(Told by John Blunt-horn.)
In the moon, when the leaves fall, in the year when many stars fell, a war party of twenty men went on the warpath against the Pawnee. A small orphan boy wanted to go with them, but as he was only nine years old, they refused him at first. He begged them so to go that they finally consented, and he went with them. They were all armed with bows and arrows except two men who had guns they had traded for with the Hudson Bay Fur Company.
After they had made five camps, they came to a great herd of buffalo and killed a great many. They camped at this place until they had dried the best parts of the meat, when they continued on their warpath. One evening, they came to a good camping place in the woods on the bank of a creek and camped there. After they had been there a short time, one of the men said that he had camped at this place, once before, and knew it, and that there was a ghost dwelling here. He advised the party to move to another place to avoid trouble from the ghost but the others of the party ridiculed him and told him that they were not afraid of ghosts and that if one should come they would take it prisoner and carry it back to their friends. The little boy did not say anything but he sat and thought about the ghost.
After they had eaten, they made a tipi of branches of the trees and covered it with grass, and sat outside talking, but the boy sat inside and thought about the ghost. While they were talking, they heard a sound as if someone were singing and then something cried "Hoo-oowi" in a mournful way. The man who had warned them of the ghost said that this was the ghost and begged them to go away at once, but the others said they would wait and see the ghost.
The two men with the guns were told to get them ready and if the ghost showed itself, to fire at it and scare it away. All this time the boy sat inside the tipi, beside the door, with his robe over his head thinking about the ghost. Soon the sound came nearer, and the warriors went to find what it was, but they could find nothing so they came back to the tipi.
After a while, the sound appeared to be close to them, but they could see nothing until the sound appeared among them when they saw a thing like a skeleton, with a little hair left on the head and a little flesh hanging to some of the bones. This frightened them so that they fled into the tipi, falling over each other and piled upon one another at the back of the tipi. Here they lay in a pile, some of them fainting and the others hiding their faces from fear. The boy looked at them and then turned and looked at the ghost and beckoned it to come into the tipi.
It came in and stood looking at the boy, who took a piece of the buffalo meat, put it on a stick and placed it before the fire. When it was hot he offered it to the ghost. The ghost took the meat. Then the boy took some of the choice fat and
offered it and the ghost took this also. Then the boy put some fat from the kidneys of a buffalo on a stick and placed it before the fire. While it was getting hot, he said to the ghost, "I have given you of the best food that we have and I want you to do something for me."
The ghost said, "What do you want? I will do it for you, if I can." The boy said, "I want to strike an enemy; I want to be slightly wounded; and I want to capture horses from the enemy. The ghost said, "I will help you in these things." Then the boy gave the ghost the hot fat and it went away crying "Hoo-oo-wi" which grew fainter and fainter until it could not be heard.
When the ghost had gone, the boy went and pulled the warriors off each other and brought water for those who had fainted. After all had been restored the boy said to them, "You are like old women. You are frightened by a friend. What will you do if an enemy should come?" Then the warriors hid their faces and were ashamed.
The next morning when they were starting from the camp, the boy pretended to be mending his moccasin. He told them not to wait for him as he would overtake them. They went without him. After they were gone, the boy went another way, for he knew where they were to camp that night. He kept thinking of what the ghost had promised him, all the day, and near evening, he came to a creek and saw smoke. He thought this was from fire that his party had made, but he was puzzled for this was not the place they had said they would camp. So he stole carefully near where the smoke was coming from and saw that it was a camp of Pawnee and that they had many horses. The horses were hobbled and near the camp, but he determined to try to get some of them. So he waited until late at night when he stripped off all his clothing and took with him only a knife and the cord for binding his robe. He crept near the horses and then crawled on his belly until he was among them.
The horses snorted and shied away from him. A Pawnee came to find what was the matter and the boy curled himself about a bush of sagebrush so that the Pawnee could not see him. The Pawnee drove the horses nearer the camp and then went away. Again, the boy crawled among the horses. This time he found a gentle horse which he caught and bridled with the cord he had with him. He then untied the hobble and had enough cord to lead the horse. He led the horse from one to another of the other horses, driving them slowly farther from the camp all the time, and when he could catch a horse he would untie the hobbles. When he had twenty horses freed from their hobbles he got on the horse he was leading and began to drive them away. As soon as he was far enough away from the Pawnee so that he thought they would not hear him he began to drive them as fast as possible towards his own camp. He did not get to their camp until the morning, just as they were about to break camp and go back to hunt for him. They were surprised to see him come with the horses, and while they were trying to catch them the Pawnee came upon them and they had to fight them. The boy herded the horses he had taken while his party fought the Pawnee, until a Pawnee charged on horseback towards the horses to stampede them. Just as he was about to do so one of the boy's friends shot the horse the Pawnee was riding and it fell and threw its rider near the boy. The Pawnee jumped up and drew an arrow to shoot the boy, but the boy's friend shot the Pawnee just as he let his arrow fly. The arrow hit the boy in the foot making a bad wound, but he rushed forward and struck the Pawnee before the one who shot him could do so.
The Pawnee were driven away. The boy kept the horses and brought them to the camp of his people. When the war party had returned, the boy told the story
of the ghost and what it had promised to help him do. His wounded foot swelled until it was very large. To give him a new name for the brave thing he had done, the people called him Big-foot. Big-foot was a brave warrior and the chief of a band. He was killed by the white soldiers at Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge Reservation.