THE WATER TIGER
AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
WITH DRAWINGS BY
WALTER CONANT GREENOUGH
LAWRENCE & BULLEN
M D C C C C V
PRINTED) IN Ni\EW YORKi,
WHO STILL LOVES FAIRY TALES,"
THIS VOLUME IS
THROUGH the courtesy of the librarian of the
Smithsonian Institute, the author has had access
to government reports of Indian life. Upon these.
and the folk-lore contained in the standard works
of Schoolcraft, Copway, and Catlin these stories
THE STORY-TELLER HIMSELF 1
SNOWBIRD AND THE WATER-TIGER 3
THE COYOTE OR PRAIRIE WOLF 15
How MAD BUFFALO FOUGHT THE THUNDER-BIRD 27
THE RED SWAN 37
THE BENDED ROCKS 55
WHITE HAWK, THE LAZY 63
THE MAGIC FEATHER 75
THE STAR MAIDEN 93
THE FIGHTING HARE 101
THE GREAT HEAD .113
THE ADVENTURES OF LIVING STATUE 123
TURTLE-DOVE, SAGE-COCK, AND THE WITCH .133
THE ISLAND OF SKELETONS 141
STONE-SHIRT AND THE ONE-TWO 155
THE GREAT WIZARD 167
WHITE CLOUD'S VISIT TO THE SUN-PRINCE 185
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
" Made her way to the flower and hid herself in its
"Then, all of a sudden it changed to a woman," 10
" Ran with long bounds down the winding road," 21
" Pounced upon him, and lifted him into the air," 31
"He flew swiftly toward the magician's lodge," 53
" Was borne on great white wings," 58
"Swam across the lake with the head in his hand," 72
"Lo Clouds of blue and white pigeons rushed from
the smoke," 91
" He went to the top of the cliff and saw the sun just
"I see thee, I see thee; thou shalt die," 117
"Near the white, misty road of the dead," 132
"Flew away with him on her bat-like wings to the
distant mountain," 136
" Whispered to the Swans, Come, let us go home,'" 148
" Instead of one handsome young warrior, there were
It formed a small lake," 172
"White Cloud and his friend at last gave a great
THE STORY-TELLER HIMSELF.
t' ....t ''? .A'0O0, the story-teller of
'^ rthe Indians, is a little,
-"_ old man with a face as
Ilack as the shell of the
---. ",J I butternut and a body
.like a twisted stick. His
eyes are twice as large
as other men's, so that
when a bird flies past him he sees- twice
as many feathers on it, and all the little
colors underneath are bright to him. His
ears are twice as large as other men's, so
that what seems to them but a tiny sound
is to him like the roll of thunder. His legs
are supple and his arms are strong, so that
he can run faster and further, and can
lift and carry twice as much as others.
No one believes him, yet every one is
eager to listen to him. He tells of things
of which no one else ever saw the like;
but the stories are pleasant to hear, and
Iagoo says they are true. When the rivers
and lakes are frozen so that the Indian can-
not fish, and the snow has drifted many
feet in thickness so that he cannot hunt,
then he goes into his wigwam, cowers
under his heaviest bear-skin wrapper or
2 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
crouches by the fire, and longs for Iagoo
to.appear. When the Storm-fool dances
about the wigwam and throws the snow-
flakes, hard and dry as sand, in at the door-
way, then Iagoo is most likely to visit him.
He vanishes for many moons and comes
back with new and wonderful tales. He
has met bears with eyes of fire and claws
of steel, mosquitoes whose wings were
large enough for a sail for his canoe and
serpents with manes like horses.
Once he found a water-lily with a leaf so
broad that it made a petticoat for his wife.
At another time he saw a bush so large that
it took him half a day to walk round it.
As he sat in his doorway one summer
evening he shot an arrow without taking di-
rect aim. It killed a swan and twenty brace
of ducks that were swimming on the river,
then passed on and mortally wounded two
loons on the bank, bounded back and, as it
touched the water, killed an enormous fish.
