The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians
by Henry R. Schoolcraft
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Odjibwa set out in better spirits than he had done since leaving home. Night again found him in company with an old man, who received him kindly, and directed him on his way in the morning. He travelled with a light heart, expecting to meet the one who was to give him directions how to proceed to get the Red Swan. Toward nightfall, he reached the third old man's lodge. Before coming to the door, he heard him saying, "Nosis, come in," and going in immediately, he felt quite at home. The old man prepared him something to eat, acting as the other magicians had done, and his kettle was of the same dimensions and material. The old man waited till he had done eating, when he commenced addressing him. "Young man, the errand you are on is very difficult. Numbers of young men have passed with the same purpose, but never returned. Be careful, and if your guardian spirits are powerful, you may succeed. This Red Swan you are following, is the daughter of a magician, who has plenty of everything, but he values his daughter but little less than wampum. He wore a cap of wampum, which was attached to his scalp; but powerful Indians—warriors of a distant chief, came and told him, that their chief's daughter was on the brink of the grave, and she herself requested his scalp of wampum to effect a cure. 'If I can only see it, I will recover,' she said, and it was for this reason they came, and after long urging the magician, he at last consented to part with it, only from the idea of restoring the young woman to health; although when he took it off, it left his head bare and bloody. Several years have passed since, and it has not healed. The warriors' coming for it, was only a cheat, and they now are constantly making sport of it, dancing it about from village to village; and on every insult it receives, the old man groans from pain. Those Indians are too powerful for the magician, and numbers have sacrificed themselves to recover it for him, but without success. The Red Swan has enticed many a young man, as she has done you, in order to get them to procure it, and whoever is the fortunate one that succeeds, will receive the Red Swan as his reward. In the morning you will proceed on your way, and toward evening you will come to the magician's lodge, but before you enter you will hear his groans; he will immediately ask you in, and you will see no one but himself; he will make inquiries of you, as regards your dreams, and the powers of your guardian spirits; he will then ask you to attempt the recovery of his scalp; he will show you the direction, and if you feel inclined, as I dare say you do, go forward, my son, with a strong heart, persevere, and I have a presentiment you will succeed." The young man answered, "I will try." Early next morning, after having eaten from the magic kettle, he started off on his journey. Toward evening he came to the lodge as he was told, and soon heard the groans of the magician. "Come in," he said, even before the young man reached the door. On entering he saw his head all bloody, and he was groaning most terribly. "Sit down, sit down," he said, "while I prepare you something to eat," at the same time doing as the other magicians had done, in preparing food—"You see," he said, "how poor I am; I have to attend to all my wants." He said this to conceal the fact that the Red Swan was there, but Odjibwa perceived that the lodge was partitioned, and he heard a rustling noise, now and then, in that quarter, which satisfied him that it was occupied. After having taken his leggings and moccasins off, and eaten, the old magician commenced telling him how he had lost his scalp—the insults it was receiving—the pain he was suffering in consequence—his wishes to regain it—the unsuccessful attempts that had already been made, and the numbers and power of those who detained it; stated the best and most probable way of getting it; touching the young man on his pride and ambition, by the proposed adventure, and last, he spoke of such things as would make an Indian rich. He would interrupt his discourse by now and then groaning, and saying, "Oh, how shamefully they are treating it." Odjibwa listened with solemn attention. The old man then asked him about his dreams—his dreams (or as he saw when asleep[69]) at the particular time he had fasted and blackened his face to procure guardian spirits.

The young man then told him one dream; the magician groaned; "No, that is not it," he said. The young man told him another. He groaned again; "That is not it," he said. The young man told him of two or three others. The magician groaned at each recital, and said, rather peevishly, "No, those are not them." The young man then thought to himself, Who are you? you may groan as much as you please; I am inclined not to tell you any more dreams. The magician then spoke in rather a supplicating tone. "Have you no more dreams of another kind?" "Yes," said the young man, and told him one. "That is it, that is it," he cried; "you will cause me to live. That was what I was wishing you to say;" and he rejoiced greatly. "Will you then go and see if you cannot procure my scalp?" "Yes," said the young man, "I will go; and the day after to-morrow,[70] when you hear the cries of the Kakak,[71] you will know, by this sign, that I am successful, and you must prepare your head, and lean it out through the door, so that the moment I arrive, I may place your scalp on." "Yes, yes," said the magician; "as you say, it will be done." Early next morning, he set out on his perilous adventure, and about the time that the sun hangs toward home, (afternoon) he heard the shouts of a great many people. He was in a wood at the time, and saw, as he thought, only a few men; but the further he went, the more numerous they appeared. On emerging into a plain, their heads appeared like the hanging leaves for number. In the centre he perceived a post, and something waving on it, which was the scalp. Now and then the air was rent with the Sau-sau-quan, for they were dancing the war dance around it. Before he could be perceived, he turned himself into a No-noskau-see (hummingbird), and flew toward the scalp.

As he passed some of those who were standing by, he flew close to their ears, making the humming noise which this bird does when it flies. They jumped on one side, and asked each other what it could be. By this time he had nearly reached the scalp, but fearing he should be perceived while untying it, he changed himself into a Me-sau-be-wau-aun (the down of anything that floats lightly on the air), and then floated slowly and lightly on to the scalp. He untied it, and moved off slowly, as the weight was almost too great. It was as much as he could do to keep it up, and prevent the Indians from snatching it away. The moment they saw it was moving, they filled the air with their cries of "It is taken from us; it is taken from us." He continued moving a few feet above them; the rush and hum of the people was like the dead beating surges after a storm. He soon gained on them, and they gave up the pursuit. After going a little further he changed himself into a Kakak, and flew off with his prize, making that peculiar noise which this bird makes.

In the mean time, the magician had followed his instructions, placing his head outside of the lodge, as soon as he heard the cry of the Kakak, and soon after he heard the rustling of its wings. In a moment Odjibwa stood before him. He immediately gave the magician a severe blow on the head with the wampum scalp: his limbs extended and quivered in agony from the effects of the blow: the scalp adhered, and the young man walked in and sat down, feeling perfectly at home. The magician was so long in recovering from the stunning blow, that the young man feared he had killed him. He was however pleased to see him show signs of life; he first commenced moving, and soon sat up. But how surprised was Odjibwa to see, not an aged man, far in years and decrepitude, but one of the handsomest young men he ever saw stand up before him.

"Thank you, my friend," he said; "you see that your kindness and bravery have restored me to my former shape. It was so ordained, and you have now accomplished the victory." The young magician urged the stay of his deliverer for a few days; and they soon formed a warm attachment for each other. The magician never alluded to the Red Swan in their conversations.

At last, the day arrived when Odjibwa made preparations to return. The young magician amply repaid him for his kindness and bravery, by various kinds of wampum, robes, and all such things as he had need of to make him an influential man. But though the young man's curiosity was at its height about the Red Swan, he controlled his feelings, and never so much as even hinted of her; feeling that he would surrender a point of propriety in so doing; while the one he had rendered such service to, whose hospitality he was now enjoying, and who had richly rewarded him, had never so much as even mentioned anything about her, but studiously concealed her.

Odjibwa's pack for travelling was ready, and he was taking his farewell smoke, when the young magician thus addressed him: "Friend, you know for what cause you came thus far. You have accomplished your object, and conferred a lasting obligation on me. Your perseverance shall not go unrewarded; and if you undertake other things with the same spirit you have this, you will never fail to accomplish them. My duty renders it necessary for me to remain where I am, although I should feel happy to go with you. I have given you all you will need as long as you live; but I see you feel backward to speak about the Red Swan. I vowed that whoever procured me my scalp, should be rewarded by possessing the Red Swan." He then spoke, and knocked on the partition. The door immediately opened, and the Red Swan met his eager gaze. She was a most beautiful female, and as she stood majestically before him, it would be impossible to describe her charms, for she looked as if she did not belong to earth. "Take her," the young magician said; "she is my sister, treat her well; she is worthy of you, and what you have done for me merits more. She is ready to go with you to your kindred and friends, and has been so ever since your arrival, and my good wishes go with you both." She then looked very kindly on her husband, who now bid farewell to his friend indeed, and accompanied by the object of his wishes, he commenced retracing his footsteps.

They travelled slowly, and after two or three days reached the lodge of the third old man, who had fed him from his small magic pot. He was very kind, and said, "You see what your perseverance has procured you; do so always and you will succeed in all things you undertake."

On the following morning when they were going to start, he pulled from the side of the lodge a bag, which he presented to the young man, saying, "Nosis, I give you this; it contains a present for you; and I hope you will live happily till old age." They then bid farewell to him and proceeded on.

They soon reached the second old man's lodge. Their reception there was the same as at the first; he also gave them a present, with the old man's wishes that they would be happy. They went on and reached the first town, which the young man had passed in his pursuit. The watchman gave notice, and he was shown into the chief's lodge. "Sit down there, son-in-law," said the chief, pointing to a place near his daughter. "And you also," he said to the Red Swan.

The young woman of the lodge was busy in making something, but she tried to show her indifference about what was taking place, for she did not even raise her head to see who was come. Soon the chief said, "Let some one bring in the bundle of our son-in-law." When it was brought in, the young man opened one of the bags, which he had received from one of the old men; it contained wampum, robes, and various other articles; he presented them to his father-in-law, and all expressed their surprise at the value and richness of the gift. The chief's daughter then only stole a glance at the present, then at Odjibwa and his beautiful wife; she stopped working, and remained silent and thoughtful all the evening. They conversed about his adventures; after this the chief told him that he should take his daughter along with him in the morning; the young man said "Yes." The chief then spoke out, saying, "Daughter, be ready to go with him in the morning."

There was a Maujeekewis in the lodge, who thought to have got the young woman to wife; he jumped up, saying, "Who is he (meaning the young man), that he should take her for a few presents. I will kill him," and he raised a knife which he had in his hand. But he only waited till some one held him back, and then sat down, for he was too great a coward to do as he had threatened. Early they took their departure, amid the greetings of their new friends, and toward evening reached the other town. The watchman gave the signal, and numbers of men, women, and children stood out to see them. They were again shown into the chief's lodge, who welcomed them by saying, "Son-in-law, you are welcome," and requested him to take a seat by his daughter; and the two women did the same.

After the usual formalities of smoking and eating, the chief requested the young man to relate his travels in the hearing of all the inmates of the lodge, and those who came to see. They looked with admiration and astonishment at the Red Swan, for she was so beautiful. Odjibwa gave them his whole history. The chief then told him that his brothers had been to their town in search of him, but had returned, and given up all hopes of ever seeing him again. He concluded by saying that since he had been so fortunate and so manly, he should take his daughter with him; "for although your brothers," said he, "were here, they were too timid to enter any of our lodges, and merely inquired for you and returned. You will take my daughter, treat her well, and that will bind us more closely together."

It is always the case in towns, that some one in it is foolish or clownish. It happened to be so here; for a Maujeekewis was in the lodge; and after the young man had given his father-in-law presents, as he did to the first, this Maujeekewis jumped up in a passion, saying, "Who is this stranger, that he should have her? I want her myself." The chief told him to be quiet, and not to disturb or quarrel with one who was enjoying their hospitality. "No, no," he boisterously cried, and made an attempt to strike the stranger. Odjibwa was above fearing his threats, and paid no attention to him. He cried the louder, "I will have her; I will have her." In an instant he was laid flat on the ground from a blow of a war club given by the chief. After he came to himself, the chief upbraided him for his foolishness, and told him to go out and tell stories to the old women.

Their arrangements were then made, and the stranger invited a number of families to go and visit their hunting grounds, as there was plenty of game. They consented, and in the morning a large party were assembled to accompany the young man; and the chief with a large party of warriors escorted them a long distance. When ready to return the chief made a speech, and invoked the blessing of the great good Spirit on his son-in-law and party.

After a number of days' travel, Odjibwa and his party came in sight of his home. The party rested while he went alone in advance to see his brothers. When he entered the lodge he found it all dirty and covered with ashes: on one side was his eldest brother, with his face blackened, and sitting amid ashes, crying aloud. On the other side was Maujeekewis, his other brother; his face was also blackened, but his head was covered with feathers and swan's down; he looked so odd, that the young man could not keep from laughing, for he appeared and pretended to be so absorbed with grief that he did not notice his brother's arrival. The eldest jumped up and shook hands with him, and kissed him, and felt very happy to see him again.

Odjibwa, after seeing all things put to rights, told them that he had brought each of them a wife. When Maujeekewis heard about the wife, he jumped up and said, "Why is it just now that you have come?" and made for the door and peeped out to see the woman. He then commenced jumping and laughing, saying, "Women! women!" That was the only reception he gave his brother. Odjibwa then told them to wash themselves and prepare, for he would go and fetch them in. Maujeekewis jumped and washed himself, but would every now and then go and peep out to see the women. When they came near, he said, "I will have this one, and that one;" he did not exactly know which—he would go and sit down for an instant, and then go and peep and laugh; he acted like a madman.

As soon as order was restored, and all seated, Odjibwa presented one of the women to his eldest brother, saying, "These women were given to me; I now give one to each; I intended so from the first." Maujeekewis spoke, and said, "I think three wives would have been enough for you." The young man led one to Maujeekewis, saying, "My brother, here is one for you, and live happily." Maujeekewis hung down his head as if he was ashamed, but would every now and then steal a glance at his wife, and also at the other women. By and by he turned toward his wife, and acted as if he had been married for years. "Wife," he said, "I will go and hunt," and off he started.

All lived peaceably for some time, and their town prospered, the inhabitants increased, and everything was abundant among them. One day dissatisfaction was manifested in the conduct of the two elder brothers, on account of Odjibwa's having taken their deceased father's magic arrows: they upbraided and urged him to procure others if he could. Their object was to get him away, so that one of them might afterward get his wife. One day, after listening to them, he told them he would go. Maujeekewis and himself went together into a sweating lodge to purify themselves. Even there, although it was held sacred, Maujeekewis upbraided him for the arrows. He told him again he would go; and next day, true to his word, he left them. After travelling a long way he came to an opening in the earth, and descending, it led him to the abode of departed spirits. The country appeared beautiful, the extent of it was lost in the distance: he saw animals of various kinds in abundance. The first he came near to were buffalo; his surprise was great when these animals addressed him as human beings. They asked him what he came for, how he descended, why he was so bold as to visit the abode of the dead. He told them he was in search of magic arrows to appease his brothers. "Very well," said the leader of the buffaloes, whose whole form was nothing but bone. "Yes, we know it," and he and his followers moved off a little space as if they were afraid of him. "You have come," resumed the Buffalo Spirit, "to a place where a living man has never before been. You will return immediately to your tribe, for your brothers are trying to dishonor your wife; and you will live to a very old age, and live and die happily; you can go no further in these abodes of ours." Odjibwa looked, as he thought to the west, and saw a bright light, as if the sun was shining in its splendor, but he saw no sun. "What light is that I see yonder?" he asked. The all-boned buffalo answered, "It is the place where those who were good dwell." "And that dark cloud?" Odjibwa again asked. "Mud-jee-izzhi-wabezewin," (wickedness) answered the buffalo. He asked no more questions, and, with the aid of his guardian spirits, again stood on this earth and saw the sun giving light as usual, and breathed the pure air. All else he saw in the abodes of the dead, and his travels and actions previous to his return, are unknown. After wandering a long time in quest of information to make his people happy, he one evening drew near to his village or town; passing all the other lodges and coming to his own, he heard his brothers at high words with each other; they were quarrelling for the possession of his wife. She had, however, remained constant, and mourned the absence and probable loss of her husband; but she had mourned him with the dignity of virtue. The noble youth listened till he was satisfied of the base principles of his brothers. He then entered the lodge, with the stern air and conscious dignity of a brave and honest man. He spoke not a word, but placing the magic arrows to his bow, drew them to their length and laid the brothers dead at his feet. Thus ended the contest between the hermit's sons, and a firm and happy union was consummated between Odjibwa, or him of the primitive or intonated voice, and the Red Swan.

[66] Pai-gwud-aw-diz-zid.

[67] Pungish-e-moo, falling or sinking to a position of repose.

[68] My grandchild.

[69] Enaw-baundum.

[70] The Indian expression is, Awuss-Waubung—the day beyond to-morrow.

[71] A species of hawk.





There was an old man living in the centre of a forest, with his grandson, whom he had taken when quite an infant. The child had no parents, brothers, or sisters; they had all been destroyed by six large giants, and he had been informed that he had no other relative living besides his grandfather. The band to whom he belonged had put up their children on a wager in a race against those of the giants, and had thus lost them. There was an old tradition in the band, that it would produce a great man, who would wear a white feather, and who would astonish every one with his skill and feats of bravery.

The grandfather, as soon as the child could play about, gave him a bow and arrows to amuse himself. He went into the edge of the woods one day, and saw a rabbit; but not knowing what it was, he ran home and described it to his grandfather. He told him what it was, that its flesh was good to eat, and that if he would shoot one of his arrows into its body, he would kill it. He did so, and brought the little animal home, which he asked his grandfather to boil, that they might feast on it. He humored the boy in this, and encouraged him to go on in acquiring the knowledge of hunting, until he could kill deer and larger animals; and he became, as he grew up, an expert hunter. As they lived alone, and away from other Indians, his curiosity was excited to know what was passing in the world. One day he came to the edge of a prairie, where he saw ashes like those at his grandfather's lodge, and lodge-poles left standing. He returned and inquired whether his grandfather put up the poles and made the fire. He was answered no, nor did he believe that he had seen anything of the kind. It was all imagination.

Another day he went out to see what there was curious; and, on entering the woods, he heard a voice calling out to him, "Come here, you destined wearer of the White Feather. You do not yet wear it, but you are worthy of it. Return home and take a short nap. You will dream of hearing a voice, which will tell you to rise and smoke. You will see in your dream a pipe, smoking sack, and a large white feather. When you awake you will find these articles. Put the feather on your head, and you will become a great hunter, a great warrior, and a great man, capable of doing anything. As a proof that you will become a great hunter, when you smoke, the smoke will turn into pigeons." The voice then informed him who he was, and disclosed the true character of his grandfather, who had imposed upon him. The voice-spirit then gave him a vine, and told him he was of an age to revenge the injuries of his relations. "When you meet your enemy," continued the spirit, "you will run a race with him. He will not see the vine, because it is enchanted. While you are running, you will throw it over his head and entangle him, so that you will win the race."

Long ere this speech was ended, he had turned to the quarter from which the voice proceeded, and was astonished to behold a man, for as yet he had never seen any man besides his grandfather, whose object it was to keep him in ignorance. But the circumstance that gave him the most surprise was, that this man, who had the looks of great age, was composed of wood from his breast downward, and appeared to be fixed in the earth.

