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Īktomnī and the mice pow-wow : a trickster story
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Īktomnī and the mice pow-wow
A Nakoda story told by Mrs. Dorothy Rider of Morley, Alberta
translation and Illustrations by Duane J. Mark

Īktomnī the Trickster
In the belief system of the Stoney/Nakoda people, the figure Īktomnī is the trickster. Sometimes called "the tricky one, spider, unknown", Īktomnī is a supernatural wanderer, a "changer", an arbitrator and instigator and cultural hero - a manifestation of the Creator's sacred mystery. The Stoney/Nakoda story cycle contains many tales about Īktomnī, and this one, Īktomnī and the Mice Pow-wow, is retold here by artist, musician, and story collector Duane J. Mark. A resident of Morley, Alberta, Mark is a Language and Cultural Coordinator at Morley Community School. His version of the story comes to him from one of his Grandmothers, Mrs. Dorothy Rider, an accomplished teller descended directly from the Nakoda people of Southern Saskatchewan. First recorded in 1987, Mark later illustrated the story in pen and ink between 1988-89. As a musician compelled by both traditional and contemporary forms, he was delighted and amused by the vision of mice singing in high, clear voices from their hiding place within an old bison skull. Inspired initially to share the story with others through his whimsical images, Mark sees this present digital manifestation as another useful form of outreach: a way to educate people from all backgrounds about his people and language, in order to engender understanding and keep the Stoney/Nakoda culture strong.

Īktomnī, pithpithan wagichibi cha woparhte zehâ
(Īktomnī and the Mice Pow-wow)

Wījan āba wazi en, Īktomnī chāgunā cha opa ya ūstach. Māni ye ze echen woparhtahiya hāch.

One fine sunny day Īktomnī, the Trickster, was walking along the woods. He came upon a small path and decided that he would follow it. He walked along enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest.

Tehān manīsīrh, chā ohā daguchagas nārhūhāch. Hechechīhā īto īnāzīhūnā woparhtagahāch. Dohā bathūpta hāch ne daguchagas nārhūke.

He had not walked far when he began to hear sounds. The sounds were faint. The strange, yet familiar sounds, were coming from somewhere in the forest. He stopped and looked about. Īktomnī was curious. He was a curious sort of fellow. He wanted to find out where and what these strange sounds were.

Hechechīhā ne daguchagas nārhūke oné hāch. Chāgunā ke opa, īhīchī rheyada chā ohā, woné ya ūstach. Woné hiya chen, ne daguchagas nārhūke daguchazé choyahāch.

The small path that he was following led in the direction of the sounds. He walked along, stopping now and again to peer behind trees and bushes. It was such that the sound that Īktomnī was following was becoming clearer and clearer. He knew now what the sound was.

Īpanūwābi chahāch nārhūze. Īpanūwābi chaniye chīhā horhniye īchiya oné hāch. Chāgu opéke tehāsīrh tatāga pahuhu seja cha chāgu ījarhtarh īgahāch. Zehā, Īktomnī tatāga pahuhu seja ke ījarhtarh hiya hāduk īpanūwābi ke warhmān īgabihāch.

Īto īnāzīhūna anārhoptā hāga hāch. Daguchako nārhūsīchiha, īhom mānī yahāch. Hecheyaduk akés īpanūwābi ke nārhūhāch.

It was pow-wow singing and drumming. He liked the sounds of the singing and drumming. He hurried on to find out where this good music was coming from. Īktomnī saw a turn in the path ahead. Near the path, lying among some bushes, he could see a large, old bison skull.

The singing became clearer as he neared the turn where the skull lay. Just as Īktomnī was about to reach the turn, the singing and drumming stopped. Īktomnī stood there puzzled for a moment. "Hmmph, there is nothing to be found here," he muttered to himself. He continued on his search. Before long, he heard the singing and drumming again.

Hecheyechīhā tatāga pahuhu seja ke anāgithnada hūnā kiyānichihā anarhoptāhāch, īpanūwābi niye cha nārhūwan.

