Internships and student worker positions can open a wealth of opportunities for tribal college students. Read more →
The Coming of Big Foot
There was once a young man named Strikes Twice. He was at the edge of the village chopping wood when he heard a cry coming from a forbidden part of the woods. No human was ever to cross through this forbidden area. The piercing scream startled him, it almost sounded like a baby, and he felt that he had to answer this cry. He thought it sounded like an infant in pain.
Although he knew that the consequences of going through the barrier could be death, he couldn’t help but investigate the cry. He took his wood splitter with him for protection. As he got closer he heard a rumble, and then a crash, along with the cry.
He came upon a turtle on its back being beaten by a giant. The giant was eight times his height with beastly arms. Strikes Twice went unnoticed by the giant. He took a chance and struck the giant in the leg and brought it to the ground. His excitement and fear helped him to chop off the limbs of this giant and kill him.
The turtle rolled over back onto his legs. The turtle was the size of a bull boat. The turtle explained to Strikes Twice that he had been crying for a long time for someone to help him. “You were the only one who came to my aid. I don’t have much to give,” said the turtle, “But I want you to take a piece of my shell. It is sacred and its power will protect you from misfortune. Always carry it with you.”
Strikes Twice took the turtle’s shell and brought it back with him to the village. When he came back through the barrier the tribe surrounded him. They scolded him because where he went was forbidden. Since he broke custom, now the unknown could come through and terrorize their home. The elders of the tribe explained that it is out of respect for the other side that we do not ever cross there. Strikes Twice was banished from his home. He was heartbroken and all he had to carry with him was the piece of the turtle’s shell that was given to him.
When he left the village he didn’t know which direction to go. He was a young man and he knew that the road ahead of him would be hard but he had faith that the gift from the turtle would help him on his way.
The people of the village weren’t aware they were being watched by the spirit beings on the other side. The spirits saw how they banished Strikes Twice.
The spirit beings were sad for Strikes Twice and their sadness influenced the tribe’s misfortune. The Thunder Beings stopped coming to give rain for their crops. It became harder for the hunters to find big game.
The tribe took their hardships to their medicine man to ask why things were getting hard and why the rain didn’t come and the game was hiding.
The medicine man built a sweat and it was the spirit of the turtle that came in and explained how he had been crying for someone to help him and that Strikes Twice, the youngest man of the tribe, was the only one brave enough to come to his aid. “I gave him a piece of my shell to show my gratitude and for saving my life, and he was shunned. The deed he did was so great that I blessed that shell with the intent to bring good to your village. Now that it is gone with Strikes Twice, you will continue to experience hardship until he is welcomed back and honored for his deed and my shell shall once again bring lots of rain and lots of large game for you to feed your people.”
With the answer that the medicine man received he explained to the tribe what needed to be done to bring back the life of the village. The people felt shame; they sent out two of their bravest warriors to find Strikes Twice to bring him home.
The warriors came back and reported no sign of Strikes Twice. They then offered tobacco to the owl to search for them because Owl had the best eyes for seeing. Owl found a man-like being holding a broken turtle shell by the water, but Owl was not sure if it was him. Strikes Twice had changed; he was bigger than any man Owl had ever seen. He grew hair all over his body. Owl told Strikes Twice about what had happened since he left. He explained that the tribe needed him to return home.
The two started back on their way and Strikes Twice grew more hair. He was also growing larger and Owl started to doubt that he had found the right man, but he continued on. When they returned it was not easy to recognize Strikes Twice as he was. His feet were large and he was covered head to toe in gray animal-like hair. He returned with the turtle shell. The medicine man had asked him to come and smoke pipe with him. The medicine man explained what had happened while he was away and what the turtle had told him.
They smoked pipe together and then went into sweat together, and Strikes Twice told the medicine man that since he was so different he knew it would be hard for him to remain in the village. With that, Strikes Twice offered the turtle shell to the medicine man and told him that he wanted to leave it there with his people to bring good. He wanted to go and live with the spirit beings on the other side.
“I want you to make this shell into a rattle and when you go into sweat I will come when I hear it because I will recognize that you need my help. And since you are my people I will always watch over you.”
Mary Baker is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes and a student at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College where she majors in Native American Studies and serves as vice president of the All Chiefs Society.