He remembers when the oldest oak was
an acorn. He says that he will be alive
long after the white man has disappeared
from the land.
These are his tales written down for the
little Pale-faces. They are of the fairies,
the. giants, the dwarfs, the witches and
the magicians of our own land, America.
SNOWBIRD AND THE WATER-
SNOWBIRD AND' THE WATER-
NOWBIRD was the
much-loved wife of
Brown Bear, the brave
hunter whose home was
on the shore of the
Great Lake. He kept
the wigwam well sup-
plied with food; and
Snowbird's moccasins were the finest in
the tribe, save only those of the Chief's
daughters. Even those owed much of their
beauty to the lovely feathers that Snow-
bird had given them. If you had asked
her where she got them she would have
answered proudly, My husband brought
them from the chase."
Besides Brown Bear and his wife, there
lived in the wigwam their own, dear, little
papoose whom they called Pigeon," be-
cause he was always saying, Goo, goo;"
but they hoped that he would win a nobler
name some day, when he should fight the
enemy, or kill some beast that was a ter-
ror to the tribe, and so take its name for
6 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
These three would have been a very
happy family; nor would the little orphan
boy whom they had adopted long before
Pigeon was born, have made them afly
trouble; he was a great help to them.
But there was still another inmate, Brown
Bear's mother, a wicked, old squaw, whom
none of the other sons' wives would have
in their wigwams. Brown Bear was her
youngest son, and had always been her
favorite. She was kind to him when she
was not to any one else; and he loved her
and took good care of her, just as much
after he brought Snowbird home to be his
wife, as he had done before. But the
old woman was jealous; and when Brown
Bear brought in dainty bits, such as the
moose's lip and the bear's kidney, and
gave them to his wife, she hated her and
grumbled and mumbled to herself in the
corner by the fire.
Day after day she sat thinking how she
could get rid of the intruder," as she
called her daughter-in-law. She forgot
how she had married the only son of a
brave Chief and had gone to be the mis-
tress of his wigwam; and he had been as
kind and good to her as her son was to
One day when the work was all done,
SNOWBIRD AND THE WATER-TIGER 7
the old woman asked her daughter-in-law
to go out to see a swing she had found
near the Great Lake. It was a twisted
grapevine, that hung over a high rock; but
it was stout and strong, for it had been
there many years and was securely fas-
tened about the roots of two large trees.
The old woman got in first and grasping
the vine tightly, swung herself further
and further until she was clear out over
the water. "It is delightful,"' said she;
''just try it.''
So Snowbird got into the swing. While
she was enjoying the cool breeze that rose
from the lake, the old woman crept behind
the trees, and, as soon as the swing was in
full motion, and Snowbird was far out
over the water, she cut the vine and let
her drop down, down, down, not stopping
to see what became of her.
She went home and putting on her
daughter-in-law's clothes sat in Snow-
bird's place by the fire, hiding her face as
much as possible, so that no one should
see her wrinkles.
When Brown Bear came home he gave
her the dainties, supposing she was his
wife; and she ate them greedily, paying
no attention to the baby, who was crying
as if its heart would break.
8 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
Why does little Pigeon cry so ?"
asked the father.
I don't know," said the old woman,
' I suppose he's hungry."
Thereat, she picked up the baby, shook
it soundly and made believe to nurse it. It
cried louder than ever. She boxed its
ears and stuffed something into its mouth
to keep it quiet.
Brown Bear thought his wife very cross,
so he took his pipe and left the wigwam.
The orphan boy had watched all these
doings and had grown suspicious. Going
to the fire he pretended to brush away the
ashes; and, when he thought the old
woman was not looking at him, he stirred
the logs and made a bright flame leap up
so that he could plainly see her face. He
was sure there was something wrong.
Where is Snowbird?" asked he.
Sh-!" said the old woman; "she is
by the lake, swinging." The boy said no
more, but went out of the wigwam and
down to the lake. There he saw the
broken swing, and guessing what had hap-
pened, he went in search of Brown Bear
and told him what he had discovered.
