Native American Legends
The Warrior who went on the warpath alone and won
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
There was once a young man whose parents were not overburdened
with the riches of this world, and consequently could not dress
their only son in as rich a costume as the other young men of the
tribe, and on account of not being so richly clad as they, he was
looked down upon and shunned by them. He was never invited to take
part in any of their sports; nor was he ever asked to join any of
the war parties.
In the village lived an old man with an only daughter. Like the
other family they were poor, but the daughter was the belle of the
tribe. She was the most sought after by the young men of the village
and warriors from tribes far distant came to press their suit at
winning her for their bride. All to no purpose; she had the same
answer for them as she had for the young men of the village.
The poor young man was also very handsome despite his poor clothes,
but having never killed an enemy nor brought home any enemies' horses
he was not allowed to make love to any young or old woman. He tried
in vain to join some of the war parties, that he might get the chance
to win his spurs as a warrior. To all his pleadings, came the same
answer: "You are not fit to join a war party. You have no horses,
and if you should get killed our tribe would be laughed at and be
made fun of as you have such poor clothes and we don't want the
enemy to know that we have any one of our tribe who dresses so poorly
as you do."
Again, and again, he tried different parties, only to be made fun
of and insulted.
One night he sat in the poor tipi of his parents. He was in deep
study and had nothing to say. His father, noticing his melancholy
mood, asked him what had happened to cause him to be so quiet, as
he was always of a jolly disposition. The son answered and said:
"Father, I am going on the warpath alone. In vain I have tried
to be a member of one of the war parties. To all of my pleadings
I have got nothing but insults in return."
"But my son, you have no gun nor ammunition. Where can you
get any and how can you get it? We have nothing to buy one for you
with," said the father.
"I don't need any weapons. I am going to bring back some of
the enemies' horses and I don't need a gun for that."
Early the next morning (regardless of the old couple's pleadings
not to go unarmed) the young man left the village and headed northwest,
the direction always taken by the war parties.
For ten days he traveled without seeing any signs of a camp. The
evening of the tenth day he reached a very high butte thickly wooded
at the summit. He ascended this butte and as he sat there between
two large boulders watching the beautiful rays of the setting sun,
he was suddenly startled to hear the neigh of a horse. Looking down
into the beautiful valley which was threaded by a beautiful creek
fringed with timber he noticed, close to the base of the butte upon
which he sat, a large drove of horses grazing peacefully and quietly.
Looking closer, he noticed at a little distance from the main drove,
a horse with a saddle on his back. This was the one that had neighed
as the drove drifted further away from him. He was tied by a long
lariat to a large sage bush.
Where could the rider be, the young man said to himself. As if
in answer to his question, there appeared not more than twenty paces
from him a middle-aged man coming up through a deep ravine. The
man was evidently in search of some kind of game as he held his
gun in readiness for instant use and kept his eyes directed at every
crevice and clump of bush. So intent was he on locating the game
he was trailing that he never noticed the young man who sat like
a statue not twenty paces away. Slowly and cautiously the man approached
and when he had advanced to within a few paces of the young man
he stopped and, turning around, stood looking down into the valley.
This was the only chance that our brave young friend had. Being
unarmed, he would stand no show if the enemy ever got a glimpse
of him. Slowly and noiselessly he drew his hunting knife (which
his father had given him on his departure from home) and holding
it securely in his right hand, gathered himself and gave a leap
which landed him upon the unsuspecting enemy's shoulders. The force
with which he landed on the enemy caused him (the enemy) to lose
his hold on his gun, and it went rattling down into the chasm, forty
Down they came together, the young man on top. No sooner had they
struck the ground than the enemy had out his knife, and then commenced
a hand to hand duel. The enemy, having more experience, was getting
the best of our young friend. Already our young friend had two ugly
cuts, one across his chest and the other through his forearm.
He was becoming weak from the loss of blood, and could not stand
the killing pace much longer. Summoning all his strength for one
more trial to overcome his antagonist, he rushed him toward the
chasm and in his hurry to get away from this fierce attack, the
enemy stepped back one step too far, and down they both went into
the chasm. Interlocked in each other's arms, the young man drove
his knife into the enemy's side and when they struck the bottom
the enemy relaxed his hold and straightened out stiff and dead.
Securing his scalp and gun, the young man proceeded down to where
the horse was tied to the sage bush, and then gathering the drove
of horses proceeded on his return to his own village. Being wounded
severely he had to ride very slowly. All the long hours of the night
he drove the horses towards his home village.
