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Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 57

[164] Go and wrestle with him.” Bear began to pull the limbs off a tree to show his strength. Soon he rushed upon the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But that one caught Bear by the hind legs and beat him against a tree until he broke off short his tail. That is why bears have such very short tails.

Again the old grandmother, singing as she walked, went along the trail with her grandson. They met Buffalo. She said, “Look at your sister’s son. Go and wrestle with him.” Now Buffalo was very strong. With his horns he uprooted a tree, and then spent some moments in breaking it to pieces. Then he rushed at the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But that one caught Buffalo by the hind legs and beat him against a tree. He beat him until the back of his neck was broken and he had a great hump on his shoulders. So Buffalo went away, but that is why buffaloes have such very heavy, humpbacked shoulders.

Again they walked along the trail, singing. It was not long before they met with Deer. To him the grandmother said, “Look at your sister’s son. Go and wrestle with him.” Deer leaped up to show his agility. Then he sprang at the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But that one seized him by the legs and beat him against a tree, breaking his nose, and leaving him with a very small nose, even as deer today have small noses.

[165] Then the Ancient of Tiny Frogs said to Deer: “I shall remain here under the leaves. When hunters are after you and have almost reached you, I will urge you to escape by saying, ‘Pés! Pés!’ When I say that, do your best to get away.”

Hardly had he finished speaking, when he cried out, “Pés! Pés! It is so! Go quickly! Do your best!” Then Deer leaped away. For just then the hunters had come, sure enough.

Therefore, when a tiny frog cries out now, people say that some one is on the point of running after a deer.

[166]

THE FRIGHTENER OF HUNTERS

Choctaw (Bayou Lacomb)

KASHEHOTAPALO is the frightener of hunters. His head is small and dried up, like an old man’s. His legs and feet are like those of a deer. He lives in low, swampy places, far away from men.

If the hunters come near him, when they are chasing a deer, he slips up behind them and calls loudly. Thus he frightens them away. His voice is like that of a woman. His name means “the woman call.”

[167]

THE HUNTER AND THE ALLIGATOR

Choctaw (Bayou Lacomb)

ALL the hunters in a village killed many deer one winter, except one man. This one saw many deer. Sometimes he drew his bow and shot at them; yet they escaped.

Now this hunter had been away from his village three days. He had seen many deer; not one had he killed. On the third day, when the sun was hot over his head, he saw an alligator.

Alligator was in a dry, sandy spot. He had had no water for many days. He was dry and shriveled.

Alligator said to the hunter, “Where can water be found?” The hunter said, “In that forest, not far away, is cold water.”

“I cannot go there alone,” said Alligator. “Come nearer. Do not fear.” The hunter went nearer, but he was afraid.

“You are a hunter,” said Alligator, “but all the deer escape you. Carry me into the water, and I will make you a great hunter. You shall kill many deer.”

The hunter was still afraid. Then he said, “I will [168] carry you, but first I must bind you so that you cannot scratch me; and your mouth, so that you cannot bite me.”

So Alligator rolled over on his back and let the hunter bind him. He fastened his legs and mouth firmly. Then he carried Alligator on his shoulders to the water in the forest. He unfastened the cords and threw him in.

Alligator came to the surface three times. He said, “Take your bow and arrow and go into the woods. You will find a small doe. Do not kill it. Then you will find a large doe. Do not kill it. You will meet a small buck. Do not kill that. Then you will meet a large, old buck. Kill that.”

The hunter took his bow and arrow. Everything happened just as Alligator had foretold. Then he killed the large, old buck. So he became a very great hunter. There was always venison in his wigwam.

[169]

THE GROUNDHOG DANCE

Cherokee

SEVEN wolves once caught a groundhog. They said, “Now we’ll kill you and have something to eat.”

Groundhog said, “When we find good food, we should rejoice over it, as people do in the green-corn dances. You will kill me, and I cannot help myself. But if you want to dance, I’ll sing for you. Now this is a new dance. I will lean up against seven trees in turn. You will dance forward and then go back. At the last turn you may kill me.”

Now the Wolves were very hungry, but they wanted to learn the new dance. Groundhog leaned up against a tree and began to sing. He sang,


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