The Story of No Moccasins

No moccasins died in her seventieth winter.

On her burial scaffold were hung her husband’s shield, his weapons, and the eagle-feather staff.

On the ground below were piled hundreds of moccasins

so she would not have to journey to the other side in bare feet.


Among us the old ones are the best models for how we should live our lives.

a collection of stories because of all that each one has seen and lived in a lifetime.

an old woman named No Moccasins lived in a time before the coming of the horses (prior to 1700).

and her husband, Three Horns, had lived long lives.

They had a son and a daughter and No moccasins,

was grandmother to all the children in the village.

She was a small woman, and by her sixty-seventh winter her hair was the color of new-fallen snow. The lines in her face seemed to show the many trails she had walked in her life.

No visitor to her lodge ever left hungry, and rarely with out a gift in hand,

something that was finely quilted, intricate quilting patterns and designs

and many women came to learn her skill, known mainly as the wife of Three Horns

a man of excellent reputation.a warrior for past his time, many, many war honors.

The lance to which his eagle feathers were tied was twice as long as a man was tall.

Every feather was an honor, of course, and no other man could boast of such a thing.

When he finally turned from the warpath he took his place on the council of elders.

There he offered his wisdom unselfishly and the skill with which he spoke could not be matched.

He was seventy winters old, but his appearance could take the breath away.

He stood straight and tall, and his hair which hung to his waist, was silvery white.

In the village everyone turned to Three Horns for advice.

It seemed as though he had always been there, an Eternal Warrior..

He fell ill and took to his deathbed, the entire village was in disbelief.

Many people from other villages came to pay honor to Three Horns.

Three Horns tiny village grew to twice its size in a matter of days.

No Moccasins, her daughter, and several other women

were kept busy cooking to feed all the guests.

When Three Horns asked the oldest people in the gathering to come to his lodge.

The long eagle-feather staff, bows and arrows and lances,

and buffalo-hide shields were the colorful symbols of the glorious life of a warrior.

Three horns, weak from his illness, spoke in a low voice with No Moccasins,

who was sitting beside him.

But he seemed to grow stronger as he went on.

"My friends and relatives," he began, "thank you for coming into our lodge.

I have been honored to share this lodge with my wife for nearly fifty winters.

We are feared and respected by our enemies.

The number of our lodges and villages has grown in that time.

We are a strong people; our ways are good.

I am thankful to the Great Mystery for bringing me into this world as a Lakota !

I have lived a good life and I am ready to Die.

Before I leave I have a story to tell,

When I was a young man I traveled south from my mother and father’s village to hunt.

to a village that was encamped north of the Running Water River.

There was a great feasting and a dance at that time, for there had been a fight

and a great victory over enemies to the south.

I was invited to join the celebration. It was a good time.

There was much food and we danced far into the night.

I awoke the nest morning and looked into the largest and most wonderful

eyes I had we ever seen. A young woman was gazing down at me.

She said, "It is funny what suddenly grows beside this trail,

I jumped to my feet and followed her to the water

and carried the water skins back to the village for her.

That was the best chore I have ever done in my life.

"The next evening I stood in line out side the lodge of this young woman

with all the other young men who had come to court her.

Her name was Carries the Fire and she did put the fire in my heart.

She asked me to come again the next evening.

I remained in her village until the autumn hunts.

she decided that I might be a good husband.

So I went back north to tell my family so they could prepare the gifts

to her family for the bride Price.

We were married the following spring.

In between was the longest winter of my life.

So I left my family and became a part of her village, as is a custom among us.

No long after that, enemies came among us from the south on a revenge raid

for the defeat they had suffered before.

They killed a man and took two young women. A war party went south on their trail.

I went alone. We trailed them for a half a moon, it seemed, going far into country

I had never seen. We traveled fast and caught up with them as they rejoined their village.

We hid and watched. We saw where they had put the two young women.

Later we saw where their night sentinels were and made a plan.

There were six of us. That night two of us would set a fire to the east of the village,

and two of us would do the same to the west.

While the men of the village were busy putting out the fires,

two of us would sneak in and take back our young women.

The plan worked, but I was one of the two who sneaked into the village,

and I was captured.

all of our war party had escaped back to the north with the two young women,

and I was glad to pay the price of a good raid.

my captors were very angry. They made me a slave.

