest brother laid out the different kinds of work to be done
by the four of them. He and the second and third brothers were to do all
the hunting, and the youngest brother was to do the house work, cook the
meals, and keep plenty of wood on hand at all times.
As his older brothers would leave for their hunting very early every
morning, and would not return till late at night, the little fellow
always found plenty of spare time to gather into little piles fine dry
wood for their winter use.
Thus the four brothers lived happily for a long time. One day while out
gathering and piling up wood, the boy heard a rustling in the leaves
and looking around he saw a young woman standing in the cherry bushes,
smiling at him.
"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked the boy, in surprise.
"I am an orphan girl and have no relatives living. I came from the
village west of here. I learned from rabbit that there were four orphan
brothers living here all alone, and that the youngest was keeping house
for his older brothers, so I thought I would come over and see if I
couldn't have them adopt me as their sister, so that I might keep house
for them, as I am very poor and have no relations, neither have I a
She looked so pitiful and sad that the boy thought to himself, "I will
take her home with me, poor girl, no matter what my brothers think or
say." Then he said to her: "Come on, tanke (sister). You may go home
with me; I am sure my older brothers will be glad to have you for our
When they arrived at the hut, the girl hustled about and cooked up a
fine hot supper, and when the brothers returned they were surprised to
see a girl sitting by the fire in their hut. After they had entered the
youngest brother got up and walked outside, and a short time after the
oldest brother followed him out. "Who is that girl, and where did she
come from?" he asked his brother. Whereupon the brother told him the
whole story. Upon hearing this the oldest brother felt very sorry for
the poor orphan girl and going back into the hut he spoke to the
girl, saying: "Sister, you are an orphan, the same as we; you have no
relatives, no home. We will be your brothers, and our poor hut shall be
your home. Henceforth call us brothers, and you will be our sister."
"Oh, how happy I am now that you take me as your sister. I will be to
you all as though we were of the same father and mother," said the girl.
And true to her word, she looked after everything of her brothers and
kept the house in such fine shape that the brothers blessed the day that
she came to their poor little hut. She always had an extra buckskin
suit and two pairs of moccasins hanging at the head of each one's bed.
Buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, wolf, wildcat, mountain lion and beaver
skins she tanned by the dozen, and piled nicely in one corner of the
When the Indians have walked a great distance and are very tired, they
have great faith in painting their feet, claiming that paint eases the
pain and rests their feet.
After their return from a long day's journey, when they would be lying
down resting, the sister would get her paint and mix it with the deer
tallow and rub the paint on her brother's feet, painting them up to
their ankles. The gentle touch of her hands, and the soothing qualities
of the tallow and paint soon put them into a deep, dreamless steep.
Many such kind actions on her part won the hearts of the brothers, and
never was a full blood sister loved more than was this poor orphan girl,
who had been taken as their adopted sister. In the morning when they
arose, the sister always combed their long black silken scalp locks and
painted the circle around the scalp lock a bright vermillion.
When the hunters would return with a goodly supply of beef, the sister
would hurry and relieve them of their packs, hanging each one high
enough from the ground so the prowling dogs and coyotes could not reach
them. The hunters each had a post on which to hang his bow and flint
head arrows. (Good hunters never laid their arrows on the ground, as it
was considered unlucky to the hunter who let his arrows touch the earth
after they had been out of the quiver). They were all perfectly happy,
until one day the older brother surprised them all by saying: "We have a
plentiful supply of meat on hand at present to last us for a week or so.
I am going for a visit to the village west of us, so you boys all stay
at home and help sister. Also gather as much wood as you can and I will
be back again in four days. On my return we will resume our hunting and
commence getting our year's supply of meat."
He left the next morning, and the last they saw of him was while he
stood at the top of the long range of hills west of their home. Four
days had come and gone and no sign of the oldest brother.
"I am afraid that our brother has met with some accident," said the
sister. "I am afraid so, too," said the next oldest. "I must go and
search for him; he may be in some trouble where a little help would
get him out." The second brother followed the direction his brother had
taken, and when he came to the top of the long range of hills he sat
down and gazed long and steadily down into the long valley with a
beautiful creek winding through it. Across the valley was a long plain
stretching for miles beyond and finally ending at the foot of another
range of hills, the counterpart of the one upon which he sat.
