In the beginning, when the Great Spirit had made the first man and woman,
he told Napi who was his helper:
"Stay close to Man and Woman and look after all their needs."
Man and Woman had no shelter at that time, but when Storm Maker blew the first
winds of winter, they shivered, huddling close to their cooking fire. Napi
knew they would need a shelter. While he was thinking about it, a yellow leaf
from a cottonwood tree blew onto his head. "Yes!" he thought. "This
leaf has the shape of a good shelter!"
Look at a cottonwood leaf; you will see it is shaped like Napi's tipi.
His thunder and downpours and terrible blizzards once endangered
all the children and grandchildren of first Man and first Woman. Yet legend
tells of the time when Storm Maker was considerate.
Two Blackfoot hunters, Sacred Otter and his son, Morning Plume,
were caught suddenly and nearly blinded on the plains by wind-driven snow.
Cowering, they huddled beneath a buffalo skin and there, with his boy at his
side, Sacred Otter was given a dream. Whether sleeping or awake, for he could
not be sure, he saw an immense, mystic tipi -- Storm Maker's own -- and then
heard a voice which changed the lives of his people from that day on.
In this book, Paul Goble tells of how tipis were first granted
to the Blackfoot people and then, in a dramatic rendering of an old myth,
tells of why the painted designs on tipis have come to possess their meaning