By William Elsey Connelley
Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society
And a member by Adoption of the Wyandot Tribe
Illustrated by William Wallace Clarke
Rand McNally & Company
New York Chicago San Francisco
The Lord’s Prayer
How A White Man Became An Indian
How We Got These Indian Stories
How The Great Island Was Made
How The Sun Was Made
The Moon And Her Children
The Twins Who Were Gods
Ska’ reh Makes The Winter And Se’ sta Makes The Summer
The Beautiful Bridge To The Sky
Why The Leaves Have Many Colors In Autumn
Punishment Of The Rainbow
How The Milky Way Was Put Into The Sky
The Animals Go To The Land Of The Little People
Why The Deer Sheds His Horns Every Year
The Last Battle
Making The World Again
How A Man And His Daughter Became Stars
Se’ sta Makes The Eagles
The Death Song Of A Warrior
The Singing Spring
The Singing Maidens
The First Garden
The Golden Hornet
Men di’ yos
The Song of the Kingfisher
The Untruthful Man
The Bears of Red Mountain
The Flying Heads
The Game of Moccasin
The Hoo’ stra doo’
How The Dove Got Its Color And Its Song
Ska’ reh Steals The Coats of All The Birds
The Wampum Bird
The Witch Buffaloes, or How We Got The Cranberry
Why Flowers Are Fragrant
Suggestions For Teachers:
The Progress of Mankind
Religion of the Wyandots
Burial Ceremonies of the Hurons
The Solemn Feast of the Dead
These Indian myths were collected by William Elsey Connelley. They were secured from the old people of the Wyandot tribe many years ago. Mr. Connelley was adopted by the Wyandot as a mark of favor for the work he did among them.
These stories have been adapted for use in the third, fourth, and fifth grades of the American public schools. They are written in the vocabulary and expression of those grades. The adaptation was principally made by Miss Edna Clyne of the Seattle public schools.
Mr. Wallace Clarke, in his illustrations for the book, has admirably interpreted these Indian myths.
The value of such material as will be found in this book has always been recognized. It has not been utilized to any great extent for the reason that there has not heretofore been any intelligent effort to adapt it to any specific place in the schools. Schoolbooks on this subject have been collections of miscellaneous tales written in the vocabulary of ordinary literature. Whatever of adaptation was attempted was in the use of a patronizing style, which served only to offend the child. Having no definite place, the books failed of any extensive use.
These mythic tales are poetry. But they are not written in verse. They are not the poesy of civilized man, which must sacrifice strength to conventional expression. They are the lyric poetry of a strong primitive race with an untrammeled imagination running riot in contemplation of worlds and stars and suns and gods and creations. They are accounts of heroic achievement in those early periods of human development when the principles were evolved and the institutions created upon which civilization rests.
These echoes of the primal mind are sublime. Those who read them aright shall be enraptured, transported, made strong in the faith of the ultimate triumph of all righteousness. For when man passes out of that age when the stars speak to him, when the thunder has a voice for him, when the glory of nature is essential to him, he forgets God.
Some of these stories reach down to that period of progress in which flourished the Scandinavian skalds, when Celtic bards sang of Ossian and when the Semitic mind produced that survival set down in the annals of Israel:
“When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
And that other immortal one:
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors.”
That man shall be in accord with nature, the imagination of the child must be touched. And in all efforts to influence society to turn to justice and prefer it and to live in right conscience and rejoice in it, we must ever bear in mind the eternal truth that “where there is no vision the people perish.”
W. E. C.
The art of story telling is being lost. Its value as a national trait is recognized – unquestioned. If it is to be revived, the beginning must be made with the children.
The child mind is ever eager for entertainment – amusement. This fact should not be forgotten by those who must instruct. If this inclination can be made the motive of effort, the greatest obstacle to study will have been overcome. For only when interested does the child receive and retain impressions. He works to permanent account when his enthusiasm is aroused and maintained. As an aid to that end, in connection with this work, the “Suggestions for Teachers,” pages 125-167, have been prepared.
This section is intended to provide, for the use of the teacher, ample information of a general nature concerning the Wyandot, their government, their religion, their customs, and their characteristics. Reference to it should be made before any assignment of work is given. Pupils will respond freely to the method of a preliminary review. They will ask many questions. If this preparatory inquiry has been effective, the hour of recitation will find them aglow with lively anticipations of a pleasant and profitable session in class.
Extending these suggestions into detail, it is evident that these stories may be made the opening door to a world of the child’s own making. We know that there must be developed in the child a creative imagination if he is to have any optimistic vision of the future of even his own life. There is no chapter in the book which does not readily lend itse1f to that purpose. But it is essential that pupils shall understand that these wonderful stories are only what the Wyandot had devised to account for the manifestations of nature, and that they are not scientifically true. Their value lies in art and not in science.
Examine any story with this in view or take any object mentioned – the sun, for example. When the origin of the sun was considered by the primitive man who knew nothing of science, he turned to his conceptions of cosmology for solution. Finally a cause was worked out which agreed with his religion. To make it easy of preservation he gave it the form of a story in the scheme of creation.
This same process is true of all these stories of cause – of the why. It was the plan of the Wyandot wise men to personify all the great forces of nature and give them the attributes of gods some good, some bad, as these manifestations of nature were harsh or gentle, mild or destructive.
These things may be made plain to the child by means always at hand. Say the topic is thunder – Heno. The teacher might inquire if the child had ever thought of what makes the thunder. Or she might ask if the child had gone to father and mother to find out what they thought about thunder. If so, what did they say? What had any other person said? Then the subject might be discussed from the view of fact and the Wyandot conception.
It is explained in some of the stories how the Wyandot believe that certain birds got their songs. Children may be encouraged to write imaginary stories telling how other birds might have gotten their songs.
The phases of the moon are of interest to children. In fact, the moon is a favorite with most people. Its nearness to the earth makes it loom large in the sky. Its growth and diminution have ever had a fascination for mankind. The Indian counted time by the moon. There is much to be said of the moon to children. And the Wyandot account will be eagerly heard and read as something wonderful and strange. But the child should be informed as to the facts about the changes of the moon.
The creation of various physical features of the world and the creatures that are found on the earth will furnish material for discussions and exercises in class. The thought that all bad things were made by the Evil One may be new to the children. But they will be inclined to accept that as reasonable, at least. And that The Good One should be concerned for the people and make things for their comfort, the child will accept as a matter of right.
The change of the seasons is a subject which will attract the mind of the child. The story of how Ska’ reh made the winter and how Se’ sta the summer will delight children. In the study of this chapter the real cause of the change of the seasons can be impressed indelibly on the child mind. This is a very useful as well as a beautiful story.
There is more beautiful object in nature than the rainbow. From time immemorial man had looked in love and wonder on the rainbow. It was a pledge of protection forever against the destruction of the world by water. God set it in the clouds as a reassurance. This is one of the few stories in the world in which inanimate objects converse with persons or animals. The real origin of the rainbow can be developed and illustrated.
“Why the Leaves Have Many Colors in Autumn” will be a lesson of interest. The beautiful leaves may be brought into the room and the degrees and shades of color be discussed. The smallest children can take part in the recitation of this lesson. Or in the autumn the children may be taken into the beautiful woods to see the leaves.
“The Punishment of the Rainbow” lends itself to a moral lesson aside from its beauty and novelty. The destruction of the fine bridge will be read with regret. The Wyandot were sorry that it burned, and devised another to take its place. This will prove a very satisfactory chapter. One version of the origin of the Milky Way is told in this Chapter.
Some of these stories are intensely dramatic: “The Bears of Red Mountain.” “The Wampum Bird,” “Why the Flowers are Fragrant,” “How the Dove Got Its Color and Its Song.” and others. Pupils in the fourth and fifth grades could with profit be encouraged to dramatize them.
Enough has been set out here to show that the teacher may make enthusiastic about these stories; in the “Suggestions for Teachers” there will be found information in detail to explain every feature of every story. The teacher should become familiar at once with that part of the book and be able to tell the children everything about this valuable collection of Indian literature.
And it will occur to the teacher to use these stories in many other ways to the delight and benefit of the pupils.
Style. These stories are written in the style of their delivery by the Indians to the author. Having them in their true and original form is of value. It shows how the Indians think. Poetry and sublime conceptions in prose are well expressed in writing of this style. Short sentences are strong sentences, and Indians use them almost altogether. Here are examples from the great oration of Logan, the Mingo:
“There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature.”
“Logan never felt fear.”
“He will not turn on his heel to save his life.”
“Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one.”
The Lord’s Prayer
Translated Into The Wyandot Language By
William Elsey Connelley
Squa-e steh ya-rohn yi-yeh ih-sta reh,
Our Father which art in Heaven,
Oo-ra meh tisheh-shen doo-tih.
Hallowed be thy name.
Oota-wa teh-steh sa-re wa.
Thy Kingdom come.
Teh-zhu tih teh-kyu tih ya-rohn yi-yeh.
Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.
Ta-wa nohnt no-ma ken-ta the ha-men tih-yeh kya-than de-ta queh da-wa eh-roh n yeh.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Na-nengk seh-sa de-yu hengk sa-re zha-kohn dih teh-zhu tih neh hen-dih tso-ma de-yo hehs.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Na-nengk wa-sta too toma squa-nyo deh teh-zha shu-ta quan-de yeh, ta-wa ta-te-rohn teh ka-oof keh:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
Sa ah-he sa-meh doo-ra meh na-nengk de-ya-wih shra, na-nengk de-doo-ra meh, he-e-e-e-yeh ha-a-a-ah-keh-e-e-e-yah.
For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
How A White Man Became An Indian
Not so very long ago there was to be found living in the far West a quaint old man. He had seen many moons. His head was almost white from the frosts of some seventy winters. He was a Wyandot Indian, and he lived with his own people. His house stood among the trees by a clear, swift river in the beautiful hills. At a great city far from his home he had some land. This land was worth much money. Some mean white men were about to take the land away from him. But a kind white man made them pay the Indian what the land was worth.
This white man had been a friend of the Indians all his life. When he helped this good Wyandot, all the Indians were pleased. They said he must visit them at their homes among the hills. When he went there to see them, they told him beautiful stories, which he wrote down. They had him attend their secret feasts, which they did not let any other white man see. They taught him to speak like an Indian. He wrote down all they told him. Then they said he must be an Indian, too. He said that would be fine. And they made him a Wyandot Indian. This is how they did it.
A great feast was made. All the Indians were told to come to the feast to welcome the white man. Much food was made ready, for the Indians were very fond of good things to eat. They were the first people to grow corn. They had it in their fields for ages before the white people ever saw any of it. They knew how to cook it in many ways. At this feast all these dishes of corn were there in great plenty. And the Indians cook well all the food used by white people. They had bread, pies, cakes, beef, pork, ham, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, coffee, and tea made from the sweet-smelling spice wood.
The men ate first, and the white man ate with them. Indian men do not talk much. They said little while eating at this feast. When they were done, the women sat down to eat. They were merry and gay. They talked and laughed as they ate.
Then the Indians cried out all in one voice, “Quah! Quah! Quah!” which means, “Hail! Hail! Hail!” This was their way of saying they were willing to receive the white man into their tribe.
With the Wyandots the woman is the head of the house. The Chief turned to the Head Woman and said, “Will you make a place by your fire for this white man? Will you take him to be one of your family?”
The Head Woman took the white man by the hand and said, “He will live by my fire. He shall be a Wyandot of the Deer Clan. He shall be one of my family. A Wyandot of my house was a great chief. He was the Head Master of all the Wyandots. He lived many years ago. Since that time no man has held his high office. I wish this white man raised up to his place. Give him the name and the office of the Half-King.”
The Chief then gave the white man the name and the office of the Great Chief of the Wyandot of the old times.1 Then all the Indians came and spoke to the white man. They made him welcome. They said he was their brother. They gave him presents. Some gave him wampum or Indian money. One gave a cannon ball which he found on a field of battle where he was a soldier. One woman gave him a horn of a buffalo. A very poor Indian gave him some feathers from the tail of a rooster.
The white man gave each Indian a present, and the meeting was ended.
1. Too-da re-zhu – The Great Deer.
How We Got These Indian Stories
Before the first white people came, only the Indians lived in our country. They had been here a very long time; they could not tell for how long. The Indians had a happy life. In summer the men hunted and fished. They went on long journeys into the woods or over the hills and plains. Sometimes they went in canoes on the lakes and along the rivers. The women and children often remained at home. Their lodges stood at the edge of the forest, or on the bank of a lake, or in the meadows beside the swift-flowing stream. For food they hunted game, gathered wild berries and fruits, dug up the roots of plants and trees, and in small fields raised squashes, pumpkins, beans and corn. Some raised tobacco.
When winter came the snow often lay white over the land. The cold wind blew about the Indian lodges. At night the dogs howled, and he lodges looked dark and lonely. But inside there was a bright fire of dry wood. At one side of the fire sat the mother on a pile of furs. She was weaving baskets or putting beads on buckskin clothes. On the other side sat the father. He smoked his pipe and told beautiful stories to the children.
The Indians had no books or papers. So the stories had to be kept in memory and told down from one to another. Would you not have liked to sit with the red children around the even fire of the Indian lodge? They had to remember the stories well, for the next night the father might call on them to repeat what they had heard. Then when they grew up they could tell the stories to their own boys and girls.
After the white people came, the Indian fathers did not always tell the stories to the children. For they had much trouble and had to move from place to place. At last only a few old men in the tribe knew the stories. A kindly white man found the old men living deep in the great woods. They made him a Wyandot Indian, like themselves. He wrote down what these wise old Indians told him. So now all boys and girls may read the stories which once were heard only by the red children.
How The Great Island Was Made
Long ago this world was almost covered with water. There was only a little land. The people lived in a world above the sky. These people were Wyandot Indians.
This skyland was a strange world. For it had no sun nor moon nor any stars. It had no need of these, for it was lighted by a great tree which stood near the lodge of Hoo-wa’ neh. The chief of the Upper World. Upon this tree grew large yellow flowers. It was thickly covered with them. From these yellow blossoms came the light of that land; and there was no night there.
This Tree of Light was holy. No one, save the priests, was ever allowed so much as to touch it. But one day, when Hoo-wa’ neh was away hunting, his wife took some of the yellow flowers and ate them. At once she knew she had done a great wrong. She was afraid of what her husband might say to her. So she ran away to her own people, who were the priests, or hookies. And she was sick from having eaten the flowers.
Hoo-wa’ neh knew that some one had touched the Tree of Light, for a twilight came over the Upper World. He went home from his hunt. When he heard what his wife had done, he was very sad. He tried to cure the Tree of Light and make it bright again. For many days he lay upon his face on the ground before it. He would not eat. But the Tree was not cured.
Then he told the priests to make his wife well. They said that what she needed to make her well would be found among the roots of the Tree of Light. So they brought the sick Woman and laid her down upon a mat at the root of the Tree. Then they began to dig by her bed to find that which would cure her.
The priests, or hookies, had dug but a little while when, all at once, the Tree of Light and the ground around it sank down. The Tree had broken through the Upper World. The Woman was caught in its branches. Both Tree and Woman fell through the sky. This rent in that broken land closed over them, shutting them out of that beautiful world above the sky.
Two Swans were swimming in the Great Water which covered the Lower World. Heno, the thunder god of the Wyandots, who came with the Woman, rolled a great crash of thunder over the waters. The Swans were alarmed, for they had never before heard so frightful a sound. Nor had they before seen so brilliant a light. They looked up. They saw the Woman as though standing in the rent of the broken sky. She was taller than the highest tree. Her arms were spread upward. She shone as brightly as the sun at noonday.
One Swan said, “What shall we do with this Woman?”
We must take her on our backs,” the other said.
These Swans were very large. They swam side by side, and the Woman fell upon them. They carried her over the Great Water.
At last the first Swan said, “What shall we do with this Woman? We cannot carry her forever.”
The other Swan said, “We must call a Council of all the swimming Animals, all the water tribes.”
And so they did. This was the first Great Council. The Big Turtle was the chief or leader. He did not know what to do. None of them knew. There was no place in all the Great Water where the Woman could live. The Tree of Light had fallen into the sea. There it lay on the bottom of the Great Water with the broken earth about it shining like the sun.
After all the Great Council had talked, the Big Turtle said, “If you can get a little of the shining earth which lies at the root of the Tree of Light, you may place it upon my back. There it will grow into a world, and the Woman may live in it.”
One after another the Animals dived into the great deep to bring up the earth. They could not get it. Some of them were drowned. Then the Toad said she would try. She was gone a long time. She was dead when she came up, and she floated upon the water. But her mouth was filled with shining earth.
The Little Turtle carefully spread this earth around the edges of the shell of the Big Turtle. There it grew at once into the Great Island. The Woman arose from the backs of the Swans and lived upon it. The Big Turtle stands yet on the bottom of the Great Water with the Great Island upon his back. And it is the land in which we live today. And this Great Island was called the Lower World.
Because the Toad was the only Animal which could get the earth from the bottom of the great deep, she was loved by the Wyandots. They call her their Grandmother.
How The Sun Was Made
The Woman who fell down from Heaven was unhappy on the Great Island. She was alone. There was no one to whom she could speak. She wept and wrung her hands. She was sorry she had done wrong. She had lost her country. She had lost her home and her husband. She wanted to go back to the land above the sky.
One day Hoo-wa’ neh heard her weeping. She was his lost wife. He had great pity for her. He could not take her back to the skyland, but he told her what to do.
The Woman did just as he said. She went into the hills. She came to a place where tall trees grew. It was like a beautiful park. A clear, swift river ran there, and the leaning trees along its bank made shadows on the water. From the hill the Woman looked far off. She saw an Indian lodge in a clump of trees on the river bank. From its top rose the smoke of a fire. She came to the lodge, and she sat on a stone before its door. A woman came out to speak to her. It was her mother. She had been sent there by Hoo-wa’ neh. So the Woman lived with her mother and was happy.
Before the Woman came, all the Lower World was dark. Now the Woman was its light. But when she went into the lodge, darkness fell again over the earth.
Having had the light of the Woman, the Animals did not like this darkness. They called the Great Council to plan how they might have more light. The Little Turtle said, “Let me go into the sky. I will put a light there to shine so that we shall not be in darkness when the Woman goes into the lodge.”
All the Animals thought this a good plan. A cloud, black and terrible, was called down. Heno rode in it. Harsh thunder and red lightning came out from it. The Little Turtle went into the cloud, and was carried away into the sky. There she took the lightning and kindled a great fire, which we call the sun.
This sun stood still in the middle of the sky. Its light did not reach the far sides of the Great Island. At the lodge of the Woman the heat was too great. Something had to be done about this.
Then the Animals made the sun alive so that It could move about in the sky. The Mud Turtle was directed to dig a great hole or way through the Great Island. The Sun was made to go by a certain path across the sky every day. Through the hole he went under the earth each evening, making night when the Woman in the lodge and the Animals, the beasts, and the birds could sleep. Then the Sun rose again in the east, bringing a new day to the world.
