When I was a boy this is what the old men told me they had heard when they
were boys.
Long years ago, soon after the world was made, a hunter and his wife lived at
Pilot knob with their only child, a little boy. The father’s name was Kana′tĭ (The
Lucky Hunter), and his wife was called Selu (Corn). No matter when Kana′tĭ
went into the wood, he never failed to bring back a load of game, which his wife
would cut up and prepare, washing off the blood from the meat in the river near
the house. The little boy used to play down the river every day, and onethe house. The little boy used to play down the river every day, and one
morning the old people thought they heard laughing and talking in the bushes as
though there were two children there. When the boy came home at night his
parents asked him who had been playing with him all day. “He comes out of the
water,” said the boy, “and he calls himself my elder brother. He says his mother
was cruel to him and threw him into the river.” Then they knew that the strange
boy had sprung from the blood of the game which Selu had washed off at the
river’s edge.
Every day when the little boy went out to play the other would join him, but as
he always went back again into the water the old people never had a chance to
see him. At last one evening Kana′tĭ said to his son, “Tomorrow, when the other
boy comes to play, get him to wrestle with you, and when you have your arms
around him hold on to him and call for us.” The boy promised to do as he was
told, so the next day as soon as his playmate appeared he challenged him to a
wrestling match. The other agreed at once, but as soon as they had their arms
around each other, Kana′tĭ’s boy began to scream for his father. The old folks at
once came running down, and as soon as the Wild Boy saw them he struggled to
free himself and cried out, “Let me go; you threw me away!” but his brother held
on until the parents reached the spot, when they seized the Wild Boy and took
him home with them. They kept him in the house until they had tamed him, but
he was always wild and artful in his disposition, and was the leader of his
brother in every mischief. It was not long until the old people discovered that he
had magic powers, and they called him I′năge-utăsûñ′hĭ (He-who-grew-up-wild).
Whenever Kana′tĭ went into the mountains he always brought back a fat buck or
doe, or maybe a couple of turkeys. One day the Wild Boy said to his brother, “I
wonder where our father gets all that game; let’s follow him next time and find
out.” A few days afterward Kana′tĭ took a bow and some feathers in his hand and
started off toward the west. The boys waited a little while and then went after
him, keeping out of sight until they saw him go into a swamp where there were a
great many of the small reeds that hunters use to make arrowshafts. Then the
Wild Boy changed himself into a puff of bird’s down, which the wind took up
and carried until it alighted upon Kana′tĭ’s shoulder just as he entered the
swamp, but Kana′tĭ knew nothing about it. The old man cut reeds, fitted the
feathers to them and made some arrows, and the Wild Boy—in his other shape—
thought, “I wonder what those things are for?” When Kana′tĭ had his arrows
finished he came out of the swamp and went on again. The wind blew the downfrom his shoulder, and it fell in the woods, when the Wild Boy took his right
shape again and went back and told his brother what he had seen. Keeping out of
sight of their father, they followed him up the mountain until he stopped at a
certain place and lifted a large rock. At once there ran out a buck, which Kana′tĭ
shot, and then lifting it upon his back he started for home again. “Oho!”
exclaimed the boys, “he keeps all the deer shut up in that hole, and whenever he
wants meat he just lets one out and kills it with those things he made in the
swamp.” They hurried and reached home before their father, who had the heavy
deer to carry, and he never knew that they had followed.
A few days later the boys went back to the swamp, cut some reeds, and made
seven arrows, and then started up the mountain to where their father kept the
game. When they got to the place, they raised the rock and a deer came running
out. Just as they drew back to shoot it, another came out, and then another and
another, until the boys got confused and forgot what they were about. In those
days all the deer had their tails hanging down like other animals, but as a buck
was running past the Wild Boy struck its tail with his arrow so that it pointed
upward. The boys thought this good sport, and when the next one ran past the
Wild Boy struck its tail so that it stood straight up, and his brother struck the
next one so hard with his arrow that the deer’s tail was almost curled over his
back. The deer carries his tail this way ever since. The deer came running past
until the last one had come out of the hole and escaped into the forest. Then
came droves of raccoons, rabbits, and all the other four-footed animals—all but
the bear, because there was no bear then. Last came great flocks of turkeys,
pigeons, and partridges that darkened the air like a cloud and made such a noise
with their wings that Kana′tĭ, sitting at home, heard the sound like distant
thunder on the mountains and said to himself, “My bad boys have got into
trouble; I must go and see what they are doing.”
So he went up the mountain, and when he came to the place where he kept the
game he found the two boys standing the rock, and all the birds and animals
were gone. Kana′tĭ was furious, but without saying a word he went down into the
cave and kicked the covers off four jars in one corner, when out swarmed
bedbugs, fleas, lice, and gnats, and got all over the boys. They screamed with
pain and fright and tried to beat off the insects, but the thousands of vermin
crawled over them and bit and stung them until both dropped down nearly dead.
