Native American Tales

The Man Who Was Afraid of Nothing

The Man Who Was Afraid of NothingThe Man Who Was Afraid of Nothing

Brule Sioux

Four ghosts were sitting together and the topic of discussion was one particular man who seemed to be afraid of nothing. The ghosts decided they would meet the man to see if they could scare him.

The first ghost met the man and tried to be scary, but the man wanted to play stick ball. He crumpled up the skeleton into a hoop and used one of his bones to push the hoop along. The second ghost also tried to be scary, but the young man used his head as a ball and used one of that ghost’s leg bones as a stick.

The third ghost also tried to scare the young man and challenged him to a wrestling match, but the man didn’t want to wrestle, he wanted to go sledding. He took the skeleton’s rib cage and used it as a sled, but the skeleton did look rather funny afterwards. After the man was done he threw the rib cage into the water and the skeleton exclaimed that it was going to get all wet trying to get it out. The man said the skeleton’s woman would appreciate the bath and the skeleton exclaimed that it was a woman. The man said he could never tell with skeletons, “You pretty thing.”

The fourth ghost came up and said it was going to kill the man, but the man said he was a ghost too, more terrifying than this ghost, which happened to be a skeleton riding a skeleton horse. The man said he was going to take the horse from the skeleton, which he did. He got on the horse and rode back to the village, where people rushed out to see what the commotion was. The sight was a bit frightening, but as soon as the sun came up the skeleton horse disappeared.

The man just laughed. Later on, he had dinner with some men who were talking about the man being so tough because he defeated four skeleton ghosts by himself. During this, a small spider landed on him. The man began to scream and holler beseeching anyone to get the tiny spider off of him. He hated spiders. A little girl laughed and removed the spider from the man.


This story reminds me a lot of the Grimm’s Fairy tale, The Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was. This man seemed to be afraid of nothing. It’s not for the same reason the youth in the Grimm’s Fairy Tale was afraid of nothing. Both of the men challenged supernatural beings without being the slightest bit scared of them.

A skeleton is just one form that a ghost is said to take. We tend to hear about apparitions, orbs, shadows, and so forth, but skeletons don’t come up that much. The idea comes up much more in folklore, like this story, versus “real life” ghost encounters.

I like that one of the ghosts was a woman.


Just because you’re not afraid of traditional fears, doesn’t mean you’re not afraid of something. I think everyone is afraid of something in some way. I tend to be one of those people who is afraid of very little. Spiders, snakes, heights–just throw it at me, I’m fine. Clowns? You think clowns are scary? I don’t. I’m sure there are things I’m afraid of though. Everyone is afraid of something. Fear is just part of our humanity. If you’re not scared of something, you’re probably an android and you should probably get that checked out.

That isn’t to say that one’s emotions cannot be muted, because they can. This usually happens when someone is very depressed. A severely depressed person, may not feel anything, even fear. This isn’t the point I’m trying to make though.

This man was afraid of a spider, lots of people are afraid of spiders. It’s pretty normal. On the other hand, being scared of skeleton ghosts is a thing most people would probably be scared of. Like, if I saw a for real skeleton, like a real skeleton, walking of its own accord, with no strings, no magnets, no trickery, I would be scared. What in the world has happened that has enabled a skeleton to get up and walk of its own accord? Is it the undead? Has it been struck by lightning and given life? Is it being controlled by a Voodoo master or a warlock? What’s the deal? No matter what the deal is, if it’s not readily explainable with trickery and clever engineering then there is something more sinister at work and you better bet your butt that I would be a bit freaked out.

This story simply illustrates that everyone is afraid of something, everyone, even that big tough guy who scares skeleton ghosts.


I aint afraid of no ghost.

Weigh In

Would you be scared of a skeleton ghost?

Does the fear of spiders make the man in this story more human?


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