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Indian Stories
Coyote and Washichu
White Buffalo Calf Woman
Hilvhiyui Adalenisgv
(Ancient Beginnings)
The Earth was once a human being. Old One made her out of a woman. "You will be the Mother of all people," He said. Earth is alive yet, but she has been changed. The soil is her flesh, the rocks are her bones, the wind is her breath, trees and grass are her hair. She lives spread out, and we live on her. When she moves, we have an earthquake.

After taking the woman and changing her to Earth, Old One gathered some of her flesh and rolled it into balls, as people do with mud or clay. He made the first group of these balls into the Ancients, the beings of the early world.  The Ancients were people, yet also animals. In form some looked human while some walked on all fours like animals. Some could fly like birds; others could swim like fishes. All had the gift of speech, as well as greater powers and cunning than either animals or people. But deer were never among
the Ancients; they were always animals, even as they are today.

Besides the Ancients, real people and real animals lived on the Earth at that time. Old One made the people out of the last balls of mud he took from the Earth. He rolled them over and over, shaped them like humans, and blew on them to bring them alive. They were so ignorant that they were the most helpless of all the creatures Old One had made.

Old One made people and animals into males and females so they might breed and multiply. Thus all living things came from the Earth. When we look around, we see part of our Mother everywhere.

The difficulty with the early world was that most of the
Ancients were selfish and some were monsters, and there was much trouble among  hem. They were also very stupid in some ways. Though they knew they had to hunt in order to live, they did not know which creatures were deer and which were people, and sometimes they ate people by mistake.

At last Old One said, "There will soon be no people
if I let things go on like this." So he sent Coyote to kill
all the monsters and other evil beings among the ancients and teach the people how to do things.

And Coyote began to travel on the Earth, teaching the
People, making life easier and better for them, and
performing many wonderful deeds.

 

Coyote And Wasichu
There was a white man who was such a sharp trader that no one ever got the better of him in a deal. At  least, that is what the People said, until he met his match. One day, a man went up to this wasichu (white man) and told him, "There is someone who can out cheat you, anytime, anywhere." "That's  impossible!" the wasichu said. "I've had a trading post here for many years, and I've cheated every Indian who has ever come here." "Even so, Coyote can beat you in any deal," the man said. "Well, then, let's just see if he can. Where is Coyote?" the wasichu asked,
indignantly. The man told him, "Over there, the tricky looking guy." "Okay, all right, I'll try him," the crooked trader said. The wasichu walked over to the Coyote and said, "I hear that you're real tricky. Well, let's see you try to outsmart me!"  "I'm sorry," said Coyote, "I would like to help you out, but I can't do it without my cheating medicine." The wasichu sneered, "Cheating medicine, hah! Go and get it!" Coyote said, "I live miles from here, and I'm on foot. But, if you'd loan me your fast horse?" "Well, all right, you can borrow him," said the wasichu. "Now, go home and get it!" "Well, friend," Coyote said, "I am a poor rider. Your horse is afraid of me and I am afraid of
him. He does not know me. Lend me your clothes, so he will think that I am you." The wasichu thought about this, then said, "All right, here are my clothes. Here is my Horse. Now, go and get your cheating medicine. I am sure that I can beat it!" And so Coyote rode off with the wasichu's fast Horse and all of his fine clothes, while wasichu stood there bare-assed.
 

White Buffalo Calf Woman
Now, before I tell you this story, there are some things
which need to be said. Please understand that the White Buffalo as well as White Buffalo Calf Woman are lila wakan, very sacred, to the Lakota Peoples. This story has been handed down for hundreds of years, and is told exactly the same way every time that it is told. There is a real Pipe, the sacred Chanunpa, which was brought to the People by White Buffalo Calf Woman. To some, this may be an entertaining story, a myth....but the Lakota Peoples know, they believe.

The Lakota-Sioux are a warrior tribe, and the men always walk before the women. However, White Buffalo Calf Woman is the greatest heroine in Lakota history. She has the greatest place of honor, as you will see. The Sioux feel that she brought their identity to them, and made them what they are. It is commonly felt by all that she put her mind into their bodies. At the Sun Dance, a woman who is honored and respected by all is given the true honor of representing White Buffalo Calf Woman.  Although she appeared to the Sioux as a human woman, she was also a Buffalo. The Buffalo is the Indian People's Brother, who gave himself totally to the People that they might live. The rare White Buffalo was seldom seen, but was treasured far beyond price or possessions.

