When to run, and when to shut up

Blackfoot Lodge being put up, Montana

Much has been made of the trouble caused by the white man’s liquor among Native Americans – and among white men, for that matter. Often it is true – but there is also a lighter side to it.

There was a young Blackfoot man who had three wives. When he drank, he became mischievous. He got into their stores of beads, pemmican, needles and awls, and fancy work, and distribute them to other women. Many thought him hilarious, but his wives were not amused. He would taunt them and make jokes at them. They decided to chase him down, and put a stop to this nonsense. They could not catch him, however. He climbed to the top of the lodge, sitting among the poles, and still laughed and taunted them, full of whiskey. He started singing a drinking song, “Bear Chief, give me a drink….” His wives put their heads together, and one went inside the lodge. The cooking fire was already burning, and his wife gathered a huge armload of rye grass from her sleeping couch, and threw it on the fire. The fire blazed up many feet in height, so that it reached up through the smoke hole at the top of the lodge, singing his behind. He gave a leap of surprise and pain – when he landed, the women were upon him instantly, coiling lariats about him, binding him, then carrying him inside the lodge to sober up, much to the jeers and amusement of the surrounding lodges.

Source(Wilson, Elijah Nicholas . The White Indian Boy: The Story of Uncle Nick Among the Shoshones, Forest Publications. )

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