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
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
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
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
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.