What are you afraid of? Heights? Public speaking? Needles? Enclosed spaces? With the exception of young children, most people today would not include ‘monsters’ on the list of phobias that invade their nightmares. Nevertheless, if there is anything to be gleaned from the tenor of the horror genre that captivated us Westerners since the early days of Gothic fiction, it is that modern man retains an unshakable fear of dangerous and unnatural predators that lurk in the shadows.
From Frankenstein to Dracula, a good portion of the monsters that haunt our books and movies are creatures that are nearly yet not quite human. Psychologists might attribute this phenomenon to a deep cultural aversion to humanity’s darker inclinations; anthropologists to an ancient genetic memory of our ancestors’ competition with sub-humans; and cryptozoologists to a rational fear of real existing predators. Other popular antagonists of horror fiction include homicidal murderers, bestial predators, and evil spirits, for obvious reasons.
With a few exceptions, one category of monster missing from the menagerie of popular horror is that of herbivorous ungulates like horses, cattle, and other traditional beasts of burden. Despite that horses have been employed for millennia as weapons of war, and that deer, on account of motor vehicle accidents, kill more people than any other creature in North America, these innocuous-looking, plant-eating animals fail to inspire terror in the modern mind. This sentiment stands in stark contrast with that of our Old World ancestors, who demonstrated a profound fear of large hooved creatures with their tales of monsters like the raging Cretan Bull and the man-eating Mares of Diomedes. In this piece, we will examine Canada’s forgotten legends of bovine and equine monsters.
White Buffalo Calf Woman
Students of First Nations and Native American folklore may be familiar with the tale of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, one of the most famous Sioux Indian legends. This story was known to the Assiniboine and the Stoney, Siouxan nations native to what is now southern Saskatchewan and western Alberta, respectively. It was also doubtless familiar to Sioux warriors under the command of Chief Sitting Bull, who took up residence in southern Saskatchewan from 1877-1881, seeking sanctuary from the U.S. Army in the aftermath of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Canadian historian Dr. Tony Hollihan included this traditional Plains Indian tale in his 2001 book Sitting Bull in Canada. Before quoting his retelling of this old prairie legend, it may help to clarify some Sioux synonymy. The Sioux Indians of the northeastern Great Plains are comprised of three main tribes: the Lakota, the Dakota, and the Nakota. Nakota is the native designation for both the Assiniboine and the Stoney of Western Canada. The Dakota are a people native to the eastern Dakotas and the American Midwest, divided into the Yankton, or Western Dakota, and the Santee, or Eastern Dakota. And the Lakota, or Teton Sioux, is a nation from North and South Dakota composed of seven bands, one of which is the Hunkpapa.
“Long ago,” wrote Tony Hollihan in his retelling of the Sioux’s best-known legend, “before the Hunkpapa had horses, the Teton came together and camped. Though it was summer and animals should have been plentiful, none could be found. Search as they might, the scouts always returned with bad news…
“One day, the scouts climbed to the peak of a hill. Able to see far into the distance, they hoped they might find game. They were disappointed. They were about to return to camp when one of the braves called that he saw something. It was far away and they had to squint to determine what it was. It was a person. As the figure drew closer, they saw that it was not just any person. Instead of walking, the being floated. The person was holy. The person was Ptesan-Wi [White Buffalo Calf Woman]…
“Soon, the braves realized that the figure was a woman. Her beauty was greater than any ever witnessed. Long, shiny blue-black hair fell straight near two red dots on her face. Her dark eyes bespoke an unknown power. She was dressed in a white buckskin outfit, so white it glowed in the midday sun. Her clothes were decorated with colorful designs of porcupine quills, so intricate that they were well beyond the ability of Lakota women to make. In her hands, she carried a large bundle.
