Native American Legends
The story of the two young friends
A Sioux Legend
There were once in a very large Indian camp two little boys who
were fast friends. One of the boys, "Chaske" (meaning
first born), was the son of a very rich family, and was always dressed
in the finest of clothes of Indian costume. The other boy, "Hake"
(meaning last born), was an orphan and lived with his old grandmother,
who was very destitute, and consequently could not dress the boy
in fine raiment. So poorly was the boy dressed that the boys who
had good clothes always tormented him and would not play in his
Chaske did not look at the clothes of any boy whom he chose as
a friend, but mingled with all boys regardless of how they were
clad, and would study their dispositions. The well dressed he found
were vain and conceited. The fairly well dressed he found selfish
and spiteful. The poorly clad he found to be generous and truthful,
and from all of them he chose "Hake" for his "Koda"
(friend). As Chaske was the son of the leading war chief he was
very much sought after by the rest of the boys, each one trying
to gain the honor of being chosen for the friend and companion of
the great chief's son; but, as I have before said, Chaske carefully
studied them all and finally chose the orphan Hake.
It was a lucky day for Hake when he was chosen for the friend and
companion of Chaske. The orphan boy was taken to the lodge of his
friend's parents and dressed up in fine clothes and moccasins. (When
the Indians' sons claim any one as their friend, the friend thus
chosen is adopted into the family as their own son).
Chaske and Hake were inseparable. Where one was seen the other
was not far distant. They played, hunted, trapped, ate and slept
together. They would spend most of the long summer days hunting
in the forests.
Time went on and these two fast friends grew up to be fine specimens
of their tribe. When they became the age to select a sweetheart
they would go together and make love to a girl. Each helping the
other to win the affection of the one of his choice. Chaske loved
a girl who was the daughter of an old medicine man. She was very
much courted by the other young men of the tribe, and many a horse
loaded with robes and fine porcupine work was tied at the medicine
man's tepee in offering for the hand of his daughter, but the horses,
laden as when tied there, were turned loose, signifying that the
offer was not accepted.
The girl's choice was Chaske's friend Hake. Although he had never
made love to her for himself, he had always used honeyed words to
her and was always loud in his praises for his friend Chaske. One
night the two friends had been to see the girl, and on their return
Chaske was very quiet, having nothing to say and seemingly in deep
study. Always of a bright, jolly and amiable disposition, his silence
and moody spell grieved his friend very much, and he finally spoke
to Chaske, saying: "Koda, what has come over you? You who were
always so jolly and full of fun? Your silence makes me grieve for
you and I do not know what you are feeling so downhearted about.
Has the girl said anything to you to make you feel thus?"
"Wait, friend," said Chaske, "until morning, and
then I will know how to answer your inquiry. Don't ask me anything
more tonight, as my heart is having a great battle with my brain."
Hake bothered his friend no more that night, but he could not sleep.
He kept wondering what "Pretty Feather" (the girl whom
his friend loved) could have said to Chaske to bring such a change
over him. Hake never suspected that he himself was the cause of
his friend's sorrow, for never did he have a thought that it was
himself that Pretty Feather loved.
The next morning after they had eaten breakfast, Chaske proposed
that they should go out on the prairies, and see if they would have
the good luck to kill an antelope. Hake went out and got the band
of horses, of which there were over a hundred. They selected the
fleetest two in the herd, and taking their bows and arrows, mounted
and rode away towards the south.
Hake was overjoyed to note the change in his friend. His oldtime
jollity had returned. They rode out about five miles, and scaring
up a drove of antelope they started in hot pursuit, and as their
horses were very fleet of foot soon caught up to the drove, and
each singling out his choice quickly dispatched him with an arrow.
They could easily have killed more of the antelope, but did not
want to kill them just for sport, but for food, and knowing that
they had now all that their horses could pack home, they dismounted
and proceeded to dress their kill.
