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Old Man had made the world and everything in it. He had done everything well, except that he had put the men in one place and the women in another, quite a distance away. So they lived separately for a while. Men and women did everything exactly the same way…. After a while the men learned how to make bows and arrows. The women learned how to tan buffalo hides and make tipis and beautiful robes decorated with porcupine quills. One day Old Man said to himself: “I think I did everything well, but I made one bad mistake, putting women and men in different places. There’s no joy or pleasure in that. Men and women are different from each other, and these different things must be made to unite so that there will be more people. I must make men mate with women. I will put some pleasure, some good feeling into it; otherwise the men won’t be keen to do what is necessary…”.

— from “How Men and Women Got Together,” in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon 1984), Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz

Old Man is the creator figure in the lore of the Blood-Piegan people of the northern region of the Great Plains. In this story, based on four fragments (1883–1910) published by Erdoes and Ortiz, Old Man devises a way to use the complementarity of the sexes to further the species — bringing pleasure to the sexual act and thereby securing the future of mankind.

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