After noting the different landmarks carefully, he arose and slowly
started down the slope and soon came to the creek he had seen from the
top of the range. Great was his surprise on arriving at the creek to
find what a difference there was in the appearance of it from the range
and where he stood. From the range it appeared to be a quiet, harmless,
laughing stream. Now he saw it to be a muddy, boiling, bubbling torrent,
with high perpendicular banks. For a long time he stood, thinking which
way to go, up or down stream. He had just decided to go down stream,
when, on chancing to look up, he noticed a thin column of smoke slowly
ascending from a little knoll. He approached the place cautiously and
noticed a door placed into the creek bank on the opposite side of the
stream. As he stood looking at the door, wondering who could be living
in a place like that, it suddenly opened and a very old appearing woman
came out and stood looking around her. Soon she spied the young man, and
said to him: "My grandchild, where did you come from and whither are you
bound?" The young man answered: "I came from east of this ridge and am
in search of my oldest brother, who came over in this direction five
days ago and who has not yet returned."
"Your brother stopped here and ate his dinner with me, and then left,
traveling towards the west," said the old witch, for such she was. "Now,
grandson, come across on that little log bridge up the stream there
and have your dinner with me. I have it all cooked now and just stepped
outside to see if there might not be some hungry traveler about, whom I
could invite in to eat dinner with me." The young man went up the stream
a little distance and found a couple of small logs which had been placed
across the stream to serve as a bridge. He crossed over and went down to
the old woman's dugout hut. "Come in grandson, and eat. I know you must
The young man sat down and ate a real hearty meal. On finishing he arose
and said: "Grandmother, I thank you for your meal and kindness to me. I
would stay and visit with you awhile, as I know it must be very lonely
here for you, but I am very anxious to find my brother, so I must be
going. On my return I will stop with my brother and we will pay you a
"Very well, grandson, but before you go, I wish you would do me a little
favor. Your brother did it for me before he left, and cured me, but it
has come back on me again. I am subject to very severe pains along the
left side of my backbone, all the way from my shoulder blade down to
where my ribs attach to my backbone, and the only way I get any relief
from the pain is to have some one kick me along the side." (She was a
witch, and concealed in her robe a long sharp steel spike. It was placed
so that the last kick they would give her, their foot would hit the
spike and they would instantly drop off into a swoon, as if dead.)
"If I won't hurt you too much, grandmother, I certainly will be glad to
do it for you," said the young man, little thinking he would be the one
to get hurt.
"No, grandson, don't be afraid of hurting me; the harder you kick the
longer the pain stays away." She laid down on the floor and rolled over
on to her right side, so he could get a good chance to kick the left
side where she said the pain was located.
As he moved back to give the first kick, he glanced along the floor
and he noticed a long object wrapped in a blanket, lying against the
opposite wall. He thought it looked strange and was going to stop and
investigate, but just then the witch cried out as if in pain. "Hurry up,
grandson, I am going to die if you don't hurry and start in kicking." "I
can investigate after I get through with her," thought he, so he started
in kicking and every kick he would give her she would cry: "Harder, kick
harder." He had to kick seven times before he would get to the end of
the pain, so he let out as hard as he could drive, and when he came to
the last kick he hit the spike, and driving it through his foot, fell
down in a dead swoon, and was rolled up in a blanket by the witch and
placed beside his brother at the opposite side of the room.
When the second brother failed to return, the third went in search of
the two missing ones. He fared no better than the second one, as he
met the old witch who served him in a similar manner as she had his two
"Ha! Ha!" she laughed, when she caught the third, "I have only one more
of them to catch, and when I get them I will keep them all here a
year, and then I will turn them into horses and sell them back to their
sister. I hate her, for I was going to try and keep house for them and
marry the oldest one, but she got ahead of me and became their sister,
so now I will get my revenge on her. Next year she will be riding and
driving her brothers and she won't know it."
When the third brother failed to return, the sister cried and begged the
last one not to venture out in search of them. But go he must, and go he
did, only to do as his three brothers had done.
Now the poor sister was nearly distracted. Day and night she wandered
over hills and through woods in hopes she might find or hear of some
trace of them. Her wanderings were in vain. The hawks had not seen them
after they had crossed the little stream. The wolves and coyotes told
her that they had seen nothing of her brothers out on the broad plains,
and she had given them up for dead.
