Published on October 16, 2012 by Amy
We know where we came from, we know where we’ve been, and we know whom we are. We came through three transitions to become who we are. We were (Awaakiiwilaxpaake) People of the Earth, we were all one mankind, we became (Biiluke) on Our Side, we became (Awashe) Earthen Lodges, and we became Apsáalooke some 2000 years ago.
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While we were (Awaakiiwilaxpaake) People of the Earth, when the birds and animals could talk, some of us wanted to fight each other. They wanted warfare. They approached our Creator and asked if they could fight each other. Our Creator said, “First you must prove to me that you are men enough to fight.” He placed a man, with a bow and arrow at the bottom of a sheer cliff in the water and told the men to dive off the cliff, but soon changed their minds once they saw the man with his bow and arrow cocked and ready to shoot anyone who dove off the cliff.
Finally one man walked up to the cliff and dove off into the water. He lay dead in the water with an arrow protruding from his collarbone and blood streaming from his nostrils. Our Creator said, “Iilak bacheek, there is a man (kooshtakaatbaawiik). I won’t make too many of him, (baapiihaaksee) from this day forward, (haaweewiakssaalah) try to wipe him out.” From that time we have been called Biiluke. Even unto this day we still refer ourselves as Biiluke.
While we were Biiluke. We lived in a wooded area with vast bodies of water (Balebilichke isaatkaasuuk). We were fishermen, we hunted small game and waterfowl, we dug up roots and bulbs, we gathered nuts and berries, and we trapped the fur-bearing animals for our clothing. We lived in makeshift shelters, lean-tos and wickiups. We migrated westward to the banks of the Big River, in search of a certain Sacred Tobacco Plant, which was to be found in a mountainous region. We became Awashe, Earthen Lodges.
We retained all of our survival skills, but we became farmers. Oral history says, “We didn’t stay there too long and we moved on, but for some reason we spoke the same language, which is still used today, after some two thousand years.” No Vitals with many of his family and friends of the Real Water Band, of the Awashe, broke from the band, in search of the Sacred Tobacco Plant. This was the exodus that commenced the Great Migration.
We migrated throughout the northern and southern plains, where we came upon lakes with salt on their banks. We ventured into Canada twice but the Sacred Tobacco Plant could not be found. No Vitals has passed away during the migration on the Great Plains. It was his son who carried on this quest and fasted on Cloud’s Peak and saw The Sacred Tobacco Plant glowing on the east slopes of the Big Horn Mountains, where “Raven Owner Was Badgered.” The Sacred Tobacco Society was initiated about this time, and that was the beginning of the Apsáalooke Nation. We picked up and adopted various aspects of our Apsáalooke way of life, as we progressed from one era to another.