Collection: Traditions of the Caddo

Tale of The Man Who Turned Into A Snake

One time two boys who were close friends went out hunting. They met a large snake, and one of the boys killed it and cooked it. The other boy begged him not to eat it, but to eat the buffalo meat that he had prepared; but the boy would not listen to him and ate the snake meat. That was in the evening. The next morning the boy who had eaten the snake meat began to turn into a snake. After another day and night he had completely turned into a snake. He told his friend to go to the mountain and find a hole for him to live in. The friend found a hole and carried the snake to it. The snake told him to go to their village and tell his people what had happened to him, and to tell them that whenever they went to hunt to stop and offer presents to him and he would help them in the hunt. The snake lived there for many years, until the lightning killed...

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Tale of The Man Who Made Arrows For Ghost

Two men arose and went out to hunt before daybreak, and they were a long way from their village when the sun came up. They hunted all day and far into the evening, but did not find anything. They decided to stay in the timber and sleep that night, so they might hunt next day, for they hated to go home empty-handed. They threw themselves down on a soft, grassy place and slept soundly, for they were weary. After they had been asleep for a long time both awoke with a start and listened. Soon they heard a voice whooping, the same that had awakened them. One of the men was so frightened that he jumped up and ran for home through the dark. The other man was brave and was ashamed to run, for he had not run from anything in all his life. He arose and stood his ground. Soon a dead person stood before him. He asked the man if he could help him get into Spirit Land. He said: “I have been trying for a long time, but cannot get any farther, for my bowstring has a knot in it. Can’t you give me a bowstring and make me two new arrows?” The man said that he would, and so he sat down to make the arrows. Then he put a new string on the...

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Tale of The Man And The Dog Who Became Stars

A young man had a Dog which he always took with him whenever he went to hunt. When he was at home he did not pay much attention to the Dog, and the Dog acted like any other dog, but when they were off alone the Dog would talk to his master just as if he were a man. He had the power of a prophet and could always tell what was going to happen. One time, while they were out hunting, the Dog came running back to his master and told him that they were about to come to a very dangerous place. The young man asked where the place was, and the Dog said that he did not know just where it was, but that he knew it was not far away. In another instant the Dog scented a deer and started out on its trail, and the man followed. Soon they came upon the deer. The man shot it, but only wounded it, and it continued to run until it reached the lake, and then jumped into the water. The Dog jumped in after it and soon caught it, because he could swim faster than the wounded deer. He held it while the young man threw off his clothes and swam to his assistance. Soon they killed the deer, and then the man put it on...

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Tale of The Lost Timber Spirits

When the world was new the old man, Coyote, decided that if a man, woman, or child died they should return to the earth again after ten days. Finally Coyote made another rule, and that was that when anybody died and was buried within six days he should stay under the ground, but if not buried by the seventh day he might escape. If caught before he succeeded in getting away he was to be brought back home. When the person was caught, a fire was kindled all around him; but finally he threw off the fire from him, and then was taken back to his home, where he was kept for six days and nights. At the end of the sixth day some old woman washed him, and then they let him go, and he became a real person again. When a person dies they dig a hole in the ground about four or five feet long and about three or four feet wide–according to the size of the person–and the body is laid head toward the west and feet toward the east. One of the family builds a fire at the feet of the person, and this fire should be kept up for six days and nights. Very often the person forgets to keep up the fire and lets it go out before the end of the...

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Tale of The Lazy Boys Who Became The Pleiades

Long, long ago, in the beginning of this world, there lived an old woman with seven children, who were all boys. The boys were full of life and fun and they would go away from the others and play all the day long, and would not work, nor take time to eat but twice a day-morning and evening. When they came home in the evening their mother would scold them, and one evening when they came home late for their supper their mother would not let them have anything to eat. The boys were very angry and went back to their play and determined on the morrow to go away where they would never trouble her any more. The next morning early they went down to their playground before breakfast and began to go round and round the house, praying to the spirits to help them. At last their mother noticed and heard what they were saying, and as she watched them she noticed that their feet were off the earth, and then she knew that something was wrong, and she ran out trying to get her children, but it was too late. With every round they rose higher and higher in the air, and were soon above the roof of the house. They circled higher and higher until they went up to the sky, where we can see...

