Nez Perce - Elder Brother and Younger Brother
An Elder and a Younger Brother were wintering nearby. The Elder Brother had a wife, and the three of them lived there. They went hunting daily. They had a Bear for a dog. They were wealthy, and the woman's clothes were finely ornamented; all their things were the finest.
One evening the Younger Brother said, "I've used up all my arrows. Tomorrow I will not accompany you but will make arrows." "As you wish," the Elder Brother told him.
In the morning the Elder Brother went hunting, and the Younger just occupied himself at making arrows. Outside the lodge, the woman was engaged in scraping hides. The Bear was watching her; from time to time he found meaty skin which he ate. Then she said to the Younger Brother, "Oh, a pretty bird is outside here. He has alighted here. Hurry! Come shoot it."
The man told her, "I have nothing with which to shoot it; I have no arrows." She persisted, "Hurry! Come shoot it. The bird is very winsome."
"And with what shall I shoot it?" Nevertheless he took up an arrow, one that had been broken off. He took this outside and said to her, "Where is it of which you speak?" "There."
Now he shot it ["t'aq"], and the bird fell. He brought it and tossed it to her. "Whatever you wanted it for, here you are." Now he went back inside. He was busy making arrows when all of his pitch was used up. "I have no pitch, so I will go after some."
Thus he went away, while the woman wrapped up her hide under preparation, put it away, and with the bird's claws scratched herself on the face. The Bear watched her. The woman then lay down.
The Elder Brother arrived, bearing his pack of meat, and he said to her, "Bring in the pack now. What are you about?" She did not reply at all. Again he said to the woman, "Bring the pack inside. What are you doing? Why do you lie there?" Now he reached over and touched her. "What indeed! What could I be doing? Your brother raped me."
Now he saw her bloody face, and he said to himself, "For this reason he didn't want to go." Here were arrows planted in the ground. He seized these and tossed them into the fire. There, watching, was Bear, the dog.
Now the other brother returned from seeking pitch. He sat down and searched about looking for his arrows. Then he gave Bear a glance, and bear winked toward the fire. He looked only to see a small piece of one of the arrows, and now he knew, "He has burned mine. Tomorrow, then, I will go away." His feelings were hurt deeply. In early morning he dressed, took his things, and went away. The Bear accompanied his master.
As they went along, the Bear informed him, "Thus it happened that he did this to you." He told him, "The woman has caused you this trouble by her lying." And he went on to tell entirely all of the woman's doing.
"Yes, it is well that you inform me, you faithful one whose master I am." They now went to the mountains. Meanwhile, his brother had missed him, but he thought, "Probably he has gone over in the direction where the people are gathered."
The Younger Brother and the Bear traveled to the mountains far away. The Younger Brother said, "Poor one whose master I am has become hungry; therefore, let me shoot a pheasant for the poor one." Soon a pheasant perched above on a limb, and he shot it. But in falling the bird caught on the limbs. "What is it doing now? I will get it for him." He took off his clothes and was naked except for the loin piece. Then he climbed. He was about to reach for the pheasant when, suddenly, he saw it go higher. And he called down to the Bear, "Why are you looking up?" The Bear had looked up at him, winked, and thereby caused the pheasant to go right upward. Now again the master climbed. Again the Bear looked up, and again the pheasant went higher The Bear kept doing this to his master, and caused him to go higher and higher until he was completely out of sight somewhere above. The Bear had caused his master to disappear upward. Below, the Bear became lonely now, and he howled and wept. He howled plaintively, "Wa' ho"[sound of howling].
The Elder Brother at the lodge, too, now longed for his brother. "It was not right that I offended my brother. Now I shall search for him." And he, too, went to the mountains. "Here are their footprints." Thus, he tracked them all the way to the mountains, and from there he heard an echo ["layka ' t"]. Finally he heard it at closer range, like a dog howling. Presently he recognized the Bear's voice. Soon he arrived to behold the Bear sitting downcast, just howling.
He came up and said to him, "Where is your master?" The Bear did not reply. Again he said to him, "Where is your master, you whose master I am?" He still did not reply at all; and now he hung his head down, but he would not answer him. Finally the Bear said to him, "You are bothersome to me! By having given heed to the woman in her lying, you have caused me great loneliness." "Tell me then, you whose master I am."