After each had finished packing the kill on his horse, Chaske said:
"Let us sit down and have a smoke before we start back. Besides,
I have something to tell you which I can tell better sitting still
than I can riding along." Hake came and sat down opposite his
friend, and while they smoked Chaske said: "My friend, we have
been together for the last twenty years and I have yet the first
time to deceive you in any way, and I know I can truthfully say
the same of you. Never have I known you to deceive me nor tell me
an untruth. I have no brothers or sisters. The only brother's love
I know is yours. The only sister's love I will know will be Pretty
Feather's, for brother, last night she told me she loved none but
you and would marry you and you only. So, brother, I am going to
take my antelope to my sister-in-law's tent and deposit it at her
door. Then she will know that her wish will be fulfilled. I thought
at first that you had been playing traitor to me and had been making
love to her for yourself, but when she explained it all to me and
begged me to intercede for her to you, I then knew that I had judged
you wrongfully, and that, together with my lost love, made me so
quiet and sorrowful last night. So now, brother, take the flower
of the nation for your wife, and I will be content to continue through
life a lonely bachelor, as never again can I give any woman the
place which Pretty Feather had in my heart."
Their pipes being smoked out they mounted their ponies and Chaske
started up in a clear, deep voice the beautiful love song of Pretty
Feather and his friend Hake.
Such is the love between two friends, who claim to be as brothers
among the Indians. Chaske gave up his love of a beautiful woman
for a man who was in fact no relation to him.
Hake said, "I will do as you say, my friend, but before I
can marry the medicine man's daughter, I will have to go on the
warpath and do some brave deed, and will start in ten days."
They rode towards home, planning which direction they would travel,
and as it was to be their first experience on the warpath, they
would seek advice from the old warriors of the tribe.
On their arrival at the village Hake took his kill to their own
tent, while Chaske took his to the tent of the Medicine Man, and
deposited it at the door and rode off towards home.
The mother of Pretty Feather did not know whether to take the offering
or not, but Pretty Feather, seeing by this offering that her most
cherished wish was to be granted, told her mother to take the meat
and cook it and invite the old women of the camp to a feast in honor
of the son-in-law who was soon to keep them furnished with plenty
of meat. Hake and his friend sought out all of the old warriors
and gained all the information they desired. Every evening Hake
visited his intended wife and many happy evenings they spent together.
The morning of the tenth day the two friends left the village and
turned their faces toward the west where the camps of the enemy
are more numerous than in any other direction. They were not mounted
and therefore traveled slowly, so it took about ten days of walking
before they saw any signs of the enemy. The old warriors had told
them of a thickly wooded creek within the enemies' bounds. The old
men said, "That creek looks the ideal place to camp, but don't
camp there by any means, because there is a ghost who haunts that
creek, and any one who camps there is disturbed all through the
night, and besides they never return, because the ghost is Wakan
(holy), and the enemies conquer the travelers every time."
The friends had extra moccasins with them and one extra blanket,
as it was late in the fall and the nights were very cold.
They broke camp early one morning and walked all day. Along towards
evening, the clouds which had been threatening all day, hurriedly
opened their doors and down came the snowflakes thick and fast.
Just before it started snowing the friends had noticed a dark line
about two miles in advance of them. Chaske spoke to his friend and
said: "If this storm continues we will be obliged to stay overnight
at Ghost Creek, as I noticed it not far ahead of us, just before
the storm set in." "I noticed it also," said Hake.
"We might as well entertain a ghost all night as to lie out
on these open prairies and freeze to death." So they decided
to run the risk and stay in the sheltering woods of Ghost Creek.
When they got to the creek it seemed as if they had stepped inside
a big tepee, so thick was the brush and timber that the wind could
not be felt at all. They hunted and found a place where the brush
was very thick and the grass very tall. They quickly pulled the
tops of the nearest willows together and by intertwining the ends
made them fast, and throwing their tent robe over this, soon had
a cosy tepee in which to sleep. They started their fire and cooked
some dried buffalo meat and buffalo tallow, and were just about
to eat their supper when a figure of a man came slowly in through
the door and sat down near where he had entered. Hake, being the
one who was doing the cooking, poured out some tea into his own
cup, and putting a piece of pounded meat and marrow into a small
plate, placed it before the stranger, saying: "Eat, my friend,
we are on the warpath and do not carry much of a variety of food
with us, but I give you the best we have."
The stranger drew the plate towards him, and commenced eating ravenously.