This hole or passageway which the Mud Turtle dug from side to side through thc Great Island was more than a mere tunnel. It was almost as broad as the Great Island itself. It had a sky and stars and clouds. Heno sent one of his sons to live there and make the thunder. There were rivers and lakes and seas in that land. Fishes were in the rivers, and great fishes swam in the lakes and seas. There were trees and grass and corn, beans, pumpkins, and squashes in that beautiful country. The same animals found in the Great Island lived there, also. All the Animals of the Great Council were gods. The Mud Turtle was one of the greatest of these and created the Little People to live in the Under World. It was called the Land of the Little People. And it became the country of the dead for the Wyandots -their happy hunting grounds.
The Moon And Her Children
At first the Animals were pleased with the Sun. But they soon found he was careless. Now and then he was sullen and cross. Sometimes he stayed long in the way made for him under the earth. This left the Lower World in darkness a long time. So the Little Turtle made the bright, warm Moon to light the world when the Sun was gone. The Moon was the wife of the Sun. They had many children. These children are the stars.
One day the Sun was very angry with his wife, the Moon. That night when he went under the earth he made her go with him, for he had planned to kill her. But the Little Turtle knew about the trouble and hurried after them. When she found them, the Moon was much hurt. All her heat was gone. That is why the rays of the moon are now said to be cold. Most of her light was gone. That is why the moon shines with a dim and mellow glimmer. The Sun had made her shrink in fear until she was very small. All that was left of her was the thin little New Moon, which you see at evening low in the western sky shining like burnished silver.
Slowly the Moon grew full and round and beautiful again. That made her happy, for she thought her husband would be pleased with her once more. But not so. He remained angry. This made her so sad that she became smaller and smaller until she was again the thin little New Moon. Each time that she grew round and full she hoped her husband would love her. But his anger was too great. He would not say a kind word to her. Then she would shrink again to the narrow shining bow seen in the evening sky just above the hills. So it has been to this day. And so now it must be to the end of the world.
The Twins Who Were Gods
The Woman who fell down from Heaven had twin sons. One was good. The other was bad. They got their names from what they were. The good one was named Fire, or Man of Fire, for he was always doing good. He was also called Se’ sta, as that name means “fire.” The bad twin was named Ice and Stone, or Man of Ice and Stone, for he was always doing evil. He was also called Ska’ reh, which means “ice or stone.” They had magic power. They were Indian gods.
Se’ sta tried always to turn his brother from his wicked ways. One day he said to his brother, “We have work to do. We were born for a purpose. We must make the Great Island a beautiful country. For at some time people wiII come to live in it. You take one half of the Great Island. I will take the other half. Each must do the best he can.”
Ska’ reh said he would do this. Each brother went his way to do his work. For hundreds of years they toiled at their task, for it was a mighty work, which only gods could do.
Se’ sta made a beautiful land. Everything was good. The people would need food, so he placed animals and birds in the woods. And he put fish in all the streams. The trees were made to bear fruits and nuts. Corn, pumpkins, and tobacco grew in fields. The beanstalk was a tree bearing pods filled with beans as large as an egg. The water in the rivers flowed in two directions. On one side the Indian might float downstream without having to paddle his canoe. When he wished to go back, he had but to cross to the other shore. Then he would find the water going up the other way. He could float back without having to use the paddle.
When each brother had finished his part of the work, thqy met to see what had been done. Ska’ rqh was not pleased to find the beautiful land made by his brother. He changed everything as much as he could. He caused thorns and briars to grow in the woods. He sprinkled his own blood over the land. Each drop of it became a sharp stone to cut the feet of the people who would live there. He put his great hands into the rivers and stirred their waters so that they flowed ever after that in but one direction. He made the beans small like those which we have now.
And he changed the animals. As they passed before him he made them fierce and wild. He frightened them with terrible noises. Some of them ran into the deep Woods, where they still live. Others hid in the holes and caves, and to this day they come out only in the darkness of night to find food. Everywhere Ska’ reh did what he could to spoil the works of his good brother.
Se’ sta went then to see the land which Ska’ reh had made. He found everything bad. Bare mountains of rock seemed to reach the sky. The North Wind was often there. He brought bitter cold and much snow from his home far away. Long icicles hung from the tall rocks and bare cliffs.
On going to the south Se’ sta found swamps through which no man could pass. They were filled with great snakes and other monsters. Millions of mosquitoes as large as crows rose from these swamps and flew over
the world to torment every beast,
Se’ sta did what he could to make better the evil works of his brother. He drove some of the cold away. He made the high mountains lower. He made the snakes and monsters smaller. He did all he could to make the Great Island a pleasant home for the people he knew would come to live in it. But he was sad. For he could not undo all the harm done by Ska’ reh.
Ska’ reh Makes The Winter And Se’ sta Makes The Summer
The Brothers met far to the north on the shores of a Great Water which was filled with ice. Se’ sta had done all he could to mend the evil works of Ska’ reh. Ska’ reh was angry with him. He was in a rage. He struck Se’ sta to kill him.
Then began the first great battle between the Good One and the Evil One. In that land of ice and snow Ska’ reh was the stronger one. As Se’ sta was pushed back, Ska’ reh waved his stone club toward the north and cried, “Come up! Arise, O Winter!”
Then a fierce white figure arose from the icy water. It spread across the sky. Its head seemed to touch the stars. Slowly it took the form of a man. And his name was Winter. He shook his long white hair. It streamed far out in the North Wind. Snow came out of it. Ice came out of his mouth, and his breath was the hail and the sleet. As he came riding on the clouds to help his master, the flowers died and the leaves of the trees fell to the ground. The birds flew in fright before him. Snow blew over the wastes and covered the world. Thick sheets of ice formed on the lakes and rivers. As Ska’ reh fought and Winter stalked in his wake, every green and growing thing took on the look of death. Only where Se’ sta stepped did life remain. Where his footsteps fell, there grew the pine and the evergreen.
Ska’ reh drove Se’ sta far down the Great Island. They came to the sea. One of the Swans lived there. She had helped to bear up the Woman who fell down from Heaven. Her home was in the blue water along charming shores. She was frightened. She saw forests gripped in death and mountains covered with snow and hail. The world grew dark, and she saw hideous Winter riding down upon his terrible clouds which filled the sky. She loved Se’ sta. She feared he would be driven into the sea and slain. She flew screaming over the water, striking it with her feet as though she were walking. Where she touched it, huge waves arose. They washed up the sands of the sea and made dry land for Se’ sta. He walked slowly backward upon this strip of new-made land, battling with his evil brother.
At the end of the new land Ska’ reh lost his strength. Se’ sta began to push him back. As Ska’ reh gave way, Winter stopped and turned about. Se’ sta waved his torch of fire over the seas. Heno came up, and thunder rolled along the sky. Se’ sta cried with a mighty voice, “Come forth! Arise from the Great Water!”
A shadow came out of the seas. It filled the sky. It took the form of a beautiful woman. And her name was Summer. She came on. She rode on the rain clouds. Heno was by her side. In her hands she held the lightnings. The Rainbow was under her feet. She stood in the sky above Se’ sta. She spoke to the Sun, who burst upon the world in his glory and bathed it in beauty. She moved up the Great Island. She drove Winter before her and he retreated far into the ice caves of the north. She poured down warm rains from the lazy clouds on which she rode. She melted the snow and the ice. She made the grass and the corn to grow. She scattered flowers on the hills and along the valleys. The geese and all the water birds followed her, and she sent the song birds to sing again and be happy in the trees.
When Ska’ reh came to the north, he ran into his ice caves. But he had done much harm. Every year at that time when he began to fight his brother, old Winter comes again out of the icy water. His white hair streams again in the North Wind. As he goes down the Great Island the land is locked in snow and frost and ice. The flowers die and the leaves fall to the ground.
When Winter reaches the place where Se’ sta turned about, Summer rises from her beautiful home under the seas. She drives cruel Winter back to his home in the north. She brings life and birds and grass and corn. She strews the land with flowers. She brings warmth and sunshine and joy for all. She is love and beauty and happiness, and she gives herself to the people of the world.
This great battle between Winter and Summer must go on as long as the world stands.
The Beautiful Bridge To The Sky
The Animals were not pleased with the ways of Ska’ reh. His evil work spread over the land. His plague was on all things. There seemed to be no help. The Animals were troubled. They thought they might go into the sky and live with the Little Turtle. Se’ sta did not want them to leave the Lower World. But the Deer was unruly and not willing to do as Se’ sta wished.
One day the Deer said to the Rainbow, “Carry me into the sky. I wish to visit my sister, the Little Turtle, and see the land where she lives.”
The Rainbow did not dare to refuse the Deer. But she feared that Se’ sta would not like it if she carried the Deer into the sky. So she said to the Deer, “Come to me in winter when I rest on the mountain by the lake. Then I will bring you to the home of the Little Turtle.”
All winter the Deer waited on the mountain by the lake. But the Rainbow did not come.
When the Deer saw the Rainbow the next summer, he said. “I am angry. All winter I stood on the mountain by the lake, why did you not come as you promised?”
“I was afraid,” answered the Rainbow. “Se’ sta would not like it if I took you to the skyland. But you shall go. When you see the mist heavy over the lake, come to me. Then I will carry you up to the house of the Little Turtle.”
One day the mist rolled over the lake in huge masses. On the hill above the water stood the Deer. When the Rainbow threw forth the beautiful bow, a white and shining light spread about the Deer. There before the Deer lay a path made of all the colors of the Rainbow. It led through the strange forest where the glory of the heavens rests on the rolling hills.
The Rainbow said to the Deer, “Follow the Beautiful Path. Turn not from it. It will lead you to the house of your sister, the Little Turtle.”
The Deer went along the Way of Burning Colors. He passed by he saw lakes and blue hills and bright streams and strange animals and gorgeous birds. He often stopped to turn aside an enter this magic land. But he was held back by one whom he did not see. At last he came to the house of the Little Turtle. He lived there near her in the land of the sky.
But when the Great Council met in the Lower World, the Bear said. “The Deer is not yet come to the Council. Where is the deer?”
Then the Hawk flew about to look for the Deer. But the Deer was not to be found in the air. The Wolf then looked through all the forest. But the Deer was not to be found in the forest.
When the Little Turtle came down in the black and fearful cloud, the Bear said. “The Deer is not yet come to the Council. There can be no Council without him.”
The Little Turtle said, “The Deer came into the land of the sky. The Rainbow made a fine Bridge of her colors upon which the Deer walked.”
The Animals looked into the sky. They saw the Deer there. There could never again be a meeting of the Great Council in the Lower World. So all the Animals went to live in the land of the sky. But the Mud Turtle did not stay in the land of the Little Turtle. She lived in a land she made under the Lower World.
This is the story of the Beautiful Bridge built by the Rainbow from the Lower World into the land of the sky.
Why The Leaves Have Many Colors In Autumn
The Bear was selfish and proud, He often made trouble among the Animals of the Great Council. When he heard that the Deer had walked over the Rainbow Bridge into the skyland, he was angry. “I will punish the Deer,” he said.
The Bear went to the Rainbow Bridge. He leaped along its beautiful way of glowing colors. He came into the skyland. There he found the Deer and said to him, “This skyland is the home of the Little Turtle. Why did you come into this land? Why did you not come to meet us in the Great Council? Why did you not wait until all the Animals could come to live here?”
Then the Deer was angry. Only the Wolf might ask him such questions. The Bear had no right to speak like that to the Deer.
The Deer said to the Bear, “You have gone about making trouble among the Animals long enough. You shall never do it again.”
The Deer said he would kill the Bear. He arched his neck. He tossed his head to show his long sharp horns. The hair along his back stood up. His eyes blazed as if a fire burned in them. He thought to slay the Bear with a single stroke of his terrible horns.
The Bear was not afraid. His claws were very strong. He stood erect for the mighty conflict. His deep growls shook the sky like rolling thunder. The struggle was terrific and long. The Bear was torn by the cruel horns of the Deer.
When the remaining Animals of the Great Council heard the awful noise, the Wolf went up into the sky to stop the dreadful battle.
All the Animals had to obey the Wolf. So the Deer turned and ran away. And the Bear fled along the paths of the sky. As the Deer ran, the blood of the Bear dropped from his horns. It fell down to the Lower World and made the leaves of the trees many colors. Some were red. Some were yellow. Some were brown. Some were scarlet. And some were crimson.
And now each year when the autumn comes the leaves of the trees take on these many colors. The forests are flooded with soft and glowing beauty. The Wyandots then say the blood of the Bear has again been thrown down from the sky upon the trees of the Great Island.
Punishment Of The Rainbow
When the battle between the Deer and the Bear was ended, the Animals called the Rainbow before the Great Council.
When the Rainbow stood there to answer them, the Wolf said to her. “Why did you make the Beautiful Path of your glowing colors for the Deer? Why did you make the Beautiful Bridge to go into the sky?”
The Rainbow answered, “I did not dare to refuse the Deer. I must obey every member of the Great Council. And the Deer said he wished to visit his sister, the Little Turtle, in the skyland.”
“What the Deer told you was only an excuse. It was but half the truth,” said the Wolf. “The Deer wished to go to the glorious sky land to live. Now the Bear has gone there, too. They will not come back. You did wrong to make the Beautiful Bridge for the Deer. And you must be punished.”
The Rainbow knew that she had done wrong. She felt guilty. She stood mute. She could not utter a word for herself.
Then the Big Turtle said, “All the Animals who are still in the Lower World may go over the Beautiful Burning Bridge to the happy skyland. As we go, it shall burn to ashes behind us. And the Rainbow shall lose her power to make another.”
So all the Animals walked over the Beautiful Bridge and came into the land of the Little Turtle, where they must live evermore. As they passed along, the Bridge was burned to white and feathery ashes. The winds carried these ashes away and scattered them across the sky. There you may still see them among the stars. And we call them the Milky Way.
And the Mud Turtle passed below the earth to the Land of the Little People, where she must live forever.
From that day has the Rainbow been seen only weeping in the feeble rays of the sun after a summer shower. But all the spaces of the heavens are no more filled with her glowing glory.
How The Milky Way Was Put Into The Sky
It was lonely in the Lower World when the Animals had gone to live in the skyland. Se’ sta had made a beautiful world. He wished for some people to live in it. He remembered that his mother had fallen down from the Upper World with the Tree of Light. So he went into that land to talk with his grandfather, Hoo-wa’ neh.
Hoo-wa’ neh was pleased to see Se’ sta. He gave him many good people to take with him back to the Great Island. These were the Wyandots.
When Ska’ reh saw that it was good to have people on the Great Island, he, too, went into the Upper World to see his grandfather, Hoo-wa’ neh. He was given people, also, and some were good and some were bad. Ska’ reh loved the wicked people and caused them to make trouble over the Lower World.
Then the good people wept. Even the trees and the rivers were sad. They wished that the Animals would come back and make the bad people stop their evil ways. So they prayed to Se’ sta to go into the sky and find the Animals.
Se’ sta called to the great Swans. He said to them, “O you who cared for my mother! You took her upon your backs and saved her from the sea when she fell down from Heaven with the Tree of Light. Help me now. I must find the Animals who helped me make the world. They have gone into the sky. If I can bring them back, they will give peace to the Lower World.”
Then the Swans gave Se’ sta the down from their breasts. It was whiter than snow. He carried it in a bag made from the foam of the waves of water. He went into the land of the sky. As he walked there he scattered the down of the Swans along the path to show himself how to get back to the Lower World.
The Wolf saw Se’ sta coming into the land of the sky, and he called the Animals to meet in the Great Council.
“Se’ sta comes to lead us back to the Lower World,” said the Beaver.
“We cannot go. We do not wish to return to a land where Ska’ reh lives. He makes a wicked world. Where can we hide?” said the Hawk.
“If we stay in the skyland, he will find us and take us back. We must hurry to the Land of the Little People,” said the Deer.
So the Animals ran quickly down the Sun’s path to the Land of the Little People. It was under the Great Island,
Se’ sta could not find the Animals. He went over all the land of the sky. As he walked in that land, he called to the Animals. “Come with me,” he said. “The people are hurt by Ska’ reh. They need your help. Go back with me and there will be joy and peace in the Lower World.”
There was no answer. Se’ sta turned to come again to his own land. He followed the wide way over which he had scattered the down taken from the breasts of the two great Swans. It led him back into the Lower World. He came back in sorrow. For there was now no escape from a terrible war with Ska’ reh and his evil forces.
But the great white path which he marked with the down given him by the Swans may still be seen there across the sky. And white men call it the Milky Way.
And for ages, when the warriors on the march and the women in the village looked up to heaven and saw there the Snow Path, they could hear the deep voice of Se’ sta singing the song of the stars to cause the Animals to come back to the Lower World and dwell again with mankind.
The Animals Go To The Land Of The Little People
The Animals stood far off. They loved Se’ sta. They knew he would not be pleased when they ran out of his sight in the skyland. For he would have to return without help to his troubled land. Some of them said they should go back with him. Others said it would not be wise to do so. They were not of one mind. So they called to the Big Turtle for his opinion.
“The Council has said that we are to go to the Land of the Little People under the Great Island. We cannot change that now. We must go.” he told them.
The Wolf was in fear. He knew that Se’ sta could make the Animals do his will if he found them. All the Animals knew this. The wolf called Heno, the thunder god. And the angry Beaver said to Heno, “Cast down your dart of lightning upon Se’ sta, O Heno! He is coming with the bag of white down given him by the Swans which live at the ends of the Great Island. Drive him back before he comes to take us again to the Lower World.”
Heno rolled along the sky, calling in deep thunder tones, “I cannot harm him. He is greater than I. He is my master. I am his friend. I came with his mother when she fell down from Heaven with the Tree of Light. I cannot help you. Go on now to the Land of the Little People. Stay there until he returns to the Great Island.”
Then the Little Turtle called the cloud. It is the great comet which sometimes burns across the heavens. It is the chariot of the sky. She had ridden in it from the Lower World to make the Sun. She caused the Animals to go into it. And she drove down the sky. She found the way dug for the Sun under the Great Island. Through this glorious passage they rode toward the Land of the Little People.
And the Little People were not pleased. Their land was yet for them alone. “Only the Sun and the Moon may come to us from the west,” they cried. “And when the Sun passes by he leaves us the night.”
The Little People used their magic power. A great stream of molten rock moved upward toward the cloud to consume it and destroy the Animals. The rock stream rolled along like a world of waters loosed. It roared like thunder and shook the earth. Terror filled the sky and all the Lower World. For here was to be a battle between the gods.
The cloud rose higher. But higher still rose the rocky stream. Black smoke and red lightning came from it, and its flames wrapped the sky. The stars stood still in awe of the awful conflict which was about to begin. But Heno rode down the west in the whirlwind to save the Great Council.
