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The Story of Napi and The Mice

Oral Communication by Dr. Reg Crowshoe

"The people in camp said 'We haven't seen Napi for many days, he's disappeared from camp, I wonder what he's up to?' and everybody was wondering where Napi went. So the chief said 'Well, keep an eye out for him and when you can see him we'll invite him in for camp and we'll have a meal with him and he can tell us his stories, or his adventures, where he went to and what he seen'. So everybody was missing Napi, they couldn't see him in camp and here Napi was walking down the Bow river looking and talking to the berries, talking to the trees having visiting with them, and as he visited it was getting towards the afternoon he came across a great big Elk skull, the skull of a Elk and then the horns were on the skull and it was a big skull, so he sat there looking at the skull for a while and all of a sudden once in a while he'd see a mouse run out this way and then another mouse would run in this way, another mouse would run this way, and a few mice would run around the outside then run in, a bunch of mce would run all around the outside and then run back in. So Napi was sitting there listening and today we can't understand mice but does anybody know how a mouse sounds?

There you go... see did everybody hear? Alright, did anybody else hear? How does a mouse sound? Mice make little noise and when they make little noise Napi said the mice are talking to each other because they can understand each other. Right now I'm talking to you and if a mouse listens to me he'll say 'look at those guys, they're crazy, you can't even under... they're just making noise' so when we hear mice it's the same thing. Napi said people can't understand mice but he could understand the mice just like the way this little girl was making the sound, that's how the mice were talking. So after a while he seen one big mouse come out and he went up to that mouse and he said 'How come all the mice are close to this Elk skull? Is there anything special happening?' and the big mouse that came out said 'Yea, we're having a, we're having a meeting cause tonight we're gonna have a dance.' Napi said 'Oh, you're gonna have a dance? I wanna be, can I be invited to this dance?' and the mouse said 'No, no, we have to have a meeting first, we gotta, before we let you come to this dance we have to have a meeting first' so the mice all ran back into the skull and they sat in a circle like this and you could hear them all making those little sounds all the way around, and while they were making those mice mouse sounds that means they were talking and they were saying 'Well, Napi our friend is standing outside, he wants to know if he can come into our dance' and the mice said 'Well, first of all, he's gotta understand what we're saying' and the big mouse said 'Oh Napi's good, he can understand what we're saying'. 'Well, Napi has to learn how the mice sing' and the big mouse called up again ' Oh we'll teach him how to sing' so, another one got up and said ' Well, Napi has never seen the mice dance, cause you know how the mice dance'. 'Oh, we'll show him how to dance before he comes in'. And here's Napi sitting outside and then the big mouse came out and said 'Well, we're still talk' and he said 'Can I talk to everybody in there?' and the big mouse said 'You're to big to come into the elk skull, just look in where the big opening is for the mouth, look in there and talk to everybody' so Napi. If you can think of this room here to be the elk skull, and the door is over here of this elk skull, and you are all mice and all of a sudden those two big brown tables over there would be like Napi's eyes, he was looking in and he was saying 'Can I please come to your dance tonight, and I'll be good, and I'll try hard to sing, I'm a good singer?' so he's pleading 'Please, can I come?' and then the big mouse said "Well, we'll talk to you'. So after he left, they talked again and they said 'Would we let Napi come into our dance tonight' and they all said 'OK, we pity Napi, he can come to the dance'. So the big mouse says 'OK, we're gonna do magic and when we do magic, Napi can come in but he has to follow these rules. We'll get him some magic and if he breaks these rules then his magic goes away' and another mouse says 'Well, how can Napi be part of our dance because we dance and we sing and we never sleep for four days but Napi doesn't know that' and they said 'Well that's gotta be one rule, he can't fall asleep. Another rule, is he's gotta be able to sing our songs, another rule he's gotta dance' and they said 'OK, we agree with those rules' so they told Napi 'Come and look in the win... in the elk skull again' so Napi put his head down and he looked in and said 'Please can I come to your dance?' and the Chief mouse said 'OK, I'm gonna I'm gonna have a ceremony here and I'm gonna pray to the creator to make you into a mouse and you can come in and dance with us, but before I make you into a mouse we're gonna dance, you can't fall asleep for four days, you gotta dance with like a mouse and you gotta sing like a mouse' 'Oh no I promise, I promise I'll dance and sing like a mouse, I just wanna come to your dance' 'OK'. So the chief prayed and Napi turned into a mouse and he came in and he sat with everybody. When he sat with everybody