“When she arrived at the hilltop, one of the scouts was so taken by her beauty that he reached out to touch her. Immediately, a cloud descended upon him and snakes devoured his flesh. Only his white bones remained on the ground. The other stood still properly…
“‘I bring you something good for your people,’ she said. ‘Go back and tell your chief to set up a medicine lodge and to make it holy for my arrival.’”
Hollihan went on to explain how the White Buffalo Calf Woman entered the camp and presented the Hunkpapa Sioux with a bundle containing a special calumet, or medicine pipe, made from red pipestone and decorated with twelve eagle feathers. She taught the people to use this instrument, called the Canunpa, or ‘Sacred Calf Pipe,’ when they wanted to communicate with Wakan Tanka, the ‘Great Mystery’. That accomplished, the woman left the camp, transformed into a white buffalo calf, and disappeared.
Ever since, the Sioux people have regarded the Canunpa as their greatest national treasure, and the albino bison as a sacred animal whose birth is an omen portending major change.
Origin of the I-kun-uh’kah-tsi
The Sioux nations are not the only Plains Indian tribes to tell stories involving extraordinary buffalo. On the prairies of what are now southern Alberta and northern Montana, the three nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy had tales about man-eating buffalo which terrorized their people in the ancient past. The Blackfoot Creator, Na’pi, or ‘Old Man’, after coming across the remains of some of his children who had been torn to death by these horned and bearded monsters, made the buffalo eat grass, and taught the Blackfoot how to kill them with bows and arrows.
In his 1892 book Blackfoot Lodge Tales, American anthropologist George Bird Grinnell included an old story told to him by a Blackfoot elder named Double Runner. Sometime in the distant past, the story goes, the Blackfoot built a great pis’kun, or buffalo jump, atop a high cliff. A pis’kun is a sort of trap by which the Blackfoot hunted bison in the old days, before the horse was introduced to the northern plains. To prepare a buffalo jump, the Blackfoot selected a tall cliff and built two successions of cairns on the plain above it, each cairn being composed of stones, buffalo dung, and prairie bushes. The cairns formed two long drive lanes arranged in a ‘V’ shape which tapered towards the cliff edge. Once the drive lanes were built, special hunters called ‘buffalo runners’ dressed themselves in wolf furs or buffalo robes and, mimicking the animals whose skins they wore, cleverly lured an unsuspecting bison herd into the drive lanes. At a prearranged signal, other hunters, who had concealed themselves behind the cairns, would spring out from behind their hiding places and frighten the buffalo into stampeding down the artificial funnel and off the cliff to their deaths.
According to Double Runner, the pis’kun in this story was ineffective. “When driven toward it,” the storyteller told Grinnel, “[the buffalo] would run nearly to the edge, and then, swerving to the right or left, they would go down the sloping hills and cross the valley in safety. So the people were hungry, and began to starve.
“One morning, early, a young woman went to get water, and she saw a herd of buffalo feeding on the prairie, right on the edge of the cliff above the pis’kun. ‘Oh!’ she cried out, ‘if you will only jump off into the pis’kun, I will marry one of you.’ This she said for fun, not meaning it, and great was her wonder when she saw the buffalo come jumping, tumbling, falling over the cliff.
“Now the young woman was scared, for a big bull with one bound cleared the pis’kun walls and came toward her. ‘Come,’ he said, taking hold of her arm. ‘No, no!’ she replied, pulling back. ‘But you said if the buffalo would jump over, you would marry one; see, the pis’kun is filled.’ And without more talk he led her up over the bluff, and out on to the prairie.”
Double Runner went on to explain how the girl’s father, when he discovered that his daughter was missing, seized his bow and arrows and set out in search of her. With the help of a magpie, he located the buffalo herd in which his daughter was travelling and determined to rescue her when her huge captor was asleep. By some sort of precognition, the bovine kidnapper discovered the father’s presence and let out a tremendous bellow, summoning his fellow bulls. “Up rose the bulls,” Double Runner said, “raised their short tails and shook them, tossing their great heads, and bellowed back. Then they pawed the dirt, rushed about here and there, and… found that poor man. There they trampled him with the great hoofs, hooked him and trampled him again, and soon not even a small piece of his body could be seen.”