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Tale of The Jealous Husband

One time the people decided to go on the war-path, and when they were about to start they selected one man to be their leader. They started out and they had to go a long way before they could find the enemy. After they had traveled several days, the head man selected from eight to twelve men to go ahead and spy and see if they could locate the enemy. When any of these men located any of the enemy they would go back and tell what they had seen, and then all the others would ride out to fight the enemy. The leader chose for spies two men who were very close friends and who would always go together from place to place. One of these two was married and the other was single. One day they went out for some distance, and after they had gone about two miles, climbing up and down the hills, they came to a high hill, almost like a mountain. They decided to climb up this mountain so they could look far out over the country. They found on top a big hole in the rock that looked like an old well, and when they looked down into the hole they saw water. The married man told his friend to go down in the hole to get some water, for they were...

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Tale of The Girl Who Married A Turtle

A girl lived alone with her two brothers. They were famous hunters and were away all day hunting. While they were gone the girl often played down by the water, and there she came to know Turtle. One day he came up to her and asked her if she would have him for her husband. She said that she would, and after that she met him whenever she went to the lake. Often her brothers wanted to carry the water for her, but she would never let them, but would always go herself and stay a long time with Turtle. One time her brothers went away to be gone many days. She told Turtle that they were gone and that she was going to take him to her house and keep him there. He was glad, for then he could be with her all of the time. She went home and built a high bed, and when she had finished it she carried Turtle home and put him in the bed. She asked him what he liked best to eat, and he said that he liked potatoes better than anything else. Every day she went out to hunt potatoes and prepared a big bowl full and put it up in the bed for him to eat. After several days her brothers came home, and so she thought she would...

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Tales of The Girl Who Married A Star

One time a maiden slept in an arbor, and as she lay under the blue sky she watched the stars. One star especially she watched, and she wished that it would become a man and marry her, for she did not care for any of the young men of the village. She went to sleep wishing that the star would marry her. When she awoke she saw no stars, but an old man sitting by the fireside. “Where am I?” she asked. “Your wish is granted; you are the Star’s wife. I am the Star.” She began to cry, for the man was old and homely and she was young and beautiful, and so she had dreamed that her husband would be. The Star’s sister was preparing something to eat, and she told the girl to stop crying and come and eat. After a while the two women went out to dig potatoes. They saw one big potato, and the girl asked the Star’s sister what the big potato was for. She answered that it was the door of heaven, and that it covered the entrance to the world beneath. Then the girl cried again and begged the woman to let her go back to her people. She told her how unhappy she was and what a mistake she had made in wishing to marry the Star. The woman...

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Tale of The Girl Who Had Power To Call The Buffalo

A girl who had power to call the buffalo lived with her six brothers. The brothers were stars, and every night they left the girl to travel through the sky. Every morning after they had returned from their nightly journey they put the girl in a swing of lariat rope that hung down from the sky and swung her through the air. As she swung through the air the buffalo saw her and came. The boys killed all that they wanted, and then the rest of the herd went away. In this way the girl called the buffalo for her brothers, and so they always had plenty to eat. One time Coyote came to visit them, and, finding that they always had meat, he decided to come and live with them. The brothers did not think much of Coyote, but they decided to let him stay. Every morning he watched the boys put their sister in the swing and swing her until the buffalo came. Before the brothers would let Coyote watch them swing her they made him promise that he would never try to do the same while they were gone, because if any one else tried to swing the girl he would swing her too hard and she would swing to the sky and never return. Coyote promised, but one day while all of the brothers were...

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Tale of The Flood

One time a long, hot, dry season came and all the waters of the earth dried up. The people wandered from place to place, trying to find water, and after many days they became crazed and did many foolish things. They went to the dried-up river beds and there found many dead fish and turtles and animals that dwelt in the water, and the people cut them to pieces and threw them about, for they thought that these animals and fish were in some way responsible for the waters disappearing. While they were acting foolishly they looked up and saw a man in the sky coming toward them from the west. A wind blew, and the man approached and lighted on the ground before them. In his hand he carried a small green leaf. He told the people that they had not acted wisely and had abused him, and that he was angry with them. He motioned the leaf in four directions and drops of water fell from it. Soon the waters grew in volume and arose all over the world, even to the tree-tops, and the highest mountains except one. To this high mountain the man led a few of the people whom he chose, and they stayed on the mountain for four days, while the water rose higher and higher. As the waters rose the man caused...