He soon finished his meal and handed the dish and cup back. He had
not uttered a word so far. Chaske filled the pipe and handed it
to him. He smoked for a few minutes, took one last draw from the
pipe and handed it back to Chaske, and then he said: "Now,
my friends, I am not a living man, but the wandering spirit of a
once great warrior, who was killed in these woods by the enemy whom
you two brave young men are now seeking to make war upon. For years
I have been roaming these woods in hopes that I might find some
one brave enough to stop and listen to me, but all who have camped
here in the past have run away at my approach or fired guns or shot
arrows at me. For such cowards as these I have always found a grave.
They never returned to their homes. Now I have found two brave men
whom I can tell what I want done, and if you accomplish what I tell
you to do, you will return home with many horses and some scalps
dangling from your belts. Just over this range of hills north of
us, a large village is encamped for the winter. In that camp is
the man who laid in ambush and shot me, killing me before I could
get a chance to defend myself. I want that man's scalp, because
he has been the cause of my wanderings for a great many years. Had
he killed me on the battlefield my spirit would have at once joined
my brothers in the happy hunting grounds, but being killed by a
coward, my spirit is doomed to roam until I can find some brave
man who will kill this coward and bring me his scalp. This is why
I have tried every party who have camped here to listen to me, but
as I have said before, they were all cowards. Now, I ask you two
brave young men, will you do this for me?"
"We will," said the friends in one voice. "Thank
you, my boys. Now, I know why you came here, and that one of you
came to earn his feathers by killing an enemy, before he would marry;
the girl he is to marry is my granddaughter, as I am the father
of the great Medicine Man. In the morning there will pass by in
plain sight of here a large party. They will chase the buffalo over
on that flat. After they have passed an old man leading a black
horse and riding a white one will come by on the trail left by the
hunting party. He will be driving about a hundred horses, which
he will leave over in the next ravine.
He will then proceed to the hunting grounds and get meat from the
different hunters. After the hunters have all gone home he will
come last, singing the praises of the ones who gave him the meat.
This man you must kill and scalp, as he is the one I want killed.
Then take the white and black horse and each mount and go to the
hunting grounds. There you will see two of the enemy riding about
picking up empty shells. Kill and scalp these two and each take
a scalp and come over to the high knoll and I will show you where
the horses are, and as soon as you hand me the old man's scalp I
will disappear and you will see me no more. As soon as I disappear,
it will start in snowing. Don't be afraid as the snow will cover
your trail, but nevertheless, don't stop traveling for three days
and nights, as these people will suspect that some of your tribe
have done this, and they will follow you until you cross your own
When morning came, the two friends sat in the thick brush and watched
a large party pass by their hiding place. So near were they that
the friends could hear them laughing and talking. After the hunting
party had passed, as the spirit had told them, along came the old
man, driving a large band of horses and leading a fine looking coal
black horse. The horse the old man was riding was as white as snow.
The friends crawled to a little brush covered hill and watched the
chase after the shooting had ceased. The friends knew it would not
be long before the return of the party, so they crawled back to
their camp and hurriedly ate some pounded meat and drank some cherry
tea. Then they took down their robe and rolled it up and got everything
in readiness for a hurried flight with the horses. Scarcely had
they got everything in readiness when the party came by, singing
their song of the chase. When they had all gone the friends crawled
down to the trail and lay waiting for the old man. Soon they heard
him singing. Nearer and nearer came the sounds of the song until
at last at a bend in the road, the old man came into view. The two
friends arose and advanced to meet him. On he came still singing.
No doubt he mistook them for some of his own people. When he was
very close to them they each stepped to either side of him and before
he could make an outcry they pierced his cowardly old heart with
two arrows. He had hardly touched the ground when they both struck
him with their bows, winning first and second honors by striking
an enemy after he has fallen. Chaske having won first honors, asked
his friend to perform the scalping deed, which he did. And wanting
to be sure that the spirit would get full revenge, took the whole
scalp, ears and all, and tied it to his belt. The buffalo beef which
the old man had packed upon the black horse, they threw on the top
of the old man. Quickly mounting the two horses, they hastened out
across the long flat towards the hunting grounds. When they came
in sight of the grounds there they saw two men riding about from
place to place. Chaske took after the one on the right, Hake the
one on the left. When the two men saw these two strange men riding
like the wind towards them, they turned their horses to retreat
towards the hills, but the white and the black were the swiftest
of the tribe's horses, and quickly overtook the two fleeing men.
