Thursday, March 04, 2010

magic pile

Water color of an Assinboin Indian magic pile by Karl Bodmer.
The Assinboin believed these piles helped attract the buffalo.

Date. circa 1836

"The Assiniboine, also known by the Ojibwe name Asiniibwaan "Stone Sioux", and the Cree as Asinîpwât are a Native American/First Nations people originally from the Northern Great Plains area of North America, specifically in present-day Montana and parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and southwestern Manitoba around the US/Canadian border. They were well known throughout much of the late 1700s and early 1800s. Images of Assiniboine people were painted by such 19th century artists as Karl Bodmer and George Catlin. The Assiniboine have many similarities to the Lakota (Sioux) people in lifestyle, linguistics, and cultural habits, and are considered to be a band of the Nakoda or middle division of the Lakota. It is believed that the Assiniboine broke away from other Lakota bands in the 17th century..."

Imaginging Head-Smashed-In
Buffalo Drive Lanes (pg 75) includes a search for stone piles...

There was once a very poor woman who was married. She was the second wife. She had a buffalo-robe. It was all full of holes, it was so old. Her moccasins were as old and ripped as mine.
This woman went after wood. While she was gathering wood, she heard some one singing. She found a buffalo-rock that was singing. It sang, "Take me! I am of great power."
The camp of Indians was about starving. They were near a buffalo drive. She told her husband to call all the men, and they would sing and bring the buffalo back. Her husband asked her if she was in earnest. She said, "Yes," and asked him to get a small piece of the back of a buffalo from the Bear-Medicine man. She told her husband how to arrange the lodge inside in a kind of square box with some sagebrush and buffalo-chips. She told her husband to ask some men to come, and to ask for the four rattles they used...
One of these buffalo-rocks began to sing, after all the men were seated, "The buffalo will all drift back." So this woman asked one of the young men to go beyond the drive and put a lot of buffalo-chips in line; then they were to wave at them with a buffalo-robe about four times, and at the same time to shout in a singsong. At the fourth time they (the buffalo-chips) would all turn into buffaloes and go over the drive, which they did.
The woman led in the singing at the lodge. She knew what the young man was doing. A cow-buffalo took the lead. The woman was singing about the leader that would take them over the drive. All the buffalo went over the drive and were killed. She sang a different song: "I have made more than a hundred buffalo fall over, and the man above the earth hears me."

Journal of American folklore, Volume 24 By American Folklore Society

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