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Pawnee Signs and Fable

by Henry Murie

This appeared in The Indian Leader, volume XIX, number 24, Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kansas, February 1916, p. 13. Henry was the son of Alfred Murie (a Skidi who was the brother of James R. Murie) and Annie Murie. Alfred was born about 1867 and died in 1918; and Annie Murie was born about 1870 and died 1917. The grandfather mentioned in Henry’s story below was the father of Annie Murie.

When I was quite a small boy I used to coax my grandpa to tell me a story of birds and foxes. An Indian will not tell fable stories in the summer. They are superstitious. They think they might get bitten by a snake if they tell a story about animals in the summer. This is one story my grandpa told me.
“Once there lived a fox with many children. The father was very greedy. One time he told his wife that he was going to give a big feast to the head chiefs. Early in the morning he took a bag and went out on a hunt. After a while he came to a hill. He heard much shouting and excitement. He went in that direction to see what it was. When he came near he found the young turkeys and the old ones coasting down the hill.
“The fox said: ‘Good morning nephews.’ The turkeys said: ‘Good morning.’ The fox said: “I don’t see any fun coasting in that way. You little ones get into this bag and I will show you some fun.’ When he got them in the bag he rolled them down the hill. The young turkeys cried with glee and enjoyment. The fox said next that the old ones might get in, too. Of course the old ones were very anxious to do this and hurried to get into the bag. Then the fox picked it up and went home.
“He told his wife to cook the turkeys while he went after the chiefs. When the mother fox opened the bag out rushed the turkeys and flew away. The mother fox was very much afraid of her husband and knew she must have some kind of meat ready when he returned, so in despair she did a dreadful thing; she killed her youngest child and cooked him, then when dinner was all ready she took her other children and went into the woods and hid.
“The father came home and ate all the dinner. Then he set the bones in separate places to make his wife believe that he had given a feast. When he got through he called for his wife and children to eat what was left. When they came in trembling and frightened he noticed that one was missing and asked his wife about it. She said she did not know where the child had gone. Finally one of the children told him that it had been killed. The father fox was very mad and chased his whole family out of the tepee. Since that time the foxes will not stay together.”