When they came close to the enemy they strung their arrows onto
the bowstring and drove them through the two fleeing hunters. As
they were falling they tried to shoot, but being greatly exhausted,
their bullets whistled harmlessly over the heads of the two friends.
They scalped the two enemies and took their guns and ammunition,
also secured the two horses and started for the high knoll. When
they arrived at the place, there stood the spirit. Hake presented
him with the old man's scalp and then the spirit showed them the
large band of horses, and saying, "Ride hard and long,"
disappeared and was seen no more by any war parties, as he was thus
enabled to join his forefathers in the happy hunting grounds.
The friends did as the spirit had told them. For three days and
three nights they rode steadily. On the fourth morning they came
into their own boundary. From there on they rode more slowly, and
let the band of horses rest and crop the tops of long grass. They
would stop occasionally, and while one slept the other kept watch.
Thus they got fairly well rested before they came in sight of where
their camp had stood when they had left. All that they could see
of the once large village was the lone tent of the great Medicine
Man. They rode up on to a high hill and farther on towards the east
they saw smoke from a great many tepees. They then knew that something
had happened and that the village had moved away.
"My friend," said Chaske, "I am afraid something
has happened to the Medicine Man's lodge, and rather than have you
go there, I will go alone and you follow the trail of our party
and go on ahead with the horses. I will take the black and the white
horses with me and I will follow on later, after I have seen what
the trouble is."
"Very well, my friend, I will do as you say, but I am afraid
something has happened to Pretty Feather." Hake started on
with the horses, driving them along the broad trail left by the
hundreds of travois. Chaske made slowly towards the tepee, and stopping
outside, stood and listened. Not a sound could he hear. The only
living thing he saw was Pretty Feather's spotted horse tied to the
side of the tent. Then he knew that she must be dead. He rode off
into the thick brush and tied his two horses securely. Then he came
back and entered the tepee. There on a bed of robes lay some one
apparently dead. The body was wrapped in blankets and robes and
bound around and around with parfleche ropes. These he carefully
untied and unwound. Then he unwrapped the robes and blankets and
when he uncovered the face, he saw, as he had expected to, the face
of his lost love, Pretty Feather. As he sat gazing on her beautiful
young face, his heart ached for his poor friend. He himself had
loved and lost this beautiful maiden, and now his friend who had
won her would have to suffer the untold grief which he had suffered.
What was that? Could it have been a slight quivering of the nostrils
that he had seen, or was it mad fancy playing a trick on him? Closer
he drew to her face, watching intently for another sign. There it
was again, only this time it was a long, deep drawn breath. He arose,
got some water and taking a small stick slowly forced open her mouth
and poured some into it. Then he took some sage, dipped it into
the water and sprinkled a little on her head and face. There were
many parfleche bags piled around the tepee, and thinking he might
find some kind of medicine roots which he could use to revive her
he started opening them one after the other. He had opened three
and was just opening the fourth, when a voice behind him asked:
"What are you looking for?" Turning quickly, he saw Pretty
Feather looking at him. Overjoyed, he cried, "What can I do
so that you can get up and ride to the village with me? My friend
and I just returned with a large band of horses and two scalps.
We saw this tent and recognized it. My friend wanted to come, but
I would not let him, as I feared if he found anything had happened
to you he would do harm to himself, but now he will be anxious for
my return, so if you will tell me what you need in order to revive
you, I will get it, and we can then go to my friend in the village."
"At the foot of my bed you will find a piece of eagle fat.
Build a fire and melt it for me. I will drink it and then we can
Chaske quickly started a fire, got out the piece of fat and melted
it. She drank it at one draught, and was about to arise when she
suddenly said: "Roll me up quick and take the buffalo hair
rope and tie it about my spotted horse's neck; tie his tail in a
knot and tie him to the door. Then run and hide behind the trees.
There are two of the enemy coming this way."