In the meantime, those at the enemies' camp wondered at the long
absence of the herder who was watching their drove of horses, and
finally seven young men went to search for the missing herder. All
night long they searched the hillsides for the horses and herder,
and when it had grown light enough in the morning they saw by the
ground where there had been a fierce struggle.
Following the tracks in the sand and leaves they came to the chasm
where the combatants had fallen over, and there, lying on his back
staring up at them in death, was their herder. They hastened to
the camp and told what they had found. Immediately the warriors
mounted their war ponies (these ponies are never turned loose, but
kept tied close to the tipi of the owner), and striking the trail
of the herd driven off by our young friend, they urged forth their
ponies and were soon far from their camp on the trail of our young
All day long they traveled on his trail, and just as the sun was
sinking they caught sight of him driving they drove ahead over a
high hill. Again they urged forth their tired ponies. The young
man, looking back along the trail, saw some dark objects coming
along and, catching a fresh horse, drove the rest ahead at a great
Again all night he drove them and when daylight came he looked
back (from a high butte) over his trail and saw coming over a distant
raise, two horsemen. These two undoubtedly rode the best ponies,
as he saw nothing of the others. Driving the horses into a thick
belt of timber, he concealed himself close to the trail made by
the drove of horses and lay in ambush for the two daring horsemen
who had followed him so far.
Finally they appeared on the butte from where he had looked back
and saw them following him. For a long time they sat there scouring
the country before them in hopes that they might see some signs
of their stolen horses. Nothing could they see. Had they but known
their horses were but a few hundred yards from them, but the thick
timber securely hid them from view. Finally one of them arose and
pointed to the timber. Then leaving his horse in charge of his friend,
he descended the butte and followed the trail of the drove to where
they had entered the timber. Little did he think that he was standing
on the brink of eternity.
The young man hiding not more than a hundred yards from him could
have shot him there where he stood, but wanting to play fair, he
stepped into sight. When he did, the enemy took quick aim and fired.
He was too hasty. Had he taken more careful aim he might have killed
our young friend, but his bullet whizzed harmlessly over the young
man's head and buried itself in a tree. The young man took good
aim and fired. The enemy threw up both hands and fell forward on
his face. The other one on the hill, seeing his friend killed, hastily
mounted his horse and leading his friend's horse, made rapidly off
down the butte in the direction from whence he had come.
Waiting for some time to be sure the one who was alive did not
come up and take a shot at him, he finally advanced upon the fallen
enemy and securing his gun, ammunition and scalp, went to his horse
and drove the herd on through the woods and crossing a long flat
prairie, ascended a long chain of hills and sat looking back along
his trail in search of any of the enemy who might continue to follow
Thus he sat until the long shadows of the hills reminded him that
it would soon be sunset, and as he must get some sleep, he wanted
to find some creek bend where he could drive the bunch of ponies
and feel safe as to their not straying off during the night. He
found a good place for the herd, and catching a fresh horse, he
picketed him close to where he was going to sleep, and wrapping
himself in his blanket was soon fast asleep. So tired and sleepy
was he that a heavy rain which had come up during the night soaked
him through and through, but he never awakened until the sun was
high in the east.
He awoke and going to the place where he had left the herd, he
was glad to find them all there. He mounted his horse and started
his herd homeward again. For two days he drove them and on the evening
of the second day he came in sight of the village.
The older warriors, hearing of the young man going on this trip
alone and unarmed, told the parents to go in mourning for their
son as he would never come back alive. When the people of the village
saw this large drove of horses advancing towards them, they at first
thought it was a war party of the enemy and so the head men called
the young warriors together and fully prepared for a great battle.
They advanced upon the supposed enemy. When they got close enough
to discern a lone horseman driving this large herd, they surrounded
the horses and lone warrior and brought him triumphantly into camp.
On arriving in the camp (or village) the horses were counted and
the number counted up to one hundred and ten head.
The chief and his criers (or heralds) announced through the whole
village that there would be a great war dance given in honor of
the Lone Warrior.
The whole village turned out and had a great war dance that was
kept up three days and three nights. The two scalps which the young
man had taken were tied to a pole which was placed in the center
of the dance circle. At this dance, the Lone Warrior gave to each
poor family five horses.
Being considered eligible now to pay his respects to any girl who
took his fancy, he at once went to the camp of the beautiful girl
of the tribe, and as he was always her choice, she at once consented
to marry him.
The news spread through the village that Lone Warrior had won the
belle of the nation for his bride and this, with the great feat
which he had accomplished alone in killing two enemies and bringing
home a great herd of horses, raised him to the rank of chief, which
he faithfully filled to the end of his days. And many times he had
to tell his grandchildren the story of how he got the name of the
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