There once lived a young couple who were very happy. The young man

was noted throughout the whole nation for his accuracy with the bow

and arrow, and was given the title of "Dead Shot," or "He who never

misses his mark," and the young woman, noted for her beauty, was

named Beautiful Dove.

One day a stork paid this happy couple a visit and left them a fine

big boy. The boy cried "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). "Listen to

our son," said the mother, "he can speak, and hasn't he a sweet

voice?" "Yes," said the father, "it will not be long before he

will be able to walk." He set to work making some arrows, and a

fine hickory bow for his son. One of the arrows he painted red,

one blue, and another yellow. The rest he left the natural color

of the wood. When he had completed them, the mother

placed them in a fine quiver, all worked in porcupine quills, and

hung them up over where the boy slept in his fine hammock of

painted moose hide.

At times when the mother would be nursing her son, she would look

up at the bow and arrows and talk to her baby, saying: "My son,

hurry up and grow fast so you can use your bow and arrows. You

will grow up to be as fine a marksman as your father." The baby

would coo and stretch his little arms up towards the bright colored

quiver as though he understood every word his mother had uttered.

Time passed and the boy grew up to a good size, when one day his

father said: "Wife, give our son the bow and arrows so that he may

learn how to use them." The father taught his son how to string

and unstring the bow, and also how to attach the arrow to the

string. The red, blue and yellow arrows, he told the boy, were to

be used only whenever there was any extra good shooting to be done,

so the boy never used these three until he became a master of

the art. Then he would practice on eagles and hawks, and never an

eagle or hawk continued his flight when the boy shot one of the

arrows after him.

One day the boy came running into the tent, exclaiming: "Mother,

mother, I have shot and killed the most beautiful bird I ever saw."

"Bring it in, my son, and let me look at it." He brought the bird

and upon examining it she pronounced it a different type of bird

from any she had ever seen. Its feathers were of variegated colors

and on its head was a topknot of pure white feathers. The father,

returning, asked the boy with which arrow he had killed the bird.

"With the red one," answered the

boy. "I was so anxious to secure the pretty bird that, although I

know I could have killed it with one of my common arrows, I wanted

to be certain, so I used the red one." "That is right, my son,"

said the father. "When you have the least doubt of your aim,

always use one of the painted arrows, and you will never miss your


The parents decided to give a big feast in honor of their son

killing the strange, beautiful bird. So a great many elderly women

were called to the tent of Pretty Dove to assist her in making

ready for the big feast. For ten days these women cooked and

pounded beef and cherries, and got ready the choicest dishes known

to the Indians. Of buffalo, beaver, deer, antelope, moose, bear,

quail, grouse, duck of all kinds, geese and plover meats there was

an abundance. Fish of all kinds, and every kind of wild fruit were

cooked, and when all was in readiness, the heralds went through the

different villages, crying out: "Ho-po, ho-po" (now all, now all),

Dead Shot and his wife, Beautiful Dove, invite all of you, young

and old, to their tepee to partake of a great feast, given by them

in honor of a great bird which their son has killed, and also to

select for their son some good name which he will bear through

life. So all bring your cups and wooden dishes along with your

horn spoons, as there will be plenty to eat. Come, all you council

men and chiefs, as they have also a great tent erected for you in

which you hold your council."

Thus crying, the heralds made the circle of the village. The

guests soon arrived. In front of the tent was a pole stuck in the

ground and painted red, and at the top of the pole was fastened the

bird of variegated colors; its wings stretched out to their full

length and the beautiful white waving so beautifully from its

topknot, it was the center of attraction. Half way up the pole was

tied the bow and arrow of the young marksman. Long streamers of

fine bead and porcupine work waved from the pole and presented a

very striking appearance. The bird was faced towards the setting

sun. The great chief and medicine men pronounced the bird "Wakan"

(something holy).

When the people had finished eating they all fell in line and

marched in single file beneath the bird, in order to get a close

view of it. By the time this vast crowd had fully viewed the

wonderful bird, the sun was just setting clear in the west, when

directly over the rays of the sun appeared a cloud in the shape of

a bird of variegated colors. The councilmen were called out to

look at the cloud, and the head medicine man said that it was a

sign that the boy would grow up to be a great chief and hunter, and

would have a great many friends and followers.