During the Summer time, long ago, the Sioux Peoples were very hungry. It was long before the Horse was brought to the Peoples of the Great Plains, long before recorded history. During this particular Summer, there was no game for the Sioux to eat, and they were starving. This was at the time that the Seven Council Fires of the Lakota Oyate, the Nation, came together. Each day, they sent scouts out to look for game, but they found none. 

One of the bands assembled were the Itazipcho, the
Without Bows, whose chief was Standing Hollow Horn. One morning he sent two young hunters out to find game. They found nothing, so they climbed a high hill, hoping to have a vantage point where they might see game afar. Halfway up this hill, they saw a speck in the distance. It was coming toward them, getting closer and closer. As this speck drew closer, they saw that it was a person, but it floated rather than walked. They saw that it was very sacred, lila wakan.

Soon they saw that this was a young woman, who was very beautiful. She was the most beautiful woman they had ever imagined. She wore a very beautiful white buckskin dress, tanned so well that it shone bright in the Sun from a great distance. She had red, rosy cheeks, and her dark eyes  lashed beautifully in the Sunlight. Her dress was adorned with the most intricate and lovely quill work that had ever been seen.
The colors of this quill work were so beautiful that no human woman could have done it. She was Ptesan-Wi, White Buffalo Woman. She carried a large bundle and a fan of sage leaves in her hands. Her long hair was so black that it had a blue lustre to it, and it flowed freely all about her, except for one strand on her left side. This was tied up with Buffalo fur. Great power surrounded this maiden.

Now, the two young men were awed. One realized that
she was sent by Wakan Tanka, the Creator. The other young man desired her body, and stretched his hand out to touch her. But she could not be treated with disrespect, and a bolt of lightning immediately struck him. He was instantly burned up into a small pile of charred bones. (Some say that he was suddenly surrounded by a cloud, in which he was eaten up by snakes, leaving only his bones. This is also how a man can be eaten up by lust).

The other young man was respectful, and she spoke to him, saying, "Good things I am bringing, something holy to your Nation. A message I carry for your People from the Buffalo Nation. Go back to the camp and tell the People to prepare for my arrival. Tell your chief to put up a medicine lodge with twenty four poles. Let it be made holy for my coming." 
 

So the hunter returned to the camp. He told everyone what had happened, and that the sacred woman was coming. So the eyapaha, the crier, was sent around the great encampment. He said, "Someone sacred is coming. A holy woman approaches. Make all things ready for her." They put up the big medicine
lodge and waited. In four days, they looked and saw her approaching. She carried the big bundle in her hands, and her splendid white buckskins shone from afar. Her long black hair was flowing as she walked.

Standing Hollow Horn invited her into the lodge. She
entered the lodge, and circled the interior Sunwise. The chief was awed also, and spoke respectfully to her. He said, "Sister, we are glad that you have come to instruct us."

So, Ptesan-Wi instructed the chief in what she wanted done. In the center of the lodge she wanted a sacred altar, owanka wakan, erected. It would be made of red Earth, with a Buffalo skull and a three-stick rack for another holy thing which she had in the bundle. She traced with her finger upon the Earth, what she wanted, and they did exactly as she instructed them to do. Then, she circled the lodge Sunwise again. Stopping in front of the chief, she opened the sacred bundle.

Inside this bundle was the Chanunpa, the sacred Pipe. She held the Pipe out to let the People see it. She was holding the pipestem with her right hand, the bowl in her left hand. To this day, that is how we hold the sacred Pipe.

Standing Hollow Horn spoke, "Sister, we are glad. We have had no meat for some time. All we can give you is water. " They dipped some sweet grass, wacanga, into a skin bag of water and gave it to her, and to this day the People dip either sweet grass or an Eagle wing into water and sprinkle it on a person to be purified.

Ptesan-Wi showed the People how to use the sacred Pipe. She filled it with red willow bark tobacco, chan-shasha. She walked around the lodge four times after the manner of Anpetu-Wi, the great Sun. This represented the circle without end, the sacred hoop, the medicine wheel, the road of life. She placed a dry Buffalo chip on the fire and lit the Pipe with it. This was peta-owihankeshi, the fire without end, the flame to be passed on from generation to generation. She told them that the smoke rising from the bowl was
Tunkashila's breath, that of Grandfather Mystery.

