Native American Legends
Cry because he had no wife
A Nez Perce Legend
Once there was a little boy. He was an orphan. This boy cried day
and night and would never be quiet. His grandmother asked him one
day, "What makes you cry?"
He said, "I cry because I want a wife."
Now his grandparents knew of a girl who lived toward the East and
they sent him there.
As he went along the trail, he came to a giant's house. He went
in to see the giant, who asked him to stay to breakfast. The giant
had five roasts on the fire. He had four large roasts and one small
one. He said to the boy, "Pick out the roast you want for breakfast."
The boy picked out the small roast.
Now, the four large roasts were the legs of people that the giant
had killed. The small roast was venison. The boy knew this from
what his grandmother had told him. She said, "Never eat too
After breakfast he went on. On the road he came to a great rock
cliff. Its name was Cliff-Giant and it crushed people. The other
giant had told him of this one, and how to get by it. He had said,
"Turn yourself into a little dog and very slowly follow the
trail under the Rock-Cliff. Keep your eye on Rock-Cliff. When you
see it move, run fast." He did this and escaped.
Then he went on. He could see at a distance the place where the
girl lived. Until he came in sight of this lodge he had never left
off crying. Now, this girl had a great horse which would kill people
before they could reach her lodge. That was her guard. The boy picked
up two large stones and ran, still crying, toward the lodge. The
animal ran at the boy, but the boy spat all over one of the stones.
When the horse came close, he threw the stone behind him. Then the
horse stopped to stamp on the stone and the boy ran on. He was almost
in reach of the lodge when he threw the other stone. The horse stopped
to stamp on that, and the boy reached the lodge and jumped in.
Very soon the girl entered. She knew him at once and called him
by name Iwapnep Ftswitki, Cry-Because-He-Had-No-Wife. She talked
to him and asked him if he wanted a bath. So she built a fire, heated
water, and prepared him a bath. When he had taken the bath he became
of man's size.
Next morning they started toward his home. When they reached this,
his grandparents were very old, because he had been gone many years.
The girl said to her husband: "You tell your grandparents to
do nothing wrong tonight. If they obey, I will give them a bath
that will make them young again." In the morning she did so;
but they had not obeyed her directions so they did not become young
again. The next night they were both dead.
Then the girl and her husband started for her old home. They rode
back on the great horse but he did not go very well.
They made a whip out of black haw.
The whip said to them, "I can outlast all other whips."
They made a whip out of smoke-wood (Coyote-rope).
This whip said, "When the giant gets too close, throw me down
and I will tangle up the giant."
They made a whip out of mud.
This whip said, "Throw me down and I will mire the giant."
They made a whip out of slide-rock.
This whip said, "Throw me down and the giant will have trouble
in getting by."
They made a whip out of red haw.
This whip said, "Throw me down, and I will tear the giant's
They made a whip out of big mountains.
This whip said, "Throw me down and the giant will not be able
to get past me."
When they had finished all the whips, they started to pass the
giant's house. The giant rushed out and cried, "Give me your
wife!" The boy answered, "Get me a drink of water and
I will give you my wife." When the giant went to get the water,
the boy whipped up the horse and hurried on.
They had gone some ways when the giant came out. They threw down
the whip of black haw. He almost overtook them and they threw down
the whip of smoke-wood. It tangled up the giant until they got away.
When the giant almost overtook them again, they threw down the mud
whip and he was mired. When the giant almost overtook them the fourth
time, they threw down the slide-rock whip and the giant had great
trouble in getting by. When the giant almost overtook them the fifth
time, they threw down the red-haw whip, and it tore the flesh of
the giant. And when the giant almost overtook them the sixth time,
they threw down the whip of high mountains and he could not cross
Thus they escaped.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends