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98. Ga?na?'s Adventures Among The Cherokee

Ga?na? was a Seneca war chief. He called a council and said, "We must go to the Cherokee and see if we can't agree to be friendly together and live in peace hereafter." The people consented, and the chief said, "We must go to water first before we start." So they went, a great party of warriors, far away into the deep forest by the river side. There were no women with them. For ten days they drank medicine every morning to make them vomit and washed and bathed in the river each day.

Then the chief said, "Now we must get the eagle feathers." They went to the top of a high hill and dug a trench there the length of a man's body, and put a man into it, with boughs over the top so that he could not be seen, and above that they put the whole body of a deer. Then the people went off out of sight, and said the words to invite Shada?ge'a, the great eagle that lives in the clouds, to come down.

The man under the brushwood heard a noise, and a common eagle came and ate a little and flew away again. Soon it came back, ate a

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little more, and flew off in another direction. It told the other birds and they came, but the man seared them away, because he did not want common birds to eat the meat. After a while he heard a great noise coming through the air, and he knew it was Shada?ge'a, the bird be wanted. Shada?ge'a is very cautious, and looked around in every direction for some time before he began to eat the meat. As soon as he was eating the man put his hand up cautiously and caught hold of the bird's tail and hold on to it. Shada?ge'a rose up and flew away, and the man had pulled out one feather. They had to trap a good many eagles in this way, and it was two years before they could get enough feathers to make a full tail, and were ready to start for the Cherokee country.

They were many days on the road, and when they got to the first Cherokee town they found there was a stockade around it so that no enemy could enter. They waited until the gate was open, and then two Seneca dancers went forward, carrying the eagle feathers and shouting the signal yell. When the Cherokee beard the noise they came out and saw the two men singing and dancing, and the chief said, "These men must have come upon some errand." The Seneca messengers came up and said, "Call a council; we have come to talk on important business." All turned and went toward the townhouse, the rest of the Seneca following the two who were dancing. The townhouse was crowded, and the Seneca sang and danced until they were tired before they stopped. The Cherokee did not dance.

After the dance the Seneca chief said, "Now I will tell you why we have come so far through the forest to see you. We have thought among ourselves that it is time to stop fighting. Your people and ours are always on the lookout to kill each other, and we think it is time for this to stop. Here is a belt of wampum to show that I speak the truth. If your people are willing to be friendly, take it," and he held up the belt. The Cherokee chief stepped forward and said, "I will hold it in my hand, and to-morrow we will tell you what we decide." He then turned and said to the people, "Go home and bring food." They went and brought so much food that it made a great pile across the house, and all of both tribes ate together, but could not finish it.

Next day they ate together again, and when all were done the Cherokee chief said to the 'Seneca, "We have decided to be friendly and to bury our weapons, these knives and hatchets, so that no man may take them up again." The Seneca chief replied, "We are glad you have accepted our offer, and now we have all thrown our weapons in a pile together, and the white wampum hangs between us, and the belt shall be as long as a man and hang down to the ground."

Then the Cherokee chief said to his people, "Now is the time for any of you that wishes to adopt a relative from among the Seneca to do so." So some Cherokee women went and picked out one man and

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said, "You shall be our uncle," and some more took another for their brother, and so on until only Ga?na?, the chief, was left, but the Cherokee chief said, "No one must take Ga?na?, for a young man is here to claim him as his father." Then the young man came up to Ga?na? and said, "Father, I am glad to see you. Father, we will go home," and he led Ga?na? to his own mother's house, the house where Ga?na? had spent the first night. The young man was really his son, and when Ga?na? came to the house he recognized the woman as his wife who had been carried off long ago by the Cherokee.

While they were there a messenger came from the Seoqgwageono tribe, that lived near the great salt water in the east, to challenge the Cherokee to a ball play. He was dressed in skins which were so long that they touched the ground. He said that his people were already on the way and would arrive in a certain number of days. They came on the appointed day and the next morning began to make the bets with the Cherokee. The Seneca were still there. The strangers bet two very heavy and costly robes, besides other things. They began to play, and the Cherokee lost the game. Then the Seneca said, "We will try this time." Both sides bet heavily again, and the game began, but after a little running the Seneca carried the ball to their goal and made a point. Before long they made all the points and won the game. Then the bets were doubled, and the Seneca won again. When they won a third game also the Seoqgwageono said, "Let us try a race," and the Seneca agreed.

The course was level, and the open space was very wide. The Cherokee selected the Seneca runner, and it was agreed that they would run the first race without betting and then make their bets on the second race. They ran the first race, and when they reached the post the Seneca runner was just the measure of his body behind the other. His people asked him if he had done his best, but he said, "No; I have not," so they made their bets, and the second race--the real race--began. When they got to the middle the Seneca runner said to the other, "Do your best now, for I am going to do mine," and as he said it he pulled out and left the other far behind and won the race. Then the Seoqgwageono said, "There is one more race yet--the long race," and they got ready for it, but the Cherokee chief said to his own men, "We have won everything from these people. I think it will be best to let them have one race, for if they lose all, they may make trouble." They selected a Cherokee to run, and he was beaten, and the Seoqgwageono went home.

In a few days they sent a messenger to challenge the Cherokee to meet them halfway for a battle. When the Cherokee heard this they said to the Seneca, "There are so few of you here that we don't want to have you killed. It is better for you to go home." So the Seneca went back to their own country.

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Three years later they came again to visit the Cherokee, who told them that the Seoqgwageono had won the battle, and that the chief of the enemy had said afterward, "I should like to fight the Seneca, for I am a double man." Before long the enemy heard that the Seneca were there and sent them a challenge to come and fight. The Seneca said, "We must try to satisfy them," so with Cherokee guides they set out for the country of the Seoqgwageono. They went on until they came to an opening in the woods within one day's journey of the first village. Then they stopped and got ready to send two messengers to notify the enemy, but the Cherokee said, "You must send them so as to arrive about sundown." They did this, and when the messengers arrived near the town they saw all the people out playing ball.

The two Seneca went around on the other side, and began throwing sumac darts as they approached, so that the others would think they were some of their own men at play. In this way they got near enough to kill a man who was standing alone. They scalped him, and then raising the scalp yell they rushed off through the Woods, saying to each other as they ran, "Be strong--Be strong." Soon they saw the Seoqgwageono coming on horses, but managed to reach a dry creek and to bide under the bank, so that the enemy passed on without seeing them.

The next morning they came out and started on, but the enemy was still on the watch, and before long the two men saw the dust of the, horses behind them. The others came up until they were almost upon them and began to shoot arrows at them, but by this time the two Seneca were near the opening where their own friends were hiding, drawn up on each side of the pass. As the pursuers dashed in the two lines of the Seneca closed in and every man of the Seoqgwageono was either killed or taken.

The Seneca went back to the Cherokee country and after about a month they returned to their own homes. Afterward the Cherokee told them, "We hear the Seoqgwageono think you dangerous people. They themselves are conjurers and can tell what other people are going to do, but they cannot tell what the Seneca are going to do. The Seneca medicine is stronger."--Arranged from Curtin, Seneca manuscript.

Next: 99. The Shawano Wars