Brown Bear did not like to think any
wrong of his mother, and therefore asked
her no questions. Sadly he paced up and
SNOWBIRD AND TIHE T~ATER-TIGER 9
down outside the door of his wigwam.
Then taking some black paint he smeared
his face and body with it as a sign of
mourning. When this was done he turned
his long spear upside down, and pressing
it into the earth, prayed for lightning,
thunder and rain, so that his wife's body
might rise from the lake.
Every day he went thither, but saw no
sign of his dear Snowbird, though the
thunder rolled heavily and the lightning
had split a great oak near the wigwam
from the top to the base. He watched in
the rain, in the sunlight, and when the
great, white moon shone over the lake, but
he saw nothing.
Meanwhile the orphan boy looked after
little Pigeon, letting him suck the danti-
est, juiciest bits of meat, and bringing him
milk to drink. On bright afternoons he
would take the baby to the lake shore and
amuse him by throwing pebbles into the
water. Little Pigeon would laugh and
crow and stretch out his tiny hands, then
taking a pebble would try to throw it into
the water himself, and, though it always
dropped at his feet, he was just as well
One day as they were playing in this
manner they saw a white gull rise from
10 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
the center of the lake and fly towards the
part of the shore where they were. When
it reached them it circled above their
heads, flying down close to them until
little Pigeon could almost touch its great,
white wings. Then, all of a sudden, it
changed to a woman--Snowbird, little
The baby crowed with delight and
caught at two belts, one of leather and
one of white metal, that his mother wore
about her waist. She could not speak;
but she took the baby in her arms,
fondled it and nursed it. Then she made
signs to the boy by which he understood
that he was to bring the child there every
When Brown Bear came home that
night the boy told him all that had hap-
The next afternoon when the baby
cried for food the boy took him to the
lake shore, Brown Bear following and
hiding behind the bushes. The boy stood
where he had before, close to the water's
edge, and, choosing a smooth, round peb-
ble, raised his arm slowly and with care-
ful aim threw it far out into the lake.
Soon the gull, with a long, shining belt
around its body, was seen rising from the
" Then, all of a sudden it changed to a woman."
SNOWBIRD AND THE WATER-TIGEi 11
water. It came ashore, hovered above
them a moment, and, as on the previous
day, changed into a woman and took the
child in her arms.
While she was nursing it her husband
appeared. The black paint was still on
his body, but he held his spear in his
"'Why have you not come home? he
cried, and sprang forward to embrace her.
She could not speak, but pointed to the
shining belt she wore.
Brown Bear raised his spear carefully
and struck a great blow at the links.
They were shivered to fragments and
dropped on the sands, where any one see-
ing them would have supposed they were
pieces of a large shell.
Then Snowbird's speech returned and
she told how when she fell into the lake,
a water-tiger seized her and twisting his
tail around her waist, drew her to the
There she found a grand lodge whose
walls were blue like the bluejay's back
when the sun shines upon it, green like
the first leaves of the maize and golden
like the bright sands on the island of the
Caribs; and the floor was of sand, white
as the snows of winter. This was the
12 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
wigwam of the Chief of the water-tigers,
whose mother was the Horned Serpent
and lived with him.
The Serpent lay on a great, white shell
which had knobs of copper that shone like
distant campfires. But these were noth-
ing to the red stone that sparkled on her
forehead. It was covered with a thin skin
like a man's eyelid, which was drawn
down when she went to sleep. Her horns
were very wonderful, for they were pos-
sessed of magic. When they touched a
great rock the stone fell apart and there
was a pathway made through it wherever
the Serpent wanted to go.
There were forests in the Water-Tiger's
country, trees with leaves like the willow,
only longer, finer and broader, bushes and
clumps of soft, dark grass.
When night came and the sun no longer
shone down into the lodge and the color
went out of the walls, there were fireflies
-green, blue, crimson, and orange-that
lighted on the bushes outside the Water-
Tiger's wigwam; and the most beautiful
of them passed inside and fluttered about
the throne of the Serpent, standing guard
over her while the purple snails, the day
Snowbird trembled when she saw these
SNOWBIRD AND THE WATER-TIGER 13
things and fell down in a faint before the
great Horned Serpent. But the Water-
Tiger soothed her, for he loved her and
wanted her to become his wife. This she
consented to do at last on condition that
she should be allowed to go back sometimes
to the lake shore to see her child.