All my clothing was taken from me-

I was led around naked; everyone laughed. I was made to work.

I pulled drag poles like a dog until my hands and knees were bleeding.

They teased me; they threw dirt in my face.

Women pulled up their dresses in front of me and laughed,

showing me that I was no longer a man.

They gave me no food so I had to fight with the dogs for scraps.

At night they bound me hand and foot and stretched me between two stout poles.

There was no way to escape. I began to feel lower than a dung beetle.

I lost count of the days, but I looked for ways to escape.

But lack of food made me very weak, and I knew that before I was too weak I had to escape.

I am not ashamed to tell you that one night I prayed to Great Mystery

to give me a quick death. I could not escape; I was to weak.

One night it was cold and rainy, and I was naked and shivering.

There was no one about; it was to cold.

Even the dogs curled up out of the rain. My heart was sad as I thought about

my ‘young wife and that I would never, ever see her again.

I thought about her so much that her face appeared to me.

After a moment I realized it was real; she there!

While I lay there in disbelief she cut my bonds with her knife,

pulled me to my feet, and guided me out of the enemy’s village.

I know we walked through the night and by dawn we arrived at a hiding place

she had prepared.

The rain had fallen through the night and washed out our tracks.

She could not have found a better time to come. She had hidden food and weapons.

As my mind cleared I saw that she was wearing men’s clothes-mine-

to disguised herself for the journey. We hid,and we ate and rested.

She told me that the other men had returned home with the news that I had been killed.

She grieved for a time, she said, but she found herself not believing I was really dead.

One night she made preparations and left the camp.

The others had told her where the enemy camp was located. She knew where to look.

After many days of hiding and watching she came into the camp on that rainy night.

the enemy knew we had to travel north to come home,. .

: six warriors came, moving fast. I knew and that those six men were the best of their warriors.

Because my escape was an insult they could not let pass,

they sent out their best trackers, their fiercest warriors.

Carries the Fire and I decided that we should hide so that we would not leave a trail

they could find. We made a good hiding place in an old bear’s den.

She slipped away, and returned that evening, wet and barefoot.

She had placed her moccasins near a creek to lay a false trail for our pursuers.

Later she told me that when they nearly spotted her, She had to go into the creek

and come up inside the beaver’s house.

I teased her, saying that she should have a new name---No Moccasins..

I began to call her No Moccasins because it was a name of honor

for what she had done. That is why my wife is call No Moccasins.

The people were surprised to see us.

They believed that I had been killed and that my wife had gone off

and killed herself.

My wife did not want me to tell our story and would only let me say

that I had escaped from my captors.

The people honored me for that, but it was not my victory.

It is time to repay the great debt I owe my wife.

I was fortunate as a warrior and I could not have achieved them

if my wife had not risked her life.

I have not heard of any man in my lifetime who has done a braver deed.

So I must give all these honors to the one who truly deserves them.

I give them to my wife.

I ask that my warrior weapons and my eagle-feather staff be moved from the man’s place

in our lodge to the woman’s place, where they rightfully should be.

Three Horns sighed deeply and settled back.

No Moccasins silently wiped away her tears and pulled a robe up over her husband

Before long No Moccasins’ name rose with the smoke from many campfires.

Days later Three Horns died in the arms of his beloved No Moccasins.

As he wished, Three Horns' burial scaffold was unadorned.

No Moccasins cut her hair short in mourning,

She gave her husband’s eagle-feather staff, his shield,

and his weapons to the Kit Fox Warrior Society.

They, decided to hang those symbols of honor in the great council lodge

The honor and reverence that Three Horns was given in his life now belonged to No Moccasins.

Not a day went by that a gift of food was not left outside her lodge door,

and every day she shared those gifts with the very young and the very old.

In the winter the firewood piled outside her door was nearly as high as the lodge.

This, too, she shared.

warriors from near and far came to bring gifts and to share a meal,

and to sit in the presence of courage to learn humility.


No moccasins died in her seventieth winter.

On her burial scaffold were hung her husband’s shield, his weapons,

and the eagle-feather staff.

On the ground below were piled hundreds of moccasins

so she would not have to journey to the other side in bare feet.

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