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Atcecǫ Kills Buffalo (Goddard 1916:241-242)

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

One time when a band of Indians were without food, someone saw some buffalo. They did not have guns and since the buffalo were in an open place without cover they did not know how they could get them. They decided to wait until the next day when they could make a fence and drive them into a corral. A boy, named Atcecǫ, started after the buffalo by himself, and the people were all angry. “Let us kill him,” they were saying. They went after him. The prepared a large fire for him and sat down by it waiting for him. As he was coming back he found his grandmother who had raised him, sitting behind the fire crying. “Why are you crying, grandmother?” he asked. “These people say they are going to kill you,” she replied. “Show me which one of them says that of me.” He asked of his grandmother. They were afraid of him.

Then they started after the buffalo and found them still where they had been seen. “Be careful, they might see us,” they said. The boy followed along after the others. They also told him to take care the buffalo did not see him. This boy had killed all the buffalo. From a man who had many children he had taken two of his arrows, but if there was only one child he took only one arrow. With these arrows he had killed all the buffalo, allotting them one or two animals according to the number of children. They were all saved from starving.


Discussion

In this story, Atcecǫ starts hunting buffalo alone, which angers the people so much that they want to kill him. However, he marked the buffalo with arrows to indicate which families would obtain particular animals, according to their needs, and this saved the people from starvation. Does this story demonstrate a shift in attitude, from communal bison hunting being required to individual hunting being acceptable, as long as resources are equitably shared?

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