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Image of Navaho hogan.


Antelope was a Navaho Indian. The house in which he lived was made of poles, covered with earth and grass. Such a house is called a hogan. All around the hogan were miles of sand. Only sage bushes and coarse grass grew on the sand.

Every morning, Antelope drove his mother's flock of sheep and goats out of their pen. All day he wandered around with them, looking for the places where the grass grew thickest.

Image of Antelopes father and mother.While he was taking care of the flock, his mother, White Cloud, sat outside the hogan door. She was weaving a blanket. She made it of wool clipped from her own sheep.

Not far away, beside a small fire, Antelopes father, Red Eagle, was hammering silver. He was making jewelry. Sometimes he made it more beautiful by setting in pieces of turquoise. Antelope wanted to be a silversmith but every time he spoke of it to his father he replied, "Not yet, there is lots of time".

Image of Antelope tending sheep.

"Nothing ever happens," grumbled Antelope to himself one morning, as he drove the flock from the pen, where they had spent the night. "Every morning I take out these sheep. All day I walk around with them. In the evening I drive them back into their pen. When Father was a boy, the Pawnees used to come to steal the sheep. Now the Pawnees stay at home and all the days are alike." But one evening when he reached home, his father had good news for him.

"Tomorrow," Red Eagle said, "I am going to gather pinon nuts. Your mother thinks Little Hawk can take care of the flock for a few days. So I will take you with me."

Image of Antelope and his father on horseback.

Antelope was happy when he rolled himself into his sheepskin for the night. And Little Hawk, his brother, was happy, too. He liked to take care of the flock, and he was very happy he was old enough to be sent out with the animals.

Red Eagle and Antelope rode all the next morning, through the sand and sage bushes. The sun was very hot, but they were used to it. At noon they came to a ravine. There it was cool and shady and a little creek ran through it. Red Eagle said they would dismount and let the horses graze for a while.

Image of Antelope and his father resting.Image of hobble-tied horses.Antelope turned his pony, Pinto, loose. He was so well trained that he would come at his master's call. But Red Eagles pony was new. He was not trained yet. So Red Eagle tied a strip of leather, between one of the pony's forefeet and one of his hind feet. In this way he could graze around, but if he tried to run the hobble would trip him.

Antelope and his father rested under the shade of a big tree. It was so still and cool that Antelope nearly went to sleep. But suddenly he heard his father whispering to him. "There is a Pawnee hidden behind that big rock," Red Eagle whispered. "I just saw his head. Roll over under that thick bush beside you."

Image of Antelope hiding under a bush.

Antelope obeyed, and in an instant he was hidden the lower branches of the bush. Then he saw Red Eagle spring up lightly and dart behind a tree. As he did so, a Pawnee came riding out from behind the big rock carrying a rifle. But just as he came into full sight of Antelope, he dropped down from his pony's back and disappeared from view. Antelope knew he was hanging down on the side of the pony. He knew, too, that while he stayed there, Red Eagle could not shoot him without first shooting the Pawnee's pony.

"He's going to steal our ponies," Antelope whispered excitedly.

Red Eagle did not answer but kept his rifle at his shoulder and pointed it at the Pawnee's pony, as it ran down the ravine.

Image of Pawnee hiding and riding his horse.

When the Pawnee came to the hobbled pony, he reached down with his left hand to untie the hobble. This was what Red Eagle had been waiting for. As he saw the arm between the legs of the Pawnee's pony, he shot. With a yell of pain, the Pawnee shouted at his pony and rode like lightning out of the ravine.

Red Eagle and Antelope ran to their own ponies and mounted.

"Shall we follow the Pawnee?" Antelope asked.

Red Eagle shook his head. "I would not waste another shot on a thieving Pawnee," he said. "With my bullet in his left arm, it will be a long time before he will try to steal Navaho ponies again."

Image of Antelope and his father on horseback.So They rode on, to the place where the pinon pines grew. There they filled their bags with the cones that hold the sweet pinon nuts. Then they turned their ponies' heads toward home.

They had been three days, when they rode up to the hogan at twilight. Antelope had had an adventure and had seen many strange and interesting things. But he was glad to smell the smoke of his mother's fire.

"And how has the new herder taken care of the flocks," Red Eagle asked after supper.

"Very well," White Cloud replied. "Little Hawk likes to take care of the animals. I have promised him that he may take them out every day now."

"That is good," said Red Eagle. "But what shall we do with Antelope? We can't have an idler about."

"I do not want to be an idler," Antelope said. "Tomorrow morning I shall come to you, for my first lesson in the art of the silversmith."

Image of Navaho jewelry.

Image of Antelope.Antelope is this Indian's name
He rides and rides and when
He's tended all his fathers flocks
He comes back home again.
How nice to have a pony
To feed lump sugar to.
What fun to ride across the plains
As little Indians do!

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