Native American Legends
Story of the Raccoon Clan
A Chickasaw Legend
These people dressed differently from others but in most of their
customs they were similar. They had a certain habit, however, in
which they were unique and that was that they would kill one other.
Their taste in the matter of food was also peculiar. They liked
to dance as well as any other people and would rather dance the
Raccoon dance then eat. When they were going to have a dance they
would send out a messenger to announce the fact, and afterwards
the old men and old women would dance all night. When they were
preparing for a dance they would boil certain roots to make a kind
of tea which they considered stimulating.
They could dance all night without feeling any ill effects. The
foods of which they were fondest were fish and all kinds of fruits
such as grapes. When fruit was plentiful they like that best which
ripens early in the winter. In the spring they ate every kind of
thing that was eatable. In the fall they hung bunches of grapes
up to dry and then stored them away for winter's use. In summer
they dried green corn for the winter.
Some made shuck (or blue) bread, some made cold flour, and some
laid away meal out of which porridge is made. Some foods would last
as long as they desired.
These people were very cunning. They knew just what to do and how
to do it and could not be cheated by others, except for the younger
people, who were easily deceived. They would not undertake anything
of which they were not sure in advance. They would not let other
clans intermarry with theirs.
They had clever ways of finding out what they wanted to know, and
they depended very much upon a conjurer (apoloma), who could excel
in the game of hiding-the-bullet, in horse racing, and in the ball
game. Sometimes the conjurer was called a wizard (ieta holo). They
had great faith in him and he was not afraid of undertaking any
task assigned to him, yet he was not as good as a doctor (alektci).
He could imitate any sort of animal or bird, but he could work only
among his own people, or near his own side, fearing lest the opponents
would kill him.
The others did not know what he might do. Whatever the conjurer
chose to do was considered right, but some conjurers were afraid
to do as they ought by their own side lest the opponents should
injure them afterwards. The conjurer foretold what was going to
happen to the ball players and those that heeded his advice did
not get into trouble, but some would forget and suffer injuries
and be sorry that they had not been obedient.
When the people headed the conjurer's warning they usually won,
i.e., if their conjurer was better than that on the side of the
These people had great faith in their leaders and most of them
would heed their advice, but there were a few who would not listen
to the advice of the older people, and through these in course of
time all went to the bad. Some would not visit the sick or have
anything to do with them though they were under oath to assist them.
They were too proud. They became utterly incompetent because they
would listen neither to the conjurer nor the old people.
Sometimes, too, the conjurer told them lies and they found it out
and for that reason would not listen to him.
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