This ended the feast, but before dispersing, the chief and

councilmen bestowed upon the boy the title of White Plume.

One day a stranger came to the village, who was very thin and

nearly starved. So weak was he that he could not speak, but made

signs for something to eat. Luckily the stranger came to Dead

Shot's tent, and as there was always a plentiful supply in his

lodge, the stranger soon had a good meal served him. After he had

eaten and rested he told his story.

"I came from a very great distance," said he. "The nations where

I came from are in a starving condition. No place can they find

any buffalo, deer nor antelope. A witch or evil spirit in the

shape of a white buffalo has driven all the large game out of the

country. Every day this white buffalo comes circling the village,

and any one caught outside of their tent is carried away on its

horns. In vain have the best marksmen of the tribe tried to shoot

it. Their arrows fly wide off the mark, and they have given up

trying to kill it as it bears a charmed life. Another evil spirit

in the form of a red eagle has driven all the birds of the air out

of our country. Every day this eagle circles above the village,

and so powerful is it that anyone being caught outside of his tent

is descended upon and his skull split open to the brain by the

sharp breastbone of the Eagle. Many a marksman has tried his skill

on this bird, all to no purpose.

"Another evil spirit in the form of a white rabbit has driven out

all the animals which inhabit the ground, and destroyed the fields

of corn and turnips, so the nation is starving, as the arrows of

the marksmen have also failed to touch the white rabbit. Any one

who can kill these three witches will receive as his reward, the

choice of two of the most beautiful maidens of our nation. The

younger one is the handsomer of the two and has also the sweetest

disposition. Many young, and even old men, hearing of this (our

chief's) offer, have traveled many miles to try their arrows on the

witches, but all to no purpose. Our chief, hearing of your great

marksmanship, sent me to try and secure your services to have you

come and rid us of these three witches."

Thus spoke the stranger to the hunter. The hunter gazed long and

thoughtfully into the dying embers of the camp fire. Then slowly

his eyes raised and looked lovingly on his wife who sat opposite to

him. Gazing on her beautiful features for a full minute he slowly

dropped his gaze back to the dying embers and thus answered his


"My friend, I feel very much honored by your chief having sent such

a great distance for me, and also for the kind offer of his lovely

daughter in marriage, if I should succeed, but I must reject the

great offer, as I can spare none of my affections to any other

woman than to my queen whom you see sitting there."

White Plume had been listening to the conversation and when his

father had finished speaking, said: "Father, I am a child no more.

I have arrived at manhood. I am not so good a marksman as you, but

I will go to this suffering tribe and try to rid them of their

three enemies. If this man will rest for a few days and return to

his village and inform them of my coming, I will travel along

slowly on his trail and arrive at the village a day or two after he

reaches there."

"Very well, my son," said the father, "I am sure you will succeed,

as you fear nothing, and as to your marksmanship, it is far

superior to mine, as your sight is much clearer and aim quicker

than mine."

The man rested a few days and one morning started off, after having

instructed White Plume as to the trail. White Plume got together

what he would need on the trip and was ready for an early start the

next morning. That night Dead Shot and his wife sat up

away into the night instructing their son how to travel and warning

him as to the different kinds of people he must avoid in order to

keep out of trouble. "Above all," said the father, "keep a good

look out for Unktomi (spider); he is the most tricky of all, and

will get you into trouble if you associate with him."

White Plume left early, his father accompanying him for several

miles. On parting, the father's last words were: "Look out for

Unktomi, my son, he is deceitful and treacherous." "I'll look out

for him, father;" so saying he disappeared over a hill. On

the way he tried his skill on several hawks and eagles and he did

not need to use his painted arrows to kill them, but so skillful

was he with the bow and arrows that he could bring down anything

that flew with his common arrows. He was drawing near to the end

of his destination when he had a large tract of timber to pass

through. When he had nearly gotten through the timber he saw an

old man sitting on a log, looking wistfully up into a big tree,

where sat a number of prairie chickens.