He returned home, slept, heard the voice, awoke, and found the promised articles. His grandfather was greatly surprised to find him with a white feather on his forehead, and to see flocks of pigeons flying out of his lodge. He then recollected what had been predicted, and began to weep at the prospect of losing his charge.

Invested with these honors, the young man departed the next morning to seek his enemies and gratify his revenge. The giants lived in a very high lodge in the middle of a wood. He travelled on till he came to this lodge, where he found that his coming had been made known by the little spirits who carry the news. The giants came out, and gave a cry of joy as they saw him coming. When he approached nearer, they began to make sport of him, saying, "Here comes the little man with the white feather, who is to achieve such wonders." They, however, spoke very fair to him when he came up, saying he was a brave man, and would do brave things. This they said to encourage, and the more surely to deceive him. He, however, understood the object.

He went fearlessly up to the lodge. They told him to commence the race with the smallest of their number. The point to which they were to run was a peeled tree towards the rising sun, and then back to the starting-place, which was marked by a Chaunkahpee, or war-club, made of iron. This club was the stake, and whoever won it was to use it in beating the other's brains out. If he beat the first giant, he was to try the second, and so on until they had all measured speed with him. He won the first race by a dexterous use of the vine, and immediately despatched his competitor, and cut off his head. Next morning he ran with the second giant, whom he also outran, killed, and decapitated. He proceeded in this way for five successive mornings, always conquering by the use of his vine, cutting off the heads of the vanquished. The survivor acknowledged his power, but prepared secretly to deceive him. He wished him to leave the heads he had cut off, as he believed he could again reunite them with the bodies, by means of one of their medicines. White Feather insisted, however, in carrying all the heads to his grandfather. One more contest was to be tried, which would decide the victory; but, before going to the giant's lodge on the sixth morning, he met his old counsellor in the woods, who was stationary. He told him that he was about to be deceived. That he had never known any other sex but his own; but that, as he went on his way to the lodge, he would meet the most beautiful woman in the world. He must pay no attention to her, but, on meeting her, he must wish himself changed into a male elk. The transformation would take place immediately, when he must go to feeding and not regard her.

He proceeded towards the lodge, met the female, and became an elk. She reproached him for having turned himself into an elk on seeing her; said she had travelled a great distance for the purpose of seeing him, and becoming his wife. Now this woman was the sixth giant, who had assumed this disguise; but Tau-Wau-Chee-Hezkaw remained in ignorance of it. Her reproaches and her beauty affected him so much, that he wished himself a man again, and he at once resumed his natural shape. They sat down together, and he began to caress her, and make love to her. He finally ventured to lay his head on her lap, and went to sleep. She pushed his head aside at first, for the purpose of trying if he was really asleep; and when she was satisfied he was, she took her axe and broke his back. She then assumed her natural shape, which was in the form of the sixth giant, and afterwards changed him into a dog, in which degraded form he followed his enemy to the lodge. He took the white feather from his brow, and wore it as a trophy on his own head.

There was an Indian village at some distance, in which there lived two girls, who were rival sisters, the daughters of a chief. They were fasting to acquire power for the purpose of enticing the wearer of the white feather to visit their village. They each secretly hoped to engage his affections. Each one built herself a lodge at a short distance from the village. The giant knowing this, and having now obtained the valued plume, went immediately to visit them. As he approached, the girls saw and recognized the feather. The eldest sister prepared her lodge with great care and parade, so as to attract the eye. The younger, supposing that he was a man of sense, and would not be enticed by mere parade, touched nothing in her lodge, but left it as it ordinarily was. The eldest went out to meet him, and invited him in. He accepted her invitation, and made her his wife. The younger invited the enchanted dog into her lodge, and made him a good bed, and treated him with as much attention as if he were her husband.

The giant, supposing that whoever possessed the white feather possessed also all its virtues, went out upon the prairie to hunt, but returned unsuccessful. The dog went out the same day a hunting upon the banks of a river. He drew a stone out of the water, which immediately became a beaver. The next day the giant followed the dog, and hiding behind a tree, saw the manner in which the dog went into the river and drew out a stone, which at once turned into a beaver. As soon as the dog left the place, the giant went to the river, and observing the same manner, drew out a stone, and had the satisfaction of seeing it transformed into a beaver. Tying it to his belt, he carried it home, and, as is customary, threw it down at the door of the lodge before he entered. After being seated a short time, he told his wife to bring in his belt or hunting girdle. She did so, and returned with it, with nothing tied to it but a stone.

The next day, the dog, finding his method of catching beavers had been discovered, went to a wood at some distance, and broke off a charred limb from a burned tree, which instantly became a bear. The giant, who had again watched him, did the same, and carried a bear home; but his wife, when she came to go out for it, found nothing but a black stick tied to his belt.

The giant's wife determined she would go to her father, and tell him what a valuable husband she had, who furnished her lodge with abundance. She set out while her husband went to hunt. As soon as they had departed, the dog made signs to his mistress to sweat him after the manner of the Indians. She accordingly made a lodge just large enough for him to creep in. She then put in heated stones, and poured on water. After this had been continued the usual time, he came out a very handsome young man, but had not the power of speech.

Meantime, the elder daughter had reached her father's, and told him of the manner in which her sister supported a dog, treating him as her husband, and of the singular skill this animal had in hunting. The old man, suspecting there was some magic in it, sent a deputation of young men and women to ask her to come to him, and bring her dog along. When this deputation arrived, they were surprised to find, in the place of the dog, so fine a young man. They both accompanied the messengers to the father, who was no less astonished. He assembled all the old and wise men of the nation to see the exploits which, it was reported, the young man could perform. The giant was among the number. He took his pipe and filled it, and passed it to the Indians, to see if anything would happen when they smoked. It was passed around to the dog, who made a sign to hand it to the giant first, which was done, but nothing affected. He then took it himself. He made a sign to them to put the white feather upon his head. This was done, and immediately he regained his speech. He then commenced smoking, and behold! immense flocks of white and blue pigeons rushed from the smoke.

The chief demanded of him his history, which he faithfully recounted. When it was finished, the chief ordered that the giant should be transformed into a dog, and turned into the middle of the village, where the boys should pelt him to death with clubs. This sentence was executed.

The chief then ordered, on the request of the White Feather, that all the young men should employ themselves four days in making arrows. He also asked for a buffalo robe. This robe he cut into thin shreds, and sowed in the prairie. At the end of the four days he invited them to gather together all their arrows, and accompany him to a buffalo hunt. They found that these shreds of skin had grown into a very large herd of buffalo. They killed as many as they pleased, and enjoyed a grand festival, in honor of his triumph over the giants.

Having accomplished their labor, the White Feather got his wife to ask her father's permission to go with him on a visit to his grandfather. He replied to this solicitation, that a woman must follow her husband into whatever quarter of the world he may choose to go.

The young men then placed the white feather in his frontlet, and, taking his war-club in his hand, led the way into the forest, followed by his faithful wife.




In a class of languages, where the personification of ideas, or sentiments, frequently compensates for the paucity of expression, it could hardly be expected that death should be omitted. The soul, or spirit, deemed to be an invisible essence, is denominated Ochichaug; this is the term translators employ for the Holy Ghost. There is believed to be the spirit of a vital and personal animus, distinct from this, to which they apply the term Jeebi or Ghost. Death, or the mythos of the condition of the human frame, deprived of even the semblance of blood, and muscle, and life, is represented by the word Pauguk. Pauguk is a horrible phantom of human bones, without muscular tissue or voice, the appearance of which presages speedy dissolution. Of all the myths of the Indians, this is the most gloomy and fearful.

In strict accordance, however, with aboriginal tastes and notions, Pauguk is represented as a hunter. He is armed with a bow and arrows, or a pug-gamagan, or war-club. Instead of objects of the chase, men, women, and children are substituted as the objects of pursuit. To see him is indicative of death. Some accounts represent him as covered with a thin transparent skin, with the sockets of his eyes filled with balls of fire.

Pauguk never speaks. Unlike the Jeebi or ghost, his limbs never assume the rotundity of life. Neither is he confounded in form with the numerous class of Monedoes, or of demons. He does not possess the power of metamorphosis, or of transforming himself into the shapes of animals. Unvaried in repulsiveness, he is ever an object of fear; but unlike every other kind or class of creation of the Indian mind, Pauguk never disguises himself, or affects the cunning of concealment—never effects to be what he is not.

Manabozho alone had power to invoke him unharmed. When he had expended all his arts to overcome Paup-Puk-Keewiss, who could at will transform himself, directly or indirectly, into any class or species of the animal creation, going often, as he did, as a jeebi, from one carcass into another, at last, at the final conflict at the rock, he dispatched him with the real power of death, after summoning the elements of thunder and lightning to his aid. And when thus deprived of all sublunary power, the enraged Great Hare, Manito (such seems the meaning of Manabozho), changed the dead carcass of his enemy into the great caniew, or war eagle. Nothing had given Manabozho half the trouble and vexation of the flighty, defying, changeable and mischievous Paup-Puk-Keewiss, who eluded him by jumping from one end of the continent to the other. He had killed the great power of evil in the prince of serpents, who had destroyed Chebizbos his grandson—he had survived the flood produced by the great Serpent, and overcome, in combat, the mysterious power held by the Pearl, or sea shell Feather, and the Mishemokwa, or great Bear with the wampum necklace, but Paup-Puk-Keewiss put him to the exercise of his reserved powers of death and annihilation. And it is by this act that we perceive that Hiawatha, or Manabozho, was a divinity. Manabozho had been a hunter, a fisherman, a warrior, a suppliant, a poor man, a starveling, a laughing stock and a mere beggar; he now shows himself a god, and as such we must regard him as the prime Indian myth.

