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

Updated: Jan 12, 2023


A child was heard to cry from a buffalo skin. An old woman went

toward it and found a child sitting among the hairs which had been scraped

from the buffalo skins. She took up the child and because she felt sorry for

it, took care of it and raised it, although the others tried to dissuade her.


It grew quickly. "Put nothing but grass under me, grandmother,"

he said. She put some grass under him but in the night she saw it was

gone; there was nothing but bare ground under him. "What are you

doing, grandchild?" she said to herself. She watched him through her

ragged blanket one night and saw him stand up, a large buffalo. He ate

up the grass he was lying on. "My grandson is a buffalo," she thought.


A famine was killing the people when someone saw a herd of buffalo.

There were many people camping there who decided to go together and kill

the buffalo. The boy saw the buffalo and at night, while the people were

asleep, took an arrow from each man's supply. He went to the buffalo

during the night and shot them all because they were not afraid of him.

"The buffalo will belong to the man whose arrow is on it," he said to him-

self, and distributed the arrows on the dead buffalo. "We will make meat

of this one for my grandmother," he said, and placed two of his arrows on

one of the animals.


He went back to the camp to find someone had built a big fire. His

grandmother was sitting on the wood, crying. "What is the matter,

grandmother?" he asked. "You went for the people's animals and they

say they will burn you." "Who says that about me?" he asked. "They

all say it of you. They are not pleased." "None of your animals ran

away. They are still where they were last night. Go to them," he said.


An old man was sitting there after the others had left. He took a seat

by this old man and said, "I saw the wolves kill a young buffalo, grand-

father." They two followed along the way the others had gone. They

found some of the Indians lying in front of the dead buffalo while others

were trying to surround them. When they came up to the buffalo they

found they had all been killed and the arrows were lying on the bodies.

The people were all very much pleased.


Discussion

The stories of Agait’osdûnne (the hair-scrapings man) describe a person with a strong connection to buffalo: as an infant he emerged from buffalo hair scrapings and he consumed grass every night, transforming from human form into a buffalo. When Agait’osdûnne was older, his community was starving, so he decided to go out and kill a herd of buffalo by himself. However, when the people discovered he had hunted buffalo alone, they threatened to kill him. The prohibition against hunting buffalo alone is also found in other stories told by Beaver people and recorded by Goddard (1916) (for example, ‘Atcecǫ Kills Buffalo’).



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