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Tale of The First War Party

When the people came into the world there were so many that they had to be divided into groups, and each group was given a different name, although they all belonged to the same tribe. After a time the tribes began to fight with each other and the Caddo fought the Kiowa and Comanche. The Caddo gathered one time in council and the chief told the errand-man to cry out for all the young men to come to the council. The young men came and the chief asked all of those who wanted to fight the other tribes to sit in a circle. After the circle was formed the chief brought the largest buffalo hide that he had and laid it upon the ground in the center of the circle. Then he gave each man a stick and they all beat the buffalo hide with the sticks and sang a war song. They began singing at sunset and continued until Morning Star drove the other stars away. In the meantime the chief and his assistants went ahead to choose a good place with water near by to make a camp. At dawn all the men arose and marched out to the place, continuing their war song as they went. They were not allowed to go back to their homes, but had to march all together out of the village....

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Tale of The Effeminate Man Who Introduced Strife

One time there lived among the people a man who always did the women’s work and dressed like the women and went with them, and never went with the men. The men made fun of him, but he did not care, and continued to work and play only with the women. A war broke out with some other tribe, and all of the men went to fight but this man, who stayed behind with the women. After the war party had gone, an old man, who was too old to go with them, came to him and told him that if he would not go to fight he was going to kill him, for it was a disgrace to have such a man in the tribe. The man refused to go, saying that the Great Father did not send him to earth to fight and did not want him to. The old man paid no attention to his excuse, and told him if he did not go to fight he would have the warriors kill him when they returned from battle with the enemy. The man said that they could not kill him, that he would always come to life, and would bewitch people and cause them to fight and kill one another. The old man did not believe him, and when the war party came home he told...

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Tale of The Death Of The Cannibals

There was a village called Tall-Timber-on-Top-of-Hill, and the people decided to move from that village to another. They were all ready to go when a baby was born to a young woman whose husband had died. The woman could not make the long journey with the new baby, and the people were unwilling to wait for her, so they decided to go on and leave her to follow when she was strong enough to carry the child. The woman remained alone in the deserted village for many days. She was afraid to be there alone, and counted the days until she could start to the new village. One night as she sat with only her child in the grass lodge she heard some one outside, and a strange voice begged admission. She was frightened, but let the man in, and said: “Are you from my people?” “No,” said he, “though I often go around their village at night. Do not be frightened, and I will tell you who I am. People call me Spotted-Wolf. I have come here to see you and your child and to beg you not to start too soon on your journey, for there are many dangerous animals on the way.” The woman replied: “I know, but I want to go to my people. It is lonely here, and I am afraid.” Spotted-Wolf said: “I...

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Tale of The Dangerous Water Monster

When the world was new and not well known it was a dangerous place to live in. One time when there were many people camping near a small creek one of the men went down to the creek to get water. After he had finished drinking he looked into the water and saw a large animal that looked like a snake. It was slowly moving up the creek and he saw that it was very long. He ran up the creek to see how long it was, and he ran about two miles before he came to its head. Then he started for the camp, and when he arrived he went to his grandfather, who was always at home, because he was a very old man and could not hunt with the others. He told him what he had seen, and when he finished telling him the grandfather said: “You have seen some wonderful thing, my son, that has been sent as a sign to our people.” He did not know what the sign was and so he called for the errand man, and when he came the old man told him to call all the people together at his lodge, for he had something to tell them. When the people came in he at once told them about what his grandson had seen. Some of the men would...

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Tale of The Creation And Early Migrations

In the beginning the sun, stars, moon, and earth did not exist as they are now. Darkness ruled. With the lapse of time came a man, the only living being. Soon after his arrival a village sprang into existence with many thousands of people, and the people noticed that the man seemed to be everywhere. For a time he disappeared, and when he came back he had all kinds of seeds. He called all the people together and told them that the seeds were for them to eat, and gave them to every one. He told them that soon Darkness would go, and the people would see, for Darkness had promised that they should have a man by the name of Sun, and that he should be given power by the Great-Father-Above; that whenever his time should come to give them to the Sun he should be called or taken away from his mother, from our great mother Earth below; that the direction where the Sun should come from should be called “east,” and the way of its going down should be called “west.” He also announced to the people that he was the first being created and that he had been given power by the same Great-Father-Above, and that he had to carry out his work. He then told the people that it was very necessary that they...

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