The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives

By Francis Joseph Attocknie; Thomas W. Kavanagh | Go to book overview

4   Nahwakatahnohpetuhupu
WHEN THE ENEMIES CAMPED TOGETHER
| 1838 |

When the Cheyenne chief known to the Comanches as White Marked Loins heard the report of the lone escaped Cheyenne foot-warrior, he scoffed at it and refused to believe such a report. “The Snakes could not digest or even swallow my oldest son. They could not even swallow his younger brother or even my youngest son,” said the old chief.

When some of the relatives of the Cheyenne warriors who had gone with the three brothers felt bad and grieved for their relatives, White Marked Loins assured them there had been too many warriors for them all to have been wiped out; they would return, said the old chief, or at least some of them would. Still, worried relatives grieved and mourned. But White Marked Loins steadfastly maintained the Comanches could not possibly kill so many able Cheyenne warriors. The leaves turned and then fell. Finally, the old chief told the grieving relatives, “Let us all wait until the white starts coming down from above; then, and only then, you and I will start mourning for our brave loved ones.”

So the Cheyennes fearfully waited for the white snow to fall to let them know that they must abandon all hope of ever seeing their warriors alive. This year that found the Cheyennes waiting happened to be one of those years in which the first snowfall was unseasonably late. As the Cheyennes waited, the weather turned colder and colder, but still there was no snow. Late one day, although it was cold, there was not much wind, and the Cheyennes that happened to be outside of their camps saw the first large white snowflakes leisurely floating down to the ground. To the Cheyennes, the snowflakes looked even larger and whiter than they actually were, as they brought down with them the final sad tidings of lost loved ones, fathers, brothers, and sons, who had gone south to the land of the Snakes, never to return. The entire village, including the old leader, now gave up any hope for their beloved young men and went into deep mourning. The Snakes in the south had swallowed not only the youngest son of the chief, but also his older brothers too, along with all the followers but the single escapee.

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