Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 21

From Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Birch-Bark Yoke, and Sap Buckets, Used in Maple Sugar Making.




MANABUSH killed a moose. He was very hungry, but he was greatly troubled as to how he should eat it.

“If I begin at the head,” he said, “they will say I ate him headfirst. But if I begin at the side, they will say I ate him sideways. And if I begin at the tail, they will say I ate him tail first.”

He was greatly troubled. And while he thus spoke, the wind blew two tree branches together. It made a harsh, creaking sound.

“I cannot eat in this noise,” said Manabush, and he climbed the tree. Immediately the branches caught him by the arm and held him. Then a pack of wolves came and ate up the moose.




ONE day as Wabus, the Rabbit, traveled through a forest, he came to a clearing on the bank of the river. There sat Totoba, the Saw-whet Owl. The light was dim and Rabbit could not see well. He said to Saw-whet,

“Why do you want it so dark? I do not like it. I will cause it to be light.”

Saw-whet said, “Do so, if you are strong enough. Let us try our powers.”

So Rabbit and the Owl called a great council of the birds. Some of the birds and animals wanted Rabbit to succeed so that it would be light. Others wanted it to remain dark.

Rabbit and Owl began to try their powers. Rabbit began to repeat rapidly, “Wabon. Wabon. Wabon” (Light. Light. Light), while Owl kept saying as rapidly as he could, “Uni tipa qkot. Uni tipa qkot. Uni tipa qkot” (Night. Night. Night).

If one of them should speak the word of the other, he would lose. So Rabbit kept repeating rapidly, [55]Wabon. Wabon. Wabon,” while Owl said as rapidly as he could, “Uni tipa qkot. Uni tipa qkot. Uni tipa qkot.” At last Owl said Rabbit’s word, “Wabon,” so he lost.

Therefore Rabbit decided there should be light. But because some of the animals and birds could hunt only in the dark, he said it should be night part of the time. But all the rest of the time it is day.




LONG ago, before the white man came, in the land of the Cherokees was a clan called the Ani Tsagulin. One of the boys of the clan used to wander all day long in the mountains. He never ate his food at home.

“Why do you do so?” asked his father and mother. The boy did not answer.

“Why do you do so?” they asked many days, as the boy wandered away into the hills. He did not answer them.

Then his mother saw that long brown hair covered his body. They said again, “Where do you go?” They asked, “Why do you not eat at home?”

At last the boy said, “There is plenty to eat there. It is better than the corn in the village. Soon I shall stay in the woods all the time.”