"A Plucky and Not Plucky Spider Man"

One year, in the fall, there was a famine in the land which this short story will tell you about. They call some men spider men because they are like the clowns which white people have in some shows. These spider men would do things the opposite way.

One day, a spider man, the head of a family, began to make his journey towards the lonely prairies where game was more abundant. It was very late, I might say, because the leaves of the trees turned yellowish and all the song birds began to make their journey towards warmer climates.

The next morning he was going through a low valley with tall grass which have plums on it like the pampas grass of South America. This traveling spider man was carrying a bundle of songs on his back. As he approached near the hollow of the valley, he heard a drumming noise. Looking around he could not see any one, but after looking very closely at the tall grass it seemed that the grass was being moved to and fro by something. So he began to get on his knees and he crawled along towards the moving grasses. When he thought he got near, he made a small space through the grass and saw about fifty partridges moving around in the circle of smoothed-down grass. The partridges or prairie chickens, as they are called, were all moving around one after another with their wings stretched down, and as they all hopped around the circle they would make a drumming noise with their tails that were spread out.

Suddenly the spider man got up and looked at the merry dancers, and they all stopped and stared at him. They asked him what he had in his bundle, because there was a famine all through the land and they wanted to get something to eat. They told him that they were all dancing their last dance and that they would dance until they all died of hunger. When they stopped talking to him he said, "This bundle which I am carrying is a bundle of old songs which I sing to men and make the land become rich as ever."

At these words of richness of land they asked him if he would sing some of his songs and they would dance for him.

The spider man said, "I will sing to you all some of my songs and you all must dance for me."

He first told them that he always had a club to beat time with.

He said, "I am going to sing, but you must all shut your eyes and dance around. The first one that opens his or her eyes will have a red eye."

All the partridges consented to do his command, so they all began to dance around and with their tails they made a drumming sound.

The old spider man began to hum out his songs, and at the same time he said; "Whoever opens his eyes will have a red eye", and at the same time killing the partridges one by one, until one next to the last one said, "Look out, fellows, he is going to kill you if you all don't open your eyes", and he flew away followed by the ones that were wise.

If you were to look at the partridges' eyes in the fall you would notice that they have red eyes unto this day.

The man was very glad when he killed the partridges and picked them up and went to the forest where he was going to make a fire and prepare the game which he had killed with his songs. He found a nice shade under two large trees near the bank and there he built a fire and covered the partridges under the ashes to roast them.

In sitting down under the shades of the trees, the wind was blowing, and these two trees rubbed against each other making a squeaking noise. This made him very angry and he said, "If you boys don't stop fighting each other, I will come up there and fix you!".

The trees were squeaking very loud because the wind was beginning to blow hard. At last, he climbed the two trees and put his hand between the two trees, but when he had done this the wind stop blowing and his hand was caught fast between the two trees. He tried with all his might to get his hand out, but it was caught fast.

A hungry looking red fox was coming towards where he was caught and he asked him for help, but the fox was unable to climb the tall tree.

Instead of telling the fox to watch his partridges which were under the ashes, the spider man told him to dig up some of the partridges and to help himself. The fox went to the fire and dug out all until he got enough to eat. When the fox was about to go away the man asked him if he had left those that were way down in the ashes, and the fox came back and dug the rest out and nothing was left for the man to eat. The wind was blowing when the fox went away and the spider man got his hand out from the trees. He didn't know what to do so he pounded the tree all the next day. This spider man was plucky, but towards the end he was not plucky.


Fred, "Rain in the Face", Medicine Crow, was a full blooded Sioux from Crow Creek, South Dakota. Prior to his five years at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (1897-1902) he had spent eight years in the Government Boarding School at Crow Creek. He returned to South Dakota in April 1902 to work on his own farm. In 1920, he became a United States mail carrier between Oacoma and Fort Lookout, but later returned to farming at Crow Creek.

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Compiled by: Glenn Welker

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