This myth, the more it is examined, the more extensive does it appear to be incorporated in some shape in the Indian mythology. If interpreted agreeably to the metaphysical symbols of the old world, it would appear to be distilled from the same oriental symbolical crucible, which produced an Osiris and a Typhon—for the American Typhon is represented by the Mishikinabik, or serpent, and the American Osiris by a Hiawatha, Manabozho, Micabo, or great Hare-God, or Ghost.

This myth, as it is recognized under the name of Hiawatha by the Iroquois, is without the misadventures over which, in the person of Manabozho, the Algonquins laugh so heartily, and the particular recitals of which, as given in prior pages, afford so much amusement to their lodge circles. According to the Iroquois version, Tarenyawagon was deputed by the Master of Life, who is also called the Holder of Heaven, to the earth, the better to prepare it for the residence of man, and to teach the tribes the knowledge necessary to their condition, as well as to rid the land of giants and monsters. Having accomplished this benevolent labor, he laid aside his heavenly character and name, assuming that of Hiawatha; took a wife, and settled in a beautiful part of the country. Hiawatha having set himself down to live as one of them, it was his care to hold up, at all times, the best examples of prudential wisdom. All things, hard or wondrous, were possible for him to do, as in the case of the hero of the Algonquin legend, and he had, like him, a magic canoe to sail up and down the waters wherever he wished.

Hiawatha, after he had performed the higher functions appertaining to his character, settled down in the Iroquois country, and was universally regarded as a sage. He instructed the tribes how to repel savage invaders, who were in the habit of scourging the country, and was ever ready to give them wise counsels. The chief things of these good counsels to the tribes were to attend to their proper vocation, as hunters and fishermen, to cultivate corn, and to cease dissensions and bickerings among themselves. He finally instructed them to form a general league and confederacy against their common enemies. These maxims were enforced at a general council of the Iroquois tribe, held at Onondaga, which place became the seat of their council fire, and first government. This normal council of Iroquois sages resulted in placing the tribes in their assembled, not tribal capacity, under the care of a moderator, or chief magistrate of the assembled cantons, called Atatarho.[72]

Tradition recites many particulars of the acts of Hiawatha. It is preserved in their recitals, that after his mission was virtually ended, or, rather, drawing to a close, how he proceeded, in great state, to the council, in his magic canoe, taking with him his favorite daughter. With her he landed on the shore of the lake of Onondaga, and was proceeding to the elevated grounds appointed for the council, when a remarkable phenomenon appeared in the heavens, which seemed, in its symbolical import, to say to Hiawatha: "Thy work is near its close." A white bird, the bird of Heaven, appeared to come as a special messenger to him and to his daughter, appearing as a small speck high in the higher atmosphere. As it descended and revealed its character, its flight was attended with the greatest swiftness and force, and with no little of the impetuosity of a stroke of lightning. To the dismay of all, it struck the daughter of Hiawatha with such force as to drive her remains into the earth, completely annihilating her. The bird itself was annihilated in annihilating Hiawatha's daughter. All that remained of it were its scattered white plumes, purely white as silver clouds, and these plumes the warriors eagerly gathered as the chief tokens, to be worn on their heads as symbols of their bravery in war—a custom maintained to this day. Hiawatha stood aghast. He did not know how to interpret the terrible token. He deeply mourned his daughter's fate; for a long time he was inconsolable, and sat with his head down. But, in the end, and by persuasion, he roused himself from his reverie. His thoughts revolved on his original mission to the Indian tribes. The Great Spirit perhaps tells me, he said to himself, that my work here below is finished, and I must return to him. For a while, he had not heeded the invitations to attend the largely gathered council which waited for him, but as soon as his grief would enable him to attend, he roused himself for the task. After tasting food, he assumed his usual manly dignity of character, and assumed the oratorical attitude. Waiting till the other speakers had finished, he addressed his last counsels to the listening tribes. By his wisdom and eloquent appeal, he entranced them. By this valedictory address, replete with political wisdom, he closed his career. Having done this, he announced the termination of his mission; then, entering his magic canoe, he began to rise in the air—sweet strains of music were heard to arise as he mounted, and these could be heard till he was carried up beyond human sight.

[72] Cusic tells us there were thirteen of these magistrates before America was discovered. Here mythology takes the shape of historical tradition.





There was once a poor man called Iena,[73] who was in the habit of wandering about from place to place, forlorn, without relations and almost helpless. One day, as he went on a hunting excursion, he hung up his bundle on the branch of a tree, to relieve himself from the burden of carrying it, and then went in quest of game. On returning to the spot in the evening, he was surprised to find a small but neat lodge built in the place where he had left his bundle; and on looking in, he beheld a beautiful female sitting in the lodge, with his blanket lying beside her. During the day he had been fortunate in killing a deer, which he had laid down at the lodge door. But, to his surprise, the woman, in her attempt to bring it in, broke both her legs. He looked at her with astonishment, and thought to himself, "I supposed I was blessed, but I find my mistake. Gweengweeshee,"[74] said he, "I will leave my game with you, that you may feast on it."

He then took up his bundle and departed. After walking some time he came to another tree, on which he suspended his bundle as before, and went in search of game. Success again rewarded his efforts, and he returned bringing a deer, but found, as before, that a lodge had sprung up in the place where he had suspended his bundle. He looked in, and saw, as before, a beautiful female sitting alone, with his bundle by her side. She arose, and came out to bring in the deer, which he had deposited at the door, and he immediately went into the lodge and sat by the fire, as he felt fatigued with the day's labors. Wondering, at last, at the delay of the woman, he arose, and peeping through the door of the lodge, beheld her eating all the fat of the deer. He exclaimed, "I thought I was blessed, but I find I am mistaken." Then addressing the woman, "Poor Wabizhas,"[75] said he, "feast on the game that I have brought." He again took up his bundle and departed, and as usual, hung it up on the branch of a tree, and wandered off in quest of game. In the evening he returned with his customary good luck, bringing in a fine deer, and again found a lodge occupying the place of his bundle. He gazed through an aperture in the side of the lodge, and saw a beautiful woman sitting alone, with a bundle by her side. As soon as he entered the lodge, she arose with alacrity, brought in the carcass, cut it up, and hung up the meat to dry. After this, she prepared a portion of it for the supper of the weary hunter. The man thought to himself, "Now I am certainly blessed." He continued his practice of hunting every day, and the woman, on his return, always readily took care of the meat, and prepared his meals for him. One thing, however, astonished him; he had never, as yet, seen her eat anything, and kindly said to her, "Why do you not eat?" She replied, "I have food of my own, which I eat."

On the fourth day he brought home with him a branch of uzadi[76] as a cane, which he placed, with his game, at the door of the lodge. His wife, as usual, went out to prepare and bring in the meat. While thus engaged, he heard her laughing to herself, and saying, "This is very acceptable." The man, in peeping out to see the cause of her joy, saw her, with astonishment, eating the bark of the poplar cane in the same manner that beavers gnaw. He then exclaimed, "Ho, ho! Ho, ho! this is Amik;"[77] and ever afterward he was careful at evening to bring in a bough of the poplar or the red willow, when she would exclaim, "Oh, this is very acceptable; this is a change, for one gets tired eating white fish always (meaning the poplar); but the carp (meaning the red willow) is a pleasant change."

On the whole, Iena was much pleased with his wife for her neatness and attention to the things in the lodge, and he lived a contented and happy man. Being industrious, she made him beautiful bags from the bark of trees, and dressed the skins of the animals he killed in the most skilful manner. When spring opened, they found themselves blessed with two children, one of them resembling the father and the other the mother. One day the father made a bow and arrows for the child that resembled him, who was a son, saying, "My son, you will use these arrows to shoot at the little beavers when they begin to swim about the rivers." The mother, as soon as she heard this, was highly displeased; and taking her children, unknown to her husband, left the lodge in the night. A small river ran near the lodge, which the woman approached with her children. She built a dam across the stream, erected a lodge of earth, and lived after the manner of the beavers.

When the hunter awoke, he found himself alone in his lodge, and his wife and children absent. He immediately made diligent search after them, and at last discovered their retreat on the river. He approached the place of their habitation, and throwing himself prostrate on the top of the lodge, exclaimed, "Shingisshenaun tshee neeboyaun."[78] The woman allowed the children to go close to their father, but not to touch him; for, as soon as they came very near, she would draw them away again, and in this manner she continued to torment him a long time. The husband lay in this situation until he was almost starved, when a young female approached him, and thus accosted him: "Look here; why are you keeping yourself in misery, and thus starving yourself? Eat this," reaching him a little mokuk containing fresh raspberries which she had just gathered. As soon as the beaveress, his former wife, beheld this, she began to abuse the young woman, and said to her, "Why do you wish to show any kindness to that animal that has but two legs? you will soon repent it." She also made sport of the young woman, saying, "Look at her; she has a long nose, and she is just like a bear." The young woman, who was all the time a bear in disguise, hearing herself thus reproached, broke down the dam of the beaver, let the water run out, and nearly killed the beaver herself. Then turning to the man, she thus addressed him: "Follow me; I will be kind to you. Follow me closely. You must be courageous, for there are three persons who are desirous of marrying me, and will oppose you. Be careful of yourself. Follow me nimbly, and, just as we approach the lodge, put your feet in the prints of mine, for I have eight sisters who will do their utmost to divert your attention and make you lose the way. Look neither to the right nor the left, but enter the lodge just as I do, and take your seat where I do." As they proceeded they came in sight of a large lodge, when he did as he had been directed, stepping in her tracks. As they entered the lodge the eight sisters clamorously addressed him. "Oh, Ogidahkumigo[79] has lost his way," and each one invited him to take his seat with her, desiring to draw him from their sister. The old people also addressed him as he entered, and said, "Oh, make room for our son-in-law." The man, however, took his seat by the side of his protectress, and was not farther importuned.