With the help of the same magpie who had assisted her father, the grieving daughter retrieved a piece of the dead man’s spine and performed a certain ritual which brought him back to life. Impressed by this display of medicine, the bull husband taught his resurrected father-in-law the song and dance of the buffalo, and instructed him to teach it to his people. Double Runner explained that this ritual was the foundation of the Ikunuh’kahtsi, or ‘All Comrades,’ a collection of Blackfoot warrior societies which functioned as a sort of tribal police force, its members administering justice at the behest of the head chief.
The Four Sacred Coloured Horses of Stoney Tradition
Although the White Buffalo Calf Woman and the bull husband of the previous story are described as being simply extraordinary specimens of otherwise prosaic animals, there is at least one legendary hoofed animal of Plains Indian tradition which is described as having physical attributes marking it as a member of some unique and unnatural species. In his 1983 book The Stonies of Alberta: An Illustrated Heritage of Genesis, Myths, Legends, Folklore and Wisdom of the Yahey Wichastabi, Canadian folklorist Sebastian Chumak included a traditional Stoney story about four mystical horses. This story was originally told by Stoney elder Jonas Dixon, or ‘One Boy,’ to a folklorist named Thomas T. Williams, his dictation translated from Nakota to English by his relative, Alfred T. Dixon Jr.
“In the beginning,” Chumak wrote, “Waka Taga, Great Mystery, gives life to the great spirit horses.
“The Four Sacred Coloured Horses are born to make the great horse nations on earth.
“These four spirit horses are:
“The Yellow Palomino; this one the War Spirit Horse.
“The Spotted Pinto; the Healer of Decaying Spirit.
“The Great White; who Carries-Dead-Spirits.
“The Red; who strengthens spiritual blood.”
Dixon described these horses as having great wings which allowed them to fly from earth to the heavenly abode of the Great Spirit. He went on to outline each of their characteristics.
“The Yellow Palomino is a war horse,” Chumak reiterated. “This hoofed running is bringer of fighting recognitions and war honours. For a man is a boy without these. This war spirit horse of the source of strength and courage in war preparation, attack, surrounding-the-enemy, and death-in-war.
“The Spotted Pinto carries songs and blessings for illnesses and healing… Pinto is chosen by Waka Taga to carry disease-curse within his colour spots, which are like the spots on diseased skin.
“The Great White carries the spirits of the dead to the spirit land of the Stoney ancestors. It is far to the East. There, the Great White Horse releases the Stoney spirits. No man may ever journey to this land of spirit lodes unless Waka Taga give his blessing. When a Stoney receives the gift of death, the Great White takes him to the place-where-ancestors-meet.
“The Red Spirit Horse comes from out of the south and brings spiritual growth. His redness sings of the renewal of spiritual fire which burns up the old spiritual skins a man sheds. The Red is the strength of spiritual blood. Hardener.
“The four horses carry songs from the Stonies up to the Sacred Ones, and carry blessings down to earth…”
The four sacred coloured horses of Stoney mythology eerily evoke the four coloured horses described in the Book of Revelation – a cryptic piece of apocalyptic scripture believed to have been written by John the Evangelist, one of Christ’s twelve apostles and the author of the Gospel of John. Rather than carrying spirits of the dead from earth to the Great Beyond like the white horse of Stoney mythology, the white horse of Revelation is ridden by a bow-wielding conqueror, whom Christian theologians have tentatively interpreted as Christ. Rather than inculcating virtue, the red horse of Revelation carries a sword-wielding rider whose vocation is to perpetuate violence on earth, believed to represent war. Instead of a yellow palomino and a spotted pinto representing belligerence and spiritual healing, respectively, the two remaining horses of the Apocalypse include a black horse bearing a rider with scales in his hand, supposed to represent famine, and a pale horse ridden by the personification of Death.