Then came the Mud Turtle. She stood clothed in fire between the great rocky stream and the cloud of the Little Turtle. She raised high the stone wand which all must heed. And she cried, “O my Little People! Is this the welcome you give to those who come in power and of right to visit you? Turn aside now this terrible river of rock which you have raised by your magic power. Let it not harm the Great Council. For they are gods, as you are. They will stay with us for a time and then depart for the land of the sky.”
The Mud Turtle was the ruler of the Little People. They were her children. They heard her. They did as she wished. The awful stream of rock flowed back from whence it came. The chariot of the Little Turtle came down. A great feast was made. And the Animals lived in the Land of the Little People many days.
And now when the earth groans beneath the weight and sting of the North Wind, and the sky is frightful with the fury of thick clouds boiling there above us, the Indians yet hear under their feet the roar and crash of the mighty conflict of the Little People with the Council of minor gods.
Why The Deer Sheds His Horns Every Year
Ska’ reh seemed never to tire of doing evil. When one wicked deed was done, he began another. He was restless and was always going from place to place. One day before the Rainbow Bridge was burned he met his brother Se’ sta, on the mountain by the lake. At once there was a battle between them. It was a struggle of Right against Wrong in the Lower World.
When Ska’ reh saw that he was losing the battle, he fled. Se’ sta pursued him. There was no place of rest for Ska’ reh He ran through the earth, but he found no place of refuge. He came to the Beautiful Bridge made by the Rainbow. Over it he ran into the sky.
When Se’ sta was about to come up with him, Ska’ reh said to one of his hookies, “My brother is coming upon me. I shall be slain. I can run no more. Bring me the swiftest animal in the forest of the sky.”
The wicked hookie brought the Deer. Now the Deer was very proud of his fine horns. He carried his head high. But Ska’ reh said to him, “I am beaten in my battle with my brother. For me there is no place of safety in the skyland. Take me upon your back and run swiftly down to the Great Island. For Se’ sta will slay me if I fall into his hands.”
The Animals hated the Man of Ice and Stone. The Deer did not wish to help the Evil One, but he did not dare refuse. And he said to Ska’ reh, “See my great horns. They will catch on the branches of the trees as I run. The Hawk could carry you more swiftly than I.”
This made Ska’ reh very angry. He said to the Deer, “The Hawk would say, “You are too heavy for my wings.’ I will not call the Hawk.”
Then he seized the horns of the Deer and broke them off. “Now,” he said, “carry me to my own country. Be in haste, for my brother is near. In that land I will give you back your horns.”
So Ska’ reh made the Deer do his will. But in his own land Se’ sta was so close upon him that he did not give back the horns. He carried them away as he ran and dropped them on the ground.
The Deer was ashamed. He had helped Ska’ reh whom all despised, and had lost his beautiful horns. He went apart. All winter he lived alone in a deep forest. The next summer another pair of horns grew upon his head as he grazed on the mountain above the lake. They were more beautiful than those he had lost. Then he was proud again. And he went back to the skyland.
To this day, when the season comes when Ska’ reh tore away the horns of the Deer, the horns of every deer in the Lower World drop off. Then they all live alone. The next summer new horns grow to take the places of those which fell off. And they all walk through the woods to show one another their beautiful new horns. They are proud again.
The war between the Brothers, Se’ sta and Ska’ reh, Fire and Ice and Stone, did not end. Se’ sta could overcome Ska’ reh, but he did not like to be always at strife.
One dark morning Se’ sta was wakened by the cries of his people. He knew at once that some new trouble had come upon the world in the night. When he came forth, he was told that all the water was gone. He went to the spring, but he found no water there. He went to the streams and found them dry. He went to the lake, and it was empty. He looked up to see why the sun did not shine, and he saw Ska’ reh standing in the sky. In his hands he held a bag of skin in which was all the water of the lakes, streams, and springs in the world. He had stolen it in the night. The bag was so large that it shut out the rays of the sun. Ska’ reh knew the people would die if they had no water, even his own people. But he did not care.
Se’ sta knew he must get the water back. He brought forth his giant bow. For an arrow he used the trunk of a mighty pine. He shot this great arrow into the bag, tearing it apart. The water was spilled. It fell upon the earth. It filled the valleys and covered the hills. So the Lower World was destroyed by the flood.
When Se’ sta saw that all life was in danger, he quickly lead his people to the beautiful forest above the earth. It was made by the Rainbow when she made the Beautiful Burning Bridge from the Lower World to the sky for the Deer. In that charming country they lived until the waters ran back into their places and left again the dry land. And even then only the beasts and the birds brought by Se’ sta returned to the Great Island. Before the Wyandot could come, the last battle between the Good One and the Evil One was fought, and all life in the Lower World was fought.
The Last Battle
Se’ sta was good. His heart was kind. He was more powerful than his evil brother, but had never wished his death even in their wars. But now he saw that there could be no peace in the Lower World while Ska’ reh lived in it. It was with deep regret that Se’ sta decided to bring the war to an end, for that meant the death of Ska’ reh. But, with the good, duty comes before all other things.
So Se’ sta went into the sky where Ska’ rah had hidden himself. He carried the horns torn by Ska’ reh from the head of the Deer. Ska’ reh was armed with the blades of the swamp flag, which he had made hard as flint and sharp as steel. He ran through the sky, but Se’ sta followed hard upon him. Then he ran into the Lower World. Se’ sta did not stop. They were gods. As they fought, earth and sky were wrapped in fiery clouds. The sky seemed to be in flames. Heno rolled his thunder over the world. And screaming birds flapped their helpless wings and fell into the raging sea. Beasts ran bowling to their hiding places. The elk and buffalo fled in terror over the grassy plains. For those who made all the beasts and birds were in deadly battle.
Ska’ reh found no rest. Help was not to be had. To make it hard for Se’ sta to run, Ska’ reh cut his own body. His blood flowed out, and each drop became at once a sharp stone to cut the feet of Se’ sta and hold him back. These flint stones may be found all over the earth. But at last Se’ sta came up with Ska’ reh and slew him with the horns of the Deer. Then peace settled over a black and wasted world.
Making The World Again
All life in the Lower World was destroyed in the war between Se’ sta and the Evil One. Flood, fire, and the North Wind had swept the earth. There were neither fruits nor flowers, trees nor animals, streams nor fishes. It had taken thousands of years to make all these. It would now take thousands of years more to make them, again. Se’ sta alone did it.
In the war the people of Se’ sta were in the mysterious forest made by the Rainbow when she built the Burning Bridge for the Deer. But they were not permitted to remain there always.
Far to the north Se’ sta built a great city under the ground. To this city he brought his people. He made a deep sleep to fall on them all. He closed the gate to the city and shut out the World. Inside the gate was his mother, the Woman who fell down from Heaven. She bore aloft a torch made of the fire of Heno. She stood on guard. No harm came to the sleeping people. To them, time did not count. They did not grow old.
Se’ sta had to make the world as it had been made by himself and his brother. That is why many bad things, are yet found upon the earth.
When Se’ sta went forth to his great work, he found a sledge. Three stags drew it. He rode in the sledge. The stags could go upon the land. They could go in the air. They could travel on the clouds.
It took a long time for Se’ sta to make the world again. For he made trees and streams. He made the seas and the fishes. The flowers and the fruits he caused to grow. He made the beasts and the birds. All things which we see here were made by him. And he made again the Beautiful Bridge, but it cannot be seen by men.
When Se’ sta had finished his work, he went back to the city underground. There he rested hundreds of years. He waited for the new world to get ready for his people. It had to be tried by the sun, the wind, the ice and snow, and the rain.
One day Se’ sta looked out. The world was ready. It was spring. Flowers were everywhere. The trees had new leaves. The beasts ran about. The birds sang for joy. Clear streams ran down the hills to the green valleys.
Se’ sta ran to waken his people. They did not know they had slept. They were strong. They went forth with Se’ sta. They shouted with joy. They lived long in the new world. Then the white man came and drove them once more from their happy homes.
How A Man And His Daughter Became Stars
Dandeek and his wife lived in the village by the lakeside. They had a beautiful daughter named Mao’ ra.
Mao’ ra was not like other children. When she was seven years old, she was very wise. Some said a spirit always stood by her to teach her. She knew more than the hookies and the ookies. All the beasts loved her. The birds came when she called them. At the sound of her voice the fishes swam about her feet in the shining waves. The trees talked to her. The streams sang to her. She loved the stars. Sometimes when she looked at them one would shoot across the sky. It left a trail of fire in the night.
One day a deep sickness came upon Mao’ ra. The medicine of the hookies could not cure her. The medicine of the ookies was no better. She seemed to sink into the arms of death.
When Dendeek came home from hunting, the hookies said to him, “Mao’ ra is very sick. She is not on her couch. By our magic power we see her on the way to the land of the Little People. We must not lose her. Follow her. Go quickly and bring her back to us.”
Dendeek was a mighty warrior. He could run faster than a deer. It was a long way. But he thought only, of his daughter. So he ran as swiftly as the wind.
He came to the hill over a city. It was where Se’ sta put the people when he made the world over again. Se’ sta’s mother lived there. She kept the city. A man was on the hill. He took Dendeek safely past the great rocks. They were ready to fan on the stranger to crush him.
Inside the gates Dendeek saw the Woman who fell down from Heaven. She was lying on a couch covered with deerskins. Near her, all harnessed to the sledge were the three stags which Se’ sta had driven through the sky and the Lower World. There was a fire on the stone floor. Smoke rolled below the roof of the city. And water roared beneath the stone floors.
“I come for Mao’ ra,” said her father. “I must take her back.”
”Mao’ ra was here,” said the Woman. “She was weak. She was pale and tired. But the hookies called her away by their magic power. As she passed out she carried two torches. She took them from the fire kindled there by Heno.”
Dendeek wept. He cried out in grief. He feared Mao’ ra was 1ost. He could not go back without her. What could he say to her mother? What could he tell the people?
There was a great noise. The city was shaken. Dendeek looked up. He saw Mao’ ra. She was as bright as the two torches which she carried. She was running into the sky over the new path of the Beautiful Colors.
Dendeek saw the harnessed, stags. He leaped into, the sledge of Se’ sta. The stags sprang away over the Beautiful Bridge of Burning Colors. When their feet struck that bridge, thunder rolled over the Lower World and lightning flamed along the sky.
Then the Woman who fell down from Heaven said, “They go into the sky! People must never go there. Now they cannot return. Let them become stars to shine there forever.”
And so it was. If you look up at the stars on a cold winter night you may still see Mao’ ra with her torches. Behind her Dendeek sits in the sledge driving yet the three stags.
And now, when the North Wind roars in fury through the great trees, the Indian warriors say it is Dendeck driving down the sky to bring Mao’ ra back to her people.
Se’ sta Makes The Eagles
Of all his children Se’ sta loved the Wyandot best. He made a beautiful country in which they were to live. He made deep woods where they could hunt. He made clear, swift streams where they could get fish. Geese, ducks and swans also swam in these streams. Many deer grazed on the fine grass. Bears and other wild animals lived among the trees. Nothing was left undone to make the country a good place to live.
Se’ sta was well pleased with this fine country. He walked through it. He said it was a good place for his children. He turned to go and bring them there. Then he saw some men on a mountain across a river. They were wicked sons of Ska’ reh. They had in some way escaped when the world was burned.
They saw Se’ sta. They shouted to him, “When you are gone we will destroy your fine country.”
Se’ sta was angry. He said he would kill these bad people. He began to climb up the mountain to get to them. They rolled great rocks down the mountain to crush him. But he was not hurt. The rocky cliffs hung high and smooth above him. He sank his fiery knife into those rocky walls and cut his way. He went up.
Se’ sta came to the top of the mountain. The evil children of Ska’ reh were there. He fought them. It was a great battle. The evil ones fought well. Once they threw Se’ sta to another mountain peak. By his magic power he came quickly back.
Se’ sta waved high his awful knife of fire. The evil ones knew they could not get away. They were about to be killed.
Then their chief cried out, “Hold your hand, O Se’ sta! Put aside your great knife of fire. We tire of the battle. Save our lives and we will serve you. We will no longer be the children of Ska’ reh.”
Se’ sta was kind. He put away his flaming knife. ”It shall be so,” he said. “You, O chief, shall be a great eagle. Your warriors shall be your eagle children. You will soar in the sky. No other bird shall fly so near the sun as the eagle. And you shall find and bring me game when I tell you.”
It was so. From that hour the children of Ska’ reh became eagles. They were the children of Se’ sta. And they brought him game when he was hungry.
The Death Song Of A Warrior
I am in the land of my enemies. I am a prisoner of war. I am bound to a stake. My foes come around me to see me die. I hate them. I defy them. I chant my song of death. Cowards, look upon me and learn how to die like a warrior! You fear me. I am a real man. I followed the warpath. It led to your towns. Many did I slay. Your chiefs did I strike down. I gave their bodies to the wolves and to the birds of prey. Nothing do I fear. The Wyandot feels no fear. The fire is my father. I am master of my own soul. Look upon me you cowards! See me rejoice in death! See me die in glory, as a warrior should die!
I am a dead warrior. My soul rises from my body. It is free. I journey. I stand by our Grandmother. She is in the great city built under the ground by Se’ sta. She speaks to me of the Land of the Little People. She directs me. She gives me the torch of Heno. It is a guide in the darkness. It is a weapon. None can stand before it. She tells me the brave can never fail.
I take the torch. I go in courage. I step forth on the way of terrors. The darkness rolls away. I am shown afar off the Land of the Little People. Mountains rise before me. I approach them. I ascend them. I see a broad valley of mystery and horror. Beyond that terrible mountains pierce the sky. They are lifted up and thrown down again to crush him without courage.
By valor do I conquer. I pass over the frightful hills. I stand at the border. At the foot of the tall rock a great black stream runs. I stand upon a crag. The river is under my feet. There is one more trial of my courage. I look beyond the river of darkness. I see the Land of the Little People. It is beautifu1. Great streams of light stretch across the sky. They reach to the ends of the heavens. Courage rages in my soul. It rises within me.
The black river thunders between its rocky walls. I come to cross it. It is the stream of Death. With the torch of Heno I strike the Flying Heads as they come about me with bloody fangs. And the serpent’s do I strike with my might. They utter horrible screams and flee away. I spring from stone to stone in the raging river. The furious waters are about me. They hiss and boil. I leap forward. I come over upon the far bank of the mad and raging water. There I see my mother. I see my father. I see all the warriors of old. They welcome me to the Land of the Little People. When I turn to see the terrible way over which I came into the beautiful land. I spread my arms and cry, “Flee away, ye monsters, and be forever gone! For you can never harm the brave. The long way is nothing. The terrors are forgotten. Upon this shore I am a god. I am in the Land of the Little People. It is mine from the beginning of the Lower World.”
The Singing Spring
Se’ sta walked through the pinewoods. Before he reached the lake he suffered from thirst. There was no water to be found in the pine forest. So he cried out, ”The way is long. I perish for water. I will can the Little People. They will find me water.”
He struck the rock with his war club. At once there stood before him one of the Little People. He was a tiny old man whose name was Goma.
Se’ sta said to Goma, ”There is no water. I sink down. I cannot go on. My mouth is dry and parched. Bring me, I pray you, a little water from the lake.”
Goma went around the pine whose twisted roots curled about a great rock. Se’ sta followed him. When he came to the rock, he found a Spring of clear water by the rock at the root of the old pine. Its pure water flowed out in a great stream and raced down the stony hill. Goma had but that instant made it for his Master.
Se’ sta drank from the Spring. He was refreshed. He was pleased. He rested beneath the old pine. The wind sang through its branches. He was comforted.
When Se’ sta rose to go on, he said to the Spring, ”You shall be called the Spring which sang for the Master. You shall give joy to my people. Goma Shall stay with you. In all springs shall his children live. The beasts and the birds shall be glad you came into this mountain. Springs shall sing softly in every land.”
The Spring was glad. It leaped and sang down the stony hill and through the beautiful valley. The deer came to the Spring. He drank the shining water. When he looked into it, he saw his horns. The birds dipped their wigs in its foamy ripples. The panther came. The big, lumbering bear came to drink at the Singing Spring.
The Spring was Goma’s home. There his children lived and played. Often they could be seen racing along on the bottom of the stream under the water. They could be heard singing gay songs. Sometimes Goma sat at the roots of the old pine to dry his long white beard.
Now, the wicked Stone Giant lived in the same forest. He did much harm. He hated the animals and birds. One day he said to the Spring, “When the bear comes to visit you hold him till I come. When the deer drinks, don’t let him get away. I wish to kill and eat them.”
The Spring heard all this. But it did not answer. It loved the deer and the bear. It would not do them harm. This made the Stone Giant angry. He struck the Spring with his stone club. He splashed its waters.
When the elk and the deer came down to drink, the Giant called, ”Do not go there for water. The Spring is waiting to do you hurt. Drink from the lake.”
The animals and the birds did not believe the wicked giant. This made him still more angry. “I will break the rocks from which it flows. I will break down the old pine. That will be the end of this Spring,” he said.
But one thing he had forgotten. Goma was the friend of the Spring. And the Little People have more power than any Giant. So when the Stone Giant struck the rock with his big war club, Goma came quickly out. He climbed up the stone club. His beard was dripping with water from the Spring. He caught the Giant by the throat. So great was his strength that when he let go the Giant was glad to run into the pinewoods, for he was choked. He was never seen again. Goma made many springs. To this day one of his children lives in each spring. They teach the waters to be happy and to sing. You may hear these beautiful water songs if you listen by the brook side or at the spring where the waters flow out.
Goma often visits his children. If you see and old man not nearly so big as the smallest babe, watch him closely. If he sits at the root of an old tree over a spring, and his long beard is as white snow, you may be sure his name is Goma. He is there to see his children.
And if you could find and drink from the first Spring, that which sang for the master, Goma himself would take you to visit the Land of the Little People far under the earth.
The Singing Maidens
The Sun and his wife, the Moon, had many children. These children are the stars. Among these were seven little girls. They were of the same age. Everyone loved them, for they were beautiful, gentle, and kind. They were the sweetest singers and the loveliest dancers in all the sky. They were called the Singing Maidens.
These little girls often looked down to the Lower World. They were sad when the hunter could find no food for his wife and children. And they were filled with sorrow when the corn would not grow.
One day they said to their father, the Sun, “Let us go down to visit the people in the Lower World. They are good. We love them. We wish to sing and dance in their village.”
The Sun said, “You must not go. Stay in your own country. Be happy here.”
When the Sun had gone away, the Singing Maidens went to walk in a grassy field where many trees grew. They looked down to the Lower World. They saw the children playing on the yellow sand by the lake. They saw children swimming and splashing in the blue waters. Little children were running along paths down the green banks to the shining lake.
The Singing Maidens were filled with delight. “Look!” they cried. “See the glorious shores! See them beautiful children! That is a lovely land. We should like to go down and sing and dance with the happy children on the banks of the bright lake.”
