THE BLACKFEET CREATION
 THE Blackfeet believe that the Sun made the earth—that he is the creator. One of the names by
which they call the Sun is Napi—Old Man. This is how they tell of the creation:
In the beginning there was water everywhere; nothing else was to be seen. There was something
floating on the water, and on this raft were Old Man and all the animals.
Old Man wished to make land, and he told the beaver to dive down to the bottom of the water and to
try to bring up a little mud. The beaver dived and was under water for a long time, but he could not
reach the bottom. Then the loon tried, and after him the otter, but the water was too deep for them.
At last the musk-rat was sent down, and he was gone for a long time; so long that they thought he
must be drowned, but at last he came up and floated
 almost dead on the water, and when they pulled him up on the raft and looked at his paws, they found
a little mud in them. When Old Man had dried this mud, he scattered it over the water and land was
formed. This is the story told by the Blackfeet. It is very much like one told by some Eastern
Indians, who are related to the Blackfeet.
After the land had been made, Old Man travelled about on it, making things and fixing up the earth
so as to suit him. First, he marked out places where he wished the rivers to run, sometimes making
them run smoothly, and again, in some places, putting falls on them. He made the mountains and the
prairie, the timber and the small trees and bushes, and sometimes he carried along with him a lot of
rocks, from which he built some of the mountains—as the Sweet Grass Hills—which stand
out on the prairie by themselves.
Old Man caused grass to grow on the plains, so that the animals might have something to feed on. He
marked off certain pieces of land, where he caused different kinds of roots and
ber-  ries to grow—a place for camas; and one for wild carrots; one for wild turnips, sweet root and
bitter root; one for service berries, bull-berries, cherries, plums, and rosebuds.
He made all kinds of animals that travel on the ground. When he made the big-horn with its great
horns, he put it out on the prairie. It did not seem to travel easily there; it was awkward and
could not go fast, so he took it by one of its horns and led it up into the rough hills and among
the rocks, and let it go there, and it skipped about among the cliffs and easily went up fearful
places. So Old Man said to the big-horn, "This is the place for you; this is what you are fitted
for; the rough country and the mountains." While he was in the mountains he made the antelope, and
turned it loose to see how it travelled. The antelope ran so fast that it fell over some rocks and
hurt itself. He saw that this would not do, and took the antelope down on the prairie and set it
free there, and it ran away fast and gracefully, and he said to it, "This is the place that suits
At last, one day, Old Man decided that he
 would make a woman and a child, and he modelled some clay in human shape, and after he had made
these shapes and put them on the ground, he said to the clay, "You shall be people." He spread his
robe over the clay figures and went away. The next morning he went back to the place and lifted up
the robe, and saw that the clay shapes had changed a little. When he looked at them the next
morning, they had changed still more; and when on the fourth day he went to the place and took off
the covering, he said to the images, "Stand up and walk," and they did so. They walked down to the
river with him who had made them, and he told them his name.
As they were standing there looking at the water as it flowed by, the woman asked Old Man, saying,
"How is it; shall we live always? Will there be no end to us?"
Old Man said, "I have not thought of that. We must decide it. I will take this buffalo chip and
throw it in the river. If it floats, people will become alive again four days after they have died;
they will die for four days only. But if
 it sinks, there will be an end to them." He threw the chip into the river, and it floated.
The woman turned and picked up a stone and said, "No, I will throw this stone in the river. If it
floats, we shall live always; if it sinks, people must die, so that their friends who are left alive
may always remember them." The woman threw the stone in the water, and it sank.
"Well," said Old Man, "you have chosen; there will be an end to them."
Not many nights after that the woman's child died, and she cried a great deal for it. She said to
Old Man, "Let us change this. The law that you first made, let that be the law."
He said, "Not so; what is made law must be law. We will undo nothing that we have done. The child is
dead, but it cannot be changed. People will have to die."
These first people did not have hands like a person; they had hands like a bear with long claws.
They were poor and naked and did not know how to get a living. Old Man showed them the roots and the
berries, and showed them how to gather these, and told them how at
 certain times of the year they should peel the bark off some trees and eat it; that the little
animals that live in the ground—rats, squirrels, skunks, and beavers—were good to eat.
He also taught them something about the roots that were good for medicine to cure sickness.