they all had a meal and then the drummers got together and they started dancing. The mice were dancing having a Pow Wow how many of you have been to a Pow Wow? They have Pow Wow's at the Indian village so one of these days you should come down and look at the Pow Wow at the Indian village but the dance, the mice were having a Pow Wow they were all dancing. How many of you heard the drumming and singing? Oh, there you go, the mice had a small drum in the center, they were all hitting it and drumming and singing mice songs and the songs the mice used to sing for their people and they were talking like mice and they were having a good time. And for the first two days Napi was dancing and he was eating with them having alot of fun dancing with them. All of a sudden on the third day he starts going like this, just about falling asleep and the Chief says 'That's a rule, you can't fall asleep' 'Oh, I promise, I promise, I promise I won't fall asleep' 'Well if you fall asleep you can't be a part of our dance'. So they started dancing again and Napi started falling asleep and they saying 'Come on Napi, you gotta sing'. Pretty soon they couldn't even understand him. He was falling asleep and all you could hear from Napi was 'Oh wah wah wah wah' and his eyes are starting to close. Finally, he fell asleep and the mice were dancing and they said 'Look at Napi, he fell asleep right here and he's breaking the rules', so the Chief said 'Well, I'm gonna take this magic back from Napi, he can't be a mouse anymore cause he broke the rules'. So when he took the magic away Napi turned into a human being again and all the mice ran out of the elk skull and his head got too big inside and the elk skull got caught in his head so he was staggering around and he couldn't pull this elk skull off his head, but while he was sleeping, the mice chewed up a bunch of bare spots on his head so he had some long hair, short hair, bald spots all over his head, just like some of the hair cuts you see today. But anyway they did a whole bunch of different things, chewed off a bunch of his hair and in the old days the old people liked braids, liked to see the men with braids - even boys - but if they had short hair in the old days then it wasn't, they didn't recognize them. Anyway, Napi had his hair chewed off and this skull was stuck in his head and he's staggering around trying to pull this skull off and he's saying 'Please mice, pity me, give me the magic again' and they said 'No, you broke our rules, we can't give you the magic' so while he was staggering around the Bow river, he fell into the Bow river and he started floating east with this skull. And all of a sudden one woman was getting water and she said 'I see a, there's a big elk coming down the river' and all the warriors said 'Well we need elk meat, let's kill this elk'. So as it got closer, then they found out it was just a skull with big horns on it so they grabbed it and pulled it out of the water. When they pulled it out of the water they said 'Huh, it's got legs, it's got hands, what-what's this skull. How come it has legs and hands?' So they looked inside and they seen Napi - head was stuck in there. So they went to get some rocks and they were breaking the bones and finally the skull fell off Napi's head and everybody looked at Napi. They looked at Napi with big eyes and they all started 'Ha Ha, look at Napi's hair's all chewed off' and they all started laughing at him. So Napi came back, he said 'No, no, no, I did something wrong, I broke some rules so that's why my hair is all chewed off'. So this Chief says 'Come into my tent, we'll bring everybody together and tell us why your hair is, why your hair's chewed off'. So they made a meal and they went to the Chiefs teepee, they sat in a circle, and Napi sat here where I'm sitting and he started telling the story. And while he was telling the story everybody was laughing at the crazy things Napi did with the mice. But if you look at the story, our people were not any different than the mice because we spoke our language, we spoke - when you heard me say my prayers, you heard me speak so when I spoke my language that's what the mice language was like. So our people had a language. So when we look at the Stampede, when we take this story about Napi, and we look at the Stampede Indian village, the Indian village is gonna be like the elk skull. And who was all in the elk skull? The mice! And how would they talk? Can anybody tell us how mice talk? Squeek Squeek. They all talk. And can the mice make decisions? Yuh, they made decisions. So they talk like mice, they make decisions like mice, but they also dance like mice and they sang like mice.

So the Indian village today is like that. Our people like to talk our language, like to hit our drums, and sing our songs, we like to ah dance, and we like to camp at the Indian village to share with everybody else, our culture. So when the old people talk about Napi they talk about other people that come and visit are like Napi. Sometimes they can make mistakes and then all the mice will start laughing but sometimes it's the other way around. So that's why the Indian vllage is so important at the Stampede today and that's why it's so important that everybody come and visit. So now you know the story about Napi and the Mice.

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