Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 68

Back and forth for a long while did they keep the bear fleeing from one to another. After a while, one of [203] the hunters who was coming behind looked down. Behold! The earth below was green. For it is really true, so they say, that up into the Sky-land were they led away by the bear. While they were chasing him about the dense growth of shrubs, that was surely the time that up into the Sky-land they went.

Then quickly he called, “Oh, Union-of-rivers, let us turn back. Truly into the Sky-land is he leading us away.” So he called to Union-of-rivers, but no answer did he receive from that one.

Now Union-of-rivers, who went running between the man ahead and the man behind, had a little puppy, Hold-tight.

Now in the autumn, they overtook the bear. Then they slew him. After they had slain him, many boughs of an oak did they cut, also of sumach. So with the bear lying on top of the boughs, they skinned him, and cut up the meat. Then they began to scatter the pieces in all directions.

Towards The-place-whence-comes-the-dawn-of-day they hurled the head. In winter, when dawn is nearly breaking, stars appear which are that head, so they say.

Also to the east flung they his backbone. In winter time, certain stars lie close together. These are the backbone, so they say.

And it has also been told of the bear and the hunters [204] that the group of four stars in front are the bear and the three hunters. And between the front star and the star behind, a tiny little star hangs. That is the little dog, Hold-tight, which was the pet of Union-of-rivers.

And so often as autumn comes, the oaks and sumachs redden at the leaf because their boughs were stained with the blood of the bear.




ONCE when the people were burning the woods in the fall, a poplar tree began to burn. It burned until the fire went down into the roots; and then down into the ground. It burned and burned until there was a great hole in the ground, and the people began to be afraid the whole world would burn. They tried to put out the fire, but it was too deep in the ground.

At last someone said, “There is a man living in a house of ice, far toward the Frozen Land. He can put out the fire.”

So messengers were sent. They traveled many sleeps until they came to the house of the Man of Ice. He was a little fellow with long braids of hair, hanging to the ground.

He said at once, “Oh, yes, I can help you,” and began to unbraid his hair. When it was all loose, he took it in one hand and struck the ends against the other hand. The messengers felt a wind blow against their cheeks.

[206] He struck the ends of his hair again across his hand. A light rain began to fall. A third time he struck the open hand with his hair. Sleet began to fall with the rain. The fourth time, and large hailstones fell. They fell as though they came out of the ends of his hair.