As they sat in the lodge, a great rushing of waters, as of a swollen river, came through the centre of it, which also brought in its course a large stone, and left it before the man. When the water subsided, a large white bear came in, and taking up the stone, bit it, and scratched it with his paws, saying, "This is the manner in which I would handle Ogidahkumigo if I was jealous." A yellow bear also entered the lodge and did the same. A black bear followed and did the same. At length the man took up his bow and arrows, and prepared to shoot at the stone, saying, "This is the way I would treat Odanamekumigo[80] if I was jealous." He then drew up his bow and drove his arrow into the stone. Seeing this, the bears turned around, and with their eyes fixed on him, stepped backward and left the lodge, which highly delighted the woman. She exulted to think that her husband had conquered them.

Finally, one of the old folks made a cry, and said, "Come, come! there must be a gathering of provisions for the winter." So they all took their cossoes, or bark dishes, and departed to gather acorns for the winter. As they departed, the old man said to his daughter, "Tell Ogidahkumigo to go to the place where your sisters have gone and let him select one of them, so that, through her aid, he may have some food for himself during the winter; but be sure to caution him to be very careful, when he is taking the skin from the animal, that he does not cut the flesh." No sooner had the man heard this message, than he selected one of his sisters-in-law; and when he was taking the skin from her, for she was all the while an enchanted female bear, although careful, he cut her a little upon one of her arms, when she jumped up, assumed her natural form, and ran home. The man also went home, and found her with her arm bound up, and quite unwell.

A second cry was then made by the master of the lodge: "Come come! seek for winter quarters;" and they all got ready to separate for the season. By this time the man had two children, one resembling himself and the other his wife. When the cry was made, the little boy who resembled his father was in such a hurry in putting on his moccasins, that he misplaced them, putting the moccasin of the right foot upon the left. And this is the reason why the foot of the bear is turned in.

They proceeded to seek their winter quarters, the wife going before to point the way. She always selected the thickest part of the forest, where the child resembling the father found it difficult to get along; and he never failed to cry out and complain. Iena then went in advance, and sought the open plain, whereupon the child resembling the mother would cry out and complain, because she disliked an open path. As they were encamping, the woman said to her husband, "Go and break branches for the lodge for the night." He did so; but when she looked at the manner in which her husband broke the branches, she was very much offended, for he broke them upward instead of downward. "It is not only very awkward," said she, "but we will be found out; for the Ogidahkumigoes[81] will see where we have passed by the branches we have broken:" to avoid this, they agreed to change their route, and were finally well established in their winter quarters. The wife had sufficient food for her child, and would now and then give the dry berries she had gathered in the summer to her husband.

One day, as spring drew on, she said to her husband, "I must boil you some meat," meaning her own paws, which bears suck in the month of April. She had all along told him, during the winter, that she meant to resume her real shape of a female bear, and to give herself up to the Ogidahkumigoes, to be killed by them, and that the time of their coming was near at hand. It came to pass, soon afterward, that a hunter discovered her retreat. She told her husband to move aside, "for," she added, "I am now giving myself up." The hunter fired and killed her.

Iena then came out from his hiding-place, and went home with the hunter. As they went, he instructed him what he must hereafter do when he killed bears. "You must," said he, "never cut the flesh in taking off the skin, nor hang up the feet with the flesh when drying it. But you must take the head and feet, and decorate them handsomely, and place tobacco on the head, for these animals are very fond of this article, and on the fourth day they come to life again."

[73] From Ienawdizzi, a wanderer.

[74] The night-hawk.

[75] A marten.

[76] The common poplar, or P. tremuloides.

[77] The beaver.

[78] Here I will lie until I die.

[79] This term means a man that lives on the surface of the earth, as contradistinguished from beings living underground.

[80] He who lives in the city under ground.

[81] People who live above ground.




In an early age of the world, when there were fewer inhabitants than there now are, there lived an Indian, in a remote place, who had a wife and two children. They seldom saw any one out of the circle of their own lodge. Animals were abundant in so secluded a situation, and the man found no difficulty in supplying his family with food.

In this way they lived in peace and happiness, which might have continued if the hunter had not found cause to suspect his wife. She secretly cherished an attachment for a young man whom she accidentally met one day in the woods. She even planned the death of her husband for his sake, for she knew if she did not kill her husband, her husband, the moment he detected her crime, would kill her.

The husband, however, eluded her project by his readiness and decision. He narrowly watched her movements. One day he secretly followed her footsteps into the forest, and having concealed himself behind a tree, he soon beheld a tall young man approach and lead away his wife. His arrows were in his hands, but he did not use them. He thought he would kill her the moment she returned.

Meantime, he went home and sat down to think. At last he came to the determination of quitting her forever, thinking that her own conscience would punish her sufficiently, and relying on her maternal feelings to take care of the two children, who were boys, he immediately took up his arms and departed.

When the wife returned she was disappointed in not finding her husband, for she had now concerted her plan, and intended to have dispatched him. She waited several days, thinking he might have been led away by the chase, but finding he did not return, she suspected the true cause. Leaving her two children in the lodge, she told them she was going a short distance and would return. She then fled to her paramour and came back no more.

The children, thus abandoned, soon made way with the food left in the lodge, and were compelled to quit it in search of more. The eldest boy, who was of an intrepid temper, was strongly attached to his brother, frequently carrying him when he became weary, and gathering all the wild fruit he saw. They wandered deeper and deeper into the forest, losing all traces of their former habitation, until they were completely lost in its mazes.

The eldest boy had a knife, with which he made a bow and arrows, and was thus enabled to kill a few birds for himself and brother. In this manner they continued to pass on, from one piece of forest to another, not knowing whither they were going. At length they saw an opening through the woods, and were shortly afterward delighted to find themselves on the borders of a large lake. Here the elder brother busied himself in picking the seed pods of the wild rose, which he reserved as food. In the mean time, the younger brother amused himself by shooting arrows in the sand, one of which happened to fall into the lake. Panigwun,[82] the elder brother, not willing to lose the arrow, waded in the water to reach it. Just as he was about to grasp the arrow, a canoe passed up to him with great rapidity. An old man, sitting in the centre, seized the affrighted youth and placed him in the canoe. In vain the boy addressed him—"My grandfather (a term of respect for old people), pray take my little brother also. Alone, I cannot go with you; he will starve if I leave him." Mishosha (the old man) only laughed at him. Then uttering the charm, Chemaun Poll, and giving his canoe a slap, it glided through the water with inconceivable swiftness. In a few moments they reached the habitation of the magician, standing on an island in the centre of the lake. Here he lived with his two daughters, who managed the affairs of his household. Leading the young man up to the lodge, he addressed his eldest daughter. "Here," said he, "my daughter, I have brought a young man to be your husband." Husband! thought the young woman; rather another victim of your bad arts, and your insatiate enmity to the human race. But she made no reply, seeming thereby to acquiesce in her father's will.

The young man thought he saw surprise depicted in the eyes of the daughter, during the scene of this introduction, and determined to watch events narrowly. In the evening he overheard the two daughters in conversation. "There," said the eldest daughter, "I told you he would not be satisfied with his last sacrifice. He has brought another victim, under the pretence of providing me a husband. Husband, indeed! the poor youth will be in some horrible predicament before another sun has set. When shall we be spared the scenes of vice and wickedness which are daily taking place before our eyes?"

Panigwun took the first opportunity of acquainting the daughters how he had been carried off, and been compelled to leave his little brother on the shore. They told him to wait until their father was asleep, then to get up and take his canoe, and using the charm he had obtained, it would carry him quickly to his brother. That he could carry him food, prepare a lodge for him, and be back before daybreak. He did, in every respect, as he had been directed—the canoe obeyed the charm, and carried him safely over, and after providing for the subsistence of his brother, he told him that in a short time he should come for him. Then returning to the enchanted island, he resumed his place in the lodge, before the magician awoke. Once, during the night, Mishosha awoke, and not seeing his destined son-in-law, asked his daughter what had become of him. She replied that he had merely stepped out, and would be back soon. This satisfied him. In the morning, finding the young man in the lodge, his suspicions were completely lulled. "I see, my daughter," said he, "you have told the truth."

As soon as the sun arose, Mishosha thus addressed the young man. "Come, my son, I have a mind to gather gulls' eggs. I know an island where there are great quantities, and I wish your aid in getting them." The young man saw no reasonable excuse; and getting into the canoe, the magician gave it a slap, and uttering a command, they were in an instant at the island. They found the shores strown with gulls' eggs, and the island full of birds of this species. "Go, my son," said the old man, "and gather the eggs, while I remain in the canoe."

But Panigwun had no sooner got ashore, than Mishosha pushed his canoe a little from the land, and exclaimed—"Listen, ye gulls! you have long expected an offering from me. I now give you a victim. Fly down and devour him." Then striking his canoe, he left the young man to his fate.