The next stop on our journey through the hoofed monsters of Canadian folklore happily carries us away from the land of the abstract back down to solid ground, specifically to the western shores of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. Beginning in the 1870s, while Chief Sitting Bull and his warriors were battling with the U.S. Army for sovereignty over the Black Hills, hordes of Icelanders left their island country in droves to settle this remote corner of Manitoba, driven from their homeland by a series of unfortunate events that rendered the land of Fire and Ice all but inhospitable. Icelandic-Canadian historian Wilhelm Krisjanson outlined the developments that led to this exodus in his 1965 book The Icelandic People in Manitoba: A Manitoba Saga, writing, “An epidemic carried off 200,000 sheep in the years 1856-1860, and sheep raising was the main industry of the country. Arctic ice turned summer into virtual winter on more than one occasion. A disastrous volcanic eruption, in 1875, blanketed a large area with ashes.”
In addition to importing their language and customs, the Icelandic-Canadian immigrants who settled so-called ‘New Iceland’ in the last decades of the 19th Century also brought their folklore with them onto the Manitoba prairies. Doubtless influenced by the change of scenery, these Old World legends quickly took on a uniquely Canadian flavour, the essence of which was captured by Canadian folklorist Magnus Einarsson in his 1991 book Icelandic-Canadian Oral Narratives. In this collection of Icelandic-Canadian folktales, which the author acquired from so-called Vestur-Islendingar, or ‘Western Icelanders,’ during field trips to New Iceland in the late 1960s, Einarsson included two stories featuring an undead bovine monstrosity known as the Thorgeirsboli, or Thorgeir’s Bull.
19th Century Icelandic author Jon Arnason recorded the original version of this legend in the first volume is his massive 1862/’64 tome Icelandic Folktales and Legends, an English translation of which British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson included in her 1972 book of the same name. According to the story, a fisherman named Thorgeir once lived with his brother Stefan, his father Jon, and his uncle Andres on the coast of northern Iceland. Thorgeir, who had a reputation as a wizard, bought a newborn calf from a woman who lived on Hrisey, a small island near the family fishing ground. For reasons known only to themselves, Thorgeir and his brother, father, and uncle slaughtered the animal, flayed in such a way that its whole skin depended from its tail, and then imbued its bones with the essence of eight things – a bird, a man, a dog, a cat, a mouse, two types of sea creatures, and the air, giving it nine different natures. He then secured a caul – a rare ‘cap’ of placental membrane which infrequently adorns the crania of newborn babies – and draped it over the flayed chimera. That accomplished, Thorgeir and his accomplices, through the application of black magic, brought the abomination to life.
“It so happened,” Arnason wrote, “that Thorgeir had asked the hand of a woman named Gudrun Bessadottir, but she had refused him.” The spurned sorcerer took his vengeance by sending the monster to torment his would-be betrothed. Rather than attacking Gudrun directly, the monster, which was apparently imbued with psychokinetic abilities resultant of the unholy process by which it was created, pestered the unfortunate woman remotely, causing her crippling pain while she was attending church service, and hurling her from her horse while she rode. When Gudrun finally succumbed to these incessant tortures, Thorgeir’s bull focused its attention on another victim.
“Though Thorgeir’s original intention for the Bull was to make him get rid of Gudrun,” Arnason wrote, “he used him for playing tricks on various other people he thought he had a grudge against…” Although the monster was often invisible to those it tormented, it made its presence known by its unearthly bellowing, which issued from darkness or unnatural-looking fog.
Eventually, the bull directed its pernicious attentions to Thorgeir himself, whose found himself incapable of destroying it. After this stalemate, the monster abandoned its master and took to the country, terrorizing any unfortunates it happened upon.
