back   TITLE PAGE   down   GERMAN   next  

Inka-hAma, Monkey Head


Initial E
ver such a long time ago, there was a member of the Sioux tribe who lived near the mountain lake called Inka-hAma. He had neither wife nor child to help him pass the time; he was getting old: he was no longer a very capable warrior and he had not had the good fortune to die in the heat of battle. That is why his soul was darkened by melancholia, as was his proud heart by the shadow of enforced humiliating idleness. Instead of being clad in a suede jerkin ornamented with beads and a tall headdress of eagle feathers, he covered himself with the skin of a mere mountain goat. His brothers of the tribe had assigned him to fishing duties. Inka-hAma the fisherman had put out his nets when the sky was red and red lightning flashing. Behind the mountains on the plain he heard the battle cries of the enemy Blackfeet people echoing among the rumbling thunder. Bit by bit the enemy advanced; the last piece of grassland, the last field was lost to them, and nothing but barren mountain ranges remained to the Sioux. The fisherman trembled with impatience and anxiety. In his mind's eye he saw himself descending on the hated enemy, on those detested rivals with their moon-painted faces. He, the summoner of the cliffs, the summoner of the plains, was riding furiously in the front line with the bravest of the brave on the backs of the tribe's four hundred silver steeds spurring them on with wild shouting. - Picture 75. The Apparition of the Monkey SpiritA frightful thunderbolt crashed into his net. The Red Indian fisherman removed it from the water: the net was undamaged but something heavy was caught in it. It was a sandlewood box. It broke open and something grey, a living creature, leapt out of it. A screeching monkey sat on the Sioux's chest. "I, Ikibi, am coming to you!" - "I thank you!" replied Inka-hAma, "Ikibi, do you hear the hyena howls of the Blackfeet? Will you allow the noble, sun-bronzed Sioux to bleed to death, having been pierced by the arrows of these dogs? Is the tribe of the Sioux to be disgraced and destroyed?" - "Carve a mask portraying my head, my face!" - Inka-hAma, the fisherman, took a large piece of cork, and with a knife from his belt tried to carve the head of the monkey. It worked: - Ikibi was guiding the knife. It was the monkey who made the holes for the eyes of the portrait and lined them. Then it painted the finished mask with red and black earth, attached large tufts of grey hair to both sides and pressed the terrifyingly contorted face over Inka-hAma's forehead. - "Go to Mount Otasquaw and lie down on the white sands until the wolves come. The prophet Maorie is sending you seven hundred strongbacked male animals. When they are all assembled, march with them on the enemies of the Sioux, on the dirty yellow Blackfeet that hiss like vipers. Go!" commanded Ikibi the monkey. - When Inka-hAma's body gleamed like silver on the white sands of Mount Otasquaw, like the eternal glaciers of the mountains, seven hundred wolves appeared with red jaws and red eyes. In the struggle against the hated Blackfeet, the Sioux had retreated to the steep rocky mountain slopes; the entire plain was strewn with their dead.Picture 76. Inka-hAma and his Mask "Walking Mountain" threw away his headdress, bound a red cloth around his eyes and prepared to die. - "They shall not say that they have slain the chief of the Sioux!" - The Blackfeet re-did the war paint on their faces. They wanted to have dealt mortal blows to the heads of the rest of the Sioux and to have destroyed the whole tribe before the white sun rose over the eastern slopes of the mountains. - The battle began; the Sioux died as heroes. But then a giant appeared in the rear of the victorious Blackfeet. His roar could be clearly heard through the howls and screams of the fighters: it sounded like an explosion of the earth: "Iki ibi - Ikibi!" It was Inka-hAma, the monkey head, with his seven hundred wolves. - Shortly before the white disc of the sun rose, the wolves brought disgrace and death over the victors. Every wolf tore two Blackfoot warriors to pieces and threw their bodies down at the feet of the Sioux. "Walking Mountian", now wearing his fluttering feather headdress, brought his daughter to Inka-hAma, whose eyes lay in their sockets like agate. But the rescuer stroked the girl's forehead and said: "No, Ikibi is waiting for me." - When he had reached his mountain lake, the monkey was already there, waiting. It struck the old fishman on the chest and he fell down dead.

Inka-hAma with the Wolves