The birds immediately came in clouds around their victim, darkening the air with their numbers. But the youth seizing the first that came near him, and drawing his knife, cut off its head. He immediately skinned the bird and hung the feathers as a trophy on his breast. "Thus," he exclaimed, "will I treat every one of you who approaches me. Forbear, therefore, and listen to my words. It is not for you to eat human flesh. You have been given by the Great Spirit as food for man. Neither is it in the power of that old magician to do you any good. Take me on your backs and carry me to his lodge, and you shall see that I am not ungrateful." The gulls obeyed; collecting in a cloud for him to rest upon, and quickly flew to the lodge, where they arrived before the magician. The daughters were surprised at his return, but Mishosha, on entering the lodge, conducted himself as if nothing extraordinary had taken place.

The next day he again addressed the youth: "Come, my son," said he, "I will take you to an island covered with the most beautiful stones and pebbles, looking like silver. I wish you to assist me in gathering some of them. They will make handsome ornaments, and possess great medicinal virtues." Entering the canoe, the magician made use of his charm, and they were carried in a few moments to a solitary bay in an island, where there was a smooth sandy beach. The young man went ashore as usual, and began to search. "A little further, a little further," cried the old man. "Upon that rock you will get some fine ones." Then pushing his canoe from land—"Come, thou great king of fishes," cried the old man; "you have long expected an offering from me. Come, and eat the stranger whom I have just put ashore on your island." So saying, he commanded his canoe to return, and it was soon out of sight.

Immediately a monstrous fish thrust his long snout from the water, crawling partially on the beach, and opening wide his jaws to receive his victim. "When!" exclaimed the young man, drawing his knife and putting himself in a threatening attitude, "when did you ever taste human flesh? Have a care of yourself. You were given by the Great Spirit to man, and if you, or any of your tribe eat human flesh you will fall sick and die. Listen not to the words of that wicked man, but carry me back to his island, in return for which I will present you a piece of red cloth." The fish complied, raising his back out of the water, to allow the young man to get on. Then taking his way through the lake, he landed his charge safely on the island before the return of the magician. The daughters were still more surprised to see that he had escaped the arts of their father the second time. But the old man on his return maintained his taciturnity and self-composure. He could not, however, help saying to himself—"What manner of boy is this, who is ever escaping from my power? But his spirit shall not save him. I will entrap him to-morrow. Ha, ha, ha!"

Next day the magician addressed the young man as follows: "Come, my son," said he, "you must go with me to procure some young eagles. I wish to tame them. I have discovered an island where they are in great abundance." When they had reached the island, Mishosha led him inland until they came to the foot of a tall pine, upon which the nests were. "Now, my son," said he, "climb up this tree and bring down the birds." The young man obeyed. When he had with great difficulty got near the nest, "Now," exclaimed the magician, addressing the tree, "stretch yourself up and be very tall." The tree rose up at the command. "Listen, ye eagles," continued the old man, "you have long expected a gift from me. I now present you this boy, who has had the presumption to molest your young. Stretch forth your claws and seize him." So saying, he left the young man to his fate, and returned.

But the intrepid youth, drawing his knife, and cutting off the head of the first eagle that menaced him, raised his voice and exclaimed, "Thus will I deal with all who come near me. What right have you, ye ravenous birds, who were made to feed on beasts, to eat human flesh? Is it because that cowardly old canoe-man has bid you do so? He is an old woman. He can neither do you good nor harm. See, I have already slain one of your number. Respect my bravery, and carry me back that I may show you how I shall treat you."

The eagles, pleased with his spirit, assented, and clustering thick around him formed a seat with their backs, and flew toward the enchanted island. As they crossed the water they passed over the magician, lying half asleep in his canoe.

The return of the young man was hailed with joy by the daughters, who now plainly saw that he was under the guidance of a strong spirit. But the ire of the old man was excited, although he kept his temper under subjection. He taxed his wits for some new mode of ridding himself of the youth, who had so successfully baffled his skill. He next invited him to go a hunting.

Taking his canoe, they proceeded to an island and built a lodge to shelter themselves during the night. In the mean while the magician caused a deep fall of snow, with a storm of wind and severe cold. According to custom, the young man pulled off his moccasins and leggings, and hung them before the fire to dry. After he had gone to sleep, the magician, watching his opportunity, got up, and taking one moccasin and one legging, threw them into the fire. He then went to sleep. In the morning, stretching himself as he arose and uttering an exclamation of surprise, "My son," said he, "what has become of your moccasin and legging? I believe this is the moon in which fire attracts, and I fear they have been drawn in." The young man suspected the true cause of his loss, and rightly attributed it to a design of the magician to freeze him to death on the march. But he maintained the strictest silence, and drawing his conaus over his head, thus communed with himself: "I have full faith in the Manito who has preserved me thus far, I do not fear that he will forsake me in this cruel emergency. Great is his power, and I invoke it now that he may enable me to prevail over this wicked enemy of mankind."

He then drew on the remaining moccasin and legging, and taking a dead coal from the fireplace, invoked his spirit to give it efficacy, and blackened his foot and leg as far as the lost garment usually reached. He then got up and announced himself ready for the march. In vain Mishosha led him through snows and over morasses, hoping to see the lad sink at every moment. But in this he was disappointed, and for the first time they returned home together.

Taking courage from this success, the young man now determined to try his own power, having previously consulted with the daughters. They all agreed that the life the old man led was detestable, and that whoever would rid the world of him, would entitle himself to the thanks of the human race.

On the following day the young man thus addressed his hoary captor: "My grandfather, I have often gone with you on perilous excursions, and never murmured. I must now request that you will accompany me. I wish to visit my little brother, and to bring him home with me." They accordingly went on a visit to the main land, and found the little lad in the spot where he had been left. After taking him into the canoe, the young man again addressed the magician: "My grandfather, will you go and cut me a few of those red willows on the bank, I wish to prepare some smoking mixture." "Certainly, my son," replied the old man; "what you wish is not very hard. Ha, ha, ha! do you think me too old to get up there?" No sooner was Mishosha ashore, than the young man, placing himself in the proper position struck the canoe with his hand, and pronouncing the charm, N'chimaun Poll, the canoe immediately flew through the water on its return to the island. It was evening when the two brothers arrived, and carried the canoe ashore. But the elder daughter informed the young man that unless he sat up and watched the canoe, and kept his hand upon it, such was the power of their father, it would slip off and return to him. Panigwun watched faithfully till near the dawn of day, when he could no longer resist the drowsiness which oppressed him, and he fell into a short doze. In the mean time, the canoe slipped off and sought its master, who soon returned in high glee. "Ha, ha, ha! my son," said he; "you thought to play me a trick. It was very clever. But you see I am too old for you."

A short time after, the youth again addressed the magician. "My grandfather, I wish to try my skill in hunting. It is said there is plenty of game on an island not far off, and I have to request that you will take me there in your canoe." They accordingly went to the island and spent the day in hunting. Night coming on they put up a temporary lodge. When the magician had sunk into a profound sleep, the young man got up, and taking one of Mishosha's leggings and moccasins from the place where they hung, threw them into the fire, thus retaliating the artifice before played upon himself. He had discovered that the foot and leg were the only vulnerable parts of the magician's body. Having committed these articles to the fire, he besought his Manito that he would raise a great storm of snow, wind, and hail, and then laid himself down beside the old man. Consternation was depicted on the countenance of the latter, when he awoke in the morning and found his moccasin and legging missing. "I believe, my grandfather," said the young man, "that this is the moon in which fire attracts, and I fear your foot and leg garments have been drawn in." Then rising and bidding the old man follow him, he began the morning's hunt, frequently turning to see how Mishosha kept up. He saw him faltering at every step, and almost benumbed with cold, but encouraged him to follow, saying, we shall soon get through and reach the shore; although he took pains, at the same time, to lead him in roundabout ways, so as to let the frost take complete effect. At length the old man reached the brink of the island where the woods are succeeded by a border of smooth sand. But he could go no farther; his legs became stiff and refused motion, and he found himself fixed to the spot. But he still kept stretching out his arms and swinging his body to and fro. Every moment he found the numbness creeping higher. He felt his legs growing downward like roots, the feathers of his head turned to leaves, and in a few seconds he stood a tall and stiff sycamore, leaning toward the water.

Panigwun leaped into the canoe, and pronouncing the charm, was soon transported to the island, where he related his victory to the daughters. They applauded the deed, agreed to put on mortal shapes, become wives to the two young men, and forever quit the enchanted island. And passing immediately over to the main land, they lived lives of happiness and peace.

[82] The end wing feather.




There once lived a woman called Monedo Kway[83] on the sand mountains called "the Sleeping Bear," of Lake Michigan, who had a daughter as beautiful as she was modest and discreet. Everybody spoke of the beauty of this daughter. She was so handsome that her mother feared she would be carried off, and to prevent it she put her in a box on the lake, which was tied by a long string to a stake on the shore. Every morning the mother pulled the box ashore, and combed her daughter's long, shining hair, gave her food, and then put her out again on the lake.

