The Raccoon Coat
retold by Richard L. Dieterle
A little boy lived with his grandfather in a long lodge. He always wore a coonskin fur coat, complete with ears and nose which projected over his forehead, and with a tail that hung down just as if it were the boy's own. He even had mittens of raccoon fur. His favorite toy was a coonskin ball with its raccoon tail still attached to it. He would take the ball and throw it through the air by its tail, making all kinds of noise as he played. One day a bird perched near the lodge and began to sing. The boy asked his grandfather, "What is he saying?" The grandfather, who could understand the language of birds, said, "He is looking for boys." Some time later a bird perched nearby and sang the same song, but the grandfather spoke to it and said, "Yes, there is one here, but he doesn't amount to anything." But the boy grabbed a poker and threw it at the bird, yelling, "I am here!" The boy busied himself making clubs, and when a bird arrived a third time to sing, the boy chased it with a club. When again, a fourth time, a bird sang this song, the boy did not fail, but clubbed the bird to death. When he brought it back to his grandfather the old man said, "It is good," and boiled it for them to eat.
One day as the boy was walking through the long lodge he wondered why there were so many arrow quivers hanging from the wall. He thought to himself, "All these arrows cannot be just for grandfather." He went outside and played with his raccoon tail ball, but when he got back, he noticed that a great pile of firewood had been stacked inside. "How could grandfather have done all that work in so short a time?" he wondered. When he later asked his grandfather about this, the old an said, "Grandson, all the arrows and all the wood you see are mine. I did all the work." The boy's thoughts turned to something else that bothered him: "Grandfather, where did we come from?" "All right then," he said reluctantly, "as you are now old enough, I will have to tell you something. You have a brother who lives behind that partition, it is he who chopped the wood. The arrows belong to your ten older brothers who were taken away one by one. So the last of your brothers is fasting. Tomorrow, you shall meet your older brother." The next day the brothers finally met. The boy was overjoyed and the two of them went out and played ball together. The younger brother said "Older brother, there is no point in your continuing to fast, since it is not likely that you will dream anything." When they returned, the grandfather told them, "From now on you boys must play inside the lodge, as it may prove dangerous to be outside." When grandfather took a nap, the little boy persuaded his brother to play outside anyway. When their grandfather awoke, he called the boys in from the snow. He pointed to the great open space not far from the lodge and said, "There is where our village once stood. It was completely wiped out. It is the one who looks in on you in the form of a bird that caused its destruction. He is checking to see if you have grown big enough yet. He has a special interest in you boys, for your parents were the chiefs of this village." Then, unexpectedly, they could hear a man's voice saying, "The dog must scent something out of the ordinary." When the man and his dog appeared, the little boy exclaimed, "You had better hold your dog in check." The man replied, "It's not you I'm here for. I come for your older brother." But the little boy replied, "You won't take anything," and with that he slammed his raccoon ball down on the dog and drove it into the ground. The man attempted to pull his dog out of the ground, but could not budge him. The boy told him, "I'll get our dog back on its feet if you'll agree to take me with you." "All right," the man replied. The boy then pulled the dog out of the ground, picked up his ball, and together with his brother, went off with the man. Their grandfather wept with bowed head as they walked out of sight.
