Collection: Traditions of the Caddo

Tale of The Coward, The Son Of The Moon

In the beginning, when the people first came out of the earth, a little boy was taken out with his grandparents, but his mother and father were left behind in the earth. The old people loved the child dearly and cared for him, but because they were old they were poor, and so the boy was often hungry. Sometimes other little boys took him to their lodges and fed him, and then the old people were happy; for they did not mind being hungry themselves, so long as their grandson had something to eat. He grew rapidly and soon became old enough to hunt game; then the old people always had plenty to eat, for he was successful on the hunt. One time, when he came home from a long hunt, he found his grandmother sick, and in a few days she died. The boy grieved for his grandmother, but remained with his grandfather to comfort and provide food for him. One day the grandfather, who was an old man, dropped dead. Then the boy, left all alone, gave up to his grief and spent days and nights in mourning. He wandered far away into the timber to mourn, and in his grief and loneliness he prayed that he might die. While he was praying one evening, just as the sun was going down, he heard some one calling...

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Tale of How Rabbit Stole Mountain-Lion’s Teeth

One time when Rabbit’s grandmother had gone off and left him alone he decided to wander about and see what he could see. He went along until he came to the home of Mountain-Lion. Mountain-Lion was not at home, so Rabbit went in and hunted about. He finally found Mountain-Lion’s teeth and he took them and ran home with them. He was glad to find them, for the other animals were afraid of Mountain-Lion on account of his sharp teeth. Rabbit showed the teeth to his grandmother when he reached home, and said: “Now, grandmother, Mountain-Lion will soon be after his teeth, and we must fool him some way or he will kill us.” Rabbit thought for a while; then he said: “Build a fire just outside the door, put a big kettle of water on the fire, and then put some stones into the water and boil them. When Mountain-Lion comes he will ask what you are going to do with those stones. Tell him that I have a guest in the lodge who is going to eat them. I will talk to myself in the lodge as though I were entertaining a friend, and when Mountain-Lion asks who my friend is, say ‘Chief of all the beasts.'” The grandmother made a big fire and put the stones on to boil. Finally they heard a big noise, and...

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Tale of The Brothers Who Became Lightning And Thunder

When the world was new there lived among the people a man and his wife and one child, a boy of about twelve years. The people called the man “Medicine-Man.” Now and then he went out on the hunt, and never was known to come home without killing a deer, and almost every time he came home with a big buck. One time when he was out hunting he killed a deer and then started back for home, and when he reached home he found his little boy there alone and not as usual, for he looked weary and frightened. When his father asked him where his mother was he began to cry and said he did not know; that all he knew was that she took a water bucket and went down toward the creek. He said that he had run over there two or three times calling his mother, but no answer came. Then both the little boy and Medicine-Man went down to the place where the woman usually went to get water, but they could not find her. They found foot-prints at the edge of the water, and then the Medicine-Man knew that his wife and the mother of his only child was dead and gone; that something had taken her life; so they came back to their home and mourned for her six days. They...

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Tale of The Boy Who Married A Mountain-Lion

A little boy often told his parents that he was a red mountain-lion. No one believed him, but they called him Red-Mountain-Lion. When he grew to manhood he was a successful and famous hunter. He went off alone for days at a time and always brought back much game. One time it was noticed that he acted queerly when he returned from the hunt, and so the next time he went his brother followed him. He tracked him through the timber up the rocky side of a mountain. He heard voices among the rocks, but could not see any one. He climbed on until he saw just above him a cave in the side of a steep wall. He looked in and saw his brother in there with a female mountain-lion. He went home and told what he had seen. After a few days Red-Mountain-Lion came home and acted stranger than ever. One time he heard some men talking about going to the cave and killing a mountain-lion that some of them had seen there. The man started out at once and alone to hunt, and he went straight toward the cave. The men started out to hunt the next day, and when they came to the cave they saw the foot-prints of a man and a mountain-lion leading away from it. They tracked them down the mountain and...

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Tale of Splinter Foot Boy

An orphan boy who lived alone with his grandmother was a famous hunter and often went out on a long hunt with his friends. One time, while they were a long way from home, the boy was wounded by a stick that pierced his leg and broke off inside of it. His leg festered and swelled up so that he could not walk and his friends had to carry him home. His leg continued to swell until it was as large as his body; then the skin broke, but instead of the stick coming out, a child came. The boy was angry and would not look at the child or have anything to do with it. His grandmother took pity upon the baby and cared for it. One day while she was away the boy took the child and carried it to the lake, where he left it to starve or be eaten by the wild animals. He was afraid to return to his grandmother’s home for fear she would know that he had thrown his child away, and so he went far off and lived alone. The child lay on the shore of the lake for a long time, and as he lay there he grew to be a good-sized boy. Finally many birds flew over the lake, and when they were about half way across the lake,...

