The Wolf, the Fox, the Bobcat and the Cougar

[Image: Sage brush growing on lava bed]

Sage brush growing on lava bed

Before the lava field was actually here, this used to be forested rivers where the Shoshone Bannocks used to live in harmony. There used to be lots of water and food for them, so they were very happy here.

But then all of a sudden, as the legends say, there was a warrior group. They were very vicious little people who drove the Shoshone Bannocks away from this prime forest area. These warriors were very vicious. They were experts with their bows and arrows. And so the Shoshone Bannocks held a council, a great council, and they were wondering what they were going to do with these vicious beings.

So they elected one of their most prominent medicine man to journey out, say a prayer, do a vision quest and try to figure out how to get rid of the vicious little people that came in and invaded their territory. The old medicine man agreed and he took a journey into a forest. He was following a bright star until the bright star led him into an opening.

There was the wolf, the fox, the bobcat and the cougar. The cougar had a head of an Indian and his paws were hands, which made the medicine man scared. But that cougar turned around and talked to him in Shoshone and said, "Do not be scared." He heard from the animals that the medicine man was coming, so he said, “Don’t be scared of the bobcat, the wolf, the fox because they are spirits. We’ll help you. What do you need?”

So the medicine man told them that these vicious little people got into their territory and ran them off and they were wondering how to get rid of them. The spirits held a council and then the leader turned around and said, "We will help you, under one condition: that none of your people, be it Shoshone or Bannock, will hunt the cougar, hunt the bobcat, hunt the fox, hunt the wolf—and don’t eat them, don’t kill them. Stay away from them. If you guys agree on that, then the spirits will help the Shoshone Bannocks drive these people out."

[Image: green bushes and blue flowers]

Green bushes and Larkspur growing in lava beds

Then the cougar told him to go back to his people and hold a big council. "Tell the people what I told you," said the cougar. So the medicine man went back to his people and he followed that star again, that bright star that lead him back home. He told the Shoshone Bannocks to bring their wives and bring their children. He said, "We’re going to hold a great council." And then they did. He told them what the spirits had told him.

Some of the warriors took it as not real, but the medicine man argued that it was real, that the spirits want all the Shoshone Bannocks to journey with him, back to the spirits to show that he is telling the truth. So it was a big migration of Shoshone Bannocks that followed the star and followed the medicine man.

They came into the clearing and the women and children were scared because they saw the spirits there—the wolf, the fox, the bobcat and cougar. Especially the cougar, the leader of the spirits, because he had a head of an Indian and his paws were hands.

The cougar told them, "Don’t be scared. We’re the spirits. We know what you’ve come for. We will help you." And so the spirits said their prayers and all of a sudden the medicine man started rising into the air. And as he rose up into the air, the spirits shot down lightening. Then all of a sudden the forest turned into fire. It surrounded those evil little beings and they burned. Then the fire went back down again and the medicine man came back down. And the spirits said, "You are okay now."

So that’s one reason why the Shoshone Bannocks—even to this day I haven’t seen it happen yet—the Shoshone Bannock will not hunt the wolf, the fox, the bobcat or the cougar, because they are still upholding their promise to the spirits for helping them get rid of those evil little beings.

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