After walking some time they finally arrived at a place where a metal boat with metal oars was docked. The man warned the boy in the coonskin coat not to sit at the front of the boat, but he did so anyway. The man got in and scratched the side of the boat with an oar and unexpectedly the boat began to move under its own power. Then suddenly, the man struck the little boy with his oar and knocked him unconscious. "Thus it was with your older brothers," he murmured to himself. Then he returned to the shore and placed the prostrate boy on the ground. As he sped off he expected that he would not hear from the boy again, but he regained consciousness, and when he saw the boat leaving without him, he threw his ball at it. When it landed in the boat, the boat suddenly reversed course, and under its own power returned to the shore. "What's the idea?" demanded the boy, but the man dismissed it as an accident. All these things happened three more times. Finally, the boy said, "If you don't want me to come along, why don't you just say so, and I'll stay behind?" The boy got back in the boat, but this time he faced the man with his raccoon tail ball firmly in his grasp. The man scratched the boat with his oar and off they went again. The little boy whispered to his brother: "Pay attention to the landscape so that we can find our way back again." It was dark in the direction they were headed, but they could not see anything behind them. When they landed the man pointed to a long lodge and said, "That one is yours." The other house, an oval lodge, is where the man and his family resided. When the brothers entered the lodge, they found it full of men with broken bones. The man who brought them there would break their bones after they had become weakened from hunger. The little boy asked his brother if he could go out and beg for food, so that the people might not perish utterly; but he refused. So the little boy went out himself and entered into the oval lodge. Inside he saw a young man sitting and a young woman grinding corn and meat together. The young man gestured to the boy to sit next to him, but the boy sat next to the girl instead. While she was grinding a kernel of corn popped out and the boy scooped it up for himself. Then he asked them if he could borrow a kettle, which they readily granted. The boy took the kettle back to the long lodge and there he began to boil his single piece of corn. Unexpectedly, the kettle was found to be full of corn which proved enough to feed everyone. The boy urged the people to move around if they now had the strength to manage it. When the boy returned with the kettle empty and clean, the man ridiculed him as a fool. When the boy returned to the long lodge, he said to his brother, "There is a beautiful girl in the oval lodge, why not go over and court her?" But the young man refused. So the little boy went over himself and slept with the girl. He whispered to her, "The next time you grind corn and meat scatter as much of it about as you can, and when you are done, bang the kettles together noisily." The next day the boy heard the clang of the kettles, and went over to borrow one of them. While he was at it, he scooped up as much of the corn meal as he could without being too obvious. Again the boy was able to feed everyone in the lodge, and they all began to regain some of their strength. That night the boy again went to sleep with the young woman. As they lay there she touched him and felt his coonskin ball and raccoon tail. As she felt around his neck she touched something and asked him, "What is this?" "It is a knife I hang around my neck," he replied. She felt his heart throb, but when the boy felt for her heart, he could not feel anything at all." "Where is your heart?" he demanded to know. "Our father," she told him, "keeps our hearts hidden in the middle of the sea." Then he told her, "If you do everything that I say, you will live. Your brother must say, 'I make an offering of my sister and of myself,' then he too shall be spared." The woman agreed, for she had long tried to persuade her father to give up his evil ways.
The next day the boy turned himself into a cobweb strand and floated high into the air. When he was aloft he could see over almost the whole of creation, and he espied in the far distance in the middle of the sea, a place where there was something like a bird's nest. Laying there with five feathers over them were five hearts, the fifth being that of the dog. There also he saw that Loon and Soft-Shelled Turtle stood guard. He descended where the hearts were kept and landed on them with both feet. Soft-Shelled Turtle cried out, "It is the chief!" Back in the lodge, the man said, "I thought I heard someone say 'chief'." The young man who lived in the lodge said, "I didn't hear anyone say anything." The old woman, the man's wife, said, "Yet I think he has really gotten hold of something. I sense that something is going to happen." The boy in the raccoon coat then took up the hearts and brought them back to the center of the oval lodge. Then he took out his knife and stabbed the center of the dog's heart, and just that instant the dog yelped, ran into the lodge, and fell dead over his own heart. Then he stabbed the man's heart, and the man cried out and fell dead on top of his dog. The same thing happened to the old woman. Seeing this, the young man became frightened, but remembered to say, "I make an offering of my sister and myself to you." In return, the boy put the young man's heart back in him, spit on his hands, and rubbed the wound. No sooner had he done this, than the wound was instantly healed. He did the same for the girl, and her heart was thus restored to her. They offered four white deerskins, just as the boy had commanded them, after which the bodies of the evil doers were taken outside and burned until nothing was left but bones. The boy told them, "We must pound these bones to powder before sunset." They did everything just as the boy had directed them, and they finished just before sunset. Then the boy said to the girl, "Since I am too young for marriage, I recommend you to my brother to marry." The girl consented and that night the brother consummated his marriage with her.