The Water-Tiger consulted his mother,
who agreed to lend him a sea-gull's wing
which should cover his wife all over and
enable her to fly to the shore. He was
told, however, to fasten his tail securely
about her waist, lest she should desert him
when she found herself near her old home.
He did so, taking care to put a leather
belt around her, for fear the links of white
metal might hurt her delicate skin.
So she lived with the Water-Tiger, kept
his lodge in order and made moccasins for
the little water-tigers out of beaver skin
and dried fish scales, and was as happy as
she could have been anywhere away from
her own Brown Bear and Little Pigeon.
When the old woman, Brown Bear's
mother, saw them at the door of the wig-
wam, she leaped up and flew out of the
lodge and was never seen again.
THE COYOTE OR PRAIRIE WOLF.
THE COYOTE OR PRAIRIE WOLF.
-, N the beginning, when
Sthe Cahrocs lived on the
I-,-- ,, shores of the Klamath
I f' River, beyond the desert
| of the sage-brush and
far from the Rocky
S-.- .- oi mountains, on towards
the falling place of the
sun, they had many good gifts. Their
forests were noble and their deer were
stately and fat. The bear was fierce, but
his flesh was sweet and life-giving, and
the Cahrocs grew strong by feeding upon
it. But they longed for the gift of fire.
In the evening when the beautiful red ap-
peared in the sky they looked and looked
upon it and wished that they might catch
just one spark from the fagots in the
All the fire in the world at that time
was held by two old hags who lived at the
month of the river and watched it with
jealous care. They also held the key of the
dam that kept back the shining salmon.
The Cahrocs hated the old women and
sought for some way to deceive them, so
that they might loose the salmon, but
18 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
most of all they wanted the precious fire.
They lay and shivered under the thick
bear-skin robes, for the nights were long
and cold in their country, and the north
wind blew in their faces and cut them
sharply with his spears of ice and his
arrows of snow.
They tried many times to steal the fire.
Those rich in wampum offered to buy it,
while some who were cunning attempted
to wheedle the old hags into giving it to
them, but all to no purpose. At last they
thought of asking the animals to help
them. But who so cunning and so brave
as to undertake the task? The bear was
too clumsy and growled too much, the elk
was too tall and his antlers would strike
against the lodge pole of the wigwam;
the dog was not wise, and the serpent was
never known to do good to the Cahrocs or
to any man.
The council sat and smoked and
thought about the matter and at last de-
cided to ask the Coyote, for he was lean
and hungry and might be glad to earn
some- food. Moreover, he would feel
proud to have the Cahrocs ask a favor of
him, for even the meanest beast despised
him because he had such hard work to
get a living.
THE COYOTE OR PRAIRIE WOLF 19
So they went to see the Coyote. His
home was in the deserts half way to the
mountains, where he cowered behind the
sage-brush, from whence he kept a sharp
lookout for blood spilled by the hunter,
the flesh that he threw away, or animals
small and weak enough for him to be able
to capture. The Coyote must forever go
hungry, for when the animals were let
loose upon the earth and each sprang
upon its prey, the mountain sheep which
was given to the Coyote dodged him, and
ever since all coyotes blunder in the chase.
The Cahrocs found him sniffing at the
ground for the hunter's trail. He felt
flattered when he knew that they had
come to see him, but he was far too cun-
ning to show it. They explained their
errand, but he would not promise to do
anything. He took the food that they
offered him, some dog's meat, buffalo
steaks, and bear's kidney, dainties that the
Cahrocs gave to an honored guest. Then
he could no longer conceal his pleasure,
nor refuse to do what they asked of him.