"Hello, grandfather, why are you sitting there looking so

downhearted?" asked White Plume. "I am nearly starved, and was

just wishing some one would shoot one of those chickens for me, so

I could make a good meal on it," said the old man. "I will shoot

one for you," said the young man. He strung his bow, placed an

arrow on the string, simply seemed to raise the arrow in the

direction of the chicken (taking no aim). Twang went out the bow,

zip went the arrow and a chicken fell off the limb, only to get

caught on another in its descent. "There is your chicken,

grandfather." "Oh, my grandson, I am too weak to climb up and get

it. Can't you climb up and get it for me?" The young man, pitying

the old fellow, proceeded to climb the tree, when the old man

stopped him, saying: "Grandson, you have on such fine clothes, it

is a pity to spoil them; you had better take them off so as not to

spoil the fine porcupine work on them." The young man took off his

fine clothes and climbed up into the tree, and securing

the chicken, threw it down to the old man. As the young man was

scaling down the tree, the old man said: "Iyashkapa, iyashkapa,"

(stick fast, stick fast). Hearing him say something, he asked,

"What did you say, old man?" He answered, "I was only talking to

myself." The young man proceeded to descend, but he could not

move. His body was stuck fast to the bark of the tree. In vain

did he beg the old man to release him. The old Unktomi, for he it

was, only laughed and said: "I will go now and kill the evil

spirits, I have your wonderful bow and arrows and I cannot miss

them. I will marry the chief's daughter, and you can stay up in

that tree and die there."

So saying, he put on White Plume's fine clothes, took his bow and

arrows and went to the village. As White Plume was expected at any

minute, the whole village was watching for him, and when Unktomi

came into sight the young men ran to him with a painted robe, sat

him down on it and slowly raising him up they carried him to the

tent of the chief. So certain were they that he would kill the

evil spirits that the chief told him to choose one of the daughters

at once for his wife. (Before the arrival of White Plume, hearing

of him being so handsome, the two girls had quarreled over which

should marry him, but upon seeing him the younger was not anxious

to become his wife.) So Unktomi chose the older one of the

sisters, and was given a large tent in which to live. The younger

sister went to her mother's tent to live, and the older was very

proud, as she was married to the man who would save the nation from

starvation. The next morning there was a great commotion in camp,

and there came the cry that the white buffalo was coming. "Get

ready, son-in-law, and kill the buffalo," said the chief.

Unktomi took the bow and arrows and shot as the buffalo passed, but

the arrow went wide off its mark. Next came the eagle, and again

he shot and missed. Then came the rabbit, and again he missed.

"Wait until tomorrow, I will kill them all. My blanket caught in

my bow and spoiled my aim." The people were very much

disappointed, and the chief, suspecting that all was not right,

sent for the young man who had visited Dead Shot's tepee. When the

young man arrived, the chief asked: "Did you see White Plume when

you went to Dead Shot's camp?" "Yes, I did, and ate with him many

times. I stayed at his father's tepee all the time I was there,"

said the young man. "Would you recognize him if you saw him

again?" asked the chief. "Any one who had but one glimpse of White

Plume would surely recognize him when he saw him again, as he is

the most handsome man I ever saw," said the young man.

"Come with me to the tent of my son-in-law and take a good look at

him, but don't say what you think until we come away." The two

went to the tent of Unktomi, and when the young man saw him he knew

it was not White Plume, although it was White Plume's bow and

arrows that hung at the head of the bed, and he also recognized the

clothes as belonging to White Plume. When they had returned to the

chief's tent, the young man told what he knew and what he thought.

"I think this is some Unktomi who has played some trick on White

Plume and has taken his bow and arrows and also his clothes, and

hearing of your offer, is here impersonating White Plume. Had

White Plume drawn the bow on the buffalo, eagle and rabbit today,

we would have been rid of them, so I think we had better scare this

Unktomi into telling us where White Plume is," said the young man.

"Wait until he tries to kill the witches again tomorrow," said the


In the meantime the younger daughter had taken an axe and gone into

the woods in search of dry wood. She went quite a little distance

into the wood and was chopping a dry log. Stopping to rest a

little she heard some one saying: "Whoever you are, come over here

and chop this tree down so that I may get loose." Going to where

the big tree stood, she saw a man stuck onto the side of the tree.

