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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 248

Spirit Canon, a rocky gorge that extends for three miles along Big Sioux River, Iowa, was hewn through the stone by a spirit that took the form of a dragon. Such were its size and ferocity that the Indians avoided the place, lest they should fall victims to its ire.

The Hurons believed in a monster serpent—Okniont—who wore a horn on his head that could pierce trees, rocks, and hills. A piece of this horn was an amulet of great value, for it insured good luck.

The Zunis tell of a plumed serpent that lives in the water of sacred springs, and they dare not destroy the venomous creatures that infest the plains of Arizona because, to them, the killing of a snake means a reduction in their slender water-supply. The gods were not so kind to the snakes as men were, for the agatized trees of Chalcedony Park, in Arizona, are held to be arrows shot by the angry deities at the monsters who vexed this region.

Indians living on the shore of Canandaigua Lake, New York, tamed a pretty spotted snake, and fed and petted it until it took a deer at a meal. It grew so large that it eventually encircled the camp and began to prey on its keepers. Vainly they tried to kill the creature, until a small boy took an arrow of red willow, anointed it with the blood of a young woman, and shot it from a basswood bow at the creature's heart. It did not enter at once; it merely stuck to the scales. But presently it began to bore and twist its way into the serpent's body. The serpent rolled into the lake and made it foam in its agony. It swallowed water and vomited it up again, with men dead and alive, before it died.

The monster Amhuluk, whose home is a lake near Forked Mountain, Oregon, had but one passion-to catch and drown all things; and when you look into the lake you see that he has even drowned the sky in it, and has made the trees stand upside down in the water. Wherever he set his feet the ground would soften. As three children were digging roots at the edge of the water he fell on them and impaled two of them on his horns, the eldest only contriving to escape. When this boy reached home his body was full of blotches, and the father suspected how it was, yet he went to the lake at once. The bodies of the children came out of the mud at his feet to meet him, but went down again and emerged later across the water. They led him on in this way until he came to the place where they were drowned. A fog now began to steam up from the water, but through it he could see the little ones lifted on the monster's horns, and hear them cry, "We have changed our bodies." Five times they came up and spoke to him, and five times he raised a dismal cry and begged them to return, but they could not. Next morning he saw them rise through the fog again, and, building a camp, he stayed there and mourned for several days. For five days they showed themselves, but after that they went down and he saw and heard no more of them. Ambuluk had taken the children and they would live with him for ever after.


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