Tale of How The Buffalo Ceased To Eat Human Beings

When the world was new there were many wild and fierce animals, and the buffalo were among the fiercest, for they ate human beings. In those days the buffalo were many-colored and roamed the plains in great herds, and were so numerous that men could not go out on the plains alone for fear of being caught by them. There was one great man who received power from the Father, and he had the power to go right into the midst of these terrible animals and kill them without being hurt. That man was Buzzard, and he was the only man who possessed such power. All the other people had to live in villages together that they might protect each other and hunt together. One time some men went out in the timber alone to hunt turkey and deer. They wandered far, and when they started home they found that they had to cross a long stretch of lonely prairie. While they were hurrying across the vast stretch of country they saw a black cloud arise in the west and come nearer and nearer, until at last they knew that a great herd of buffalo was sweeping down upon them. They threw the game from their backs, threw away their bows and arrows, and ran as fast as the wind. The buffalo, dangerous as they were, were not good runners, and so the men reached the timber before them and ran into the dense thicket.

After these men succeeded in escaping, the people took courage and ventured farther away from home. One time four men went out to hunt bear. They went into the timber that lay between two mountains and there they found the fresh tracks of a bear. They trailed it all through the timber and over the mountain, and found it at the edge of the timber at the foot of the mountain. The bear ran out to the open plain and the men pursued and killed it. While they were cutting it up to carry home they heard a great noise, like thunder, coming across the plains. They looked and saw that the buffalo were upon them. They tried to escape, but it was too late. The buffalo caught all but one man, who succeeded in gaining the timber and climbing a tall tree. All day the buffalo surrounded the tree and tried to butt it down, but could not. Night came on, then they returned to the plains and the man climbed down and ran to his home. He told all the people how the buffalo had surprised them and had killed his three companions. The people hastened to the place, but found nothing but a few bones scattered about. From that time on the buffalo ate many people, until Coyote came. Then the people left this dangerous country and went into another. They went through the gate to the new country, and Coyote went with them. He was the last to go through the gate, and as he went he shut the gate, so no dangerous animals could enter, and he let through only a few buffalo who had never tasted human flesh and so were not dangerous.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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