Sacred Texts  Native American  Index  Previous  Next 

{p. 126}





(TIMAGAMI OJIBWA: Speck, Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Canada: Anthropological Series, ix, 47)

At the time of which my story speaks people were camping just as we are here. In the winter time they used birch bark wigwams. All the animals could then. talk together. Two girls, who were very foolish, talked foolishly and were in no respect like the other girls of their tribe, made their bed out-of-doors, and slept right out under the stars. The very fact that they slept outside during the winter proves how foolish they were.

One of these girls asked the other, "With what star would you like to sleep, the white one or the red one?" The other girl answered, "I'd like to sleep with the red star." "Oh, that's all right," said the first one, "I would like to sleep with the white star. He's the younger; the red is the older." Then the two girls fell asleep. When they awoke, they found themselves in another world, the star world. There were four of them there, the two girls and the two stars who had become men. The white star was very, very old and was grey-headed, while the younger was red-headed. He was the red star. The girls stayed a long time in this star world, and the one who had chosen the white star was very sorry, for he was so old.

There was an old woman up in this world who sat over a hole in the sky,[28] and, whenever she moved, she showed them the hole and said, "That's where you came from." They looked down through and saw their people playing down below, and then the girls grew very sorry and very homesick. One evening, near sunset, the old woman moved a little way from the hole.

The younger girl heard the noise of the mitewin down below. When it was almost daylight, the old woman sat over the hole

{p. 127}

again and the noise of mitewin stopped; it was her spirit that made the noise. She was the guardian of the mitewin.

One morning the old woman told the girls, "If you want to go down where you came from, we will let you down, but get to work and gather roots to make a string-made rope, twisted. The two of you make coils of rope as high as your heads when you are sitting. Two coils will be enough." The girls worked for days until they had accomplished this. They made plenty of rope and tied it to a big basket.[194] They then got into the basket and the people of the star world lowered them down. They descended right into an Eagle's nest, but the people above thought the girls were on the ground and stopped lowering them. They were obliged to stay in the nest, because they could do nothing to help themselves.

Said one, "We'll have to stay here until some one comes to get us." Bear passed by. The girls cried out, "Bear, come and get us. You are going to get married sometime. Now is your chance!" Bear thought, "They are not very good-looking women." He pretended to climb up and then said, "I can't climb up any further." And he went away, for the girls didn't suit him. Next came Lynx. The girls cried out again, "Lynx, come up and get us. You will go after women some day!" Lynx answered, "I can't, for I have no claws," and he went away. Then an ugly-looking man, Wolverine, passed and the girls spoke to him. "Hey, wolverine, come and get us." Wolverine started to climb up, for he thought it a very fortunate thing to have these women and was very glad. When he reached them, they placed their hair ribbons in the nest.[195] Then Wolverine agreed to take one girl at a time, so he took the first one down and went back for the next. Then Wolverine went away with his two wives and enjoyed himself greatly, as he was ugly and nobody else would have him. They went far into the woods, and then they sat down and began to talk. "Oh!" cried one of the girls, "I forgot my hair ribbon." Then Wolverine said, "I will run back for it." And he started off to get the hair ribbons. Then the girls hid and told the trees, whenever Wolverine should come back and whistle for them, to answer him by whistling.[196] Wolverine soon returned and began to whistle for his wives, and the trees all around him whistled in answer. Wolverine, realizing that he had been tricked, gave up the search and departed very angry.

{p. 128}



(ARAPAHO: Dorsey and Kroeber, Field Museum: Anthropological Series, v, 330, No. 135)

There was a camp-circle. A party of women went out after some wood for the fire. One of them saw a porcupine near a cottonwood tree and informed her companions of the fact. The porcupine ran around the tree , finally climbing it, whereupon the woman tried to hit the animal, but he dodged from one side of the trunk of the tree to the other, for protection. At length one of the women started to climb the tree to catch the porcupine, but it ever stopped just beyond her reach. She even tried to reach it with a stick, but with each effort it went a little higher. "Well!" said she, "I am climbing to catch the porcupine, for I want those quills, and if necessary I will go to the top."

When porcupine had reached the top of the tree the woman was still climbing, although the cottonwood was dangerous and the branches were waving to and fro; but as she approached the top and was about to lay hands upon the porcupine, the tree suddenly lengthened,[200] when the porcupine resumed his climbing. Looking down, she saw her friends looking up at her, and beckoning her to come down; but having passed under the influence of the porcupine and fearful for the great distance between herself and the ground, she continued to climb, until she became the merest speck to those looking up from below, and with the porcupine she finally reached the sky."[118]

The porcupine took the woman into the camp-circle where his father and mother lived. The folks welcomed her arrival and furnished her with the very best kind of accommodation. The lodge was then put up for them to live in. The porcupine was very industrious and of course the old folks were well supplied with hides and food.

One day she decided to save all the sinew from the buffalo, at the same time doing work on buffalo robes and other things with it, in order to avoid all suspicion on the part of her husband and the old folks, as to why she was saving the sinew. Thus she continued to save a portion of the sinew from each beef brought in by her husband, until she had a supply suitable

{p. 129}

for her purpose. One day her husband cautioned her, that while in search of roots, wild turnips and other herbs, she should not dig[197] and that should she use the digging stick, she should not dig too deep, and that she should go home early when out for a walk. The husband was constantly bringing in the beef and hide, in order that he might keep his wife at work at home all the time. But she was a good worker and soon finished what was required for them.