Chaske hurriedly obeyed her orders, and had barely concealed himself
behind the trees, when there came into view two of the enemy. They
saw the horse tied to the door of the deserted tent, and knew that
some dead person occupied the tepee, so through respect for the
dead, they turned out and started to go through the brush and trees,
so as not to pass the door. (The Indians consider it a bad omen
to pass by the door of a tepee occupied by a dead body, that is,
while in the enemy's country). So by making this detour they traveled
directly towards where Chaske was concealed behind the tree. Knowing
that he would be discovered, and there being two of them, he knew
the only chance he had was for him to kill one of them before they
discovered him, then he stood a better chance at an even combat.
On they came, little thinking that one of them would in a few minutes
be with his forefathers.
Chaske noiselessly slipped a cartridge into the chamber of his
gun, threw it into action and took deliberate aim at the smaller
one's breast. A loud report rang out and the one he had aimed at
threw up his arms and fell heavily forward, shot through the heart.
Reloading quickly Chaske stepped out from behind the tree. He could
easily have killed the other from his concealed position, but, being
a brave young man, he wanted to give his opponent a fair chance.
The other had unslung his gun and a duel was then fought between
the two lone combatants. They would spring from side to side like
two great cats. Then advance one or two steps and fire. Retreat
a few steps, spring to one side and fire again. The bullets whistled
past their heads, tore up the earth beneath their feet, and occasionally
one would hit its mark, only to cause a flesh wound.
Suddenly the enemy aimed his gun and threw it upon the ground.
His ammunition was exhausted, and slowly folding his arms he stood
facing his opponent, with a fearless smile upon his face, expecting
the next moment to fall dead from a bullet from the rifle of Chaske.
Not so. Chaske was too honorable and noble to kill an unarmed man,
and especially one who had put up such a brave fight as had this
man. Chaske advanced and picked up the empty gun. The Toka (enemy)
drew from a scabbard at his belt a long bowie knife, and taking
it by the point handed it, handle first, to Chaske. This signified
surrender. Chaske scalped the dead Toka and motioned for his prisoner
to follow him. In the meantime Pretty Feather had gotten up and
stood looking at the duel. When she heard the first shot she jumped
up and cut a small slit in the tent from which she saw the whole
proceedings. Knowing that one or both of them must be wounded, she
hurriedly got water and medicine roots, and when they came to the
tent she was prepared to dress their wounds.
Chaske had a bullet through his shoulder and one through his hand.
They were very painful but not dangerous. The prisoner had a bullet
through his leg, also one through the muscle of his left arm. Pretty
Feather washed and dressed their wounds, and Chaske went and brought
the black and white horses and mounting Pretty Feather upon the
white horse, and the prisoner on her spotted one, the three soon
rode into the village, and there was a great cry of joy when it
was known that Pretty Feather had come back to them again.
Hake, who was in his tent grieving, was told that his friend had
returned and with him Pretty Feather. Hearing this good news he
at once went to the Medicine Man's tent and found the Medicine Man
busily dressing the wounds of his friend and a stranger. The old
Medicine Man turned to Hake and said: "Son-in-law, take your
wife home with you. It was from grief at your absence that she went
into a trance, and we, thinking she was dead, left her for such.
Hadn't it been for your friend here, she would surely have been
a corpse now. So take her and keep her with you always, and take
as a present from me fifty of my best horses."
Hake and his beautiful bride went home, where his adopted mother
had a fine large tent put up for them. Presents of cooking utensils,
horses, robes and finely worked shawls and moccasins came from every
direction, and last of all Chaske gave as a present to his friend
the Toka man whom he had taken as prisoner. On presenting him with
this gift, Chaske spoke thus: "My friend, I present to you,
that you may have him as a servant to look after your large band
of horses, this man with whom I fought a two hours' duel, and had
his ammunition lasted he would probably have conquered me, and who
gave me the second hardest fight of my life.
The hardest fight of my life was when I gave up Pretty Feather.
You have them both. To the Toka (enemy) be kind, and he will do
all your biddings. To Pretty Feather be a good husband."
So saying, Chaske left them, and true to his word, lived the remainder
of his days a confirmed bachelor.
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