Then the Singing Maidens came down to the Lower World. They sang for the Indian children. They danced upon the waters of the lake. The children clapped their hands. They danced along the lake shore.
The people in the village heard the Singing Maiden. They said, “What music is this? We never heard so beautiful a song. Let us see who visit our children.”
They ran down to the lake. As they reached the shore a cloud cast a shadow over the Lower World. It was the cloud of the Little Turtle. The voice of Heno rolled in thunder over the lake and about the mountains. It was the Keeper of the Heavens sent to bring back the truant Maidens.
The Sun was angry with the Singing Maidens. He said, “I will give you a place so far away that you can never again visit the Lower World.”
Then he sent them to a place so far off in the skyland that we can scarcely see the faces of these little stars. But they still look down with love upon the lake, the woods, and all the children of the world!
And the Indian mother says yet to her children in the twilight, “Be quiet. Sit here at my feet. Soon you may hear the Singing Maidens as they dance among the leaves of the trees.”
The First Garden
The Hawk Clan lived in the village by the lake. An old Man of the Bear Clan lived there also. For he had taken a wife of the Hawk people. They had two daughters.
No man knows what time may hold for him. The Old Man did not. For one after another he lost his wife and his beautiful daughters. They went on to the Land of the Little People. So the Old Man of the Bear Clan was left alone. He went about the village to do good. The People loved him.
One day the Old Man stood on the bank of the lake. Others came and stood there also. For a strange noise arose from beyond the other shore. It was not long until a large flock of Hawks came from the blue hills to fly over the lake. One Hawk had bright red wings. It fell to the ground at the edge of the water. It lay with its wings thrown up as if in pain. The other Hawks flew about the lake screaming to one another. Then they passed behind the wooded hills and disappeared.
The people had never before seen Hawks so large. They were frightened. They thought something dreadful was about to come upon them. They ran about and shouted aloud for fear.
But the Old Man was not afraid. He said, “I will go and see the Hawk that fell down.”
“Do not go, we pray!” the others cried. “Great harm may come to you by this Hawk.”
But the Old Man answered, “I am old. I am alone. It matters little if I die. I am not afraid. The people of the village must know what the coming of these strange birds means. I will speak to the Hawk that fell down.”
He went on. When he came near the Hawk it became suddenly dark. But he was brave. He came very near the Hawk. Then a bright flame came out of the sky and burned the Hawk to ashes. He went nearer. Lying in the ashes was a glowing coal of fire. In this coal he saw his eldest daughter. He thought this could not be. He stopped to look carefully. It was indeed his daughter. He took her up. She spoke to him. This made him very happy.
The people came near. “Why did you come back this strange way?” they asked the little girl.
“I have come back with a wonderful gift for my people,” she answered. “Hoo wa’ neh took me from the land of the Little People. He carried me into the Upper World. There, with his own hands, he gathered these seeds from some of the Trees of Light. Then he sent me to bring them to you, O my Hawk people!”
She opened her hands and showed them the seeds. These she planted in the ashes around her. At once a large field of corn grew up. In it, among the corn, were squashes, pumpkins, and beans.
The girl taught them how to gather and cook the corn and the other gifts she had brought. So the Hawk People had food when the hunters could not find bears and deer in the forests. Soon all the people had food from the corn and beans and pumpkins which Hoo wa’ neh sent by the Hawk Girl.
Then the Old Man saw that his troubles had been the best, after all. Great good had come to the people because of his trials and his grief. So he was filled with joy. He was a happy man to the end of his days.
The Golden Hornet
Long ago there was an Indian girl whose name was Swa no’ wa. She could not live in the village with her clan. Some said she was too proud. Others said she had magic power and talked with those who were own their way to the Land of the Little People. She lived with her grandmother in a lodge in the forest. They were very poor. Sometimes they had no food.
From the lodge they could see a high and beautiful mountain. Swa no’ wa loved to watch it at sunset. On the top of this mountain, beyond the reach of any hunter, lived a very large bird. This bird was as tall as a tree. He was king of all the eagles, hawks, and owls on that mountain. He had great magic power. He could do wonderful things, and was much feared.
One day Swa no’ wa was walking in an old Indian field. A shadow fell over her. Looking up she saw the King of Birds flying down toward her. In great fright she ran into the woods and crawled into a hollow log.
The Bird followed her. He flapped his wings and made a wind which blew down trees. His cries sounded like the roar of thunder. He took the log in his terrible claws and carried it away to his home in the mountaintop. There he shook it to make Swa no’ wa come out. But she was so frightened she would not.
When the Bird had gone away the girl came out. From this high peak she could see only fog and clouds below her. She could not get down. She looked all about. She saw a large nest. In it were two young birds, each as large as an elk. The Bird had killed their mother.
So Swa no’ wa had to live on the mountain. She greatly feared the King of Birds. She was very sad. She wanted to go home to her grandmother. But there was way.
One day a Golden Hornet flew about the mountaintop. It stopped before her. It remained in space beating the air with its loud-humming wings. She wondered at it. And as she looked, it changed into a handsome young Indian warrior.
“I am the younger brother of the Bird,” he said. “On this high peak his magic is too strong for me. I cannot take you away. But some way for you to get down will be found. In the valley below I will keep you safe. There my magic is as great as his. I will not let him harm you.”
Then the fine young man became again a Golden Hornet. His shining wings beat the air before her. As she looked, the Bird flew back to the peak. The Hornet darted down and was gone.
Swa no’ wa thought long. She must find a way to get down from the mountain. Then she began to feed one of the young birds. She wanted it to grow rapidly, and she wanted it to be her friend. At last she was glad. The young bird could fly.
One day as it stood at the edge of the peak she sprang upon its back and threw her arms around its neck. This threw the bird off the rock and it went tumbling through the air. Soon it spread its wings and began to fly. With a small stick Swa no’ wa tapped it on the head to make it fly down to the valley. After a while she could see the land.
When they were about to come to the land, Swa no’ wa heard the bird coming after them. His angry cries were terrible. Now she tapped the young birds head sharply, and it came down quickly to the ground. She got down from the birds back and pulled the long feathers from its wings so that it could not follow her.
The Golden Hornet soon came to Swa no’ wa. In an instant it was once more the fine young man. They went into a cave where the bird could not get them. The bird went away and did not come back. He was afraid of his brother, the Golden Hornet.
The fine young man lead Swa no’ wa to the village. They were married. They lived in the lodge of her grandmother. Their children became the Hawk Clan of the tribe.
Men di’ yos
There was once a monster which had a body like a buffalo, horns like a deer, and a head like a snake. This monster was a wicked hookie with magic power. One day as he walked through the woods he found a lodge. Men di’ yos lived there with her grandmother. This young Indian girl was very beautiful. She was very lonely, for no lodges were near. But the beasts and birds visited her and her grandmother.
Men di’ yos was a lovely girl, so the wicked hookie, said he would visit her, too. But he knew she would be afraid if he came in his own ugly form. So he changed himself into a fine young man.
Men di’ yos was glad to see him, for he was very kind and agreeable. But the grandmother had little to say and she kept on the farther side, of the fire.
When the visitor had gone, she said, “Men di’ yos, he is no Indian. He is a wicked hookie.”
“O Grandmother!” the girl cried. “He was so very kind. He wished me to marry him.”
“Do not trust him,” answered the grandmother. “I knew him to be a hookie. In the end he would kill us both.”
So when the young man came back the next day, Men di’ yos would have nothing to do with him. He begged her to listen to him. When she would not, he was angry. He went into the woods.
That night by his magic, he moved the lodge into a strange forest. When Men di’ yos went out in the morning she could not tell where she was. The hookie came out of the woods to speak to her, for he had been lying in wait for her. He was not the fine young Indian he was before, but had taken again his ugly form.
“Now you must be my wife,” he said. “For you cannot escape. You can never find your way back to your own land.”
Men di’ yos turned about. She ran toward the lodge. But she could not go in, for she saw snakes crawling about the door. The hookie laughed in mockery when she did not enter.
The girl ran the woods. She called to her grandmother. But there was no answer. Men di’ yos found that the hookie had earned her away. Then she ran as fast as she could. She was afraid the monster was close behind her.
But Men di’ yos came to the lake. A canoe was there, and in it sat a man, He seemed to be expecting her. He was a brave warrior who had fought and killed great monsters in the lake. He, too, had magic power. When the girl came running from the woods, he knew at once all that had taken place. He told her to get into the canoe. When she was seated there, he started swiftly across the lake.
And now they heard the angry monster coming toward the lake. His crashing through the forest made mighty noise. His voice was an angry roar more terrible than the storm of many winds. He did not halt at the lake, but swam rapidly after the warrior and the maiden. He came up with them. He reached up his hand to drag Men di’ yos down.
Then the angry cloud came over the sky. It was black as midnight. Heno was in it. He saw that Men di’ yos was in danger from the monster. He sent a bolt of lightning. The monster saw it coming and went under the waters to escape it.
The monster did not come up at once. He waited. He feared Heno. When he thought Heno had gone, he rose from the water and tried to seize Men di’ yos. But Heno was still in the black cloud. When he saw the monster again at the canoe, he sent down a mighty flame of his lightning. It struck the monster. He sank beneath the waves and was never seen again.
The warrior brought Men di’ yos to the village. The people were happy to see her. They found her grandmother and brought her to the village also.
Men di’ yos and the brave warrior were married. And their children became a clan among their people.
The Song of the Kingfisher
When the Lower World was new, some of the birds and animals and fish had magic power. They could change their form and be like men and women when they wished to do so. They could build lodges on the bottom of the lake and no water would come into them. They had so much magic power that they could do these things.
At that time the Bears lived on the mountain which rose above the lake. The. Deer stood on this same mountain when the Rainbow made the Beautiful Bridge from the Lower World into the sky.
At the bottom of the lake the Fish had a village. It was a fine country there, and by their magic power the water was kept out of the village. When the Fish were there, they walked about in the shapes of men and women. They built fires and lived like people. But when they went around to other places in the lake they were just like fish.
Trees grew about this village at the bottom of the Jake. It was a good place for dances and feasts. The fish often invited the Bears, as well as the other animals and birds, to come to feasts and dances at the village.
Once the Turtles came a long way to hold a council with the Fish. A great feast was made. But there was just not enough food. Where could the Fish find food for the turtles?
Every day in summer the Bear children came down to the lake. They drank of its blue waters. They ran about and played on the yellow sands. They chased one another and splashed in the waves along the shallow shore.
One Fish said, “When the young Bears come down to the lake to swim, we will take them for the feast. We can eat them and no one will know where they have gone. Our friends the Bears will never know what happened to them.”
The next day the young Bears came to swim. When they were in the lake, the Fish dragged them down. They carried them to the Fish village, and they were eaten at the feast.
When the Bear children did not come home that night, their mother said, “Where are our children? They rolled and tumbled down the mountain in a fine frolic to play in the lake and to visit the Fish. Tomorrow we must ask our friends the Fish where our children are.”
When morning came, the Bears went to the lake and said the Fish, “Yesterday our children came down from the mountain to play on the sands and to swim in the blue waters. They did not come home. We ask our friends the Fish where our children are.”
The Fish answered, “The children of our friends the Bears did not come to see us yesterday. They must have gone another way. They must still be in the mountain.”
But the Bears did not believe this. They knew how to follow the trail. They said, “We see the footprints of our children on this shore. Why do our friends the Fish not tell us the truth?”
The Bears were angry, but they did not know what to do. They did not know that their children had been m at the feast for the Turtles.
The Kingfisher stood on the branch of a tree near by. He was at war with the Fish and ate their children when he could find them. Now he said to the Bears, “I saw the Fish eat the young Bears.”
Then the Bears fell upon the Fish and there was a great battle. Many of the Fish were killed. From that day the Bears have eaten every Fish they could catch. They even taught the Otter and some of the other animals to do the same.
And to this day the Kingfisher says, “I saw the Fish eat the young Bears.” It is his only song. He cannot sing any other.
The Untruthful Man
Indian boys and girls like fun as much as white children do. So sometimes the Indian father tells them a story just to make them laugh. Here is one such story.
Yenhen lived in a village on the bank of Lake Erie below the town of Sandusky, and he had a gun, for he was a hunter. One day he had no bullets for his gun. So he loaded it with cherry stones. He went across a field. At the edge of the woods he shot a rabbit in the head with his cherry stones and killed it. But he did not take up the rabbit. He let it lie where it fell.
On another day he went into the woods to hunt, He shot an elk, but did not kill it. The elk ran away. It was as big as any forty elks now found. Yenhen followed the elk he bad shot. He tracked it by the trail of blood it left on the ground from its wound. Suddenly his gun struck against something and he stopped. Then the gun fired itself. To his surprise Yenhen found that the elk was killed. He now had plenty of elk meat, which he took to his lodge.
When his elk meat was all gone, he went out again to hunt. He passed by the place where he had shot the rabbit. He found that one of the cherry stones had grown into a large tree. Then he heard a great noise, look up; he saw that the tree was full of pigeons eating cherries.
Yenhen fired into this flock of pigeon. He killed them al at one shot. But when the pigeons fell to the ground, each one grew at once into a cherry tree. And each tree was as full of pigeons as the first tree had been.
And he saw a large rabbit among the branches jumping from tree to tree.
He shot all the pigeons. But again when each pigeon touched the ground, it became a, cherry tree filled with pigeons, as the others had been. And great rabbits were jumping from treetop to treetop.
Soon the whole forest was filled with cherry trees, pigeons, and rabbits. Yenhen was so frightened that he ran home to his lodge. There he was sick. He supposed that he was sick two hundred years. But he found out that it was only one day.
Yenhen went again into the woods to hunt. When he came home, he told a friend he had found a bear tree. He thought there might be young bears high up in the hollow of that tree with their mother. So he set out to get these bears.
He leaned a small tree against a limb of the bear tree near the hole where the bears went in. Then he began to climb the small tree. The limb broke off and the small tree crashed to the ground. Yenhen fell clear around the Lower World, but struck the ground under the bear’s door. Be fainted and lay there a week.
When he opened his eyes he saw the whole sky full of bears dancing and laughing at him. One by one they went away until only the bear in the hole in the tree was left. She looked down and smiled from ear to ear.
Then his gun stood up without his touching it and fired itself and killed the bear. The bear fell upon him. He believed she broke every bone in, his body. He lay there, as he thought, for three hundred years before he got well. But when he reached home he found that he had been gone only two weeks.
Yenhen went again into the woods to hunt. He built himself a hunting lodge, for now he was far from home. He had good luck in hunting. When the spring came he had so many skins that he did not know how to get them home. He made a bag of deerskin and filled it with bear’s grease.
At last he thought of a plan. He made a frame of poles and put wings to it so he could make it fly. He covered the wings with skins for feathers. Then he put skins on this frame and got it up on the top of his cabin. There he got into it and sailed away like a big bird.
After flying along for a while, he said, “I forget. I am now a bird. All birds have oil bags. I must go back and get my bag of bear’s grease for an oil bag. I must do this at once.”
So he went back. When he got his oil bag, he flew to his own village. He landed near by and took the skins from the frames. There were so many of them that he had to make many trips to carry them to his lodge. The people wondered. They asked him how he had carried so many skins from the hunting grounds. He said he had found a way to do it.
It was now time to take his furs to market. Yenhen made a canoe. He packed his furs in it and went down the lakes to the Great Falls. Now, no one could go over these falls in a canoe without being dashed to pieces. But Yenhen went over without any difficulty.
At the town where he sold his furs, he bought some gunpowder. He also bought a flint and a piece of steel for striking fire. He put all these things into a bag together and started back to his canoe. The steel rubbed against the flint. This set fire to the powder and blew Yenhen above the clouds.
When he struck the ground, he bounced as high as he was before. The people now put feather beds on the ground for him to fall upon. When he came down they seized him and tried to hold him. But he carried them all as high as the tops of the trees. When they came down some were frightened to be near such a man.
When at last Yenhen found himself safely down, he went back to the merchant and bought more powder, flint and steel. But this time he put them into different bags. Then he set out for home.
He went up the river. When he came near the Great Falls he rowed so fast that he was going almost like lightning. When the water of the falls began to roar about him, he struck it with his paddle. The canoe rose and sailed through the air, and it came down again far above the falls.
When he reached home he told the young men of the village all the strange things that had happened to him. The young men could not believe that it was all true. This made Yenhen feel so bad that he went away into the woods and was never seen afterward.
The Bears of Red Mountain
Far in the north there is a mountain. It is covered with deep woods. The leaves of these trees are as red as blood. It is so. For here the blood of the Bear was thrown down from the sky in the battle between that Animal and the Deer. All the rain has not washed it away. This mountain is the home of the Bears.
Once an Indian set out to follow the trail. He made his wife go with him. By and by they came to a deep forest of dark pines. All at once, as they walked along, they saw that there were Bears on every side of them. More and more Bears came tumbling down the steep hillside into their path. There was no way to escape. .
The Bears did not try to harm them. The largest Bear stood on his hind legs and said, “You must go with us to our home on the Red Mountain. There you must stay until we send you home.”
The Indian and his wife were frightened. They thought they would be carried away and eaten by these Bears. But they could do nothing, so they went along.
No more jolly crowd of Bears ever lived anywhere. They played jokes on one another. They danced through the open woods. They tumbled through the dry leaves. They turned somersaults in the dry moss. The woods rang with their shouts and their growls.
The Indian forgot to be afraid of them. He joined them in their games. He had more than one hard tumble, and sometimes, in their play, the Bears gave him hard blows. But he was not angry. He loved all this. And the Bears said he was a fine fellow.
Night came on. They came to the Red Mountain. Bears gave a shout of joy.
Then the Big Bear stood up and said to the Indian his wife. “You are now in the Red Mountain. The blood of our grandfather made these leaves red. This fine cave with plenty of dry leaves in it shall be your home. The finest nuts grow here. Take them for your food. Be happy, for you cannot get away.”
So the Indian and his wife lived in the cave. They gathered nuts for food. But they were not happy. They wanted to go back to their own home.
One day they did not see the Bears. “Come,” cried the Indian, “let us get away before they come back!”
They ran a long way through the woods. At last they stopped to get their breath.
“I think we are safe now,” said the Indian.
As he said this he looked around and there stood Bears on every side of them.
The Big Bear stood up and said, “See this Indian. We gave him a home and food. Yet he runs away from us. He should be killed.”
The Bears picked up the Indian and threw him from a high rock. He was badly hurt, but not killed. Then the Bears carried him back to the cave.
They told his wife what leaves, bark, and roots to bring. They showed her how to mix these to make the medicine. When the Indian took this medicine, he became well at once.
For some time, the Indian and his wife lived in the cave. One day the Bears seemed all to have gone away.
“Come,” cried the Indian, “let us get away from here while we can!”
He took his wife by the hand. They ran through the woods as fast as they could to their own country.
At last they felt they must stop and rest a moment. “Now I think we are safe,” said the Indian.