Seeing that she had done considerable work, one day she started out in search of hog potatoes, and carried with her the digging stick. She ran to a thick patch and kept digging away to fill her bag. She accidentally struck a hole[28] which surprised her very much, and so she stooped down and looked in and through the hole, seeing below, a green earth with a camp-circle on it. After questioning herself and recognizing the camp-circle below, she carefully covered the spot and marked it. She took the bag and went to her own tipi, giving the folks some of the hog potatoes. The old folks were pleased and ate the hog potatoes to satisfy their daughter-in-law. The husband returned home too, bringing in beef and hides.

Early one morning the husband started off for more beef and hides, telling his wife to be careful about herself. After he was gone, she took the digging stick and the sinew she had to the place where she struck the hole. When she got to the hole, she sat down and began tying string, so as to make the sinew long enough to reach the bottom. She then opened the hole and laid the digging stick across the hole which she had dug, and tied one of the sinew strings in the center of this stick, and then also fastened herself to the end of the lariat.[194] She gradually loosened the sinew lariat as she let herself down, finally finding herself suspended above the top of the tree which she had climbed, but not near enough so that she could possibly reach it.

When the husband missed her, he scolded the old people for not watching their daughter-in-law. He began to look for her in the direction in which she usually started off, but found no fresh tracks, though he kept traveling until he tracked her to the digging stick which was lying across the hole. The husband stooped down and looked into this hole and saw his wife suspended from this stick by means of a sinew lariat or string. "Well, the only way to do is to see her touch the bottom," said he. So he looked around and found a circular stone two or three

{p. 130}

inches thick, and brought it to the place. Again he continued, "I want this stone to light right on top of her head," and he dropped the stone carefully along the sinew string, and it struck the top of her head and broke her off and landed her safe on the ground. She took up the stone and went to the camp-circle. This is the way the woman returned.


(CHILCOTIN. Farrand, Jesup North Pacific Expedition, ii, 29, No. 13)

Once an old man and a young man and two women lived together. The two women were the young man's wives. Now, the young man needed some feathers for his arrows; and one day, seeing a hawk's nest in a high tree, he started to climb to it to get the hawk-feathers. Now, the old man was jealous of the young man, and had followed him. And when he saw him climbing the tree, he used his magic and made the tree grow higher and higher,[200] and at the same time peeled off all the bark so that the trunk was slippery; and as the young man was naked, he could not come down, but had to remain in the top of the tree. When the young man failed to appear that night, the old man said he wished to move camp, and that the women were to come with him. And the next morning they started. Now, one of the women liked the old man; but the other one, who had a baby, disliked him, and when they camped for the night, she would take her baby, and make a fire for herself outside the camp and away from the old man. So they went on for several days.

All this time the young man staid up in the tree; and as it was cold and he had no clothes, he took his hair, which was very long, and wove feathers in it, and so made a blanket to protect himself. The little birds who built their nests in the sticks of the hawk's nest tried their best to carry him down to the ground, but could not lift him, and so he staid on.

Finally one day he saw coming, a long way off, an old woman bent over, and with a stick in each hand. She came to the bottom 'of the tree where the young man was, and began to climb, and climbed until she reached the young man, and then she turned out to be Spider. Then Spider spun a web for him, and of the web the young man made a rope and so reached the ground.

{p. 131}

When he came back to his camp, he found it deserted, but discovered the trail of the fugitives, and started to follow. He trailed them a long time, and finally saw them in the distance. Now, the woman who did not like the old man was following behind with her little boy; and the child, looking back, saw his father and cried out, "Why, there is my father!" But the mother replied, "What do you mean? Your father has been dead a long time." But looking back herself, she saw her husband, and waited for him to come up, and they stopped together.

Then she told her husband all that had happened, how the old man had wished to take both his wives, and how she would not have him, but how the other one took him. Now, the woman was carrying a large basket, and she put her husband into it and covered him up. When they reached the old man's camp she put the basket down close to the fire; but the old man took it and placed it some distance away. The woman brought it back and as she did so the young man sprang out and struck the old man and killed him. Then he killed his faithless wife; and taking the other woman, who was true, and the little boy, they went back to their old home together.


(TLINGIT: Swanton, Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, xxxix, 209, No. 56)

Two very high-caste boys were chums. The father of one was town chief and had his house in the middle of the village, but the house of the other boy's father stood at one end. These boys would go alternately to each other's houses and make great quantities of arrows which they would play with until all were broken up.

One time both of the boys made a great quantity of arrows to see which could have the more. Just back of their village was a hill on the top of which was a smooth grassy place claimed by the boys as their playground, and on a certain fine, moonlight night they started thither. As they were going along the lesser chief's son, who was ahead, said, "Look here, friend. Look at that moon. Don't you think that the shape of that moon is the same as that of my mother's labret and that the size is the same, too?" The other answered, "Don't: You must not talk that way of the moon."

{p. 132}

Then suddenly it became very dark about them and presently the head chief's son saw a ring about them just like a rainbow. When it disappeared his companion was gone. He called and called to him but did not get any answer and did not see him. He thought, "He must have run up the hill to get away from that rainbow." He looked up and saw the moon in the sky. Then he climbed the hill, and looked about, but his friend was not there. Now he thought, "Well! the moon must have gone up with him. That circular rainbow must have been the moon."

