Isshiiooshkunnaalaau: The Quest for Dyed Hair's Scalp

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Many years ago, Apsáalooke collected eagle feathers in a unique way. They would dig a dugout in high location. Over the dugout they would place branches and twigs and cover it with grass and they extend a skinned rabbit from the pit. They eagle trapper would hide in the trap and wait for eagles to come inspect the rabbit. The trapper would grab the legs of the eagle and pluck the middle feather and the two on either side of the middle.

            A young warrior named Yellow Leggings was out trapping eagles in this manner. While he was in the trap a boulder above him rolled down and trapped him in. Yellow Leggings was certain that he would die in this trap when a mouse talked to him. The mouse told Yellow Leggings to follow him into a hole on the floor of the trap. Yellow Leggings followed the mouse through the tunnel till they emerged on the other side to a world he did not recognize.

Yellow Leggings walked around till he found a lodge. He walked up to the lodge and a voice inside said, "Come in. I have been expecting you." Yellow Leggings entered to find an old man and an old woman. The old man wanted Yellow Leggings to have a seat. Yellow Leggings seen a human hand in the soup and said we do not eat other humans. The old man said, "I forgot that you do not eat humans. Go outside and find something to eat. When you are finished return. I have some things I want to talk to you about." Yellow Leggings did as he was instructed. After eating and returning to the old mans lodge, Yellow Leggings was instructed to kill the elk who controlled the winds and caused havoc among the birds and animals. The old man gave him the location of where he will find the elk and that before he goes to the elk that he should find animals that will help him if were to cry.

Yellow Leggings then went on his way to the elk. He came across a certain bird and Yellow Leggings sat and started to weep. The bird asked what was wrong. Yellow leggings explained that he was tasked with killing this elk. The bird told Yellow Leggings that this truly was a hard task that is impossible. The bird advised Yellow Leggings to go to a near bush and cry near it. Yellow Leggings did as instructed. A mole came to Yellow Leggings and said why do you cry. Yellow Leggings explained to the mole with what he was tasked to do. The mole said that this was nearly an impossible task. The reason was that the elk had helpers on his antlers. The coyote sat on his right antlers and protected the elk by day and an owl on his left antlers to protect him at night. If anything came near the elk the helpers would alert the elk and he would go and kill the intruders with his antlers. The mole said he will help Yellow Leggings by digging a tunnel under the elk where the coyote and the owl will not see them. Then when they were under him Yellow Leggings was to shoot an arrow directly into the heart of the elk. The mole said they had one try because the elk will be alerted he will surely kill them both if they failed. When they finally were directly under the elk Yellow Leggings shot his arrow. They started running back through the tunnel. The elk was wounded for sure and he stuck his antler into the ground where the tunnel was and chased after the two till he fell over dead.

Yellow Leggings thanked mole for his help and asked what he can do for the mole. The mole instructed him to leave food near his mounds when he needs help in solving a situation and he will help Yellow Leggings again. He also told Yellow Leggings that if didn't want to be seen he can take dirt and rub it on himself so that he could not be found.

Yellow Leggings returned to the old man with the head of the elk. White owl thanked him for completing his task. He then said that Yellow Leggings must go after the scalp of colored Hair who lived on the other side of the river. Yellow Leggings agreed to the quest.

Yellow Leggings left on his quest. Again he came across the bird and he wept. The bird asked why he was crying and Yellow Leggings told him the new quest he was on. The bird said that this quest was indeed a tougher quest. The bird explained that people that go on this quest are eaten by Dyed Hair. Yellow Legging was instructed to seek the help of a young woman that lived beyond the ridge in front of him.

Yellow Leggings traveled beyond the ridge and found a lodge. At the lodge he met a young woman. The young woman's name was Ant Woman. She explained that Colored Hair has been pursuing her so that they may marry. Ant Woman devised a plan where Yellow Leggings will go in the form of her. Ant Woman instructed Yellow Leggings to take off his clothes and she would do the same. They will stand at opposite ends of the tipi and then meet each other in the middle where they will embrace and Yellow Leggings will say he is Ant Woman and ant Woman will say she is Yellow Leggings. When they did this they switched bodies. Ant Woman instructed Yellow Leggings not to allow Colored hair to touch him for three days and to keep him awake during the day time. After four days allow Colored Hair to have his way with you. When he is finished he will fall into a deep sleep. This will be Yellow Leggings chance to slit Dyed Hair's throat and place the louse on the pillow. 

