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Folktales

How the Man got into the Moon

by Richard L. Dieterle

There once was a circular village in the mountains where a boy named 'Running Antelope' lived with his grandmother. He was with a group of people who went to visit a prairie village ruled over by a cruel chief. The chief was fond of a very beautiful maiden named 'Little Hill', but could not succeeded in winning her over. When Running Antelope saw Little Hill he was smitten by her beauty, and spent most of his time with her. Finally they were married, and the couple lived in her village. However, the chief was very unhappy with this turn of events, and threatened that some day he would take her away from Running Antelope. Almost every night when people gathered in the center of the village for games and entertainment, the chief would try to win their affection by casting beautiful and valuable pieces of corral, turquoise, and beads onto the ground for people to pick up. Running Antelope collected many beads and went home to present them to his new wife, but when he got to his lodge, Little Hill could not be found anywhere. So Running Antelope snuck up to the chief's lodge and, as he expected, he heard within the voice of Little Hill singing. He burst into the lodge, and demanded the return of his wife, but the chief pulled a knife and Running Antelope had to flee. The chief grabbed his quiver of poisoned arrows and chased after him, shooting at the young man as they ran. Running Antelope was on the verge of being overtaken by his pursuer when he came to the sandy bank of a lake. There he prayed to the Waterspirits of the lake to save him, and without further hesitation he jumped into the waters. The Waterspirits shot a great swirling geyser of water into the sky which hurled Running Antelope all the way to the moon. When the chief came upon this scene, he shut his eyes tightly for fear that seeing the spirits would kill him. So Running Antelope was saved from the chief, but forever separated from his beloved wife. He is the man that we see in the moon.

One day the chief was out near a lake when his eyes fell upon the reflected image of the moon. To him the image of Running Antelope was so vivid that he thought his enemy was right there in the waters, so he rushed in after him. That was his undoing, for the Waterspirits overwhelmed him with wave upon wave of water until he drowned.


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