The boy in the meantime had gathered the bone powder and put it into the four deerskins. Then he ran about the whole island scattering the bone powder everywhere, yelling, "Hoooo!" as he went. When he had scattered all the bone powder, he ran about the island yelling, "Hooo! Run, they are about to shoot us with arrows!" And again he cried out, "Run! A whole corner of the hill is about to collapse on us!" As he ran about, he called out, "Run! The sky is about to fall on us!" As the sun rose, he yelled, "Run! Enemies are upon us!" Much commotion could be heard around the island, as countless people emerged into the sunlight. Even those whose backs were broken walked about. As these people wandered about it came back to them that they had been killed, and they said to one another, "It is our youngest chief who has brought us to life." He gathered up the people and filled the metal boat full of them, and when he rubbed it with the oar, it sped across the surface of the sea. After they reached the other shore, they shoved the boat back and it returned automatically to the island. For four days he transported the resurrected people, but the boy in the coonskin coat and his brothers were the last to leave. While they traveled together for four days to the east, the people carried their young chief, the boy in the raccoon coat. The first night, he killed only a single young deer, yet when it was prepared all the people had more than enough to eat. The second day they killed an antelope, yet that was sufficient for everyone. The third day everyone had enough to eat even though all they he killed was a two year old antelope. The fourth day he killed a three year old buck and all were able to eat. It was noon and grandfather's place when the old man felt the earth shake, and said to himself, "Thus, the evil one returns." Grandfather could not see, so the boys let him feel them and he was overjoyed to discover that they had safely made it home. The boy chief spit on his hand and rubbed them across his grandfather's eyes, and unexpectedly, the old man could now see better than he ever could. He saw all his grandson and the whole village restored alive. The boy asked him, "Grandfather, who has done this to you?" He replied, "It was Coyote. He threw hot coals at my eyes and blinded me." So they set out to track down Coyote and when they caught him they hung him over the fire on the kettle hook. Coyote cried out in pain, but they did not release him until he had become completely exhausted.
The next day they began four days of feasting in which ten deer and ten bears were offered up to the Creator who had sent him to rescue the humans. He moved the village to the bank of a creek where game abounded. Then the boy in the raccoon coat told them, "Brothers, I have done what I came here to do. Therefore, I shall return home above. A child will be born to my brother. When he is old enough to walk, I will take him, my brother's wife, and his brother-in-law with me to my celestial abode." After this, grandfather spoke and told them, "I too am going back to where I came from and there I will settle down. I will not be far from you, as I will remain on earth as long as there is an earth. I shall be happy if the children play upon me." Then he went to the outskirts of the village and there he turned into a great stone of marble. The stone grew, then it grew again, and finally it became a great flat slab of rock. It is upon this rock that the children of the village were wont to play. Once the stone laughed out loud which made the children run home in fear and tell their parents of the wonder. They told the children, "This rock is your grandfather, who is an old man. That is why it is called 'Grandfather Rock'." Finally, the brother's son became old enough to walk, and the boy in the raccoon coat came back. He told them, "My nephew shall go with me. He shall be the substance we call 'copper'. The rest shall follow only after they have died. My nephew's father, my brother, shall be live iron (a magnet), and his brother-in-law shall be blue iron." Thus he spoke, and the two of them ascended into the air, walking ever upward until they vanished from sight, for they had crossed over into the realm of the Creator, their journey complete.1
Commentary. "a coonskin ball with its raccoon tail still attached to it" — from other stories, we know this child to be Wojijéga, the Meteor-Comet Spirit. Given this, the ball and tail is an obvious representation of the form of meteors and comets.
"noise" — one might think that this represents the noise of a meteor striking earth, but that is a very rare experience. In Hočąk, sound represents light, so the noise that he makes is really the light of the meteor or comet.
"he doesn't amount to anything" — as will become clear below, the Hočągara understood that meteors were made of stone, and could be expected to think the same of comets, since no great distinction was made between them. Meteors look as small as stars as the fall from the sky, but many that reach the earth are in reality of substantial size. The power of the child far exceeds the size he appears to have when he is just a falling star seen high in the sky.