The boy thus left alone sat down and cried, after which he began to try the bows. He put strings on them one after the other and tried them, but every one broke. He broke all of his own bows and all of his {and?} his chum's except one which was made of very hard wood. He thought, "Now I am going to shoot that star next to the moon." In that spot was a large and very bright one. He shot an arrow at this star and sat down to watch, when, sure enough, the star darkened. Now he began shooting at that star from the big piles of arrows he and his chum had made, and he was encouraged by seeing that the arrows did not come back. After he had shot for some time he saw something hanging down very near him and, when he shot up another arrow, it stuck to this. The next did likewise, and at last the chain of arrows[203] reached him. He put a last one on to complete it.

Now the youth felt badly for the loss of his friend and, lying down under the arrow chain, he went to sleep. After a while he awoke, found himself sleeping on that hill, remembered the arrows he had shot away, and looked up. Instead of the arrows there was a long ladder[204] reaching right down to him. He arose and looked so as to make sure. Then he determined to ascend. First, however, he took various kinds of bushes and stuck them into the knot of hair he wore on his head. He climbed up his ladder all day and camped at nightfall upon it, resuming his journey the following morning. When he awoke early on the second morning his head felt very heavy. Then he seized the salmon berry bush that was in his hair, pulled it out, and found it was loaded with

{p. 133}

berries. After he had eaten the berries off, he stuck the branch back into his hair and felt very much strengthened. About noon of the same day he again felt hungry, and again his head was heavy, so he pulled out a bush from the other side of his head and it was loaded with blue huckleberries. It was already summer there in the sky. That was why he was getting berries. When he resumed his journey next morning his head did not feel heavy until noon. At that time he pulled out the bush at the back of his head and found it loaded with red huckleberries.

By the time he had reached the top[118] the boy was very tired. He looked round and saw a large lake. Then he gathered some soft brush and some moss and lay down to sleep. But, while he slept, some person came to him and shook him saying, "Get up. I am after you." He awoke and looked around but saw no one. Then he rolled over and pretended to go to sleep again but looked out through his eyelashes. By and by he saw a very small but handsome girl coming along. Her skin clothes were very clean and neat, and her leggings were ornamented with porcupine quills. Just as she reached out to shake him he said, "I have seen you already."

Now the girl stood still and said, "I have come after you. My grandmother has sent me to bring you to her house." So he went with her, and they came to a very small house in which was an old woman. The old woman said, "What is it you came way up here after, my grandson?" and the boy answered, "On account of my playmate who was taken up hither." "Oh!" answered the old woman, "He is next door, only a short distance away. I can hear him crying every day. He is in the moon's house."

Then the old woman began to give him food. She would put her hand up to her mouth, and a salmon or whatever she was going to give would make its appearance. After the salmon she gave him berries and then meat, for she knew that he was hungry from his long journey. After that she gave him a spruce cone, a rose bush, a piece of devil's club, and a small piece of whetstone to take along.

As the boy was going toward the moon's house with all of these things he heard his playmate screaming with pain. He had been put up on a high place near the smoke hole, so, when his rescuer came to it, he climbed on top, and, reaching down through the smoke hole, pulled him out. He said, "My friend, come. I am here to help you." Putting the spruce cone down where the boy had been, he told it to imitate his cries, and he and his chum ran away.[196]

{p. 134}

After a while, however, the cone dropped from the place where it has been put, and the people discovered that their captive had escaped. Then the moon started in pursuit. When the head chief's son discovered this, he threw behind them the devil's club he had received from the old woman, and a patch of devil's club arose which the moon had so much trouble in getting through that they gained rapidly on him. When the moon again approached, the head chief's son threw back the rose bushes, and such a thicket of roses grew there that the moon was again delayed. When he approached them once more, they threw back the grindstone, and it became a high cliff from which the moon kept rolling back. It is on account of this cliff that people can say things about the moon nowadays with impunity. When the boys reached the old woman's house they were very glad to see each other, for before this they had not had time to speak.

The old woman gave them something to eat, and, when they were through, she said to the rescuer, "Go and lie down at the place where you lay when you first came up. Don't think of anything but the playground you used to have." They went there and lay down, but after some time the boy who had first been captured thought of the old woman's house and immediately they found themselves there. Then the old woman said, "Go back and do not think of me any more. Lie there and think of nothing but the place where you used to play." They did so, and, when they awoke, they were lying on their playground at the foot of the ladder.

As the boys lay in that place they heard a drum beating in the head chief's house, where a death feast was being held for them, and the head chief's son said, "Let us go," but the other answered, "No, let us wait here until that feast is over." Afterward the boys went down and watched the people come out with their faces all blackened. They stood at a corner, but, as this dance is always given in the evening, they were not seen.

Then the head chief's son thought, " I wish my younger brother would come out," and sure enough, after all of the other people had gone, his younger brother came out. He called to his brother saying, "Come here. It is I," but the child was afraid and ran into the house instead. Then the child said to his mother, "My brother and his friend are out here." "Why

{p. 135}

do you talk like that?" asked his mother. "Don't you know that your brother died some time ago?" And she became very angry. The child, however, persisted, saying, "I know his voice, and I know him." His mother was now very much disturbed, so the boy said, "I am going to go out and bring in a piece of his shirt." "Go and do so," said his mother. "Then I will believe you."

When the boy at last brought in a piece of his brother's shirt his mother was convinced, and they sent word into all of the houses, first of all into that of the second boy's parents, but they kept both with them so that his parents could come there and rejoice over him. All of the other people in that village also came to see them.


