The Nez Perce had a traditional horse culture, and in 1994 the tribe began a breeding program to recreate that traditional culture. The Nez Perce horse is an Appaloosa noted especially for its speed.
[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Pacific Northwest unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon, by Katharine Berry Judson (1910).
His grandmother asked him one day, "What makes you cry?"
He said, "I cry because I want a wife."
Now his grandparents knew of a girl who lived toward the east and they sent him there. As he went along the trail, he came to a giant's house. He went in to see the giant, who asked him to stay to breakfast. The giant had five roasts on the fire. He had four large roasts and one small one.
He said to the boy, "Pick out the roast you want for breakfast."
The boy picked out the small roast. Now, the four large roasts were the legs of people that the giant had killed. The small roast was venison. The boy knew this from what his grandmother had told him. She said, "Never eat too much."
After breakfast he went on. On the road he came to a great rock cliff. Its name was Cliff-Giant and it crushed people. The other giant had told him of this one, and how to get by it. He had said, "Turn yourself into a little dog and very slowly follow the trail under the Rock-Cliff. Keep your eye on Rock-Cliff. When you see it move, run fast." He did this and escaped.
Then he went on. He could see at a distance the place where the girl lived. Until he came in sight of this lodge he had never left off crying.
Now, this girl had a great horse which would kill people before they could reach her lodge. That was her guard.
Very soon the girl entered. She knew him at once and called him by name — Iwapnep Atswitki, Cry-because-he-had-no-wife. She talked to him and asked him if he wanted a bath. So she built a fire, heated water, and prepared him a bath. When he had taken the bath he became of man's size.
Next morning they started toward his home. When they reached this, his grandparents were very old, because he had been gone many years.
The girl said to her husband: "You tell your grandparents to do nothing wrong tonight. If they obey, I will give them a bath that will make them young again."
In the morning she did so, but they had not obeyed her directions so they did not become young again. The next night they were both dead.
Then the girl and her husband started for her old home. They rode back on the great horse but he did not go very well.
They made a whip out of black haw. The whip said to them, "I can outlast all other whips."
They made a whip out of smoke-wood (coyote-rope). This whip said, "When the giant gets too close, throw me down and I will tangle up the giant."
They made a whip out of mud. This whip said, "Throw me down and I will mire the giant."
They made a whip out of slide-rock. This whip said, "Throw me down and the giant will have trouble in getting by."
They made a whip out of red haw. This whip said, "Throw me down, and I will tear the giant's flesh."
They made a whip out of big mountains. This whip said, "Throw me down and the giant will not be able to get past me."
When they had finished all the whips, they started to pass the giant's house. The giant rushed out and cried, "Give me your wife!"
The boy answered, "Get me a drink of water and I will give you my wife."
When the giant went to get the water, the boy whipped up the horse and hurried on. They had gone some ways when the giant came out.
They threw down the whip of black haw. He almost overtook them and they threw down the whip of smoke-wood. It tangled up the giant until they got away. When the giant almost overtook them again, they threw down the mud whip and he was mired. When the giant almost overtook them the fourth time, they threw down the slide-rock whip and the giant had great trouble in getting by. When the giant almost overtook them the fifth time, they threw down the red-haw whip, and it tore the flesh of the giant. And when the giant almost overtook them the sixth time, they threw down the whip of high mountains and he could not cross it. Thus they escaped.
Next: Two Thunder Bird Stories