The Punishment of the Stingy and Other Indian Stories, by George Bird Grinnell, , at sacred-texts.com
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GREAT many winters ago the Piegans were camped near a small creek. Their lodges were arranged in a circle, enclosing a large open space. This was long before they had horses. They used dogs to pack with.
The head chief had a daughter. She was good and beautiful. Many young men had asked to marry her, but she had refused them all. One day she went to the stream for water. There she met a boy, well known through the camp, because of a great scar on his cheek, which made him very ugly. From this the people called him Scarface. He was very poor. His mother and father were dead, and he lived with his grandmother. His clothes were old and torn, and he wore about him part of a worn buffalo robe. Yet, though his clothes were poor and his face was ugly, his heart was good, and the
cruel taunts of his people often made him very sad.
When Scarface met the beautiful girl, he asked her if she would marry him. She looked at him in scorn and said: "Do you think I would marry such an ugly person as you? When you remove that great scar from your face, come and ask me." Then she left him. He sat for a long time thinking over the cruel words the girl had spoken. His heart was sad. At last he went slowly to his grandmother's lodge.
When he entered he said: "Grandmother, make me some moccasins and put some dried buffalo meat in a sack for me. I am going away and may be gone a long time." She gave him the things he asked for, and he left the lodge and started to go to a butte not far from the camp.
When he reached the top of the butte, he threw himself upon the ground and wept and prayed to the Sun to have pity on him and remove the scar. At last he stood up and made a bed of the stones which he found on the side of the butte. Then he lay down to sleep. While he slept a voice said to him: "My son, rise, and go to the butte to the right of you. There
you will find your father." He did as the voice had said.
When he reached the place, he threw himself on the ground and wept as before, and prayed the Sun to help him. He made a bed of stones like the one he had lain on before, and while he slept another voice said: "My son, your journey is not yet ended. Rise and go to that butte still farther to the right. There you will find one who will direct you on your way." Again he obeyed the voice.
When he reached this butte he made his bed as before, and slept, but no voice spoke to him. In the morning he awoke. As he sat on the ground, he was wondering what he should do next. Again a voice spoke, saying, "My friend, shut your eyes." He did so, and in a short time the strange voice said, "Open your eyes and look about you."
When he opened his eyes, he was far up in the blue sky, in another world. It was all a wide prairie. There were no mountains, no trees. There were only rivers, with a few bushes upon their banks. He could now see the person who had spoken to him. He was a young man about his own age, but he was very handsome.
[paragraph continues] He wore a shirt, leggings, and robe of some strange animal's fur, and his moccasins were embroidered in strange and beautiful colors and patterns. The young man said to Scarface: "My name is Sun Dog. The Sun is my father and the Moon my mother. Yonder is my father's lodge. Let us go to it. My father is not now there. At night he will enter."
They reached the lodge. Very large it was and very beautiful. Many unknown animals were painted on it, and behind it, hanging from a tripod, were the war clothes of the Sun, made of the skins of strange animals, and trimmed with fine feathers. Scarface was ashamed to enter this beautiful lodge, for his clothes were poor and his moccasins were worn with travel; but Sun Dog said to him, "Enter, my new friend, and fear nothing."
They entered. All about were seats covered with white robes, and everything was strange. The Moon was there. Sun Dog approached her and said: "Mother, I have brought a young man to our lodge who is very poor. I beg you to have pity on him and help him in his trouble." The Moon spoke kindly to Scarface, and gave him something to eat.
When it was time for the Sun to come home, Sun Dog hid Scarface and covered him up with robes. When the Sun came to the door, he stopped and said, "There is a person here." "Yes, father," said Sun Dog, "a good young man, who is in trouble, has come to see you." The Sun said, "Bring him to me." Sun Dog removed the robes and brought Scarface before the Sun. The Sun looked at Scarface a short time, and turning to the Moon, bade her make Scarface as handsome as their own son, and give him some nice clothes to wear. The Moon made some medicine and rubbed it over Scarface. In a short time he was changed into a very handsome young man. The Moon took Sun Dog and Scarface before the Sun and said, "O Sun, tell me which is Sun Dog." The Sun looked at the two boys for a moment, and then pointed to Sun Dog, and said, "This is our son." Again the Moon rubbed the medicine on Scarface, until she was sure that the two young men looked alike, and again she took them before the Sun and said, "O Sun, tell me now which is our son." He looked at them a long time, and, pointing to Scarface, said, "This must be our son."
In the morning before leaving the lodge, the Sun called the young men to him and said, "My children, do not go near that lodge by the river, for in it live four large white birds with long bills with which they pluck out people's hearts. I have had four other sons, but they have all been killed by these birds." Then he left them.
The two young men went out hunting. They went on and on, when suddenly Sun Dog cried out, "This is the place where my brothers were killed! See! there are the birds coming one after another towards us. Let us make haste to get away." He ran away, but Scarface waited until the birds came near him. As they came up, he struck each on the head with a club which he carried, and killed them. After some time Sun Dog returned, and the young men took the birds home to the lodge.
The Moon was very happy when she saw that the destroyers of her sons were dead. When the Sun returned in the evening, Sun Dog said, "Father, my friend killed the bad birds today," and he showed them to him. The Sun called Scarface to him and dressed him in clothes made of white buffalo skins and painted
his face and said: "It is now time, my son, for you to return to your people, for they need your help. They are beneath us, and not far from here. Sun Dog will take you and will tell you what I wish you to do." After shaking hands with the Sun and Moon, the two young men started on their journey.
After they had gone some distance, they stopped. Sun Dog said: "Soon we will have to part, but first I must tell you what the Sun has commanded you to do. If there are any sick or dying among your people, in order to make them well you must build the Medicine Lodge. First you must get one hundred buffalo tongues. Select four pure women of your tribe to help. Let one woman make the medicine, another cut thin and dry the tongues, and the other two boil the tongues. Go into the tall brush and clear a place for the Medicine Lodge. When everything is ready, call the people together to take part in the dance. Let each take a piece of the tongue, and let all say together, 'Great Sun, let us eat together, and grant to us that our people may recover.' If the women you select to make the medicine and to cut and boil the tongue are pure women, the sick and the dying
among your people will recover; if not, they will die.
"Now, my brother," continued Sun Dog, "you have heard the commands of the Sun. You will soon find yourself on the butte you came from. We must now part." They shook hands. Sun Dog said, "Shut your eyes." Scarface shut his eyes, and when he opened them he found himself sitting at the foot of the butte from which he came. The circular camp lay before him.
He went to his grandmother's lodge, but no one recognized in the handsome young man the one who had left them so poor and ugly. All gathered about him to listen to his wonderful story. He told them of the commands of the Sun, and a short time after made the Medicine Lodge as the Sun had commanded. This was the first Medicine Lodge.
Scarface became a great chief and all listened to his wise words. The beautiful girl came to him and said, "You are very handsome now, and a great chief, and I will marry you." But he sent her away. He married good women and lived a long time. When he died Sun Dog took him back to the Sun, where he lives forever.