(PLAINS CREE: Skinner, Journal of American Folk-Lore, xxix, 353, No. 3)

ONCE upon a time the Indians were camping. They had ten lodges. There were ten of them; and the eldest brother, Mudjikiwis, was sitting in the doorway. It was winter, and all the Indians had their side-bags on; and every day they went off and hunted in the direction which they faced as they sat. Mudjikiwis always took the lead, and the others followed. Once when he came home to his camp, he saw smoke just as he crossed the last hill. When he approached the lodge, he saw a pile of wood neatly stacked by the door. He himself had always cooked the dinner; and when he saw it ready, he was very glad. "There is surely a girl here!" he thought. "There must be some one who has done this."[207]

He had many brothers younger than himself. "Maybe some one is trying to marry them, or some girl wants me!"

When he arrived at the lodge, he saw a girl's pigeon-toed tracks, and he was delighted. "It is a girl!" he cried, and he rushed in to see her, but there was no one there. The fire was just started, the meat cooked and ready, and water had been drawn. Some one had just finished work when he came. There were even ten pairs of moccasins hanging up. "Now, at last, there is some one to sew for us! Surely one of us will get married!" he thought, and he also thought that he would be the fortunate one. He did not touch anything, but left everything as he had found it for his brothers to see.

{p. 136}

After a while the brother next to him in age came in. He looked up and saw all the moccasins, and he too was very glad. Then Mudjikiwis said, "I do not know which of us is going to be married. A girl has just left here, but I cannot tell who she is, and there are ten of us. One of us is loved by some one!" They soon were joined by the third, and then by the fourth brother, and the fire was out by that time. The youngest brother was the most handsome one of the family. "If one of us should marry, Mudjikiwis, we shall have to hunt hard and not let our sister-in-law hunger or be in need," he said. "I shall be very glad if we have a sister-in-law. Don't let her chop wood; she cannot attend to all of us. We just want her to cook and mend our clothes."

At night they were all crying, "He, he, he!" until dark came, because they were so glad. "I cannot attend to all my brothers, and I do not need to do so any more!" cried Mudjikiwis.

The next day nine went off, and left the youngest brother on guard to see the girl. Mudjikiwis came back first, and found that the tenth boy had not been taken. "Oh, well! leave our ninth brother next time, "he said "Then we will try it once more with our eighth brother."

Three of them then kept house in succession, but the woman did not come. They then left the fifth one, and said, "If no one comes, make dinner for us yourself." Soon after they had left, some one came along making a noise like a rattle, for she had bells on her leggings.

"Oh, she shall not know me!" said the youth. "I shall be a bit of eagle-down,"[208] and he flew up between the canvas and the poles of the lodge. Presently the girl entered. She had very long hair, and was very pretty. She took the axe and went out to cut wood, and soon brought in four armfuls. Then she made the fire, took down the kettles, and prepared dinner. When she had done so she melted some snow, took another armful of wood, and started another fire. After she had finished she called to the youth to come down from his hiding-place. "Maybe you think I don't know you are up there," she said. So he came down and took a seat with her by the fire.

When Mudjikiwis came home, he saw another big pile of wood. When he came near, he cried, "He, he, he!" to show that he was well pleased. "I could not attend to the needs of

{p. 137}

my brothers," he shouted, "I could not cook for them, and I could not provide my relatives with moccasins!" He entered the door and bent down, for Mudjikiwis had on a fisher-skin head-band with an eagle-quill thrust in behind. As he came in, he saw a pretty girl sitting there. When he sat down, he said, "Hai, hai, hai! The girl is sitting like her mother." He pulled off his shoes and threw them to his youngest brother, and received a fine pair of moccasins from his sister-in-law. He was delighted, and cried, "Hai, hai, hai!" Soon all the other brothers came back, all nine of them, and each received new moccasins.

Mudjikiwis said, "I have already advised you. Do not let our sister-in-law chop wood or do any hard work. Hunt well, and do not let her be hungry." Morning came, and Mudjikiwis was already half in love with his sister-in-law. He started out, pretending that he was going to hunt, but he only went over a hill and stopped there. Then he wrapped his blanket around himself. It was winter, and he took some mud from under the snow and rubbed it over his forehead and on his hat-band. He had his ball-headed club with him, which had two eyes that winked constantly. Soon he saw his sister-in-law, who came out to chop wood. He went to speak to her, but the girl had disappeared. Soon she came back. There was one pile of wood here, and one there. Mudjikiwis stopped at the one to the west. He had his bow, his arrows, and his club with him. He held his club on the left arm, and his bow and arrow on the right arm, folded his arms across his breast, and was smiling at her when she came up. "O my brother-in-law! I don't want to do that," she cried.

Then Mudjikiwis was angry because she scorned him. He took an arrow and shot her in the leg, and fled off to hunt. That night he returned late, last of all. As he came close to the lodge, he called out, "Yoha, yoha! what is wrong with you? You have done some kind of mischief. Why is there no wood for our sister-in-law?" He went in. "What is wrong with our sister-in-law, that she is not home?" he demanded. His brother then said, "Why are you so late? You used to be the first one here."

Mudjikiwis would not speak in reply. The married brother came in last. The young brother was tired of waiting, and asked each, "You did not see your sister-in-law, did you?" The

{p. 138}

others replied, "Mudjikiwis came very late. He never did so before."

"I shall track my wife," said the husband. So he set off in pursuit of her. He tracked her, and found that she had brought one load of wood. Her second trail ended at a little lodge of willows that she had made, and where she was. She cried to him, "Do not come here! Your brother Mudjikiwis has shot me. I told him I did not want to receive him, and then he shot me down. Do not come here. You will see me on the fourth night. If you want to give me food, put it outside the door and go away, and I shall get it."

