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Title: Myths of the Iroquois. (1883 N 02 / 1880-1881 (pages 47-116))
Author: Smith, Erminnie A.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Hi-nuⁿ destroying the giant animals                          54
    A Seneca legend of Hi-nuⁿ and Niagara                        54
    The Thunderers                                               55
    Echo God                                                     58
    Extermination of the Stone Giants                            59
    The North Wind                                               59
    Great Head                                                   59
    Cusick's story of the dispersion of the Great Heads          62
    The Stone Giant's wife                                       62
    The Stone Giant's challenge                                  63
    Hiawatha and the Iroquois wampum                             64

  CHAPTER II.--PIGMIES                                           65
    The warrior saved by pigmies                                 65
    The pigmies and the greedy hunters                           66
    The pigmy's mission                                          67

  CHAPTER III.--PRACTICE OF SORCERY                              68
    The origin of witches and witch charms                       69
    Origin of the Seneca medicine                                70
    A "true" witch story                                         71
    A case of witchcraft                                         72
    An incantation to bring rain                                 72
    A cure for all bodily injuries                               73
    A witch in the shape of a dog                                73
    A man who assumed the shape of a hog                         73
    Witch transformations                                        74
    A superstition about flies                                   74

    Origin of the human race                                     76
    Formation of the Turtle Clan                                 77
    How the bear lost his tail                                   77
    Origin of medicine                                           78
    Origin of wampum                                             78
    Origin of tobacco                                            79
    Origin of plumage                                            79
    Why the chipmunk has the black stripe on his back            80
    Origin of the constellations                                 80
    The Pole Star                                                81

  CHAPTER V.--TALES                                              83
    Boy rescued by a bear                                        83
    Infant nursed by bears                                       84
    The man and his step-son                                     85
    The boy and his grandmother                                  86
    The dead hunter                                              87
    A hunter's adventures                                        88
    The old man's lesson to his nephew                           89
    The hunter and his faithless wife                            90
    The charmed suit                                             92
    The boy and the corn                                         96
    The lad and the chestnuts                                    97
    The guilty hunters                                           99
    Mrs. Logan's story                                          100
    The hunter and his dead wife                                103
    A sure revenge                                              104
    Traveler's jokes                                            107
    Kingfisher and his nephew                                   108
    The wild-cat and the white rabbit                           110

  CHAPTER VI.--RELIGION                                         112
    New Year's festival                                         112
    Tapping the maple trees                                     115
    Planting corn                                               115
    Strawberry festival                                         115
    Green-corn festival                                         115
    Gathering the corn                                          115


  PLATE XII.--Returning thanks to the Great Spirit               52
       XIII.--Stone giant or cannibal                            56
        XIV.--Atotarho, war chief                                60
         XV.--The Flying Head put to flight                      64





The principal monuments of the once powerful Iroquois are their myths
and folk-lore, with the language in which they are embodied. As these
monuments are fast crumbling away, through their contact with European
civilization, the ethnologist must hasten his search among them in order
to trace the history of their laws of mind and the records of their
customs, ideas, laws, and beliefs. Most of these have been long
forgotten by the people, who continue to repeat traditions as they have
been handed down through their fathers and fathers' fathers, from
generation to generation, for many centuries.

The pagan Iroquois of to-day (and there are still many) will tell you
that his ancestors worshiped, as he continues to do, the "Great Spirit,"
and, like himself, held feasts and dances in his honor; but a careful
study of the mythology of these tribes proves very clearly that in the
place of one prevailing great spirit (the Indian's earliest conception
of the white man's God) the Iroquois gods were numerous. All the
mysterious in nature, all that which inspired them with reverence, awe,
terror, or gratitude, became deities, or beings like themselves endowed
with supernatural attributes, beings whose vengeance must be
propitiated, mercy implored, or goodness recompensed by thank-offerings.
The latter were in the form of feasts, dances, or incense.

Among the most ancient of these deities, and regarding which the
traditions are the most obscure, were their most remote
ancestors--certain animals who later were transformed into human shape,
the names of the animals being preserved by their descendants, who have
used them to designate their gentes or clans.

Many races in that particular stage of savagery when the human intellect
is still in its child-like state, being impressed by the awful and
incomprehensible power of Thunder, have classed it foremost among their
deities, with attributes proportioned to the disposition or status of
the worshiper.

Hi-nuⁿ, the beneficent Thunder God of the Iroquois, compares most
favorably with the same god as worshiped by other races. Ever
accompanied by his equally powerful assistants, his mission was
understood to be only to promote the welfare of that favored people,
though isolated personal offenses might demand from him a just
retribution. It was therefore safe to make unto him, on his near
approach to earth, his most acceptable offering, the burning tobacco,
and so firmly rooted has become that ancient custom, that the aged
superstitious Iroquois of to-day can often be seen making this little
offering on the near approach of every thunder-storm. It is not
difficult to follow the crude reasoning by which was ascribed to
Hi-nuⁿ the goodness and glory of having destroyed the giant monsters
which either poisoned the waters or infested the land. That such had
existed was evident from the bones often discovered, and what power
other than the crashing bolt of Hi-nuⁿ could have accomplished their
destruction? The similarity discoverable in the myths of many peoples
regarding the Thunder God and his mission of destruction to giant
animals, making this an almost universal myth, is probably traceable to
this simple and natural explanation, and presents no argument that the
myth itself has traveled. It may, then, be safely assumed that Hi-nuⁿ
was an indigenous god of the Iroquois, the product of their own crude
reasoning powers.

Brother of the great Hi-nuⁿ was the West Wind, who, with him, brought
from the clouds the vivifying rain, and who finally assisted the
Iroquois in the extermination of the powerful stone giants. Therefore,
the West Wind ranks as a beneficent deity or spirit.

The North Wind brought only calamity in its train, often killing the
unripe corn and freezing the rivers, thus depriving the people of their
needed sustenance, and from the mere touch of his icy fingers the
benighted hunter became stiff in death. This ranked as an evil deity
ever to be feared and propitiated.

Echo, the Mars of the Iroquois, only exercised his power during their
wars with other tribes, in which, by repeating among the hills their
cries of Go-weh, he insured their almost certain victory. He was ever
honored with special thanksgiving.

Of Tă-rhuⁿ-hyiă-wăh-kuⁿ (who bore the important office of Holder of the
Heavens) there is little more known than that he brought out from their
mother earth the six tribes composing the Iroquois.

These are some of the Iroquois gods, a knowledge of whose existence is
contained only in myths, for they belong to the charmed "mythologic
age." As, however, the Iroquois tribes have not entirely passed the
boundaries of that age, it is proper to mention some of their more
modern divinities, in whose worship are intermingled many of their
ancient ceremonies.

The "Great Spirit," so popularly and poetically known as the god of
the red man, and the "Happy Hunting-ground," generally reported to be
the Indian's idea of a future state, are both of them but their ready
conception of the white man's God and Heaven. This is evident from a
careful study of their past as gleaned from the numerous myths of their
prehistoric existence.

    [Illustration: PL. XII

It may be true that many of the first missionaries found them in
possession of such ideas, but the Indians had long been in contact with
white men from whom those ideas were obtained, and there was no
incongruity in simply adding them to their former beliefs, as no
fundamental change was required. They accepted the Great Spirit, but
retained in many instances their former gods as his attributes,
considering the thunder as his voice and the winds as his breath, and at
the same time they introduced into their pagan worship a form of the
trinity which is still preserved, consisting of the Great Spirit, the
Sun, and Mother Earth.

Good and evil spirits also play an important rôle in Iroquoian
mythology. Among the good spirits are the three sisters who still
continue to preside over the favorite vegetables--corn, beans, and
squashes. They are represented as loving each other very dearly and
dwelling together in peace and unity. The vines of the vegetables grow
upon the same soil and cling lovingly around each other. The spirit of
corn is supposed to be draped with its long leaves and silken tassels.
The sister who guards the bean has a wreath of its velvety pods with
garments of the delicate tendrils, while the spirit of squashes is
clothed with the brilliant blossoms under her care. In bright nights the
sisters can be seen flitting about or heard rustling among the tall
corn. To this day yearly festivals are held in their honor, and they are
appealed to as "Our life, our supporters."

Among the supernatural beings corresponding to good and evil genii were
the Great Heads, with ever watchful eyes, and long hair which served
them as wings to bear them on missions of mercy or of destruction. This
pure product of the Indian imagination figures largely in the unwritten
literature of the Iroquois. There were also in those days stone giants,
always the mortal enemy of man, but whose final extermination furnished
the theme for wonderful stories of daring deeds performed oftentimes
under the influence of charms or magic, but never in too marvelous a
manner to disturb the credulity of the eager listener.

    [Illustration: PL. XIII

Although Atotarho and Hiawatha were contemporary personages, whose names
are still continued in the list of chiefs of the present day, the myths
which have accumulated around their history are so many and varied that
it is impossible to define the vague boundary line separating fact from
fiction. They may, therefore, be properly classed as demigods. The name
of the former, which signifies "the entangled," together with his skill,
cunning, and cruelty in war, soon resulted in his becoming invested with
the title of a wizard. The origin of his name is attributed to his
marvelous hair, which consisted of living snakes, and thus he is
represented by the pictographers of his time. He is still regarded by
his tribe as having been a being with supernatural endowments.

    [Illustration: PL. XIV

Among the same tribe, the Onondagas, are found what may be termed the
"Hiawatha legends." So numerous and yet different are these stories,
that they may be regarded as the histories of a long line of Hiawathas,
the Hiawatha being the official name of one of the most important
functionaries in the tribal government. These stories, in their relation
through many generations, have at last become applied to one person, who
is thus most marvelously endowed, as far surpassing all in goodness as
did Atotarho in the opposite attributes. To him is ascribed the honor of
having established the Great Confederacy of the Iroquois which so long
rendered them invincible in war. His name, which signifies "He who seeks
the wampum belt,"[1] probably led to the superstition of his having
invented wampum. To accomplish his wonderful feats, he was provided with
a magic canoe which obeyed his bidding. The legendary apotheosis
accorded him, in which he is represented as ascending to Heaven in a
white canoe, appears to be of modern origin.

    [1] This is the interpretation given by the tribe, the real
    meaning, as Père Cuoq suggests, being a "river maker," which
    implies alliance between nations, and as wampum was used for
    treaties, the original idea seems to have been retained after
    the word itself has become denotive.


A hunter in the woods was once caught in a thunder-shower, when he heard
a voice calling upon him to follow. This he did until he found himself
in the clouds, the height of many trees from the ground. Beings which
seemed to be men surrounded him, with one among them who seemed to be
their chief. He was told to look below and tell whether he could see a
huge water-serpent. Replying that he could not, the old man anointed his
eyes, after which he could see the monster in the depths below him. They
then ordered one of their number to try and kill this enemy to the human
race. Upon his failing, the hunter was told to accomplish the feat. He
accordingly drew his bow and killed the foe. He was then conducted back
to the place where he had sought shelter from the storm, which had now

This was man's first acquaintance with the Thunder God and his
assistants, and by it he learned that they were friendly toward the
human race, and protected it from dragons, serpents, and other enemies.


A beautiful Indian maiden was about to be compelled by her family to
marry a hideous old Indian.

Despair was in her heart. She knew that there was no escape for her, so
in desperation she leaped into her canoe and pushed it from shore on the
roaring waters of Niagara. She heeded not that she was going to her
death, preferring the angry waters to the arms of her detested lover.

Now, the God of Cloud and Rain, the great deity Hi-nuⁿ, who watches
over the harvest, dwelt in a cave behind the rushing waters. From his
home he saw the desperate launching of the maiden's canoe; saw her going
to almost certain destruction. He spread out his wings and flew to her
rescue, and caught her just as her frail bark was dashing on the rocks

The grateful Indian girl lived for many weeks in Hi-nuⁿ's cave. He
taught her many new things. She learned from him why her people died so
often--why sickness was always busy among them. He told her how a snake
lay coiled up under the ground beneath the village, and how he crept out
and poisoned the springs, because he lived upon human beings and craved
their flesh more and more, so that he could never get enough if they
died from natural causes.

Hi-nuⁿ kept the maiden in till he learned that the ugly old suitor was
dead. Then he bade her return and tell her tribe what she had learned of
the great Hi-nuⁿ.

She taught them all he had told her and begged them to break up their
settlement and travel nearer to the lake; and her words prevailed. For a
while sickness ceased, but it broke out again, for the serpent was far
too cunning to be so easily outwitted. He dragged himself slowly but
surely after the people, and but for Hi-nuⁿ's influence would have
undermined the new settlement as he had the former one. Hi-nuⁿ watched
him until he neared the creek, then he launched a thunderbolt at him. A
terrible noise awoke all the dwellers by the lake, but the snake was
only injured, not killed. Hi-nuⁿ was forced to launch another
thunderbolt, and another and another, before, finally, the poisoner was

The great dead snake was so enormous that when the Indians laid his body
out in death it stretched over more than twenty arrow flights, and as he
floated down the waters of Niagara it was as if a mountain appeared
above them. His corpse was too large to pass the rocks, so it became
wedged in between them and the waters rose over it mountains high. As
the weight of the monster pressed on the rocks they gave way and thus
the horseshoe form, that remains to this day, was fashioned. But the
Indians had no more fever in their settlement.


The following story, as related to me by Horatio Hale, who received it
from an Indian chief, shows that sustained imaginative power which seems
to distinguish the myths of the Iroquoian family.

On one occasion in the ancient time three warriors set out on an
expedition. When they were far distant from their own land, one of them
had the misfortune to break his leg. By the Indian law it became the
duty of the others to convey their injured comrade back to his home.
They formed a rude litter, and, laying him upon it, bore him for some

At length they came to a ridge of mountains. The way was hard and the
exertion severe. To rest themselves, they placed their burden on the
ground. They withdrew to a little distance and took evil counsel
together. There was a deep hole, or pit, opening into the ridge of the
mountain at a little distance from the place where they were sitting.
Returning to the litter, they took up their helpless load, carried him
near the brink of the pit, and suddenly hurled him in. Then they set off
rapidly for their own country. When they arrived they reported that he
had died of wounds received in fight. Great was the grief of his mother,
a widow, whose only support he had been. To soothe her feelings they
told her that her son had not fallen into the enemy's hands. They had
rescued him, they said, from that fate, had carefully tended him in his
last hours, and had given his remains a becoming burial.

They little imagined that he was still alive. When he was thrown down by
his treacherous comrades he lay for some time insensible at the bottom
of the pit. When he recovered his senses, he observed an old gray-headed
man seated near him, crouching into a cavity on one side of the pit.
"Ah, my son," said the old man, "what have your friends done to you?"
"They have thrown me here to die, I suppose," he replied, with true
Indian stoicism. "You shall not die," said the old man, "if you will
promise to do what I require of you in return for saving you." "What is
that?" asked the youth. "Only that when you recover you will remain here
and hunt for me and bring me the game you kill." The young warrior
readily promised, and the old man applied herbs to his wound and
attended him skillfully until he recovered. This happened in the autumn.
All through the winter the youth hunted in the service of the old man,
who told him that whenever he killed any game too large for one man to
carry, he would come himself and help to convey it to the pit, in which
they continued to reside. When the spring arrived, bringing melting
snows and frequent showers, he continued his pursuit of the game, though
with more difficulty. One day he encountered an enormous bear, which he
was lucky enough to kill. As he stooped to feel its fatness and judge of
its weight, he heard a murmur of voices behind him. He had not imagined
that any human beings would find their way to that lonely region at that
time of the year. Astonished, he turned and saw three men, or figures in
the shape of men, clad in strange cloud-like garments, standing near
him. "Who are you?" he asked. In reply they informed him that they were
the Thunderers (Hi-nuⁿ). They told him that their mission was to keep
the earth and everything upon it in good order for the benefit of the
human race. If there was a drought, it was their duty to bring rain;
if there were serpents or other noxious creatures, they were
commissioned to destroy them, and, in short, to do away with everything
injurious to mankind. They told him that their present object was to
destroy the old man to whom he had bound himself, and who, as they would
show him, was a very different sort of being from what he pretended to
be. For this they required his aid. If he would assist them he would do
a good act, and they would convey him back to his home, where he would
see his mother and be able to take care of her. This proposal and their
assurances overcame any reluctance the young man might have felt to
sacrifice his seeming benefactor. He went to him and told him that he
had killed a bear and needed his help to bring it home. The old man was
anxious and uneasy. He bade the youth examine the sky carefully and see
if there was the smallest speck of cloud visible. The young man replied
that the sky was perfectly clear. The old man then came out of the
hollow and followed the young hunter, urging him constantly to make
haste, and looking upward with great anxiety. When they reached the bear
they cut it up hurriedly with their knives, and the old man directed the
youth to place it all on his shoulders. The youth complied, though much
astonished at his companion's strength. The old man set off hastily for
the pit, but just then a cloud appeared and the thunder rumbled in the
distance. The old man threw down his load and started to run. The
thunder rumbled nearer, and the old man assumed his proper form of an
enormous porcupine, which fled through the bushes, discharging its
quills like arrows backward as it ran. But the thunder followed him,
with burst upon burst, and finally a bolt struck the huge animal, which
fell lifeless into its den.

Then the Thunderers said to the young man, "Now, that we have done our
work here, we will take you to your home and your mother, who is
grieving for you all the time."

They gave him a dress like that which they wore, a cloud-like robe,
having wings on its shoulders, and told him how these were to be moved.
Then he rose with them in the air, and soon found himself in his
mother's cornfield. It was night. He went to her cabin, and drew aside
the mat which covered the opening. The widow started up and gazed at him
in the moonlight with terror, thinking that she saw her son's ghost. He
guessed her thoughts. "Do not be alarmed, mother," he said; "it is no
ghost. It is your son come back to take care of you." As may be
supposed, the poor woman was overjoyed, and welcomed her long-lost son
with delight. He remained with her, fulfilling his duties as a son, for
the rest of the year. What was done to his treacherous comrades is not
recorded. They were too insignificant to be further noticed in the
story, which now assumes a more decided mythological character.