"Why did you heed the woman's lies? Now I will inform you." And he talked and acquainted him with all the woman's doing. "Very plainly I saw them. He was in the lodge and the woman, outside, insisted that he should come out to shoot a bird. He did not rape her at all, but she just scratched herself."
"Yes, you whose master I am, it is well that you have told me. Now we are parting, never again to see each other. Already the coming of the human race is only a short time away, and it will be said, 'There is the bear. He is very, very dangerous.' Never again will you be good-natured." He placed a red feather on the Bear's head. Then he swallowed all the clothes that his brother had taken off, and they parted, he and the Bear. The Bear stayed in the mountains, there to become lonely and to howl.
Now the other went home and arrived where his wife was scraping hides. At a distance he pulled back his bow and aimed at her with his arrow. "Egad! You should not aim at me when you might let it slip accidentally, jokingly lose control; you are making me laugh," she said. He shot her dead, the poor one, right mid-center. "This one lied to me!" Now, also, he swallowed all the woman's clothing. Then he went into the lodge and swallowed various things, swallowed variously, everything. Now he became large and hideous; his belly bulged.' Winter came. He thought, "I am going to my grandmother's now." They were dancing there, and many people had assembled. In that direction now he journeyed. He arrived there.
Elder Brother came to an icy place with a hole chopped in the ice. There was red paint all over the ice from face washings. He stopped there when, shortly, he saw some maidens coming toward him, laughing, spirited, and gay. "Such a lovable boy! Where did you come from? Who are you?" "Elder Brother," he replied. "Those two were so homely, Elder Brother and Younger Brother! Go away! You are contaminating our water with nasal mucus." And they sent him off downstream.
He went along down the valley and arrived at another hole in the ice. There, too, red face paint was smeared all over. In the same way maidens came upon him, "Oh, lovable boy! Who are you?" "Elder Brother, " he replied. "Eh! What things you say! You are so homely. Go away! You are contaminating our water with nasal mucus." From there, too, they sent him off down the valley.
Again, he arrived at a hole downstream where ashes were scattered over the ice, and all the way along from the lodge to the hole. He sat down there when, presently, he saw an old woman coming, leaning on a cane. She came up to him here. "Oh boy! Oh boy! Who are you, boy?" "I am Elder Brother," he replied.
"Grandson! Come along; let us go home. Come, you are cold." She took him home, and they lived there for many days. He just played about opposite her. His grandmother made him a bow of deer's rib, made it and strung it. He would shoot targets with it nearby.
An old man who had two daughters lived nearby. One day this old man saw the boys and seemed to recognize him. "It seems to be him." Now he pondered. He took two feathers and blew one straight upward. The feather flew right upward and became an eagle. It went to the top of a cottonwood tree and perched there. He did the same to the other feather, whereupon two eagles were perched atop the tree. Then the old man proclaimed to all the people, "Whoever shoots those eagles will be given these maidens for wives."
Coyote acted at once as crier and announced to the people the old man's offer. The eagles were perched high up, and Coyote now bent his shooting efforts to the task. His bow had a deer's hoof tip. "Oh! I almost shot it. Oh! I almost shot it," he would shout in exultation. By that time everybody had given himself to the shooting test.
The boy, too, went there to watch. "What a thing to be missing," he thought. "They are easily shot." (Both the brothers had been keen marksmen from times far back.) Coyote saw him there, and said in playful mockery, "Shoot the buga-boo. They are giving away a wife." Then everybody said, "Then let the boy shoot." "Pooh! How could the likes of him ever shoot, when even I cannot?" Coyote told them now seriously. But the boy already comported himself the part in manliness. "Now shoot," they told him.
Now he undertook to and shot into the air. Coyote shot at the same time. "Pop! [t'aq'- sound of a hit]." He shot one of the eagles. "I've shot it! I've shot it! I've shot it!" rejoiced Coyote. "Who indeed!" Fox said to him. "Who are you? The boy shot it." "The boy told me, 'Why should the women belong to me? You will just take them home.' Is it not so, boy?" Coyote told them.
"Always you speak carelessly! The wives now belong to the boy." was Fox's rejoinder. The boy took up another arrow and "Pop! [t'aq']" the other eagle fell. Both now had been shot. They took them to the old man. "Yes, I recognized him before," he thought.
But now Coyote went to the old man and said to him, "It is not right at all for you to give your children to him. He is a poor boy, and it is not right for you to give your daughters to such a poor one. Rather, you should tell the people of another contest, because the boy will do very poorly by your daughters. It would be better if they belonged to a rich man."
