Two Brothers Who Became Stars

There was one Wichita tribe with two chiefs. Their village was divided by a road, so that each chief had his half of the village. Each chief had a child. The west village chief had a son. The child of the chief living in the east was a girl. Both remained single and were not acquainted with each other.

In those times, children of prominent families were shown the same respect as their parents, and they were always protected from danger. The chief's son had a sort of scaffold for his bed, which was so high that he had to use a ladder to get to it. When he came down from his bed, the ladder was removed.

One night the young man set out to visit the young woman, as he was curious to see how she looked. At that very same time, the girl set out to visit the young man. They both came into the divided road when they saw each other. The girl asked the young man where he was going. He replied that he was going to see the chief's daughter, and asked where she was going. She replied, to see the chief's son. He said that he was the chief's son, and the girl said that she was the chief's daughter. They both enjoyed a quiet laugh together there on the division road.

They were undecided whether to go to her lodge or to his home. They decided to go to the young man's home. The next morning his parents wondered why he was not up early as usual. Their family custom was to rise early and sit up late, as their people called at all hours. His grandmother was sent to tap on his ladder to wake him. She found her grandson sleeping with another person. She reported to the others about it. Again she went back to request him to come down for breakfast. The family then learned that the son's companion was the other chief's daughter.

Meanwhile, the other chief wondered why his daughter was late for breakfast. In the village lived Coyote. Since the chief could not find his daughter, he sent his tribal warriors in search of her. Coyote searched both sides of the village, where he found the girl living with the other chief's son.

He returned immediately to the girl's father and alerted him to where his daughter could be found. Her father was angry and sent word that she was never to return home again. Neither did the other chief like the way his son had behaved.

A day came when the young couple decided to leave the village. They gathered together what they would need for a trip, and started south at midnight. They travelled a long way before they rested and fell asleep. On the next day they moved onward in search of a new home. In three days they found a good place with water and timber and a good hunting area, where the husband went daily to supply the meat they needed. His wife arranged their grass lodge nicely, and they resided there for a long while.

Before the man started out to hunt, he cut a stick and put some meat on it, then stuck it into the ground in front of the fire to cook. He told his wife that the meat was for someone who might come to visit, but she must never look at him. If she heard someone talk, she should hurry to her bed and cover her head.

Later, she heard someone say that he was coming to get some food. She ran to her bed and covered her head with her robe. The visitor took the meat and ate it. Before leaving, he spoke and said, "I have eaten the meat and will go back to my home." When he had gone, the woman got up and went about her work.

That evening when her husband returned from hunting, she reported to him what had happened. From then on, her husband always prepared meat to cook before the fire, and always warned her not to look at the stranger, but go to her bed and cover her head. While the stranger ate, the woman always thought she heard two people speaking.

One morning after her husband had left, the woman made a hole in her robe and took a piece of straw with a hole in it. When the visitor appeared, she jumped into her bed and covered her head with the hole over one eye, and the peeking straw ready.

When he started to leave, she looked through the straw in the hole in the robe and saw a two-faced person--with a face in front and a face in back of his head. As she looked at him, the visitor told the woman that she had disobeyed her husband's orders and would be killed.

The double-faced man took hold of the woman and cut her open, taking out a child, which he wrapped with a piece of the robe onto a piece of board. He covered the woman again with her robe, and threw her stomach into a river.

When the husband returned, he found his young wife dead. "You have done wrong, and disobeyed my orders. You made up your own mind to look and see who was the visitor." The young husband took her body south, laid it on the ground, and covered it with buffalo robes.

Upon his return, he heard a baby crying. He looked inside and outside the grass lodge, then finally traced the crying to one of the lodge poles, where the cradleboard was hanging with the baby. He cooked some rare meat and held it for the baby to suck the juice. In this way he nourished his child.

He stayed most of the time with the baby, caring for it, and only hunting when he was out of meat. He carried the baby on his back when he did go out for food. The baby was a boy, and the father was proud to have him and to care for him. The child grew strong and soon was able to walk. When old enough the father made bows and arrows for him to play with.

One day when the boy had been left, he heard someone calling, "My brother, come out and let us play an arrow game." When he turned around he saw another boy about his size standing at the entrance to the grass lodge. The little boy ran outside to see his little visitor, who said they were brothers. The double-faced man had used a poker-stick to thrust into his mother's stomach and throw it into the water.

The same stick was still fastened in the stranger-boy's body, and he had always wondered what it was for. He promised not to tell their father about his winning all the arrows, and the other boy promised not to tell that he had had company all day. When the visiting-boy left, he ran toward the river and jumped into the water.

When the father came home, he asked his son where the arrows were. His son told him he had lost a lot of arrows shooting birds. His father told him to go where he had been shooting and find the arrows, but the boy said he could not find them. So the father made many more arrows for his son to shoot. As soon as his father left, the visiting-boy appeared for another arrow-shooting game. They played all day until the visiting-boy won all of the arrows, then ran to his river home.

When the man came back from his hunting trip, again he found his son had lost all of his arrows, and the boy refused to go look for them, saying the arrows could not be found. Again the father made more arrows for his son's sport and protection.

A long time later, the son told his father of his brother's visits. The father wanted to capture the lost brother to live with their family. The father decided to turn himself into a poker-stick and leave it inside the lodge. His son invited his brother to come inside and have something to eat before they played.

When the visiting-boy looked inside and saw the stick, he became suspicious and thought it must be the old man, so he went away. The father stayed still all day, but could not capture the other brother. There was no hunting the next day, as the father hid himself behind the side of the entrance and turned himself into a piece of straw.

