Adventures of Bull Turns Round
A Blackfoot Legend
Once the camp moved, but one lodge stayed. It belonged to Wolf Tail; and Wolf Tail's younger brother, Bull Turns Round, lived with him. Now their father loved both his sons, but he loved the younger one most, and when he went away with the big camp, he said to Wolf Tail: "Take care of your young brother; he is not yet a strong person. Watch him that nothing befalls him."
One day Wolf Tail was out hunting, and Bull Turns Round sat in front of the lodge making arrows, and a beautiful strange bird lit on the ground before him. Then cried one of Wolf Tail's wives, "Oh, brother, shoot that little bird." "Don't bother me, sister," he replied, "I am making arrows." Again the woman said, "Oh, brother, shoot that bird for me." Then Bull Turns Round fitted an arrow to his bow and shot the bird, and the woman went and picked it up and stroked her face with it, and her face swelled up so big that her eyes and nose could not be seen. But when Bull Turns Round had shot the bird, he went off hunting and did not know what had happened to the woman's face.
Now when Wolf Tail came home and saw his wife's face, he said, "What is the matter?" and his wife replied: "Your brother has pounded me so that I cannot see. Go now and kill him." But Wolf Tail said, "No, I love my brother; I cannot kill him." Then his wife cried and said: "I know you do not love me; you are glad your brother has beaten me. If you loved me, you would go and kill him."
Then Wolf Tail went out and looked for his brother, and when he had found him, he said: "Come, let us get some feathers. I know where there is an eagle's nest;" and he took him to a high cliff, which overhung the river, and on the edge of this cliff was a dead tree, in the top of which the eagles had built their nest. Then said Wolf Tail, "Climb up, brother, and kill the eagles;" and when Bull Turns Round had climbed nearly to the top, Wolf Tail called out, "I am going to push the tree over the cliff, and you will be killed."
"Oh, brother, oh, brother, pity me; do not kill me," said Bull Turns Round.
"Why did you beat my wife's face so?" said Wolf Tail.
"I didn't," cried the boy; "I don't know what you are talking about."
"You lie," said Wolf Tail, and he pushed the tree over the cliff. He looked over and saw his brother fall into the water, and he did not come up again. Then Wolf Tail went home and took down his lodge, and went to the main camp. When his father saw him coming with only his wives, he said to him, "Where is your young brother?" And Wolf Tail replied: "He went hunting and did not come back. We waited four days for him. I think the bears must have killed him."
Now when Bull Turns Round fell into the river, he was stunned, and the water carried him a long way down the stream and finally lodged him on a sand shoal. Near this shoal was a lodge of Under Water People, an old man, his wife, and two daughters. This old man was very rich: he had great flocks of geese, swans, ducks, and other water-fowl, and a big herd of buffalo which were tame. These buffalo always fed near by, and the old man called them every evening to come and drink. But he and his family ate none of these. Their only food was the bloodsucker. Now the old man's daughters were swimming about in the evening, and they found Bull Turns Round lying on the shoal, dead, and they went home and told their father, and begged him to bring the person to life, and give him to them for a husband. "Go, my daughters," he said, "and make four sweat lodges, and I will bring the person." He went and got Bull Turns Round, and when the sweat lodges were finished, the old man took him into one of them, and when he had sprinkled water on the hot rocks, he scraped a great quantity of sand off Bull Turns Round. Then he took him into another lodge and did the same thing, and when he had taken him into the fourth sweat lodge and scraped all the sand off him, Bull Turns Round came to life, and the old man led him out and gave him to his daughters. And the old man gave his son-in-law a new lodge and bows and arrows, and many good presents. Then the women cooked some bloodsuckers, and gave them to their husband, but when he smelled of them he could not eat, and he threw them in the fire. Then his wives asked him what he would eat. "Buffalo," he replied, "is the only meat for men."
"Oh, father!" cried the girls, running to the old man's lodge, "our husband will not eat our food. He says buffalo is the only meat for men."
"Go then, my daughters," said the old man, "and tell your husband to kill a buffalo, but do not take nor break any bones, for I will make it alive again." Then the old man called the buffalo to come and drink, and Bull Turns Round shot a fat cow and took all the meat. And when he had roasted the tongue, he gave each of his wives a small piece of it, and they liked it, and they roasted and ate plenty of the meat.
One day Bull Turns Round went to the old man and said, "I mourn for my father."
"How did you come to be dead on the sand shoal?" asked the old man. Then Bull Turns Round told what his brother had done to him.
"Take this piece of sinew," said the old man. "Go and see your father. When you throw this sinew on the fire, your brother and his wife will roll, and twist up and die." Then the old man gave him a herd of buffalo, and many dogs to pack the lodge, and other things; and Bull Turns Round took his wives, and went to find his father.
One day, just after sunset, they came in sight of the big camp, and they went and pitched the lodge on the top of a very high butte; and the buffalo fed close by, and there were so many of them that they covered the whole hill.
Now the people were starving, and some had died, for they had no buffalo. In the morning, early, a man arose whose son had starved to death, and when he went out and saw this lodge on the top of the hill, and all the buffalo feeding by it, he cried out in a loud voice; and the people all came out and looked at it, and they were afraid, for they thought it was Under Water People. Then said the man whose son had died: "I am no longer glad to live. I will go up to this lodge, and find out what this is." Now when he said this, all the men grasped their bows and arrows and followed him, and when they went up the hill, the buffalo just moved out of their path and kept on feeding; and just as they came to the lodge, Bull Turns Round came out, and all the people said, "Here is the one whom we thought the bears had killed." Wolf Tail ran up, and said, "Oh, brother, you are not dead. You went to get feathers, but we thought you had been killed." Then Bull Turns Round called his brother into the lodge, and he threw the sinew on the fire; and Wolf Tail, and his wife, who was standing outside, twisted up and died.
Then Bull Turns Round told his father all that had happened to him; and when he learned that the people were starving, he filled his mouth with feathers and blew them out, and the buffalo ran off in every direction, and he said to the people, "There is food, go chase it." Then the people were very glad, and they came each one and gave him a present. They gave him war shirts, bows and arrows, shields, spears, white robes, and many curious things.
Return to Blackfoot Legends