Kana′tĭ stood looking on until he thought they had been punished enough, whenhe knocked off the vermin and made the boys a talk. “Now, you rascals,” said
he, “you have always had plenty to eat and never had to work for it. Whenever
you were hungry all I had to do was to come up here and get a deer or a turkey
and bring it home for your mother to cook; but now you have let out all the
animals, and after this when you want a deer to eat you will have to hunt all over
the woods for it, and then maybe not find one. Go home now to your mother,
while I see if I can find something to eat for supper.”
When the boys got home again they were very tired and hungry and asked their
mother for something to eat. “There is no meat,” said Selu, “but wait a little
while and I’ll get you something.” So she took a basket and started out to the
storehouse. This storehouse was built upon poles high up from the ground, to
keep it out of the reach of animals, and there was a ladder to climb up , and
one door, but no other opening. Every day when Selu got ready to cook the
dinner she would go out to the storehouse with a basket and bring it back full of
corn and beans. The boys had never been inside the storehouse, so wondered
where all the corn and beans could come from, as the house was not a very large
one; so as soon as Selu went out of the door the Wild Boy said to his brother,
“Let’s go and see what she does.” They ran around and climbed up at the back of
the storehouse and pulled out a piece of clay from between the logs, so that they
could look in. There they saw Selu standing in the middle of the room with the
basket in front of her on the floor. Leaning over the basket, she rubbed her
stomach—so—and the basket was half full of corn. Then she rubbed under her
armpits—so—and the basket was full to the top with beans. The boys looked at
each other and said, “This will never do; our mother is a witch. If we eat any of
that it will poison us. We must kill her.”
When the boys came back into the house, she knew their thoughts before they
spoke. “So you are going to kill me?” said Selu. “Yes,” said the boys, “you are a
witch.” “Well,” said their mother, “when you have killed me, clear a large piece
of ground in front of the house and drag my body seven times around the circle.
Then drag me seven times over the ground inside the circle, and stay up all night
and watch, and in the morning you will have plenty of corn.” The boys killed her
with their clubs, and cut off her head and put it up on the roof of the house with
her face turned to the west, and told her to look for her husband. Then they set to
work to clear the ground in front of the house, but instead of clearing the whole
piece they cleared only seven little spots. This is why corn now grows only in afew places instead of over the whole world. They dragged the body of Selu
around the circle, and wherever her blood fell on the ground the corn sprang up.
But instead of dragging her body seven times across the ground they dragged it
over only twice, which is the reason the Indians still work their crop but twice.
The two brothers sat up and watched their corn all night, and in the morning it
was full grown and ripe.
When Kana′tĭ came home at last, he looked around, but could not see Selu
anywhere, and asked the boys where was their mother. “She was a witch, and we
killed her,” said the boys; “there is her head up there on top of the house.” When
he saw his wife’s head on the roof, he was very angry, and said, “I won’t stay
with you any longer; I am going to the Wolf people.” So he started off, but
before he had gone far the Wild Boy changed himself again to a tuft of down,
which fell on Kana′tĭ’s shoulder. When Kana′tĭ reached the settlement of the
Wolf people, they were holding a council in the townhouse. He went in and sat
down with the tuft of bird’s down on his shoulder, but he never noticed it. When
the Wolf chief asked him his business, he said: “I have two bad boys at home,
and I want you to go in seven days from now and play ball against them.”
Although Kana′tĭ spoke as though he wanted them to play a game of ball, the
Wolves knew that he meant for them to go and kill the two boys. They promised
to go. Then the bird’s down blew off from Kana′tĭ’s shoulder, and the smoke
carried it up through the hole in the roof of the townhouse. When it came down
on the ground outside, the Wild Boy took his right shape again and went home
and told his brother all that he had heard in the townhouse. But when Kana′tĭ left
the Wolf people he did not return home, but went on farther.
The boys then began to get ready for the Wolves, and the Wild Boy—the
magician—told his brother what to do. They ran around the house in a wide
circle until they had made a trail all around it excepting on the side from which
the Wolves would come, where they left a small open space. Then they made
four large bundles of arrows and placed them at four different points on the
outside of the circle, after which they hid themselves in the woods and waited
for the Wolves. In a day or two a whole party of Wolves came and surrounded
the house to kill the boys. The Wolves did not notice the trail around the house,
because they came in where the boys had left the opening, but the moment they
went inside the circle the trail changed to a high brush fence and shut them in.
