How a White Man was Sniffed Out

by Chief Daybreak (Hąpjįga, Elias James Smoke)

Preamble. (01:21) I'll translated this short story for you now. Now this is actually happening at one time.

(01:28) Quite awhile ago and this particular Indian was got up really early in the morning, one frosty morning, [as ?] the air was fresh, it was nice to get out. (01:39) [He was] walking along a drainage ditch in the marsh, and evidently hunting. (01:47) That time of the year, the grass grows tall, in the fall it kind of drapes over the sides of the drainage ditch, a big wide ditch, and it was a very good place to hide. (02:00) So he got out there several miles. (02:03) Through the [...] he all of a sudden smelled cigarette smoke. (02:08) So he stopped, and repeated, "What are you doing under there?!" (02:16) Finally, he saw [that from] the tall grass out came a man, a bearded man, white man. (02:24) Walked there and says, "How did you know that I was under there? You didn't see me." (02:29) "Yeah," he says, "but I can smell you." What he actually did, was that he smelled the cigarette smoke.1

Commentary. "actually" — the use of this word implies that when he said, "I can smell you," he was trying to suggest to the white man that he could smell his scent, which would probably be a super-human ability. The Dakota claimed that white people did in fact have a particular scent and smelled like porcupines.

Comparative Material. ...

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Stories: ...

Themes: a person falsely claims to be able to scent human beings: The Scenting Contest.


1 Transcribed from the audio tape in the American Philosophical Society: 10-04. Fraenkel, Gerd. Stacy, Stella. "Story about a white man and an Indian," recorded 17 July 1959, 1 .mp3; 00:00:10 - 00:02:35. Copy made by Gerd Fraenkel of an original tape held at the Archives of Languages of the World, Indiana University. This program comes from original tape 17. APS accession number 7278; APSdigrec_2218; Recording Number: 05; Program Number: 04.