When the other brother called, he was invited inside again. He looked all around inside and saw nothing different this time, so he entered and ate with his brother. The father had coached his son to look for lice in the other boy's hair, and when he had a good grasp of hair to call for his father to come and hold the other brother. The visiting-boy dragged his brother a distance before their father reached them.

The father took hold of the scalp lock, but the visiting-boy was so strong that he dragged father and brother toward the river. The father begged him to stop. They released visiting-boy in time, as he jumped into the water and came up with an armful of arrows. Father and son started for their home with the arrows. The boy was named Other-Boy.

From that time forward both boys lived with their father. When he went hunting, the boys would shoot birds for sport and food, besides decorative feathers. One day their father forbid them to go to four certain places: On the north, where lived an old woman; on the east, where lived the Thunderbird in a nest of a very high tree; on the south, where lived the double-faced man. The father made the boys a hoop and also forbade them to roll it to the west.

Some time passed before the boys decided to expand their territory during their father's absence. They agreed to visit the place to the north. On their way they shot a few birds and carried them along. When they arrived at the place, they saw smoke.

The old woman who lived there asked the little boys to come into her lodge. They gave her the birds, which pleased her. She told the boys she needed to boil water to cook them before eating. She gave them a bucket to go to the creek for water. She hung the potful of water over the fire to boil. But instead of the birds, she snatched the two boys in their place.

Other-Boy was on the side, bubbling the hardest. He told his brother to make a quick leap, while he did the same. They escaped from the kettle and poured the hot water on the old woman and killed her. They hurried home before their father could arrive, but they hastened to tell him about their experience with the old woman of the north. He reminded them of his warning to stay away from the Little-Old-Spider-Woman of the north.

The next day, the brothers started east to visit the Thunderbird. They came to the high tree, which held the nest of the Thunderbird family. Other-Boy said to his brother, "Take my arrows and I will climb the tree and see what young ones these Thunderbirds have."

He began to climb when all of a sudden he heard thundering and saw lightning bolts, which struck him and made his left leg disappear. He called down to his brother to look for his leg while he kept on climbing. When he climbed higher, Thunderbird came again, and lightning took off his left arm. He still climbed, anxious to see inside the nest.

He was near the top when his right leg disappeared, so only his right arm remained as he reached the nest. Now the Thunderbirds did not bother him any more. He picked up one little one and asked whose child he was. He replied, "The child of Weather- Followed-by-Hard-Winds." The boy threw the bird down to the ground, saying he was not the right kind of child.

He picked up another and asked the same question, and the child replied, "Clear-Weather-with-Sun-Rising-Slowly." He put the bird back in the nest, saying he was a good child. He took up another and asked again the question, and the child replied "Cold- Weather-Following-Wind-and-Snow." The boy dropped him down to the ground, saying it was a bad creature.

The boy picked up the last bird. It answered that it was of "Foggy-Day-Followed-by-Small-Showers." This he put back in the nest, telling it that it was the right kind of child. Then, with one arm, he started to climb down the tree.

He finally reached the ground where his brother put on his right leg and he hopped around to see if it felt secure. When his brother put on his right arm, then his left leg, he ran and hopped around and waved his arms wildly.

The two boys returned home before their father came back from the hunt. They greeted him with their Thunderbird adventure of the day. The father began to think Other-Boy must have great powers, and he did not say much more to the boys about their choice of dangerous places to visit.

Some time later, the boys went out again and came to the place where their mother was put to death. They saw a stone in the shape of a human being, and they both lay down on the stone. When they started to get up, they were stuck to the stone, so they took it home with them for their father.

When they reached home, he said they should take the stone back to where they had found it. He told them the stone was like a monument of their mother, as she had turned to stone after her death. The brothers took the stone back to its special place.

Another day, the two brothers decided to go to the forbidden place where double-faced man lived, the man who had killed their mother. He lived in a cave. The boys went in it to see what they could find. Double-faced man's children came forward and scratched the boys. Other-Boy took his bow and slew the children. He caught double-faced man and tied the bow string around his neck, and half-led and half-choked him, taking the man back to their father, who did not want the bad one. He commanded the two brothers to take him away and kill him, and they obeyed.

Every day the boys played as before, shooting birds, and rolling their hoop. "Let's roll the hoop toward the west and see what will happen," said Other-Boy. They rolled and rolled it toward the west, and the hoop began rolling faster and faster. The boys kept running faster and faster, until they could not stop. They landed in the water where the hoop had rolled, then into the mouth of a giant water-monster called Kidiar-kat that swallowed them completely.

Inside, the boys thought it looked like a tepee, as the ribs of the monster reminded them of the tepee poles. "How can we ever escape?" they wondered. Other-Boy stretched out his bowstring and swung it round and round, which disturbed the monster slightly. A second time he swung it faster, and the monster moved a little more. A third time he swung even faster, which moved the monster more and more. The next time around, the monster gave such a high jump that he leapt out of the water and onto dry land.

When the monster opened its mouth wide, the boys ran out as fast as they could and all the way home. No one was at their lodge. Their father had gone somewhere, but they could not find him. The two brothers looked everywhere for a trail, but no trace of him was visible. At last they grew weary and decided to rest for a while.

Later, when darkness overtook them, they found a trail and followed it until it stopped. Other-Boy called for his brother to shoot an arrow straight up toward the sky. They waited for a while, and finally a drop of blood came down from above. It was the blood of their father.

When the boys were so late in returning from their adventure, their father gave up all hope of seeing them again, so he disappeared into the sky and became a star. The boys were certain the blood came as a message from their father to let them know where he had gone.

They decided to shoot two arrows upward and then caught hold of them and flew up into the sky with their arrows. Now the two brothers stand side by side with their father in the sky--as three stars.

Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker

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