“The Bull would take on different shapes when he appeared…” Arnason wrote, “sometimes the likeness of a man or a dog, but most often that of a horned bull, flayed as far as the tail, and dragging his bloody hide behind him by the tale. But whatever the shape he appeared in, he looked ugly enough, and most people feared him.
“Thorgeir did not destroy the Bull before he died, or so most men say; indeed, there is a tale that when Thorgeir was on his death-bed and was at the point of death, a grey cat (or, some say, a black puppy) was seen lying crouched on his chest, and that that was one form of the Bull.”
Icelandic folklore contends that, ever since Thorgeir’s death in 1803, at the age of eighty-six, his monstrous creation has roamed aimlessly throughout the wilds of Iceland. In a chilling extension of this belief, there are at least a few Icelandic-Canadians who gained the distinct impression that this Scandinavian spectre, like their immigrant ancestors, abandoned the Old World for the New, and now haunts the prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
In his book, Magnus Einarrson included an anecdote told to him by one Mr. Gisli Halldorsson. In a footnote, he stated that the incident described took place near the town of Foam Lake in east-central Saskatchewan, located on the Saskatchewan Highway 16 between Yorkton and Saskatoon. The man in question was Halldorsson’s father-in-law, Jakob Norman, an immigrant from the Skagafjordur district in northern Iceland, who was about 35 years old at the time of the story.
“Well,” Halldorsson began, “all that I remember is that he used to tell all the family about how he believed so thoroughly in this Thorgeirsboli, because, when he was a kid back in Iceland, they scared the daylights out of him with this, that if he didn’t do what they told him, that they would give him to Thorgeirsboli. See.
“And one day, right here on the farm, when he was farming, there… He was… having a pretty strenuous time, was quite tired and was out doing his chores, and things weren’t going right, and – and when he got the cattle in, he had one too many, anyway. He counted them, and he had one too many… He said he immediately started to become frightened. He thought, maybe, it was just possible that Thorgeirsboli was there in amongst them, and he said he looked, and, sure enough, he was there, and I guess he left in a hurry.”
Another informant, Mrs. Margret Simundson, told Einarsson an even spookier story, which the folklorist was obliged to translate from Icelandic to English. “Dad and Mom often told us ghost stories,” Simundson said, “and I recognized all these… old ghosts. It was often a lot of fun, and it was especially fun to hear about Thorgeirsboli. And I – I had told all the ghost stories that I knew to my kinds and they are also familiar with all of this.
“One time my Omar was – he was about ten years old, and he went out to the byre and was going to feed the bull. Dusk was just beginning to fall in the evening, not – not yet dark, however. And he goes out with – with the water pails, and when he arrives at the byre he looks up and sees an immensely large bull, right here, outside of the fence. And he thought that this must be a mirage or something, because the bull was so terribly big, and he was going to drive it inside, thought he had escaped, so he runs out, looks down, and goes outside the fence. And when he looks up and is getting ready to drive the bull, there is no bull there, so he runs inside to me, and says, ‘Mom,’ he says, ‘do you know what I saw? I saw Thorgeirsboli!’”
La Bete a Grand’Queue
Another Euro-Canadian folktale involving a bull-like monster is the French-Canadian legend of La Bete a Grand’Queue, or the ‘Big-Tailed Beast’. Unlike the tale of Thorgeir’s Bull, this legend appears to be unique to Canada. In fact, it may be unique to the only source on it this author could find, namely a 1900 book entitled La Chasse Galerie: Legendes Canadiennes, by Honore Beaugrand.
Honore Beaugrand was a radical French-Canadian politician, journalist, and soldier whose politico-cultural ideologies this author despises, but whose late 19th and early 20th Century writings offer priceless insights into the traditional folklore of old French-Canada, English-language information on which is in severely short supply. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, Beaugrand and a handful of French-Canadian nationalists immortalized many of the old legends of French-Canada by incorporating them into fictional stories called contes. One collection of these stories is Beaugrand’s 1900 French-language book La Chasse Galerie: Legendes Canadiennes.
