PhotoThis is a transcribed conversation I had with my late uncle, Charles Fletcher McComb, about John Stink. The John Stink story is an old Osage story and is still told today.

(McKim) "Did you ever see John Stink?"
(McComb) "I went by and saw him ... settin' before his tepee; and then they had two tepees, one was (for) an Indian man and his wife who took care of him."
(McKim) "Would you tell the story of John Stink."
(McComb) "Well, what dad (Fletcher Beeler McComb) said (was) that he died and they buried him Osage fashion having him sit facing the rising sun, sitting cross legged fashion and then they piled the rocks up on him, and
they put food and water and they killed his horse and the dog so that he'd have them on the 'other side' to take them to the happy hunting ground ...had the food, the spirit of the food. Then ... he woke up, he wasn't dead."
(McKim) "Do you think he was in a coma, something like that?"
(McComb) "Yeah. And he tore himself out of the goddam pile of rocks and went back to the Indian encampment and the full bloods (were) superstitious and thought the devil had entered his body and would not have anything to do with him from then on."
(McKim) "He lived to be very old, didn't he?"
(McComb) "Yeah, and when he died he was an extremely wealthy man, and damned near every member of the Osage Tribe rushed in and claimed kinship to him; when alive they would have nothing to do with him!"
(McKim) "And he lived in a tepee, too, didn't he?"
(McComb) "Yeah, he lived in two tepees. This man and wife--they weren't full bloods (Osage), they were some other tribe--they took care of him. He had his tepee and his dogs and they cooked for him and took care of the old man."
(McKim) "Mom said he was a very bitter old man, and who could blame him if that's true?"
(McComb) "Bill said he walked by him--he had come into Pawhuska to get meat for his dogs--and as Bill walked by him--he was sittin' on a curb--he (John Stink) spit at him."

from: Northern California Osage Association


Blogger osage lady said...

My mom told me that when she was a little girl in Northeast Oklahoma, John Stink was like the "boogyman" to kids. Parents told them to behave or John Stink would get them. My heart just broke for the man when she told me the story. The way she heard it was: He was a chronic alcoholic (probably suffered from depression by today's standards). One day, he drank so much everyone thought he had drunk himself to death. So they buried him the traditional way, above the ground. They killed his dogs (our version is that they killed them out of spite because he kept so many of them). When he woke up and got the rocks off of himself, it frightened everyone who then shunned him. At a later date, when he died again, they were careful to bury him deep. Sad story, huh? Whatever the truth, there is a human tragedy in this story.

9:48 AM PST  

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