Sweet Medicine by Mrs. Albert Hoffman

04 Apr

Sweet Medicine1
by Mrs. Albert Hoffman

1) Hé’tóhe hóhta’heo’o, éhóhta’heóneve2.
This story, it is a story.

2) Vé’hó’e tséssáa’éšėho’ėhnéhévȯse hákó’e móxhésȯhanéhe.
Whitemen, before they came, it (the story) from long ago must be from.

3) Naa násáapėhévėhéne’enóhe.
And I do not know it well.

4) naa tséohkeéevá’nėhetȧhtomónéto nȧhtanėhešeme’esta.
And just the way I heard it, I’ll tell it like that.

5) éohkemaetotóxeme oha násáahéne’enovóhe / -héne’enóhe /
He’s discussed all over, but I do not know him, -do not know it.

6) Motsé’eóeve3, éohkėhevoōne, mó’ȯhkeéveéestsėstóehevovóhe, vé’hó’e
Sweet Medicine, they say, used to talk to them, whitemen

before they came.

7) Naa mó’ȯhkeéemé’ėstomóehenovóhe hová’éhe, héva tsésto’sėho’ėhnétotse,
And he used to explain to them something maybe that was going to come,


8) naa hétsetseha náto’vá’ne/=ta’se=tšėške’mé’ésta4 // hetoo //
And now I’m just going to tell, like, a little. Uh,

9) néto’sėho’a’ó’tóévo // vo’ėstane éxhesanesėstse //
“He’ll come to you, a person,” (Sweet Medicine) said.

10) tsemȧhevé’šenohe éxhe- / éxhesėstse ///
“He’ll be all sewed up,” he-, he said.

11) ho’évȯtse tseohkėhestohe éxhesėstse //
“Earth Man, he will be called,” he said.

12) Tósa’e ésáapo’vé’šenóhéhe, tsé’tóhe vo’ėstane
Nowhere will he not be sewed up, this person

who is going to come to you.

13) néto’vonéano’táe’vo / netao’o hová’éhe / tséméhae/’ȯhkeéene’étamése5 //
He’ll destroy for you everything that you used to depend on.

14) “Éto’semȧhevonéanōhtse,” éxhetósesto.
“He’ll destroy everything,” he told them.

15) “Naa / máto / néto’sėho’a’ó’tóévo mo’éhno’ha /
“And also it will come to you, the horse.

16) “Mo’éhno’ha,”6 nėstseohkėhetóvo éxhesėstse, “hōva.”
“Horse,” you will call it,” he said, “(this) animal.”

17) tsenéveohta / (tse)néxanetotse hestovootȯtse
It will have four legs. There will be two, his ears.

18) naa he’éxánėstse máto tsenéxanetotse, énéxanetotse.
And his eyes also there will be two, there are two.

19) naa hestse’konȯtse tsenéveóhta //
And his legs, there will be four.

20) nėstseohketáhóénóvo hoháá’ėše
You’ll ride him very far away.

21) nėstseohketsėhe’ȯhtséháévo,
He will take you there,

22) tsé’tóhe mo’ehno’ha / nėstseohkėhetóvo //
this horse, you will call him that.

23) tséohkėsó’tó’ome’ého’oése éše’he
It will still hang firm (in the sky), the sun (during your travels)

24) nėstseohkėho’eohéme hákó’e / éxhesanesėstse /
you will arrive far away,” he said.

25) nėstsenėheše/vo’ėstanéhévéme
“You will live like that.

26) nėstsenėhešeéva’xéme / tsé’tóhe mo’éhno’ha tséhešeévoa’xėse / exhesanesėstse /
You will be on the go the way this horse rolls his eyes,” he said.

27) naa // máto vé’ho’éotóá’e nėstseohkėhetóvo
And also (will come), (the cow) ‘whiteman-buffalo’, you will call it that.

28) máto tsenéveóhta //
Also it will have four legs.

29) tsenéše’ēsta
It will have two ears.