Ant Woman then gave Yellow Leggings five corn balls. She instructed him that when he reaches the river there will be a dog. Yellow Leggings was instructed to mount the dog and slip a corn ball in his mouth and the dog will walk across the river carrying him. He did as he was instructed when he got to the river. It took two corn balls to cross the river. After he crossed the river he walked till he reached a forest. At the forest Yellow Leggings began to weep. A chipmunk came to Yellow Leggings and asked what was wrong. Yellow Leggings told him that he had to kill Colored Hair and didn't know how to complete his task. The chipmunk said that the only thing he can help with his quest was a louse. The chipmunk instructed Yellow Legging to keep the louse behind his ear till he kills Colored Hair and places the louse on his pillow and it will take care of everything from there on. The chipmunk instructed Yellow Leggings to weep when he was near magpie. When Yellow Leggings was near magpie he started to weep. Magpie asked what was wrong. Yellow Leggings explained his situation. Magpie said that there was a mound that was on Colored Hair's mother's head that she could project out and uses to fly in the air and that it will be hard to out run her. Magpie instructed Yellow Leggings that as he is running and when he is tired to throw the middle feather of the magpie in the air and magpie will carry him farther.

When Yellow Leggings arrived at Colored Hair's lodge he was not home. His mother was there and she was not happy that Ant Woman showed up. Colored Hair's Mother was very suspicious of Ant Woman coming to see her son. When Colored Hair arrived he was happy to see that Ant Woman finally came to his lodge. When they went to bed Ant Woman rejected his advances. He laid there and could not sleep all night. The next day Ant Woman kept Colored Hair busy showing her the place. Again that night she rejected his advances saying she was tire. Again Colored Hair stayed awake all night excited that Ant Woman finally came to his lodge. When Colored Hair fell asleep his mother kept calling to him because she was suspicious of Ant Woman. Colored Hair would respond but he was so tired that he fell into a deep sleep. Ant woman touch and pinched Colored Hair but he was sound asleep. She quietly slit his through and removed the louse from behind his ear and placed it on his pillow. She cut Colored Hair's head off and quietly sneaked out of the lodge. Colored Hair's mother yelled out to Colored Hair and from his bed he heard a response in the voice of Colored Hair saying "quit bothering me, we are trying to sleep." This was louse speaking. All night long Colored Hair's mother would say his name and ask a question and the louse would answer. Finally in the morning Colored Hair's mother got up to check and his head was gone. "I knew Ant Woman was up to no good. She will never get away." She raised the weapon on her head and flew after her. Yellow Leggings was running as fast as his legs will take him till he got tire. He said "magpie help me" and raised the feather and he started to fly. Yellow Leggings would fly until the magpie got tired and he would run for little bit and then raise the feather again and he would fly through the air. He made good ground but Colored Hair's mother was catching up to him. He got to the river and fed the dog with a corn ball and the dog crossed the river. He kept feeding the dog the last of the corn balls as they ran to Ant Woman's lodge. He was instructed to run around the lodge four times. Still on the dogs back they ran around the lodge four times and on the fourth time they ran in. Colored Hair's mother threw her weapon on her head to the lodge but on the fourth run around the lodge it had turned to stoned. Some of the stone fell off. Ant Woman, still in Yellow Leggings form quickly used mud from the ground and replaced the stone that had fallen off. Colored Hair's mother finally said, "You have defeated me. I just want to see his face one more time. Ant Woman instructed Yellow Leggings to open the door. He opened it a crack but Colored Hair's mother said, "Please open it little more so I can see him more clearly." Yellow Leggings opened enough for her to stick her head in. Colored Hair's mother said, "Ha I have fooled you," but Yellow Leggings quickly shut the heavy door chopping Colored Hair's mother's head off.

Ant Woman informed Yellow Leggings that those two have been tricking people and then eating them. Ant Woman instructed Yellow Leggings to take Colored Hair's head back to the old man but she will be keeping his mother's head to keep her from coming back so that she can no longer harm people. They again stood on one side of the lodge and walked to the middle where they embraced. Yellow Leggings said "I am Yellow Leggings" and Ant Woman said "I am Ant Woman." They transformed back to their own selves. The young woman turned back into an ant. Ant Woman told Yellow Leggings that the mole helped you and it goes the same with her. If you need help in a situation place some food near an ant pile and state what you need help with and I will find a solution.

