The buffalo hunters of the Blackfoot, an Algonquin tribe, were pressed with the urgent task of procuring the thick robes and the rich meat which would keep them warm and provide good fare through the impending desolate winter moons.
Sacred Otter had been lucky. Many buffalo had fallen to him and he was busy and focused on skinning them. But, while the braves plied the knife quickly and deftly , they heeded not the sky. Lowering clouds, heavy with tempest, gathered and were hanging like a black curtain over the northern horizon.
Suddenly, the clouds swooped down from their place in the heavens like a flight of black eagles and with a roar a great blizzard was upon them. Sacred Otter and his son crouched beneath the carcass of a dead buffalo for shelter. But, he knew that they would quickly perish unless they could find some better protection from the bitter wind. He made a small tipi, or tent, out of the buffalo's hide and both crawled inside. Against this crazy shelter the snow quickly gathered and drifted. Soon the inmates of the tiny lodge sank into a comfortable drowse, induced by the gentle warmth. As Sacred Otter slept, he dreamt.
Away in the distance he saw a great tipi, crowned with a color like the gold of sunlight. It was painted with a cluster of stars, symbolic of the North. The ruddy disc of the sun was pictured on the back and to this was affixed the tail of the Sacred Buffalo. The skirts of the tipi were painted to represent ice. On its side had been drawn four yellow legs with green claws, typical of the Thunderbird. A buffalo, in glaring red, frowned above the door, and bunches of crow-feathers, with small bells attached, swung and tinkled in the breeze.
Sacred Otter, surprised at the unusual nature of the paintings, stood before the tipi, lost in admiration of its decorations. Then he was startled by a voice saying : "Who walks around my tipi? Come in, come in!"
He entered and beheld a tall, white-haired man, who was clothed all in white. He was sitting at the back of the lodge, of which he was the sole occupant. Otter took a seat. The owner of the tipi never looked his way, smoking on in stolid silence. Before him was an earthen altar on which was laid juniper, as in the Sun ceremony. His face was painted yellow, with a horizontal red line in the region of the mouth and another across the eyes to the ears. Across his breast he wore a mink-skin and around his waist small strips of otter-skin. On all of these bells were attached.
For a long time he kept silent. Then, [at length] he laid down his black stone pipe and addressed Otter as followed: "I am Es-tonea-pesta, the Lord of Cold Weather. This is my dwelling, The Snow-Tipi, or Yellow Paint Lodge. I control and send the driving snow and biting winds from the Northland. You are here because I have taken pity on you and your son, who was caught in the blizzard with you. Take this Snow Tipi with its symbols and medicines. Take also this mink skin tobacco pouch, this black stone pipe and my supernatural power. You must make a tipi similar to this on your return to camp."
The Lord of Cold Weather then minutely explained to Sacred Otter the symbols of which he was to make use in painting the lodge and gave him the songs and ceremonies connected with it. At this juncture Sacred Otter awoke.
He observed that the storm had abated somewhat. As soon as it grew fair enough, he and his son crawled from their shelter and trudged home through the waist-high, soft snow. Sacred Otter spent the long cold nights in making a replica of the 'Snow Tipi' and painting it , as he had been directed in his dream.
He also collected the "medicines" necessary for the ceremony. In the spring, when new lodges were made, he built and made the Snow Tipi. The power of Sacred Otter waxed great because of his possession of the Snow lodge which the Lord of Cold had given to him in his dream.
Soon, all he had dreamed came to pass.
Once more, while hunting buffalo, he and several companions were caught in a blizzard , while many a weary mile from camp. They appealed to Sacred Otter to utilize the "medicine" of the Lord of Cold.
Directing that several women and children, who were with the party, should be placed on travois. He told the men to go in advance and break a passage through the snow for the horses. Sacred Otter took the mink tobacco pouch and the black stone pipe he had received from the Cold Maker and commenced to smoke. He blew the smoke in the direction whence the storm came and prayed to the Lord of Cold to have pity on the people.
Gradually, the storm clouds broke and cleared. On every side, the blue sky was visible. The people hastened on, as they knew the blizzard was only being held back for a space in time. But their camp was at hand and they soon reached it in safety. Never again would Sacred Otter use his mystic power. For he dreaded, that he might offend the Lord of Cold.
In some cases the medicine person is reluctant to use the "powers" given to him/her. What happens when you 'do things' is you open a door for the positive medicine you are asking for to get through. But, you also have negative things that can come through that door also. One must be careful to always do the medicine as instructed and remember that when you open the door you stand a chance of the negative being stronger. So there is a hesitation to do things. Ones heart must always be pure and many prayers done before such an action. There is a reluctance you will upset the 'one in power' for something you overlooked in your prayers. Much thought and prayers are done prior to the actual action to insure the positive is always stronger. There is some help always given to the person doing the action by the teacher to keep the negative things in check. In the shell art of the Mound People this "portal' is represented by a hole in the middle of the shell engraving.