When the Thunderers bade farewell to the young man they said to him, "We
will leave the cloud-dress with you. Every spring, when we return, you
can put it on and fly with us to be witness to what we do for the good
of man." Accordingly, the youth hid the dress in the woods, that no one
might see it, and waited until the spring. Then the Thunderers returned,
and he resumed the robe, and floated with them in the clouds over the
earth. As they passed above a mountain he became thirsty, and seeing
below him a pool he descended to drink of it. When he rejoined his
companions they looked at him, and saw that the water with which his
lips were moist had caused them to shine as if smeared with oil. "Where
have you been drinking?" they asked him eagerly. "In yonder pool," he
answered, pointing to where it lay still in sight. They said, "There is
something in that pool which we must destroy. We have sought it for
years, and now you have happily found it for us." Then they cast a
mighty thunderbolt into the pool, which presently became dry. At the
bottom of it, blasted by the thunder, was an immense grub, of the kind
which destroys the corn and beans and other products of the fields and
gardens; but this was a vast creature ("as big as a house," said the
chief), the special patron and representative of all grubs. After
accompanying his spirit friends to some distance, and seeing more of
their good deeds of the like sort, the youth returned home and told his
friends that the Thunder was their divine protector, and narrated the
proofs which he had witnessed of this benignant character. Thence
originated the honor in which the Thunder is held among the Indians.
Many Iroquois still call Hi-nuⁿ their grandfather.


When engaged in wars with different nations the voice of the Echo God
served for signals, as it would only respond to the calls of Iroquois.
At the coming of evening it was used by them to call in those who were
out on the war-path. When the warrior would whoop the Echo God would
take it up and carry it on through the air, the enemy not being able to
hear it, as this was the special god of the Six Nations. Therefore when
they had gained a great victory a dance was held to give praise to this
god. When enemies were killed their victors called out as many times as
there were persons killed, the cry being "Goh-weh! Goh-weh!" "I'm
telling you!" These words the Echo God took up and repeated. But if one
of their own tribe was killed they called out, "Oh-weh! Oh-weh!" meaning
"Our own!"

After any of these signals were given all assembled together to hold
council and make arrangements for an attack or pursuit. Then were sent
out runners, who also proclaimed. If no response was made by the Echo
God it was an omen that they should not start, but they continued
calling, and if the god still remained silent, a service was held to ask
the cause of his anger.

When a warfare was ended victoriously a dance was held to the Echo God
and the nations assembled to rejoice--but first to mourn for the dead
and decide on the fate of the captives. As the Echo God was never called
upon except in emergencies during warfare, now since wars are over the
feast and dance to the Echo God have ceased to be a part of the Iroquois


Related by MR. O'BEILLE BEILLE, grandson of Cornplanter.

The stone giants, who principally inhabited the far West, resolved to
come East and exterminate the Indians. A party of Senecas, just starting
out on the war-path, were warned of their impending danger and were
bidden to accept the challenge to fight the stone giants and appoint a
time and place. This they did. At the appointed time the giants appeared
at the place, which was near a great gulf. Then there came a mighty wind
from the west which precipitated the whole race of giants down into the
abyss, from which they were never able to extricate themselves, and the
God of the West Wind was ever after held in reverence by the Senecas.


It was the custom at a certain season for the medicine men to go about
demanding gifts of the people; but an icy figure had also appeared,
demanding a man as a sacrifice; whereupon the Thunder God was appealed
to, and he came to the rescue with his assistants and chased the figure
far into the north, where they doomed the icy demon to remain. To this
day his howling and blustering are heard, and when any venturesome
mortal dares to intrude too far towards his abode his frosty children
soon punish the offender. He is termed Kă-tăsh-hŭaht, or North Wind, and
ranks as an evil spirit.


It was a common belief among Indians that there was a strange,
human-like creature, consisting simply of a head made terrific with
large eyes and covered with long hair. His home was upon a huge rock,
a rifted promontory, over which his long hair streamed in shaggy

Seen or unseen, if he saw anything that had the breath of life he
growled: "Kûⁿñ´´-kuⁿ, Kuⁿñ´´-kuⁱⁿ, wă´´-h-tci´-ha´´-i-h"; that is,
"I see thee, I see thee, thou shalt die," or "thou shalt suffer."

In a distant wilderness there lived a man and his wife with ten
children, all boys. In the course of events the father died, and was
soon followed by the mother of the boys, who were now left alone with
their uncle. They were greatly afflicted by the loss of both parents
but after a while resumed their hunting for support.

As was customary, the older brothers went to their hunting grounds and
the younger ones staid at home. One day they looked for the return of
their elder brother in vain; they also looked in vain for the second
brother's return. Then the oldest of those at home said, "I will go to
look them up"; and he went off, but did not return that night. The next
brother then went to hunt for his lost brothers. He also did not return,
and thus it was with all until the youngest brother was left alone with
his aged uncle.

The youngest brother was forbidden to go away from home lest he too
should be lost. One day the two were out in the woods, when the younger
one, stepping over a log, heard a noise like a groan, which seemed to
come from the earth. The groan being repeated, they concluded to dig
into the earth, where they discovered a man covered with mould, and
taking him and setting him up they saw some signs of life and were
convinced that he was alive. Then the old man said to the lad, "Run for
the bear's oil." When brought, they rubbed it over him, and at last were
well pleased to see returning consciousness.

In caring for him they at first fed him on oil until he began to move
his eyes and talk. The strange man then told them that he did not know
how long he had been there, that all he knew was that the last time he
went out was to hunt. They persuaded him to stay with them, whereupon he
related the story of the nine brothers who had so mysteriously
disappeared. They then discovered that the stranger was somewhat
supernatural, for he told them very strange things.

One night he said, "I cannot sleep; hearken to the great noise in this
direction. I know what it is--it is my brother, the Great Head, who is
howling through this hurricane. He is an awful being, for he destroys
those who go near him." "Is he your brother?" "Yes, own brother." "If
you sent for him would he come here?" "No," he replied; "but perhaps I
might entice him to come here. I will try; but if he comes you must make
great provision for him; you must cut a huge maple tree into blocks, for
that is what he eats." The stranger inquired how far he would be obliged
to go to find the home of the "Head." The uncle replied, "You would get
there about noon." Early the next morning he took his bow and started.
When he came to a hickory tree he pulled it up, and from its roots he
made arrows, and then ran onward until he came to a place answering the
description given him, near which he was to find the end of his journey.
Remembering that he was warned to look out for the "Great Eyes,"
which would be sure to see him, he called for a mole, to which he said,
"I am going in this direction and I want you to creep down under the
grass where you will not be seen." Having gone into the mole, he at last
saw the Great Head through the blades of grass. Ever watchful, the head
cried out "Kuⁿñ-kuⁿ," "I see thee." The man in the mole saw that the
"Head" was watching an owl, then drawing his bow, he shot an arrow into
the Great Head, crying, "I came after you." The arrow as it flew to its
mark became very large, but as it was returning became as small as when
it left the bow. Thereupon, taking the arrow, he ran swiftly toward
home; but he had not gone far when he heard a great noise like the
coming of a storm. It was the Great Head riding on a tempest. Unshaken
by this, he continued to run until he saw that the Great Head was coming
down to the spot where he was, when he drew his bow again, and as the
arrow left the bow it became larger as it sped, and it drove the Great
Head away as before it had done. These maneuvers were repeated many
times. In the meanwhile the uncle had prepared a mallet, and now he
heard the rush and roar of the coming hurricane and said, "The stranger
has allured him home." He now went to the door and said, "We must hammer
him; here, take this mallet." As the Great Head came bursting through
the door, the two men industriously plied their mallets to it. At this
proceeding, the Great Head began to laugh, thus: "Si-h si-h si-h," for
he was pleased to see his brother. When the tumult had subsided, the
uncle asked the Great Head to remain, and gave him to eat the blocks
which had been prepared for him. Then the two men told the Great Head
about the brothers who were lost and about the stranger. Then the Great
Head said, "I know where they have gone; they have gone to a place where
lives a woman who is a witch and who sings continually."

Now, the Great Head said, "I have been here long enough; I want to go
home; this young man is pretty bright, and if he wishes to go to see
this witch, I will show him her abode and all the bones of his
brothers." The young man consenting, he and the Great Head started on
the morrow, and finally came to a place where they heard this song:
"Dy-giñ-nyă-de, he´´-oñ-we, he´-oñ-we-ni´´-ă-h gi-di-oñ-ni-ăh," which
the witch was singing. At length she spoke and said, "Schis-t-ki-añ";
this was the magical word at which, when heard, all turned to dry bones.
Upon hearing this the Great Head said, "I will ask the question, 'How
long have you been here?' and the hair will fall from my head and you
must replace it, and it will grow fast, and then I will bite her flesh
and pull it from her, and as it comes off you must take it from my mouth
and throw it off, saying 'Be a fox, a bird, or anything else,' and it
will then run off never to return."

They did as they had planned, and when the witch begged for mercy the
Great Head said, "You had no mercy; see the dry bones; you must die":
and so they killed her, and her flesh was turned into animals, and
birds, and fish.

When she had died, the Head said, "Let us burn her to ashes." When this
was done, the Head said, "Let us search for the year-old bones and cause
them to lie in rows," and they worked together selecting those they
thought were bones of the nine brothers, and placed them together. When
this was done, the Great Head said, "I am going to my old home in the
great mountain, and when I fly over here on a tempest then you say to
these bones, 'All arise,' and they all will rise and you may go home
with them." Great Head departed, and then arose a storm and a terrific
hurricane, and the Great Head out of the wind called to the nine
brothers to awake, and they all arose to life, shouting for joy at
seeing each other and their youngest brother again.


An old squaw who resided at Onondaga was alone in her wigwam one
evening. While sitting by the fire parching some acorns one of the
monstrous heads made its appearance at the door. Thinking that the
woman was eating coals of fire, by which these monsters were put to
flight, it suddenly disappeared, and none of its kind have been seen
since that day.

    [Illustration: PL. XV


In the olden days the hunters always took their wives with them on their
expeditions. It was a wife's duty to fetch home the game that was killed
and prepare and cook it.

A great hunter set forth upon a hunting excursion and took his wife with
him. He found so much game that finally he built a wigwam and settled
down. One day he had gone hunting in one direction while his wife was
sent in another to collect the game he had killed the previous day.

When she returned towards home one evening, laden with game, she was
surprised at hearing a woman's voice, and as she entered her surprise
changed to fear, for she saw a stone giant woman nursing the chief's
child. "Do not be afraid," said the giantess; "come in." And as the wife
obeyed she told her that she had run away from her cruel husband, who
wanted to kill her, and that she wished to stay a while with the
hunter's family. She had come from very far, from the land of the Stone
Giants, and was very tired, and added that they must be careful what
food they gave her. She could not eat raw food, but it must be well
cooked, so thoroughly cooked, indeed, that she could not taste the
blood, for if she once tasted blood she might wish to kill them and the
child and eat them. She knew that the woman's husband was a mighty
hunter, and she knew that his wife brought in the game, but now she
would do it instead; then she said that she knew where to find it and
would start after it at once.

After a while she returned, bringing in one hand a load which four
ordinary men could not have carried. The woman cooked it, and they dined

As evening came on the Stone Giantess bade the woman go out and meet her
husband and tell him of her visit; so she started, and the hunter was
much pleased to hear of the help she had given.

In the morning, after he had gone on his hunting expedition, the
giantess said, "Now I have a secret for you: My husband is after me. In
three days he will be here. We shall have a terrible fight when he
comes, and you and your husband must help me to kill him."

In two days afterwards she said, "Now your husband must remain at home,
for mine is coming. But do not be afraid; we shall kill him, only you
must help catch and hold him. I will show you where to strike him so
that the blow will go right through to his heart." The hunter and his
wife were both frightened at this, but she reassured them, and they all
three awaited the coming of the giant. So she placed herself in the
entrance, and as he came in sight she was ready. She seized him and
threw him on the ground. "Now," she said, "strike him on the arms, now
on the back of the neck"; and so he was finally killed. Then said she,
"I will take him out and bury him," which she did.

She staid a while quietly with the hunter and his wife, fetching in the
game and being useful until they were ready to leave and return to the
settlement. Then she said, "Now I must go home to my people, for I need
fear nothing." So she bade them farewell.

And this is the end of the story of the Stone Giantess.


A Stone Giant challenged a Seneca chief to a race. The challenge was
accepted, and the time for the start appointed two days later.

The hunter employed the time in making a pair of moccasins, and in due
time the race began. The hunter was in advance; he led the way over
cornfields and through bushes, over and around brooks, and went a weary
distance until he was very tired and his moccasins were nearly worn off
his feet. At last he began to climb rocks. Now, the Stone Giant had no
power to raise his head and could not tell where the hunter was when
once he was above him, and in this dilemma he had recourse to a charm,
and took from his pocket a human finger. He placed it upright upon his
hand, and it immediately pointed the way for him to go.

Now, the hunter had turned and seen him do it, so he stooped and
snatched the charm from him, whereupon the giant commenced crying and
said: "You have won. You have taken my charm, and now you can always
find game and all you want, for the finger will direct you to it."


In one of his missions into the country of the Mohawks, Hiawatha once
came upon the borders of a lake. While deliberating in what manner he
should cross it, the whole sky became filled with wild ducks, all of
which finally alighted upon the surface of the water. After quenching
their thirst and soaking their plumage they ascended again into the air
in one great mass, and lo! the lake had become dry, while its bed was
filled with shells.

From these the wise chief and counselor proceeded to make the wampum
which afterward so firmly cemented the union of the six tribes, thereby
forming the great Iroquois Confederacy.



Another creation of the fertile Indian fancy consists of the race of
pigmies, Lilliputian in size, but mighty in skill and deed. They carved
out the beauties of rock, cliff, and cave, but also, like Hi-nuⁿ, they
were endowed with the mightier power of destroying the monster animals
which endangered the life of man. Cliff, rock, and grotto attested the
skill of that departed race, and the exhumed bones of giant animals bore
as perfect witness to the truth of their existence as did the "Homo
diluvii testis" of a century ago to the truth of the story of the deluge.


It was customary for the Iroquois tribes to make raids upon the
Cherokees while the latter inhabited the swamps of Florida.

One of these raiding parties had been away from home about two years,
and on the very evening of the journey homeward one of its number was
taken quite ill. After a long consultation (the man continuing to grow
worse), the party concluded to leave him, and when they had reached one
of the rivers of the Alleghany Mountains they abandoned him on the
shore. After their arrival at home the warriors were questioned in
regard to the missing war-chief. In reply, they said that they did not
exactly know what had become of him, and that he must have been lost or
killed in the "Southern country."

During the night the sick chief lying on the bank heard the soft sounds
of a canoe's approach, and saw three male pigmies landing hurriedly.
Finding him, they bade him to lie there until they returned, as they
were going to a neighboring "salt-lick" where many strange animals
watered, and where they were to watch for some of them to come up out of
the earth.

Reaching the place the pigmies found that the animals had not come out
from the ground. They hid themselves and soon saw a male buffalo
approach. The beast looked around and began to drink, and immediately
two buffalo cows arose out of the lick.

The three animals, after quenching their thirst, lay down upon the bank.

The pigmies seeing that the animals were becoming restless and uneasy,
concluded wisely to shoot them, and succeeded in killing the two buffalo

They returned to the man and told him that they would care for him.
This they did, and brought him to his friends, who from his story
learned that the returned warriors were false, and they were accordingly

From a strong desire to see the "lick," a large party searched for it
and found it surrounded with bones of various large animals killed by
the pigmies.


The following story is told as having actually occurred:

Mr. Johnson and others of the Seneca Reservation went out on a hunting
expedition to a region quite remote from their homes. Upon their arrival
at the hunting grounds they found game so plentiful that they were
obliged to throw away large quantities of meat to enable them to
preserve and carry the skins of the many animals they had slain.

Several months after their arrival they moved farther into the
wilderness, and found, to their sorrow, that game was growing scarcer
each day until they could find none. As a consequence of their
prodigality they were soon in want of that very meat which they had so
wantonly thrown away, and were finally pushed to the verge of

At length a pigmy appeared to the hapless hunters, and said that their
present condition was a just punishment to them for their wastefulness
and greed for gain. In despair the hunters inquired of the pigmy what
they must do to obtain food. The pigmy said that they must either starve
or give up all the skins and furs which they had collected and prepared
for use. The hunters asked how long they would be permitted to consider
the proposition. The pigmy replied that when they had decided they could
call one of his race by simply tapping on a rock, and then they could
tell their decision.

Not agreeing upon any answer after a long consultation, they called one
of the pigmies to ask for better terms. The hunters said they would
rather die than submit, if the amount of food were small, since, with a
small supply and being in a strange, unknown country, they could not
possibly find their way home. They further asked him to show them their
homeward journey. The pigmy said that he could not grant their request
without the full concurrence of his race, but that he would give them
food enough to satisfy them in their present distress. He then showed
them into a capacious and furnished cavern, in which they were to await
the answer of the pigmies.

On the following day the pigmy returned and said they had been forgiven
for their wastefulness, and that they would be furnished with provisions
without parting with their furs. He said that the hunters must remain in
the cavern, and that some time in the night they would be called for.

About midnight they were awakened and found themselves in their first

The Senecas were informed that they were brought there by their
ever-vigilant pigmy friends.


There was once a pigmy living in a little cave. Near him dwelt a hunter
in a wigwam. The pigmy sent to him and bade him visit him. The hunter
went accordingly, and saw many wonderful things; the little people
themselves in great numbers, and the corn and huckleberries and other
berries which they had in plenty to eat. And the pigmy said: "This is
our home, and all we have is given to us free, and although I am small I
am stronger than you." Then he showed him the games, and the bows and
arrows and the dances, even the war dances and the hunter said when he
had seen it all, "Let me go." But the pigmy said, "Stay! Do you know my
name? I am called Go-Ga-Ah (little fellow). I had my choice of name. I
will let you out when I have told you our mission. We are to help you,
and we have never injured you, but now we are going to move away from
here. We are going where there is more danger from the giant animals,
that we may help those who need our aid." Then having finished his
speech, he opened the door and let the hunter go on his way.



The early history of the races of mankind, now civilized, is marked in
all its course known to us by a belief in mysterious powers and
influences. Sorcerers, men believed to be skilled in occult arts, have
been known among them all. An examination into the actual practice of
sorcery or magical arts among savage and barbaric tribes is therefore of
peculiar interest.

In none of the myths of the Iroquois which I have reason to believe
antedate the appearance of Europeans do I find anything indicating a
belief in Heaven or a separate spiritual world, although some of their
customs indicate that they may have had such a notion. The only word for
Heaven in the different dialects is evidently a literal translation of
the Christian idea, and signifies "in the sky." It would seem that after
the possession of that idea came the desire for intermediaries between
living men and a spiritual world, indicating the first step toward a
higher philosophy.