"clubs" — meteors and comets usually have tails, and therefore bear some resemblance to the warclub of the upper moiety, the ball-headed warclub. A falling rock of some size would be expected to land with a substantial "thud" just like the impact of a club.
"it is not likely that you will dream anything" — meaning that he is a spirit incarnate. Humans evoke the pity of spirits because they are mortal and weak, but these qualities are lacking in a spirit being who has chosen to sojourn with a spiritual mission on earth.
"the form of a bird" — it is generally held that the soul of a warrior can travel as a bird and may strike his enemy in this form, as seen in "The Lame Friend" (q.v.).
"scent something out of the ordinary" — when the man says that his dog must have scented something out of the ordinary, he may be referring to the odor that holy people are said to exude.
"a metal boat" — as shall become clear below, the metal boat is the vehicle in which the celestial figures travel once they have left the dry ground. The ground represents the earth, and the place where the celestial spirits, like Meteor Spirit, travel is the night sky. This is conceived to be a dome, and is otherwise identified with Bladder. When this is turned upside down, it exhibits the concave form of a boat. It is as if the stars were seated in a fixed place in a tub-like boat that is gliding over the dark waters of their inverted world. Since the celestial dome reflects the light of the sun (which is thought to be in front of it), the boat is described as metalic.
"not to sit at the front of the boat, but he did so anyway" — while the stars remain seated in their celestial sphere's "boat," there are other denizens of the nocturnal sky who move about. Here we see Meteor Spirit take whatever place in the boat that he chooses, since meteors and comets move about in this "boat" without any restraint.
"scratched" — the earth is an island surrounded by the Ocean Sea. The boat, however, since it is taking the Meteor Spirit away from the land, is putting him back into the night sky. The water is therefore the darkness over which the stars move (in the foreground). Travel across this dark sea begins when the sun sets. The darkness was conceived to be a substance that was cast across the sky by the Nightspirits as they rose in the east. The Meteor Spirit begins to float over this darkness when the oar is made to scratch the side of the metal boat. The scratching of metal against metal is not meant to establish friction as a symbol, but the sound of the scratching. In Hočąk, sound symbolizes light. A scratch makes a small sound, and can therefore represent the last, dim rays of the sun as it sinks below the horizon.
"under its own power" — the boat moves automatically, which may have something to do with its being made of metal. The two boys are the Meteor Spirit and his brother. This brother, as we later learn, is Live Iron (lodestone). It is therefore magnetic. The power of the magnetic stone is that it can draw iron towards it so that it seems to move of its own power with nothing in physical contact with it (or vise-versa if the iron object is the more massive). So too with the boat, which seems to be drawn as if by magnetic attraction to its destination. Magnetism is transferred by rubbing ("scratching") the target iron against a magnet. This may also factor in the choice of imagery in making the ship move by metal to metal contact. The oar, the source of propulsion, is like the magnet.
"struck the little boy with his oar and knocked him unconscious" — the oar is the means of propulsion. Whacking it on the head of the Meteor Spirit makes a noise of short duration. Since sound stands for light, this has a light of short but bright ("loud") tenure. This nicely describes a meteor. Unconsciousness is ordinarily understood as the soul leaving the body temporarily, taking sentience with it. The resulting sleep is very similar to death. The death of stellar objects is usually represented as their disappearance. So the brief and, as they say, the "meteoric" career of a shooting star that moves a short distance across the sky and is never seen again, is here straightforwardly homologized to the Meteor Spirit being knocked unconscious. This unconsciousness is the result of propulsion (the oar). His state of quiescence is not permanent, since he is awake later to launch still more meteors.
"on the ground" — it is the destiny of a meteorite to fall from the sky to the earth. Yet the deity who controls these "raccoon balls" with their streaming tails is clearly back in the heavens launching more of them from time to time. Meteor Spirit is a deity that traverses the world levels, and is clearly not condemned to confinement on this island earth.
