Native American Legends
The Mysterious Butte
A Sioux Legend
A young man was once hunting and came to a steep hill. The east
side of the hill suddenly dropped off to a very steep bank. He stood
on this bank, and at the base he noticed a small opening. On going
down to examine it more closely, he found it was large enough to
admit a horse or buffalo. On either side of the door were figures
of different animals engraved into the wall.
He entered the opening and there, scattered about on the floor,
lay many bracelets, pipes and many other things of ornament, as
though they had been offerings to some great spirit. He passed through
this first room and on entering the second it was so dark that he
could not see his hands before his face, so becoming scared, he
hurriedly left the place, and returning home told what he had seen.
Upon hearing this the chief selected four of his most daring warriors
to go with this young man and investigate and ascertain whether
the young man was telling the truth or not. The five proceeded to
the butte, and at the entrance the young man refused to go inside,
as the figures on either side of the entrance had been changed.
The four entered and seeing that all in the first chamber was as
the young man had told, they went on to the next chamber and found
it so dark that they could not see anything. They continued on,
however, feeling their way along the walls. They finally found an
entrance that was so narrow that they had to squeeze into it sideways.
They felt their way around the walls and found another entrance,
so low down that they had to crawl on their hands and knees to go
through into the next chamber.
On entering the last chamber they found a very sweet odor coming
from the opposite direction. Feeling around and crawling on their
hands and knees, they discovered a hole in the floor leading downward.
From this hole came up the sweet odor. They hurriedly held a council,
and decided to go no further, but return to the camp and report
what they had found. On getting to the first chamber one of the
young men said: "I am going to take these bracelets to show
that we are telling the truth." "No," said the other
three, "this being the abode of some Great Spirit, you may
have some accident befall you for taking what is not yours."
"Ah! You fellows are like old women," said he, taking
a fine bracelet and encircling his left wrist with it.
When they reached the village they reported what they had seen.
The young man exhibited the bracelet to prove that it was the truth
they had told.
Shortly after this, these four young men were out fixing up traps
for wolves. They would raise one end of a heavy log and place a
stick under, bracing up the log. A large piece of meat was placed
about five feet away from the log and this space covered with poles
and willows. At the place where the upright stick was put, a hole
was left open, large enough to admit the body of a wolf. The wolf,
scenting the meat and unable to get at it through the poles and
willows, would crowd into the hole and working his body forward,
in order to get the meat, would push down the brace and the log
thus released would hold the wolf fast under its weight.
The young man with the bracelet was placing his bait under the
log when he released the log by knocking down the brace, and the
log caught his wrist on which he wore the bracelet. He could not
release himself and called loud and long for assistance. His friends,
hearing his call, came to his assistance, and on lifting the log
found the young man's wrist broken. "Now," said they,
"you have been punished for taking the bracelet out of the
chamber of the mysterious butte."
Some time after this a young man went to the butte and saw engraved
on the wall a woman holding in her hand a pole, with which she was
holding up a large amount of beef which had been laid across another
pole, which had broken in two from the weight of so much meat.
He returned to the camp and reported what he had seen. All around
the figure he saw marks of buffalo hoofs, also marked upon the wall.
The next day an enormous herd of buffalo came near to the village,
and a great many were killed. The women were busy cutting up and
drying the meat. At one camp was more meat than at any other. The
woman was hanging meat upon a long tent pole, when the pole broke
in two and she was obliged to hold the meat up with another pole,
just as the young man saw on the mysterious butte.
Ever after that the Indians paid weekly visits to this butte, and
thereon would read the signs that were to govern their plans.
This butte was always considered the prophet of the tribe.
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