Among the highly civilized Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Greeks, the success
of magic depended upon the ignorance of the masses and the comparative
learning of the few who practiced it. Among the Indians the knowledge of
the medicine man and the more expert sorceress is little above that of
the body of the tribe. Their success depends entirely upon their own
belief in being supernaturally gifted, and upon the faith and fear of
their followers. I do not believe that the Iroquois lives to-day who is
not a believer in sorcery or who would not in the night time quail at
seeing a bright light the nature of which he did not understand. The
most intelligent, the wisest, and the best Christian whom I ever met
among them told me of the wonderful marvels he himself had wrought. He
had stayed the flames of a burning church by holding forth his right
hand. He had lamed for life a man who was stealing cherries by pointing
his finger at him. Few bad Indians came into his presence without
begging him not to "bewitch" them. This good Tuscarora ranks as one of
the leading Christians of his tribe and lives up to all the moral
precepts of the Bible, from which he can quote a text considered by
himself to be appropriate for each of the superstitions in which he so
firmly believes.

A few Tuscarora names with their definitions will serve to illustrate
some of the practices and beliefs of the Iroquois.

_Yă-ku-wi-săt_: A person possessing within himself a live crystal which
he could call from his mouth or nose. The crystal placed in a gourd of
water, rendered visible the apparition of a person who had bewitched
another. By applying this crystal to one bewitched, hairs, straws,
leaves, pebbles, &c., could be drawn forth.

_Rhuⁿñ-ta-yä_: A medicine man who by the use of a small kettle boiled
roots or herbs, and by covering the head with a blanket and holding it
over the kettle could see the image of an enemy who had bewitched either
some one else or himself.

_Yä-tyuⁿñ-yûⁿñ_: One who performed miraculous feats by drawing out with
alder tubes, hairs, pieces of skin, leaves, &c., from people who had
been bewitched with these things.

_Ră-nûⁿ-kwă-terha-yuⁿ-nä-rhi_: Superior medicine man.

_Us-kuⁿ-rhă-rhih_: A carnivorous ghost bodied forth in a skeleton.

_U-h-nä´´-wăk_: A departing ghost who will revisit its dead body.

_U-t-kuⁿ-terhă´´-ksⁿñ_: An evil spirit, from whom all witches received
their power.

_U-ht-kûⁿ-sü-rhûⁿ_: One who could assume a partly animal shape.

_Yä-skûⁿ-nûⁿ-nä_: The ghost of a living person.

_Yä tcuⁿñ-hu-h-kwă-kwä_: An apparition which could emit flames of light.

_U-h-t-kûⁿ_: A natural-born witch or ghost.

_Nä-yûⁿ-h-nă-nyä-rhûⁿñ-nyäⁿ-a_: A witch under the influence or power of
a superior witch.

Stories abound in which these personages or spirits are introduced.

The belief in _Yä-skûⁿ-nûⁿ-nä_, or that the spirit of a person could be
in one locality and its body exist at the same time in another, explains
much of the phenomena of witchcraft, and accounts for the strange
confessions oftentimes made by those who were known to have been
unjustly accused.

Many customs still existing show that spirits are supposed to continue
to experience the wants of humanity after leaving the body. For some
time after the death of an adult his accustomed portion of food is often
dealt out for the supposed hungry spirit, and on the death of a nursing
child two pieces of cloth are saturated with the mother's milk and
placed in the hands of the dead child so that its spirit may not return
to haunt the bereaved mother.

When a living nursing child is taken out at night the mother takes a
pinch of white ashes and rubs it on the face of the child so that the
spirits will not trouble it, because they say that a child still
continues to hold intercourse with the spirit world whence it so
recently came.


A great many years ago boys were instructed to go out and hunt birds and
other game for the support of their respective families and to learn
from practice how to hunt. A certain boy while out hunting came across
a beautiful snake. Taking a great fancy to it, he caught it and cared
for it, feeding it on birds, &c., and made a bark bowl in which he kept
it. He put fibers, down, and small feathers into the water with the
snake, and soon found that these things had become living beings. From
this fact he naturally conjectured that the snake was endowed with
supernatural powers. He then continued his experiments, and discovered
that whatever he put into this water became alive; so he went to another
swamp and got other snakes, which he put into the bowl. While
experimenting he saw other Indians putting things on their eyes to see
sharp, so he rubbed some of this snake-water on his eyes, and climbing a
tree he found that he could see things even if they were hidden.

Finding that this snake liquid was powerful enough to improve his sight,
he concluded that the more snakes he put into the waters the more
powerful would be the liquid. He therefore hung a large number of snakes
so that their oil dropped into the water, increasing its power and
making more lively its strange inhabitants.

He then learned that by simply putting one of his fingers into the
liquid and pointing it at any person that person would immediately
become bewitched.

After placing some roots (which were not poisonous) into the snake
liquid, he put some of the mixture into his mouth and found that it
produced a peculiar sensation. By blowing it from his mouth it would
give a great light; by placing some in his eyes he could see in the dark
and could go through all kinds of impassable places; he could become
like a snake; he could even become invisible, and could travel faster
than any other mortal. An arrow dipped into this liquid and shot at any
living being, even if it did not hit its object, would nevertheless kill
it. A feather dipped into this snake water and then pointed at any
wished-for game, would immediately start for the desired thing and would
always kill it, and when the game was dissected the feather was always
found in it. Having discovered the great power of this snake extract, he
took into consideration the finding of counteracting agents. To
accomplish this end, he diligently searched for roots and herbs having
the required qualities, and finally he was rewarded by obtaining
antidotes which would work upon objects which he had bewitched or


Nearly two hundred years ago a man went into the woods on a hunting
expedition. He was quite alone. He camped out in a field and was wakened
in the night by the sound of singing and a noise like the beating of a
drum. He could not sleep any more, so he rose and went in the direction
of the sound. To his surprise the place had all the appearance of being
inhabited. On the one hand was a hill of corn, on the other a large
squash vine with three squashes on it, and three ears of corn grew apart
from all the others. He was unable to guess what it meant, but started
off on his hunting once more, determined to return some evening, being
both curious and uneasy. In the night, as he slept near by, he again
heard a noise, and awakening, saw a man looking at him, who said,
"Beware! I am after you; what you saw was sacred; you deserve to die."
But the people who now gathered around said they would pardon it, and
would tell him the secret they possessed: "The great medicine for
wounds," said the man who had awakened him, "is squash and corn; come
with me and I will teach you."

He led him to the spot where the people were assembled, and there he saw
a fire and a laurel bush which looked like iron. The crowds danced
around it singing, and rattling gourd-shells, and he begged them to tell
him what they did it for.

Then one of them heated a stick and thrust it right through his cheek,
and then applied some of the medicine to prove to him how quickly it
could heal the wound. Then they did the same to his leg. All the time
they sang a tune; they called it the "medicine song," and taught it to

Then he turned to go home, and all at once he perceived that they were
not human beings, as he had thought, but animals, bears, beavers, and
foxes, which all flew off as he looked. They had given him directions to
take one stalk of corn and dry the cob and pound it very fine, and to
take one squash, cut it up and pound that, and they then showed him how
much for a dose. He was to take water from a running spring, and always
from up the stream, never down.

He made up the prescription and used it with very great success, and
made enough before he died to last over one hundred years.

This was the origin of the great medicine of the Senecas. The people
sing over its preparation every time the deer changes his coat, and when
it is administered to a patient they sing the medicine song, while they
rattle a gourd-shell as accompaniment, and burn tobacco. Burning tobacco
is the same as praying. In times of trouble or fear, after a bad dream,
or any event which frightens them, they say, "My mother went out and
burned tobacco."

The medicine is prepared now with the addition of meat.


Among the Senecas dwelt an old woman who was very stingy. All at once
she began to suffer great pain in her eye. She consulted a conjurer, who
went out to a bush and covered it with a tent and then began to sing,
keeping time with his hand. After a while he returned to her and said:
"You are bewitched. You refused to give milk to a poor woman who came to
beg of you, and she has bewitched you. I have had her house revealed to
me, and I saw her, but she was combing her hair over her face, so I
could not see her features. I would not recognize her again."

Next day he tried again; then he said: "Now I know who she is." So they
sent for a chief and told him all about it, and he brought the woman
before them. She was a Chippewa and a witch. The chief had her brought
to the old woman's cabin. She owned that she had bewitched her, and
said, "Fetch me the thigh-bone of a beaver from a man who is the child
of Molly Brant, the child of Governor W. Johnson." The bone was brought,
and by the time it arrived she had scoured a brass kettle, and had clean
water poured into it. As soon as she received the bone, which was
hollow, she placed it against the eye that was not painful and spat
through it. After a while she ceased spitting, and looked in the water.
A spider was running around in the kettle. She covered it over with her
handkerchief, then removed it, and a feather lay there instead of the
spider. The pain left the old woman but the sight was not restored.


The victim in this case was a Mary Jemison, who, having severe pains in
her chest, concluded that she was bewitched, and consulted the
witch-doctors, who applied their extractive bandages, which greatly
relieved her. She saw a dog as an apparition coming toward her, and
directed her friends to shoot it, but they did not succeed in killing
it. In like manner a cat, which was invisible to other people, was seen
by her. She finally recovered, but Andrew John, who was pronounced her
bewitcher, and who was outwitched, is now dying from consumption.


In a dry season, the horizon being filled with distant thunder-heads, it
was customary to burn what is called by the Indians real tobacco as an
offering to bring rain.

On occasions of this nature the people were notified by swift-footed
heralds that the children, or sons, of Thunder were in the horizon, and
that tobacco must be burned in order to get some rain. Every family was
supposed to have a private altar upon which its offerings were secretly
made; after which said family must repair, bearing its tithe, to the
council-house, where the gathered tithes of tobacco were burned in the
council-fire. While the tobacco was burning, the agile and athletic
danced the rain-dance.

When this was done, Hi-nuⁿ, pleased with the incense of the burning
tobacco, called forth huge dark banks of rain clouds and took personal
charge of the gathering storm to guide it to wet the dry and parched
earth. Hi-nuⁿ was considered a great lover of tobacco, but always in
want of it.


This was made from the dried and pulverized flesh of every known bird,
beast, and fish. Equal portions of this flesh were mixed into a
compound, which was divided among all true medicine-men.


Witches could and did assume animal shapes.

On the Buffalo Reservation a man saw a "witch-woman" coming, with fire
streaming from her mouth. Crossing a creek and obtaining his gun the man
returned and saw a dog at no great distance resting its forefeet upon a
log, and it had fire streaming from its mouth and nostrils.

The man fired at it and saw it fall, but as it was very dark he dared
not go near it; but on the following morning he went to the spot and saw
where it had fallen, by the marks of blood from its wound. Tracking it
by this means he followed its path until it had reached a bridge, where
the woman's tracks took the place of the dog's tracks in the path. He
followed the bloody trail to the Tonawanda Reservation, where he found
the woman. She had died from the effect of the shot.


On the Tonawanda Reservation three boys were coming down a hill, when
they saw a large hog, which they concluded to follow to find its home.
As they pursued the hog they continually kicked it, and it retaliated by
biting at them at times. It retreated toward the bank of a small creek,
reaching which it suddenly disappeared. They saw no reason to suppose
that it had drowned itself in the stream; but while searching for it
they found on one of the banks an old man, who laughed and said, "What
do you seek?" They answered, "A hog."

After some moments the old man said that it was he, himself, whom they
had been chasing, and by this the boys knew that he was a witch.


A Canadian Indian says he saw, one evening, on the road, a white bull
with fire streaming from its nostrils, which, after it had passed him,
he pursued. He had never seen so large a bull, or in fact any white
bull, upon the reservation. As it passed in front of a house it was
transformed into a man with a large white blanket, who was ever
afterward known as a witch.


There was once a species of fly so poisonous that sometimes merely the
smell of them would eat the nose from a man's face. A certain species of
woodpecker was the only thing that could destroy them. Their homes were
in trees, on which their poisonous tracks could be traced. They often
entered the horns of a deer; hence, the Indian hunter's first move after
shooting a deer was to examine its horns, and if they were infected, the
hunter would run away, since he knew that the moment the animal died the
fatal insect would emerge from the horn.

Around the trees in which they lived deer ever congregated, seemingly
bewitched by these fierce and noxious little flies.

Buckskin and deerskin were used to catch them. The bird that killed them
for food was colored black and yellow. In the evening it came forth from
its home in a hollow tree and scoured the forests for them.

These birds were caught with buckskin traps and their feathers were used
as charms, being fastened to the arrows of the hunter. An arrow thus
made potent would surely bring down the deer.



The instinctive desire in man to fathom the mystery of human life, to
solve the enigma of whence he came and whither he goes, and to account
for the marvels ever presented to his senses, has in all times excited
the imagination and originated speculation.

To explain the phenomena of life and nature the untutored mind has
seized upon every analogy suggesting the slightest clew, and imagination
has aided the crude reasoning faculties.

In the numerous Iroquois myths relating to the origin of both animate
and inanimate objects in nature there appears a reflex of the Indian's
mind as he solves, to his entire satisfaction, mysteries, many of which
are the "burning questions" of this enlightened age.

These tales only vary with the temperament of the narrator or the
exigencies of the locality. Where oft repeated they have in time been
recorded on the hearts and minds of the people either as myths or
folk-lore, embodying the fossilized knowledge and ideas of a previous
age, misinterpreted, perhaps, by those who have inherited them.

For the ethnologist who would trace in mythology the growth of the human
mind, nowhere is the harvest more rich than among the aborigines of our
own country; and prominent among these, in this lore of "faded
metaphors", are the Iroquois. To what dignity their folk-lore might have
attained had they been left to reach a lettered civilization for
themselves we cannot know; but, judging from the history of other
peoples, their first chroniclers would have accepted many of these oral
traditions as facts.

To many from whom the writer received these myths they were realities,
for there remain among these forest children those who still cling to
their oft-told tales as the only link binding them to a happier past.
Nor should they be considered as idle tales by the civilized man, who
has not yet rid himself of the shackles of superstition in a thousand
forms, and who sees daily his household gods torn down before him by
comparative mythology and its allied sciences. Let him rather accept
them reverently as the striving of the infant human mind in its search
after the unknowable, revealing that inherent something in man which
presupposes the existence of hidden forces, powers, or beings in nature.
At first, perhaps, this is a mere blind feeling, but as man develops, it
becomes an idea, then a recognized possibility; later, an article of
religious faith.


The Iroquois legend of an origin of the human race, which includes the
creation of the spirits of good and evil, is undoubtedly of modern

In the great past, deep water covered all the earth. The air was filled
with birds, and great monsters were in possession of the waters, when a
beautiful woman was seen by them falling from the sky. Then huge ducks
gathered in council and resolved to meet this wonderful creature and
break the force of her fall. So they arose, and, with pinion overlapping
pinion, unitedly received the dusky burden. Then the monsters of the
deep also gathered in council to decide which should hold this celestial
being and protect her from the terrors of the water, but none was able
except a giant tortoise, who volunteered to endure this lasting weight
upon his back. There she was gently placed, while he, constantly
increasing in size, soon became a large island. Twin boys were after a
time brought forth by the woman--one the spirit of good, who made all
good things, and caused the maize, fruit, and tobacco to grow; the other
the spirit of evil, who created the weeds and all vermin. Ever the world
was increasing in size, although occasional quakings were felt, caused
by the efforts of the monster tortoise to stretch out, or by the
contraction of his muscles.

After the lapse of ages from the time of his general creation
Ta-rhuⁿ-hiă-wăh-kuⁿ, the Sky Holder, resolved upon a special creation of
a race which should surpass all others in beauty, strength, and bravery;
so from the bosom of the great island, where they had previously
subsisted upon moles, Ta-rhuⁿ-hiă-wăh-kuⁿ brought out the six pairs,
which were destined to become the greatest of all people.

The Tuscaroras tell us that the first pair were left near a great river,
now called the Mohawk. The second family were directed to make their
home by the side of a big stone. Their descendants have been termed the
Oneidas. Another pair were left on a high hill, and have ever been
called the Onondagas. Thus each pair was left with careful instructions
in different parts of what is now known as the State of New York, except
the Tuscaroras, who were taken up the Roanoke River into North Carolina,
where Ta-rhuⁿ-hiă-wăh-kuⁿ also took up his abode, teaching them many
useful arts before his departure. This, say they, accounts for the
superiority of the Tuscaroras. But each of the six tribes will tell you
that his own was the favored one with whom Sky Holder made his
terrestrial home, while the Onondagas claim that their possession of the
council fire prove them to have been the chosen people.

Later, as the numerous families became scattered over the State, some
lived in localities where the bear was the principal game, and were
called from that circumstance the clan of the Bear. Others lived where
the beavers were trapped, and they were called the Beaver clan. For
similar reasons the Snipe, Deer, Wolf, Tortoise, and Eel clans received
their appellations.


The Turtle clan originated in a simple and straightforward fashion.
There were in early times many tortoises of the kind familiarly known as
mud turtles, inhabiting a small lake or pool. During a very hot summer
this pool became dry. The turtles thereupon set out on their travels
over the country to look for a new habitation. One of them, who was
particularly fat, suffered a good deal from this unaccustomed exercise.
After a time his shoulders became blistered under his shell from the
effect of his exertions in walking, and he, finally, by an extraordinary
effort, threw off his shell altogether. The process of transformation
and development, thus commenced, went on, and in a short time this fat
and lazy turtle became a man, who was the progenitor of the Turtle clan.


The following was recounted to me on the "Six Nations Reserve" in
Canada, by Ka-an-er-wah, one of the few surviving grandchildren of
Brant, the Mohawk, and might be termed a modern Indian story. It
accounts for the tailless condition of the bear.

A cunning fox saw a wagon load of fish and resorted to the following
ruse to obtain some of the coveted delicacy: Feigning to be dead, he
laid himself in the road by which the fisherman must pass, who, thinking
the skin of the fox worth preserving, tossed him into his wagon and
drove on. After throwing out several fish, the fox slyly crawled out
himself. Soon he met a wolf who was informed of his good luck, and
advised to try the same experiment. The fisherman had, in the mean time,
discovered the trick, and the wolf received a good thrashing instead of
a fish dinner.

The fox next met a bear who was also anxious to procure some fish.
"Well," replied the fox, "down at the river you will find an air-hole in
the ice; just put your tail down into it as I did and you can draw out
the fish as fast as you wish." The bear followed the directions
carefully, but, the weather being cold, instead of securing a fish his
tail was frozen off.

