One source suggests that it was a lack of gravitas. He went around talking to people, but they would always fix on his earrings which were actual, living, miniature human heads. When these little heads saw someone looking at them, they would wink and make funny faces. Unlike all the other soteriological spirits, Red Horn is not assigned a paradise over which to rule; and the Medicine Rite omits any mention of Red Horn from its account of the sons of Earthmaker. Meeker even suggested that a certain notable Piegan contemporary of the same name may have simply been elevated to divine status.
Red Horn was a recent addition to the Winnebago pantheon diffused possibly from the Blackfoot tribe. In the episode associated with this name, Red Horn turns himself into an arrow to win a race. In one episode an orphan girl who always wears a white beaverskin wrap is pressured by her grandmother to court Red Horn.
Despite the girl's adamant refusal, the grandmother insists. She eventually relents and goes off to find Red Horn, who is surrounded by other girls. She teases him, and unexpectedly, he smiles at her. The other girls were jealous, they push and shove her and tell her "You don't know anything.
During this time the women bring the warriors moccasins and the she brings a pair to Red Horn, who accepts them.
When the warriors return from battle, they play a prank and have the sentries proclaim that Red Horn and one of his friends are dead. The grandmother begins to cut the hair of the orphan girl, as if she were already Red Horn's wife.
When he comes into view and it is apparent that he is not dead, the grandmother laments "I have wrecked my granddaughter's hair. He takes no interest, and asks instead, "Where does the girl in the white beaverskin wrap live?
Her grandmother throws a blanket over them and they are married. The little heads on Red Horn's ears caused her to laugh so much that it interfered with her game and the giants lost, but Red Horn married the girl with the red hair. Then they challenged Red Horn and his friends to a wrestling match in which they threw all but Red Horn's friend Turtle. Since Red Horn and his fellow spirits lost two out of the three matches, they were all slain.
There is a little-known myth of great importance that identifies Red Horn as a star. Ten brothers lived together in a longhouse. The eldest, Kunu, had four arms. By dancing all night and performing the hunting rite by which game is seduced, they were able to gain wives for themselves. They brought him to the lodge of a beautiful woman who in reality was a water spirit wakcexi. She persuaded him to go to the back of her lodge, where he fell through a trap door into the underworld.
Loon and Otter were the nephews of the water spirits. Each made an impassioned plea to free the young man, but the bad water spirits were determined to eat him, so Loon and Otter left the underworld for the earth where they have lived ever after. Wears Faces on His Ears broke his chains as though they were made of string, then grabbed a fire brand and began to club the water spirits to death and to set their realm aflame.
Challenging the barriers of the way we define reality
He tracked down the woman who had tricked him and chased her through the underworld, where she tried to hide as a tubercle on a weed. Just the same, he found her out and killed her. When he returned to earth, he discovered that in his absence the rebel brothers had abused his two loyal brothers. The disloyal brothers had in reality been foxes and coyotes. Thus, the wicked brothers lived as animals thereafter. Wears Faces on His Ears and his two loyal brothers were stars. Without any reference to this story, much has been said about the stellar identity of Red Horn.
And the other ones, his older brothers, are also stars. They are the trio that are bunched together [the Belt Stars of Orion? Morning Star, of course, is not a fixed star. In the Red Horn Cycle, when a human chief offers his daughter as a prize in a race, all the fastest spirits in creation show up to compete. Nevertheless, a completely unknown person wins the race by turning himself into the fleetest of all things, an arrow, and shooting himself ahead of all the other competitors.
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The episode shows that Red Horn has a mystical identity with the arrow. There are two unpublished stories that reveal Red Horn's sagittary nature. In "Chief of the Herok'a", a great hunter lived with his wife and two small children. He told his wife to avoid his deer traps, but she ignored him, and whenever she went out, she was caught in one of the traps.
No trap in which she was caught ever worked again. Finally, he had to shoot his own wife to save his family from starvation. He sent his two children to where his other sons lived, and on the way, the children saw the signs in the sky that their father had been overcome by their mother's brothers. On the way, the little boy was kidnapped by a group of berdaches who had the power to change their size. He made good his escape and joined his sister and brothers.
In time the little boy grew up and married a beautiful woman. His mother-in-law would send him on impossibly dangerous missions in order to kill him, but every time he emerged victorious. Among the spirits participating in the feasts that were held afterwards were Turtle and the Forked Man, who had two bodies joined at the waist. The young man allowed his sister to choose her husband from among the assembled spirits, and she picked the Forked Man.
The old woman had a nightmare, and when she awoke, she said that the young man must play the game wegodiwa with them. The young man with his spirit friends sat on the edge of a cliff while the old woman walked out into the thin air. She and her daughters gave a loud shout, and a gale force wind issued from above, yet the young man and the good spirits held fast. After four such attacks, the good spirits triumphed.
The Not Only Humans Bundle
The sons of the old woman were the ones who were making the wind. The young man, now in the form of Without Horns Herok'aga , stood on the water and told his brothers to make the " herok'a breathings. The young man, Herok'aga , became chief over the village that was once ruled by the slain brothers. In time Herok'aga had a daughter, and when it was time for her to be married, he set up an ordeal designed to test the worth of her suitors.
Finally, a Forked Man succeeded, and the couple set out for his home up above where he lived with his grandfather. One day as she was looking into the fire, she saw a head that was made red by the heat, yet it had tears rolling down its cheeks. The head explained that she was his granddaughter and that the old man there had beheaded him and placed him in the fire. She lifted the head out of the fire and put it in a white deerskin. When the Forked Man returned home, the head explained to him all that had happened. The husband demanded that his grandfather tell him where the headless body was, and they went out and found the body wandering around Red Hill.
They brought it back and made a sweat bath in which the head was reattached to the body.
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Once he emerged whole again, he cursed the old man to become an owl. The grandfather whose head was reattached, is the chief of the herok'a. His son is the chief of the little children spirits who have the same power as the herok'a. From this story we learn that the elder man is chief of the herok'a , but his son, even though his name is Without Horns Heroka'ga , is chief over the little children spirits.
Both sets of spirits are able to kill with empty bows, just as though they themselves were the arrows. In "The Red Man", the older man kills his wife because he has caught her making love with a bear. The man who killed him, rather than being turned into an owl, is killed by Trickster and Hare.
With a stroke of his club, Hare shattered him into a thousand pieces of flint. It would be left to speculation were it not for a story parallel to the Red Horn Cycle, where it is said of Red Horn, "'Without Horns' herok'a they call certain beings, he Red Horn was their chief; his sons were the chiefs of beings called 'childish people', they say.
Both of these are tribes of lilliputian hunting spirits, whose spiritual essence is the arrow, and whose symbol is the bow. Under Trickster's leadership, all kinds of foolish mistakes were made, so a different war leader stepped forward at the critical moment when they were being charged by the evil spirits. Then the war leader said, "Now then, attendants!
I will help you," and at the war leader's forehead stood a single horn, and it was very red. This he took off and struck the water with it, and the water burned like fuel, and there all the bad things were burned up.