"returned to the shore" — the water through which they travel is the night sky, and the boat is the means of propulsion for those who move across this celestial dome. Since the Meteor Spirit is constantly "reloading" meteors, it is clear that he is not condemned to remain on the earth, but reenters the sky at will. To the ferryman, the Meteor Spirit is a trouble maker who is constantly tossing stars from the sky to the earth, and therefore diminishing his realm.
"dark" — this is because they are traversing the night sky. The scratching sound symbolizes the setting of the sun, and the onset of the dark of night, even darker behind them (to the east).
"grinding corn and meat together" — the is called wakíha, a mixture of dry deer meat and any kind of dried corn. The deer meat is cut into thin pieces and hung up by fire or in sun to dry. Smoked meat was considered best. The corn and meat were then boiled together.2
"a knife" — stars and planets can sometimes be portrayed as heads without bodies. A falling star, as a head, has a trailing, pointed streak behind it. This can be thought of as a (metal) knife, although in the case of a comet, the tapering blade points towards the head.
"I recommend you to my brother to marry" — the real reason why the boy in the raccoon coat gave the girl to his next oldest brother is probably because very holy people are said not to marry.
"people emerged into the sunlight" — for the Nightspirits and stars, our day is their night (when they sleep), and our night is their day. What is here described is the rising of the celestial creatures of the night.
"those whose backs were broken walked about" — the buffalo have a large hump on their backs and a low slung head which makes them look as if they had broken backs. The buffalo also stand as symbols of the starry host of the night sky, who traverse across the flat surface of the nocturnal sky-dome like a vast herd of bison thundering across the prairie. The stars who had slept in the earth, now get up and run across the sky.
"the surface of the sea" — here the sky vault is being homologized to the sea, which is itself flat and a means by which people may transport themselves, provided that they have a suitable boat.
"the island" — the surface of This World is believed to be formed of a single landmass surrounded by what the ancients called the "Ocean Sea." That makes the ground on which people live an island. When the stars rise, they then must leave this island to traverse the "sea" of the celestial dome. When they return, their vehicle is there waiting for them.
"to the east" — here the narrative describes the travel of the stars back to their starting point in the east.
"enough to eat" — since the substance of the stars, which must be replenished, is light, it ought to be of this substance that they eat. They eat in four increments. When time is kept on the nąmą́́škočkoč calendar stick, it is done so in terms of the phases of the moon.3
|hąhĕ́wirokit’ĕ (dark moon)|
|hąhĕ́wirokiri (new moon)||(last quarter)|
|hąhĕ́wirokisak (half moon)||hąhĕ́wirokisak (half moon)|
|kit’ákĕrĕ (three-quarters moon)||kit’ákĕrĕ (three-quarters moon)|
|hąhĕ́wirokís (full moon)|
They recognize four quarters of the lighted moon, which is the number of horned animals killed to feed the host. The animals get ever bigger as they travel on, just as the moon does as it approaches fullness.
"could now see" — the spit of a celestial luminary like the Meteor-Comet Spirit restores the light to the eyes, a notion that reflects the pre-scientific view that the eyes had to emit some light themselves in order to see light.
"the bank of a creek" — this "creek" is the Ocean Sea, whence the stars come and go.
"copper" — this was called "red iron" (mąs-šúč). The smelting of copper was known in pre-Columbian times.
"live iron" — a magnetic form of iron occurring in nature as magnetite (Fe₃O₄), most typically black in color. It is brittle and fractures subconcoidally or irregularly. Its crystals form in octahedral shapes, an opaque black in color with a metallic sheen. The size of the crystals is usually an inch or two, with the smaller size predominating. The natural magnetism of the rock can be transferred by striking processed iron with it. This was the method used in the past to create magnetic iron. "A light viewed through such a crystal held close to the eye will appear to be surrounded by rays."4 The personification of this mineral is Live Iron (Mąznį’ąpka), who is a protagonist in a story about how the Thunders first met the Nights. There the Thunders swallow little black stones which are clearly meant to represent thunderstones, the supposed leading tip of a thunderbolt (see the commentary there). The coupling of magnetite with light, especially of the celestial sort, brings us closer to the Meteor Spirit. Magnetite is often mistaken for a meteorite. Nevertheless, one of the best preliminary tests for a meteorite is to determine if it is attracted to a magnet, so the lodestone would be attracted to, and by this means, at least associated with meteorites. Therefore, mythologically and otherwise, it is a relative of Meteor. They are brothers, since they both spring from the same "father" (iron).