Her husband went home, as she commanded. After that the youth would bring her food, after hunting, every night. "It is well. Even though our brother shot my wife, I shall forgive him, if I can only see her after four nights," he said. The third night he could hardly stay away, he wanted to see her so badly. The fourth day at dawn he went to the lodge; and as he drew near, she cried, "Do not come!" but he went in, anyway, and saw her there. "I told you not to come, but you could not restrain yourself.[209] When your brothers could not attend to themselves, I wished to help them," she cried. So he went home satisfied, since he had seen her. They breakfasted, and he started out again with food for her. She had gone out, for he found her tracks, little steps, dabbled with blood. Then he went back home, and said to his brothers, "My brothers, I am going to go after my wife."

He dressed, and followed her footprints. Sometimes he ran, and at sunset he wanted to camp. So he killed a rabbit; and as he came out of the brush, he saw a lodge. "He, my grandchild!" called a voice, "You are thinking of following your wife. She passed here at dawn. Come in and sit down! Here is where she sat before you." He entered, and found an old woman, who told him to sit in the same place where his wife had sat. He gave her the rabbit he had shot, as he was really hungry. "Oh, my grandchild must be very hungry!" she cried, " so I shall cook for him," said the old crone. Her kettle was no larger than a thimble. She put in one morsel of meat and one little berry. The youth thought that was a very small allowance, when he was really hungry.

"O my grandchild!" the old woman said aloud in answer to his thoughts, "no one has ever eaten all my kettle holds. You are wrong if you think you won't get enough of this."

{p. 139}

But he still thought so, and did not believe her. After the food was cooked, she said, "Eat, nosis!" and gave him a spoon. He took out the piece of meat and the berry; but when he had eaten it, the kettle was still full.[210] He did this many times over. When he had finished, he had not eaten it all, yet he had enough. Then the grandmother told him that he had married one of ten sisters.

"They are not real people," she said, "they are from way up in the skies. They have ten brothers. There are three more of your grandmothers on the road where you are going. Each will tell you to go back, as I advised you; but if you insist, I will give you two bones to help you climb over the mountains."

Now, this old woman was really a moose, and not a human grandmother at all.[40] "If you get into difficulties, you must cry, 'Where is my grandmother?' and use these two front shin-bones of the moose that I gave you." He slept there, and in the morning she gave him breakfast from the same kettle. When he was through she said, "Do not walk fast. Even if you rest on the way, you will reach your next grandmother in the evening. If you walk as fast as you can, you will get there at night."

He followed the trail as fast as he could, for he did not believe his grandmother. In the evening he killed a rabbit; and when he came out of the brush, there stood another lonely lodge, as before.

"O my grandchild! there is room in here for you to come in," cried a voice. "Your wife passed here early yesterday morning." Yet he had travelled two days. "She came in here!"

The old woman cooked for him in the same way as his other grandmother had done. Again he did not believe in her kettle, for he had already forgotten about his first grandmother. This grandmother was older than the first one whom he had left, and who was the youngest of the four grandmothers he was to meet. They were all sisters. "Why did you not believe my sister when she told you to go slowly? When you go fast, you make the trail longer. Hau, nosis! it is a difficult country where you are going," she cried. She gave him a squirrel-skin, saying, "Use this, nosis, whenever you are in difficulties. 'Where is my grandmother?' you shall say. This is what makes everything easy. You will cry, and you will throw it away. You will not leave me till the morning."

{p. 140}

So very early next day he started off. He went very slowly; and in a few minutes it was night, and he killed another rabbit. When he came out of the brush, he saw another lodge, a little nearer than the others, and less ragged. The old woman said to him, "Your wife passed here the same morning that she left up there"; and this grandmother made supper for him, as the others had done. This time the food was corn. "Nosis, your last grandmother, who is my sister, will give you good advice. Your wife has had a child already. Go very slowly, and you will reach there at night; it is not far from here. It is a very difficult country where you are going. Maybe you will not be able to get there." She gave him a stuffed frog and some glue. "Whenever the mountains are too steep for you to climb, cry, 'Where is my grandmother?' put glue on your hands, and climb, and you will stick to the rocks. When you reach your next grandmother, she will advise you well. Your child is a little boy."

In the morning he had breakfast, and continued on the trail. He went on slowly, and it was soon night, and he killed another rabbit. When he reached the next lodge, nearer than all the rest, his grandmother said, "They have been saying you would be here after your wife; she passed here four days ago at dawn."

The youth entered the tent, and found that this grandmother was a fine young girl in appearance. She said, "To-morrow at noon your wife is going to be married, and the young men will all sit in a circle and pass your child around. The man upon whom he urinates will be known as his father,[212] and she will marry him." The old woman took off her belt, rolled it up nicely, and gave it to him. "This is the last one that you will use," she said, "When you are in trouble, cry out, 'Where is my grandmother?' and throw the belt out, and it will stick up there, so you can climb up to the top. Before noon you will reach a perpendicular precipice like a wall. Your wife is not of our people. She is one of the Thunderers."[213]

That night the youth camped there. In the morning he had food. "If you manage to climb the mountain somehow," his grandmother said to him before he started, "you will cross the hill and see a steep slope, and there you will find a nest. There is one egg in it. That is a Thunderer's nest. As you come down, you will strike the last difficult place. There is a large log across a river. The river is very deep, and the log revolves

{p. 141}

constantly. There you will find a big camp, headed by your father-in-law, who owns everything there. There is one old woman just on this side. She is one of us sisters; she is the second oldest of us. You will see bones strewn about when you get there. Many young men go there when they are looking for their wives, and their bones you will see lying about. The Thunderer destroys everything. Some have been cut in halves when they tried to get over the cut-knife mountain."