Īktomnī was puzzled even more. He retraced his steps back to near where the path had changed direction. He then crept through the bushes. Īktomnī was determined to find out where the singing was coming from.

He arrived at the turn and slowly peered out from the bushes. It seemed to Īktomnī that the singing and drumming was coming from the old bison skull that lay along the pathway. He quietly came upon the skull and listened. Sure enough, the sounds of good pow-wow singing and drumming echoed from within the skull.

Hechen pahuhu seja nāzudé orhnorha ze ohnā akidahāduk, wanās pithpiththan īpanūwā īgabichahāch. Wagichibi īhnuthé ko ogitūbihūna pithpithan wagichibi hāch.

Īktomnī carefully crept about and looked inside through the base of the skull. Much to Īktomnī's surprise and amusement, a large group of mice had gathered inside the large bison skull. They were singing, drumming, and dancing. They were all gathered for a mice pow-wow celebration.

Dohā dāāwīchanahāch Īktomnī ne pithpithan wagichibine. Īto īthtoya īgahūna aūchakin īgagahāch. Īktomnī tāgan woparhte īgeze thnohiyabisīhāch pithpithanā ke.

Now Īktomnī liked what he saw and decided to watch quietly. The mice did not know that Īktomnī was watching them. He stretched himself out and lay beside the skull. Īktomnī watched in amusement as the little mice performed their ritualistic song and dance.

Pithpithān wagichibine aūchakidagahūnā zehā owīcha kiyaya hāch. "Oh, mīthūgan pahā sta īgemākiyabināwo dāāchinabināno wayagichibine ", ewīchagiyahāch.

Īktomnī thoroughly enjoyed himself. He could not help but ask to join the festivities. He leaned forward and called upon the mice. "My brothers." Startled, the mice stopped their dancing and singing and looked up at Īktomnī. Īktomnī continued to speak. "I have been watching all of you sing and dance. I would like to join in your festivities."

"Eh-eh, onīgipisīheno īgiyebije oīgogipibicha, tin īhiyubichano", ejabihāch. "Hiyawo, īchīktarh tinhīmusījenāno pahā sta tin ige māki yabinawo. Dāāchinabinano īyapanūwābi ne wayagichibināchawīch achikidabināthchiyach", ewīchagiyahāch.

The mice spoke. "Eh-eh, you will not fit inside here. We are small enough to fit inside. That is the reason we are in here and you are out there." Īktomnī replied, "No, no, at least allow me to fit my head inside so that I can watch. You are having a celebration, are you not?" The mice gave considerable thought over Īktomnī's request. Finally, the mice agreed to allow Īktomnī to watch the mice pow-wow, even though they did not want him there.

Īhom nāzude orhnora ze pa ogipisīhāka piyes dokahāgas ogipiīchichiyahāch. Pa tin iyagichiya hūnā zehā awīchakin īgaganāhāch.

Īktomnī was delighted. He allowed his head to fit through the base of the bison skull. He stretched out and made himself comfortable. Īktomnī was now ready to watch and enjoy this merriment of mice.

Óm wagichināth chiyā hāka dokāhāsīwan. Hāhebi īzīhā wagichibi hāch pithpithana ke hecheyaduk woparhteīgachen īstīma iya ūsten.

As much as he wanted to dance, he could not. The celebration continued on into the night. By this time, Īktomnī was becoming tired. He was becoming sleepy. He tried hard to stay awake, but sleep was overcoming him. Īktomnī fell asleep. The celebration raged on into the night.

Hakenā chīhā, Īktomnī īstīmāīge ze echen skāīhna orāhāch. Ne pithpithan wagichibi ke tā ībisī hāch. Tin īktūgiyabi keīs kpathnībihāch. Gothām Īktomnī pa yasnasnabi hūna tāībisī ūstach. Ogapahahāch.