He did not need to hunt that night, so
he curled himself up snugly, put his nose
under his paws, whisked his tail about to
keep his feet warm, and for the first time
in his life was really comfortable. He
20 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
soon fell asleep, but not before he had
made up his mind that it would be well to
do his best for the Cahrocs; it was much
better than hunting in the desert.
The next morning he set out early to
secure help from other animals, for he
could not do the thing alone. The
smaller ones did not dare to refuse him,
and the larger ones felt sorry for the poor
creature, and were willing to be of use to
The Coyote placed a frog nearest to the
camp of the Cahrocs, then a squirrel, a
bat, a bear, and a cougar at certain meas-
ured distances, arranged in proportion to
their strength and to the roughness of the
road. Last of all a Cahroc was told to
hide in the bushes near the hut where the
old hags lived.
Then the Coyote walked slowly up to
the door and scratched for admittance.
One of the sisters went to see what was
wanted and she let him in; they were
surely not afraid of a miserable coyote.
He walked wearily to the center of the
lodge, where he dropped down as if tired
out, and shivered so that he shook the
very lodge pole.
The two old hags who sat by the fire
cooking salmon turned to look at him,
I;I-'-R' '- ,11
I' ,! -I .' ;," ," "
'. -* .I .,_! .-. l n ,' *-, "' i_ '
.' : L J ^ i ^ ',' .> "1 -< .. _.*
1'V 1 ', i" ,"-'' 1 '[ t' ,-' ^ 1 C
,I ', ., I. '
F' I,,,: _
-.. ....' ._ i', .- ._ .- .
,1 -- ,, '*, . ." -
,,, / '.'
:1--," ,' . l*' I
/ : "i ,, ,^ ',*'1" '" ,1
"^ : ;.- -' ; '- t l
',',, > t.- '. ..,' ,^ -
i' t ," ,I ,. -, ,,' *' i ;
"Ran ith log bouns dow the wi d ,n'oa.
,_. I,,:- .,' '
,~ ,: ..- ... : ., / ,' ....
",' 11'11'' I I "
,,:. i" -- :
"Ran with long bounds down the winding road."
THE COYOTE OR PRAIRIE WOLF 21
and one of them said: "Come up near
the fire if you are cold," and she made
room for him directly in front of the
He dragged himself to it and lay with
his head upon his paws. When he grew
uncomfortably warm he gave two short
barks as a signal to the man outside.
The old hags thought he barked because
he enjoyed the fire. "Ha! ha!" they
said, "wouldn't the Cahrocs like this ?"
Just then there was a fearful noise of
hammering and of stones striking the
lodge. The old women rushed out to
drive the enemy away.
Instantly the Coyote seized a half-burnt
stick of wood and fled like a comet down
the trail in the forest., The hags pursued
him; but when he heard their shrieks he
ran all the faster.
Nearer and nearer they came, now they
were almost upon him and his strength
was fast giving out. By a great effort he
flung the brand from him, just as they put
out their hands to catch him.
The Cougar seized it and ran with long
bounds down the winding road. The hags
followed, but were no match for him and
he had no trouble in handing it over to
22 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES -
The Bear was very awkward and
dropped it several times from his clumsy
paws, so that the old women gained upon
him rapidly; and had it not been that the
Bat seized it and flew high in the air quite
unexpectedly, the Cahrocs would never
have got the fire. As for the old Bear, he
rolled over against the tree exhausted.
The Bat led the hags a roundabout chase
over trees, now flying high, now close to
their very heads, until he nearly tired them
They took courage when they saw the
Squirrel spring forward to catch the stick
that the Bat let fall from a great height.
"Surely we can catch him," they said;
and they gathered their skirts about them
and pursued him with furious haste.
All this time th6 brand was burning
and it grew so hot that the Squirrel could
hardly hold it. But he was a brave, little
fellow and hopped and jumped steadily
on through the woods, though his tail was
burnt so badly that it curled up over his
back and shoulders. He bears the marks
of the singeing to this day.