|An 1873 Colt .45 with Blued Steel|
"blue iron" — the notion of blue iron is probably derived from the gunsmithing practice, nearly universal by the 1850's,5 of bluing a gun's barrel to make it rust resistant. The color comes from applying a coating of the black oxide of iron (Fe₃O₄), which occurs naturally as the mineral magnetite. Bluing superseded the practice of browning, which used the brown or red oxide of iron (Fe₂O₃), a form of hematite or rust, to combat rust itself. A shooting star is certainly similar to a bullet shot from the blued barrel of a gun. It may be noticed that if we take marble as white, like the comet as it traverses the sky, we have in order the colors white (marble), red (copper), black (lodestone), and blue (blued iron). These form, in the same order, the ritual colors of the four directions:
The arrows in the diagram reflect the ritual path, which is withershins. We can think of the Meteor Spirit as occupying the center of this ferrous family of minerals, since he represents the up/down axis in the complete set of directions.
Comparative Material: To the episode of the captives' resurrection is a very close Kickapoo parallel. A young man went out to seek a giant, ten-headed manitou who had taken his betrothed. When he found him, he killed him. There were many captive woman, and many of these had died, so he took their bones and said over them, "Hey! Run for your lives, we are under attack!" After he had done this four times, they became whole and alive again. He told all these women that they could go back to the villages whence they had come.6 A more complete account of the Kickapoo story is found elsewhere.
The Meteor Spirit, Raccoons, Celestial Spirits, Loons, Rock Spirits, Iron Spirits, Coyote, Wolf & Dog Spirits.
Stories. featuring Wojijéga (the Meteor Spirit) as a character: The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Roaster, Wojijé, The Green Man; mentioning Rock Spirits: The Big Stone, The Green Man, The Creation of the World, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Seer, The Roaster, Wojijé, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Hare Kills Flint, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, A Woman Turns into a Rock, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle; featuring Fat Rock Spirits as characters: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; featuring Iron Spirits as characters: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Šųgepaga; mentioning live iron: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Lost Blanket, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lame Friend; about stars and other celestial bodies: The Dipper, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Seven Maidens, Morning Star and His Friend, Little Human Head, Turtle and the Witches, Sky Man, Wojijé, Sun and the Big Eater, The Big Eater, The Star Husband, Grandfather's Two Families, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Children of the Sun, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Origins of the Milky Way, The Fall of the Stars; relating to dogs or wolves: The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, A Man and His Three Dogs, White Wolf, Wolves and Humans, The Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, Worúxega, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Dog that became a Panther, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Wild Rose, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Canine Warrior, The Dog Who Saved His Master, Wojijé, The Big Eater, Why Dogs Sniff One Another, The Healing Blessing, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Trickster Loses His Meal, Sun and the Big Eater, Redhorn's Sons, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Hog's Adventures, Holy One and His Brother, The Messengers of Hare, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Grandmother's Gifts, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Bladder and His Brothers, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Old Man and the Giants, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Kunu's Warpath, Morning Star and His Friend, Chief Wave and the Big Drunk; Peace of Mind Regained (?); mentioning coyotes: Wojijé, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Redhorn's Sons, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Trickster and the Eagle; featuring loons as characters: Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Medicine, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; featuring raccoons as characters: The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Were-fish, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Bladder and His Brothers, Raccoon and the Blind Men; mentioning people with broken backs: The Green Man, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister; mentioning blind people: A Raccoon Tricks Four Blind Men, Raccoon and the Blind Men, Hare Visits the Blind Men, Big Eagle Cave Mystery, The Roaster, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Owl Goes Hunting; mentioning snow: Waruǧápara, The Glory of the Morning, Holy One and His Brother, Wolves and Humans, Grandfather's Two Families, The Four Steps of the Cougar, Redhorn's Father, The Old Man and the Giants, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Great Walker's Warpath, White Wolf, North Shakes His Gourd, The Fleetfooted Man, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, Witches, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Silver Mound Cave, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married.