When the youth came to the mountain, he took first the two bones, and cried, "O grandmother! where are you?" and as he cried, she called from far off, "He, nosis, do not get into trouble!" He drove the bones into the mountain and climbed up hand over hand, driving them in as he climbed. The bones pierced the rock. When he looked back, he saw that he was far up. He continued until the bones began to grow short, and at last he had to stop. Then he took out the squirrel-hide, called upon his grandmother for help, and threw the skin ahead. He went up in the air following it. All at once he stopped, and his nails wore out on the rock as he slipped back. Then he took the glue out of its bundle. He cried for his grandmother, and heard her answer. She had told him that he would find a hollow at one place, and there he rested on a ledge when his glue gave out. Then he called for his next grandmother, heard her answer, and cast out his belt, unrolling it. Then he climbed up the sharp summit. He felt of the edge, which was very sharp indeed. Then he became apiece of eagle-down. "The eagle-down loved me once. I shall be it, and blow over the ledge," he cried.

When he got across, he saw the Thunderer's nest and the two Thunderers and their egg. He found a trail from there on, until he came to the rolling log that lay across the deep river. Then he became down again, and blew across; and though many others had been drowned there, he crossed alive. He went on, and at last saw a small, low lodge with a little stone beside it. His last grandmother had told him to enter, as this was the abode of one of her sisters. So he went in.

"Ha, ha, ha, nosis!" she cried, "They said a long time ago that you were following your wife. She is to be married right now."--"Yes," he said. The marriage was to be in a lodge. He went there, peeped in, and a man saw him, who said, "Are you coming in? Our chief says he will pass the child about and he on whose breast it urinates shall marry its mother."

{p. 142}

So he went in. The girl saw him, and told her mother. "Oh, that is the one I married."

When he arrived there, Mudjikiwis (not the youth's brother, but another one, a Thunderer) was there too. They took the child, and one man passed it. Mudjikiwis, the Thunderer, held some water in his mouth. He seized the child, crying, "Come here, nosis!" and spat the water over himself; but, when he tried to claim the child, all the others laughed, as they had seen his trick. When the child's real father took it up, it urinated on him. Then all went out. The chief said, "Do not let my son-in-law walk about, because he is really tired. He shall not walk for ten days."

His father-in-law would go off all day. Hanging in the lodge the youth saw his brother's arrow, with which his wife had been shot. The father-in-law would burn sweet-grass for the arrow at the rare intervals when he came back, for he would be off for days at a time. On the fifth night the youth felt rested, and could walk a little. Then he asked his wife, "Why does your father smoke that arrow?" and she answered, "Oh, we never see those things up here. It is from below, and he thinks highly of it; therefore he does so."

On the sixth night he was able to walk around in the brush; and he came to a spring, where he found, on the surface of the water, a rusty stain with which he: painted his face. He returned, and, as he was entering, his father-in-law cried, "Oh, that is why I want a son-in-law that is a human being! Where did he kill that bear? He is covered with blood. Go and dress it," he ordered. The youth was frightened, as he had not seen any bear at all. "You people that live below," his wife said, "call them Giant Panthers. Show your brothers-in-law where it is." The youth took his brother-in-law to the spring. "Here is where I found the Panther," he said.

The ten Thunderers came up and struck the spring, and killed something there. After that the youth looked for springs all the time, and it came to pass that he found a number. One day he asked his wife, "Why does your father go away for whole days at a time?" and his wife said, "There is a large lake up here, and he hunts for fish there. He kills one every day, seldom two. He is the only one that can kill them."

The next morning the youth went to the lake, and found his father-in-law sitting by the shore fishing. The old man had a

{p. 143}

peculiar spear, which was forked at the end. The youth took it, and put barbs on it, so that the old man was able to catch a number of fish quickly. Then they went home. When they arrived, his father-in-law said, "My son-in-law has taken many of them. I myself can only kill one, and sometimes two."

So he told all the people to go and get fish and eat them freely. On the following day, the young man, according to his mother-in-law's wish, took his wife to fish. They took many fish, and carried them home. The father-in-law knew, before they returned, that they had caught many.

The old man had had a dream. When he saw how the youth prepared the spear which his daughter had given him, he said, referring to his dream, "My dream was wrong, I thought the youngest of the ten liked me the best. I made the spear in the way I saw it, not as this one has shown me. It is due to my dream that it is wrong. Your nine brothers are having a hard time. Now, my sons, your sisters are going away soon to be married."

For nine nights the youth saw a dim light at a distance. The father-in-law said to him, " Do not go there, for a powerful being lives there." The tenth night, however, the youth disobeyed this injunction. When he reached there, he saw a tall tree, and a huge porcupine that was burrowing at the foot of the tree. The porcupine struck the tree, and tried to kill it by shooting its quills into it. After the porcupine had shot off all its quills, the youth knocked it on the head, took two long quills from the tree, and carried them home. Even before he got there, his father-in-law knew what had happened. They were delighted, for they said that the porcupine would kill the Thunderers when they tried to attack it. The father-in-law went out, and called to his sons to go and dress the porcupine that the youth had killed. The latter gave the two quills to his wife, though his father-in-law wanted them. The father-in-law said, "My children, this porcupine killed all our friends when they went to war against it. My sons-in-law below are miserable and lonely."