Just as he. thought he would have to
drop it, he caught sht iht of the Frog. It
was such a little piece by this time that
the Frog could hardly take it from him,
THE COYOTE on PRAIRIE WOLF 23
but he caught hold of it and ran on. The
smoke blinded him and made his eyes
smart, besides choking him so that he
lost ground, and soon heard the hags close
to him. He was the last, and only a pond
lay between him and the village of the
Cahrocs. His heart thumped against his
sides and he dropped the fire in order to
take breath before jumping into the water,
when the old women pounced upon him.
But he was too quick for them. He
dodged them, swallowed the brand and
jumped into the lake. They leaped after
him, but it was of no use, for they could
not swim. So he got away, and they had
to turn back and go to their hut at the
mouth of the river.
The Cahrocs were waiting on the edge
of. the pond, and when the Frog crossed
they welcomed him with shouts of joy.
But where was the fire? He lost no time
in showing them, for he spat out the
sparks upon some fagots and they quickly
caught alight. But the Frog lost his tail
and it never grew again. Tadpoles still
wear tails, but when they become full-
grown frogs they cast them off, out of
respect to their brave ancestor, who is
king of all the animals that inhabit the
bogs and marshes of the Klamath country.
24 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
After his success in getting the fire, the
Coyote was a great favorite with the
Cahrocs and dined off the choicest bits
that were brought into the camp.
They were not satisfied even now that
they had roasted meat and corn, but must
needs coax the Coyote to go and get the
salmon. They explained to him that the
big, shining fish were all in a great dam
at the mouth of the river and that the old
hags from whom he had stolen the fire
kept the key.
The Coyote was willing, but he said:
Wait a little till my coat changes so
that the hags will not know me."
So they waited till his coat grew thin
and light in color, and then when he was
ready, accompanied him, with song and
shouting, to the edge of the village.
He went down the Klamath many days'
journey, until he reached the mouth of
the river, where he saw the old hags'
lodge. He rapped at the door. They
were asleep by the fire, but one of them
being roused by the noise, growled,
Instead of hanging his head, drooping
his tail, and looking weary, as he had done
when he went to steal the fire, the Coy-
ote held up his head, frisked his tail
THE COYOTE OR PRAIRIE WOLF 25
and grinned at them. He was of much
greater importance now, and he was sleek
and round from being well fed, so the hags
did not know him.
They cooked salmon, but offered him
none. He said nothing, for he was not
hungry, having dined off food that the
Cahrocs had prepared for him. Ha "he
thought, ''I shall soon have all the salmon
I want from the Cahrocs."
The next morning he pretended to be
asleep when the elder sister arose and
went to the cupboard to get the key of
the dam. She was going for salmon for
breakfast. When she had left the lodge
he stretched himself lazily and walked
slowly towards the door. Once outside
he ran after the old woman and flung
himself between her feet, so that she fell
down and in doing so dropped the key.
He seized it, went to the dam and un-
The green water shining with silvery
salmon rushed through it so fast that it
broke not only the lock, but the dam it-
self, and thereafter the Cahrocs had all
the salmon that they wanted.
The Coyote grew proud over his success
and was not satisfied with the kindness
and honor shown to him by the Cahrocs.
26 AMERICAN LNDIAN TALES
lie wanted to dance through heaven. He
chose a bright blue Star for a partner and
called out to her night after night to
(lance with him. At last she grew tired
of his howling; .so one night she told him
to go to the highest point of the cliff and
she would reach down far enough for him
to dance with her.
He had fine sport for a while; but as she
lifted him higher and higher he began to
feel cold, until his paws became numb and
slipped from his partner's wrist, and he
fell into the great chasm that is between
the sky and the earth at the edge of the
world. He went down, down, until every
bit of him was lost; for Coyotes could not
be permitted to dance with Stars.
HOW MAD BUFFALO FOUGHT THE
HOW MAD BUFFALO FOUGHT THE
S. NCE upon a time the In-
dians owned all the land
around the Big Sea
Spirit had smoked the
I -= pipe of peace at the
-- Red-stone quarry and
called all the nations to
him. At his command they washed the
war-paint from their faces, buried their
clubs and tomahawks and made them-
selves pipes of red sand-stone like the one
that he had fashioned. They, too, smoked
the peace-pipe, and there was no longer
war among the nations, but each dwelt
by its own river and hunted only the deer,
the beaver, the bear, or the bison.