She showed the People the proper way to pray. She showed them the right words and gestures. She showed them how to sing the Pipe filling song and how to lift the Pipe up to the Sky, toward Tunkashila, and down toward Grandmother Earth, to Unci, and then to the four directions of the universe.

She said, "With this sacred Pipe, you will walk like a living prayer. With your feet resting upon the Earth and the pipe stem reaching into the Sky, your body forms a living bridge between the Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above. Wakan Tanka smiles upon us, because we are now as one: Earth, Sky, all living things, the two legged, the four legged, the winged ones, the Trees, the grasses. Together with the People, they are all related, one family. The Pipe holds them
all together." "Look at this bowl," she continued. "Its
stone represents the Buffalo, but also the flesh and blood of the Red man. The Buffalo represents the universe and the four directions, because he stands on four legs, for the four ages of creation. The Buffalo was put in the West by Wakan Tanka at the making of the world, to hold back the waters. Every year he loses one hair, and in every one of the four ages he loses a leg. The sacred hoop will end when all the hair and legs of the great Buffalo are gone, and the water comes back to cover the Earth."

"The wooden stem of this Chanunpa stands for all that grows on the Earth. Twelve feathers hanging from where the stem, the backbone-- joins the bowl, the skull, are from Wanblee Galeshka, the spotted Eagle, the very sacred bird who is the Great Spirit's messenger and the wisest of all flying ones. You are joined to all things of the universe, for they all cry out to Tunkashila. Look at the bowl: engraved
in it are seven circles of different sizes. They stand for the seven sacred ceremonies you will practice with this Pipe, and for the Ocheti Shakowin, the seven sacred campfires of our Lakota Nation."

Then, White Buffalo Calf Woman spoke to the women. She told them that it was the work of their hands and the fruit of their bodies which kept the People alive. She said, "You are from the Mother Earth. What you are doing is as great as what the warriors do."

So, the sacred Pipe is something which binds men and women together in a circle of love. The men make the bowl and the stem, and the women decorate it with quill work. When a man takes a wife, they both hold the Pipe at the same time and red trade cloth is wound around their hands, thus tying them together for life.

Ptesan-Wi had many things in her bag for the women. She gave them corn, wasna (pemmican), and wild turnips. She showed them how to make the hearth fire, and then how to cook meat and corn.

She talked to the children next, because they have an
understanding beyond their years. She explained that what their mothers and fathers did was for them, that their parents could remember being little once, and that these children would grow up and have children of their own s omeday. She said, "You are the coming generation, that is why you are the most important and precious ones. Someday you will hold this Pipe and smoke it. Some day, you will pray with it." Then, to all of the People, she said, "The Pipe is alive. It is a Red being showing you a Red life and a Red Road. And this is the first ceremony for which you will use the Pipe. You will use it to keep the spirit of a
dead person, because through it you can talk to Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery Spirit. The day a human dies is always a sacred day. The day when the spirit is released to the Great Spirit is another. Four women will become sacred on such a day. They will be the ones to cut the sacred tree, the can-wakan, for the Sun Dance."

She said that since the Lakota were the purest among all of the tribes, Wakan Tanka had chosen them to have the sacred Chanunpa. They were to keep it for all of the Indian Peoples of the Turtle Island (Earth).

To chief Standing Hollow Horn, she said, "Remember,
this Pipe is very sacred. Respect it and it will take you to the end of the Red road. The four ages of creation are in me, I AM the four ages of creation. I will come to see you in every generation cycle. I shall come back to you." As she was leaving, she said, "Toksha ake wacinyanktin ktelo--I shall see you again."

As she walked away into the setting Sun, she stopped and rolled over four times. The first time, she turned into a black Buffalo. The second time, she turned into a brown Buffalo. The third time, she turned into a red Buffalo. The fourth and final time, she turned into a female white Buffalo calf. You see, a white Buffalo is the most sacred living thing which you might ever  encounter.

The White Buffalo Calf Woman disappeared over the
horizon. As soon as she was gone, great herds of Buffalo appeared. Some of them allowed themselves to be killed, so that the People might survive. From that time on, the Buffalo provided everything which the People needed to survive.

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