The eldest of the daughters, who was called Mudjikiskwe'wic, was delighted at the news. "You will marry the oldest one, Mudjikiwis," she was told. They were all to be married in order, the eldest girl to the eldest brother, the youngest to the youngest one. The old man said, "Mudjikiskwe'wic shall take her

{p. 144}

brother-in-law with her when she goes down to the earth." The young women went down. Sh-swsh! went Mudjikiskwe'wic (the girl) with her dress. They reached the steep place, and the married woman said to her husband that they would fly around. " If you do not catch me when I fly past, you will be killed here." The women went off a little ways, and a heavy thunderstorm arose, big black clouds and lightning, yet he saw Mudjikiskwe'wic in it. She was green, and so was the sun; and as they passed she shouted once, then again a little nearer, and again close by. Then he jumped off and caught her by the back. He closed his eyes[217] as he did so, and did not open them until the Thunderer wife said, "Now let go!" Then he found himself at home. He left the girls behind, and went to the lodge and opened the door a little.

As soon as he was inside, he said, "My brothers, I am here!" They were lying in the ashes around the fire. "The Canada jays always make me angry when they say that," they retorted, and they threw a handful of ashes towards the door. "My brothers, I am coming!" he said again. "Ah! that is what the Crows say to make us angry," retorted the rest, and they threw ashes towards the door. "My brothers, I am coming!" he declared. "Ah! that is what the Chickadees say to make us angry," cried they, and threw ashes once more. Then for the fourth time, he cried, "My brothers, get up!" Then Mudjikiwis cried, "Look up! See who it is! They never say that four times!"

They looked up and their eyes were swollen from weeping on account of their brother. They were covered with ashes. When they opened their eyes, they saw their fifth brother restored. "Arise, wash your faces, and fix camp!" said he. "I have brought sisters-in-law with me."

Mudjikiwis was glad to hear this, and he and the others began to decorate themselves. They took white earth from crawfish-holes, and painted their faces with it. Mudjikiwis seized his winking war-club, and they made the lodge larger by spreading the poles. Then the fifth brother called the sisters-in-law, and they all came in. The fifth son told Mudjikiskwe'wic that the youngest of the sisters should come in first, she herself last, although it would have been proper for the eldest brother to receive his wife first. "Do not come in till I call you, saying, 'Now, come! my brothers are tired waiting.'" Mudjikiskwe'wic promised to obey.

Mudjikiwis sat with his head in his hands, and peeped at each girl. He saw them sit by his brothers, until every one but he was furnished with a wife. Then there was a pause. Mudjikiwis began to weep, and he sniffed audibly. At last the fifth brother had pity on him, and called the girl in. She came in with a swishing sound of rustling clothing. Then Mudjikiwis was very glad.

"What shall we feed them on?" said one. "Let me see!" said Mudjikiwis, and he took his winking club and went out, and clubbed a bear right there. "O wife! we shall have a meal of bear-meat!" he cried. Mudjikiskwe'wic replied, "Oh, you are hunting my younger brother!"--"Oh, I did not mean to kill my brother-in-law," retorted the other.

And they are married today, and live where the sun does not shine.


(CHEROKEE: Mooney, Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, xix, 252, No. 5)

The Sun lived on the other side of the sky vault, but her daughter lived in the middle of the sky, directly above the earth, and every day as the Sun was climbing along the sky arch to the west she used to stop at her daughter's house for dinner.

Now, the Sun hated the people on the earth, because they could never look straight at her without screwing up their faces. She said to her brother, the Moon,[6] "My grandchildren are ugly; they grin all over their faces when they look at me." But the Moon said, "I like my younger brothers; I think they are very handsome"--because they always smiled pleasantly when they saw him in the sky at night, for his rays were milder.

The Sun was jealous and planned to kill all the people; so every day when she got near her daughter's house she sent down such sultry rays that there was a great fever and the people died by hundreds, until everyone had lost some friend and there was fear that no one would be left. They went for help to the Little Men, who said the only way to save themselves was to kill the Sun.

The Little Men made medicine and changed two men to snakes, the Spreading-adder and the Copperhead, and sent them to watch near the door of the daughter of the Sun to bite the old Sun when she came next day. They went together and hid

{p. 146}

near the house until the Sun came, but when the Spreading-adder was about to spring, the bright light blinded him and he could only spit out yellow slime, as he does to this day when he tries to bite. She called him a nasty thing and went by into the house, and the Copperhead crawled off without trying to do anything.

So the people still died from the heat, and they went to the Little Men a second time for help. The Little Men made medicine again and changed one man into a great Uktena and another into the Rattlesnake and sent them to watch near the house and kill the old Sun when she came for dinner. They make the Uktena very large, with horns on his head, and everyone thought he would be sure to do the work, but the Rattlesnake was so quick and eager that he got ahead and coiled up just outside the house, and when the Sun's daughter opened the door to look out for her mother, he sprang up and bit her and she fell dead in the doorway. He forgot to wait for the old Sun, but went back to the people, and the Uktena was so very angry that he went back, too. Since then we pray to the rattlesnake and do not kill him, because he is kind and never tries to bite if we do not disturb him. The Uktena grew angrier all the time and very dangerous, so that if he even looked at a man, that man's family would die. After a long time the people held a council and decided that he was too dangerous to be with them, so they sent him up to Galunlati, and he is there now. The Spreading-adder, the Copperhead, the Rattlesnake, and the Uktena were all men.

