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Agait’osdûnne, The Hair Scraping Man—First Version (Goddard 1916:240-241)

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

One time when many people were camping about they heard a child cry where they had been dressing hides. All the women ran to the place. When they did not find the child they took up the hairs of the scrapings one at a time and put them to one side. There was nothing there. Then an old woman went there and found a child crawling among the scrapings. She took the child up and put it in her mitten.

She took care of it after that and it became large very quickly and was soon walking about. He became a person from the buffalo. “Grandmother bring me only grass,” he said to her. She brought him grass for a bed. During the night it all disappeared. “He is always doing such things,” she said to herself. When she lay down again she watched him through a hole in her blanket. She saw him get up and shake himself and immediately became a buffalo. “Why did I do this?” she said to herself and lay down again under the blanket. “So this is what you are doing,” she thought. After that she took good care of him.

Once the Indians were all chiseling out beaver. “I will watch them,” the boy thought and went where they were eating the beaver meat. When he saw the meat, he reached to take some a man was offering him. The man pulled it back again, fooling the boy. He was very angry. One old man gave him something to eat. After the Indians had gone he picked up a beaver leg and swallowed it, saying, “You will not kill beaver until I pass this bone.”

After that his grandmother traveled alone with the children behind the main band who were starving. Her nephews were starving; they were having a hard time. “Grandmother, I will fish with a hook and link. There are fish here in this old beaver bond,” he said. She cut a hole in the ice for him. “I will fish here,” he said. She went over where he was fishing. He took out a large beaver. He pushed a stick into the water and caught four beaver which he killed with a club. “Grandmother, there are four fish down there which I have killed,” he said to her. His grandmother went there and found he had killed four large beaver. She carried them back and put them by the fireplace. They ate the beaver meat. “Grandmother, give me the mesenteric membrane,” he said. She did as he requested.

Then his grandmother took him on her back and carried him after the other Indians. When the advance party saw the mesenteric membrane he had in his hand they acted like crazy people about it. They threw down the children they were carrying to run after him. They got hold of the membrane and pulled it from side to side. This made him angry.

His uncle had set snares for beaver. He was sitting there by them and started to cry. “What is the matter?” he asked. “Kill it for me,” he said. Then he passed the leg bone of a beaver. Then all who were there, all his uncles, took out beaver.

Then they moved on ahead. Again they were starving, when someone reported having seen buffalo that did not know people were about. After the others had gone to bed he took arrows from each man and went to the buffalo. When he came near them he transformed himself into a buffalo and started to play with them. He killed them all and started back. They had a big fire ready for him and were sitting there, waiting. His grandmother was sitting on the pile of wood, crying. “Grandmother, why are you crying?” he asked. He took an arrow and held it on his bow. “One buffalo was caught in the willows. Who said this about me? Who said of me that, ‘he went along the people’s trail carrying arrows?’” he inquired. No one spoke and for that reason he did not shoot. He held two arrows by their heads, broke them, and threw them into the fire. “What did I do to your animals?” he asked them. They thought the buffalo were all ahead of them.

They started away, but one old man sat there after the others had gone. Agait’osdûnne had put some buffalo fat in the fold of his blanket. He pulled that out for his grandfather. “Grandfather, the wolves killed a young buffalo. I thought I would put its fat in my pocket.” He passed it to him. “It is not young buffalo’s fat,” the old man said to himself. Then he told his grandfather that each man who knew his own arrows would know which buffalo belonged to him. His grandfather went away along the road after the others. They thought the buffalo were lying there alive and they were sitting over them ready to shoot. “Why are you sitting there?” he asked. They thought the buffalo were still alive and they would take them all in snares. When he came to them he said, “Take the ones your arrows are sticking in.” He thought he and his grandmother would have an animal and he had left an old arrow lying on it. They stepped over that buffalo.

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