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Mistakes of Old Man

This version of the legend comes from Frank Linderman's 1915 collection Indian Why Stories.

Old-man made a great many mistakes in making things in the world, but he worked until he had everything good. I told you at the beginning that Old-man made mistakes, but I didn't tell you what they were, so now I shall tell you.

One of the things he did that was wrong, was to make the Big-Horn to live on the plains. Yes, he made him on the plains and turned him loose, to make his living there. Of course the Big-Horn couldn't run on the plains, and Old-man wondered what was wrong. Finally, he said: "Come here, Big-Horn!" and the Big-Horn came to him. Old-man stuck his arm through the circle his horns made, and dragged the Big-Horn far up into the mountains. There he set him free again, and sat down to watch him. Ho! It made Old-man dizzy to watch the Big-Horn run about on the ragged cliffs. He saw at once that this was the country the Big-Horn liked, and he left him there. Yes, he left him there forever, and there he stays, seldom coming down to the lower country.

While Old-man was waiting to see what the Big-Horn would do in the high mountains, he made an Antelope and set him free with the Big-Horn. Ho! But the Antelope stumbled and fell down among the rocks. He couldn't run at all; could hardly stand up. So Old-man called to the Antelope to come back to him, and the Antelope did come to him. Then he called to the Big-Horn, and said:

"You are all right, I guess, but this one isn't, and I'll have to take him somewhere else."

He dragged the Antelope down to the prairie country, and set him free there. Then he watched him a minute; that was as long as the Antelope was in sight, for he was afraid Old-man might take him back to the mountains.

He said: "I guess that fellow was made for the plains, all right, so I'll leave him there"; and he did. That is why the Antelope always stays on the plains, even to-day. He likes it better.

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