Then the boys on the outside took their arrows and began shooting them down,and as the Wolves could not jump over the fence they were all killed, excepting
a few that escaped through the opening into a great swamp close . The boys
ran around the swamp, and a circle of fire sprang up in their tracks and set fire to
the grass and bushes and burned up nearly all the other Wolves. Only two or
three got away, and from these have come all the wolves that are now in the
Soon afterward some strangers from a distance, who had heard that the brothers
had a wonderful grain from which they made bread, came to ask for some, for
none but Selu and her family had ever known corn before. The boys gave them
seven grains of corn, which they told them to plant the next night on their way
home, sitting up all night to watch the corn, which would have seven ripe ears in
the morning. These they were to plant the next night and watch in the same way,
and so on every night until they reached home, when they would have corn
enough to supply the whole people. The strangers lived seven days’ journey
away. They took the seven grains and watched all through the darkness until
morning, when they saw seven tall stalks, each stalk bearing a ripened ear. They
gathered the ears and went on their way. The next night they planted all their
corn, and guarded it as before until daybreak, when they found an abundant
increase. But the way was long and the sun was hot, and the people grew tired.
On the last night before reaching home they fell asleep, and in the morning the
corn they had planted had not even sprouted. They brought with them to their
settlement what corn they had left and planted it, and with care and attention
were able to raise a crop. But ever since the corn must be watched and tended
through half the year, which before would grow and ripen in a night.
As Kana′tĭ did not return, the boys at last concluded to go and find him. The
Wild Boy took a gaming wheel and rolled it toward the Darkening land. In a
little while the wheel came rolling back, and the boys knew their father was not
there. He rolled it to the south and to the north, and each time the wheel came
back to him, and they knew their father was not there. Then he rolled it toward
the Sunland, and it did not return. “Our father is there,” said the Wild Boy, “let
us go and find him.” So the two brothers set off toward the east, and after
traveling a long time they came upon Kana′tĭ walking along with a little dog
his side. “You bad boys,” said their father, “have you come here?” “Yes,” they
answered, “we always accomplish what we start out to do—we are men.” “This
dog overtook me four days ago,” then said Kana′tĭ, but the boys knew that the
dog was the wheel which they had sent after him to find him. “Well,” saiddog was the wheel which they had sent after him to find him. “Well,” said
Kana′tĭ, “as you have found me, we may as well travel together, but I shall take
the lead.”
Soon they came to a swamp, and Kana′tĭ told them there was something
dangerous there and they must keep away from it. He went on ahead, but as soon
as he was out of sight the Wild Boy said to his brother, “Come and let us see
what is in the swamp.” They went in together, and in the middle of the swamp
they found a large panther asleep. The Wild Boy got out an arrow and shot the
panther in the side of the head. The panther turned his head and the other boy
shot him on that side. He turned his head away again and the two brothers shot
together—tust, tust, tust! But the panther was not hurt the arrows and paid no
more attention to the boys. They came out of the swamp and soon overtook
Kana′tĭ, waiting for them. “Did you find it?” asked Kana′tĭ. “Yes,” said the boys,
“we found it, but it never hurt us. We are men.” Kana′tĭ was surprised, but said
nothing, and they went on again.
After a while he turned to them and said, “Now you must be careful. We are
coming to a tribe called the Anăda′dûñtăskĭ (“Roasters,” i. e., cannibals), and if
they get you they will put you into a pot and feast on you.” Then he went on
ahead. Soon the boys came to a tree which had been struck lightning, and the
Wild Boy directed his brother to gather some of the splinters from the tree and
told him what to do with them. In a little while they came to the settlement of the
cannibals, who, as soon as they saw the boys, came running out, crying, “Good,
here are two nice fat strangers. Now we’ll have a grand feast!” They caught the
boys and dragged them into the townhouse, and sent word to all the people of the
settlement to come to the feast. They made up a great fire, put water into a large
pot and set it to boiling, and then seized the Wild Boy and put him down into it.
His brother was not in the least frightened and made no attempt to escape, but
quietly knelt down and began putting the splinters into the fire, as if to make it
burn better. When the cannibals thought the meat was about ready they lifted the
pot from the fire, and that instant a blinding light filled the townhouse, and the
lightning began to dart from one side to the other, striking down the cannibals
until not one of them was left alive. Then the lightning went up through the
smoke-hole, and the next moment there were the two boys standing outside the
townhouse as though nothing had happened. They went on and soon met Kana′tĭ,
who seemed much surprised to see them, and said, “What! are you here again?”
“O, yes, we never give up. We are great men!” “What did the cannibals do to
you?” “We met them and they brought us to their townhouse, but they never hurtyou?” “We met them and they brought us to their townhouse, but they never hurt
us.” Kana′tĭ said nothing more, and they went on.