When the Sun found her daughter dead, she went into the house and grieved, and the people did not die any more, but now the world was dark all the time, because the Sun would not come out. They went again to the Little Men, and these told them that if they wanted the Sun to come out again they must bring back her daughter from Tsusginai, the Ghost country, in Usunhiyi, the Darkening land in the west. They chose seven men to go, and gave each a sourwood rod a handbreadth long. The Little Men told them they must take a box with them, and when they got to Tsusginai they would find all the ghosts at a dance. They must stand outside the circle, and when the young woman passed in the dance they must strike her with the rods and she would fall to the ground. Then they must put her into the box and bring her back to her mother,

{p. 147}

but they must be very sure not to open the box, even a little way, until they were home again.

They took the rods and a box and traveled seven days to the west until they came to the Darkening land.[216] There were a great many people there, and they were having a dance just as if they were at home in the settlements. The young woman was in the outside circle, and as she swung around to where the seven men were standing, one struck her with his rod and she turned her head and saw him. As she came around the second time another touched her with his rod, and then another and another, until at the seventh round she fell out of the ring, and they put her into the box and closed the lid fast. The other ghosts seemed never to notice what had happened.

They took up the box and started home toward the east. In a little while the girl came to life again and begged to be let out of the box, but they made no answer and went on. Soon she called again and she said she was hungry, but still they made no answer and went on. After another while she spoke again and called for a drink and pleaded so that it was very hard to listen to her, but the men who carried the box said nothing and still went on. When at last they were very near home, she called again and begged them to raise the lid just a little, because she was smothering. They were afraid she was really dying now, so they lifted the lid a little to give her air, but as they did so there was a fluttering sound inside and something flew past them into the thicket and they heard a redbird cry, "kwish! kwish! kwish!" in the bushes. They shut down the lid and went on again to the settlements, but when they got there and opened the box it was empty.

So we know the Redbird is the daughter of the Sun, and if the men had kept the box closed, as the Little Men told them to do, they would have brought her home safely,[217] and we could bring back our other friends also from the Ghost country, but now when they die we can never bring them back.[51]

The Sun had been glad when they started to the Ghost country, but when they came back without her daughter she grieved and cried, "My daughter, my daughter," and wept until her tears made a flood upon the earth,[218] and the people were afraid the world would be drowned. They held another council, and sent their handsomest young men and women to amuse her so that she would stop crying. They danced before the Sun and

{p. 148}

sang their best songs, but for a long time she kept her face covered and paid no attention, until at last the drummer suddenly changed the song, when she lifted up her face, and was so pleased at the sight that she forgot her grief and smiled.


(TSIMSHIAN: Boas, Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, xxxi, 85)

Txä'msem[*]remained sitting there, thinking quietly how many hard things he had done among men; still his needs were not satisfied. At last he made up his mind to try to go again to the people in order to get something to eat, for he was a great eater.[220] He went to a lonely place, and was very anxious to find some people in the woods. Soon he came to a great plain. No trees were to be seen, just grass and flowers.

At a distance he beheld a large house, and inside the large house with carved front he heard many people singing. He saw sparks flying up from the smoke hole, and he knew that it must be the house of a great chief. When he came near the house, he heard something saying with a loud voice, "A stranger is coming, a chief is coming!" and he knew that they meant him. So he went in, but he saw nobody. Still he heard the voices.[221] He saw a great fire in the center, and a good new mat was spread out for him alongside the fire. Then he heard a voice which called to him, "Sit down on the mat! This way, great chief! This way, great chief! This way!" He walked proudly toward the mat. Then Txä'msem sat down on it. This was the house of Chief Echo. Then Txä'msem heard the chief speak to his slaves and tell them to roast a dried salmon; and he saw a carved box open itself and dried salmon come out of it. Then he saw a nice dish walk toward the fire all by itself.

Txä'msem was scared and astonished to see these things. When the dried salmon was roasted and cut into pieces of the right length, the pieces went into the dish all by themselves. The dish laid itself down in front of Txä'msem, and he thought while he was eating, what strange things he was seeing now. When he had finished, a horn dipper came forward filled with water. He took it by its handle and drank. Then he saw a large dish full of crabapples mixed with grease, and a black

[*. Pronunciation approximately represented in English by "Chemsem."]

{p. 149}

horn spoon, come forward by themselves. Txä'msem took the handle and ate all he could. Before he emptied his dish, he looked around, and, behold! mountain-goat fat was hanging on one side of the house. He thought, "I will take down one of these large pieces of fat." Thus Txä'msem thought while he was eating.

Then he heard many women laughing in one corner of the house, "Ha, ha! Txä'msem thinks he will take down one of those large pieces of mountain-goat fat!" Then Txä'msem was ashamed on account of what the women were saying. He ate all the crabapples, and another dish came forward filled with cranberries mixed with grease and with water. Txä'msem ate again, and, behold! he saw dried mountain-sheep fat hanging in one corner of the large house. He thought again, "I will take down one of these pieces of mountain-sheep fat, and I will run out with it." Again he heard many women laughing, "Ha, ha! Txä'msem is thinking he will take down a piece of the mountain-sheep fat and will run out with it." Txä'msem was much troubled on account of what he heard the women saying, and when he heard them laughing in the corner of the house. He arose, ran out, and snatched one of the pieces of mountain-goat meat and of mountain-sheep fat; but when he came to the door, a large stone hammer beat him on the ankle, and he fell to the ground badly hurt. He lost the meat and fat, and some one dragged him along and cast him out. He lay there a while and began to cry, for he was very hungry, and his foot very sore. On the following day, when he was a little better, he took a stick and tried to walk away.