The Raccoon Coat is a variant of the story Wojijé.
Themes: spirits come to earth in order to rescue humanity from enemies who threaten their existence: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Bladder and His Brothers, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Grandfather's Two Families, The Hare Cycle, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Redhorn's Sons, The Redhorn Cycle, The Roaster, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Spirit of Gambling, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Trickster Cycle, Wojijé, Redhorn's Father, Turtle and the Merchant; possessing a raccoon blanket: The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster; someone is abducted and led off into captivity: The Captive Boys, A Man's Revenge, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Lost Child, Wears White Feather on His Head, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Bladder and His Brothers, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Green Man, Brave Man, The Chief of the Heroka, Šųgepaga, Hare Gets Swallowed, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Wojijé, Wolves and Humans, The Woman Who Became an Ant, Thunderbird and White Horse, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 5), The Boy who Flew, Testing the Slave; a man understands the language of certain animals: A Man and His Three Dogs, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Canine Warrior, The Dog Who Saved His Master; the youngest offspring is superior: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Young Man Gambles Often, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Twins Cycle, The Two Boys, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Children of the Sun, The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Wojijé, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Sun and the Big Eater, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 4, 7), Snake Clan Origins, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Snake Clan Origins, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth; a small item set on or driven into the ground by a great man cannot be lifted by anyone else: The Twins Visit Their Father's Village (packs), The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension (warclub), The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara (a warclub), Wojijé (a dog), The Roaster (a pack); prisoners have their bones broken by their captors: The Green Man, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Old Man and Wears White Feather; one small morsel of food when put in a kettle becomes sufficient to feed everyone present: Redhorn's Father (bean), Ocean Duck (bean), The Chief of the Heroka (deer tail), The Red Man (deer tail), cf. The Lost Blanket (food > tobacco, kettle > tobacco pouch); an organ of the body is removed and left somewhere (for safekeeping): Ocean Duck (heart), The Stone Heart (heart); The Green Man (heart), Hare Kills Wildcat (an eye); an evil spirit thinks that he has detected the presence of his enemy, but his partner dissuades him: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Holy One and His Brother, The Thunderbird; a man kills an adversary by getting rid of the external object that serves as the seat of the adversary's soul: The Green Man, Ocean Duck; a prisoner escapes by killing (some of) his captor(s): Wears White Feather on His Head, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Boy who Flew, Hare Gets Swallowed, Wojijé, The Captive Boys; an inanimate object expands upon command: Kunu's Warpath, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Wojijé, A Mink Tricks Trickster, The Elk's Skull; inanimate things automatically respond to human commands: Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (corn plant), The Old Man and the Giants (boat), Wojijé (metal boat), Big Eagle Cave Mystery (canoe), The Sky Man (knots), Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (everything), cf. How the Thunders Met the Nights (pontoon boat); a hero wins a girl but decides to let one of his brothers marry her: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Kunu's Warpath, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Seduction of Redhorn's Son; an evil spirit throws hot coals upon someone: Wolves and Humans; Coyote abuses someone: Wojijé; someone is brought back from the dead when a man gathers together all his bones and voices calls of alarm over them: Redhorn's Sons, White Wolf; an old man is, or becomes, a rock: Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Seer, The Big Stone, Red Cloud's Death; a being is transformed into stone: The Twin Sisters, The Seer, A Woman Turns into a Rock, Heną́ga and Star Girl; a man is cured when someone spits on his own hands and rubs them on the wound: Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth.
1 Paul Radin, "Coon Skin Fur Coat," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #59: 1-122.
2 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 256.
3 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 271.
4 Frederick H. Pough, A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals, The Peterson Field Guide Series, 3d ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1960) 142-143, 177.
5 Steven Dodd Hughes, Double Guns and Custom Gunsmithing (Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 2007) 137b.
6 Kickapoo Tales, collected by William Jones, trs. by Truman Michelson. Publications of the American Ethnological Society (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1915) IX:45-53.