* * *
He soon got out of sight of the boys, but they kept on until they came to the end
of the world, where the sun comes out. The sky was just coming down when
they got there, but they waited until it went up again, and then they went through
and climbed up on the other side. There they found Kana′tĭ and Selu sitting
together. The old folk received them kindly and were glad to see them, telling
them they might stay there a while, but then they must go to live where the sun
goes down. The boys stayed with their parents seven days and then went on
toward the Darkening land, where they are now. We call them Anisga′ya
Tsunsdi′ (The Little Men), and when they talk to each other we hear low rolling
thunder in the west.
After Kana′tĭ’s boys had let the deer out from the cave where their father used to
keep them, the hunters tramped about in the woods for a long time without
finding any game, so that the people were very hungry. At last they heard that
the Thunder Boys were now living in the far west, beyond the sun door, and that
if they were sent for they could bring back the game. So they sent messengers
for them, and the boys came and sat down in the middle of the townhouse and
began to sing.
At the first song there was a roaring sound like a strong wind in the northwest,
and it grew louder and nearer as the boys sang on, until at the seventh song a
whole herd of deer, led a large buck, came out from the woods. The boys had
told the people to be ready with their bows and arrows, and when the song was
ended and all the deer were close around the townhouse, the hunters shot into
them and killed as many as they needed before the herd could get back into the
Then the Thunder Boys went back to the Darkening land, but before they left
they taught the people the seven songs with which to call up the deer. It all
happened so long ago that the songs are now forgotten—all but two, which the
hunters still sing whenever they go after deer.WAHNENAUHI VERSION
After the world had been brought up from under the water, “They then made a
man and a woman and led them around the edge of the island. On arriving at the
starting place they planted some corn, and then told the man and woman to go
around the way they had been led. This they did, and on returning they found the
corn up and growing nicely. They were then told to continue the circuit. Each
trip consumed more time. At last the corn was ripe and ready for use.”
Another story is told of how sin came into the world. A man and a woman reared
a large family of children in comfort and plenty, with very little trouble about
providing food for them. Every morning the father went forth and very soon
returned bringing with him a deer, or a turkey, or some other animal or fowl. At
the same time the mother went out and soon returned with a large basket filled
with ears of corn which she shelled and pounded in a mortar, thus making meal
for bread.
When the children grew up, seeing with what apparent ease food was provided
for them, they talked to each other about it, wondering that they never saw such
things as their parents brought in. At last one proposed to watch when their
parents went out and to follow them.
Accordingly next morning the plan was carried out. Those who followed the
father saw him stop at a short distance from the cabin and turn over a large stone
that appeared to be carelessly leaned against another. On looking closely they
saw an entrance to a large cave, and in it were many different kinds of animals
and birds, such as their father had sometimes brought in for food. The man
standing at the entrance called a deer, which was lying at some distance and
back of some other animals. It rose immediately as it heard the call and came
close up to him. He picked it up, closed the mouth of the cave, and returned, not
once seeming to suspect what his sons had done.When the old man was fairly out of sight, his sons, rejoicing how they had
outwitted him, left their hiding place and went to the cave, saying they would
show the old folks that they, too, could bring in something. They moved the
stone away, though it was very heavy and they were obliged to use all their
united strength. When the cave was opened, the animals, instead of waiting to be
picked up, all made a rush for the entrance, and leaping past the frightened and
bewildered boys, scattered in all directions and disappeared in the wilderness,
while the guilty offenders could do nothing but gaze in stupefied amazement as
they saw them escape. There were animals of all kinds, large and small—
buffalo, deer, elk, antelope, raccoons, and squirrels; even catamounts and
panthers, wolves and foxes, and many others, all fleeing together. At the same
time birds of every kind were seen emerging from the opening, all in the same
wild confusion as the quadrupeds—turkeys, geese, swans, ducks, quails, eagles,
hawks, and owls.
Those who followed the mother saw her enter a small cabin, which they had
never seen before, and close the door. The culprits found a small crack through
which they could peer. They saw the woman place a basket on the ground and
standing over it shake herself vigorously, jumping up and down, when lo and
behold! large ears of corn began to fall into the basket. When it was well filled
she took it up and, placing it on her head, came out, fastened the door, and
prepared their breakfast as usual. When the meal had been finished in silence the
man spoke to his children, telling them that he was aware of what they had done;
that now he must die and they would be obliged to provide for themselves. He
made bows and arrows for them, then sent them to hunt for the animals which
they had turned loose.
Then the mother told them that as they had found out her secret she could do
nothing more for them; that she would die, and they must drag her body around
over the ground; that wherever her body was dragged corn would come up. Of
this they were to make their bread. She told them that they must always save
some for seed and plant every year.