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Tale of Snake-Woman Distributes Seeds

The Great Father gave the seeds of all growing things to Snake-Woman. He taught her how to plant the seeds and how to care for the green things that grew from them until they were ripe, and then how to prepare them for food. One time, when Snake-Woman had more seeds than she could possibly care for, she decided to give some to the people. She called her two sons and asked them to help her carry the seeds. Each put a big bag full of seeds on his back, and then they traveled all over the world, giving six seeds of each kind of plant to every person. As Snake-Woman gave each person the seeds she told him that he must plant them, and must care for the plants that grew from them, but must allow no one, especially children, to touch them or even point to them as they grew. She said that until the seeds were ripe they belonged to her, and if any one gathered them too soon she would send a poisonous snake to bite him. Parents always tell their children what Snake-Woman said, and so they are afraid to touch or go near any growing plants for fear a snake will come and bite...

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Tales of Slaying The Monsters By Fire

In the olden time the world was full of all kinds of wild animals who ate people and tame animals. In those times Coyote called all the people together to a council to see what could be done with the wild animals, because they were getting so bad that the people could not go away from their homes to hunt food or to visit each other. At the council they decided to set fire to all the grass, which was as high as trees, and so burn the wild animals and everything on the earth. They chose White-Headed-Hawk and Crow, because they were the swiftest of all the people, to fly to some bright Star and tell the Star that they were coming to his home to live. The Star told them that there was room for the people in the heavens if they could get up there. The messengers returned and reported to the people. They decided to make a long rope out of soap weed and go to heaven on that. They began to gather the soap weed and twist it into a strong rope. The rope was finished; then White-Headed-Hawk and Crow took it and again flew to the heavens. They gave the end of the rope to the Star, who put one end of it under a big stone and let it hang down. It...

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Tale of Rabbit And The Dancing Turkeys

One time while Wild-Cat was out hunting he came upon Rabbit in the tall grass. Rabbit and Wild-Cat were enemies, and so they began to fight. Soon Wild-Cat had Rabbit down and was about to kill him, when Rabbit said: “How would you like some nice Turkeys to eat?” “That is just what I have been looking for,” said Wild-Cat. “Well, I know where there are some, and I was just about to catch some when I met you. Now, if you kill me they will all get away. You had better spare my life until I show you how to catch the Turkeys; then you may do what you please with me.” Wild-Cat agreed, and so Rabbit told him to stand still while he sang the Turkey dance song. After he had sung a little, he told Wild-Cat to lie down and pretend to be dead; that he would tell the Turkeys that he had killed Wild-Cat, and wished them to dance around him with closed eyes. While they danced, Wild-Cat was to jump up and grab all he wanted. Soon the Turkeys heard the song and came to see what it was about. Rabbit told them that he had killed the great turkey-eater, Wild-Cat, and that he wanted them to dance a victory dance around him. Rabbit continued his song, and as he sang the Turkeys danced....

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Tales of Medicine-Screech-Owl

Medicine-Screech-Owl was born at Long-Timber-on-the-Top-of-the-Hill. His father and mother were very old and lived near the center of the village. When his first birthday came he was given bow and arrows. His father and mother were asking each other what name they should give to their child, but before they could name him he spoke and said, “My name shall be Medicine-Screech-Owl.” His mother scolded him, because at this time there was also a man by the name of Medicine-Screech-Owl, and he was an ex-chief; but he said that he would have no other name, and so his parents named him Medicine-Screech-Owl. One night some one passed near the village and heard the child’s mother calling him by the name of the ex-chief. When the man came to the ex-chief’s place he told him that the child’s name was the same as his. When the ex-chief heard this he was angry, and told the people that he was going to kill the boy if he did not do as he should tell him to do. He sent for him, and when the boy came to his lodge he gave him watermelon seed and said: “Go back and plant this watermelon seed this evening. In the morning go and bring to me a great big watermelon to eat.” “All right,” said young Medicine-Screech-Owl. He took the seed, went back to...

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Tale of Lightning And The People

In the beginning Lightning lived upon the earth with the people, but he became so powerful and killed so many of the people that they feared and hated him. One time after he had become angry and killed a number of the people, the chiefs of the tribe called a council to determine what to do with him. They decided that he could no longer live with the people, but would have to go away. Lightning pleaded to stay, but the chiefs would not change their decision and told him that he would have to go. Not long after Lightning had gone a great monster that lived underground among the rocks began to carry away the people. They tried in every way to kill him, but could not, for he always disappeared under the ground where they could not reach him. Lightning appeared to them and told them that he would kill the monster if they would let him come back and live with them. He said that he wanted to come back to earth, and that he would kill all monsters and make the earth a safe place for the people to live on, and would not do any more harm himself if they would let him come back. The people decided to let Lightning come, because there was no one else powerful enough to kill the great...