"If I chop it down the fall will kill you," said the girl. "No,

chop it on the opposite side from me, and the tree will fall that

way. If the fall kills me, it will be better than hanging up here

and starving to death," said White Plume, for it was he.

The girl chopped the tree down and when she saw that it had not

killed the man, she said: "What shall I do now?" "Loosen the bark

from the tree and then get some stones and heat them. Get some

water and sage and put your blanket over me." She did as told and

when the steam arose from the water being poured upon the heated

rocks, the bark loosened from his body and he arose. When he stood

up, she saw how handsome he was. "You have saved my life," said

he. "Will you be my wife?" "I will," said she. He then told her

how the old man had fooled him into this trap and took his bow and

arrows, also his fine porcupine worked clothes, and had gone off,

leaving him to die. She, in turn, told him all that had happened

in camp since a man, calling himself White Plume, came there and

married her sister before he shot at the witches, and when he came

to shoot at them, missed every shot. "Let us

make haste, as the bad Unktomi may ruin my arrows." They

approached the camp and whilst White Plume waited outside, his

promised wife entered Unktomi's tent and said: "Unktomi, White

Plume is standing outside and he wants his clothes and bow and

arrows." "Oh, yes, I borrowed them and forgot to return them; make

haste and give them to him."

Upon receiving his clothes, he was very much provoked to find his

fine clothes wrinkled and his bow twisted, while the arrows were

twisted out of shape. He laid the clothes down, also the bows and

arrows, and passing his hand over them, they assumed their right

shapes again. The daughter took White Plume to her father's tent

and upon hearing the story he at once sent for his warriors and had

them form a circle around Unktomi's tent, and if he attempted to

escape to catch him and tie him to a tree, as he (the chief) had

determined to settle accounts with him for his treatment of White

Plume, and the deception employed in winning the chief's eldest

daughter. About midnight the guard noticed something crawling

along close to the ground, and seizing him found it was Unktomi

trying to make his escape before daylight, whereupon they tied him

to a tree. "Why do you treat me thus," cried Unktomi, "I was just

going out in search of medicine to rub on my arrows, so I can kill

the witches." "You will need medicine to rub on yourself when the

chief gets through with you," said the young man who had

discovered that Unktomi was impersonating White Plume.

In the morning the herald announced that the real White Plume had

arrived, and the chief desired the whole nation to witness his

marksmanship. Then came the cry: "The White Buffalo comes."

Taking his red arrow, White Plume stood ready. When the buffalo

got about opposite him, he let his arrow fly. The buffalo bounded

high in the air and came down with all four feet drawn together

under its body, the red arrow having passed clear through the

animal, piercing the buffalo's heart. A loud cheer went up from

the village.

"You shall use the hide for your bed," said the chief to White

Plume. Next came a cry, "the eagle, the eagle." From the north

came an enormous red eagle. So strong was he, that as he soared

through the air his wings made a humming sound as the rumble of

distant thunder. On he came, and just as he circled the tent of

the chief, White Plume bent his bow, with all his strength drew the

arrow back to the flint point, and sent the blue arrow on its

mission of death. So swiftly had the arrow passed through the

eagle's body that, thinking White Plume had missed, a great wail

went up from the crowd, but when they saw the eagle stop in his

flight, give a few flaps of his wings, and then fall with a heavy

thud into the center of the village, there was a greater cheer than

before. "The red eagle shall be used to decorate the seat of honor

in your tepee," said the chief to White Plume. Last came the white

rabbit. "Aim good, aim good, son-in-law," said the chief. "If you

kill him you will have his skin for a rug." Along came the white

rabbit, and White Plume sent his arrow in search of rabbit's heart,

which it found, and stopped Mr. Rabbit's tricks forever.

The chief then called all of the people together and before them

all took a hundred willows and broke them one at a time over

Unktomi's back. Then he turned him loose. Unktomi, being so

ashamed, ran off into the woods and hid in the deepest and darkest

corner he could find. This is why Unktomis (spiders) are always

found in dark corners, and anyone who is deceitful or untruthful is

called a descendant of the Unktomi tribe.