The Absent-minded Indian1

     h'the      na'stse mto hov'he ta'se tsemaehne'entan'tomo 
     This is just one      more (of),    like, what you want to know, 

// v'nhhta'heontse // vo'stane ts've'setanse //       heva 
   the regular stories,   a person  who was not very observant, like, 

tsstave'senthvo'eetaese // na'stse ma'hhkse thhe vaveto //. 
when he did something stupid,     one      old man,      long ago.

nnxhne'envo // hmseestse 'hkhestohe //.  vtanovo'h'e 
I knew him,        Eater he was called.           At Tongue River

hvo'stanheve //.
he lived.

     nhe'xvva  'hkeose'vhohemoto'eo'o // tshtaa'hahese.  
     At that time they used to get up very early,  the older people.  

msto'semoasto'eohtshevhe //                ts'hks'hoxomevse // 
They were going to go very early in the morning to go after rations 

tshhe mave'ho'eno //v'aeho'h'e //.
here     at the agency  in Lame Deer (lit. antelope-creek).

     ta'mo'xaneneo'o, nhtsenxhho'eoha'ovoo'o mo'hno'hme //, 
     "Get ready early,  I'm going after           the horses," 

xhetsesto he'ho ts'enose2 //.
he told     his wife.

     m'osaneot'moto'otshhe tssto'seev'neotsetse //.  
     He got up early              when it was almost daylight.  

mstho'eohts'tovhevhe hestotseho tshnetsse //. 
He came to                his horses where they (obv.) were standing. 
na'stse mhnha'enhevhe. m'osanetxevonhnhnothe //.  
One      he caught.         He got on it. 

mstaosaneashoemhevhe tshestxetsse // 
He started counting them, how many there were of 

hestotseho.  xaeno'thovneehsesto3 na'stse //.
his animals. It was simply gone        one (of them).

     tsstaethvo'ooha'ovse // stasenhtsooh'tovsesto 
     After he rounded them up         he started looking for 

nhe //                 n=tsthoese.               hvhpe'xonsesto //.
it (the missing horse), the one which he was riding. It was grayfaced.

     thhe tsstam'a'xse //         tssta'ma'o'etse // 
     There   when he came over the hill where it had been obscured 

ssavomhesesto //.          nhe'e m'aset'has'hehhe // 
he didn't see it (the horse).  Then    he started loping his horse. 

non'hn'e h'e      stheenhts'ovsesto //.  nhe'e non'hn'e 
On and on   quite a ways he went looking for it.      Then more and more 

mstanen'neveohtshhe //.  nhe'e tshne'em'hnetsse e'hho 
he was galloping his horse.      Then    after the sun had come up 

hnhnetameotsesstse //.  nhe'e mhnhohta'ovo'hamhhe //.
he gave up.                Then he drove his horses home.

     stho'a'ovo'hamesstse heventse tsxho'tatse.  he'ho ts'enose 
     He drove his animals to where his tepee was.     His wife 
ansema 'ameesesesto.  mhnhnhtsevomaehevhe //.
outside was standing.     She was looking for him.

     stho'ethoeots'tovsesto //.  xaeno'khovnee'e na'stse 
     He rode up to her.               "Its just missing one   

mo'hno'ha //.  ta'se          xamae'stshvoeotse4 // vhpe'xonhe, 
horse.          It's just like it went under water,      Grayface " 

xhetsesto //.
he told her.

     naa nvso n=tsthoeto?           xhetaesesto.
     "And who is this one you're riding?" she (obv.) said to him.

     stamnhne'ennse //.  n=tsno'khovneehtsese 
     He came to his senses.    The one that was missing  

msthoehnothe //.  statenhetsheta'otsesstse.  tshhe 
he was riding.        He lowered his head down.           Here 

hem'kne   he'ama //                  tshhe nhmsoomstse! 
on his head on the top (he indicated), "Here hit me hard!" 

xhetsesto hestse'emo //.
he told     his wife.

     hen'hanehe    n=ma'hhkse tshee'setnse //.5
     That's the way that old man  was not observant.

1This text was first recorded and transcribed by Kenneth Croft, 1948, under a grant from the American Philosophical Society. We retranscribed and retranslated the text in September 1986. We have retained Croft's double slash (//) pause notation, but omitted his single slash (/) notation which appears simply to indicate a word boundary. We found Croft's interlinear English glosses to be very helpful. Punctuation and paragraphing guesses are by the editor (W. Leman). Croft's title of this section of his fieldnotes was "Absent-Minded Indians" (see fn. 5, below). Croft did not note the name of the Cheyenne narrator, but it would appear to be a Montana Cheyenne, quite possibly John Standsintimber who enjoyed telling such stories, as can be seen from accounts which appear in Stands In Timber and Liberty (1967).

2Literally, 'the woman (obv.) that he owns', which used to be a common way to designate a wife. It is not used as commonly today, perhaps due to its paternalistic connotation. Similarly, the common term hestse'mo 'his woman' for 'his wife' has fallen into disuse. A neutral substitute for both terms has been tsvstoemose 'his/her spouse', literally, 'the one he/she sits with'.

3The narrator occasionally palatalizes Cheyenne k before e, a mark of an old style of male speech. Today a few male speakers pronounce palatalized forms, and then not always consistently. Others pronounce this word in the unpalatalized form, xaeno'khovneehsesto.

4That is, it's just as if he vanished.

5In Croft's fieldnotes the transcription continues from this point with an account of another episode of absentmindedness, and with no indication of a major break. This next episode is about when a man called Squint Eye got irritated because he kept finding a gate open. (He, of course, was the one who kept leaving the gate open.) Following that text is yet another episode, again with no major break indicated, about forgetfulness on the part of Squint Eye. Croft was able to collect many interesting texts, many are humorous, others are of historical importance. His entire collection deserves to be retranscribed and made available to the public.

This text was first published in Nvho'htsme / We are going back home: Cheyenne history and stories told by James Shoulderblade and others, edited by Wayne Leman. Memoir 4. Winnipeg: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics. Copyright 1987. Used by permission. The text presentation here has been adjusted so that English translations align better with the Cheyenne words; this includes adjustment of some of the English word order.

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