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74. The Tsundige'wï

Once some young men of the Cherokee set out to see what was in the world and traveled south until they came to a tribe of little people called Tsundige'wï, with very queer shaped bodies, hardly tall enough to reach up to a man's knee, who had no houses, but lived in nests scooped in the sand and covered over with dried grass. The little fellows were so weak and puny that they could not fight at all, and were in constant terror from the wild geese and other birds that used to come in great flocks from the south to make war upon them.

Just at the time that the travelers got there they found the little men in great fear, because there was a strong wind blowing from the south and it blew white feathers and down along the sand, so that the Tsundige'wï knew their enemies were coming not far behind. The Cherokee asked them why, they did not defend themselves, but they said they could not, because they did not know how. There was no time to make bows and arrows, but the travelers told them to take sticks for clubs, and showed them where to strike the birds on the necks to kill them.

The wind blew for several days, and at last the birds came, so many that they were like a great cloud in the air, and alighted on the sands. The little men ran to their nests, and the birds followed and stuck in their long bills to pull them out and eat them. This time. though, the Tsundige'wï had their clubs, and they struck the birds on the neck, as the Cherokee had shown them, and killed so many that at last the others were glad to spread their wings and fly away again to the south.

The little men thanked the Cherokee for their help and gave them the best they had until the travelers went on to see the other tribes. They heard afterwards that the birds came again several times, but that the Tsundige'wï always drove them off with their clubs, until a flock of sandhill cranes came. They were so tall that the little men could not reach up to strike them on the neck, and so at last the cranes killed them all.

Next: 75. Origin Of The Bear: The Bear Songs