Long ago, a band of Plains Cree was camped near a trading post. In the camp there was a handsome young man whose father was Chief. He was an only child and was well cared for. He never hunted, and did very little work. Instead, he passed his time playing a game known as Bowl Dice. When he was not playing, he kept the bowl on a thong around his shoulder.

After a time, a family of Swampy Cree from the north joined the camp to trade. The father of the family was a powerful medicine man known for practicing evil. He brought his three daughters with him. Upon seeing the youngest daughter, the Chief's son fell madly in love.

At once, he went to his father telling of his love and asking him to invite her father to discuss marriage. The father replied to him, "Be patient; first we must inquire about the girl's family and whether or not she is married." So they asked a young Swampy Cree to be their informant.

The young man said to them, "The oldest has been married twice, the middle one had a husband and the youngest has never been married. We do not bother them as we fear their father. He had three sons-in-law but each time the family went out to hunt, the sons-in-law would not return. No one knows what happened."

Still the young man wanted the girl, so the Chief called her father to the lodge. The Chief explained to the old man about his son and said, "On his behalf, I will give you a horse for your girl." The old man agreed. Soon after, the young couple was married.

The families camped together until late in the fall. Then the girl's father announced, "We must return home to hunt and trap. Son-in-law will you come with us?"

The boy agreed. Before leaving, his father strongly advised him not to play his game, fearing it would upset his father-in-law.

The couple went on their way.

Once they reached the north, the old man taught the young to hunt and trap. Before long, the boy became very good at it. However, each time they returned from a hunt, the youth played his game.

Before long, he taught others to play. They played day and night, not thinking of hunting and trapping. This angered the old man greatly.

"I have supported the Plains Cree long enough," he said. "He can eat his bowl dice game! We are leaving camp. If he follows us, do not feed him. He may eat what he catches."

Following the old man's wish, the son-in-law was not fed at mealtimes. His wife explained, "My father has forbidden us to give you any food. We are afraid of him. Because of his powers, he has never been defeated by anyone. I love you. Please, try to kill some food for yourself."

Although the Plainsman hunted, he could not kill anything. The old man had cursed him. Before long he grew weak with hunger! At last he fell to the ground, exhausted by starvation.

The young wife wept. "Oh, if you die, I, too, shall never eat."

"Now then, my children, make ready. We are moving camp," said the old man, meaning to leave his son-in-law behind.

And so the old man and his daughters went on their way. As for the Plainsman, he was left laying there. Toward evening he could hear the wind howling. Suddenly he heard a shot. "Hey, hey, hi, hi, hi, hi!" someone yelled. With a gust of wind the fire flared. When the frightened youth finally dared to look, there on a log of firewood sat a man, very lean dressed in bits of smoky leather.

The youth knew this was Pakakus, a spirit of the north.

Staring at the youth, he asked, "Why are you laying here like that?" The boy related what had happened with his wife and father-in-law.

"This is bad news," Pakakus replied, "It was I who gave him his power. Now I see that he is abusing it. You will not die; instead you will become one of us from this day on. Fat is what we eat, for this is the food of the Pakakus spirit. Come and watch." He walked towards him and went through him as if there was no obstacle.

"There, my friend, rise from the ground. From this day on, you are Pakakus. Your father-in-law shall not know you live."

With a whoop they rose into the air and went to the home of Pakakus. At once, the youth was given some fat to eat.Through these things the youth became a Pakakus. It is custom to eat fat at ceremonies which call on the spirit of Pakakus


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