Monday, June 2, 2014

Sioux: Unktomi and the Arrowheads

Here you will see Unktomi in his spider form, making flint arrowheads. Earlier you read a Sioux story about flint and arrowheads,  the one about the rabbit and the bear — remember? — The Rabbit and the Bear.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Sioux unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Sioux by Marie McLaughlin (1916).


Unktomi and the Arrowheads

There were once upon a time two young men who were very great friends and were constantly together. One was a very thoughtful young man, the other very impulsive who never stopped to think before he committed an act.

One day these two friends were walking along, telling each other of their experiences in love making. They ascended a high hill and, on reaching the top, heard a ticking noise as if small stones or pebbles were being struck together.

Looking around, they discovered a large spider sitting in the midst of a great many flint arrowheads. The spider was busily engaged making the flint rocks into arrow heads. They looked at the spider, but he never moved but continued hammering away on a piece of flint which he had nearly completed into another arrowhead.

"Let's hit him," said the thoughtless one.

"No," said the other; "he is not harming any one. In fact, he is doing a great good, as he is making the flint arrowheads which we use to point our arrows."

"Oh, you are afraid," said the first young man. "He can't harm you; just watch me hit him." So saying, he picked up an arrowhead and, throwing it at Unktomi, hit him on the side.

As Unktomi rolled over on his side, got up, and stood looking at them, the young man laughed and said: "Well, let us be going, as your grandfather, Unktomi, doesn't seem to like our company."

They started down the hill when suddenly the one who had hit Unktomi took a severe fit of coughing. He coughed and coughed, and finally small particles of blood came from his mouth. The blood kept coming thicker and in great gushes. Finally it came so thick and fast that the man could not get his breath and fell upon the ground dead.

The thoughtful young man, seeing that his friend was no more, hurried to the village and reported what had happened. The relatives and friends hurried to the hill and, sure enough, there lay the thoughtless young man still and cold in death. They held a council and sent for the chief of the Unktomi tribe. When he heard what had happened, he told the council that he could do nothing to his Unktomi, as it had only defended itself.

Said he: "My friends, seeing that your tribe was running short of arrowheads, I set a great many of my tribe to work making flint arrowheads for you. When my men are thus engaged, they do not wish to be disturbed, and your young man not only disturbed my man but grossly insulted him by striking him with one of the arrowheads which he had worked so hard to make. My man could not sit and take this insult, so as the young man walked away the Unktomi shot him with a very tiny arrowhead. This produced a hemorrhage which caused his death. So now, my friends, if you will fill and pass the peace pipe, we will part good friends and my tribe shall always furnish you with plenty of flint arrowheads."

So saying, Unktomi Tanka finished his peace smoke and returned to his tribe.

Ever after that, when the Indians heard a ticking in the grass, they would go out of their way to get around the sound, saying, "Unktomi is making arrowheads; we must not disturb him."

Thus it was that Unktomi Tanka (Big Spider) had the respect of this tribe and was never after disturbed in his work of making arrowheads.



(600 words)






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