In those days there were buffalo, and these black animals were armed, for they had long horns. Once,
as the people were moving about, the buffalo saw them and rushed upon them and hooked them and
killed them, and then ate them. One day, as the creator was travelling about, he came upon some of
his children that he had made lying there dead, torn to pieces and partly eaten by the buffalo. When
he saw this, he felt badly. He said, "I have not made these people right. I will change this; from
now on the people shall eat the buffalo."
He went to some of the people who were still alive, and said to them, "How is it that you people do
nothing to these animals that are killing you?" The people replied, "What can we do? These animals
are armed and can kill us, and we have no way to kill them."
 The creator said, "That is not hard. I will make you something that will kill these animals."
He went out and cut some straight service-berry shoots, and brought them in, and peeled the bark
from them. He took a larger piece of wood and flattened it, and tied a string to it, and made a bow.
Now he was the master of all birds and he went out and caught one, and took feathers from its wings
and tied them to the shaft of wood. He tied four feathers along the shaft and tried the arrow at a
mark and found that it did not fly well. He took off these feathers and put on three, and when he
again tried it at the mark he found that it went straight. He picked up some hard stones, and broke
sharp pieces from them. When he tried them he found that the black flint stones made the best arrow
points. He showed them how to use these things.
Then he spoke to the people, and said, "The next time you go out, take these things with you, and
use them as I tell you. Do not run from these animals. When they rush at you, and have come pretty
close, shoot the arrows at
 them as I have taught you, and you will see that they will run from you or will run around you in a
He also broke off pieces of stone, and fixed them in a handle, and told them that when they killed
the buffalo they should cut up the flesh with these stone knives.
One day after this, some people went on a little hill to look about, and the buffalo saw them and
called out to each other, "Ah, there is some more of our food," and rushed upon them. The people did
not run. They began to shoot at the buffalo with the bows and arrows that had been given them, and
the buffalo began to fall. They say that when the first buffalo hit with an arrow felt it prick him,
he called out to his fellows, "Oh, my friends, a great fly is biting me."
With the flint knives that had been given them they cut up the bodies of the dead buffalo. About
this time Old Man came up and said to them, "It is not healthful to eat raw flesh. I will show you
something better than that." He gathered soft, dry rotten wood and made punk
 of it, and took a piece of wood and drilled a hole in it with an arrow point, and gave them a
pointed piece of hard wood, and showed them how to make a fire with fire sticks, and to cook the
flesh of animals.
After this the people found a certain sort of stone in the land, and took another harder stone, and
worked one upon the other and hollowed out the softer one, so as to make of it a kettle.
It is told also that the creator made people and animals at another place, and in another way. At
the Porcupine Mountains he made other earthen images of people, and blew breath on the images, and
they became people. They were men and women. After a time they asked him, "What are we to eat?" Then
he took more earth and made many images in the form of buffalo, and when he had blown on them they
stood up, and he made signs to them and they started to run. He said to the people, "There is your
"Well, now," they replied; "we have those animals, how are we to kill them?"
"I will show you," he said.
 He took them to the edge of a cliff and showed them how to heap up piles of stone, running back from
the cliff like this : : : :
: :, with the point of the V toward the cliff. He said to the people, "Now, do you
hide behind these piles of stones, and when I lead the buffalo this way, as they get opposite to
you, stand up."
Then he went on toward a herd of buffalo and began to call them, and the buffalo started toward him
and followed him, until they were inside the arms of the V. Then he ran to one side and hid, and as
the people rose up the buffalo ran on in a straight line and jumped over the cliff and some of them
were killed by the fall.
"There," he said, "go and take the flesh of those animals." Then the people tried to do so. They
tried to tear the limbs apart, but they could not. They tried to bite pieces out of the bodies, but
they could not do that. Old Man went to the edge of the cliff and broke some pieces of stone with
sharp edges, and showed them how to cut the flesh with these. Of the buffalo that went over the
cliff, some were not dead, but were hurt, so they could not run
 away. The people cut strips of green hide and tied stones in the middle, and with these hammers
broke in the skulls of the buffalo and killed them.
When they had taken the skins from these animals, they set up poles and put the hides over them, and
so made a shelter to sleep under.
In later times the creator marked off a piece of land for the five tribes, Blackfeet, Bloods,
Piegans, Gros Ventres, and Sarsis, and said to these tribes, "When people come to cross this line at
the border of your land, take your bows and arrows, your lances and your war clubs and give them
battle, and keep them out. If they gain a footing here, trouble for you will follow."