Stories of American Life and Adventure - Edward Eggleston

The Lazy, Lucky Indian

Out in the country we now call North Dakota there once lived an Indian known as "Lazy-man." When he was young, he had been lazy about hunting. When the other Indians had skins to sell, the lazy Indian had nothing. He grew poor. His blanket was ragged. His leggings were worn out. His wigwam was so wretched that all the tribe laughed at its tumble-down look.

Every winter the tribe went off to the great plains to hunt buffalo. They took their little ponies along, to carry home what they got. They brought back the skins of the buffaloes and buffalo meat dried over a fire. They also brought back pemmican, which is made by chopping buffalo meat very fine, and mixing it with the tallow from the animal. Lazy-man was ashamed to go on the hunt. He had no ponies to carry the meat and the skins he might get.

One winter, when the tribe went off on its regular hunt, Lazy-man and his wife staid behind as usual. They sat lonesome in their teepee, as a wigwam is called in their language. The weather grew colder. It was hard to find anything to eat. The lake near them was frozen, so that they could not fish. There were not many animals living in the country about. The lazy Indian and his wife were nearly starved.



The buffaloes had never come down to this lake shore. But one day the lazy Indian looked out and saw a herd of them coming. They were running out on the point of land where his teepee stood. He knew that when they got to the ice on the lake they would turn back.

"Quick, quick!" he called to his wife. The two ran right into the midst of the herd. It was a dangerous thing to do, but they were so hungry and miserable that they did not mind the danger. By running into the herd they separated the buffaloes out on the point from the rest.

When the buffaloes on the point came to the ice, they paused and turned back. They were soon running in the other direction, but the lazy Indian and his wife faced the animals as they came. They waved their ragged blankets at the buffaloes. They shouted in Indian fashion, "Yow-wow, yow-wow, yow-wow!" They ran to and fro, waving and shouting.

Once more the buffaloes stopped and looked. Lazy-man and his wife now ran at them, throwing their blankets in the air, and yelling more wildly than ever. The scared buffaloes turned about again. They were so badly frightened this time that they ran out on the ice on the lake.

The ice was as smooth as glass. The buffaloes could not stand up on it. One after another they slipped and fell. The lazy Indian was not lazy that day. He saw a chance to get out of his poverty. He ran about on the ice, killing the buffaloes.

For many days he and his squaw worked. They skinned the buffaloes, and dried the skins. They prepared the stomachs of the buffaloes, and stuffed them with the chopped meat, making it look like great sausages as big as pillows. They put a few cranberries in with the meat to give the pemmican a good taste. Then they poured the smoking fat of the buffalo into this great sausage. The fat filled up the small spaces. When it got cold, the pemmican sack was almost as hard as a stone. It could be cut only by chopping it with a tomahawk.

At last spring came, and the tribe came home from the hunt. You may suppose that Lazy-man was proud that day. Instead of being the poor beggar whom everybody laughed at, he was now one of the rich men in the tribe. He had more buffalo robes and more pemmican than any other man in the village. He exchanged his buffalo robes for ponies. After that he always went on the hunt, and lived like the other Indians. He did not wish to sink into laziness and poverty again.