One day, as she was sitting by the little stream that flowed past their
hut, throwing pebbles into the water and wondering what she should do,
she picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and after looking
at it for a long time, threw it into the water. No sooner had it hit the
water than she saw it grow larger. She took it out and looked at it and
threw it in again. This time it had assumed the form of a baby. She took
it out and threw it in the third time and the form took life and began
to cry: "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). She took the baby home and fed it
soup, and it being an unnatural baby, quickly grew up to a good sized
boy. At the end of three months he was a good big, stout youth. One day
he said: "Mother, why are you living here alone? To whom do all these
fine clothes and moccasins belong?" She then told him the story of
her lost brothers. "Oh, I know now where they are. You make me lots of
arrows. I am going to find my uncles." She tried to dissuade him from
going, but he was determined and said: "My father sent me to you so that
I could find my uncles for you, and nothing can harm me, because I am
stone and my name is 'Stone Boy'."
The mother, seeing that he was determined to go, made a whole quiver
full of arrows for him, and off he started. When he came to the old
witch's hut, she was nowhere to be seen, so he pushed the door in and
entered. The witch was busily engaged cooking dinner.
"Why, my dear grandchild, you are just in time for dinner. Sit down and
we will eat before you continue your journey." Stone boy sat down and
ate dinner with the old witch. She watched him very closely, but when
she would be drinking her soup he would glance hastily around the room.
Finally he saw the four bundles on the opposite side of the room, and
he guessed at once that there lay his four uncles. When he had finished
eating he took out his little pipe and filled it with "kini-kinic," and
commenced to smoke, wondering how the old woman had managed to fool
his smart uncles. He couldn't study it out, so when he had finished his
smoke he arose to pretend to go. When the old woman saw him preparing
to leave, she said: "Grandson, will you kick me on the left side of my
backbone. I am nearly dead with pain and if you kick me good and hard
it will cure me." "All right, grandma," said the boy. The old witch lay
down on the floor and the boy started in to kick. At the first kick he
barely touched her. "Kick as hard as you can, grandson; don't be afraid
you will hurt me, because you can't." With that Stone Boy let drive and
broke two ribs. She commenced to yell and beg him to stop, but he kept
on kicking until he had kicked both sides of her ribs loose from the
backbone. Then he jumped on her backbone and broke it and killed the old
He built a big fire outside and dragged her body to it, and threw her
into the fire. Thus ended the old woman who was going to turn his uncles
Next he cut willows and stuck them into the ground in a circle. The
tops he pulled together, making a wickieup. He then took the old woman's
robes and blankets and covered the wickieup so that no air could get
inside. He then gathered sage brush and covered the floor with a good
thick bed of sage; got nice round stones and got them red hot in the
fire, and placed them in the wickieup and proceeded to carry his
uncles out of the hut and lay them down on the soft bed of sage. Having
completed carrying and depositing them around the pile of rocks, he got
a bucket of water and poured it on the hot rocks, which caused a great
vapor in the little wickieup. He waited a little while and then listened
and heard some breathing inside, so he got another bucket and poured
that on also. After awhile he could hear noises inside as though some
one were moving about. He went again and got the third bucket and after
he had poured that on the rocks, one of the men inside said: "Whoever
you are, good friend, don't bring us to life only to scald us to death
again." Stone boy then said: "Are all of you alive?" "Yes," said the
voice. "Well, come out," said the boy. And with that he threw off the
robes and blankets, and a great cloud of vapor arose and settled around
the top of the highest peak on the long range, and from that did Smoky
Range derive its name.
The uncles, when they heard who the boy was, were very happy, and they
all returned together to the anxiously waiting sister. As soon as they
got home, the brothers worked hard to gather enough wood to last them
all winter. Game they could get at all times of the year, but the
heavy fall of snow covered most of the dry wood and also made it very
difficult to drag wood through the deep snow. So they took advantage of
the nice fall weather and by the time the snow commenced falling they
had enough wood gathered to last them throughout the winter. After the
snow fell a party of boys swiftly coasted down the big hill west of the
brothers' hut. The Stone boy used to stand and watch them for hours at
a time. His youngest uncle said: "Why don't you go up and coast with
them?" The boy said: "They may be afraid of me, but I guess I will try
once, anyway." So the next morning when the crowd came coasting, Stone
boy started for the hill. When he had nearly reached the bottom of the
coasting hill all of the boys ran off excepting two little fellows who
had a large coaster painted in different colors and had little bells
tied around the edges, so when the coaster was in motion the bells made
a cheerful tinkling sound. As Stone boy started up the hill the two
little fellows started down and went past him as though shot from a
When they got to the end of their slide, they got off and started back
up the hill. It being pretty steep, Stone boy waited for them, so as
to lend a hand to pull the big coaster up the hill. As the two little
fellows came up with him he knew at once that they were twins, as they
looked so much alike that the only way one could be distinguished from
the other was by the scarfs they wore. One wore red, the other black. He
at once offered to help them drag their coaster to the top of the hill.