They looked about and, there stood Bears on every side of them.
The Big Bear stood up and said, “We gave this man a home and food. We made medicine to cure him. But he has run away again. He does not love the Bears. He should be killed with our claws. Do with him as you will.”
The Bears fell upon the Indian and tore him with their claws. He was badly hurt, but not killed.
Then they picked him up and carried him back to cave. Again they showed his wife how to make medicine. When the Indian took the medicine, he was well at once.
S0 they lived in the cave for some time. The Indian was hurt in many ways. Each time the Bears showed his wife how to make medicine that would cure him.
One day all the Bears came to the cave. They were very happy. The Big Bear stood up and said, “We are your friends. We only brought you to this mountain to live because we wanted to teach you how to make medicine. We have taught your wife how to cure hurts and wounds. Now She can go back and teach her people.”
Then the Bears went with the Indian and his wife and showed them the way back to their own village. And from that day they taught the people how to cure hurts and wounds just as the Bears had told them. And none of the people in that village ever forgot the Bears who had done them this great kindness.
The Flying Heads
Before the coming of the white men, strange monsters lived in this land. The worst of these were the Flying Heads. These heads were as tall as the highest man. They had two short legs. Their feet were strong and they had terrible claws. Their cry was a thing to make the blood run cold.
Once some Indians were moving their village. They came to a river. This river was the home of the Flying Heads. They were the largest of their kind. Some of the old ones were as tall as trees. They lived in caves in the bottom of the river, and they would not let the Indians cross.
The Indians knew the Flying Heads were in the river, but some of the bravest got in a canoe and started across. “Then they reached the middle of the river, a great hand reached up and pulled them down, canoe and all, under the water.
The other Indians did not know what to do. They sat down on the bank to hold a council. While they were still talking, the Flying Heads came out of the river on the other side. With them they had the poor men who had been pulled down under the water. They set them down on the bank and began to dance around them. The frightened council thought each minute that their friends would be killed.
“Let us send for the Little People,” said one. “They may be able to help us.”
Runners were sent out. They struck a high rock with a war club. Soon they came back with three tiny men no taller than the smallest baby. They were three of the Little People.
These Little People listened to the story of all that had happened, and they watched the Flying Heads dancing on the other side of the river.
“They are very strong,” said one. “But we will send the Big Turtle and Little Turtle. We will tell them what to do.”
The Little People went away, and in a few minutes Big Turtle and Little Turtle came walking along the riverbank.
The Indians told their troubles to the Turtles. Big Turtle and Little Turtle thought for a long time.
“Lightning is the only thing the Flying Heads fear. Heno is my friend. I will ask him to send lightning upon them. But how can we get across the river to the place where they are?” said Little Turtle.
“I can take you across,” answered Big Turtle. “The Flying Heads have all come out of their caves and are dancing on the other bank, so they will not see us, for I will take you under the water. I have magic power so you shall not be harmed.”
The Indians put all their goods upon the back of Big Turtle. They placed the children in the center, while the warriors sat around the edge of the shell. Big Turtle went under the water and swam across. No one was hurt. The children wanted to laugh and shout, but their mothers told them they must be quiet.
When they reached the other side, they hid in the bushes while Little Turtle asked Heno to send the lightning. When they peeped out between the leaves, they could see the terrible Flying Heads only a few steps away dancing about their poor friends who had been taken prisoners.
Suddenly there was a roar of thunder, and the lightning flashed around the Flying Heads. They all fell to the ground in great fright.
Before they could get up, the Indians were upon them, dragged them down to the water, and threw them over the steep bank. The Flying Heads went down to their caves and did not come up again.
Big Turtle and Little Turtle went back to their own country, and the Indians went on their way.
The Game of Moccasin
All winter the Indians had lived in the deep snow of the great north woods. In the lodge nearest the frozen river were three children with their Chippewa father and their grandmother.
Early each morning the father went into the woods to hunt. Each evening he came back with bear or deer or other animal which was their food. The skins were poled in the corner of the lodge. When spring came, these would be carried to the fort where the white men lived and traded for many things which Indians need.
While the father hunted, the little boys made traps in which to catch rabbits, or shot at marks with their bows and arrows. They could scarcely wait for the day when they, too, would go into the woods to hunt. Sometimes they helped their grandmother carry in wood for the little fire on which their supper was to be cooked. But for the most part they thought this to be a woman’s work, and ran away to play at war or hunting.
At last the sun grew warm. The snow was gone and the ice on the river had melted. While the furs were being piled into the canoes, the children ran up and down the bank shouting with joy. Then all the men, women, and children got into the canoes, too, and paddled swiftly down the river to the fort.
This was a happy holiday time for all the Indians. Chippewa, Wyandot, all the tribes were there trading their furs for cloth, blankets, knives, guns, powder, and bright-colored beads.
Many days they stayed, playing ball, wrestling, and running races. At night there were feasts and dances. The chiefs and headmen held councils and smoked the pipe of peace.
On the first day, when dinner was eaten, the Chippewa took in his arms a load of furs. “I will go now to the fort to trade,” he said. “My sons have done well with their traps and bows and arrows. I will bring each of them a knife. Grandmother shall have a new red blanket to wear when the wind is cold.”
On the way to the fort the Chippewa met a Wyandot Indian.
“Come and play Moccasin with me,” the Wyandot said.
So they sat down to the game.
Four new moccasins were placed about the same distance apart in front of them. One player held the rifle ball in his hand and shuffled it back and forth over each of the moccasins. Then he dropped it in one. The other player must guess which moccasin held the ball. If he guessed right the first time, it counted four. The second guess counted two, but if he guessed right the third time, it counted only one. The player who first got ten won the game.
“I play well,” said the Wyandot.
“I shall win,” said the Chippewa.
“Are you sure?”
“So sure,” answered the Chippewa, “that if I do not win I will give you this pile of furs.”
So they played. The Chippewa lost the game and had to give the Wyandot the pile of furs which he had worked so long to get.
When he went home, he saw the little boys watching for their knives. “Tomorrow,” he said, “I will bring them.”
The next day he again set out with some fine skins. But again he met the Wyandot and played Moccasin and lost them as he had the day before. The third day it was the same.
At last he had only a few furs left.
“Go first to the fort and trade for the things we need,” said the grandmother. “Then play games with your friends.”
“Yes,” said the Chippewa.
But when he saw the Wyandot, he forgot his promise and sat down to play Moccasin. This time he lost the last of his furs.
“Play once more!” shouted the Chippewa. “This time I know I shall win. If I do not, I will give you my rifle.”
So they played again, and this time the Chippewa lost his rifle.
“Play yet once more!” he shouted. “If I do not win this time, you shall have my life.”
The Chippewa lost this game, but he did not wish to lose his life. So he jumped to his feet and start to run toward the fort.
The Wyandot was surprised that the Chippewa should be a coward, for so the Indians thought of such an act. Without thinking he raised his rifle and shot him.
At once all the Chippewa Indians were angry because a man of their tribe had been killed. They called a council and said that the Wyandot, too, must die.
The Wyandot stood before them and said, “I did not intend to kill the Chippewa. I did not intend to keep his rifle, for he would need that to get his food. But I shot him because he was a coward.”
This made the Chippewa Indians still more angry. Then an old woman came up weeping bitterly. It was the grandmother.
She said, “Wyandot, you have killed my only son. His wife, too, is dead. His children are orphans. I have no one to find food and care for them. Will you be my son? Will you be a father to these children?” The Wyandot replied, “Woman of the Chippewa, I have heard your talk. My heart was hard. Now it is soft. I am sorry for you and these children. I have no wife and no children. I will come and care for you. I will be a son to you and a father to the children.”
The grandmother talked to the angry Chippewa, and they agreed that it might be as she wished. The Wyandot kept his word. He was always kind to the grandmother, and he cared for the children until they were grown and no longer needed him.
The Hoo’ stra doo’
The Hoo’ stra doo’ were giants covered with stone and so they were called the Stone Giants. They were very strong and had magic power. Whenever they could, they killed Indians and ate them. So all the Wyandot were in great fear of them.
There came a time when the Hoo’ stra doo’ were not seen any more in the forests. The Indians thought that they had left the earth. But this was not true. They had only changed their form.
But their new form was worse than the other. Instead of being Stone Giants they were now wicked spirits. In the daytime they could do nothing. But at night they would enter the body of some dead Indian, which then became alive. They were very strong and cunning. It was a brave warrior, indeed, who could escape from them. If the body could be found and burned during the day while the Hoo’ stra doo’ had no power, the wicked spirit was killed.
One day three young warriors went into the forest to hunt. They saw a bear but it kept just beyond the reach of their arrows. It led them a long way. Then they lost sight of it.
Night was corning on. The warriors looked for a place to sleep. They found a beautiful lodge. This surprised them, for they knew no one lived in that part of the forest. A curtain of skins divided the lodge into two rooms. In one room lay the body of a dead chief.
The warriors built a fire and cooked some meat. When this was eaten they went to sleep in the outer room.
During the night the warrior nearest the door wakened. He saw the skin curtain move. Then he knew that the dead body of the chief in the other room was a Hoo’ stra doo’. He knew that he must be very careful if he wished to save his life.
He acted as if he had not seen the curtain move. He threw another stick on the fire as though he was cold. He did not look toward the curtain, but he knew the Hoo’ stra doo’ was behind it and was watching him.
“Before I lie down to sleep again, I will go to the spring and get a drink,” he said in a low tone. He was talking to himself, but he meant that the Hoo’ stra doo’ should hear what he said.
He arose and went slowly out of the lodge. But once outside he ran as fast as he could toward his own village. He was the swiftest runner in the tribe. But the Hoo’ stra doo’ came close behind him, and it screamed in a way to make the blood run cold. But the frightened Indian only dashed more quickly through the forest.
At last the Hoo’ stra doo’ came close. In another minute it would seize him. Just then he saw a light ahead. It was his own village. The sight gave him fresh strength. He ran faster and was soon safe at home.
The other Indians had heard the screams of the Hoo’ stra doo’ and had come out of their lodges. They were standing around the fire. The Hoo’ stra doo’ could not face so many people. So it slipped away.
As soon as it was light all the men of the village set out to see whether the other young warriors had been killed. But they had heard the sounds of the chase and had slipped away from the strange lodge before the Hoo’ stra doo’ got back. They came home another way.
So the Indians went on to the lodge. As it was daylight the body of the dead chief lay there as before. They burned the lodge with the Hoo’ stra doo’ in it. So it could never again harm or frighten anyone.
How The Dove Got Its Color And Its Song
Se’ sta made the doves. They were gentle. They lived near him. They sang to him all the day. They were white and had long graceful feathers. When they flew they seemed to float in the air. Their soft feathers trailed in the wind. The doves were very beautiful.
In those days there was a chief who had no wife. Once when he came back from war, he brought prisoners from the towns of the enemy. One of these was a girl.
The prisoners were divided at the council house. But no one wanted the beautiful girl. So she was in danger. For if she should not be adopted by some one of her captors, she would be killed. Then the chief took her and thus saved her life. When she was grown up he made her his wife, and they were happy.
The chief and his wife had but one child. This child was a lovely little girl. Her name was A yu’ ra, which means “a dove flying.” She loved the birds. But she loved the doves more than all the others. They came fluttering down when she called them. They sat upon her head, her shoulders, her arms. They clung to her clothing. She held them in her hands and talked to them. The doves knew what A yu’ ra said to them.
One day A yu’ ra was very sick. Nothing could be done to cure her. In a few days she passed on to the land of the Little People. It was hard to give her up. Her mother held her in her arms while her father and the hookies tried to call her back to this life.
While the hookies were singing and beating on their little drums, the people saw A yu’ ra coming back. She came like a dove, floating above them. They heard her chanting the dove songs. When they heard her singing, the doves rose in the air and gathered about her. Then, singing with her, they turned and went toward the city where lives the Woman who fell down from Heaven.
They came to the city. It was built under the ground. Great fires burned below it. The Woman let A yu’ ra come in. But the cloves she kept out. She said that A yu’ ra must now go on to the Land of the Little people, but that the doves could not go there. The doves were not pleased. They would not go away. They sat on the branches of the trees above the city. There they mourned day and night for A yu’ ra.
When the doves would not go away, the Woman came out of the great stone gate of the city. Then she said to the doves, “I am sorry. For I must make you go away. You frighten the souls who come here on their way to the Land of the Little People. I must loose the black smoke of the fires under the city. And you shall never again sing any but the mourning song.”
Suddenly the black smoke burst forth and almost smothered the doves. When they got out of it, they found that their long graceful feathers were singed off and that their beautiful white color was smoked to a soft gray. From that day doves have had only the color you now see. Their trailing plumage is gone. They sing only the mourning song they chanted at the gate of Heaven.
Ska’ reh Steals The Coats of All The Birds
Se’ sta went into the Upper World. While he was gone, Ska’ reh did many wicked things. He stole the feathers from every bird. These feather coats he put into a bag. Then he carried them to his ice caves in the high mountains of his own country.
The birds were left naked. And they were ashamed. Without feathers they were ugly. One was not better looking than another. They were too cold to find food. They were hungry.
The birds had a meeting. The Buzzard said he would go and try to bring back the stolen coats. Singer said he would go along to help the Buzzard.
So they set out. It was a long way. There was little to eat. They were very hungry. The Buzzard began to eat such things as no bird should touch. Singer would not eat such food. He hopped along lightly and was never tired. He found plenty of seeds for his food.
At last they came to the great ice caves of Ska’ reh. They were guarded by monsters. But the Buzzard and Singer got by them. After looking for a time, they found the stolen bird coats. But just then a wicked monster came near, and they had to hide. When it had gone, they took out the coats and looked over.
Now the Buzzard’s coat was a very fine one. It had feathers of many colors, but most of them were scarlet. It made the Buzzard a handsome fellow. But he was not satisfied with it now when he saw so many he thought finer. He tried many of them on, though Singer said they must hurry away. But he kept trying on the coats he knew were not his own. Some were too short in the wing and some too long. In others the neck was too short or too long. When he saw he could not get one to suit him, he put on his own. Singer had already put on his modest coat of black and was anxious to be off before Ska’ reh or some of his wicked monsters found them.
Just as the Buzzard was inside his fine coat, Ska’ reh came upon him. In a moment he would have been torn to pieces, but Singer darted at Ska’ reh’s eyes with his strong sharp bill. He called to the Buzzard to get all the coats back into the big bag and flyaway with them. He would torment the Evil One until this was done.
It was a hard fight for Singer. But he darted about so swiftly and struck so savagely with his sharp bill that Ska’ reh had no time to hurt the Buzzard. And he got out of the cave and flew away- Singer flew out of the cave and got among the bushes. Then he went on home.
When the Buzzard got back with the coats, Se’ sta had come home. All the birds came to get their fine feathers. Just then Singer flew in.
Se’ sta was angry with the Buzzard. But he was pleased with Singer. He took the scarlet coat of the Buzzard and made it to fit Singer. He put a fine topknot on the head, and he put black on the feathers about the bill to make Singer look saucy and smart. Then he made the black coat of Singer to fit the Buzzard.
The Buzzard had done some good. So Se’ sta made him the most graceful flyer to be seen in all the sky.
Singer is now the cardinal grosbeak. He is the beautiful happy songster that you see and hear summer and, winter, good weather and bad weather. He is always gay and cheerful in his beautiful coat of scarlet, his topknot, and his black at the bill and eyes.
The Wampum Bird
The village stood by a lovely lake. The Singing Maidens once danced on the waves of this lake. And from the mountains rising above it the Rainbow built the Beautiful Bridge to the sky.
The chief of that village had a daughter. Her name was I o’ ra, “the beloved.” She was kind to the old and the poor. She taught the boys to shoot arrows. She sewed beads on moccasins for the little girls. She was the life and joy of the village. The young men loved her, but she did not love one of them. She said she would marry a stranger. She had seen him in her dreams.
The marshland was on the other side of the lake. Cranberries grew there. One day I o’ ra went to the marsh to get some cranberries. When I o’ ra came to the cranberry marsh, she saw a great bird. It was half a tree tall. It was angry and frightful to look upon. It was eating cranberries, and it seemed unable to flyaway.
I o’ ra was afraid, for this bird was one of Ska’ reh’s monsters. She ran back to the village. There she told about the big bird she had seen in the cranberry marsh.
The village was in fear. The people ran to the council house. The hookies worked their magic. When they had done so, they said this new bird was the wampum bird. It was a wicked monster, and it might kill the people and burn the village. And they said the wampum beads with which it was covered were very precious. Wampum was Indian money. It was also for belts and for beads to wear on clothes and around the neck. And then the gods loved wampum, for it was often made of the finest pearl to be found.
The chief said that the young man who would kill the wampum bird should have I o’ ra for his wife. Then every young warrior got his bow and arrows and hurried away to kill the wampum bird.
This bird was so terrible that all were afraid to go near it. They stood far off and shot arrows at it. When the arrows hit the wampum bird it was very angry. It stood up to its full height and shook itself with rage. When it did this, great showers of the most beautiful beads fell all about. They covered the ground like hail. When picked up they were found to be of two colors, white and purple. They were the wampum. White wampum grew on the bird’s body, and the purple wampum grew on its wings.
When it seemed that no one could kill the wampum bird, a fine young warrior was seen coming out of the woods near by. The chief told him the wampum bird must be killed. The warrior said he, could kill the bird.
The stranger cut a slender willow from the marsh. From that he made an arrow, which he shot at the bird. No one saw the arrow leave his bow. And they did not see it hit the bird. But the bird rolled over and was dead in a minute. The arrow had gone through its head and eyes.
The bird was stripped of all its wampum beads, and those which had been shaken off were gathered up. They were all taken to the council house. They were more than the largest lodge would hold.
Then the chief said to the young warrior, “Tell me where you came from.”
The stranger answered proudly that he was a Delaware.
“Then,” said the chief, “you must die at the stake. You are an enemy. Our people are at war.”
When the young warrior was tied to the stake to be burned, he was not afraid. He began to sing his song of death. Then I o’ ra ran to him. She stood by him. She said he should not be harmed, for he had killed the monster wampum bird. “Send for his people and have an end to the war,” she cried.
As I o’ ra had said, so it was done. Peace was made. And I o’ ra and the young Delaware warrior were married. At her Wedding she wore many strings of the beautiful wampum pearl.
The Witch Buffaloes, or How We Got The Cranberry
The spring mentioned in this story is now said to be the Big Bone Licks, in Boone County, Kentucky.
There was a large spring. Some of the Indians say that Se’ sta made it. Others think it was made when the Great Island grew on the Big Turtle’s back. It was so broad that one could scarcely see across it. Its water was so clear that a pebble could be seen far down on the bottom. The water was cool and good to drink. There was so much of it that a stream ran from the spring to a very large river not far away. It tumbled over the stones in its bed and made the music of water songs.