The bear was very angry and proposed to fight a duel with the fox. The
fox chose as his seconds a dog and a cat; the bear chose a hog, and
awaited the fox at the appointed hour. As the latter was late in
appearing the bear clambered into a tree to prospect, and reported that
the fox was approaching with two men armed with guns. Thereupon the hog,
greatly frightened, begged to be covered with leaves.

Having accomplished this, the bear returned to his post in the tree.
The fox soon made his appearance, but instead of men his companions
proved to be a dog and a lame cat. While awaiting in their turn, the
cat, perceiving the slight motion of one of the uncovered ears of the
hog, sprang upon it, whereupon the squeals of the invisible pig put the
whole company to flight, and the bear never had the satisfaction of
avenging the loss of his tail.


Chief Mt. Pleasant, one of the Bear clan, relates that once on a time a
sickly old man, covered with sores, entered an Indian village where over
each wigwam was placed the sign of the clan of its possessor; for
instance, the beaver skin denoting the Beaver clan, the deer skin the
Deer clan. At each of these wigwams the old man applied for food and a
night's lodging, but his repulsive appearance rendered him an object of
scorn, and the Wolf, the Tortoise, and the Heron had bidden the abject
old man to pass on. At length, tired and weary, he arrived at a wigwam
where a bear skin betokened the clanship of its owner. This he found
inhabited by a kind-hearted woman who immediately refreshed him with
food and spread out skins for his bed. Then she was instructed by the
old man to go in search of certain herbs, which she prepared according
to his directions, and through their efficacy he was soon healed. Then
he commanded that she should treasure up this secret. A few days after,
he sickened with a fever and again commanded a search for other herbs
and was again healed. This being many times repeated he at last told his
benefactress that his mission was accomplished, and that she was now
endowed with all the secrets for curing disease in all its forms, and
that before her wigwam should grow a hemlock tree whose branches should
reach high into the air above all others, to signify that the Bear
should take precedence of all other clans, and that she and her clan
should increase and multiply.


A man while walking in a forest saw an unusually large bird covered with
a heavily clustered coating of wampum. He immediately informed his
people and chiefs, whereupon the head chief offered as a prize his
beautiful daughter to one who would capture the bird, dead or alive,
which apparently had come from another world. Whereupon the warriors,
with bows and arrows, went to the "tree of promise," and as each lucky
one barely hit the bird it would throw off a large quantity of the
coveted coating, which, like the Lernæan hydra's heads, multiplied by
being cropped. At last, when the warriors were despairing of success, a
little boy from a neighboring tribe came to satisfy his curiosity by
seeing the wonderful bird of which he had heard, but as his people were
at war with this tribe he was not permitted by the warriors to try his
skill at archery, and was even threatened with death. But the head chief
said, "He is a mere boy; let him shoot on equal terms with you who are
brave and fearless warriors." His decision being final, the boy, with
unequaled skill, brought the coveted bird to the ground.

Having received the daughter of the head chief in marriage, he divided
the oh-ko-äh between his own tribe and that into which he had married,
and peace was declared between them. Then the boy husband decreed that
wampum should be the price of peace and blood, which was adopted by all
nations. Hence arose the custom of giving belts of wampum to satisfy
violated honor, hospitality, or national privilege.


A boat filled with medicine men passed near a river bank, where a loud
voice had proclaimed to all the inhabitants to remain indoors; but some,
disobeying, died immediately. The next day the boat was sought for and
found, containing a strange being at each end, both fast asleep. A loud
voice was then heard saying that the destroying of these creatures would
result in a great blessing to the Indian.

So they were decoyed into a neighboring council-house, where they were
put to death and burned, and from their ashes rose the tobacco plant.


In the beginning the birds, having been created naked, remained hidden,
being ashamed of their nakedness. But at last they assembled in a great
council and petitioned the gods to give them some kind of covering. They
were told that their coverings were all ready, but were a long way off,
and they must either go or send for them. Accordingly, another council
was held to induce some bird to go in search of the plumage, but each
had some excuse for not going. At last a turkey-buzzard volunteered to
go and bring the feathery uniforms. It being a long journey to the place
whence he must bring them, he (who had been a clean bird heretofore) was
obliged to eat carrion and filth of all kinds; hence his present nature.
At length, directed by the gods, he found the coverings, and selfishly
appropriated to himself the most beautifully colored one, but finding he
could not fly in this, he continued trying them on until he selected
his present suit, in which, although it is the least beautiful of any,
he can so gracefully ride through the air. The good turkey-buzzard then
returned, bearing the feathery garments, from which each bird chose his
present colored suit.


Once upon a time the porcupine was appointed to be the leader of all the
animals. Soon after his appointment he called them all together and
presented the question, "Shall we have night all the time and darkness,
or daylight with its sunshine?" This was a very important question, and
a violent discussion arose, some wishing for daylight and the sun to
rule, and others for continual night.

The chipmunk wished for night and day, weeks and months, and night to be
separate from the days, so he began singing, "The light will come; we
must have light," which he continued to repeat. Meanwhile the bear began
singing, "Night is best; we must have darkness."

While the chipmunk was singing, the day began to dawn. Then the other
party saw that the chipmunk was prevailing, and were very angry; and
their leader, the bear, pursued the chipmunk, who managed to escape
uninjured, the huge paw of the bear simply grazing his back as he
entered his hole in a hollow tree, leaving its black imprint, which the
chipmunk has ever since retained. But night and day have ever continued
to alternate.


Iroquois tradition tells us that the sun and moon existed before the
creation of the earth, but the stars had all been mortals or favored
animals and birds.

Seven little Indian boys were once accustomed to bring at eve their corn
and beans to a little mound, upon the top of which, after their feast,
the sweetest of their singers would sit and sing for his mates who
danced around the mound. On one occasion they resolved on a more
sumptuous feast, and each was to contribute towards a savory soup. But
the parents refused them the needed supplies, and they met for a
feastless dance. Their heads and hearts grew lighter as they flew around
the mound, until suddenly the whole company whirled off into the air.
The inconsolable parents called in vain for them to return, but it was
too late. Higher and higher they arose, whirling around their singer,
until, transformed into bright stars, they took their places in the
firmament, where, as the Pleiades, they are dancing still, the
brightness of the singer having been dimmed, however, on account of his
desire to return to earth.

A party of hunters were once in pursuit of a bear, when they were
attacked by a monster stone giant, and all but three destroyed. The
three together, with the bear, were carried by invisible spirits up into
the sky, where the bear can still be seen, pursued by the first hunter
with his bow, the second with the kettle, and the third, who, farther
behind, is gathering sticks. Only in fall do the arrows of the hunters
pierce the bear, when his dripping blood tinges the autumn foliage. Then
for a time he is invisible, but afterwards reappears.

An old man, despised and rejected by his people, took his bundle and
staff and went up into a high mountain, where he began singing the death
chant. Those below, who were watching him, saw him slowly rise into the
air, his chant ever growing fainter and fainter, until it finally ceased
as he took his place in the heavens, where his stooping figure, staff,
and bundle have ever since been visible, and are pointed out as
Nă-gê-tci (the old man).

An old woman, gifted with the power of divination, was unhappy because
she could not also foretell when the world would come to an end. For
this she was transported to the moon, where to this day she is clearly
to be seen weaving a forehead-strap. Once a month she stirs the boiling
kettle of hominy before her, during which occupation the cat, ever by
her side, unravels her net, and so she must continue until the end of
time, for never until then will her work be finished.

As the pole star was ever the Indian's guide, so the northern lights
were ever to him the indication of coming events. Were they white,
frosty weather would follow; if yellow, disease and pestilence; while
red predicted war and bloodshed: and a mottled sky in the springtime was
ever the harbinger of a good corn season.


A large party of Indians, while moving in search of new hunting grounds,
wandered on for many moons, finding but little game. At last they
arrived at the banks of a great river, entirely unknown to them, where
they had to stop, not having the material to build boats. Lost and
nearly famished with hunger, the head chief was taken very ill, and it
was decided to hold a council to devise means for returning to their old
homes. During the dance, and while the tobacco was burning, a little
being like a child came up, saying she was sent to be their guide.
Accordingly they broke up their camp and started with her that night.
Preceding them, with only a gi-wăh, or small war-club, she led them
on until daylight and then commanded them to rest while she prepared
their food. This they did, and when awakened by her they found a great
feast in readiness for them. Then she bade them farewell, with the
assurance of returning to them again in the evening.

True to her word, at evening she reappeared, bringing with her a skin
jug, from which she poured out some liquid into a horn cup, and bade
them each to taste of it. At first they feared to do so, but at last
yielding they began to feel very strong. She then informed them that
they had a long journey to make that night. Again they followed her, and
in the early morn arrived at a great plain, where she bade them rest
again for the day, with the exception of a few warriors who were to be
shown where they could find plenty of game. Two of the warriors had
accompanied her but a short distance when they encountered a herd of
deer, of which she bade them kill all they wished in her absence, and
then, again promising to return at night, she took leave of them. At
night-fall she returned, saying her own chief would soon follow her to
explain to them how they could reach their own homes in safety. In a
short time he arrived, with a great number of his race, and immediately
all held council together and informed the Indians that they were now in
the territory of the pigmies, who would teach them a sign, already in
the sky, which would be to them a sure guide whenever they were lost;
and the pigmies pointed out the pole star and told them that in the
north, where the sun never goes, while other stars moved about, this
particular star should stand still, as the Indian's guide in his
wanderings, and that they were then but to follow its light and they
would soon return to their tribe, where they would find plenty of game,

Then they thanked the good pigmies, and traveled every night until
they arrived safely in their homes, where, when they had recounted
all their adventures, the head chief called a meeting of all the
tribes and said they ought to give this star a name. So they called it
ti-yn-sõu-dă-go-êrr (the star which never moves), by which name it is
called unto this day.



Distinct from the myths, which relate to the gods, supernatural beings,
and natural phenomena, are the tales, from which must be gleaned hints
regarding the past hunter, warrior, and family life and history of the

In time of peace, during the long winter evenings, among his group of
friends, the returned hunter narrated his achievements, or some famous
story-teller told of those days in the past when men and animals could
transform themselves at will and hold converse with one another. If
musical, the entertainer would relate ingenious fables, with songs
introduced, to give zest to the narration.

All these historical traditions, legends of war and hunting, fairy
tales, and fables have been handed down through the ages, kindling the
enthusiasm of the marvel-loving listener.

These story-tellers were gifted with such imaginative powers, and were
so free from the trammels of adapting their tales to any standard of
possibility, that no easy task lies before the careful student who seeks
to detect in them the scaffolding of truth around which so elaborate a
superstructure has been reared.


From their close relations with wild animals Indians' stories of
transformations of men into beasts and beasts into men are numerous and
interesting. In nearly all of these, wherever the bear is introduced he
figures as a pattern of benevolence, while many other animals, such as
the porcupine, are always presented as noxious. One of these bear
stories, as told me on the Cattaraugus Reservation by a grandson of
Cornplanter, was as follows: A party of hunters, who were encamped a
long distance from home, discovered, as they were preparing to return,
that a young boy of their company was missing. After searching vainly
for several days they concluded that he had been killed, and sadly
departed without him. They were no sooner gone, however, than the lost
child, in an almost famishing condition, was discovered by a very
kind-hearted bear, who reasoned thus: "If I attempt to relieve the child
in my present form, he will surely be frightened to death. I will
therefore transform myself into a woman and take the boy home with me to
become a playmate for my little cubs." The boy was accordingly rescued
from starvation, and, living in the same hollow tree with the bear
family, fed with them upon nuts, corn, and berries. But when fall came,
and with it the return of the hunters, the good bear explained her
device to the boy, saying: "My cubs must now take care of themselves,
and you can rejoin your friends; but always feel kindly toward the bear
tribe"; upon which she resumed her proper shape and disappeared into the
woods. The boy never, even when grown, was known to kill a bear.


A man and his wife and child went off hunting from an Indian village and
encamped a long way from home. At first, good luck attended the hunter,
who brought into camp plenty of deer and other game. At last, game
became scarce, and day after day the hunter returned empty-handed and
famishing with hunger. Before leaving, the hunter resolved to try his
luck once more. Soon after he had left the camp his wife, in searching
for roots, found a hole in a large tree in which was a black bear. This
she succeeded in killing, and after cutting it up and cooking some for
herself and child she carefully secreted the remainder from her husband.
But the boy hid a piece for his father, who soon returned, very weary.
Then the hunter was enraged at the conduct of his wife, whom he forced
to eat of the meat until she died, with her little infant to which she
had given birth the same hour.

Then the hunter buried his wife and threw the infant into the hollow
tree. After this the hunter had better luck, and continued to live in
the same place with his little boy. In the course of time he found that
his little son must have had company, for little foot-prints were to be
seen around his wigwam. So he left a second small bow and arrow, which,
in time, he found had been used, and his son told him that a small boy
had been playing with him. The next day the father watched and saw a
little boy leave the tree where he had placed what he supposed to be the
dead child. Then he entered his home and said to the child, "You are my
child"; but the boy could not understand him, and was frightened and
uneasy, and ran away to the tree, where the hunter discovered he had
been nourished and cared for by a friendly bear. The hunter would not
kill the kind benefactor, but took some of the soft bed of dried bark,
to which the child had been accustomed, to his home, whereupon the child
was happy and contented to remain with his father and brother.

In time the two excelled in hunting and brought home owls and strange
birds. Finally, they told their father they were going to the far west
to kill the great beasts which were harming the human race. The hunter,
who perceived that the children were becoming very strange, was afraid
of them and consented. Then they bade him go back to his native home and
get three of the bravest warriors to follow them to the west, where the
warriors would find the carcasses of the animals which they would kill.
So he went home and told his story, and the warriors started out and
finally found traces of the boys, and in time found the carcasses of the
animals almost reduced to bones. Two of the men died of the stench.


This tale was narrated by a granddaughter of Brant.

A certain man had a step-son whom he hated. He devised all means of
getting rid of him. At last an idea struck him. He went out hunting very
often, and one day he saw a porcupine's hole. "The very thing," said he.
When he came home he called his step-son. "See here," said he, "I have
found a porcupine's nest. I want you to creep into the hole and catch
some of the young ones. Come, crawl in." The boy obeyed, and as soon as
his heels were in, the step-father closed up the hole and made him a

When he had found himself betrayed he cried and cried till he cried
himself asleep. When he awakened he found that he was in a room. He saw
an old woman walking around. She brought him something to eat, but it
was so bitter that he refused. Then she called many animals around her
to a council--wolves, bears, foxes, and deer. She told them that there
was a boy there who could not eat the food that she lived on, and asked
what they would advise to give which might support a human being? The
fox said, "I live on geese and fowls. I'll take him, but still he can't
eat raw food."

The council decided that it was useless for him to assume the charge.

Then the deer and each animal in turn told what they lived upon, but
none could offer proper food for a lad.

Last of all the bear spoke. "I live," said he, "on nuts, and he can live
with my young ones." So this was agreed to. All the animals promised to
assist in getting the nuts, and the boy was given over to the keeping of
the bear. He kept him for several years. One day the bear said, "A
hunter is coming; he means to chop down the tree."

True enough, next day a dog ran barking up, and the tree was cut down
and the old bear and two cubs were killed.

The hunter thought there might be still another cub, so he looked into
the tree. The boy made a noise just like the cubs. The hunter caught
him, and was so astonished at his appearance that, instead of killing
him, he took him to his wigwam, tamed him, and taught him to speak and
to grow up like a man. After some years he forgot he had lived like a
bear. He married a daughter of the hunter, but his mother-in-law was
always angry because he never brought home tender bear-meat. So at last
he went hunting and killed a bear, but on his return home he fell on a
sharp stick and was instantly killed.


An old woman lived with her grandson in the wilderness. The boy amused
himself by shooting with his bow and arrows, and was very happy. His
grandmother cooked and cleaned. She talked much to him of the future and
the time when he should go out into the world. "Never, my grandson," she
would say, "never go west--go always to the east." And the boy wondered
very much at this, because, he said, all other boys went west, and they
found much game there. But he promised.

However, one day he asked his grandmother so often why she always
forbade him to go west, that she told him: "Far away in the west," said
she, "there lives one who waits to destroy us, and if he sees you he
will injure you and me. I warn you do not go that way." But the boy
questioned how and why, and thought to himself that on the first
opportunity he would see for himself. So he struck out for the west,
keeping a sharp lookout for the man, because his grandmother had taught
him he should always bow first.

As he neared the lake he heard the man's voice, but, although he looked
all around, he could see no one. The voice said: "Ah! ah! my little
fellow, I see you." Still he could see no one. "What shall I do now?"
thought he. Then the voice said, "What would you think if I sent a
hurricane to tear your grandmother's cabin all up?" The boy replied,
"Oh, I should like it. We have hard work to get wood. It would be a good
thing." And the voice replied, "You had better run home and see." So he
went home to his grandmother. As he neared his cabin he heard a great
noise, and his grandmother called to him, "Come in, come in; we shall be
blown away. You have disobeyed me; now we shall be destroyed. The
hurricane is upon us." But the boy only laughed and said, "We will throw
the house into a rock." And he turned it into a rock, and when the
hurricane was over they were unharmed, and found plenty of wood to burn.

Then said the boy, "Grandmother, we are all right." But the old woman
said, "Do not venture any more; next time he will destroy us." But the
lad thought he would try again. In the morning he started off east as
long as his grandmother could see him, then he turned to the west, and
kept a sharp watch right and left as he neared the pond.

Then, all at once, he heard the man's voice again. "What," it asked,
"would you say if a great hailstorm came down upon your mother's cabin,
with spears as sharp as needles?" "Oh," replied, the youngster, "I have
always wanted some spears; I would be glad of some." "You had better go
home and see," said the voice. So home he sped, hearing the gathering of
a great storm.

The grandmother said, "We are going to be destroyed with a hailstorm of
spears." But he laughed aloud and said, "I need spears for fishing; let
them come. We will turn the house into a rock again." And he did, and
when the storm was ended he and his grandmother came out and the ground
was covered with spears. "No matter," said he; "I will get poles and fit
them on for fishing"; but when he brought the pole he could not find any
spears. "How is this?" he asked. And his grandmother said, "They are
melted--they were ice."

The boy was very much disappointed and mourned aloud. "What can I do to
punish the old fellow?" he cried. "Heed my warning," said his
grandmother, "and leave him alone."