Coyote talked on, but the old man only replied, "Nevertheless, I already told them that they will belong to the one who shot the eagles." "Yes," insisted Coyote, "but now I am telling them that there will be another contest."
"As you like. If you wish to do so." Coyote again performed the function of crier. "The old man says, "I am not satisfied with the shooting test; therefore there will be another contest.' You will make traps [pitfalls], and the one who makes the best catch this night to bring to the old man, he will get the wives." This he cried abroad.
It grew dark, and then very early in the morning Coyote went to traps that belonged to others, and there he examined those animals which had been caught. In one there was a splendid white wolf. Coyote took it out. "I will take this to the old man later," thought Coyote. The boy, too, had made a trap just near the lodge, and his grandmother had poured into it some sourdough. Now in the morning everybody brought in that thing which he had caught. Coyote brought his wolf. Everybody was there when somebody said to them, "The boy has not yet brought in his." "Nonsense!" said Coyote. "Would he. have anything when he had no trap?"
Then they saw an old lady coming, bringing along something. "This is what the boy had in his trap," she told them. It was a great white wolf with fur as white as snow. That wolf which Coyote had brought was a muddy color in comparison. "Oh, why did I not look for his, too?" Coyote, berated himself.
Now the old man told them, "The wives become the boy's." Then in the evening he told his daughters, "You are now going to the boy. Do not, however, look inside, but go right into the lodge; and do not, upon arriving there, peep inside."
The sisters went. The elder one led the way, and the younger followed. They arrived at the lodge, but the boy was just playing, turning somersaults. The girls saw the boy playing through a small opening in the lodge. The elder one said to her sister, "We are not going to him; we are not going in."
The younger one replied, "But our father told us, 'You will positively go inside.' And now we are going inside." "I will not stay with him here at all; rather, I will go to Raven." And the elder sister went away, even though the younger one coaxed her, "But father told us! The younger sister then went into the lodge. The boy ran across to his grandmother and sat there with her. The girl sat down. The boy said to his grandmother, "Hurry, give her something so that she will go."
"No, grandson, she has come here to live." Thus she stayed there. In the morning the crier announced, "You, as many as there are, newly-married men will go after buffalo and bring them in close by."
The boy arose very, very early and told his grandmother, "You will tell her that she must meet me with water." Then he went. In the evening all the brides met the men, and the young women now took water out to meet him.
Coyote met her there. "Where are you going? The boy has already been trampled into the ground somewhere. They are saying that his grandmother now weeps. Come this way to carve beef." She heeded him not. Then she met her sister, who also derided her, "Come, let us both take this water for Raven. Your boy has already been trampled under."
"No." From there she looked for him. She saw him over in that direction. He had killed two excellent, fat buffalo. She gave him water, and he proceeded to cut up the beef. Then they packed one apiece and went homeward. The young woman soon tired, and the boy said to her, "Give it to me; let me take all. Pack me up." They brought it to the lodge, and he told his grandmother, "Now let her take all to give to her father." The grandmother told her this, "Take all to give to your father." Now the woman took it, and still from a distance she heard her father pounding. She arrived to behold him splitting open a buffalo's head.
Raven had brought back only .the heads since he wanted only brow-fat, and for that reason he would always pack only the heads to give to the old man. The younger sister said to him, "Leave those alone lest you hit yourself. Here, I've brought much meat for you." She threw away all his buffalo heads."
Again Coyote announced, "Tomorrow you will rest, and you will make moccasins for the men, but on the following morning you newly-married men will go forth again."
The Elder Brother told his grandmother, "You may tell the woman that she is to go to her father's lodge to make moccasins for me there, and there will be no reason for her to come home." The old woman told this to her, "You will come only once, in the evening." Then she went home to her father's. Already her sister had arrived at their father's, and they made moccasins for their husbands. Again the elder sister laughed at her, "Let us both make these large moccasins for Raven, then later you can easily make some for the boy with thin scraps of skin."
The younger sister said nothing. Her father and she remained silent. Then her father said to her, "Make moccasins for him as large as mine. The boy told me to have it so." Thereupon she made for the boy moccasins as large in size as the old man's foot.
Now in another place were the grandmother and the boy. He said to his grandmother, "Build for me a lodge, very large and tight, and then you will tie me to the smoke hole. You will not look inside even though you may hear something. Do not, absolutely, look inside; but when I call you, you will come in."
