Arrow Boy

Arrow BoyArrow Boy

Cheyenne

When the Cheyenne were in the north, a young man and woman were married. The woman was pregnant for four years, but she finally gave birth to a son. His parents soon died and he was raised by other family members. They asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to go to the meeting, where he sat beside the chief.

They asked the boy what he would do. He passed his arrows in the four directions. They threw a robe over him four times. Each time there was something different under the robe. One time, the boy disappeared completely, but he was back the fourth time the robe passed over him.

There was a buffalo hunt soon after and the chief declared that he would keep the buffalo. The wonderful boy continued on skinning the buffalo as he had been saying he wanted the hide for a robe. The chief pushed him away. The Wonderful Boy pretended to skin a leg, but really he had cut the leg off and he hit the chief with it and killed him. Wonderful Boy ran away to his grandmother’s tipi, where the warriors chased him intending to kill him. Wonderful Boy turned over his grandmother’s cooking pot and steam rose up, Wonderful Boy went with it.

The warriors chased him for four days, but could never get any closer. Wonderful Boy was seen on the mountain top five times, each time in different clothing. He was soon forgotten because the buffalo left and there was famine.

Wonderful Boy wandered and found an opening in the side of the mountain and went in. The opening closed after he entered. Inside were men from various tribes. There was a bundle with no man sitting at it. The men told him the bundle could be his if he would stay for four years receiving instruction. Wonderful Boy did stay.

Four years later, Wonderful Boy returned to the Cheyenne, everyone was hungry. He met children out gathering mushrooms and bones for food. Wonderful Boy told them to put those bones down and he turned them into fresh meat. He said Arrow Boy, or Motzeyouf, had returned.

Arrow Boy went back to the tribe and they asked him what they should do. He told them to set up a large tipi in the center. He went inside with the medicine men and sang the songs he had learned. It was night before he sang the song about the fourth arrow. During the night the buffalo came back and the people had food.

Observations

According to the little blurb about this story, the medicine arrows brought down from the mountain actually exist and are cared for by the Arrow Keeper of the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma. It’s definitely interesting if these artifacts exist.

This story picks up from the last story. The Cheyenne were in practice of telling a story from the last story told. The last story was about buffalo and hunger, so too was this story.

Goodness, I feel terrible for that woman who was pregnant for four years.

Themes

I don’t know what to think about Arrow Boy. He was the cause for famine in the land, but he also brought food back. He was considered special from a young age, but was also very childish with his specialness and caused others suffering. I don’t really like the idea that Arrow Boy used his specialness for going against things in his younger days, but he did straighten up when he was older. I kind of feel like he was let to have his way when he was younger because he was “special.” It seems as if he wasn’t held to the same accountability as other people his age, until he killed the chief. However, he did atone for his misdeeds at one point and became a good-upstanding member of the community again.

While I don’t like that Arrow Boy did bad things in his younger days, I do like that he straightened himself up and I also like that his people let him back in without too many questions. If you’re going to forgive someone, you overlook their past and accept them for the good they’re trying to do today, not the bad they did ten years ago.

A number theme is developing. Unlike European stories which rely heavily on the number three, these tales are relying heavily on the number four.

Overall

Maybe you were a hellion when you were younger, but that doesn’t stop you from being a nice guy when you’re older.

Weigh In

Would you have accepted Arrow Boy back with open arms, knowing all the trouble he had caused?

Do you think Arrow Boy learning his lesson?

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