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Tale of How The Cannibal Was Destroyed

In the beginning of this world there lived many kinds of fierce animals. Among these animals was one especially that was called by the people living in those times the cannibal. One time there were three men who went out hunting. They went a long way from home and kept on going farther and farther in search of game. One day they came to a country timbered with many large trees. They came to one of these trees and saw that something had been climbing on the tree, and near the base there was a large hole. The men thought that a bear must have made the hole, and that the bear was in the hole. They gathered dry leaves and grass and made it up into a small bundle, and they set the bundle on fire and tied it to the end of a long pole and thrust the burning bundle into the hole. They kept on dropping bundles into the hole until they thought it about time the bear should come out. One of the bundles which was put into the hole dropped out from the hole, and then they knew that the bear was coming out. Finally some strange animal came and peeped out from the hole, and it was not a bear, but a cannibal. As soon as they saw and knew what kind of...

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Tale of How Owl Fooled The Girls Who Wanted To Marry The Chief

One time there lived an old man and woman who had two beautiful twin daughters. These girls heard of a chief who lived in another village, and rumors of his great wealth and his fame as a great chief had traveled far. The girls asked their parents if they might not go to the chief and offer themselves in marriage. Their parents consented, and so the girls started to the chief’s village. They did not know just where the village was, but they started in the direction that they thought it was, and decided to ask the first person they met to direct them. They traveled along for a time and then met a man with a turkey in his hand coming down the road. They stopped him and began to talk to him. “We want to marry this famous chief, for we hear that he is good and very wealthy, but we do not know him. We have never seen him, we have not even been to his village, and perhaps we would not know him if we should see him.” The man grinned to himself and said: “I am the chief and I live just a little way from here; I have been away attending a council. Well, I must say that I am willing, but wait here while I run on home and tell my grandmother.”...

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Tale of How The Buffalo Ceased To Eat Human Beings

When the world was new there were many wild and fierce animals, and the buffalo were among the fiercest, for they ate human beings. In those days the buffalo were many-colored and roamed the plains in great herds, and were so numerous that men could not go out on the plains alone for fear of being caught by them. There was one great man who received power from the Father, and he had the power to go right into the midst of these terrible animals and kill them without being hurt. That man was Buzzard, and he was the only man who possessed such power. All the other people had to live in villages together that they might protect each other and hunt together. One time some men went out in the timber alone to hunt turkey and deer. They wandered far, and when they started home they found that they had to cross a long stretch of lonely prairie. While they were hurrying across the vast stretch of country they saw a black cloud arise in the west and come nearer and nearer, until at last they knew that a great herd of buffalo was sweeping down upon them. They threw the game from their backs, threw away their bows and arrows, and ran as fast as the wind. The buffalo, dangerous as they were, were not good...

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Tale of Evening-Star And Orphan-Star

A poor orphan boy lived with a large family of people who were not kind to him and mistreated him. He could not go to play or hunt with the other boys, but had to do all of the hard work. Whenever the camp broke up the family always tried to steal away and leave the boy behind, but sooner or later he found their new camp and went to them because he had no other place to go. One time several families went in boats to an island in a large lake to hunt eggs, and the orphan boy went with them. After they had filled their boats with eggs they secretly made ready to go back to the mainland. In the night, while the orphan boy was asleep, they stole away in their boats, leaving him to starve on the lonely island. The boy wandered about the island, eating only the scraps that he could find around the dead camp fires, until he was almost starved. As he did not have a bow and arrows, he could not hunt, but he sat by the water’s edge and tried to catch fish as they swam past him. One day as he sat on the lonely shore he saw a large animal with horns coming to him through the water. He sat very still and watched the animal, for...

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Tale of Coyote, Wild-Cat, And The Old Woman

An old, blind woman lived all alone. Her home was far away, and no one ever came to see her and few people even passed by. Though she was blind and old she somehow always had plenty to eat and seemed to get along as well as any one else. She always had her pot full of meat, and those who passed could smell it cooking, and they wondered who brought the meat to her. Whenever she sat down to eat she would always say, “All ready for dinner,” just as though she were calling some one to come and eat with her; then she would say, “Orphan, I was only talking to myself.” One day Wild-Cat happened to come to her house while he was out looking for something to eat. He smelled the cooking meat, and so decided to stop a while. When he went in he saw that the old woman was blind. He slipped quietly to a corner and sat with one eye on the boiling pot and the other on the old woman while he tried to make a plan to steal the meat. After a while the old woman took the pot off of the fire and sat down to eat, but first she called, “All ready for dinner. Orphan, I was only talking to myself.” Wild-Cat sprang up ready to run, for...

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