Next morning, Īktomnī awoke with a start. He looked about to find that all the mice had left. There was nothing left except for the smoldering ashes inside the bottom center of the skull where a small fire had been lit. Furthermore, Īktomnī discovered that while he had been asleep, the mice had chewed all of his hair off. Whatever hair he had on his head, only a few strands remained. Īktomnī was not amused. He was very much annoyed.

Zehā pahuhu seja ne pa tin gasé īchiye wan. Pa gasé īchiyene nāīchispaktaskāhāch, pa huhu sejane kta kohūnā mānīyeze echen obatātā, chā ohā, chā īyāmīga hiyahāch dokuko hūyagesī wan.

He gathered himself and attempted to slip his head out from the old skull. He found out that removing his head from the skull was not as easy as he thought it would be. Īktomnī's head was stuck inside the bison skull. This old skull was unusually large and heavy.

With some effort, Īktomnī sat up. He pulled himself up. He bent over and with one foot placed firmly on one horn of the skull, Īktomnī pushed and pulled. He hopped about the thorny bush and thickets, bumping into trees, becoming more and more annoyed.

Heche chīhā īto īnāzīhūnā wokchāhāhāch. Pahuhu seja cha pa gasé īchiyené dokāharh nāīchispachiyen oné hāch.

Tired and flustered, Īktomnī finally stopped and gave thought to his unpleasant problem. He realized that his efforts did not help him any. His head was stuck inside this heavy bison skull and the quicker he got his head out the better. He decided that he would look for something, anything, or someone to rescue him from his predicament.

Chā ohā mānī ye ze echen gasé īchiya hiya ūstach. Chāīyāmīgahās, "Thūk, dagucha henichanāhūwo?" ewichagiyagahāch.

Hechen mānī ya chen chārhāziya oda uya chaen rhijāhāhunā chā oha iya hāch.

Īktomnī had no way of knowing which direction he wanted to take. He just started to grope along. He stumbled along what he thought was the path. Īktomnī bumped into trees and now and again would become entangled among thickets and thistles. When he bumped into a tree or fell among the bush, he would ask what they were. The replies of the trees and bushes gave him a sense of direction.

Īktomnī fell among some red willow. Īktomnī asked, "My brother, what are you?" The willow replied, "I am red willow." Īktomnī thought for a moment and replied, "Oh-huh, my brother, you grow near water. I will search for this water."

"Thuk, dagucha henīchanāhūwo?" eijiyahāch. "Chārhāziya, hemachano eyahāch. "Oh-hā chārhaziya, wapta mīnī kīyan uniyagethajik, wapta mīni ze owanektach" ejiyahāch. Wapta baha thā hā hā cha ehā ihāch. Piyaīhāktahāduk ektasīhāhūnā baha kechu ohmīhmāhāch.

Īktomnī groped along with the thought that water would help him slip out of the bison skull. He came upon a bluff. A creek ran below the bluff. Īktomnī did not realize where he was. He only heard the trickling of water. He went forward. As he did, Īktomnī tripped on a root. Īktomnī stumbled headlong down the bluff. He had quite a tumble.

Baha hnīheya cha ohnā ohmīhmā hāch.

As Īktomnī rolled down, the heavy skull spun around and around twisting Īktomnī and his head every which way.

Ohmīhmā gen nāk wapta hechi hnīrhpahāch, ne pa huhuseja ke dānārh oga pā pā hūnā mīnī chānān īrhpahāch.

He had no way of knowing what was happening. He rolled down the bluff to end up crashing among some rocks in the creek.

Mīnī chā nān īge ze echen, woparhtarhtagahāch, "We-es, wījakerh sthūk māgirhābich" eyaūstach. Hechuhā pahuhu seja cha, pa oyatagé ke hnaspanā ūsten.

The impact of the fall caused the bison skull to break up into tiny bits. Īktomnī sat up in the cold water of the creek and looked about. "I have been made a fool," he muttered to himself. He got out of the water and picked all of the skull bits out of his hairless head. He then cleaned himself thoroughly.

Zedāhā īchihna da daga hūnā dokāpagiya mānī yanā ūstach.

When he was finished, Īktomnī continued on his journey in another direction.

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