In those happy days there lived on that
shore of the Big Sea Water, which is
directly under the hunter's star, an In-
dian whom all his nation trusted, for
there were none like him in courage, wis-
dom, and prudence. From his early child-
hood they had looked to him to do some
He had often mastered the grizzly bear
30 AAImeIRcAN INDIAN TALES
and the strong ', il l. Once he captured
a buffalo ox, so large and so strong that
a'dozen arrows did not kill it, and from
that day he was known as Mad Buffalo.
Whe. the magic horns were needed for
medicine for the people, Mad Buffalo went
foirtt in the Moon of Flowers and by cun-
ning, not by magic, cut them from the
head of the Great Horned Serpent. For
this the people loved him and he sat with
the oldest and the wisest of the tribe.
Their greatest trouble in those days was
the mysterious thunder-bird, which was
often seen flying through the air. It had
black and i:i-,_.- wings, and as it moved
swiftly overhead they darkened all the
earth. On moonlight nights no harm
came; but when it passed in the daytime,
or when the Moon-princess was journey-
ing to see her brother, the Suin-prince, and
her shining lodge was hidden by the
beautiful red, the thunder-bird did evil to
all who fell under its shadow.
Great curiosity existed as to its nest,
but no one had dared to follow it, nor had
any hunter discovered a place where it
seemed likely that it could hide. Some
thought it lived in a hollow tree, others
that its home was in the sandstone cav-
erns, but it had never been seen to alight.
" Pounced upon him, and lifted him into the nir."
One day in the winter, Mad Buffalo set
out in search of food for his family. He
had to travel to the lodge of the beavers
across the Big Sea Water and far up the
river. He trapped a fat beaver, slung it
over his shoulder and started for home
just as the full moon showed through the
While crossing the lake, when he was
in sight of his own wigwam, a great
shadow passed before him, shutting out all
light. After it had gone he looked about
him for the cause. The night was clear
and the moon so bright that the hunter's
star could be seen but faintly, but objects
about him were as plain as in the day.
At first he saw nothing, for the thunder-
bird was directly over his head; but as
it circled he caught sight of it. It made
a swift movement downwards, pounced
upon him and lifted him with all he had
into the air.
He felt himself rising slowly till he was
far above the earth, yet not so far as to
prevent him seeing what was going on in
the village. He could even see his own
wigwam and his children in the doorway.
They saw him and were terribly fright-
ened. Their mother failed to comfort
them, for they knew by heart all the
32 AMERICAN INDTAN TALES
dreadful tales that were told of the
thunder-bird. They themselves had seen
the beautiful birch tree which they had
often climbed, torn up by the roots and
lie black and dead in the forest. And the
oak tree where the warriors assembled
was split to its base by this terrible creat-
ure. The yellow cedar whose boughs were
used for the canoe that sailed on the Big
Sea Water was scorched and blighted by
Mad Buffalo's heart did not fail him.
He grasped his spear firmly and waited
his chance to do battle with the monster.
Faster and faster they went towards the
north, straight across the Big Sea Water,
rising higher and higher in the air.
At last they came to a great mountain
where no trees grew. The top was a solid,
bare, rugged rock, while the sides were
formed of sharp boulders, with here and
there a small patch of coarse grass and a
few stunted furze bushes. In a cleft of
the highest rock overhanging the water
was the nest of the thunder-bird. It was
made of the tendons of human beings,
woven with their scalp locks and the
feathers they had worn when living.
Still Mad Buffalo was not afraid. As
the bird neared its home it croaked and
muttered, and the sound was echoed and
re-echoed till the noise was deafening.
Worse than this, the creature tried to
dash him against the rock, driving him
towards it with its wings; and when these
struck him his flesh stung and smarted as
if touched by coals of fire.