The old woman accordingly busied herself at this and finally finished. Now she hung him from the smoke hole and went outside to sit. In a short time she heard a noise within, the sound of falling objects. She stayed outside there for nearly half a day.
Finally she heard him call, "Ready! Come in grandmother and untie me; I am beginning already to feel cramps." She went into the lodge and saw, all piled up, many things (all that which he had swallowed a long time before.) He said to her again, "You are now to build another lodge." Soon they had a very large buckskin lodge. She erected a splendid, large lodge.
Now in the evening his wife came home. She was going along in that direction when she happened to look over this way. "Oh, somebody has moved in with us. they must be seeing my husband." She went on to the lodge. She happened to glance into the lodge through a hole and suddenly beheld a very handsome man, a man of fine presence and of ornamented dress. From outside there she just stared. "A man so handsome to look upon," she thought. The man caught sight of her at the same time from within the lodge.
She heard the old woman and him speak to each other, and then the old woman called to her, "Come in! It is your husband that has become thus."
Now she went in and just sat there. In the morning the husband said to his wife, "You will meet me. You will put water in a pail, mix it with white clay, and bring that water to meet me."
Coyote announced again, "All get ready; take water to meet the newly-married men." Now the wives all took water to meet them. Here again the elder sister derided her, "Let us both take water to meet Raven; already the boy must be trampled under somewhere." Now a man came into view on the hill, glittering in ornate dress, a handsome man. The elder sister said, "Sister, you should be meeting that man. Your husband has been trampled under somewhere."
"Yes, as if I am not taking water to meet that one." They went on but now she seemed to direct her steps toward that man of fine appearance, and her sister accompanied her just saying the while, "Truly sister? You are taking water to meet that one?" "Yes, didn't I tell you!" Now as they were about to meet the man he, too, seemed to approach directly toward her. The elder sister said, "Truly, is that your husband?" "Yes, truly." "Sister," she said, "let us both have him for a husband. Let me give him water first."
Her sister replied; "Very well; go ahead and give water first." The man came upon them in his very finely ornamented attire.
There she offered him her horn water container which she was bringing to give to Raven. Hers was a mixture of water and ashes. She offered the container, but the man struck it, thrust it aside this way, and said, "Away! I might contaminate yours with nasal mucus. I am that one who exudes nasal mucus." Then the other woman, his wife, gave him hers and he drank. Soon Raven appeared cawing, almost dying of heat, and thirsting. But none of his wife's water was left because the man had upset and spilled it. The husband said, "There, over that way, I have killed two buffalo."
They went over there. He had killed two very fine, fat ones. Now he carved the beeves, and they took the meat home. He said to her, "All right; take this meat and give it to your father." The woman packed it on her back again and took it. She heard from a distance her father's pounding as he tried to break apart some buffalo heads. She came up to him, threw away all the heads, and gave him the meat.
Raven [himala' tna] became deeply offended at this. "Then we will move away and take all the buffalo [qoq'a' lx]," he and his wife said to each other. They rounded up all, every one of the buffalo, and drove them away.
The people lived for days, consumed all their meat, and now they hungered. Coyote had already made family connections, had attached himself to Elder Brother as "My nephew." He fared well there.
One day Raven said to his wife, "Let me feel them out to find out how the people are passing the days, or perhaps how many have starved to death." He went to the people, saw them, and returned. "Although they are poor, they still live." Already a baby, a daughter, had been born to Raven and his wife. Again the days passed and he said to her, "I go again to see in what manner the people are spending the days."
Then Beaver [ta' xtspol] told the people, "Now Raven comes again. Cut me open, take out all my intestines, and place my hands close to my face. When Raven will try to procure my brow-fat, I will grasp him very well. Thereupon, right away, you will come to aid me lest he struggle free." Now the people cut the Beaver open, placed his intestines to one side, and soon they saw Raven come dashing up. From the lodges nearby they looked, watched him most eagerly.
"Already my friend the Beaver has starved to death. Possibly he has good brow-fat," Raven said to himself. Nevertheless he was wary and somewhat fearful. "It may be that he only pretends to be dead," he thought. From very high up he swooped upon him, swishing the air with his wings ["xiw"}, but the Beaver did not move at all or even blink. "It is true that he has starved; it is impossible that intestines of the living should be strewn around." Nevertheless he was still somewhat afraid, and he swooped upon the Beaver again and again. Finally he thought, "Then it is truly so, that he is dead." Here Raven was pure white. Now he lighted. For a short time and quickly he worked over the brow-fat and again flew away. Now he became more leisurely, seeming to feel more at ease; and he occupied himself with Beaver's brow-fat.
