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Buffalo (Great Race)

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Buffalo feature as the antagonists of the Native American legend, "Great Race" and competed with man in order to establish order in the universe - prior to the events of the race nature was reversed, with Buffalo eating man, after man won the race order was brought and man would eat Buffalo instead.

Basic Story

Due to Native American culture varying from tribe to tribe the legend has many local variants but the basic story tends to go as such:

Long before the Suhtai and the Tsistsistas became one tribe buffalo ate human beings. A Suhtai man dreamed that he was shooting at a certain buffalo however his arrow turned away and hit another buffalo standing far away. This dream occurred for three nights. Concerned, the young man spoke to the tribe's elders about his dreams. They responded by telling him that the dreams meant nothing. However, that night the young man had the same dream and the young man knew what he had to do. The next day he woke up early to go hunting. Just like in his dream when he shot at a buffalo his arrow diverted its path and hit another buffalo cow. The young man followed her until sundown but could never catch up with her so he went back to camp.

The next morning the young man went out looking for the buffalo cow again and found her standing in front of a tipi but, now she was a beautiful woman. The young man fell in love with her and she bore him a son and he looked exactly like his mother.

One morning the young man discovered that his wife and child were missing. For four days the young man searched for his family and on the fourth day he came to a high ridge and a herd of buffalo were grazing below. As the young man approached the heard a young buffalo calf came running out to meet him; this buffalo was his son. The young man told his son that he wished to follow them. However his son informed him that the trip was too long and that he would die. Still the young man continued despite his son's warning. A few days later the buffalo decided to put the young man through a test, by seeing if he could identify his son in a group of other buffalo calf. Before the test the young man's son informed him that he would set up various signals so his father could identify him. When the test came the father and son had no problem communicating with each other so the young man passed the test.

The herd proceeded to carry on after this until a few days later when the young calf again approached his father. The calf's grandfather and grandmother wanted to kill the young man by charging at him. Again the young calf informed his father on how he could defeat them, instructing his father to stay calm and to have a pure heart. The grandfather then charged at the young man but was unable to kill him realizing that the young man had "a strong heart and great human power".

The grandmother then proceeded to charge but she too realized that he had "a strong heart and great human power".

The young calf then approached his father again informing him that his grandfather was going to challenge him to a race in an attempt to kill the young man. The young calf told his father to take the black stick and not the red one and to run on the inside near the rim rock. He also instructed his father to duck down when his grandfather turned around for it was here that he would be trying to kill him. The race began and the young man ran along the inside of the track like his son instructed. The grandfather then turned around and charged at the young man. The young man ducked when the buffalo charged, and the buffalo ran by the young man off a cliff to his death.

The animals then proceeded to hold a council and decided to have a great race between man and buffalo. If man won he would eat buffalo and buffalo would no longer eat man. However if buffalo won they would eat man and man would no longer eat buffalo. All birds and animals showed up and painted their bodies the colors that they are now today. The buffalo selected Slim Walking Woman to be their racer "for she was the fastest and most long winded".

The animals and birds chose their sides and an overwhelming number sided with buffalo. Only swift hawk, crow, magpie, and eagle sided with the young man. The race began and Slim Walking Woman got off to an early lead as magpie flew very high. Many racers passed out from exhaustion. Slim Walking Woman lead the whole race but just as she was about to pass the finish line magpie plunged from the sky passing her right before she crossed the line.

After the race the buffalo elders said they must have the medicine lodge. In it "all will be performed that has happened since the beginning of this great race. On the fourth day of the ceremony it will belong to human beings".

The ceremony gave man the power over buffalo and from then on the Suhtaio considered themselves to be the buffalo people

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