When they got to the top the twins offered their coaster to him to try
a ride. At first he refused, but they insisted on his taking it, as they
said they would sooner rest until he came back. So he got on the coaster
and flew down the hill, only he was such an expert he made a zigzag
course going down and also jumped the coaster off a bank about four
feet high, which none of the other coasters dared to tackle. Being
very heavy, however, he nearly smashed the coaster. Upon seeing this
wonderful jump, and the zigzag course he had taken going down, the twins
went wild with excitement and decided that they would have him take them
down when he got back. So upon his arrival at the starting point, they
both asked him at once to give them the pleasure of the same kind of a
ride he had taken. He refused, saying: "We will break your coaster. I
alone nearly smashed it, and if we all get on and make the same kind of
a jump, I am afraid you will have to go home without your coaster."
"Well, take us down anyway, and if we break it our father will make us
another one." So he finally consented. When they were all seated ready
to start, he told them that when the coaster made the jump they must
look straight ahead. "By no means look down, because if you do we will
go over the cut bank and land in a heap at the bottom of the gulch."
They said they would obey what he said, so off they started swifter
than ever, on account of the extra weight, and so swiftly did the sleigh
glide over the packed, frozen snow, that it nearly took the twins'
breath away. Like an arrow they approached the jump. The twins began to
get a little nervous. "Sit steady and look straight ahead," yelled Stone
boy. The twin next to Stone boy, who was steering behind, sat upright
and looked far ahead, but the one in front crouched down and looked
into the coulee. Of course, Stone boy, being behind, fell on top of the
twins, and being so heavy, killed both of them instantly, crushing them
to a jelly.
The rest of the boys, seeing what had happened, hastened to the edge
of the bank, and looking down, saw the twins laying dead, and Stone boy
himself knocked senseless, lying quite a little distance from the twins.
The boys, thinking that all three were killed, and that Stone boy had
purposely steered the sleigh over the bank in such a way that it would
tip and kill the twins, returned to the village with this report. Now,
these twins were the sons of the head chief of the Buffalo Nation. So at
once the chief and his scouts went over to the hill to see if the boys
had told the truth.
When they arrived at the bank they saw the twins lying dead, but where
was Stone boy? They looked high and low through the gulch, but not a
sign of him could they find. Tenderly they picked up the dead twins and
carried them home, then held a big council and put away the bodies of
the dead in Buffalo custom.
A few days after this the uncles were returning from a long journey.
When they drew near their home they noticed large droves of buffalo
gathered on their side of the range. Hardly any buffalo ever ranged on
this east side of the range before, and the brothers thought it strange
that so many should so suddenly appear there now.
When they arrived at home their sister told them what had happened to
the chief's twins, as her son had told her the whole story upon his
arrival at home after the accident.
"Well, probably all the buffalo we saw were here for the council and
funeral," said the older brother. "But where is my nephew?" (Stone boy)
he asked his sister. "He said he had noticed a great many buffalo around
lately and he was going to learn, if possible, what their object was,"
said the sister. "Well, we will wait until his return."
When Stone boy left on his trip that morning, before the return of his
uncles, he was determined to ascertain what might be the meaning of
so many buffalo so near the home of himself and uncles. He approached
several bunches of young buffalo, but upon seeing him approaching they
would scamper over the hills. Thus he wandered from bunch to bunch,
scattering them all. Finally he grew tired of their cowardice and
started for home. When he had come to within a half mile or so of home
he saw an old shaggy buffalo standing by a large boulder, rubbing on it
first one horn and then the other. On coming up close to him, the boy
saw that the bull was so old he could hardly see, and his horns so
blunt that he could have rubbed them for a year on that boulder and not
sharpened them so as to hurt anyone.
"What are you doing here, grandfather?" asked the boy.
"I am sharpening my horns for the war," said the bull.
"What war?" asked the boy.
"Haven't you heard," said the old bull, who was so near sighted he did
not recognize Stone boy. "The chief's twins were killed by Stone boy,
who ran them over a cut bank purposely, and the chief has ordered all
of his buffalo to gather here, and when they arrive we are going to kill
Stone boy and his mother and his uncles."