When he returned to the old man he was very pleased. He told Yellow Leggings to go and come back in the morning. As he was leaving the old man's wife told Yellow Leggings outside of the lodge and instructed him to that the old man will lay out his spirit helpers tomorrow and when he asks Yellow Leggings which one he wants, to ask for the old man.

In the morning when he returned the old man laid out all his spirit helpers and said, "You have taken the elk that had a hold of the four winds and the four directions but I have that power now. I will not keep it like the elk did. Ant Woman's lodge is the form of lodge that you will use with the four base poles. These four base poles represent the four directions where the four winds blow and it also represents the four seasons. Then asked Yellow Leggings which one he wants. Yellow Leggings did as he was instructed and said, "I will take you." The old man said, "Aaahh, my wife must have told you to say that."  The old man transformed himself into a white owl. The old man instructed Yellow Leggings that they must respect the tipi. The old man's pet was a bear and the old man tied his pet to the left door of the tipi. The bear will watch the door and prevent anything bad from getting in. The old man, who is the white owl told Yellow Leggings, "When you leave here you will meet four woman. You need to avoid their advances. Use this driftwood or this quartz on them.

Yellow Leggings started on his journey home. Yellow Leggings encountered a woman like no other. She was very beautiful. She was making advances so Yellow Leggings waved the driftwood at her. Instantly she turned into an elk and ran away. Again Yellow Leggings encountered a second woman. This woman was like no other. She was more beautiful than the first one. This woman made advances so Yellow Leggings waved the driftwood at her and she instantly transformed into a white-tailed doe and ran away. Yellow Leggings continued his journey home. Again he encountered a woman like no other. She was more beautiful than the previous two with eyes like berries. When she made her advances at Yellow Leggings, he waved the driftwood at her and she instantly turned into a mink and ran away. Yellow Leggings continued his voyage home. Again he encountered a woman. He pulled out the driftwood and waved it at her but she did not mind. He took out the quartz and waved it at her and still she did not mind. So Yellow Leggings married her.

Yellow Leggings and his wife went to her camp. When they approached the camp a young boy ran to meet them. The young boy had a mountain lion as a pet. The mountain lion was about to charge but the young man said, "this is my brother-in-law." The mountain lion relaxed. The young boy was named Juniper Between The Eyes. The young boy said that his brothers were out hunting.

When Juniper Between The Eyes' brother returned from their hunt they started to tease Yellow Leggings. They were pulling of the legs and the head off a stuffed fawn that Yellow Leggings had. Yellow Leggings open the bundle that had the white owl in and the owl flew up and hooted. The fawn bleated and the legs of the brothers started to hurt. They yelled that they quit. The brothers were ashamed for teasing their brother-in-law. They said that they don't belong on earth anymore. They decided to join the seven stars. Before they left Juniper Between The Eyes said that he was taking his pet with him but the spirit will remain in the right door pole. When you look up at the seven starts at night the faint star near the last star is Juniper Between The Eyes' mountain lion.

They said that it was time to leave. They told Yellow Leggings to offer the pipe to them whenever he needed them. When he was in a tight spot, or when he was happy, or when he was alone.

That night Yellow Legging wife said go smoke with your brother-in-laws. Yellow Leggings offered the pipe to his brother-in-laws. His brother-in-laws said. "No matter what happens don't forget the old man. The lodge is a woman. The tipi is the place you come home to. It is your second mother. The earth is your first mother. It is the earth that you finally return. When you smoke offer your mother earth the pipe too. The animals that you respect, the animals that are messengers you believe in are all represented at the poles. The four wind directions and the four seasons of the year are represented by the four base poles. Group all these together in a tipi and occupy it. When you sit in the tipi, sit along the poles because that is where man lives. No man should sit in the middle of the tipi. This place is reserved for the elements.  (Old Coyote, H., 1974: 33-56)


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on August 21, 2017 4:02 PM.

Native American History: The Mission Period, Treaties, and Reservations By: Dr. Erich Longie was the previous entry in this blog.

"The day they put me back in a wheel, the next day my son has instructions to put me in the ground" is the next entry in this blog.

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