Trees grew all around the spring. Flags and water lilies bloomed on its shallow shores. On all sides of the spring it was like a beautiful park. Se’ sta loved the spring. Some say that when his mother fell down from Heaven she lived there, and that he and his brother, the Evil One, were born there. If so, as children they had played by this spring and in the beautiful woods about it.
The deer, the elk, the buffalo, the bear, the birds, all came to drink from the spring. Then they went into the shady woods to rest. Geese, swans, and ducks swam on the clear water, and the cranes waded along the edges looking for fish. They flew lazily from one side to the other to see their pictures in the water.
Ska’ reh made many monsters. Among them were the Witch Buffaloes. They were as tall as a tree. They bad long horns on their heads and tusks longer than those of any elephant. They had thick hides, on which was coarse black hair. They had great magic power, and all the Indians and animals were afraid of them.
Ska’ reh brought these monsters to the great spring to live. He made a big drum of flint. It was larger than the biggest house. It could he heard as far as a man could walk in three days. He gave the big drum to the Witch Buffaloes. They beat upon it at the great spring to frighten the animals and birds that came to drink.
The animals and the birds came one day to see the Indians. They wanted the Witch Buffaloes killed. Then the Indians asked the Little People to help them. And Heno said he would be there with his thunder and his lightning. It was to be an awful battle.
When the battle began, Se’ sta sat on a high mountain to watch it and to help the Wyandot should the monsters prove too strong. And Ska’ reh sat on a mountain on the other side to help the Witch Buffaloes.
The struggle lasted all day. Many of the Witch Buffaloes were killed. Their dead bodies sank into the ground out of sight. Their bones were found there when the white people came.
As the sun was setting only one of the Witch Buffaloes was left alive. He was the king of them all. Heno threw his bolts of lightning at him. He let them strike him on the head and shook them off.
But the king of the Witch Buffaloes saw that he would be killed if he did not get away. So, when the sun was going down and was painting the tops of the trees with gold, he made a mighty leap. His magic power helped him, and this leap carried him over the Ohio River. Then he made another leap, and this carried him over the Great Lakes. From there he leaped again and landed in the far north where it is always winter. He lives there yet and is the Keeper of the North Wind.
When the blood of the Witch Buffaloes had dried up, there was found growing, where it had been, a field of red berries. They grew on small vines and were good for food. We call them cranberries. And now they grow in the marshlands at many places. They are the only good thing which came from the Witch Buffaloes.
Why Flowers Are Fragrant
Once the Indians were all going along a path in the woods. They were moving to a new village by a lake where the water was so clear that it was as blue as the sky.
The children ran along the path. They played among the trees. They crossed small streams which poured over stones and made soft water-music. They picked the wild flowers found on the hills. They loved the streams, the trees, and the flowers and were very happy. But all at once they stopped and screamed. They were frightened, for a panther leaped into the path before them. In its mouth it carried a babe dressed in beads and buckskin.
The panther stood in the path. In anger it held its head high and roared madly at the children. The warriors came running up. They shot arrows at the panther, but it was not hurt. It carefully put the babe down in the path and was seen no more.
The chief’s daughter ran to the child and took it up. It was not harmed in the least. Its dress was covered with pearl beads and flowers made of porcupine quills. It smiled at the children and they were in love with it at once.
The chief’s daughter kept the baby girl for her own. In the new village she soon grew large enough to run and play with the other children. She was a beautiful child. And she loved the wild flowers more than all other things. But the flowers had no sweet smell then as they have now.
Se much did the child love the flowers that they named her Seets a’ ma, which means “holding a flower.”
One day Seets a’ ma became very sick. All that was done for her did not help her. And she died as the sun went down. The people mourned for the lovely little girl and the hookies tried to bring her back. But this could not be done.
Seets a’ ma came to the city of the Woman who fell down from Heaven. She was on her way to live with the Little People. She said to the Woman, “Before I go on to the Little People, let me do something nice for my own village.”
“What would you like most to do?” the Woman asked her.
“I love flowers best of all things,” she said.
“I made you so,” said the Woman. “For, while you are not truly my own child, I brought you from the happy fields of the Upper World. And I sent the panther to leave you in the path. You shall cause all flowers to have fragrance. You shall carry the sweet odor of the Tree of Light. And you shall give some part of it to every flower in the Lower World.”
Then the Woman gave Seets a’ ma a beautiful bag. It was as red as blood, for it was made of the flowers of the redbud tree. In this bag was the color and fragrance of the flowers which grew on the Tree of Light which fell down from Heaven into the Great Water. Then she called the humming bird, and made it carry Seets a’ ma to every flower.
Seets a’ ma was as light as the down of the silkweed. And she was brighter than the sun at noonday. She rode on the back of the bird poised on the toes of her left foot like a dancing fairy. She was more graceful than the wild flowers she loved. The humming bird carried her to every kind of flower. From the beautiful bag she breathed fragrance into them. And this sweet smell they have to this day.
Then Seets a’ ma went to her own village. All the people ran out to see her. And behold! There were flowers growing thick all about everywhere as far as they could see. A sweet smell arose from these waving fields of many-colored flowers. It filled the air, and the people were pleased.
Seets a’ ma said to them, “Our Grandmother sent me back to give fragrance to all the flowers. She loves all the people in the Lower World, and this is her gift to them.”
Then the hummingbird darted away with Seets a’ ma standing on its back.
At the gate of the city the woman said to the bird, “The flowers shall bear honey for your food from this day. You shall live among them till the end of the world.”
And the Indian mother sometimes says yet to her little daughter, “If you are a good girl, you may see Seets a’ ma and the hummingbird as they fly among the flowers.”
Suggestions For Teachers:
Animals. The term “Animals” as used in this book embraces only the totemic animals of the Wyandot. See article “Wyandot Government.” The Animals were supposed to have great supernatural power. They made the Great Island from the earth which fell down from Heaven with the Tree of Light. The Little Turtle made the sun, and the Mud Turtle made the Little People and their beautiful land. They composed the “Great Council.” which seems to have controlled the Lower World before the Twin Brothers were able to take over its management and go on with the creation.
Authorities. The best authority on the Huron is that series of reports known as the Jesuit Relations, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, and published by the Burrows Brothers, Cleveland, 1898. Accounts of the Huron will be found in Volumes 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 2O, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, and 57 of that great work.
The one great authority on the destruction of the Huron Confederacy, the wanderings of the broken tribes, and the development of the modern tribe known as the Wyandot is The Jesuits in North America, by Francis Parkman.
City. The underground city was made by Se’ sta for a dwelling place for the Wyandot while he recreated those things destroyed in the wars between him and his wicked brother, and by the flood, fire, and the North Wind. The city was supposed to be far to the north, perhaps south of Hudson’s Bay. The Woman was placed there to send the souls of the Wyandot on to the Land of the Little People. The city was the entrance to that land. Great fires smoldered beneath it, and the surge and roar of many waters could be heard under the masses of stone about it.
Death Song. When the Indian was dying he sang his death song. If he was made fast to a stake for the purpose of torture, or if from any other cause he supposed he would immediately die, he sang his death song. Something of the nature of the song chanted by the warrior as he stood in the presence of death may be learned from the “Death Song of a Warrior,” page 59. Sometimes a prisoner quailed at the torture and died like a craven. This disgusted his enemies. If the prisoner defied his tormentors to the end and did not flinch while burning to death, his enemies regarded him with the deepest respect; they often ate the heart of such a captive to make themselves brave. In the Indian the nerves are not so sensitive as in the white people. They do not feel pain so quickly nor so intensely. The author never saw even an Indian child shed a tear from pain.
Flood. Most primitive peoples had accounts of floods which had destroyed everything on the earth. The Wyandot flood myth was almost lost at the time when these stories were collected. It had been preserved by a missionary to the Delaware, but one who knew many Wyandot Indians – the Reverend John G. Pratt, who lived at Maywood, Wyandotte County, Kansas. He supposed that it was a Delaware myth.
Great Council. This body was composed of the totemic animals of the Wyandot. See article “Wyandot Government.” The first session of the Great Council was called by the Swans to devise some place where the Woman who fell down from Heaven might live. The many things done and performed by the Great Council appear in the stories. It had the power of a god, as did each member of it.
Great Spirit. The Wyandot had no such conception as that expressed in the term “Great Spirit.” They used it only after their contact with white people and with the Christian religion. It was probably the term devised by the early Jesuits to convey to the Indians the idea of God. When first seen by white men, none of the Indians had such a conception as that expressed in “Great Spirit.”
Great Water. The ocean. Exactly what knowledge the Wyandot had of the ocean is not known. They had, no doubt, seen the Atlantic. It was supposed that the Great Water covered most of the earth in the beginning, for the Wyandot said there was only a little land when the Woman fell down, and this was composed of low-lying beaches. However, the land Animals existed on it.
Heno. The thunder god of the Wyandot, His name is written in different ways, for he was common to Iroquoian mythology. To the Wyandot, Heno was a friendly and helpful deity.
Hookies. A hookie was anyone or any thing exercising supernatural power. The priest was in a sense a hookie. The term “medicine man” is an effort to express the office and power of the hookie. Sometimes a malevolent soul was called a hookie, for such souls were supposed to exist only to work evil. Hookies were always masculine. Ookie is the feminine. A woman with magic power is an ookie.
Hoo ma’ yoo wa’ neh. The chief of the Upper World. By some, he was said to have been the father of the Twin Brothers. Others said he was their grandfather. It is not improbable that the accounts of the miraculous conception of the Brothers was the result of contact with the Christian religion. He was supposed to have possessed supreme supernatural powers.
Hoo wa’ neh. Hoo ma’ yoo wa’ neh. The name is simplified for the purpose of this work.
Land of the Little People. This was the “happy hunting grounds” of the Wyandot. It was made by the Mud Turtle when she dug the passageway through the earth for the use of the sun in getting back to the east to rise on a new day. It was supposed to be the most beautiful of countries. It was supplied with an abundance of game, animals, and birds, and the streams and seas were filled with fish. The Little People were made to have charge of it for the Wyandot. When the last Wyandot has come into that land, the Woman will he with him. Then they will take charge of it, and they and the Little People will live there together forever.
Little People. It was supposed that these had been created by the Mud Turtle when she made their land as she was digging the passage for the sun to use at night. They were born only as twins, and they usually acted in pairs. There must have been male and female Little People, but only the males ever came to the surface of the earth. They had great supernatural power, and were, in fact, Wyandot gods. They were the special friends of the Wyandot and never failed to help them. They could come to the earth’s surface only through the living rock, that is, the great mass of rock in the crust of the earth. When they walked on the rock they left the imprint of their feet, or tracks. A Wyandot Quaker minister went to Big Bone Licks, in Kentucky, to see if they left tracks in the rock there when they helped kill the Witch Buffaloes. He believed he found many of their tracks in the rocks of that country, and also where they had sat down to rest. So he told the author.
Lower World. Our world was called the Lower World by the Wyandot. It is not known how long this term had been used by them for the earth.
Monsters. There seems to have remained in the memory of the North American Indians something of the prehistoric animals of their continent. The mastodon must have been here after the Indians had developed the bow and arrow. The ancestors of the Indians may have seen the great reptiles which inhabited the ancient seas and their shores. Recollections of these enormous creatures entered into the myths of the Indians. Perhaps to a similar race memory in Asia is due the origin of the Chinese dragon also. It might account, too, for the Serpent of Genesis. For these prehistoric animals certainly troubled prehistoric man and were a terror to him. They were enemies and always remained enemies, in some form, even after they were extinct. In the myths they assumed various shapes and exaggerated dimensions. With the Iroquois they became Flying Heads, the great serpents living in the lakes and under the villages and causing sickness and death. Of course these monsters may have been the product of the Indian mind. Some of them certainly were. Whatever their origin may have been, they were much feared. The rivers connecting the Great Lakes were supposed to have been only the channels worn by these monsters, in crawling from one lake to another.
Ookies. The feminine hookies, See “Hookie.”
Rainbow. The Rainbow made the Bridge to the sky. This Bridge is spoken of under many names, as “Beautiful Bridge,” “Beautiful Path,” “Way of Burning Colors,” “Beautiful Burning Bridge,” etc. It is a beautiful conception. When the Bridge was made, there was also created, as a part of it, the most charming land of which the Wyandot could conceive. The Deer was admonished not to turn aside and enter this paradise. The Wyandot were permitted to live there during the flood, but not while the earth was being made again habitable by Se’ sta. Some Wyandot believe that land still exists, though not visible to mortals. They say it is just above us and causes the twilight.
Se’ sta. The form of the name of Tse’ she howngk’ chosen for use in this book. Tse’ sta would be a better form, as that is the Wyandot word for “fire,” but it is more difficult of pronunciation. See “Tse’ she howngk’.”
Ska’ reh. The diminutive of the name of Ta’ weh ska’ roongk used in this work. See “Ta’ weh ska’ roongk.”
Swans. The Swans who received the Woman who fell down from Heaven are not found in all the Iroquoian accounts of the fall. In some versions a miscellaneous assembly of aquatic birds receive her on their outspread wings. The Swans of the Wyandot account were supposed to have great supernatural power. One was stationed in the Gulf of Mexico, and the other was placed in the Arctic seas.
Ta’ weh ska’ roongk. The Evil One of the Twin Brothers born of the Woman who fell down from Heaven. He was the destructive force of nature personified. He is represented as the enemy of the Wyandot, and of other people as well. For use in this work his name is written “Ska’ reh.”
Tse’ she howngk’. The Good One of the Twin Brothers born of the Woman who fell down from Heaven. By some accounts his conception was miraculous. He is the beneficent force of nature personified. He was the guardian of the Wyandot. Some of them believed he was their creator. Perhaps all of them had at one time believed that. He was in the process of development when the white men first saw the Wyandot, and if they had ever come to a belief in a single god. Tse’ she howngk’ would have been the one selected. For (he purpose of this book his name is written “Se’ sta.”
Tree of Light. This is a beautiful conception. It was common to the Iroquois. See the writings of Dr. J. N. B. Hewett, of the Bureau of Ethnology, for the best account of it. There were many versions of the fall of the Woman among ,the older Wyandot. In some versions the Tree was the wild apple tree, the common wild crab apple of North America.
Underground City. See “City.”
Upper World. Wyandot cosmology separated the universe into a series of world, one lying directly above another. The Upper World was the center of this universe. There was a second Upper World immediately above it. The Lower World was the first below it. The Land of the Little People was sometimes regarded as a second Lower World. By some it was said to be entirely detached from the Lower World.
Wise Men. A group of the elders of the tribe. They told the stories to Mr. Connelley. Often there were women in the group. Sometimes the meetings were at the homes of the Indians. But no occasion was neglected. The members of the tribe were consulted wherever found.
Woman. The Woman who fell down from Heaven occupies a large space in the creation myths of the Wyandot, and also of other Iroquoian tribes. In some accounts of her, nothing is said of the miraculous conception of her Twin Sons. The stories of the manner of her falling through the sky do not agree. Neither do the versions of her life and her offices after the fall have any substantial agreement. Some tribes say that a daughter was first born to her, and that the Twin Brothers were born of this daughter. By the Wyandot she was placed in the city which is the entrance to the Land of the Little People.
The Progress of Mankind
This chapter is made up principally from Morgan’s “Ancient Society.” (Henry Holt & Company. New York, 1877.)
Civilization is an evolution from savagery. The ancestors of the most enlightened nations lived for centuries in that stage of human society exhibited by the Indian tribes at the time of the discovery of America. When we examine the degree of advancement made by the North American Indians, we see one of the ages of our forefathers on the tablelands of Central Asia. A brief statement of the general steps in the advancement of mankind from savagery to civilization follows.
The progress of mankind has resulted from two sources: (1) institutions; (2) inventions and discoveries.
Institutions are the result of unfolding relations, the one to the other, from the primary germs of thought or conceptions of savagery.
Civilization has never evolved a new institution, but has had to be content with modifying and improving those institutions discovered and established by man in his savage state.
All our modem institutions – as government, religion, etc. – have their immediate roots in barbarism, to which they had been transmitted by savagery.
Institutions have been modified and greatly influenced by inventions and discoveries.
Those institutions upon which modern society (civilization) is based are: (1) subsistence; (2) government; (3) language; (4) the family; (5) religion; (6) house life and architecture; (7) property.
When these institutions are closely examined we find:
First. That in order that man should have time to consider enterprises, improve government, protect expeditions, and erect mounds, temples, and public buildings it was necessary that there should be produced a surplus of subsistence far beyond the daily requirements of a people. Society had to develop specialization, one part of the population producing food for all, while the other part rendered such public service as to entitle it to a portion of the common subsistence. Following this undertaking requirement for a future civilization, the means of subsistence was developed from primitive grains, fruits, and roots, the foods of our savage progenitors, to the point where it embraces the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms. The production of the means of subsistence includes agriculture and many other forms of specialized industry. Commerce arose largely as the result of the development of the means of subsistence. Commerce is based upon transportation, and the improvement of this has resulted in navigation, steamers, and the railroads, and it may utilize the flying machine. The production of the means of subsistence engrosses most of the energies of mankind.
Second. That the origin of government is found in the creation of the gens or clans of savagery. Primitive man, with the dawn of reason, recognized the need for general rules of conduct for himself and his fellows. These were embodied in the customs prescribed for the gentes so founded in the savage state. Their development has produced the establishment of political society (civilization) with all its problems and complexities.
Third. That primal man found himself under the necessity of communicating with his companions. Rude and simple gestures, sounds, and cries first served him, as they still serve all other orders of the animal kingdom. With the growth of the powers of reason came the need for fuller, freer, and more concrete expression of ideas, and, without conscious design, man improved the articulate sounds, and human speech resulted.
Fourth. That the family grew out of the relations of the sexes and affection for offspring. Systems of consanguinity originated in savagery. There were various forms of the family in the progress of mankind. The highest type of family is that founded on the marriage of one man to one woman. In the civilization produced by the Aryan people the family has usually been the unit of society.
Fifth. That the lowest savages have some form of religion. The human soul requires and seeks a sustaining power – something high and mighty back of it. Religion has grown and developed with the human race. The highest form is the Christian religion. The ideals and images of Jesus are political as well as religious. They are capable of indefinite expansion and interpretation. They are devoid of dogma and creed, and they make humanity the supreme end of effort for betterment. And they will rule the earth when once mankind shall comprehend them. Christianity was developed from a few principles discovered and practiced by the Semitic people. Many other forms of religion are still found in the world.
Sixth. That house architecture began in savagery. It has been modified by the form of the family and other demands of the various forms of society. It is still in the process of evolution, or adaptation.
Seventh. That the savage originated the idea of property. His weapon was necessary to his existence and was his own. The growth of the property idea was slow. The possessions of barbarians were few and simple. But the acquisition of property is now the strongest motive of mankind. Even land has been for ages classified as property to be acquired by individuals. The dominance of the love of property marks the beginning of civilization. Political society is now organized on the basis of territory and property. It has been said that “a critical knowledge of the evolution of the idea of property would embody, in some respects, the most remarkable portion of the mental history of mankind.”