"Is that so? When is the war to commence?"
"In five days from now we will march upon the uncles and trample and
gore them all to death."
"Well, grandfather, I thank you for your information, and in return
will do you a favor that will save you so much hard work on your blunt
horns." So saying he drew a long arrow from his quiver and strung his
bow, attached the arrow to the string and drew the arrow half way back.
The old bull, not seeing what was going on, and half expecting some kind
of assistance in his horn sharpening process, stood perfectly still.
Thus spoke Stone boy:
"Grandfather, you are too old to join in a war now, and besides if you
got mixed up in that big war party you might step in a hole or stumble
and fall and be trampled to death. That would be a horrible death, so I
will save you all that suffering by just giving you this." At this word
he pulled the arrow back to the flint head and let it fly. True to his
aim, the arrow went in behind the old bull's foreleg, and with such
force was it sent that it went clear through the bull and stuck into a
tree two hundred feet away.
Walking over to the tree, he pulled out his arrow. Coolly straightening
his arrow between his teeth and sighting it for accuracy, he shoved it
back into the quiver with its brothers, exclaiming: "I guess, grandpa,
you won't need to sharpen your horns for Stone boy and his uncles."
Upon his arrival home he told his uncles to get to work building three
stockades with ditches between and make the ditches wide and deep
so they will hold plenty of buffalo. "The fourth fence I will build
myself," he said.
The brothers got to work early and worked until very late at night. They
built three corrals and dug three ditches around the hut, and it took
them three days to complete the work. Stone boy hadn't done a thing
towards building his fence yet, and there were only two days more left
before the charge of the buffalo would commence. Still the boy didn't
seem to bother himself about the fence. Instead he had his mother
continually cutting arrow sticks, and as fast as she could bring them he
would shape them, feather and head them. So by the time his uncles had
their fences and corrals finished he had a thousand arrows finished
for each of his uncles. The last two days they had to wait, the uncles
joined him and they finished several thousand more arrows. The evening
before the fifth day he told his uncles to put up four posts, so they
could use them as seats from which to shoot.
While they were doing this, Stone boy went out to scout and see how
things looked. At daylight he came hurriedly in saying, "You had better
get to the first corral; they are coming." "You haven't built your
fence, nephew." Whereupon Stone boy said: "I will build it in time;
don't worry, uncle." The dust on the hillsides rose as great clouds of
smoke from a forest fire. Soon the leaders of the charge came in sight,
and upon seeing the timber stockade they gave forth a great snort
or roar that fairly shook the earth. Thousands upon thousands of mad
buffalo charged upon the little fort. The leaders hit the first stockade
and it soon gave way. The maddened buffalo pushed forward by the
thousands behind them; plunged forward, only to fall into the first
ditch and be trampled to death by those behind them. The brothers were
not slow in using their arrows, and many a noble beast went down before
their deadly aim with a little flint pointed arrow buried deep in his
The second stockade stood their charge a little longer than did the
first, but finally this gave way, and the leaders pushed on through,
only to fall into the second ditch and meet a similar fate to those
in the first. The brothers commenced to look anxiously towards their
nephew, as there was only one more stockade left, and the second ditch
was nearly bridged over with dead buffalo, with the now thrice maddened
buffalo attacking the last stockade more furiously than before, as they
could see the little hut through the openings in the corral.
"Come in, uncles," shouted Stone boy. They obeyed him, and stepping to
the center he said: "Watch me build my fence." Suiting the words, he
took from his belt an arrow with a white stone fastened to the point and
fastening it to his bow, he shot it high in the air. Straight up into
the air it went, for two or three thousand feet, then seemed to stop
suddenly and turned with point down and descended as swiftly as it had
ascended. Upon striking the ground a high stone wall arose, enclosing
the hut and all who were inside. Just then the buffalo broke the last
stockade only to fill the last ditch up again. In vain did the leaders
butt the stone wall. They hurt themselves, broke their horns and mashed
their snouts, but could not even scar the wall.
The uncles and Stone boy in the meantime rained arrows of death into
When the buffalo chief saw what they had to contend with, he ordered the
fight off. The crier or herald sang out: "Come away, come away, Stone
boy and his uncles will kill all of us."
So the buffalo withdrew, leaving over two thousand of their dead and
wounded on the field, only to be skinned and put away for the feasts
of Stone boy and his uncles, who lived to be great chiefs of their own
tribe, and whose many relations soon joined them on the banks of Stone