But the lad was determined. He started off once more, taking with him a
stone round his neck as a charm. He watched the direction in which he
had heard the voice, and all at once he saw in the middle of the lake a
great head, with a face on every side of it. He cried out, "Ha! ha!
uncle, I have you now. How should you like it if the lake dried up?"
"That it will never do," said the voice. "Go home," mocked the lad, "and
see!" And he threw the stone which he had. As it whirled through the air
it became very large and fell into the lake, when, at once, the water
began to boil.

Then the boy returned to his grandmother's cabin and told her all about
it. She said, "It has been tried again and again, but no one has ever
seen him before or has been able to hunt him."

Next morning he went over to the lake and found it all dried up and all
the animals dead, and only a large frog remained, into which the man had
been turned. So the boy killed the frog, and no more trouble ever came
to him or his grandmother.


A man and his wife went hunting, and after a hard day's march they came
to an empty wigwam. So they entered and found in it a dead man, laid out
with his tomahawk and all his fine things. They found corn in plenty,
and the squaw made bread, and then they all went to bed, the man on one
side and the woman and her baby on the other. They placed some of the
bread between them, and in the middle of the night they heard a noise,
and the dead man was sitting up and eating. The hunter sprang up. "We
are all dead folks," cried he, "if we remain here"; so he made a
pretense, and whispered to the squaw, "You must go for water. I will
mind the child." As soon as she was gone, he pinched the baby till it
cried. "Oh," said he, "I must follow the mother or the child will die;
she is too long fetching the water." He hastened and soon caught up with
the woman, but behind him came the dead man, holding a lighted torch. To
save themselves they put the child down on the ground, and the hunter
seized his wife's hand and hurried her on faster and faster, but the
sound of steps behind them was plainer and plainer. So the man let his
wife go, and fled on by himself as hard as he could. Soon he came to a
hollow log, into which he crept. The steps came nearer and nearer,
until at last he felt the strokes of the dead man's hatchet, and heard
the dead man's voice saying, "Ah! you are here. I have caught you." Then
the dead man took a pole and tried to poke the hunter out of the hollow,
but he could not. At last his hatchet broke, and then the hunter heard
him say, "I must go; my night is coming on." So, after a while, the
hunter crept out of the hollow log and went after his wife and child,
and returned to the settlement and told all about it; and the chief sent
and burnt up the dead man's wigwam until it was nothing but ashes.


This was told by Mr. Snow, Seneca Reservation:

A hunter far from home had expended all of his arrows, when he arrived
at a lake. He saw a great number of wild geese. Having been
unsuccessful, he now reflected upon the best means of capturing some of
these geese, and he finally concluded to pursue the following plan: He
procured a quantity of second-growth bass-wood bark, which he tore into
withes. These he fastened to his belt, then, swimming out into the lake,
he dove down under the floating flock and succeeded in tying a few of
the geese to his belt, whereupon the struggling geese, with their
companions, flew up into the air, carrying the hunter with them. While
unfastening a few of the tied ones, so that he might be let down to the
ground in a gradual manner, the whole of the captured ones broke away,
and the poor hunter fell into a tall and hollow stump, from which he
found it impossible to free himself.

He remained in this miserable prison nearly two days, when he with joy
heard a thumping sound upon the outside of the stump, and also the
voices of women choppers, who were cutting down the stump for wood, but
the cries of the man on the inside of the stump frightened the women so
much that they went away in search of aid to secure the game which they
supposed they had found in the stump.

The hunter was finally delivered safely from his perilous situation, and
he remained with his kind rescuers until he had again provided himself
with a large stock of arrows, when he started anew for a hunt farther to
the south. Having arrived at his destination, he built a lodge and had
excellent luck in killing large numbers of deer, bears, and other game,
the oil of which he carefully preserved in leathern bottles. When he
concluded to return to his home and friends he remembered his experience
in flying, so he prepared wings for himself, which wings he made from
thinly-dressed deer-skin. Taking his bottles of oil for ballast, he
started homeward, but as he passed over the lodges of the good women who
had rescued him, he threw down several bottles to these his good
friends, who to this day do not know from whence they came. After this
the flying hunter flew swiftly and safely to his home. His return to his
clan was announced by runners, and all assembled to listen to the
hunter's narration of his exploits and adventures.


A man and his nephew lived together in a solitary place. The old man one
day said to his nephew, "You are now a young man. You should be hunting
larger game--a bear or a deer--for our support." And he replied, "I will
go." Then the old man gave him the best bow and arrows, and in the
morning he departed. When he returned home he brought that which he had
killed--a deer--and thought himself lucky for a first attempt. "I should
like," he said to his uncle, "to go every day." Then the old man said,
"Now and again you may see a bear go up a tree; if you see a hole in the
tree and the marks of the bear's claws you can be sure of the bear."

So one day as the young man was out he saw a hole in a tree, and he saw
the claw marks of the bear, showing that he had gone up, so he returned
and told his uncle, and in the morning they started together. The old
man said, "I believe there is a bear inside now. Our plan is to knock
around the outside of the tree and make the bear uneasy; presently he
will come out." So they knocked, and the first thing they knew the bear
was sticking his head out of the hole. "Now," said the uncle, "I will
tell you when to shoot. If you will shoot just where there is no hair,
you will surely kill him." The young man saw that the paws were without
hair and he hit the bear on the fore-paw. "Shoot again," said the uncle.
So he shot the other paw. Then the old man pointed and said, "Shoot
here." And the nephew aimed and shot the point of his uncle's finger.
Then the old man's hand hurt him, so to direct his nephew he pursed out
his lips and pointed with them, and the young man shot through his lips.
Then the bear came down and made his way off, while the uncle was
explaining that his meaning had been to shoot under the fore legs. The
young man asked, "Why did you not say so?" Then they started home for
that day without game. "To-morrow morning," said the uncle, "watch, for
if you will look between the roots of the large trees you may find a
bear in that way."

Accordingly, the next day-the young man found a hole near the root of
the tree and saw a large bear inside. So he went home and asked his
uncle for instructions how to get at the bear. The old man began to
explain, but, unfortunately, in a way that he could not understand. He
went into the corn field, gathered the corn-stalks and stuck them around
the entrance to the hole, so that he surrounded the place where the bear
must come out. Then he knocked on the other side of the tree, and the
bear came out, as, of course, there was no reason why he should not, for
the stalks fell before him. The young man took his arms and went home.
Then the uncle asked what he had done, and he told. "You did not
understand," said the old man. "You should have shot him as he left the
den; first on one side then on the other." "After this," expostulated
the young man, "make your explanations clearer and do not give so many
illustrations. Had you told me this at first all would have been right."

One day the old man said, "I'm going to make a feast. You can invite the
guests. I cut sticks to represent so many friends. You invite them. Go
to the highest tree you can find and leave this stick there. Then go
along till you find a place all swamp--bad place, and leave one stick
there," &c.

So the nephew went around and used up the sticks and returned. "Have you
done as I said?" asked the old man. "Yes," said he. Yet when the day
came and the feast was ready, nobody came. "Why," asked the uncle, "has
nobody come?" "How," inquired the young man, "could the tall tree and
the swamp come here?" So they ate together, and then the young fellow
went off in the world to learn his lessons by experience, for he had
become tired of his uncle's parables.


Once on a time there was a man whose name was "Hemlock Bows." He used to
go hunting every day and always had good luck. He would kill so many
deer that he could not carry them all home. One day he killed thirty
deer. He was determined to carry them all home, so he took them and
shook them, and shook, and shook, till they were as small as squirrels,
and he carried them all home, and when he got there he shook, and shook,
and shook, till they were good-sized deer again. Sometimes when he
killed so many he would sit up all night to fix the skins on his wigwam
so he could make clothes for himself and his children. One day a boy was
born unto him; the father was very fond of him and he planted a few
hills of corn and beans, but they lived mostly on meat. After the child
was born the mother slept alone with it on the other side of the

After three years more a little girl was born. After the birth of her
second child the wife seemed to care no more for her husband. He was a
great worker. He had a large boxful of skins all dressed for his

When the father went hunting the mother would call the boy and make him
go and bring her some water, and she would wash and dress up very fine
and take a long strap and an ax and leave the children alone all day
until almost time for the father to come home. Then she would hurry home
to cook for the man.

One night the little boy told his father all about his mother going away
every day. He felt very badly when he heard it, and at once resolved to
follow her the next day and find where she went. The next morning early
he left the cabin and went off. The woman soon sent the boy for some
water, and, after she had dressed, started with her ax and the long
strap which was used in drawing wood. She passed her husband on her way
but did not see him, but he tracked her very closely. Soon she came to a
large black-ash tree, which was hollow, and upon which she pounded with
her ax. A very nice-looking man came out of the tree to meet her. He
wore a turban filled with bright feathers. He went up to her and kissed
her, and seemed very much delighted to see her. Her husband was watching
them all the time, and when the man kissed her he drew his bow and arrow
and shot at the man, and the arrow went between him and the woman. She
was very angry, and took a club and beat her husband till he could not
see. Then she went home, put the boy and girl out in the cold and snow,
and then set fire to the cabin and burned it down and went off.

Soon the father came and found the children. He felt very badly when he
saw them, but he told the boy he must mind the dog, for he must go after
their mother. The dog fixed the boy and girl in a house in the snow, and
the next day they started on a long walk. While the boy was traveling
along with his little sister on his back she saw a flock of large white
turkeys, and she wanted one. The boy put her down and ran in the bushes
to find one for the little girl, but while he was after it a bear came
and carried off the little girl, and the dog followed after the bear.
The boy felt very bad. He cried and cried, and wished that he might die.
He tried to hang himself, but the strap broke. Then he jumped down a
steep place onto a lot of stones, but still he was unhurt. He traveled
on and soon came to a lake. He plunged into the water, but it was very
shallow. He walked a little way, when he saw a great fish coming towards
him with its great mouth wide open. Now, not far from this lake lived a
woman and her daughter. They had fences of osier fixed in the lake to
catch fish. In the morning the girl went out to see if there were any
fish caught, and she saw a very large one. They killed and dressed it,
and when they cut it up there they found the boy alive. They were very
glad to find the boy, and soon he told them all about himself and

Some time after this they heard that the boy's mother was going to be
married to another man. The woman told the boy she thought he had better
go and kill the man and his mother. So they fixed him up and he went and
found them. There was a number of cabins and between two of them was a
long stick put up, and on it was an eagle, and the one that shot the
eagle was to marry the woman. She was very nicely dressed and sat on a
raised platform. He saw his father near her, looking very sick and sad.
The boy went around among the wigwams, and in one he found his sister
hanging to a crane in a chimney and near her the dog. He got his father,
sister, and dog away, and then went back and set fire to the cabin his
mother was in. It burned so fast that she could not get out and she
died. When her head cracked open it shook the ground, and out of the
ashes of his mother there rose up a screech owl. His father got well,
and they all went to live with the woman and her daughter. The old man
married the woman, and the boy the daughter, and so they were happy at


An old man brought up his son very quietly in a solitary place. As he
grew up, his father sent him daily into the woods and told him to listen
and come home and tell what he had heard. So the boy sat on a log and
waited to hear what might come. He heard a sound at last, "Ch-R-Ch," so
he ran to tell the old man and then thought he would wait till he heard
it again. The Ch-R-Ch was repeated, and he ran to his home and cried
out, "I have heard it! I have heard it!" "Wait! wait!" said the old man,
"till I get my pipe," and when he had lifted it he said, "Now, what did
you hear?" "Oh," replied the lad, "I heard Ch-R-Ch; twice it was
repeated." "That," said the father, "is not what I wanted you to hear;
that was only a snow-bird."

So the boy went, morning after morning, and heard various sounds from
snow-birds, wolves, owls, &c., but still never what the old man
expected. One day whilst he was listening he heard quite a new sound and
as the sun began to rise, it was like a voice singing. "That is
strange," said he, "I never heard that before." The song was like this:

      Srû-guă he.
    Hă hûm weh
    Hă hûm weh.

Which means:

    I belong to the wolf clan.
    I belong to the wolf clan.
    I am going to marry him,
    I am going to marry him.

It was a sweet woman's voice. So the boy listened and said to himself,
"Surely this is the song." So he shouted for glee, and ran and fell near
the door, he was so excited. "Now," he cried, "I bring the news"; but
the father said, "Wait! wait! till I get my pipe." "Now," said he, as he
smoked, "tell me." So the boy began. "As I listened," said he, "I heard
a voice from the west, a woman's voice, so I turned and listened to it


"Ah!" said the father, "that was what I was waiting for. The chief of a
distant village sends his two daughters to see us. Run half way back and
see if you can hear them again." So he went and heard again the same

    Hă-hûm-weh, &c.

He returned at once and told his uncle. "Now," said the old man, "they
are almost here. Sit down by the ashes." And he took the shovel and
threw ashes all over the boy's bed and put on him his best feathers and
astonished the boy very much by saying, "Do not look at the maidens when
they come in; they come to see me, not you; hold your head down while
they stay."

Then they heard the song:


The feathers were all on his head; still the old man repeated, "Now,
keep still."

Soon the maidens arrived and the old man opened the door. The younger of
the two carried a beautiful basket on her back; this she set down near
the old man. The boy looked around a little, and his father called out,
"Dirty boy; hold your head down." The visitors looked around and
thought, "What a place! what a place!" "Sit down, sit down," said the
old man to the visitors, but although they removed the blankets they
stood still. So he smoked on quietly.

When they saw how dirty it was where the boy sat they began to go around
and clear up, and as the evening passed the lad did not know what to do
with himself. They fixed themselves a clean bed on the other side of the
wigwam. They refused to sit by the old man, and when at last the boy
went to sleep they lifted him out of his dirty bed, strewn with ashes,
and put him into their clean bed.

In the morning the younger one admired him and said, "What a beautiful
young man!" Then they said, "We had better cook something." So they
cooked corn and rice, and the boy ate with them, and the old father
smoked. After a while he said, "Good woman; can clean up, can cook, can
make good wife." Then he let the boy look up. The younger visitor sang


So the old man smoked his pipe and the sisters went back to their
people. Then the two lived quietly together, but the young man often
thought of the beautiful maidens.

One day as they were conversing the old man said, "Now you have become a
young man you must go." "Which way," asked he, and the uncle replied,
"You must go where those young maidens are who are chief's daughters.
You must have fine bows and arrows; here they are--try them before you
go. They give luck in hunting." Then he looked where he kept all the
fine things for the young warriors and dressed him up well with a swan
stuffed. "Now," said he, "when you take this outside it will be on your
head, but it will soon come back to life, and when that happens you must
run in a circle and return, and you will see that many deer and bears
will follow your track." So off he went. When he returned he said that
so many bears and so many deer came out every time as he crossed the
track and he shot them, and took the best out and sent them home to show
them to the old man. And all the time the swan was alive and beautiful.

The old man exclaimed at his luck as he told his tale. "You have done
well," said his uncle. "We must save all the meat. Now, hold yourself
ready to go to-morrow. I warn you there are dangers in your path. There
is a stream that you must cross. There stands a man and he will try to
kill you. He will call out to you that he has a couple of wild cats and
will say, 'My friend, come, help me kill these.' Pay no attention; go
right on along, or you will be in danger and never get to the town." The
nephew promised to obey, and his uncle brought out a curious thing, made
of colored string and elk hair of deep red, about a foot long. "I shall
keep this by me," said he, "and so long as you are doing well it will
hang as it is; but if you are in danger it will come down itself almost
to the ground, and if it does reach the ground you will die." "I will be
careful," said the young man, and so he started with his directions,
following his uncle's advice. He had almost reached his destination when
he heard a noise, and there in his path stood a man while he watched two
animals going up a tree, and he tried in vain to make them come down. As
the young man approached him he said, "Please help me, if you can; but
kill one of these animals; it will be a good thing. Do help me." So he
begged, and the young man thought it could do no harm, so he took out
his arrow and said, "Don't be in a hurry." Then the old man handed him
the arrows and asked him, "Where are you going?" and he told him; and
the stranger said, "Stop all night with me; that is a long way you are
going; go on to-morrow."

Now the uncle at home was watching the signal. He saw it go down almost
to the ground, and he cried out in his alarm, "Oh! oh! my nephew is in
danger, he will get into trouble with that old man." But the young man
listened to the persuasions of the tempter and agreed to remain with him
all night, and the old man made up a fire and began to tell stories as
they sat beside it till the youth fell asleep. Before they sat down he
had gathered together some sharp prickly bark, pretending it gave a good
light, and as the young man slept he said to himself, "Now, I can fix
him." So he took some of the sharp-pointed bark and placed it on him; so
he writhed in agony. Then he took off the young man's handsome clothes
and dressed him up instead in his own old rags, dirty and rotten. "I
shall keep these things," said he; "they are mine," and forthwith he
started off to the chief's house where the beautiful women were, and he
had the young man's pipe and his spotted deer skin, and the handsome bag
made out of it, with little birds to light the pipe. When he reached
the chief's cabin he went in and the younger sister was there. She was
so disappointed when she saw him, she said, "This cannot be the young
man." But her elder sister said: "Yes, it is he. He has the fine clothes
and the deer skin, and the deer-skin bag, and the little birds to light
his pipe." But still the younger sister was disappointed, and then the
people heard that the young man they expected had come from the east and
many came to see him and watched all his movements. At length he got his
pipe, which, when it was filled, the two little birds were expected to
light, but they would not for a stranger, so he said it was because
there were people all around, and he must be alone. The older sister
believed him. Then he told her, too: "When I spit it makes wampum, so
spread out a deer skin and save my spittle." So he spat many times and
she did as he said and saved it up, but it never became wampum, although
he did it every night. Each day he went hunting, but he killed only
things not good to eat, and made the older sister, who became his wife,
cook them. The younger one, however, would never go near him. Even when
he commanded the little spotted deer-skin bag to stand up she observed
that it did not obey him.

One day she went out to the fields to husk corn, and as she finished her
task she observed a man near a fire in the field. She drew near. He was
fast asleep. She gazed at his face and recognized the beautiful young
man, but how greatly changed! She stood for a while looking at him till
he awakened. "Who are you?" she asked; "whence do you come? where are
you going?" "I come," said he, "from the far east; I came only last
evening." And he related his story, and told how nicely he had been
started by his uncle, until she was quite satisfied of the truth of his
story. She did not tell him she was the daughter of the chief whom he
sought, but she went home and fetched food for him. She laid meat and
drink before him, and while he ate she returned to her task of husking
corn. Then she went home. The old fellow meanwhile had asked often,
"Where is the young sister? Why does she never come to see me, or sit
near whilst I smoke my pipe? May be she has found for herself a sickly
man out in the field."