It requires very little investigation to show that the progress of mankind has been by periods. These periods are: (1) savagery; (2) barbarism; (3) civilization.
These are, in fact, conditions of society, and they exist upon the earth even at this time. There are various degrees in each of these conditions. In each degree there is a corresponding status of society. For those peoples who have arrived at civilization, there were first, middle, and later periods of savagery. To correspond to these there were the lower, the middle, and upper status of savagery – or the lower, the middle, and the upper periods or degrees of savage society.
Savagery progressed into barbarism. The period of barbarism had, in like manner, the first, the middle, and the later periods of barbarism. Society was respectively in the lower, the middle, and the upper status of barbarism.
Barbarism progressed into civilization.
There are certain achievements of mankind, which serve in a general way to define the various conditions of society set forth here.
1. The lower status of savagery. This was the beginning of the human race. Where man lived at that time is not now with certainty known. It has generally been supposed that he lived in Asia, and that his original habitat, was restricted to narrow bounds. He subsisted upon fruits and nuts. Articulate speech began in this period. Man made progress, and this period ended with the acquisition of a fish subsistence and a knowledge of the use of fire.
2. The middle status of savagery. This period began with the use of fish for food and a knowledge of the use of fire. Man spread over most of the world in this period. It ended with the invention of the bow and arrow.
3. The upper status of savagery. This period began with the use of the bow and arrow, and it ended with the discovery of the art of making pottery.
4. The lower status of barbarism. This period of human society began with the discovery of the art of pottery. It ended in the Eastern Hemisphere with the domestication of animals and plants, and in the Western Hemisphere with the cultivation of corn and other plants and the use of stone and adobe brick in house building. In this status were most of the Indian tribes of the United States at the time of the discovery of America.
5. The middle status of barbarism. This period began with the domestication of animals and the cultivation of plants. It ended with the discovery of the art of smelting iron ore.
6. The upper status of barbarism. This period began with the manufacture of iron and ended with the invention of the phonetic, arbitrary, or conventional alphabet. The use of the alphabet marks the beginning of civilization.
7. The status of civilization. This period began with the use of the phonetic alphabet. It is now divided into ancient and modern periods.
Every civilized people came over the road indicated and marked out in the foregoing formula. The mind of man has ever moved in the same way, has worked in the same manner, has traveled in the same direction without regard to time, place, or conditions. Peculiarities of environment produced modifications of achievement; but even without communication with others, every people would have developed a civilization. And these civilizations would have shown a striking similarity.
The Wyandot are a tribe of the great Iroquoian linguistic family of North American Indians.
By the French the Wyandot were called Huron. It is said that this name was given them because of the band of thick, erect hair they left from the forehead to the back of the necks. This reminded the French of the bristling hair of the wild boars of Europe. From this circumstance they were called “Hures” or Hurons – from hure, “bristly,” as applied to the rough stiff hair of man or beast.
The Wyandot were found by the French in 1615. They were living about Lake Simcoe and the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The Jesuits were early among them. They set up a mission with stations in the principal villages of the tribe. The Relations of the Jesuit priests or missionaries make up a collection embracing many volumes-one of the great authorities on the North American Indians.
These priests relate that the Huron were a confederation of four tribes – the Attignaouanton, or Bear People; the Attigneenongnahac, or Cord People; the Arendahronon, or Rock People; the Tohontaenrat, or Deer People.
There were a number of dependent villages or small tribes attached to the confederation. The name of the confederacy in the Huron tongue was Wen’ doot, supposed to signify “Islanders,” or a people dwelling in the vicinity of bays and inlets of a large body of water.
The Bear People and the Cord People claimed to have been the original settlers in this ancient seat of the Huron stock. They affirmed that they had dwelt there at least two hundred years when the Rock People appeared in the country and were made a part of the confederacy. Twenty years later the Deer People applied for admission.
The Jesuits were told that the Rock People came into Huronia about the year 1590, and that the Deer People arrived some twenty years afterward. It is believed that the Rock and Deer People came from the Upper St. Lawrence Valley, as the result of wars with other tribes there – that is, that they were driven out. Their enemies must have been other Iroquoian tribes. The latter-day Huron have a tradition that they and the Seneca were formerly one people, and there are different accounts of the separation and its causes.
To the south of the Huron dwelt their kindred, the Tionontati and the Neutral Nation. East of these lived other related tribes; they occupied most of the valley of the St. Lawrence and the northern portion of the present state of New York. Those who lived in New York became known as the Six Nations. These engaged in the conquest of the country about them and their wars soon involved the Huron Confederacy, which was finally destroyed. To escape complete annihilation the broken Huron tribes fled westward along the Great Lakes. For many years the fragments of these tribes wandered from place to place about these inland seas. They were as far west as the Mississippi. They lived at the southwest extremity of Lake Superior. They fled to Shagwamigon Point, near the islands of the Twelve Apostles. There seemed no place exempt from the attacks of the Iroquois. At length the wandering Huron grouped themselves about the remnant of the Tionontati, whose social system had survived in a form, somewhat resembling that of the days of its power. In this way a homogeneous people was formed from the ruins of the Huron. And the ancient name of the confederacy – Wen’ doot – became the name of the new tribe. This name went through various forms and ended as “Wyandot.” This is the origin of the Wyandot of historic times in the country northwest of the Ohio.
The Wyandot bore an important part in all the stirring times of the Lakes and of the border of that day. They became the western representatives of their old-time enemies, the Iroquois, who claimed sovereignty of the country by virtue of their early conquests. At their instance the Wyandot were made Keepers of the Council Fire of the Northwestern Confederacy of Indian tribes. In this capacity they were always potent in the councils of the tribes opposed to the settlement of the country by the Americans. When the resistance of the Indians was broken by Wayne, the Wyandot made treaties with the United States. They gathered along the south shore of Lake Erie, in northern Ohio. Some of them had long lived in the Sandusky Plains, and their principal town was near the present Upper Sandusky.
In the year 1816 John Stewart, a free Negro, appeared among them as voluntary missionary of the Methodist Episcopal church. He founded, at Upper Sandusky, the Wyandot Mission, the first mission ever established in the world by the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1843 the Wyandot, having sold their possessions in Ohio, moved to the fork of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. They settled on a track of land, which they purchased from the Delaware, in what is now Wyandotte County, Kansas. The present city of Kansas City, Kansas, is a part of this tract, and was, in the beginning, only a Wyandot village. Here the Wyandot began to move for the organization of a territory to be known as Nebraska Territory. It was to embrace all of what is now Kansas and Nebraska and a part of Colorado. Abelard Guthrie, a Wyandot by marriage and adoption, was elected a delegate to Congress in 1852. William Walker, the principal man of the Wyandot Nation, was elected provisional governor. This government was not recognized by Congress, but the movement caused the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the organization of Kansas and Nebraska territories.
In 1855 the Wyandot dissolved their tribal relations, took their lands in severalty, and became citizens of the United States. Many of them live yet in Kansas City, Kansas. They are successful in business and the professions and are excellent citizens. Some members of the tribe, after the Civil War, went to the Indian Territory now Oklahoma. They secured by purchase a reservation of twenty thousand acres near Seneca, Missouri, and there resumed their tribal relations. Their land has been allotted, and they are now citizens of the United States.
The Wyandot brought with them from Ohio a written code of laws for their government, probably the first in what is now the state of Kansas. They brought the organization of the Wyandot Mission. They immediately set up this mission in the present bounds of Kansas City, Kansas, where, at the present time, it is the Washington Boulevard Methodist Episcopal Church.
Like other primitive peoples, the Wyandots had evolved a way of living together. They had made rules and established customs for the family, the clan, and the tribe. The unit of this system was the clan,1 not the individual, not the family.
The Wyandot tribe was divided into twelve clans or gentes. In theory, at least, all the members of a clan were related by blood. While there was a well-defined system of consanguinity, expressed in such terms as “father,” “mother,” “uncle,” “cousin,” etc., every man of a clan was supposed to be brother to every other man in it; and the women were sisters, and sisters to each and every man. For this reason each individual was compelled to marry outside the clan. To marry in it would be, according to this theory, the marriage of brothers and sisters. The names of these clans are:
1. Big Turtle
2. Little Turtle
3. Mud Turtle
9. Striped Turtle
10. Highland Turtle
The Wyandot clans stood in different degrees of dignity. The older clans were first in importance and influence. The clans had a certain rank or order, called the Order of Precedence. The names of the clans are set down above according to this order. The Big Turtle Clan is the first, the oldest, and the most honorable clan in the Wyandot tribe. It was sometimes spoken of as the royal house of To-wa’ ra.
1) Genus is a better word. It is in fact the proper word. But the Wyandots say clan when speaking of this tribal subdivision. And I have adhered to their custom.
Each clan had a government of its own, at the head of which stood the clan council. This council was composed of at least four women and one man. There might be as many women as the council should determine, but there could be but one man. The man was selected by the women, and was chief of the clan. The clan council administered the clan affairs, civil and criminal. Only when a tribal question was involved was there any appeal from the decision of the clan council to the tribal council.
The allegiance of the citizen was first to his clan, then to his tribe. The right of private redress was surrendered by the individual to his clan, but there was no very strict adherence to this law. The clan was bound to secure an accommodation of his complaints and avenge his wrongs.
The Wyandot clans were grouped into phratries or brotherhoods. The first phratry consisted of the following clans:
The second phratry consisted of the following clans:
1. Big Turtle
2. Little Turtle
3. Mud Turtle
6. Striped Turtle
7. Highland Turtle
Standing between these phratries was the Wolf Clan with a cousin relation to each, and to the individual clans of each. The Wolf Clan was the mediator, the executive power, and the umpire of the Wyandots. The term “executive power” had not so broad a meaning as with the modern governments. It implied only that the Wolf Clan enforced all orders of the tribal council – had charge of the council house, was in command of the tribe when the people were migrating. And had charge of the means for tribal defense.
The gens followed the woman. The children belonged to her clan. If a man of the Deer Clan married a woman of the Porcupine Clan, their children would belong to the Porcupine Clan, etc. Children could not inherit the property of the father, for that would take the property out of the clan of the father, and was not permissible. His property descended to his relatives through his mother. The woman is by law the head of the Wyandot family.
The following clans of the Wyandot tribe are now extinct:
1. Mud Turtle
3. Striped Turtle
The origin of these clans is hidden in the obscurity of great antiquity. They probably resulted ultimately from the experiences of the primary people with the various forms of the family tried out in savagery. They came to be enshrouded in religious mysteries. We learn something of them from the Wyandot mythology, or folklore.
The ancient Wyandot came to believe that they were descended from those animals for which their clans were named. But the particular animals from which they were descended were different from the animals of the same species of today. They were deities. They could and often did assume and retain the forms of men and women. The animals of like kind, of our time, are descended from them. Those ancient Animals were, in some sense, creators of the universe.
The Big Turtle made the Great Island, as North America was called by the Wyandot, and he is supposed to bear it on his back to this day. The Little Turtle made the sun, moon, and many of the stars. The Mud Turtle made a hole through the Great Island for the sun to pass through back to the cast after setting at night, so he could rise upon a new day. While making this hole through the Great Island the Mud Turtle turned aside from her work long enough to fashion the future home of the Wyandot. Their happy hunting grounds to which they go after death. The sun shines there at night –our night – while on his way back to the east. This land is called the Land of the Little People.
The Little People were a race of pigmies created to assist the Wyandot, and were possessed of great supernatural power. They live there below our land, and they preserve their land. In it they maintain the ancient customs, habits, beliefs, language, and government of the Wyandot for their use after they leave this world by death.
All Wyandot proper names had their foundation in this clan system. They were clan names.
The laws governing the formation of clan proper names demanded that they be derived from some part, habit, action, environment, or peculiarity of the animal from which the clan was supposed to be descended. Or, in some instances they might be derived from some property, law, or peculiarity of the element in which such animal lived. Thus a proper name was always a distinctive badge of the clan bestowing it.
The parents were not permitted to name the child. That was the function of the clan. Names were given but once a year, and always at the anniversary of the Green Corn Feast. In old times, formal adoptions could be made at no other time. The name was given by the clan chief. He was a civil officer of both his clan and the tribe. At an appointed period in the ceremonies of the feast, each clan took’ an assigned position, which formerly was the Order of Precedence, and parents having children to be named filed before him in the order of the ages of such children. The council women stood by the clan chief, and announced to him the name of each child presented, for all clan proper names were made and selected by the councilwomen. The chief then bestowed the name upon the child. This he might do by simply the name to the parents, or by taking the child in his arms and addressing it by the name selected for it.
This manner of naming was advantageous. A man disclosed his clan in telling his name. The clan was his mother; he was the child of the clan; his name was his badge and always a sure means of identification.
Marriage was largely a clan matter. A man desiring a certain girl for a wife went first to see her mother. Or he might send his mother on this business. If the suitor was looked upon with favor, the matter was submitted to the clan council. If no objection was found, then the engagement was announced. An objection by the clan council might be over ruled by the parents, but this was not often done. The man was obliged to make such presents to the girl’s mother, as he was able. The marriage was set for a day before the end of the moon in which the engagement was made. And it was almost always celebrated by a feast and dancing. The ceremony was very simple, usually the announcement by the clan chief that the young people had decided to enter the marriage relation. But there might be such ceremonial as the parties wished.
Every tribe owned an area of land on which it lived. This land was held in common, and its use was free under certain regulations. The Wyandot cultivated crops of corn, beans, squashes, and tobacco. Their lands were divided into cleared fields and wooded tracts of hunting grounds. They held, under authority of the Six Nations, much of the land south and west of the Great Lakes. They could not use so vast a country, and they permitted the native tribe, to remain in it. Other tribes they permitted to settle in it – the Delaware, Shawnees, and others who had been crowded off their ancient possessions to the eastward by the whites.
Before clan chiefs could become members of the tribal council it was necessary that they be inaugurated or installed with certain ceremonies called investiture. This investiture was a function of the tribe.
For misconduct these clan chiefs could be deposed and expelled from the tribal council. This deposition was effected by the tribe. But the tribe could not deprive a chief of his clan office. That was a clan matter.
The tribal council administered the tribal affairs and determined, the relations to other tribes. It was composed of the tribal chief, to some extent hereditary, and the clan chiefs. Women could not become members. Distinguished citizens of the tribe might be called to the council fire. A question was decided by a vote, which was by clans. Women could appear before the council and urge any action. A matter of supreme importance was submitted to a vote of the tribe for settlement, and women had the right of suffrage.
Indians were the strictest people in the world as to the forms and ceremonies incident to their civil and religious life. Listeners were appointed to stand by their priests when rituals were recited. If a syllable was omitted, the ceremony had to be repeated.
There was, with the Wyandot a sort of dual tribal government. There was a War Chief, and a military organization over which he presided. The War Chief was usually appointed by the sachem or head chief, and was often called the Little Chief, and sometimes the War Pole. In time of war the civil government was subverted, and the military government ruled the tribe. The War Chief was then the head of all tribal affairs. He announced his assumption of power by erecting a war pole in front of the council house. It was taken down when the war was concluded, and the civil power reinstated.
Religion of the Wyandot
Many students believe that the North American Indians originated in Asia, and that they are of the Mongolian race; also, that science may determine that they came into America from the north in some geologic age when the Asiatic and American continents were still joined. It has been held that there is a possibility that the original scat of the Mongolian race was in America. None of these contentions is capable of complete and satisfactory proof.
The religious conceptions of the Wyandot are modifications of those held in common by Iroquoian families. Students believe it probable that the Huron were the parent stock of the Iroquoian peoples. The basis of their religion was a deification and personification of the great forces of nature. The twin sons born of the woman who fell down from Heaven were but heat and cold in their effects on the world. The Good One was the sun, the cause of vegetable life and the preserver of animal life by producing food. The Evil One was cold, the destroyer of vegetable life and incidentally of animal life. Their names, even, indicate this. The Good One was Tse’ seh-howngk’ – Fire, or Man of Fire. The Evil One was Ta’ weh-ska’ roongk – Flint, or Man of Flint, or Man or Ice, or Man of Stone. These Brothers were but the opposing forces of nature endowed with life and put actively into the affairs of men. All other religious conceptions of these people grew out of these basic ones.
The principal characters in the creation were:
1. Hoo-ma’ yoo-wa’ neh, the ruler of the Upper World and the second Upper World. The Lower World was also a part of his realm.
2. The wife of Hoo-ma’ yoo-wa’ neh. the Woman who fell down from Heaven. and mother of the Twin Brothers. She is the recognition and the representative of the mother principle in nature.
3. The Great Council. This was composed of the totemic animals of the Wyandot. The sessions of the body – even the first session – were attended by other animals. These totemic animals were twelve in number in the Wyandot tribe – one for each clan. The clan was supposed to be descended from a first or supernatural animal of that species, who could and often did assume the form of man and had the power of a god. This was the latest conception on this subject. There was a time when the Wyandot believed they had been created by Hoo-ma’ yoo-wa’ neh or some other agency in the Upper World. When that was their belief they supposed that Tse’ seh-howngk’ had brought them down into this Lower World by permission of Hoo-ma’ yoo-wa’ neh. Much of what students called inconsistency in the cosmology of Indian tribes came from finding in their beliefs persistent fragments of older beliefs not generally held by the people and which had been replaced in the common mind. The mythology of the Wyandot was full of these inconsistencies.
4. The Twin Brothers were born on the Great Island, of the Woman who fell down from Heaven. Some of the Wyandot believed they were the sons of Hoo-ma’ yoo-wa’ neh, and some believed they were his grandsons. The prevailing belief, however, was that they were the result of a conception worked by the flowers from the Tree of Light eaten by the Woman. And this idea may have been the result of contact with the Christian religion.
The manner of the creation is substantially told in the stories in the text of this work.
In. the Lower World the Twin Brothers were troubled by the monsters inhabiting it before they were born into it. They had various forms, but usually that of the snake with some modification. Ta’ weh-ska’ roongk also made many wicked monsters to plague the Wyandot.
The “happy hunting grounds” of the Wyandot were the Land of the Little People. All Wyandot were supposed to go there after death. That delightful land was made by the Mud Turtle when she dug the hole through the Great Island for the use of the sun at night. The entrance to the Land of the Little People was the underground city built by Tse’ seh-howngk’ in which the Wyandot lived while the Lower World was being again made ready for habitation. It was the office of the Woman who fell down from Heaven to keep this city and to provide each soul two torches for use on the terrible way to the Land of the Little People. These torches seem to have been the gift of Heno. At least, they were made from his fire, the lightning, for there was a close association of Heno with the Woman in all the mythology of the Wyandot. He was sent with her to protect her when she fell down from Heaven. In the stories of the text there are many references to the underground city, and the “Death Song of a Warrior,” page 59, gives an account of the entire journey to the Land of the Little People. The doves got their beautiful white plumage smoked at the gate there, and in other stories souls are found at the entrance to this strange city.