Amid tales of ghosts, werewolves, and the legendary Chasse Galerie, or flying canoe, all of which appear to be based on real French-Canadian folktales, Beaugrand included a humerous story about a legendary monster called La Bete a Grand’Queue, or the ‘Big-Tailed Beast’. The narrator of this story is a rebellious youth named Joseph “Fanfan” Lazette, whose fellow villagers, in Beaugrand’s words, considered “either a harmless rascal or a bad character.” During a casual get-together at a friend’s house, Lazette tells of how he encountered the Big-Tailed Beast in the shadowy woods near the Dautraye Manor, an estate which once stood outside the town of Berthierville, Quebec, between the cities of Montreal and Trois-Riviere. Similar to Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving’s short storyThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but with dramatic irony far more brazen than that of the 1820 classic, Lazette is oblivious to the fact that the subject of his adventure is not really a monster, but rather something far more prosaic – in his case, a regular bull covered with vermillion paint.
While regaling his friends with the tale of his adventure, Lazette paints a clear picture of what appears to be a monster of French-Canadian tradition. Like the loup-garou, or werewolf, of French Canada, into which lapsed Catholics are liable to transform after going seven years without performing their Easter duties, the Big-Tailed Beast only poses a threat to those who have neglected to undergo the Sacrament of Reconcilliation for seven years in a row. It is implied, although not explicitly stated, that the creature is a demon commissioned with dragging apostates to Hell. It is described as having a terrible bellow, a scarlet complexion, and two large eyes that burn like fire. Its eponymous tail is hairy and six feet long. Lazette expresses a belief that the tail is the source of the beast’s power, telling his friends how, after being confronted by the monster, he siezed its tail and severed it with a knife in a desperate attempt to deliver himself from its clutches.
Beaugrand’s story is the only source on La Bete a Grand’Queue this author has been able to unearth. In the absence of additional material, he is unable to ascertain whether this creature is an especially obscure but genuine element of French-Canadian folklore or simply an invention of the author’s.
White Horse of Yeo Island
The next unusual animal on our list is not a corporeal monster, but rather the ghost of a white horse said to haunt Yeo Island, a tiny Ontario isle on the mouth of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, between Manitoulin Island and the southeasterly Bruce Peninsula. American historian Frederick Stonehouse outlined the legend surrounding this equine apparition in his 1997 book Haunted Lakes: Great Lakes Ghost Stories, Superstitions and Sea Serpents, drawing from a two-part article entitled “Schooner Days,” written by C.H.J. Snider and published in 1938, in the February 19th and 26th issues of the Toronto Telegram.
In the early 1800s, the legend says, a farmer from Drummond Island, between Manitoulin Island and the westerly St. Marys River, owned a white horse called Louie. At that time, there was no real consensus as to whether Drummond Island and its neighbours, St. Joseph Island and Cockburn Island, belonged to Upper Canada or America’s Michigan Territory. Following the War of 1812, fought between Canada and the United States, the two belligerents signed an accord called the Treaty of Ghent which stipulated, among other things, that the three aforementioned islands straddling the border between Lakes Huron and Michigan be surveyed and apportioned equally between the two countries. A survey of the islands was conducted in 1820 and 1821, incidentally by Welsh cartographer and celebrated fur trade explorer David Thompson. The result of this survey was that St. Joseph Island and Cockburn Island were granted to Canada, and Drummond Island to the United States.
Despite Drummond Island’s officially becoming part of Michigan Territory, the British Army retained an outpost on the isle, the last of its kind to operate on American soil, for another seven years. British soldiers and citizens finally evacuated the island in the autumn of 1828, departing on two vessels, a brig called the Wellington and a schooner called the Alice Hackett, bound for a town in Muskoka Country at the easternmost end of Georgian Bay. The white horse named Louie travelled in the Alice Hackett.
