Napi Punishes a Rock

(An east side glacial story)

One beautiful Indian Summer day in the long ago times, Napi was walking with his friend Fox in the mountains above Cut Bank Creek. Although it was beyond the Moon of the Falling Leaves, the day was unusually warm. Napi, who always carried his buffalo robe, grew hot as they walked along. He and Fox stopped by a large black rock to rest and look at the scenery.

“Ah, Old Rock, you poor thing”, said Napi, “You have to spend the long cold winter up here all by yourself with nothing to keep you warm. Here, take my robe.” With that, Napi gently placed his robe over the rock and the two friends continued on their way.

Soon, however, as often happens in Indian Summer, there was a sudden change in the weather. Steel gray clouds began to roll in from the northwest. The wind howled and stinging flakes began to pelt the two hikers. “Fox, old friend”, asked Napi, “would you mind running back to get my robe?”

The kind Fox ran back but soon returned with the message that the rock was not willing to part with the robe and that he was quite angry that Napi would have the nerve to take back a gift. Just then they felt the earth shake and heard a loud rumble. Napi looked over his shoulder and saw the boulder rolling down upon them along the path.

“Oh, oh.” yelled Fox, “We had better hightail it out of here. I think he is really angry!”

The two fugitives ran out of the mountains and out onto the prairie, but they could not out-distance the rock. Just as they felt they could run no farther, Napi spotted his friends the Nighthawks. “Quickly”, he shouted, “stop that rock before it squashes us.”

The fast-flying Nighthawks dove at the rock again and again. Each time they pecked at it, another large piece of rock broke off. Soon there was nothing left but a widely scattered trail of smaller rocks. The two friends collapsed upon the ground and thanked the Nighthawks between gasps. “In commemoration of this great deed you will always wear bright white slashes of honor across your wings.”

It is because of this memorable chase that you still see these strange rocks from the mountains scattered far out onto the plains.

It is uncertain how literally Native Americans receive the ancient legends which everyone loved to hear and tell. Many native peoples have an abiding faith and belief in Old Man, Coyote and Napi as superhuman spiritual helpers that roam the Earth and do great deeds. Most adults are aware of and appreciate the employment of metaphor and other creative language devices to convey the essence of an oral tradition. Some people regard the stories as instructive mythology. While the great majority of Native Americans are highly spiritual, all of The People understand that some of the traditional stories are simply meant to provide good entertainment.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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