Like other tribes, the Wyandot had priests, or medicine men. These medicine men were adepts in the matters of deceit and duplicity, but they suffered no diminution of prestige because of these practices. They were supposed to be able to cure diseases, especially acute diseases. The drum was an instrument of much potency in the exorcisms undertaken. The theory held concerning disease was that it was caused by an evil spirit which had entered the patient. How to get this spirit to quit the sick person without giving it offense was the object of the medicine man. To accomplish this he beat the drum, danced and sang. He sometimes pinched, slapped, and even wounded the patient. He did not hesitate to affirm that the spirit had taken the form of a frog or other animal. To make it appear that he was successful in his exorcisms he would, after sucking the throat of the sick man, spit out a frog or small snake, which of course, he had concealed in his mouth for this deception. Other practices of like character were resorted to. Sometimes feasts were made. A portion of the food was put upon a shelf for the spirit which was making the person sick. The spirit was exhorted to leave the patient, take the food, and go its way. This was the Ghost Feast. For wounds and injuries, simple formulas were used, as in the story of “The Bears of Red Mountain,” page 90.
The priests or medicine men performed many functions aside from attendance on the sick. Very little was undertaken without consulting them. They were in charge of the feasts and dances. In time of calamity their services were always in demand. If sickness broke out, the priests were consulted. They immediately sought the cause. Sometimes they saw, in their divinations, a monster living far down in the earth under the village. It was afflicting the people, causing them to die that it might devour the dead bodies. Then in consternation the people would flee and set up the town on another site. This belief was not confined to the Huron. It prevailed south to the Gulf of Mexico. Tallahassee, Florida, is located on the site of a Creek village vacated for that reason, such a site being called “Tallahassee” by the Creeks, It was a monster of this sort which caused the Horseshoe at Niagara Falls. It was killed in Lake Ontario. Its body floated down and lodged on the Falls. So great was its weight that it broke down the rock over which the water poured, and this made the Horseshoe Falls. Or this is the way in which the Iroquois account for it.
Any person or any thing having supernatural power, or supposed to possess it, was called by the general name of hookie, Or, if of the feminine gender, it was an ookie, The lore of the Huron was filled with accounts of hookies and their doings, There might be good as well as bad hookies, but most of them were considered to be vengeful and malicious, The Wyandot had special deities. There were the god of war, the god of dreams, a god of nature, and other minor deities. They were to be propitiated rather than worshiped.
There were many feasts, such as the Strawberry Feast, which was celebrated when the wild strawberries were ripe The Green Corn Feast was the most important feast of the year. Many tribal rites and ceremonies were performed at the Green Corn Feast. Proper names were then given the children born during the year prior to that important event. In a Wyandot village, in a time of plenty, there were always dinners and feasts given by individuals, to which guests were invited. At some ceremonial feasts a guest was by custom obliged to eat all the food given him by the host. What a hardship this was may be imagined when it is known that as much as half a deer was sometimes put in the wooden bowl of a guest, If he could not eat it all, he was permitted to hire some one to eat it for him.
There were many dances celebrated by the Wyandot. All feasts and ceremonials involved dancing. There were the war dance, the snake dance, the dances of the various animals and birds. There were anniversary dances of various kinds, and there was a great annual tribal dance. Dancing was always to the music of the small drum, accompanied by rattles made of deer hoofs. Or it might be of some other form – the gourd rattle, the turtle rattle, or the rattle made of fragments of bone or horn strung together. To the rhythm of music and their own movements, all the dancers sang throughout the entire time of the performance, and often those not dancing sang also. Many of the dancers wore costumes considered appropriate to the occasion – grotesque or otherwise. In bird and animal dances these costumes were designed to make them appear as the animal or bird represented. And the cries of the animal or bird were constantly imitated.
Burial Ceremonies of the Hurons
In 1636 Jean De Brebeuf, a Jesuit priest, lived at the village of Ihonatiria, in the nation of the Huron. This village was near the Georgian Bay or Lake Huron, Canada. He described the burial ceremonies of the Huron. His account is extremely interesting. These ceremonies were those or the ancient Wyandot, and the following description of them, is condensed from the relation or Father Brebeuf, dated July 16. 1636. Slight changes have been made in the text. There are some omissions, and some variations from the original punctuation.
Our savages are not savages as regards the duties which nature herself requires us to render to the dead. They do not yield in this respect to nations much more civilized. You would say that all their labor and efforts were for scarcely anything but to amass means of honoring the dead. They have nothing too valuable for this purpose. They devote to this use the robes, the hatchets, and the shell beads in such quantities that you would think to see them, on these occasions, that they were considered of no great value, yet they are all the riches of the country. You may often see them in mid winter almost entirely naked, while they have good and fine robes in their chests, which they are keeping in reserve for the dead. This is, indeed, their point of honor. It is on this occasion especially that they wish to appear magnificent. But I speak here only of their peculiar funerals.
These good people are not like many Christians, who cannot suffer death to be spoken of, and who, in a mortal sickness, hesitate to break the news to the sick one for fear or hastening his death. Here, when the recovery of anyone is despaired of, not only do they not hesitate to tell him that his end is near, but they even prepare in his presence all that is necessary for the burial. They often show him the shroud, the hose, the shoes, and the girdle which he is to wear. Frequently they are enshrouded, after their custom, before they have expired, and they hold a feast of farewell to their friends, during which they sing, sometimes without showing any apprehension of death, which they regard very indifferently, considering it only as a change to a life very little different from this.
As soon as the dying man has drawn his last breath, they arrange the body in the same position that is to be preserved in the tomb; they do not lay it out horizontally, as is our custom, but crouched, like a ball. Until this time they restrain their mourning. After having performed these duties, all in the cabin begin to utter sighs, groans, and lamentations. No one seeing them thus weeping and mourning would think that they were only ceremonial lamentations. They blend their voices all in one accord and in a lugubrious tone, until some one in authority calls for peace. At once they cease, and the chief hastens to announce through all the cabins that such a one is dead. Upon the arrival of the friends they resume their mourning. Frequently some one of more importance will begin to speak and will console the mother and the children, now extolling the deceased, praising his patience, his kindness, his liberality, his magnificence, and, if he was a warrior, his great courage; now saying, “What do you wish? There is no longer any remedy; it was necessary for him to die; we are all subject to death”; and then, “He lingered a very long time,” etc. It is true that on this occasion they do not lack for conversation. I am sometimes surprised to see them discourse a long time on this subject, and bring up, with much discretion, all considerations that may afford any consolation to the friends of the deceased.
Notice is also given of this death to the friends who lived in other villages, and as each family employs another who has the care of their dead, they come as soon as possible to give orders about everything and to fix the day of the funeral. They usually inter the dead on the third day. In the morning the chief gives an order that kettles shall be boiled for the deceased throughout the village. No one spares his best efforts. They do this, in my opinion, for three reasons: first, to console each other, for they exchange dishes among themselves, and scarcely any one eats out of the kettle he has prepared; secondly, on account of the arrival of those of other villages, who often come in large numbers; lastly, and principally, to gratify the soul of the deceased, who, they think, takes pleasure in eating his share. All the kettles being emptied, or at least distributed, the chief informs all the village that the body is to be carried to the cemetery. All the people assemble in the cabin. The mourning is renewed, and those who have charge of the funeral prepare a litter upon which the body is placed, laid upon a mat, and wrapped in a robe of beaver skin. They then raise it and carry it by the four corners. All the people follow in silence to the cemetery.
There is in the cemetery a tomb made of bark and raised on four stakes of from eight to ten feet in height. While the body is placed in this and the bark is trimmed, the chief makes known the presents that have been given by the friends. In this country, as well as in others, the most agreeable consolations for the loss of relatives are always accompanied by presents, which consist of kettles, hatchets, beaver skins, and necklaces of shell beads. If the deceased was of some importance in the country, not only the friends and neighbors but even the chiefs of other villages will come in person to bring their presents. Now, all these presents do not follow the body into the tomb; a necklace of beads is sometimes placed on its neck, and near it a comb, a gourdful of oil, and two or three small loaves of bread; that is all. A large part of them goes to the relatives to dry their tears; the rest is given to those who have had charge of the funeral, to pay them for their trouble. They also keep in reserve some robes or hatchets to make presents to the young men. The chief places in the hand of one of them a stick about a foot long, offering a prize to anyone who will take it from him. They throw themselves headlong upon him and remain engaged in the contest sometimes for an hour. After this each one returns peaceably to his cabin.
I forgot to say that generally throughout the ceremony the mother or wife stands at the foot of the sepulcher, calling the deceased, singing, or rather lamenting, in mournful tones.
These ceremonies are not always all observed; those who die in war they place in the ground, and the relatives make presents to their patrons, if they have any, which is generally the case in this country, to encourage them to raise soldiers and avenge the death of the warrior.
When the funeral is over, the mourning does not cease; the wife continues it all the year for her husband, the husband for the wife; but the grand mourning itself lasts only ten days. During this time they remain lying on their mats wrapped in their robes, with their faces against the earth, without speaking or replying to those who come to visit them. They do not warm themselves in winter or eat warm things; they do not go to the feasts or go out, save at night, for what they need; they cut a lock of their hair from the back of the head and declare that it is not without deep sorrow, especially when the husband performs this ceremony on the death of his wife or the wife on the death of her husband. Such is the great mourning.
The lesser mourning lasts all the year. When they wish to visit any one, they do not salute them, neither do they grease their hair. The women do this, however, when commanded to do so by their mothers, who have at their disposal their hair, and even their persons. It is also their privilege to send their daughters to the feasts, without which several will not go. What I think strange is that during the whole year neither the wife nor the husband marries again, else they would cause themselves to be talked about in the country.
The sepulchers are not perpetual, as their villages are only permanent for some years, as long as the wood lasts. The bodies remain in the cemeteries only until the feast of the dead, which usually takes place every twelve years. During this time they do not neglect to honor the dead often. From time to time kettles are boiled for their souls throughout the village, as on the day of the funeral, and their names are revived as often as possible. For this purpose presents are given to the chiefs to be given to him who will consent to take the name of the deceased. And if the latter was of consideration and had been esteemed in the country during his life, he who represents him, after giving a grand feast to all the people of the country, to introduce himself under this name, raises a body of free young men, and goes to war to accomplish some brave feat which will show to the nation that he has not only inherited the name but also the bravery and courage of the deceased.
The Solemn Feast of the Dead
The feast of the dead is the most celebrated ceremony that takes place among the Hurons. They give it the name of festival for the reason, as I should say now, that when the bodies are taken from the cemeteries each chief makes a feast “to the souls” in his village.
This feast is full of ceremonies, but the chief one is evidently that of “boiling the kettle.” This outdoes all the others, and the festival of the dead is spoken of even in the most serious councils, only under the name of “the kettle.” They appropriate to it all the terms of cookery, so that when they speak of hastening or retarding the feast they say “rake out” or “stir up the fire under the kettle”; and when anyone says the kettle is overturned,” that means there will be no feast. There is generally only one festival in each nation. All the bodies are placed in the same grave.
The twelve years or more having expired, the old people and great men of the nation assemble to decide upon the time when the feast shall be held, so as to satisfy all the people of the country and the outside nations who are to be invited.
Then the decision is made, as all the bodies are to be transported to the village where the common grave is made. Each family taking charge of its dead with a care and affection that cannot be described. If they have relatives buried in any part of the country whatever, they spare no trouble to go and bring them in. They take them from the cemeteries, carry them on their shoulders, and cover them with the finest robes they have in their possession. In each village a good day is chosen, and they repair to the cemetery, take the bodies from the tomb in the presence of the relatives, who renew their tears and repeat the mourning of the day of the funeral.
After the graves are opened all the bodies are laid out on the ground and left uncovered some time, giving the spectators an opportunity for once to see what will be their condition some day.
Now, when the bones are well cleaned, part of them arc placed in sacks, part in blankets. and they carry them on their shoulders, covering these bundles with other beautiful hanging robes. Entire bodies are put on a sort of litter and carried with all the others, each one taking his bundle into his cabin, where every family makes a feast to its dead.
Returning from this festival with a chief, who has considerable intelligence and who will be some day of high standing in the affairs of the country, I asked him why they called the bones of the dead Atisken. He explained as clearly as he could, and I learned from what he said that many believe that we have two souls, both divisible and material and yet both rational. One leaves the body at death, but remains, however, in the cemetery until the feast of the dead, after which it either is changed into a turtledove, or, according to the more general belief, it goes immediately to the village of souls.
The other soul is attached to the body; it marks the corpse, as it were, and remains in the grave after the feast, never to leave it. He mentioned to me, as a proof of this, the perfect resemblance which some persons bear to others who are deceased. This is why they call the bones of the dead Atisken, “the souls.”
A day or two before departing for the feast they carried all these bodies into one of the largest cabins of the village, where some of them were attached to the poles of the cabin, and others laid around it, and the chief entertained and made a grand feast in the name of the deceased chief whose name he bore. I was present at this “feast of spirits,” and observed four things in particular: First, the offerings which were given for the feast by the friends, and which consisted of robes, necklaces of shell beads, and kettles, were hung on poles extending the whole length of the cabin from one side to the other. Second, the chief sang the song of the dead chief, according to the desire he had expressed before his death, that it should be sung on this occasion. Third, all the guests had the privilege of dividing among themselves all the good things they had brought, and even of carrying them home, contrary to the custom at ordinary feasts. Lastly, at the close of the feast, as a compliment to him who had entertained them, they imitated as they sang the cry of the spirits, and left the cabin crying, “Ha-e-e, ha-e-e.”
The seven or eight days before the feasts were passed in collecting the bodies as well as assembling the strangers who were invited. Meanwhile, from morning till night gifts were distributed by the living to the young men in honor of the dead. On one side women were drawing the bow to see who should have the prize, which was sometimes a girdle of porcupine quills or a necklace of beads. On the other hand, in several parts of the village the young men were drawing clubs upon anyone who would try to capture them. The prize of this victory was a hatchet, some knives, or even a beaver robe.
Every day the remains were arriving. There is some pleasure in seeing these funeral processions. Which number sometimes from two to three hundred persons. Each one carries the remains of his friends, that is, the bones, packed upon his back after the manner I have described, under a beautiful robe. Some arranged their packets in the shape of a man, decorated with strings of beads, with a fine crown of red hair. On leaving their village the whole company cried. “Ha-e-e, ha-e-e,” and repeated this “cry of the spirits” all along the way. This cry, they say, comforts them greatly, otherwise their burdens, although souls, would weigh very heavily and cause a weakness of the side for the rest of their lives. They travel by short stages. The people of our village were three days in going four leagues. As soon as they arrive near any village they shout again the “Ha-e-e, ha-e-e.” The whole village comes out to meet them; many presents are again distributed on this occasion. Each one repairs to some one of the cabins; all find a place to put their bundles; this is done without confusion. At the same time the chiefs hold a council to decide upon the time that the company shall spend in this village.
The following is the arrangement of the grave. There was a space about as large as the Place Royale at Paris. In the center was a large grave about ten feet deep and five fathoms in diameter, round it a scaffolding and a sort of stage nicely made from nine to ten fathoms in diameter and nine or ten feet high. Above the stage there were several poles raised and well arranged, and others laid across them on which to hang all the bundles of skeletons. The entire bodies, as these were to be placed at the bottom of the grave, were laid under the scaffolding the day before, resting on bark, or mats raised on stones to the height of a man, around the grave. The whole company arrived with the bodies about an hour after midday, and divided into parties according to the families and villages, and laid their bundles upon the ground. They also unfolded their robes and all the offerings they had brought, and hung them upon the poles which extended for from 500 to 600 fathoms. There were nearly twelve hundred gifts, which remained thus on exhibition for two whole hours, to give strangers an opportunity to see the riches and magnificence of the country. About three o’clock each one fastened up his bundles and folded his robes. Meanwhile each chief in order gave a signal, and all immediately took up their bundles of bones, ran as if at the assault of a city, mounted upon the stage by means of ladders which were placed all around, and hung them (the bundles) to the poles; each village had its department. This done, all the ladders were taken away. Some of the chiefs remained upon the platform and spent the rest of the afternoon, until seven o’clock, in announcing the lists of presents which were given in the name of the deceased to some particular persons. For instance they would say, “Here is what such a one, deceased, gives to a certain relative.”
About five or six o’clock they lined the bottom of the grave and bordered it with large new robes, each made of the skins of ten beavers, in such a way that these extended more than a foot out of it. As they were preparing the robes which were to be used for this purpose, some of them descended into the grave, and came from it with their hands full of sand. I inquired what this ceremony meant, and learned that they believed that this sand will render them happy at their games.
Of the twelve hundred offerings that had been exhibited on the platform, forty-eight robes were to line and trim the grave, and each complete body had, besides the robe in which it was wrapped, another one, and some even two others, to cover it.
At seven o’clock the bodies were lowered into the grave. We had great difficulty in approaching it. Nothing ever pictured better to me the confusion among the damned. You could see unloaded on all sides bodies, and everywhere was heard a terrible uproar of confused voices of persons who were speaking without hearing one another. Ten or twelve men were in the grave and were arranging the bodies all around it, one after the other. They placed exactly in the center, three large kettles, which were of no use save for the spirits; one was pierced with holes, another had no handle, and the third was worth little more. I saw a few necklaces of shell beads there; it is true, many of them were put on the bodies. This was all that was done on this day.
The whole company passed the night on the spot, having lit a great many fires and boiled kettles. We retired to the old village with the intention of returning the next day at daylight when they were to cast the bones into the grave; but we barely arrived in time, notwithstanding all the diligence we employed, on account of an accident which happened. One of the skeletons, which was not well fastened, or perhaps was too heavy for the cord which held it, fell of itself into the grave. The noise it made awoke the whole troop, who ran and immediately mounted, in a crowd, to the platform and emptied, without order, all the bundles into the grave, reserving, however, the robes in which they had been wrapped. We were just leaving the village at the time, but the noise was so great that it seemed almost as though we were there. Approaching, we saw suddenly an image of the infernal regions. This great space was filled with fire and smoke, and the air resounded on all sides with the mingled voices of the savages. The noise, nevertheless, ceased for a while, and was changed to singing, but in a tune so doleful and weird that it represented to us the terrible sadness and the depths of despair in which the condemned souls are forever plunged.
Nearly all the bones had been cast in when we arrived, for it was done almost in a moment, each one being in haste for fear that there was not room for all these skeletons; never, the less we saw enough of it to judge of the rest. There were five or six men in the grave, with poles, to arrange the bones. It was filled up within two feet of the top with bones, after which they turned over them the robes that bordered the grave all around, and covered the whole with mats and bark. The pit was then filled up with sand, rods, and stakes of wood which were thrown in promiscuously. Some of the women brought dishes of corn, and on the same day and the following days several cabins of the village furnished basketfuls of it, which were cast into the pit.