At last the younger sister told the young man who she was, and that the
old man that had robbed him was in the chief's cabin and had all his
fine things; and the young man felt better, and said, "I want my things
back. I will make a dream. Go and tell the chief, your father, that I
have dreamed a dream and all the people must come to hear it, and I will
tell how all the things the old man has are mine, and then the birds
will obey, and all the things will come alive again."

Then the old chief listened to the entreaties of his youngest daughter,
and called a great council and the young man told his story in the form
of a dream, and when he spoke of the birds they came and filled his
pipe, and the swan skin when placed upon his head also came to life, and
his spittle became wampum. So the chief knew he was the rightful owner
of the clothes and they were returned to him, and the impostor was
obliged to resume his old rags. The young man was then married to the
faithful maiden, and returned to his home in safety, where he became in
time a noted chief.


An old man brought up his nephew in a solitary place. One day as they
walked through the field the uncle picked an ear of corn, but he did not
eat it. "Strange," thought the boy, "that I never see him eating
anything;" and he watched him when the old man thought he was asleep. He
saw him go to a hole and take out a kettle and a few grains of corn,
which he put into it. Then he took a magic wand and tapped the kettle
till it grew big; then he ate some corn and again tapped the kettle till
it became small once more.

In the morning when the uncle left home the boy got at the hole and did
as he had seen him do, but as he tapped the kettle it grew so large that
he could not stop it, and it went on growing until his uncle came home,
who was very angry. "You do not know what harm you have been doing,"
said he; "we can get no more corn; it grows in a place that is so
dangerous that few who go there come back alive." "We have plenty in the
house," said the boy. "And when it is gone, what then?" But the boy
persisted that he knew where the corn grew, and could easily fetch some.
"So, uncle," he added, "tell me how to proceed," "I shall never see you
again," moaned the uncle. "Oh, yes, you will," said the boy, and he
started. Now, the uncle had warned him that he would come to a lake
where the woman witches lived, and that he never could escape them. But
he made himself a canoe and picked some peculiar nuts and launched
himself upon the water. Then he threw the nuts before him to feed the
fowls who guarded the shore, that they might not betray his coming. He
landed on the other side safely and filled his pockets with corn, and
was hastening to put off in his boat, but before he did so was curious
to know what was in a lodge on the shore. So he peeped in and stole a
bear's leg which he saw.

Now, all his nuts were gone; so when he passed the birds they were
alarmed and set up their call and out came the witches with their hooks
and cords. But he launched his canoe, and when a hook reached him he
broke it off, and reached the opposite shore in safety. There he saw a
number of ducks, and he stripped a tree of its bark and caught them and
started home. As he neared his home he heard his uncle singing a
dirge--"My poor nephew, I shall never see him again." The animals had
been telling the old man sad tales of his death, so when the boy knocked
at the door he did not believe that it was his nephew. But the boy heard
the Hi-Wadi, and he knew his uncle. So he said, "Uncle, I am coming, I
am coming; stop your mourning." His uncle thought it was an animal on
the outside, and he called out, "Put your hand through the hole." So the
nephew put his hand through and caught hold of the rope and pulled it
out and tied it to a post, and then opened the door. And when the old
man saw his nephew he called out, "So you have got home safe; where have
you been?" and he made many inquiries. And the young man explained
everything to him, and told how, at last, he had returned safely to his
home with plenty of corn.


This is another version of the foregoing tale:

A man lived with his younger brother alone in the deep wilderness. Game
was plentiful--very plentiful. The elder brother hunted it; the younger
staid home to gather sticks and build the fire against the hunter's
return. When he came, bringing deer, the younger one said, "I will cook
the venison; give it to me to prepare for supper." The elder one
replied, "I will smoke before I eat." When he had smoked he went to lie
down. "I should think," said the younger, "you would want to eat now."
But no, he slept instead of tasting the food, and when he awakened he
bade his brother go to bed, and leave him to help himself.

The lad wondered, but he obeyed. Still he found the same thing happened
every day. In the mornings the elder brother left without eating; in the
evenings he bade the boy leave him alone. This awakened the curiosity of
the younger. "I will watch," said he; and he watched. "He must eat
something," he added to himself, "or he would die. He must eat at
night." So he pretended to take no notice. At bedtime he lay down and
made believe to sleep, but he kept one eye open, although he seemed to
be sound asleep.

After a while the elder brother rose and opened a trap-door, and, when
below the ground, he began to make strange motions, and presently drew
out a kettle and commenced scraping it on the bottom. Then he poured
water onto it, and at last he took a whip and struck the kettle, saying,
as he placed it over the burning wood, "Now, my kettle will grow
larger"; and as he struck it, it became bigger with every blow; and at
length it was very large, and he set it to cool, and began greedily to
eat the contents. "Ah," thought the younger brother, as he watched,
"now, to-morrow, I will find out what he eats;" and he went to sleep

At daylight the elder set off to hunt. Now was the opportunity.
Cautiously the boy lifted the trap-door, and there he at once saw the
kettle. In it lay half a chestnut. "Now I know," said he, "what my
brother eats;" and he thought to himself, "I will fix it all ready for
him before he comes back." As night drew on he took the kettle and
scraped up the chestnut, put in some water, and found the stick. He at
once commenced whipping the kettle as he had seen his brother do,
saying, "Now my kettle will grow large;" and it did; but it kept on
growing larger and larger, to his surprise, until it filled the whole
room, and he had to go up on the roof to stir it from the outside.

When the elder brother returned he said, "What are you doing?" "I found
the kettle," replied the younger, "and was getting your supper." "Woe is
me," said the elder, "now I must die." He struck and struck the kettle,
and reduced it by every blow, until at last he could restore it to its
place. But he was sorrowful. When morning came he would not get up, nor
eat of the venison, but asked for his pipe and smoked.

Day by day passed. He grew weaker each day, and after each smoke sang,
"Hah geh-he geh, Non ta ge je õ dah!" "Bring me my pipe and let me die."

The younger lad was very anxious. "Where," he asked his brother, "did
you get the chestnuts? Let me go and seek some for you." After many
questions at length the brother said, "Far, far away is a large river,
which it is almost impossible to cross. On the further side, at a great
distance, stands a house; near it is a tree, a chestnut tree; there my
forefathers gathered chestnuts long ago, but now none can reach it, for
there stands night and day a white heron watching the tree and looking
around on every side. He is set there by the women folks; half a dozen
of them take care of him, and for them he watches. If he hears a sound
he makes his Thr-hr-hr. Then the women come out with war-clubs and are
always on their guard lest any one should gather the chestnuts, as many
fall on the ground. Even a mouse is suspected of being a man. There is
no chance, no chance at all." But the brother said, "I must go and try
this for your sake; I cannot have you die."

So he departed on his way, after he had made a little canoe about three
inches long. He walked on and on, day and night, until at last he
reached the river. Then he took out of his pouch his little canoe, and
drew it out and out until it was a good size, and in it he crossed the
river. Then he made it small again and put it in his pouch. On and on he
walked until he could see the house, and before it the chestnut tree.
Then he called a mole out of the ground. The mole came and sniffed
around a little plant, the seed of which the heron dearly likes. It is
like a bean. Some of these seeds the young lad took and then followed
the mole to its hole, and crept under the leaves until he neared the
heron. Then he threw the seeds to the bird. The heron saw them and began
eating them. Whilst he was occupied and noticed nothing else, the boy
filled his bag with chestnuts and set off homewards; but now the heron,
no longer occupied with his oh ôñ hi, suspected danger and gave his
warning Thr-hr-hr. But the lad was already far away near the great
river. Once more he took out his canoe, and was on the water when the
women rushed out. They threw a long fish line and caught his canoe to
pull him in, but he cut it and got loose. Again the second threw a line
and caught him, but again he cut loose, and so on till they had no lines
left. So he reached home at length, fearful lest he should find that his
brother had died during his absence, but he found him still barely
alive, and shouted, "Now, brother, I'm home with the chestnuts, will you
have your pipe?" And he began cooking just as his brother liked them,
and he narrated all his exploits, and the brother said, "You have done
me a great favor, now I shall be well, and we will be happy."


There was a certain tribe whose main occupation was to hunt and to fish.
In one of its hunting excursions two families of different clans of this
tribe happened to pitch their respective camps quite near to each other.
One of these families, in which there was an infant, had very fine luck
and the other poor luck. While the father of the child was out hunting,
the mother went to a neighboring stream to get some water, but before
she dipped her vessel she looked into the water and saw, peering up
through the sparkling stream, a very handsome young man with painted
cheeks. When her husband returned she told him what she had seen, and,
after a consultation, they came to the conclusion that something strange
was about to happen, for what the woman had seen was but the reflection
of some one hidden in the branches overhanging the stream. They rightly
judged that this was an evil omen, and naturally knew that something
must be done to avert the impending misfortune, for the woman said that
she recognized the face as that of a man from the adjoining camp.

When night came the husband said to his wife, "You and the child must be
saved. Go; I shall meet misfortune alone." She then started with the
child through the forest, and went on until she came to a hollow log,
into which she crept, and then she heard a great noise in the camp, and
a voice saying, "You have bitten me." Soon she saw the light of torches
borne by people searching for her and the child; nearer and nearer they
came, until they reached the log (her hiding-place), into which they
pushed their sticks, but the woman remained quiet, and heard them say,
"She must be somewhere near here; any way, she cannot live long." She
waited until they had left and all was quiet before she emerged from her
refuge, and then traveled on as fast as she could until morning, when
she came upon a trail, to which, instead of following it, she took a
parallel course, and did not see any signs of life until she came to an
opening, which appeared like a camping-ground. In the center of this
clearing stood a large hemlock tree, into which she climbed, and made
herself and child as comfortable as she could.

Soon after ascending the tree she heard approaching voices, one of which
said, "We might as well stay here as to go further." They were hunters,
heavily laden with skins, meat, &c. During the night one of them said,
"My thumb is painful; what shall I say bit me?" The woman heard the
answer: "Say a beaver bit you."

In the early dawn the men departed and the woman began to make her way
down the tree, but she saw one of the party returning, so she remained
until he, finding his bow, again started homeward. When all were out of
sight she brought her child down, and, taking again the course parallel
to the trail, she hurried onward during the day and reached home just at
twilight. When once home she related what had happened to herself,
child, and husband, to her many friends who secreted her, and made
preparations to have the matter investigated. The head chief was
informed, and he sent out "runners" to all the members of the tribe to
call them to a general council.

When the time for all to assemble had come, none but the hunters were
absent, and they came after repeated and persistent requests to be
present. When they did come the head chief said, "We have come to
congratulate you in that you have prospered and been preserved from
harm. Now, relate to us all the things that have happened to you and
tell why you have returned without the other party." The hunters refused
to tell anything about their affairs and pretended to know nothing about
the other party.

The head chief, after severely cross-examining them, ordered that the
woman be brought forth to tell her story. When she had finished her
narrative of facts, as stated above, she told that one of them had his
thumb bitten, explaining that he was bitten by her husband in defending
himself against these robbers, who took from her murdered husband the
skins and the meats which they had brought home. Hereupon the head chief
gravely said to the waiting and impatient warriors, "Go, do your duty;"
and they, with their war-clubs and tomahawks, soon put to death the
wicked hunters.


An old man and his little nephew once lived in a dark woods. One day the
man went hunting, and just before leaving told the boy he must not go
eastward. But the boy became tired of playing in one place, and was one
day tempted to go in the forbidden direction until he came to a large
lake, where he stopped to play. While thus engaged a man came up to him
and said, "Well, boy, where do you come from?" The boy told him that he
came from the woods. Then the man said, "Let us play together at
shooting arrows." So they shot off their arrows up into the air, and the
boy's arrow went much the higher. Then the man said, "Let us see which
can swim the farthest without breathing," and again the boy beat the
man. Then the latter said, "Let us go to the island, where you will see
many pretty birds." So they entered the canoe. Now, on either side of
the canoe were three swans which propelled it. As soon as they were
seated in the canoe the man began singing, and very soon they arrived at
the island, around which they traveled for some time, and then the man
took off all the boy's clothes, and, jumping into his canoe, said,
"Come, swans, let us go home," and he began to sing. When the boy
perceived that he was deserted he went up the bank and sat down and
cried, for he was naked and cold.

It began to grow dark very fast, and he was greatly frightened when he
heard a voice say, "Hist! keep still," and, looking around, he saw a
skeleton on the ground near him, which beckoned him and said, "Poor boy,
it was the same thing with me, but I will help you if you will do
something for me." The boy readily consented. Then the skeleton told him
to go to a tree near by, and dig on the west side of it, and he would
find a tobacco-pouch full of tobacco, a pipe, and a flint; and the boy
found them and brought them to the skeleton. It then said, "Fill the
pipe and light it;" and he did so. "Put it in my mouth," said the
skeleton; and he did so. Then, as the skeleton smoked, the boy saw that
its body was full of mice, which went away because of the smoke. Then
the skeleton felt better, and told the boy that a man with three dogs
was coming to the island that night to kill him, and in order to escape
he must run all over the island and jump into the water and out again
many times, so that the man would lose the trail. Then, after tracking
the island all over, he must get into a hollow tree near by, and stay
all night. So the boy tracked the island all over and jumped into the
water many times, and at last went into the tree. In the early morning
he heard a canoe come ashore, and, looking out, saw another man with
three dogs, to whom the man said, "My dogs, you must catch this animal."
Then they ran all over the island, but not finding him, the man became
so angry that he killed one of the dogs and ate him all up. Then, taking
the two remaining, he went away. The boy then came out from his
hiding-place, and went to the skeleton, who said, "Are you still alive?"
The boy replied, "Yes." "Well," said the skeleton, "the man who brought
you here will come to-night to drink your blood, and you must go down to
the shore where he will come in, and dig a long pit and lie down in it
and cover yourself up with the sand so he cannot see you, and when he
comes ashore and is off, you must get into the canoe and say, 'Come,
swans, let's go home,' and if the man calls for you to come back you
must not turn around or look at him."

The boy promised to obey and soon the man who had brought him came
ashore on the island. Then the boy jumped into the canoe, saying,
"Come, swans, let's go to our place;" and as they went he sang just as
the man had done. They had gone but a little way when the man saw them.
He began to cry, "Come back! Oh do come back!" but the boy did not look
around and they kept on their way. By and by they came to a large rock
in which there was a hole, and the swans went up into the rock until
they came to a door which the boy proceeded to open. Upon entering the
cave he found his own clothes and many others, and also a fire and food
all prepared, but no living person. After putting on his clothes he went
to sleep for the night. In the morning he found a fire and food, but saw
no one.

Upon leaving the cave he found the swans still waiting at the entrance,
and, jumping into the canoe, he said, "Come, swans, let's go to the
island." When he arrived there he found the man had been killed and
nearly eaten up. He then went to the skeleton, which said, "You are a
very smart boy; now you must go and get your sister whom this man
carried off many years ago. You must start to-night and go east, and by
and by you will come to some very high rocks where she goes for water,
and you will find her there and she will tell you what to do."

The boy started and in three days arrived at the rocks, where he found
his sister, to whom he called, "Sister, come, go home with me"; but she
replied, "No, dear brother, I cannot go; a bad man keeps me here, and
you must go, for he will kill you if he finds you here." But as the boy
would not be persuaded to leave without her she allowed him to stay. Now
this very bad man had gone to a great swamp where women and children
were picking cranberries. The sister then went to the house and, taking
up the planks over which her bed was made, she dug a pit underneath it
sufficiently large for her brother to sit in; then she went to her
brother and bade him follow her, and to be sure and step in her tracks
and not touch anything with his hands or his clothes. So she covered him
up in the pit she had prepared for him, and made her bed up again over
the place. She then cooked a little boy for the man, put it with wood
and water by his bed, and then went and lay down. Soon the man and dogs
returned; then immediately the dogs began barking and tearing around as
if they were mad. The man said, "You surely have visitors"; she replied,
"None but you." And he said, "I know better"; and he took a stick and
commanded her to tell him the truth, but she denied it, saying, "Kill me
if you like, but I have none." He then went to his bed and sat down to
eat his supper; but he said to himself, "She has some one hidden; I will
kill him in the morning." He then called her to build a fire, but she
replied, "You have wood, build your own fire." Then he said, "Come, take
off my moccasins"; but she replied, "I am tired, take them off
yourself." Then he said to himself, "Now I know she has seen some one,
for she was never so saucy."

In the morning he started off for the swamp to get some children for his
dinner. A short distance from home he concealed himself to watch the
girl. As soon as he was gone she called her brother and said, "Come,
let us take his canoe and go quickly." So they ran and jumped into the
canoe and went off, but the man saw them and ran, throwing a hook which
caught the canoe, but as he was pulling it ashore the boy took a stone
from the bottom of the canoe and broke the hook. Then they proceeded
again very fast. Then the enraged man resorted to another expedient:
Laying himself down upon the shore he began to drink the water from the
lake, which caused the boat to return very fast. The man continued to
drink, until he grew very big with so much water in him. The boy took
another stone and threw it and hit the man so it killed him, and the
water ran back into the lake. When they saw that he was dead they went
back, and the boy said to the two dogs, "You bad dogs, no one will have
you now; You must go into the woods and be wolves"; and they started for
the woods and became wolves.

Then the boy and his sister went to the island. The boy went to the
skeleton, which said, "You are a very smart boy to have recovered your
sister--bring her to me." This the boy did, and the skeleton continued,
"Now, gather up all the bones you see and put them in a pile; then push
the largest tree you see and say, 'All dead folks arise'; and they will
all arise." The boy did so, and all the dead arose, some having but one
arm, some with but one leg, but all had their bows and arrows.

The boy then said to his sister, "Come, let's go home." When they
arrived home they found their own uncle; he looked very old. For ten
years he had cried and put ashes upon his head for his little nephew,
but now he was very happy to think he had returned.

The boy then told the old man all that he had done, who said, "Let us
build a long house." And they did so, and put in six fire-places. Then
the boy went back to the island for his people and brought them to the
house, where they lived peacefully many years.


Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who lived in the forest,
very far from the rest of the tribe. They used to go hunting together
very often, but after a time there were so many things for the wife to
do that she staid at home and he went alone. When he went alone he never
had good luck. One day the woman was taken sick, and in a day or two she
died. The man felt very badly and buried her in the cabin. He was very
lonesome; and after a day or two he made a wooden doll about her size
and dressed it in the clothes she used to wear. Then he put it down in
front of the fire-place and felt better. Then he went hunting; and when
he came back he would go up to the doll and brush the ashes off from the
face, for as the wood fell down the ashes would rattle onto the face. He
had to do his cooking, mending, and making fire, for now there was no
one to help him; and so a year passed away. One day when he came home
from hunting there was a fire and wood by the door. The next night there
was wood and fire and a piece of meat all cooked in the kettle. He
looked, all over to see who had done this, but could find no one. The
next time he went hunting he did not go far and went back quite early,
and when he came in sight of the cabin he saw a woman going into the
house with wood on her shoulders; he saw, and opened the door quickly,
and there was his wife sitting in a chair and the wooden doll was gone.
Then she spoke to him, saying, "The Great Spirit felt sorry for you, so
he let me come back to see you, but you must not touch me till we have
seen all of our people; if you do, you will kill me." So they lived
along for some time, when one day the man said, "It is now two years
since you died. Let us go home. So you will be well." So he prepared
meat for the journey--a string of deer meat for her to carry and one for
himself; and so they started. It was going to take them six days to get
to the rest of their tribe; when they were within a day's journey of the
camp it began to snow, and as they were very weary they lighted fire and
partook of food and spread their skins to sleep; but the desire of the
man to once more clasp his wife in his arms was too great, and he went
up to her and put out his hands; but she motioned him away and said, "We
have seen no one yet." He would not listen to her, and he caught her in
his arms, and, behold, he was holding the wooden doll! His sorrow was
very great. He pushed on to the camp and there he told them all that had
befallen him. Some doubted, and they went back with him and found the
doll; they also saw the track of the two people in the snow, and the
track just like the foot of the doll. The man was ever after very


Far in the ages of the past, a tribe of the Senecas settled upon the
banks of Lake Erie. One eventful winter their enemies, the Illinois,
came in great numbers upon the peaceful settlement, surprised the people
in their homes, and, in spite of a stout resistance, killed a large
number of them and took a middle-aged woman and a boy captive. They
started off with the prisoners, and the first day's journey was one of
pain and restlessness to the captives. They were foot-sore and weary
when camp was pitched for the night. Then around a roaring fire the
warriors gloated over the bloody deed. They called the boy and bid him
join them in their songs of triumph, adding that they had no desire to
hurt him; if he sang well he might enjoy himself. The lad pretended that
he could not sing their language, but said that he would sing their song
in his tongue, knowing that they could not comprehend a word of it. To
this they agreed, and while they shouted out their jubilant delight he
repeated, again and again, "I shall never forget what you have done to
my people. You have stolen a helpless woman and a little boy from among
them. I shall never forget it. If I am spared you will all lose your
scalps." The Illinois warriors understood not a word; they thought he
was joining in their triumph, and were satisfied that he would soon
forget his own people.

After they had marched three days the woman became exhausted, and she
was too faint to be dragged further. The warriors held a council, and
she meanwhile spoke to the Seneca boy in earnest tones. "Avenge my
blood!" said she; "and when you return to your own people tell them how
the cruel Illinois took my life. Promise me you will never cease to be a
Seneca." As he finished promising all she asked, she was slain and left
dead on the ground.

Then they hurried forward, nearing their own settlement early in the
evening. Next day two runners were sent to the village to proclaim their
success and return, and all the population turned out with shouts and
cries of joy to meet them.

Now the fate of the boy had to be determined. He listened as the chief,
with exaggerated gestures and exclamations, gave an account of the
successful expedition. The people, as they listened, grew so excited
that they beat the ground with their clubs and wished they could
exterminate every Seneca in the world. They longed to kill the boy, but
the chiefs held a council and decided that there was stuff in him, and
they would therefore torture him, and if he stood the test, adopt him
into their own tribe. The boy meantime had dreamed a dream, in which he
had been forewarned that the Illinois would inflict horrible tortures
upon him. "If he can live through our tortures," said the chief, "he
shall become an Illinois." The council fire glowed red with burning
heat. They seized the captive and held him barefooted on the coals until
his feet were one mass of blisters. Then they pierced the blisters with
a needle made of fish bone and filled up the blisters with sharp flint
stones. "Now run a race," they recommended; "run twenty rods." In his
dream he had been told that if he could reach the Long House and find a
seat on the wild-cat skin, they would vote him worthy of his life. His
agony was intense, but up in his heart rose the memory of his tribe; and
as the signal for his start was given he commenced singing with all his
might, saying, as they thought, their war song, but in reality the
words: "I shall never forget this; never forgive your cruelty. If I am
spared you shall every one of you lose your scalps." This gave him
courage. He forgot his agony. He bounded forward and flew so swiftly
that the Indians, who stood in rows ready to hit him as he passed with
thorn-brier branches, could not touch him. He rushed into the Long
House; it was crowded, but he spied a wild-cat skin on which an old
warrior sat, and he managed to seat himself upon the tail, remembering
his dream. The chiefs noticed his endurance and said again, "If we spare
his life he will be worthy to become an Illinois; but he knows the
trail, so we had better kill him."

A solemn council was held. All the warriors agreed that he had borne the
tortures well, and had stuff in him to make a warrior. "He may forget,"
they said. Still others disagreed and gave their opinion that he ought
to be tried still more severely. The majority finally decided that he
must die, and in three days should be burned at the stake.

When the day arrived a large fire of pine knots was prepared, and they
bound the lad to a stake, and placed him in the midst. Torches were
ready to set fire to them, when an old warrior suddenly approached from
the forest. It was the chief who had trained other captive Indians. He
stood and looked at the boy. Then he said, "His eye is bright. I will
take him. I will make a warrior of him. I will inflict our last torture
upon him, and if he survives I will adopt him into the tribe." He cut
the thongs that bound the boy, and led him away to a spring. "Drink!" he
said. And as the lad stooped, he pressed him down under the water until
he was well nigh strangled. Three times he subjected him to this
barbarity; then as he was still alive, although very weak, he took him
to his wigwam and dressed his feet, and told him henceforth he should be
an Illinois. No one guessed that revenge was in his heart.

Time passed. He became a man. He had a chief's daughter as his wife. The
tribe thought he had lost all memory of his capture. He followed the
customs of the Illinois, and was as one of them. He was named
Ga-geh-djo-wă. They did not permit him to join them in their warlike
expeditions, but he joined in their war dances when they returned. And
so as the years passed on he was much esteemed for his feats as a
hunter, and his strength and endurance were by-words among the Illinois.

He had been fifteen years among them when he heard them speak of an
expedition against the Senecas. He begged to join, and they listened
with delight when he declared that he, Ga-geh-djo-wă, would bring
home more scalps than any. "He is one of us," they said, and gave him
the permission he craved.

Early in the morning the warriors started, and, delighted with his
eloquence and readiness to go against his own tribe, they elected him
chief of the expedition. They marched on and on for many days, little
guessing how his heart beat as they approached the wigwams of the Seneca
settlement. He began to issue orders for the attack. "Send scouts," he
said, "to the sugar camp, and let them hide in a bush, and return and
tell us what they have seen."

Two warriors obeyed his directions, but returned saying there were no
signs of the tribe. Then he sent others in a different direction. Their
report was the same. Ashes everywhere, they reported, but no smoke and
no fires. The Senecas must have left. Then at the council held that
night Ga-geh-djo-wă proposed to go himself, with another warrior.
This was agreed to, and they set out together. When they had gone five
or six miles, the wily chief said to his companion, "Let us separate and
each take a different pathway. You go over the hills; I will go
through, the valley. We will meet on the mountain at dusk." So they
parted, and Ga-geh-djo-wă, remembering his way, sped where he guessed
he should find some of his old tribe. He found, as he expected, a family
he knew. In hurried words he explained to them their danger: "The
treacherous Illinois are upon you. Warn all the tribe of Senecas: bid
them come early and hide along the range above the valley. I will be
there with a heron's plume on my crest, and when I stumble it is the
signal for the Senecas to attack. Go and tell the word of
Ga-geh-djo-wă. He is true."

Returning to the appointed spot he reported that he had seen nothing,
and hastened back to the camp. Then he said: "I remember these hills. I
know where the Senecas hide. Give me the bravest warriors and we will go
ahead. I can track them to their hiding-place. See! there below rises
the smoke of their wigwams. Send two warriors after us at a short
distance. We will surprise the Senecas."

Early morning saw the camp in activity, every warrior panting for the
scalps he yearned to procure. Little they dreamed that already five
hundred Senecas awaited them in the valley. The march commenced. As they
entered the valley Ga-geh-djo-wă gazed anxiously around and
delightedly caught sight of a face among the bushes. Now he knew the
Senecas had heeded him. He led his men forward; then, pretending to miss
his footing, he fell. Instantly the war-cry sounded; the Senecas rushed
from their ambush, and he left his treacherous foes and rejoined his own

The slaughter was great. All the Illinois warriors but two in the rear
were slain. Three hundred scalps revenged the treachery of the Illinois.
Ga-geh-djo-wă was seized by the jubilant Senecas and borne in triumph
to their settlement. Around the fires, as they displayed the scalps of
their enemies, they listened to his recital of their cruelty, of his
tortures, and of the woman's death. Never again did he leave them. He
lived many years, the most esteemed warrior and chief of the Senecas,
and when he died they buried him with the highest honors they knew, and
have kept his name sacred in the legends of the tribe to this day.


An Indian traveler, tired of his uneventful journey, undertook to create
an excitement after the following fashion: An old Indian custom is for
runners, or those carrying important news, to announce the fact and
gather the people together by crying, in singing tones, "Goh-weh,
goh-weh." This the traveler began doing, and when the crowd called upon
him to stop and tell his news, he began, "As I came through the last
village the people were so delighted with my news that they all danced
for joy, and shouted and kissed me." This he told so earnestly and
sincerely that the people, not wishing to be outdone by any other tribe,
also began singing and kissing him and making merry; and while the
excitement was at its height, pleased with his success, the facetious
traveler escaped and continued his journeyings.

Arrived at the next village he again began calling, "Goh-weh, goh-weh";
and the people and chiefs gathered around him, crying, "Let us hear."
And he answered, "As I passed through the last town some people wept at
my news, others began quarreling, kicking, and fighting." Immediately
his contagious news produced its effect, and in the confusion he again
escaped, saying to himself "What fools people are."

That night, as he was preparing to camp out, a man passed who inquired
the distance to the next village; but the traveler said, "You cannot
reach it to-night. Let us camp together." As they were each recounting
stories, and the new-comer was boasting of his superior cunning, the
traveler inquired, "What log is that you now use for a pillow?" and he
guessed hickory, elm, &c. But the traveler said, "No, it is everlasting
sleep." In the morning the traveler took some pitchy resin and rubbed
over the eyes of his sleeping comrade and left, laughing at the probable
chagrin the man would feel when attempting to open his eyes, and in the
recollection of the warning regarding everlasting sleep and his boasts
of superior cunning.

No further accounts of the traveler's jokes are told.


An old man and his nephew were living together in a good home near the
river, where they enjoyed themselves day after day. One morning the old
man said to his nephew, "When you are a man, remember in hunting never
to go west; always go to the east."

The young man reflected and said to himself, "Why should this be so? My
uncle To-bé-se-ne always goes west, and brings home plenty of fish. Why
should he tell me not to go? Why does he never take me with him?"

He made up his mind at last that he would go, never minding about the
advice. So he set off in a roundabout way, and as he passed the marsh
land near the river he saw his uncle. "Ha!" he thought, "now I know
where he catches his fish"; and he watched him take from his pocket two
sharp sticks and put them in his nose, and then plunge into deep water
and come up with a nice fish. He watched him carefully and then returned
home. Presently the uncle came back, bringing some nice fish, but he
never guessed that the nephew had seen him.

The young man now felt certain that he could fish as well as his uncle.
Accordingly, one day when the old man had gone deer hunting, he thought
at a good opportunity to try the new method. He hunted among his
uncle's things until he found two sticks, and then he set off to the
same log where he had seen his uncle sitting, which projected above the
water in the river. He saw the fishes swimming about, so he at once
stuck the two sticks into his nose, and plunged in. Then the sticks went
deep into his nose and made it ache dreadfully, and he felt very sick.
Home he hurried and lay down, thinking he should die of the agony. When
his uncle came home he heard him groaning, and said, "What ails you? Are
you sick?" "Yes, uncle," replied he, "I think I shall die. My head is
sore and pains me." "What have you been about?" asked the uncle,
severely. "I have been fishing," confessed the young man; "I took your
things, and I know I have done wrong." "You have done very wrong," said
the uncle; but he took the pincers and drew out the sticks, and the
young man promised never again to fish in the west, and got well.

After a while, however, he thought that he would go and see once more,
although he had been forbidden. So he started west. He heard boys
laughing, and he had none to play with, so he joined them. They invited
him to swim with them and he accepted, and they had a very gay time
together. At last they said, "It is time to go home; you go, too." Then
he saw that they had wings, and they gave him a pair and said, "There is
an island where all is lovely; you have never been up there-over the
tall tree up in the air; come." So they started up in the air, far away
above the trees, till they could see both sides of the river; and he
felt very happy. "Now," said they, "you can see the island"; and he
looked down and saw the print of their tracks on the island; so he knew
they had been there. Then said they, "Let us go in swimming again." So
they went into the water. Then they said, "Let us see which can go down
and come up the farthest"; and they tried one at a time, and he was the
last, so he must go the farthest; and while he was in the water the rest
put on their wings and, taking his also, flew up in the air. He plead in
vain for them to wait; but they called, as though speaking to some one
else, "Uncle, here is game for you to-night." Then they flew away in
spite of his entreaties, and he thought to himself, "I shall surely be
destroyed, perhaps by some animal."

As he looked around he perceived tracks of dogs which had clawed the
different trees, and then he concluded that perhaps they would tear him
to pieces. In order to confuse them in their scent he climbed each tree
a little way, and so went on until he reached the last tree on the
island, in which he remained and listened in suspense. He soon heard a
canoe on the river and some one calling the dogs. Then he concluded his
conjectures were true. After making a fire the man sent out his dogs.
The man had a horrid-looking face, both behind and before, which the
poor nephew could see by the fire-light. Then the dogs began barking,
having traced the tracks to the first tree; they made such a noise that
the man concluded they had found the game, and went to the tree, but
found nothing. So they went on to the next, and the next, with the same
experience, and this they continued the night long. Then the old man
said, very angrily, "There is no game here; my nephews have deceived
me." And he returned, leaving the last tree.

After sunrise the poor fellow came down from the tree, saying, "I think
I have escaped, for if those young fellows return I will watch them and
contrive to get their wings from them." He then concealed himself and
patiently awaited their coming. He soon heard their voices, saying, "Now
we will have a good time." They first jumped around to warm themselves,
and then said, "Let us all dive together." Then he rushed out, and,
taking all the wings, he put on one pair, and flew away, calling out,
"Uncle, now there is plenty of game for you"; and when they entreated
him he replied, "You had no mercy on me; I only treat you the same."
Then he flew on until he came to his old home, where he found his old
uncle, to whom he recounted the whole story; and after that time he
remained peacefully at home with his good uncle, where he still resides.

"So many times my old grandfather, chief Warrior, told me that story,"
said Zachariah Jamieson to me on the Seneca Reservation.


[Told by Zachariah Jamieson.]

The wild cat, roaming disconsolately in the woods, experienced the sense
of utter loneliness which calls for companionship. A friend he must have
or die. Cats there were none within speaking distance, but rabbits it
might be possible to entice. He commenced a plaintive ditty. His soul
craved a white rabbit above all else, and his song was pathetic enough
to entice the most obdurate:

    He gah yah neh
    He gah yah! He găh yăh
    Di ho ni shu guă da-se
    He yah gah.

His meaning was simple as his song, "When you are frightened, sweet
rabbit, you run in a circle."

He was wise in his generation. A short distance off lay a white rabbit
in his lair; hearing the melodious ditty he pricked up his ears.
"Heigho!" exclaimed he, "that dangerous fellow, the wild-cat, is around;
I hear his voice; I must scud"; and away he ran, turning from the
direction in which the voice came and hastening with all his might. He
had gone but a short distance when he stopped, turned back his ears and
listened. There was the song again:

    He găh yăh! He găh yăh!
    Di ho--

He waited to hear no more. On he sped for awhile; then once more he laid
back his ears and halted again; surely this time the song was nearer. He
was still more frightened. "I will go straight on" said he; but he
thought he was following an opposite direction. On and on he sped,
scarce daring to breathe; then a pause; alas! the singer is
nearer--nearer yet. Unfortunate rabbit! he could but follow his instinct
and run in a circle which brought him each time nearer his enemy. Still
the song went on, until, circling ever nearer, white rabbit fell a
victim to the wild-cat.



In a former chapter it was concluded that the "Great Spirit" is the
Indian's conception of the white man's God. This belief in God is common
now to all of the Iroquois, but the Christian religion is professed by
only about one-half of their number. The other half of the people are
usually denominated "pagans." The so-called Christian Indians are
distributed among various sects, worship in churches, and profess
Christian creeds.

The pagan Indians worship the sun, moon, stars, thunder, and other
spirits rather vaguely defined. But though in talking with white men
they frequently speak of the Great Spirit, yet in their worship there
seems to be no very well-defined recognition of the same, the term being
used in a confused manner. Their religious rites are chiefly in the form
of festivals.

Among these so-called pagan Iroquois of to-day no private worship is
known, unless the offering of burning tobacco to Hi-nuⁿ, or the
occasional solitary dance, as practiced by some of the squaws, be so

The annual public national and religious festivals are eight in number,
with the occasional addition of those specially appointed. As the
nucleus to the ceremonies observed at these festivals we find many of
their ancient practices retained, such as dancing, games, the use of
incense, &c. And upon these have been grafted, according to their
peculiar interpretation, varied forms from the Romish, Jewish, or
Protestant churches, which to them seemed suitable and adaptable.
Although the Tuscaroras of western New York retain many of the old
superstitions none of the national festivals are there observed, and
hardly a trace now remains of their old religious customs.

