There lived alone one winter a hunter, his wife and their only
child, a little boy of four years. Deep snow covered the ground,
and game was scarce. One day the hunter discovered the track of
a buffalo and followed it but he failed to overtake the animal.
Late at night he returned to his tipi and, before entering, stopped
to scrape the snow from his moccasins. But as he stood outside in
the snow, he heard his little boy crying from hunger within the
tent, and the voice of his wife trying to comfort him.
Dont cry, my son, she said. Perhaps your
father has killed a buffalo. That may be why he is late in coming
Resolutely the man turned back into the night and prayed for help
as he resumed his hunting. Just before dawn he came upon other buffalo
tracks and followed them. Suddenly a wolf ran up to him, and said,
My son, why are you weeping?
I am in sore need. My wife and child are starving.
Coyote the prairie
wolf. Illustration by John Rae, published in American
Indian Fairy Tales by W.T. Larned (1921), P.F. Volland Company.
Hide behind these bushes here, said the wolf, and
use my bow and arrows. I will drive the buffalo toward you. But
be sure to use my bow and arrows, not your own.
The wolf disappeared, and the hunter examined the bow that had
been given him. It was much smaller than his own, and seemingly
much inferior. Yet he remembered the wolfs instructions and
when he heard it driving the buffalo toward him, he took up the
small bow and shot six animals, one after another. When the seventh
and last buffalo approached him, however, he took up his own box
and shot. The animal escaped. Now the wolf returned.
What luck did you have? it asked.
I killed six with your bow and arrows. For the last one I
used my own bow, and it escaped.
I warned you not to use it, the wolf said. However,
we have meat enough.
Together they butchered the animals, and at the wolfs request
the hunter set aside portions of two buffalo for his companions
children. He then carried as much meat as he could pack on his back
to his starving wife and child.
That same evening, after they had satisfied their hunger, they
dismantled their tent and moved to where the carcasses lay. There
the wolf joined them with all its family and lingered fearlessly
around their camp. The woman fed the animals with waste cuts of
meat until they became quite tame. They would even allow her to
harness travois to their backs. Thereafter they always remained
with the Indians and became their dogs.