Great Plains: Ictinike and the Turtle

In the version of this story reported by Judson, the original editor did not want to say "pee" (even though that is what the Omaha story says), and so there is a Latin word used instead: mingam, "I'm going to pee" or "I need to pee." It was typical in books from the 19th-century and earlier to replace phrases having to do with sex or other "shameful" bodily functions with Latin words; this was to protect innocent women and children from being exposed to the English words. Well, I figure you all can cope with the word "pee," so I have replaced the Latin word used here with the English. :-)

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Great Plains unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Great Plains by Katharine Berry Judson (1913).

Ictinike and the Turtle

Ictinike was journeying. When he came in sight at a bend of a stream, Big Turtle was sitting there in a sheltered place warmed by the sun. Ictinike drew himself back out of sight, crouching at intervals as he retraced his steps, and ran down the hill to where Big Turtle was.

“Why! How is it that you continue to pay no attention to what is going on? It has been said that yonder stream is to dry up so that all the four-footed animals that frequent the water have kept close to the deep water,” said Ictinike.

Big Turtle said, “Why! I have been coming here regularly, but I have not heard anything at all. I usually come and sit in this place when the sun gets as high as it is at present.”

“Hurry!” said Ictinike, “for some of the young men died very soon for want of water. The young otters died, so did the young muskrats, the young beavers, and the young raccoons.”

“Come, let us go,” said Big Turtle. So Ictinike  departed with him. As he accompanied him, Ictinike sought for a dry bone. Having found one that would be good as a club, Ictinike said, “Friend, go on. I need to pee.”

When he was alone, Ictinike seized the bone, and before long overtook Big Turtle, walking along beside him.

“Friend,” said he, “when a person walks, he stretches his neck often.”

So Big Turtle began to stretch his neck very far, and he was walking with his legs bent very much. As he was going thus, Ictinike gave him a hard blow on the neck, knocking him senseless, and he did not stop beating him until he had killed him.

“Ha, ha!” said Ictinike, as he carried Big Turtle away. “There are some days when I act thus for myself.”

He kindled a fire and began to roast Big Turtle. Then he became very sleepy, and said, “Ho! I will sleep, but you, O, Ijaxe, must keep awake. Big Turtle, when you are cooked, you must say, ‘Puff!’”

So he went to sleep. Now Coyote came along, very cautiously. He seized Big Turtle, pulled one of the legs out of the fire, and sat there, biting off the meat. When he had eaten all the meat on all the legs, he pushed the bones back just as they had been before,  arranged the fire over them, and left after putting everything just as he had found it.

At length Ictinike awoke. He pushed into the ashes to find Big Turtle, took hold of a leg, and pulled it out. Only that leg came out. “Pshaw!” said he. Then he tried another leg, with a like result, and still another, but only the bones appeared. When he had pulled out the fourth leg, he was astonished. All at once he exclaimed, “Surprising! I had already eaten the Turtle, but I had forgotten it.”

(500 words)

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