CHAPTER XII. SIOUX AND THEIR TRADITIONS.
Once we were out after the Crows, and our spies were far in advance of the main body of warriors. We were hurrying on, expecting soon to meet the enemy, when we saw the spy, whom we had sent ahead, come back without any bows or arrows; his scalp was torn off and his face was covered with blood.
When questioned about his strange appearance, he replied that the enemy were aware of the approach of our band, and were lying in ambush for us in great numbers. He suddenly came upon their runners, who robbed him of his arms, tore off his scalp, and left him for dead. He stated that he remained quietly where he had fallen until night came on, and when the breeze came down from the mountains it gave him strength to come to us and warn us of the enemy's nearness and great numbers.
Believing his story to be true, we turned tail and made our way back to our village empty-handed, to be laughed at.
Three moons passed, and we again started for the country of our enemies. The warrior who had lost his scalp having recovered, and being again with us, he was sent out as a spy. He soon returned with the scalps of two of the enemy dangling from his spear-point. He did not stop to tell of his adventures, but hurried us on to meet the foe, and following him eagerly, we soon came to where they were, and after a hard fight came out victorious.
Among those who were killed was a warrior whose scalp was missing. Who did this? asked one of the other, but no one answered. At last our spy laughingly said, "Behind that hill over there," pointing with his spear to a large mountain, "there is a fountain that sings a melody fit for the ears of great warriors; let's go to it and drink."
Following his footsteps, he led us to a beautiful spring whose water was as shining as silver, and which fell in beautiful song over the rocks in its bed, and all around the charming spot were large old cottonwoods, which threw a grateful shade over the fountain, making it clear and always cool.
"Drink freely, warriors," said the spy; then hiding himself for a moment he returned among us, having with him all his arms and the robe he wore when he had first left us on his mission to hunt the enemy, so many moons before.
We gazed at him in astonishment, when, seeing our amazement, he said: -
"Brother warriors, you wondered at my misfortune and hard luck when we last visited the Crow country; you wondered at my sorrowful condition among the killed just now, but you will be more astonished to know that I now stand among you having what I had lost. Would you also like to know how I procured the scalps of two of the enemy?
"Three times has the full moon turned her face upon us Sioux since at this very spot I met an enemy. We rushed at each other for the attack, when he cried: -
"Are we not both braves? Why should we fight? When our warriors meet in the heat of the battle, then we may join them - until then let us have a truce.
"To this I answered, Says the Crow peace?
"This said, we shook hands and sat down by the fountain. To amuse my enemy I proposed a game of 'hand.' He accepted my challenge, and we first played for an arrow against an arrow, then bow for bow, robe for robe, and scalp for scalp. I was out of luck and lost everything. I handed to him all the things, but with a promise from him that I should have another chance when we met again.
"We did meet again. The Great Spirit smiled upon me and I won back everything. Then I said, Crow, scalp for scalp. He accepted the challenge and we played. He lost, and I with my winnings arose to leave.
"Sioux warrior, said he, meet me in the fight that we may try the game of arms.
"That pleases me, I replied; will the Crow name the place?
"A valley lies beyond this hill, said he; there my people await their enemies; let me hope to see you with them.
"To that place I led you, said our spy. We fought and conquered. My opponent was among the killed. Need I tell you who took the scalp?"
There is an affluent of the Cheyenne River called by the Sioux "Weur-sena-wakpa." The stream rises at the base of a lofty mountain of the same name. This mountain is held in great veneration by the Sioux nation, and a member of that tribe rarely went into the neighbourhood without making an offering to it.
The legend concerning its mystery is one of the beautiful myths of the Sioux.
Many ages ago, when the Sioux lived to the north and the Shoshone or Snake tribe of Indians lived in the region of the mountains, planting their villages and hunting all over the country for game, the whole region was a series of lakes and creeks; only the highlands bordering them were left for the deer and buffalo to graze. Then the creeks and rivers slowly rose, and the land of the Shoshones was greatly reduced by the encroachment of the water. Years passed on, and the tribe, attracted by some more suitable region, went away, or were driven off by the hostile bands, especially the Scarred-Arms (the Cheyennes).