30) naa / mátȯ=he’éxánėstse tsenéxanetotse /
And also his ears, there will be two.

31) hestsėhévá’xe / tseohkemȧhexóneehatse / ho’ēva /
His tail will reach all the way to the ground.

32) tsenésȯhkonávėháhta // hestóohevono tsenésȯhkonaho / éxhesėstse /
It will have split hooves, his hooves will be split,” he said.

33) naa hoto / tsé’tóhe hóva nėstseohkemévóvo /
And, uh, this animal (cow), you will eat it.

34) Vé’ho’éotóá’e nėstseohkėhetóvo /
Ve’ho’eotoa’e you will call it.

35) hoháá’ėše tseohkėhešeméa’xe éxhesėstse /
From very far away he’ll be smelled,” he said.

36) Éxhetósesto néhe hováhne, “Vé’ho’éotóá’e,” tséohkėhetóse.
He told them (about) this animal, “Cow,” as you’ll call it.

37) naa tsé’tóhe tséto’sėho’a’ó’tóése
And this one who will come to you

tsemȧhetáeotsé’ta ho’e tséxhetaa’óma’ō’e /
will take over all the land throughout the world.

38) Totósa’e nėstseohkeevemé’a’ééme.
Here and there your heads will appear (in various places).

39) “Nėstseohkemo’kȯhtávėstséáme,” éxhesanesėstse /
“You will have black hair,” he said.

40) Naa móhma- / má’tamȧsėhánéése / mȧsáa’évatóxetanó’tomáhése / nésta “But if you are crazy, if you do not think about the way previously

tséheševo’ėstanéhévése, nėstamóhkevóhpa’éme,” éxhesanesėstse.
how you used to live, you’ll have gray hair,” he said.

41) naa máto mé’ėševȯtse tsėhóehevéese7 /
And also a baby will come out (be born) with teeth.”

42) Éstaéšėhetósema’xemé’ėstomósanesėstse.
He was constantly explaining a lot.

43) Nává’nėhetaa’mé’ėstomóvo.
I am just telling this much about him.

44) Nėhe’še
The end.


1This text was first collected by Mr. Donald Olson during 1963-1964 in Oklahoma. It appeared in print in a previous collection of Cheyenne texts (W. Leman 1980b). It appears here with spelling slightly updated. Some slight changes to bring the transcription closer in line with the taped recording have been made. Original clause numbers are retained.

2Usually, this word would indicate that something is “just a story”. The word hóhta’heo’o ‘story’ should not be applied to accounts of history. On the whole, Cheyennes regard the story of Sweet Medicine to be of more credible historicity than the usual legend or folktale, for which the label hóhta’heo’o is appropriate. However, here, it is probable that the narrator is not casting doubt on the historicity of the account. Hesitation on the tape may indicate that the narrator wasn’t quite sure what to say at this point but used a word which fit grammatically here.

3Sweet Medicine is the most important prophet in Cheyenne history. For other accounts of Sweet Medicine’s prophecy, see the following:

Grinnell, The Cheyenne Indians, Their History and Ways of Life, Vol. II, pp. 379-81.
Powell, Sweet Medicine, Vol. II, p. 466.
Standsintimber and Liberty, Cheyenne Memories, p. 40.

4The condensed preverb to’- here is pronounced to’se- by most other Cheyennes. It is said that the pronunciation here is a characteristic of (some) Southern Cheyenne speech. It can be seen, as in the next clause, 9), that this narrator also uses the full form of the preverb, to’se-.

5The usual order of preverbs here, probably preferred by this narrator also, is ohkeéeméhae.

6The historical etymology of this word is something like ‘elk-dog’ with the ‘dog’ final /-o’h[am] itself undergoing historical extension to refer to a ‘domesticated animal’.

7The motif of a baby being born with teeth is well known in Cheyenne folklore. Note it in another text in this volume, “The Baby With Teeth”.

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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in CHEYENNE LANGUAGE


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