Published on December 27, 2012 by Casey
Many years ago, the Pikanii (Blackfeet) were making the plains their domain. During the mid-seventeen hundreds, this incident took place and the result was the formation of the Crazy Dog Society of the Pikanii. This legend has been passed down for many generations.
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The Pikanni were going on a war raid to the east. Many warriors had prepared for a long time to go on this war raid. One of the warrior chiefs had a son that was about ten years old and he wanted to go on this war raid with the other warriors more than anything.
The young man had an uncle that was always ridiculing and teasing him. The uncle had a real good laugh when the young man told him that he wanted to go on the war raid. The warriors departed before the sun lit in the east. It was when the moon casts no shadows and only sound guided your moves in the dark. The trail was already cold when the young man decided to follow. He figured that when he caught up to the warriors they would be too far along to send him back to camp and he would be allowed to stay with them.
The sun had climbed about half way to the center and the wind had changed direction to the north, when the young man caught up to the warriors. The overjoyed young man let his presence be known by giving a loud war cry and the sound of the coyote welcoming the moon. The young man’s war chief father was very concerned and told his brother, “I will give the responsibility to make sure that my young son is returned to camp to you.”
The young man’s uncle was very upset with having to escort his nephew back to the camp and possibly miss the battle. One that he had planned to gain much prestige and bring back many scalps, possible gaining a chieftainship. The uncle told the young man that he was going to bring him halfway back and that he was to return to the camp by himself. The little boy was told by his uncle that if he did not return to camp and he had to be escorted again that was going to kill him and throw him into the coulee for the coyotes to eat. The young man waited for his uncle to get out of sight and he began to follow again.
The uncle was traveling at a very fast pace and as he was going over the ridge he looked back and saw the young man following him. Very angry, the uncle hid himself behind a large rock and as the young man passed by he hit the boy with his war club many times. The young man was thrown into the coulee and considered to be dead. The uncle continued on and upon reaching the warriors he told his brother that he had returned his nephew to the camp.
The sun cast a dark red glow on the rim of the coulee as the young man listened to the yipping of the coyotes. The young man remembered his encounters with the Little People when he was about three snows and how they always had some coyotes with them. The moans of the young man could be heard down the coulee. The hungry coyotes were anxious for their meal and rushed down the coulee. As they approached the young man he lifted his head and told them, “I am Little One that used to feed you and play with you many snows ago at my camp near the mountains.”
The leader of the coyotes stopped and looked at the young man, and remembered his kindness to the coyote cousins. The old man coyote sang a song, and when he finished he turned into a little man about two feet from the ground. He turned to the rest of the pack and told them, “I will doctor this young man and make him well. We will find out what happened to him.
While the old man coyote was doctoring the young man, the rest of the pack turned into Little People and began to sing. After four songs, the young man sat up and was healed of his wounds and injuries. He told the Little People about how badly he had wanted to go on the war party and how his uncle had tried to kill him.
The Little People felt very sorry for the young man and told him that they would help him get his wish. The old man coyote told the young man, “When I finish singing my song, I want you to begin to howl and sound like a coyote.” As the young man started to howl and make coyote sounds, the turned into a coyote.
We will make good time as coyotes and will be able catch up with the warriors sooner. While they were running, the old man coyote told the young man the plan that he made for the battle.
The Little People, disguised as coyotes, came over the ridge just as the enemy, who had the Pikanii completely surrounded and out-numbered ten to one began to make their charge. The warrior chief of the Pikanii began to sing and said to the other warriors “sing your songs and prepare for death as a warrior.”
The coyotes suddenly turned into Little People and with their little spears and arrows started to stick the horses in the stomach and knocking the enemy off of their horses and killing them as they fell off. The warrior chief of the Pikanii watched as he saw the enemy falling off of their horses and laying on the ground bleeding and dying. Only a few of the enemy made it to the Pikanii, and they were killed. The warriors ran among the enemy and collected their prizes and took scalps. The Little People turned back into coyotes and retreated to the top of the ridge and watched as the warriors took their scalps and acted like they had done the fighting. The young man’s uncle was already boasting about the many scalps that he had earned.
The warriors returned to camp singing their songs of praise and telling of their triumph over the enemy. The war raid had been a very significant victory for the Pikanii. The head chief of the Pikanii called for a gathering and victory celebration. He invited all of the society chiefs and warrior chiefs to join him in giving praise to the warriors that had just won a very significant battle. The head warrior chief told the gathering, “I don’t know how we won the battle with the situation that we were in.” He told of the way they were so badly outnumbered and totally surrounded when the enemy started to drop from their horses and lay bleeding and dying on the ground. The young man’s uncle stood up and told the gathering that he was responsible for the victory because of his strong medicine, and the enemy just dropped over dead. He suggested he should be the new warrior chief.
This was a time when the young man decided to tell the gathering the truth about how the Pikanii won the victory. The chief of the Little People, the young man and the rest of the Little People were at the edge of the camp watching the gathering and celebration. They were still coyotes at this time.
The chief of the Little People told the young man, “tell them the story and if you need some help just sing a song.” the young man turned back into a little boy and he walked into the center of the gathering. The young man’s father, the warrior chief was very happy to see his son and greeted him with much happiness because he had worried about his son getting harmed by the enemy. The warrior chief turned to his brother and thanked him for returning his son to camp and keeping him safe.
The young man told his father, ” I am no longer a young boy. I am a warrior and a member of the Little People that saved all of you during the battle.” The young man’s uncle started laughing and making fun of the young man and calling him a liar and a fool. The young man told the gathering what his uncle had done to him and how he was lying about using his medicine to win the victory. Again, the uncle laughed and made fun of the young man.
The head chief of the Pikanii stood up and told the gathering, “this young man has made a very strong statement and I am going to let him prove that what he says is the truth.” The young man told the story about what had happened to him and how the Little People had helped him and how they had killed the enemy from the ground.
When the young man finished his story the gathering was trying to imagine how such a story could be the truth. The young man started to sing a song and as he was singing the coyotes moved toward the center of the gathering and joined him in his song. The coyotes began to turn back into Little People.
The chief of the Little People told the gathering about the bravery that the young man had shown and that the story that he had told was the truth. The chief of the Little People told of how the young man had tied himself to a bush to insure that he couldn’t leave the battle until was all over. The chief of the Little People said that he went and cut the bush and proclaimed that battle over and the victory won and the final retreat of the Little People back to the ridge as coyotes again. The young man stood before the chief of the Little People and was proclaimed a warrior chief of the Little People. The head chief of the Pikanii stood up and proclaimed the young as the head chief of all warriors and a place of prestige among the Pikanii.
The Little People were invited to join in the celebration and dance. They started to sing their songs and dance and as they did began to turn back into coyotes, brushing against each and dancing in a bunch. The chief of the Little People told the gathering “I will give a ceremony to you that will help to heal your sick and protect your people.” The chief of the Pikanii told the gathering these are the “Khan nat tso mii tah (Crazy Dogs).
The Crazy Dog Society is still a very active and important society among the Blackfeet people today.
This is a story as told by Eagle Plume’s elders, grandfathers, medicine, Phillip Wells and Chief Coward