"Oh, he is hurting me now," thought Beaver. Then, suddenly, he clutched him with his hands. Oh, the people came running out from all the lodges; there they all seized Raven. Coyote just kicked him around. "This is the one who causes us to hunger! Where did you take our buffalo?"
Raven told them nothing. The people tied him to the smoke hole of a lodge and built a fire under him. Now he suffered from the heat and from smoke in his eyes. He became black, but still he would not answer when they said to him, "Where did you take our buffalo?"
Finally, when their fire became altogether too hot, and he was fairly overcome, he told them, "Untie me, and I will tell you which way I took the buffalo." That is all he would tell them.
The people said to one another, "Then let us untie him, and he will tell us." They started to take him down from the top, but while they were doing this, he suddenly broke loose. Oh, just straight upward he went, right upward, far upward.
The Bat [u' ts'vts] lost sight of him at once even while Raven was near, but still he kept telling others, "There he is going on!" Coyote, too, lost sight long before, but he told them, "There he is going on yet."
Now the Screech Owl was the last to really see him. As Raven went higher, very far upward, the Owl having very keen eyesight still saw him. Owl told them, "There! In this direction he heads." Now they said to one another, "We must follow him." They made ready. "Now we follow him."
Now Coyote hungered and professed a kinship, "Nephew," to Elder Brother. The people placed the Beaver's entrails back and sewed him up. Then all the people followed Raven. They just followed him a long, long time. Eventually, many of them began to fall out. Finally, only a few went on.
Only the Blue Racer [k'uyi' uyimnim], the Pestle [pi' lay], and Weasel [ts't' U la] persisted. These persisted. "Now we alone are following him, we three." After a long time they came upon evidences of Raven's camping. Then they came upon fresher traces of camping and of recent departure. Here they picked up scraps of food, because they were hungry. "Look! Beyond comes a girl." Here came a girl, coming along back.
"What shall we become? Hurry!" "I will become a very handsome little pestle." "And I will be a digging stick," Blue Racer told them. "And I will be a very lovable dog," added the Weasel. Soon the girl came up to them. The lovable little dog barked at her. "Oh, in going away I left my dog." The dog welcomed her so gladly, just capered around her. "Let her love me," Weasel was saying to himself.
"Oh, in moving away I forgot my pestle, and I forgot my digging stick, too." She picked up these things and carried them home. The dog just scampered around. She arrived at the lodge and took the little pestle, the digging stick, and the dog inside to show them to her mother. It happened that the father was absent, occupied somewhere.
Her mother, too, just loved the dog. They forgot that which Raven had always told them, "Do not ever bring anything or anyone here. Always be fearful of everything." Now the dog barked around and ran about very lovably.
The girl said to her mother, "He is so clever. Let me take him to the buffalo to see what he will do to them." They had constructed a great cellar to be entered through the door only. Now the girl took the dog there and opened the door. Oh, there were the buffalo in confinement, all under cover. The dog, at first, pretended to be frightened. "Oh, he is afraid of them, mother!"
"Do it again! Open it for him again," said her mother. "Why am I pretending fear?" the dog said to himself. Suddenly he dashed and barked at the buffalo very fiercely. Now the buffalo became frightened and began to rear and plunge about. The dog, in desperation, greatly increased his attack. Even though she tried to close the door, the buffalo began to dash out, in no way to be stopped. All the buffalo rushed out while the dog barked at them furiously. That which had been a digging stick just threw himself and mounted a buffalo, just wound himself around. In the same way Pestle mounted a buffalo. The dog drove them on and on.
Then Raven's wife felt humiliated. "My husband will be deeply angry at me." Thus Blue Racer, Pestle, and Weasel recovered the buffalo and drove them galloping home. Soon Raven came home. He was deeply angry. "I have told you before never to cease being fearful, suspicious of everything. Now they have recovered the buffalo from us."
Taken from Tales of the Nez Perce by Donald M. Hines, Ye Galleon Press; Fairfield, Washington, 1999 [gathered from other source books dated between 1912 and 1949]