Native American Legends
The release of the wild animals
A Comanche Legend
Long ago two people owned all the buffalo. They were an old woman
and her young cousin. They kept them penned up in the mountains,
so that they could not get out. Coyote came to these people.
He summoned the Indians to a council. "That old woman will
not give us anything. When we come over there, we will plan how
to release the buffalo."
They all moved near the buffalo-enclosure. "After four nights,"
said Coyote, "we will again hold a council as to how we can
release the buffalo. A very small animal shall go where the old
woman draws her water. When the child gets water, it will take it
home for a pet. The old woman will object; but the child will think
so much of the animal, that it will begin to cry and will be allowed
to keep it. The animal will run off at daybreak, and the buffalo
will burst out of their pen and run away."
The first animal they sent failed. Then they sent the Kill-dee.
When the boy went for water, he found the Kill-dee and took it
home. "Look here!" he said to his cousin, "this animal
of mine is very good."
The old woman replied, "Oh, it is good for nothing! There
is nothing living on the earth that is not a rascal or schemer."
The child paid no attention to her.
"Take it back where you got it," said the woman. He obeyed.
The Kill-dee returned.
The people had another council. "Well, she has got the better
of these two. They have failed," said Coyote; "but that
makes no difference. Perhaps we may release them, perhaps we shall
fail. This is the third time now. We will send a small animal over
there. If the old woman agrees to take it, it will liberate those
buffalo; it is a great schemer."
So they sent the third animal. Coyote said, "If she rejects
this one, we shall surely be unable to liberate the game."
The animal went to the spring and was picked up by the boy, who
took a great liking to it. "Look here! What a nice pet I have!"
The old woman replied, "Oh, how foolish you are! It is a good
for nothing. All the animals in the world are schemers. I'll kill
it with a club."
The boy took it in his arms and ran away crying. He thought too
much of his pet. "No! this animal is too small," he cried.
When the animal had not returned by nightfall, Coyote went among
the people, saying, "Well, this animal has not returned yet;
I dare say the old woman has consented to keep it. Don't be uneasy,
our buffalo will be freed." Then he bade all the people get
ready just at daybreak. "Our buffalo will be released. Do all
of you mount your horses."
In the mean time the animal, following its instructions, slipped
over to the pen, and began to howl. The buffalo heard it, and were
terrified. They ran towards the gate, broke it down, and escaped.
The old woman, hearing the noise, woke up.
The child asked, "Where is my pet?" He did not find it.
The old woman said, "I told you so. Now you see the animal
is bad, it has deprived us of our game." She vainly tried to
hold the buffalo back.
At daybreak all the Indians got on their horses, for they had confidence
in Coyote. Thus the buffalo came to live on this earth. Coyote was
a great schemer.
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