One day a handsome young man chanced to come to the spot at the moment she was receiving her morning's attentions from her mother. He was struck with her beauty, and immediately went home and told his feelings to his uncle, who was a great chief and a powerful magician. "My nephew," replied the old man, "go to the mother's lodge, and sit down in a modest manner, without saying a word. You need not ask her the question. But whatever you think she will understand, and what she thinks in answer you will also understand." The young man did so. He sat down, with his head dropped in a thoughtful manner, without uttering a word. He then thought, "I wish she would give me her daughter." Very soon he understood the mother's thoughts in reply. "Give you my daughter?" thought she; "you! No, indeed, my daughter shall never marry you." The young man went away and reported the result to his uncle. "Woman without good sense;" said he, "who is she keeping her daughter for? Does she think she will marry the Mudjikewis?[84] Proud heart! we will try her magic skill, and see whether she can withstand our power." The pride and haughtiness of the mother was talked of by the spirits living on that part of the lake. They met together and determined to exert their power in humbling her. For this purpose they resolved to raise a great storm on the lake. The water began to toss and roar, and the tempest became so severe, that the string broke, and the box floated off through the straits down Lake Huron, and struck against the sandy shores at its outlet. The place where it struck was near the lodge of a superannuated old spirit called Ishkwon Daimeka, or the keeper of the gate of the lakes. He opened the box and let out the beautiful daughter, took her into his lodge, and married her.

When the mother found that her daughter had been blown off by the storm, she raised very loud cries and lamented exceedingly. This she continued to do for a long time, and would not be comforted. At length, after two or three years, the spirits had pity on her, and determined to raise another storm and bring her back. It was even a greater storm than the first; and when it began to wash away the ground and encroach on the lodge of Ishkwon Daimeka, she leaped into the box, and the waves carried her back to the very spot of her mother's lodge on the shore. Monedo Equa was overjoyed; but when she opened the box, she found that her daughter's beauty had almost all departed. However, she loved her still because she was her daughter, and now thought of the young man who had made her the offer of marriage. She sent a formal message to him, but he had altered his mind, for he knew that she had been the wife of another: "I marry your daughter?" said he; "your daughter! No, indeed! I shall never marry her."

The storm that brought her back was so strong and powerful, that it tore away a large part of the shore of the lake, and swept off Ishkwon Daimeka's lodge, the fragments of which, lodging in the straits, formed those beautiful islands which are scattered in the St. Clair and Detroit rivers. The old man himself was drowned, and his bones are buried under them. They heard him singing his songs of lamentation as he was driven off on a portion of his lodge; as if he had been called to testify his bravery and sing his war song at the stake.

I ride the waters like the winds; No storms can blench my heart.

[83] Female spirit or prophetess.

[84] A term indicative of the heir or successor to the first place in power.




As spring approaches, the Indians return from their wintering grounds to their villages, engage in feasting, soon exhaust their stock of provisions, and begin to suffer for the want of food. Such of the hunters as are of an active and enterprising cast of character, take the occasion to separate from the mass of the population, and remove to some neighboring locality in the forest, which promises the means of subsistence during this season of general lassitude and enjoyment.

Among the families who thus separated themselves, on a certain occasion, there was a man called Odshedoph Waucheentongah, or the Child of Strong Desires, who had a wife and one son. After a day's travel he reached an ample wood with his family, which was thought to be a suitable place to encamp. The wife fixed the lodge, while the husband went out to hunt. Early in the evening he returned with a deer. Being tired and thirsty he asked his son to go to the river for some water. The son replied that it was dark and he was afraid. He urged him to go, saying that his mother, as well as himself, was tired, and the distance to the water was very short. But no persuasion was of any avail. He refused to go. "Ah, my son," said the father, at last, "if you are afraid to go to the river, you will never kill the Red Head."

The boy was deeply mortified by this observation. It seemed to call up all his latent energies. He mused in silence. He refused to eat, and made no reply when spoken to.

The next day he asked his mother to dress the skin of the deer, and make it into moccasins for him, while he busied himself in preparing a bow and arrows. As soon as these things were done, he left the lodge one morning at sunrise, without saying a word to his father or mother. He fired one of his arrows into the air, which fell westward. He took that course, and at night coming to the spot where the arrow had fallen, was rejoiced to find it piercing the heart of a deer. He refreshed himself with a meal of the venison, and the next morning fired another arrow. After travelling all day, he found it also in another deer. In this manner he fired four arrows, and every evening found that he had killed a deer. What was very singular, however, was, that he left the arrows sticking in the carcasses, and passed on without withdrawing them. In consequence of this, he had no arrow for the fifth day, and was in great distress at night for the want of food. At last he threw himself upon the ground in despair, concluding that he might as well perish there as go further. But he had not lain long before he heard a hollow, rumbling noise, in the ground beneath him. He sprang up, and discovered at a distance the figure of a human being, walking with a stick. He looked attentively and saw that the figure was walking in a wide beaten path, in a prairie, leading from a lodge to a lake. To his surprise, this lodge was at no great distance. He approached a little nearer and concealed himself. He soon discovered that the figure was no other than that of the terrible witch, Wok-on-kahtohn-zooeyah-pee-kah-haitchee, or the little old woman who makes war. Her path to the lake was perfectly smooth and solid, and the noise our adventurer had heard, was caused by the striking of her walking staff upon the ground. The top of this staff was decorated with a string of the toes and bills of birds of every kind, who at every stroke of the stick, fluttered and sung their various notes in concert.

She entered her lodge and laid off her mantle, which was entirely composed of the scalps of women. Before folding it, she shook it several times, and at every shake the scalps uttered loud shouts of laughter, in which the old hag joined. Nothing could have frightened him more than this horrific exhibition. After laying by the cloak she came directly to him. She informed him that she had known him from the time he left his father's lodge, and watched his movements. She told him not to fear or despair, for she would be his friend and protector. She invited him into her lodge, and gave him a supper. During the repast, she inquired of him his motives for visiting her. He related his history, stated the manner in which he had been disgraced, and the difficulties he labored under. She cheered him with the assurance of her friendship, and told him he would be a brave man yet.

She then commenced the exercise of her power upon him. His hair being very short, she took a large leaden comb, and after drawing it through his hair several times, it became of a handsome feminine length. She then proceeded to dress him as a female, furnishing him with the necessary garments, and decorated his face with paints of the most beautiful dye. She gave him a bowl of shining metal. She directed him to put in his girdle a blade of scented sword-grass, and to proceed the next morning to the banks of the lake, which was no other than that over which the Red Head reigned. Now Pah-hah-undootah, or the Red Head, was a most powerful sorcerer and the terror of all the country, living upon an island in the centre of the lake.

She informed him that there would be many Indians on the island, who, as soon as they saw him use the shining bowl to drink with, would come and solicit him to be their wife, and to take him over to the island. These offers he was to refuse, and say that he had come a great distance to be the wife of the Red Head, and that if the chief could not come for her in his own canoe, she should return to her village. She said that as soon as the Red Head heard of this, he would come for her in his own canoe, in which she must embark. On reaching the island he must consent to be his wife, and in the evening induce him to take a walk out of the village, when he was to take the first opportunity to cut off his head with the blade of grass. She also gave him general advice how he was to conduct himself to sustain his assumed character of a woman. His fear would scarcely permit him to accede to this plan, but the recollection of his father's words and looks decided him.

Early in the morning, he left the witch's lodge, and took the hard beaten path to the banks of the lake. He reached the water at a point directly opposite the Red Head's village. It was a beautiful day. The heavens were clear, and the sun shone out in the greatest effulgence. He had not been long there, having sauntered along the beach, when he displayed the glittering bowl, by dipping water from the lake. Very soon a number of canoes came off from the island. The men admired his dress, and were charmed with his beauty, and a great number made proposals of marriage. These he promptly declined, agreeably to the concerted plan. When the facts were reported to the Red Head, he ordered his canoe to be put in the water by his chosen men, and crossed over to see this wonderful girl. As he came near the shore, he saw that the ribs of the sorcerer's canoe were formed of living rattlesnakes, whose heads pointed outward to guard him from enemies. Our adventurer had no sooner stepped into the canoe than they began to hiss and rattle, which put him in a great fright. But the magician spoke to them, after which they became pacified and quiet, and all at once they were at the landing upon the island. The marriage immediately took place, and the bride made presents of various valuables which had been furnished by the old witch.

As they were sitting in the lodge surrounded by friends and relatives, the mother of the Red Head regarded the face of her new daughter-in-law for a long time with fixed attention. From this scrutiny she was convinced that this singular and hasty marriage augured no good to her son. She drew her husband aside and disclosed to him her suspicions: "This can be no female," said she; "the figure and manners, the countenance, and more especially the expression of the eyes, are, beyond a doubt, those of a man." Her husband immediately rejected her suspicions, and rebuked her severely for the indignity offered to her daughter-in-law. He became so angry, that seizing the first thing that came to hand, which happened to be his pipe stem, he beat her unmercifully. This act requiring to be explained to the spectators, the mock bride immediately rose up, and assuming an air of offended dignity, told the Red Head that after receiving so gross an insult from his relatives he could not think of remaining with him as his wife, but should forthwith return to his village and friends. He left the lodge followed by the Red Head, and walked until he came upon the beach of the island, near the spot where they had first landed. Red Head entreated him to remain. He pressed him by every motive which he thought might have weight, but they were all rejected. During this conference they had seated themselves upon the ground, and Red Head, in great affliction, reclined his head upon his fancied wife's lap. This was the opportunity ardently sought for, and it was improved to the best advantage. Every means was taken to lull him to sleep, and partly by a soothing manner, and partly by a seeming compliance with his request, the object was at last attained. Red Head fell into a sound sleep. Our aspirant for the glory of a brave man then drew his blade of grass, and drawing it once across the neck of the Red Head completely severed the head from the body.

