Old Woman Who Tricked Her Captors
told by First Boy - James Larpenteur Long, Fort Peck Assiniboine-Sioux,
in The Assiniboine: From Accounts of the Old Ones Told
to First Boy (James Larpenteur Long), edited by Michael
Stephen Kennedy , University of Oklahoma Press, 1961,
p 84-86 (originally published as Land of the Nakoda by
the Montana Writer Program in 1942)
fall, so long ago nobody knows how long, a band had killed
a large number of buffaloes. and the women were busy taking
care of the meat. Jerked meat was made, the fat rendered,
the bones crushed, and the marrow extracted by boiling.
All this work fell to the women.
as customary, the camp crier came around and pro-claimed
that the camp would be moved to another location where
there was new grass for the horses and clean camp-grounds,
an old woman said, "Let me stay here just one more
day to finish my rendering. I will follow the day after
tomorrow." So the band left her at work and moved
to the new campgrounds.
was customary for women when working late into the night
to use a torch made from a wad of buffalo hair soaked
in grease and attached to the end of a stick. The stick,
shoved under the woman's dress at the back, extended above
her head. As she leaned over her work, the light was thrown
this occasion, as the old woman sat with the torch illuminating
her work, a group of eleven warriors came into her lodge.
They said not a word but seated themselves as though they
had been invited.
old woman knew at once that the enemy was in her lodge,
but she pretended not to be surprised. She pushed the
embers to the middle of the fire and added more wood.
Then she reached back and pulled a bag in front of her,
from which she filled a large wooden dish with pemmican.
She placed this in front of her nearest visitor, who took
a large handful and then pushed the dish on to the next.
all were served, the old woman looked up at the smoke
hole. Then she glanced about the lodge, which indicated
that the lodge smelled of smoke due to a change in the
wind. She arose and with the torch in her hand went out
as though to adjust the smoke flaps. But as soon as she
was outside, she ran away from the lodge.
enemy warriors soon noticed that she was not at the back
of the lodge and rushed out. They saw the light of the
torch moving away fast and knew that the old woman was
in flight. Be-cause the night was so black, the small
torch looked larger than it was.
short distance from the lodge was a cut bank with a drop
of several hundred feet. It was towards this that the
old woman ran. She had planned her escape. She waited
a moment at the edge of the cut bank until her purs9aers
came close. Then she threw the torch ahead of her over
the bank and stepped aside. Thinking she was running ahead
over level country, the pursuers followed the torch and
all of them fell to their death far below. The woman then
walked on to the new campground of her band and told her
story. At once the men, followed by many women, went to
the scene. There eleven warriors lay dead. Scalps were
taken, and coups were counted. But the honor of the kill
went to the old woman who made a story that is told even
to this day-the old woman who tricked her captors.