About half of the Senecas still adhere to paganism, but it is only among
the Onondagas that all the old festivals are strictly and religiously
observed, after the sequence and manner of the following account of the
New-Year Festival:


At the first new moon of the new year, which sometimes occurs three
weeks after New Year's Day, the chiefs assemble and call what they term
a "holy meeting," the order of which is as follows: A bench or table is
placed in the center of the circle of chiefs, upon which are placed
their strings of Indian wampum. One then rises and makes a long speech,
in which he introduces the sayings, maxims, and teachings of Handsome
Lake, who, nearly a century ago, introduced a new form into the Seneca
religion. Speeches of this kind occupy four days. On the fifth day the
principal chiefs, taking hold of the wampum, say: "I put all my words in
this wampum"; "I have been drunk"; or, "I have sinned," &c. On the sixth
day the warriors go through the same form of confession. On the
following day the chiefs pass the wampum around among the assembly.

At the conclusion of this portion of their ceremonies the U-stu-ä-gu-nä,
or feather dance, sometimes called the dance of peace, is performed. For
this there is a particular costume, by which it must always be
accompanied. The dance is simple. Two men are chosen to stand in the
center and are encircled by dancers.

After this dance the clans are divided for the games as follows:

          Bear}         {Wolf.
          Deer}         {Beaver.
          Eel } against {Snipe.
          Hawk}         {Turtle.

The clans thus divided hold their feasts in separate houses, even
although husband and wife be divided. On the fourth day each of these
divisions, singing a chant, repairs to the Council House. The gambling
then commences and continues three more days. The gambling and betting
concluded, two Indians, costumed as medicine men, run into all the
houses, and raking up the ashes call on all to repair to the Council
House. In the evening of this day begins the "scaring of witches";
speeches are made; Indian songs or chants are sung the while an old man
or woman enters, appearing to wish or search for something, the assembly
guessing at the object desired. Should the guess be correct, a reply of
"thank you" is made. He or she receives it, and as a return proceeds to

On the following evening a number of Indians in frightful costumes enter
on their knees, yelling and groaning. Shaking their rattles, they
proceed to the council fire, where they stir up the ashes. The chiefs
then present to them Indian tobacco, and they are commanded to perform
all the errands and act as the messengers for the evening.

On this same evening it is given forth that on the ensuing day, at a
given hour, the white dog will be roasted. For this purpose a perfectly
pure, unblemished white dog is selected, and five young men of the most
spotless reputation are chosen to kill the dog, around whose neck two
ropes are fastened, and the young men then pull the ropes till the dog
is strangled. When dead it is presented to the victorious gambling
party, who proceed to comb out its hair carefully with teasels. It is
then decorated with wampum, ribbons, Indian tobacco, strips of
buckskin, small baskets, silver brooches, &c.

The four winning clans then form in a circle around the dog and the four
leading chiefs. The first chief chants around the dog; the second puts
it upon his back; the third carries an extra basket trimmed with beads,
brooches, and ribbons, and filled with Indian tobacco; the fourth chief,
bareheaded and scantily clothed, follows as they pass in Indian file to
the other Council House, where the defeated division makes an offering,
which is accepted by the fourth chief. All then proceed together to the
appointed place for the dog roasting. While the fire is being lighted
the chiefs chant and praise the Great Spirit, after which, while the
warriors are shooting up at the sun, the dog is thrown into the fire,
which ceremony unites all the clans. This is followed by chants. The
leading chief then gives notice of the dance for the following day. At
this first day of rejoicing or dancing the "feather dance" is repeated,
and a chant is sung which embraces almost the entire language of the
Protestant Episcopal canticle, _Benedicite omnia opera Domini_; but the
translation, in place of commanding the works of God to render him
praise, praises the works themselves. Instead of "O ye angels of the
Lord," that passage is rendered, "O ye four persons who made us and have
charge of us, we praise thee," &c.

The feast then follows, consisting of meats garnished with sunflower
oil, &c. The third day of dancing is devoted to the war dance, which is
dedicated to the sun, moon, stars, and thunder. The feather dance is
again introduced, the women this time participating in it. In itself the
dance is very monotonous, except for the variety introduced by whooping,
beating the floor with the war clubs, occasional speeches, and offerings
to the dancers.

At the conclusion of the feather dance the Si-ti-gă-ni-ai, or shuffle
dance, follows. This is executed solely by the women, who do not lift
their feet from the floor. The men keep time by drumming and using the
rattles. Then succeeds the guide dance, performed as follows: Two or
four men stand inside a circle and sing a dance song, while all the
people join in the dance in pairs, the couples facing each other.
Consequently, two out of each four have to go backwards, but at a signal
in the music all change places. This is invariably the closing dance of
the new year's festival, but it is then arranged that seven days later
the medicine men shall all reappear, and for a day and a night go about
in the houses and chase away all diseases, &c. This closes by all
repairing to the Council House, where a large kettle of burnt corn,
sweetened with maple sugar, is prepared for the medicine men, who eat it
from the kettle. From this Council House fire the medicine men throw the
ashes upon the assembled people for the purpose of dispelling witches
and disease. This concludes the new year's festival ceremonies after a
duration of three weeks.


The next public service is at the tapping of the maple trees, and
consists of the war dance, the performance of which will, it is hoped,
bring on warmer weather and cause the sap to flow.

As a special favor to ambitious parents, the dancing warriors often bear
in their arms infant boys, who are supposed to become early inured and
inspired with a desire for a warrior life.

At the close of the sugar season follows the maple-sugar festival, the
soups of which are all seasoned with the newly-made sugar. This
festival, in which a number of dances are introduced, lasts but one day.


The corn-planting festival is very similar to that of the new year,
introducing the confession of sins by the chiefs, the feather dance, &c.
This lasts seven days.


During the strawberry season, at a time appointed previously by the
chiefs, the women proceed to the fields and gather the berries. The
great feather dance follows; afterwards two children carry about a
vessel containing the berries, mixed with water and sugar, and present
it to each person, who is expected to give thanks as he receives it.
More dancing ensues.

The bean festival next occurs and is very similar to the strawberry


This is preceded by a hunt by the warriors for deer or bear meat to use
for the soups.

During their absence the ceremony of confession takes place, as in the
New Year's festival, and the women are engaged in roasting the corn
preparatory to its being placed in the kettle with the beans for the
succotash. If the weather is very warm the hunters bring home the meat
ready baked. On their return the feasting and dancing commence and
continue for four days. The gambling, which is considered a religious
ceremony, is then introduced, silver brooches, war clubs, jewelry, bead
work, &c., being used as the wagers. Sometimes the clans play against
each other, but frequently the women play against the men, and are
oftener the winning party.

This festival is the gala season of the Indian year, and all appear in
their most fanciful decorations, some of the costumes having an
intrinsic value of several hundred dollars.


The last public festival of the year is at the gathering of the corn.
After the thanksgiving dance there is a repetition of the confession of
sins and the feather dance. In the latter the gayly-colored corn is
used as a decoration, sometimes whole strings of it, still upon the cob,
being worn as ornaments.

The above form the eight public yearly festivals of the Iroquois, but
occasionally other dances are introduced. Among these are the raccoon
dance and the snake dance, the latter being similar to the guide dance,
but partaking more of a gliding, snake-like motion.

Private dances are held by the medicine men, in which are introduced the
Kâ-nai-kwä-ai, or eagle dance; the Tai-wa-nu-ta-ai-ki, or dark dance,
performed in the dark; the Ka-hi-tu-wi, or pantomime dance; and the
W-na-tai-nu-u-ni, or witches' dance. On the death of a medicine man a
special dance is held by his fraternity, and, during the giving of
certain medicines, medicine tunes are chanted. No dances are held upon
the death of private individuals, but at the expiration of ten days a
dead feast is celebrated and the property of the deceased is distributed
by gambling or otherwise. Occasionally speeches are made, but no singing
or dancing is indulged in, except during a condolence council, when
deceased chiefs are mourned and others chosen in their places.

Private dances are not infrequently given by individual members of the
tribe, who, having conceived a great affection for each other, publicly
cement it by a friendship dance.


  A hunter's adventure; Iroquois tale 88
  A sure revenge; Iroquois tale 104
  Atotarho; Stone giant of the Iroquois 53, 54

  Beille, O'Beille; authority for Iroquois myth 59
  Boy and his grandmother; Iroquois tale 86
          the corn; Iroquois tale 96
      rescued by a bear; Iroquois tale 83

  Case of witchcraft, Iroquois account of a 72
  Charmed Suit; Iroquois tale 92
  Confederacy of the Iroquois established by Hiawatha 54
  Constellations; Iroquois myth 80
  Corn, Green, festival of the Iroquois 115
      , Iroquois festival of gathering the 115
       planting 115
  Cuoq, Père, interprets the name Hiawatha 54
  Cure for all bodily injuries, Iroquois myth      73

  Dances of the Iroquois 112, 116
  Dead Hunter: Iroquois tale 87
  Dispersion of the great heads; Iroquois myth 62

  Echo God; Iroquois myth 58
          , Powers of the Iroquois 52
  Extermination of stone giants; Iroquois myth 59

  Festival in honor of three sisters, guardians of vegetables 53
  Festivals, Iroquois; gathering the corn 115
                     ; green corn 115
                     ; New Year 112
                     ; planting corn 115
                     ; strawberry 115
                     ; tapping the maple tree 115
  Flies, Iroquois superstition concerning 74
  Formation of Iroquois turtle clan, Myth concerning 77

  God, Echo; Iroquois myth of the 58
     , Thunder, of the Iroquois 51, 58
  Gods of the Iroquois, Ancient and modern 51
                      ; Echo 52
                      ; Hi-nuⁿ 51, 58
                      ; North wind 52
                       of the mythologic age 52
                      , Origin of the ancient and modern 51
                      , Power of the 53
                      ; Tă-rhuⁿ-hyiă-wăh-kuⁿ; Holder of the Heavens 52
                      ; Thunder 51, 58
                      ; West wind 52
  Great Head; Iroquois myth 59, 62
  Great Heads, Dispersion of the; Iroquois myth 62
             , Power of the 63
             , Shape of the 53
  Guilty hunters; Iroquois tale 99

  Hale, Horatio; Authority for Iroquois myth of the Thunderers 55
  Hiawatha and the wampum belt; Iroquois myth 64
          , Meanings of the name 54
          , Multiplicity of Iroquois legends concerning 53
          , Power attributed to, by the Iroquois 54
  Hi-nuⁿ and Niagara; Seneca legend 54
         destroying the giant animals; Iroquois myth 54
         or Thunder god of the Iroquois 51
  Holder of the heavens, Power of the Iroquois God 52
  How the bear lost his tail; Iroquois myth 77
  Human race, Origin of the; Iroquois myth 76
  Hunter and his dead wife; Iroquois tale 103
                 faithless wife; Iroquois tale 90
  Hunter's adventure; Iroquois tale 88

  Infant nursed by bears; Iroquois tale 84
  Iroquois confederacy established by Hiawatha 54
           Myths. _See_ Myths.
          , Origin of the 52

  Jamieson, Zachariah, authority for tale of wildcat and white rabbit 110
  Jamison, Mary; Iroquois account of bewitchment of 72
  John, Andrew, Iroquois account of bewitchment of 72

  Kingfisher and his nephew; Iroquois tale 108, 110

  Lad and the chestnuts; Iroquois tale 97
  Legends. _See_ Myths.
  Logan, Mrs., Story of 100

  Man and his stepson; Iroquois tale 85
  Man who assumed the shape of a hog; Iroquois tale 73
  Maple trees, Iroquois festival of tapping 115
  Medicine, Iroquois myth giving origin of Seneca 70
  Mrs. Logan's story, Iroquois account of 100
  Myth; Hi-nuⁿ destroying the giant animals 54
      , Iroquois, of the three sisters, guardians of vegetables 53
  Mythic tales, Iroquois; A hunter's adventure 88
                        ; A sure revenge 104
                        ; Boy rescued by a bear 83
                        ; Infant nursed by bears 84
                        ; Kingfisher and his nephew 108
                        ; Mrs. Logan's story 100
                        ; The boy and his grandmother 86
                        ; The boy and the corn 96
                        ; The charmed suit 92
                        ; The dead hunter 87
                        ; The guilty hunters 99
                        ; The hunter and his dead wife 103
                        ; The hunter and his faithless-wife 90
                        ; The lad and the chestnuts 97
                        ; The man and his stepson 85
                        ; The old man's lesson to his nephew 89
                        ; The Wild cat and the white rabbit 110
                        ; Travelers' jokes 107
  Mythologic explanation of phenomena, Iroquois 75, 82
  Myths of the Iroquois; A case of witchcraft 72
                       ; A superstition about flies 74
                       ; A "true" witch story 71
                       ; A witch in the shape of a dog 73
                       ; Cure for all bodily injuries 73
                       ; Dispersion of the great heads 62
                       ; Echo god 58
                       ; Extermination of the stone giants 59
                       , fast disappearing 51
                       ; Formation of the turtle clan 77
                       ; Great head 59
                       ; Hiawatha and the wampum belt 64
                       ; How the bear lost his tail 77
                       ; Man who assumed the shape of a hog 73
                       ; Origin of constellations 80
                       ; Origin of medicine 78
                       ; Origin of plumage 79
                       ; Origin of Seneca medicine 70
                       ; Origin of the Human Race 76
                       ; Origin of tobacco 79
                       ; Origin of wampum 78
                       ; Origin of witches and witch charms 69
                       ; Seneca legend of Hi-nuⁿ and Niagara 54
                       ; The North wind 59
                       ; The pigmies and the greedy hunters 66
                       ; The pigmy's mission 67
                       ; The pole star 81
                       ; The stone giant's challenge 63
                       ; The stone giant's wife 62
                       ; The thunderers 55
                       ; The warrior saved by pigmies 65
                       ; Why the chipmunk has a black stripe on his
                           back 80
                       ; Witch transformation 74

  New Year festival of the Iroquois 112, 116
  Niagara Falls, Origin of; Iroquois myth 54
  North Wind; Iroquois myth 59
            , Powers of the Iroquois God 52

  Old man's lesson to his nephew; Iroquois tale 89
  Origin of medicine; Iroquois myth 78
            plumage; Iroquois myth 79
            the constellations; Iroquois myth 80
                human race; Iroquois myth 76
                Seneca medicine; Iroquois myth 70
            tobacco; Iroquois myth 79
            wampum; Iroquois myth 78

  Pigmies and the greedy hunters; Iroquois myth 65
         , Power of the 65
  Pigmy's mission; Iroquois myth 67
  Plumage, Origin of; Iroquois myth 79
  Pole star; Iroquois myth 81
  Power of the gods of the Iroquois 51, 54

  Religion of the Iroquois 112, 116
  Revenge, A sure; Iroquois tale 104

  Seneca legend of Hi-nuⁿ and Niagara 54
         medicine, Iroquois myth giving origin of 70
  Sorcery, Myths of the Iroquois concerning 68, 75
          practices among the Iroquois 68, 74
                   , Iroquois; A case of witchcraft 72
                   , Iroquois; A cure for all bodily injuries 73
                   , Iroquois; An incantation to bring rain 72
                   , Iroquois; A superstition about flies 74
                   , Iroquois; A "true" witch story 71
                   , Iroquois; A witch in the shape of a dog 73
                   , Iroquois; Man who assumed the shape of a hog 73
                   , Iroquois; Origin of Seneca medicine 70
                   , Iroquois; Origin of witches and witch charms 69
                   , Iroquois; Witch transformation 74
                   , Tuscarora names appertaining to 68
  Spirits place in Iroquois myths 53
  Stone giant of the Iroquois; Atotarho 53
        giantess, _See_ stone giant's wife 62
        giants, Extermination of; Iroquois myth 59
               of the Iroquois mythology 53
              , Powers of 53
              , Shape of 53
        giant's challenge; Iroquois myth 63
                wife; Iroquois myth 62
  Strawberry festival of the Iroquois 115
  Supernatural beings of the Iroquois 51
                                     ; Great heads 53
                                     ; Stone giants 53
  Sure Revenge, A; Iroquois tale 104, 107

  Tales, Iroquois. (_See_ Mythic Tales.)
  Tă-rhuⁿ-hyiă-wăh-kuⁿ; Holder of the heavens 52
  The boy and his grandmother; Iroquois tale 86
              the corn; Iroquois tale 96
      charmed suit; Iroquois tale 92
      dead hunter; Iroquois tale 87
      guilty hunters; Iroquois tale 99
      hunter and his dead wife; Iroquois tale 103
                     faithless wife; Iroquois tale 90
      lad and the chestnuts; Iroquois tale 97
      man and his stepson; Iroquois tale 85
      old man's lesson to his nephew; Iroquois tale 89
      wild cat and the white rabbit; Iroquois tale 110
  Thunder god of the Iroquois 51, 58
                              compared with other gods 52
                              or Hi-nuⁿ 52
                             , Origin of 52
                             , Powers of 52, 58
                             , Worship of 52
  Thunder, Iroquois myth concerning 55
  Tobacco, Iroquois myth of origin of 79
  Traveler's jokes, Iroquois tale of 107
  "True" witch story, Iroquois account of a 71
  Turtle clan, Iroquois myth of the origin of the 77
  Tuscarora names appertaining to sorcery 68

  "Wampum belt, He of the," or Hiawatha 54, 64
  Warrior saved by pygmies; Iroquois myth 65
  West Wind, Power of; God of the Iroquois 52
  Why the chipmunk has the black stripe on his back; Iroquois myth 80
  Wild cat and the white rabbit 110
  Witch in the shape of a dog, Iroquois account of a 73
  Witch story; Iroquois myth 71, 77
        transformation, Iroquois account of a 74
  Witchcraft. _See_ Sorcery.
            , Iroquois account of a case of 72
  Witches and witch charms, Iroquois myth giving origin of 69


  page      original text                correction
  50        XIV.--Atotarha, war chief    XIV.--Atotarho, war chief
  54, n1    as Pére Cuoq suggests        as Père Cuoq suggests
  61        she spoke and said           she spoke and said,
  63        being useful until,          being useful until
  65        Homo diluviæ testis          Homo diluvii testis
  69        in _Yä-skuⁿñ-nⁿ-nä_          in _Yä-skûⁿ-nûⁿ-nä_
  73        Hi-nûⁿ, pleased with         Hi-nuⁿ, pleased with
  73        Hi-nûⁿ was considered        Hi-nuⁿ was considered
  82        they could fine plenty       they could find plenty
  87        with his tomakawk            with his tomahawk
  92        "That," said the father      "That," said the father,
  108       "Why should this be so?"     "Why should this be so?
  112       burning tobacco to Hinuⁿ,    burning tobacco to Hi-nuⁿ,

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myths of the Iroquois. (1883 N 02 / 1880-1881 (pages 47-116))" ***

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we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.