He immediately stripped off his dress, seized the bleeding head, and plunging into the lake, swam safely over to the main shore. He had scarcely reached it, when, looking back, he saw amid the darkness the torches of persons come out in search of the new-married couple. He listened till they had found the headless body, and he heard their piercing shrieks of sorrow, as he took his way to the lodge of his kind adviser.

She received him with rejoicing. She admired his prudence, and told him his bravery could never be questioned again. Lifting up the head, she said he need only have brought the scalp. She cut off a small piece for herself, and told him he might now return with the head, which would be evidence of an achievement that would cause the Indians to respect him. In your way home, she said, you will meet with but one difficulty. Maunkah Keesh Woccaung, or the spirit of the Earth, requires an offering from those who perform extraordinary achievements. As you walk along in a prairie, there will be an earthquake. The earth will open and divide the prairie in the middle. Take this partridge and throw it into the opening, and instantly spring over it. All this happened precisely as it had been foretold. He cast the partridge into the crevice and leapt over it. He then proceeded without obstruction to a place near his village, where he secreted his trophy. On entering the village he found his parents had returned from the place of their spring encampment, and were in great sorrow for their son, whom they supposed to be lost. One and another of the young men had presented themselves to the disconsolate parents, and said, "Look up, I am your son." Having been often deceived in this manner, when their own son actually presented himself, they sat with their heads down, and with their eyes nearly blinded with weeping. It was some time before they could be prevailed upon to bestow a glance upon him. It was still longer before they recognized him for their son; when he recounted his adventures they believed him mad. The young men laughed at him. He left the lodge and soon returned with his trophy. It was soon recognized. All doubts of the reality of his adventures now vanished. He was greeted with joy and placed among the first warriors of the nation. He finally became a chief, and his family were ever after respected and esteemed.


There was once a very beautiful young girl, who died suddenly on the day she was to have been married to a handsome young man. He was also brave, but his heart was not proof against this loss. From the hour she was buried, there was no more joy or peace for him. He went often to visit the spot where the women had buried her, and sat musing there, when, it was thought, by some of his friends, he would have done better to try to amuse himself in the chase, or by diverting his thoughts in the war-path. But war and hunting had both lost their charms for him. His heart was already dead within him. He pushed aside both his war-club and his bow and arrows.

He had heard the old people say, that there was a path that led to the land of souls, and he determined to follow it. He accordingly set out, one morning, after having completed his preparations for the journey. At first he hardly knew which way to go. He was only guided by the tradition that he must go south. For a while he could see no change in the face of the country. Forests, and hills, and valleys, and streams had the same looks which they wore in his native place. There was snow on the ground, when he set out, and it was sometimes seen to be piled and matted on the thick trees and bushes. At length it began to diminish, and finally disappeared. The forest assumed a more cheerful appearance, and the leaves put forth their buds, and before he was aware of the completeness of the change, he found himself surrounded by spring. He had left behind him the land of snow and ice. The air became mild; the dark clouds of winter had rolled away from the sky; a pure field of blue was above him, and as he went he saw flowers beside his path, and heard the songs of birds. By these signs he knew that he was going the right way, for they agreed with the traditions of his tribe. At length he spied a path. It led him through a grove, then up a long and elevated ridge, on the very top of which he came to a lodge. At the door stood an old man, with white hair, whose eyes, though deeply sunk, had a fiery brilliancy. He had a long robe of skins thrown loosely around his shoulders, and a staff in his hands. It was Chebiabos.

The young Chippewa began to tell his story; but the venerable chief arrested him, before he had proceeded to speak ten words. "I have expected you," he replied, "and had just risen to bid you welcome to my abode. She whom you seek, passed here but a few days since, and being fatigued with her journey, rested herself here. Enter my lodge and be seated, and I will then satisfy your inquiries, and give you directions for your journey from this point." Having done this, they both issued forth to the lodge door. "You see yonder gulf," said he, "and the wide stretching blue plains beyond. It is the land of souls. You stand upon its borders, and my lodge is the gate of entrance. But you cannot take your body along. Leave it here with your bow and arrows, your bundle, and your dog. You will find them safe on your return." So saying, he re-entered the lodge, and the freed traveller bounded forward, as if his feet had suddenly been endowed with the power of wings. But all things retained their natural colors and shapes. The woods and leaves, and streams and lakes, were only more bright and comely than he had ever witnessed. Animals bounded across his path, with a freedom and a confidence which seemed to tell him, there was no blood shed here. Birds of beautiful plumage inhabited the groves, and sported in the waters. There was but one thing, in which he saw a very unusual effect. He noticed that his passage was not stopped by trees or other objects. He appeared to walk directly through them. They were, in fact, but the souls or shadows of material trees. He became sensible that he was in a land of shadows. When he had travelled half a day's journey, through a country which was continually becoming more attractive, he came to the banks of a broad lake, in the centre of which was a large and beautiful island. He found a canoe of shining white stone, tied to the shore. He was now sure that he had come the right path, for the aged man had told him of this. There were also shining paddles. He immediately entered the canoe, and took the paddles in his hands, when to his joy and surprise, on turning round, he beheld the object of his search in another canoe, exactly its counterpart in everything. She had exactly imitated his motions, and they were side by side. They at once pushed out from shore and began to cross the lake. Its waves seemed to be rising, and at a distance looked ready to swallow them up; but just as they entered the whitened edge of them they seemed to melt away, as if they were but the images of waves. But no sooner was one wreath of foam passed, than another, more threatening still, rose up. Thus they were in perpetual fear; and what added to it, was the clearness of the water, through which they could see heaps of beings who had perished before, and whose bones lay strewed on the bottom of the lake. The Master of Life had, however, decreed to let them pass, for the actions of neither of them had been bad. But they saw many others struggling and sinking in the waves. Old men and young men, males and females of all ages and ranks, were there; some passed, and some sank. It was only the little children whose canoes seemed to meet no waves. At length, every difficulty was gone, as in a moment, and they both leaped out on the happy island. They felt that the very air was food. It strengthened and nourished them. They wandered together over the blissful fields, where everything was formed to please the eye and the ear. There were no tempests—there was no ice, no chilly winds—no one shivered for the want of warm clothes: no one suffered for hunger—no one mourned the dead. They saw no graves. They heard of no wars. There was no hunting of animals; for the air itself was their food. Gladly would the young warrior have remained there forever, but he was obliged to go back for his body. He did not see the Master of Life, but he heard his voice in a soft breeze. "Go back," said this voice, "to the land from whence you come. Your time has not yet come. The duties for which I made you, and which you are to perform, are not yet finished. Return to your people and accomplish the duties of a good man. You will be the ruler of your tribe for many days. The rules you must observe will be told you by my messenger, who keeps the gate. When he surrenders back your body, he will tell you what to do. Listen to him, and you shall afterwards rejoin the spirit, which you must now leave behind. She is accepted, and will be ever here, as young and as happy as she was when I first called her from the land of snows." When this voice ceased, the narrator awoke. It was the fancy work of a dream, and he was still in the bitter land of snows, and hunger, and tears.




A long time ago, there lived an aged Odjibwa and his wife, on the Shores of Lake Huron. They had an only son, a very beautiful boy, whose name was O-na-wut-a-qut-o, or he that catches the clouds. The family were of the totem of the beaver. The parents were very proud of him, and thought to make him a celebrated man, but when he reached the proper age, he would not submit to the We-koon-de-win, or fast. When this time arrived, they gave him charcoal, instead of his breakfast, but he would not blacken his face. If they denied him food, he would seek for birds' eggs, along the shores, or pick up the heads of fish that had been cast away, and broil them. One day, they took away violently the food he had thus prepared, and cast him some coals in place of it. This act brought him to a decision. He took the coals and blackened his face, and went out of the lodge. He did not return, but slept without; and during the night, he had a dream. He dreamed that he saw a very beautiful female come down from the clouds and stand by his side. "O-no-wut-a-qut-o," said she, "I am come for you—step in my tracks." The young man did so, and presently felt himself ascending above the tops of the trees—he mounted up, step by step, into the air, and through the clouds. His guide, at length, passed through an orifice, and he, following her, found himself standing on a beautiful plain.

A path led to a splendid lodge. He followed her into it. It was large, and divided into two parts. On one end he saw bows and arrows, clubs and spears, and various warlike implements tipped with silver. On the other end were things exclusively belonging to females. This was the home of his fair guide, and he saw that she had, on the frame, a broad rich belt, of many colors, which she was weaving. She said to him: "My brother is coming and I must hide you." Putting him in one corner, she spread the belt over him. Presently the brother came in, very richly dressed, and shining as if he had points of silver all over him. He took down from the wall a splendid pipe, together with his sack of a-pa-ko-ze-gun, or smoking mixture. When he had finished regaling himself in this way, and laid his pipe aside, he said to his sister: "Nemissa" (which is, my elder sister), "when will you quit these practices? Do you forget that the Greatest of the Spirits had commanded that you should not take away the child from below? Perhaps you suppose that you have concealed O-no-wut-a-qut-o, but do I not know of his coming? If you would not offend me, send him back immediately." But this address did not alter her purpose. She would not send him back. Finding that she was purposed in her mind, he then spoke to the young lad, and called him from his hiding-place. "Come out of your concealment," said he, "and walk about and amuse yourself. You will grow hungry if you remain there." He then presented him a bow and arrows, and a pipe of red stone, richly ornamented. This was taken as the word of consent to his marriage; so the two were considered husband and wife from that time.

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