As the schooner sailed down Lake Huron, one of its passengers, a French-Canadian tavern keeper named Pierre Lepine, broke open some of his rum barrels and invited all aboard to partake freely of his stock. In no time, all the men on the Alice Hackett, including the crew, were roaring drunk. “Good navigation became, at best, questionable,” Stonehouse wrote, “with the result that under full sail on the night of October 1st, the schooner fetched up hard on the south tip of Fitzwilliam Island, just off the south end of Manitoulin Island. Pushed by the north wind, the Hackett heeled sharply to one side, presenting a steeply angled deck.
“Absolute panic reigned supreme. The single yawl was hurriedly launched and all of the passengers and crew tumbled into it. In the general stampede, all the animals, except Louie, also went flying over the side. After paddling aimlessly about in the dark, the farm stock drowned. Overloaded to the point of being nearly awash and manned by a crew too drunk even to row, the yawl drifted before the wind. It was finally washed ashore on nearby Yeo Island.”
For several days, Louie and the shipwrecked passengers and crew of the Alice Hackett did their best to salvage what equipment they could from a makeshift camp on Yeo Island. They were eventually rescued by passing sailors, who unfortunately had no room on their boat for Louie. Before leaving him to his fate, the horse’s owner solemnly promised that he would not forget him, and would return to rescue him at the earliest opportunity.
“Unable to find a boat big enough or convince a captain of the importance of the job,” Stonehouse wrote, “he never went back for the horse. Because of Louie’s occupancy of the island, it locally became known as Horse Island. Long after Louie had perished from cold, starvation or just loneliness, schooner men told of seeing his ghost prancing on the bleak shores.”
An Orange Animal
This author has decided to finish this piece with a strange story from Canada’s Yukon Territory, which appeared in Part 1 of Canadian anthropologist Catherine “Kitty” McClellan’s 1975 book My Old People Say: An Ethnographic Survey of Southern Yukon Territory. I happened upon this tale after reading about the bones of ancient horses and camels which have been found encased in subarctic permafrost, and was struck by the fanciful notion that its mysterious subject might be a surviving remnant of one of these antediluvian species, universally regarded by the scientific community as long-extinct.
“A part-Tutchone, part-Inland Tlingit woman,” McClellan wrote, “once saw a strange animal when she was out picking berries with another girl. The animal looked something like a bright-orange horse, but it had ‘big, high, thick shoulders’. It was not one of the buffalo recently introduced into the area. There were lots of bones lying about on a trail to a nearby den. The woman and her companion just looked at the creature for a minute. Then each started to say, ‘There’s a…’ Neither could finish, because they didn’t know what it was. ‘There wasn’t any word at all!’ That was what made the encounter with the animal so frightening.”
White Buffalo Calf Woman
Sitting Bull in Canada (2001), by Tony Hollihan
“Chief Arvol Looking Horse Speaks of White Buffalo Prophecy,” on the KnewWays YouTube channel
Origin of the I-kun-uh’kah-tsi
Blackfoot Lodge Tales (1892), by George Bird Grinnell
The Four Sacred Coloured Horses of Stoney Tradition
The Stonies of Alberta: An Illustrated Heritage of Genesis, Myths, Legends, Folklore and Wisdom of the Yahey Wichastabi (1983), by Sebastian Chumak
The Apocalypse of St. John: Chapter 6, Verses 1-8, in the Douay-Rheims Bible
The Icelandic People in Manitoba: A Manitoba Saga (1965), by Wilhem Kristjanson
Icelandic-Canadian Oral Narratives (1991), by Magnus Einarsson
Icelandic Folktales and Legends (1972), by Jon Arnason and Jaqueline Simpson
White Horse of Yeo Island
Haunted Lakes: Great Lakes Ghost Stories, Superstitions and Sea Serpents (1997), by Frederick Stonehouse
An Orange Animal
My Old People Say: An Ethnographic Survey of Southern Yukon Territory: Part 1 (1975), by Catherine McClellan