Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 71

There are other spirits. The Water Dwellers live in the water and fishermen pray to them.

There are also the hunter spirits who are very handsome. Sometimes they help the hunters, but when someone trips and falls, we know one of these hunter spirits tripped him up.

Then there is Det-sata. Det-sata was once a boy who ran away from his home. He has a great many children who are all just like him and have his name. When a flock of birds flies up suddenly as if frightened, it is because Det-sata is chasing them. He is mischievous and sometimes hides an arrow from the bird hunter who may have shot it off into a perfectly clear space, but looks and looks without finding it.

Then the hunter says, “Det-sata, you have my arrow. If you do not give it up, I’ll scratch you.” When he looks again, he finds it.




From the place of the South
They come.
From the place of the South
They come.
The birds of war—
Hear the sound of their passing screams in the air.




SOME warriors had medicine to change themselves into any animal or bird they wished.

Long ago, a warrior coming in from the hunt, found enemies attacking the wigwams of his people across the river. The men were away hunting. On the river bank, he found a mussel shell. With his medicine he changed the shell into a canoe. Thus he crossed the river, and went to his grandmother’s wigwam. She sat with her head in a blanket, waiting to be killed. At once he changed her into a small gourd, and fastened her to his belt. Then he climbed a tree and became a swamp woodcock. Thus he flew back across the river. So the warrior and his grandmother escaped.




NOW in early days, the Wyandots lived about the St. Lawrence River, in the mountains to the eastward. They were the first tribe of old. They had the first chieftainship. The chief said to his nephews, the Lenapées,

“Go down to the seacoast and look. If you see anything, come and tell me.”

Now the Lenapées had a village by the sea. They often looked out, but they saw nothing. One day something came. When it came near the land, it stopped. Then the people were afraid. They ran into the woods. The next day two Indians went quietly to look. It was lying there in the water. Then something just like it came out of it and walked on two legs over the water.[25] When it came to the land, two men stepped out of it. They were different from us. They made signs for the Lenapées to come out of the woods. They gave presents. Then the Lenapées gave them skin clothes.

[25] A row boat.

[215] The white men went away. They came back many times. They asked the Indians for room to put a chair on the land. So it was given. But soon they began to pull the lacing out of the bottom and to walk inland with it. They have not yet come to the end of the string.