Traditional Miami Stories

The Coon Hunter's Fear

Often upon a dark and dismal night when the pioneers were coon hunting around about midnight in the deep and dark ravines they could hear a roaring sound. It sounded like the hoof beats of many ponies in the distance. Closer and closer the sound came to the coon hunters. It would come very, very close to them but suddenly it would fade away inthe distance. The pioneers could feel the vibration of the air as the roar passed over them. The Miami who heard this noise believed that the roaring sound was the spirits of the dead of thier tribe. These spirits had come on their ponies from the Spirit land to view the beloved spot of their life on Earth. Tfhey wanted to hunt once more along the banks of the Big Pipe Creek where they had found such an abundance of game when they had lived on Earth many years ago.

Catching a Bear

Long ago while this country was still a wilderness, there were many bears in the land. These bears lived in very small holes in the caves along the Wabash and Mississinewa Rivers.
The Miami had serveral braves in the tribe who were very small in stature. These men would take a Tomahawk and a firebrand and crawl into the holes to hunt the bears. When hi found a bear he would hit him several times on the end of the nose, as this was a very tender spot. The bear did not like to have his nose hit so he would run out of the cave. The other's, standing outside the cave, would capture the bear with their bosw and arrows as he came running out of his den. The Miami had many dogs with them when they went bear hunting. These dogs were specially trained for this. Thus, whith the help of the dogs the Miami caught many bears when they had hunts.
After a bear was killed the men carried it home where the young braves skinned it. After the bear was skinned the woumen would prepare the meat. The meat which couldn't be eaten before it spoiled was dried and hung up to be used at a later time.

Frances Slocum as an Indian Pony Rider

Frances Slocum was regarded among the Miami as a good sportswoman. She enjoyed fun and frolic and attended all such gatherings if she was able.
A race track was located back of her home. The races would often take place on this track. The Miami always used their own ponies for these races. Frances could ride and guide any of the ponies without a bridle or a saddle. She was especially fond of riding a bucking pony. She also enjoyed winning the races from the men. She like to prove that a woman could ride better than a man.
One day, when a Miami was riding his pony on the race track he was thrown to the ground. This amused Frances. She laughed heartily at the plight of the young man.
"Let me show you how to ride that pony!" she said to the brave.
She then jumped on the back of the pony and rode it without a saddle. She rode it with a great deal of ease and did not fall off. Francis rode outlaw ponies and helped break them right along with the men.
Whenever they had a pony that could not be broken, Frances always had the job of taming it. She had more success than many of the men did. The men of her tribe would go to Chief she-po-ca-nah, Frances' husband, for help and advice. After his death the Indians would go to Frances whom they admired and respected just as they had her husband. She would help them with their problems whenever she could. Therefore, she became the chief advisor for her tribe after her husband was taken by The Great Spirit.

Great Spirit's Teaching

Those who tried to live right were governed by the Great Spirit. A missionary came to the Miami territory may years ago to teach them about the white man's God.
When the Miami heard about this missionary coming to their4 village they did not like it because most of the white men they had know were cruel men who wanted more of the Miami's precious land. One day several of the Miami decided to go to the missionary's tent and kill him. Upon arriving at the tent, the men pushed back the flap and looked inside the tent. They saw the missionary sitting at a table reading his bible. As they were ready to tenter the tent, a large rattlesnake crawled across the feet of the missionary. The men were atonished. The men went back to their own homes and told the other's what they had seen. The Chief of the tribe said, "Do not harm the missionary. He is too good of a man and the Great Spirit has shown favor on him. We will liten to what the missionary hs to tell us."
From that time on the missionary was treated very kindly by the Miami since they felt that he was a special messenger from their Great Spirit. Many listened carefully to what the missionary taught them and became followers of the white minister.

Monster of Lake Manitau

Near Rochester, Indiana there is a very beautiful lake which the Miami named Lake Manitau. They believed a large monster, resembling a huge water snake lived in this lake. A group of Miami in 1845 calimed to have seen the monster and they reported that it was sixty feet long with a huge head some three feet across the frontal bone. The color of the monster was described as a dingy brown marked with yellow spots. After these few had seen it the rest would not go near the lake. They gave the name of "Manitau" to the animal. This a Miami word that means "Ugly and undesirable."
A few years after the monster had been first seen by this small group of Miami, a white man caught a huge fish in the lake. The fish weighed several hundred pounds. The head alone weighed over thirty pounds. The mouth measured three feet across, therefore haveing a large swallowing capacity. The Miami felt that this was the monster they had seen. The white man also thought it was the same monster but due to the magnifying influence of fear, the story had been exaggerated by the men.
Nevertheless, ever since the Miami named the lake "Manitau" it has gone by this name, although the spelling of the word has been changed slightly from the original spelling.