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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Enough is Enough

One Cheyenne man of long ago had a pointed leg. By running and jumping against trees he made his leg stick in them. When he said the magic word, he dropped again to the ground. Sometimes on a hot day he would stick himself high on the tree trunk for greater shade. However, he knew he could not do this trick more than four times in one day.

A white man came along, saw him perform, and cried out, "Brother, sharpen my leg!" Cheyenne man said, "That's not too hard. I can sharpen your leg." So the white man stood on a large log, and with an axe the Cheyenne sharpened his leg. "But you must remember never to perform your trick more than four times in one day, and keep exact count."

White man then went down toward the river and saw a large tree growing on the bank. Toward this he ran, jumped, and thrust his leg into the tree, where it stuck. He called himself back to the ground. Again he jumped against another tree, but only counted one. The third time he only counted two. The fourth time, birds and animals stood by and watched as the white man jumped high and pushed his leg on the tree up to his knee. But he only counted three.

Then coyotes, wolves, and other animals came to see him. Some asked, "How did the white man learn the trick?" They begged him to show them, so they could stick themselves to trees at night. The white man became even prouder from all of this admiration, and the fifth time he ran harder, jumped higher, and half his thigh entered the tree and there he stuck fast. Then he counted four.

He called and called to bring himself down to the ground again, but he still stuck fast. He called out all night and the next day--but nothing helped him. He asked his animal friends to find the Cheyenne who had taught him the trick, but no one knew whom to look for. The white man had forgotten the secret of freeing himself, and after many days stuck in the tree, he starved to death.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.