By violently wrenching himself and
balancing his spear, he managed to escape
uninjured. At length with one powerful
blow the bird drove him into its nest. It
then flew away.
Mad Buffalo was stunned, but only for
a moment. On coming to himself he
heard a low crackling noise of thunder
and found that lie was left to the mercy
of a brood of wild, hungry young thun-
ders, for whose food he had probably been
brought. They began at once to pick at
his head, uttering croaks like the old bird,
only not so loud; but as they were many
the sound was, if possible, more dreadful.
Seeing that they were young birds, Mad
Buffalo supposed they would be helpless;
and when the old bird was out of sight he
ventured to fight them. Raising himself
as well as he could, he struck at one with
his spear. Thereupon they all set upon
him, beating him with their wings and
blinking at him with their long, narrow,
34 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
blood-red eyes, from which darted flashes
of lightning that scorched his hands and
face. In spite of the pain he fought
bravely; though, when they struck him
with their sharp wings, it was like the
prick of a poisoned arrow or the sting of
One by one their strength failed them
and they were beaten down into the nest.
Mad Buffalo took hold of the largest and
strongest, wrung its neck and threw it
over the precipice. On seeing this the
others crept close together and did not
offer to touch him again.
He seized another, pulled out its heart,
threw the body away and spread the skin
over the edge of the nest to dry. Then
filling his pipe from a pouch of wolf skin
suspended from his belt, he sat down
to smoke. While resting he wrung the
necks of the other birds and threw them
into the Big Sea Water, saving only their
hearts and claws.
When he had killed them all he took
four short whiffs at his pipe, pointing as
he did so to the kingdoms of the four
winds, and asking them for assistance.
Then he got inside the dry skin, fastened
it round him with the claws he had saved,
put the hearts of the young thunders on
his spear and started to roll down the side
of the mountain.
As he tumbled from rock to rock the
feathers of the skin flashed like fire-
insects. When he was about half way
down he straightened himself out and,
lifting the wings with his arms, found
that he could fly. He moved slowly at
first, but was soon used to the motion and
went as fast as the great bird could have
He crossed the Big Sea Water and
winged his way over the forest until he
came to the place from which he had been
taken ten days before. There he alighted,
tore off the bird's skin and started home-
His wife and children could hardly
believe that it was he; for they supposed
the young thunders had long ago picked
his bones. He broiled the hearts of the
birds, which crackled and hissed so that
they could be heard a mile from the
wigwam, but the meat was juicy and
The old bird was never seen again in
that part of the country. Hunters who
came from the Rocky Mountains say that
it built a nest on the highest peak, where
it raised another brood that sometimes
36 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
came down towards the earth, despoiling
the forests and the grain fields. But they
flew higher than formerly, and from the
day that Mad Buffalo fought them they
never interfered with men. Their nest
henceforth was made of the bones of the
mountain goat and the hair of his beard.
Now when Indian children hear the
fire crackling they say it is the hearts
of the young thunders; for all their na-
tions know of the brave deed of Mad
THE RED SWAN.
THE RED SWAN.
GREAT chief, Red Thun-
der, was traveling with
his wife and three chil-
dren to a council of the
nations. When they
were near the place ap-
Spointed for the meeting,
one of the children saw
a beautiful white bird winging its way
high in the air. He pointed upwards,
clapping his hands with delight, for it was
flying swiftly towards the earth and the
sun was shining on its broad back and
While the smile was on their faces the
bird suddenly appeared above them, and
in a moment struck their mother to the
earth, driving her into the ground so that
no portion of her body remained. The
force of the blow was so great that the
bird itself was broken in pieces and its
plumes were scattered far and wide. The
Indians assembled at the council, rushed
forth eagerly to secure them; for a white
feather is not easily procured and is
highly prized in time of war.
Red Thunder stood speechless in his
40 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
great agony. Then taking his little ones
with him he fled into the forest, and no
man ever saw him again: He built
himself a lodge and.never passed far from
its doorway. -When Winter shook his
white locks and covered the land with
snow, Red Thunder fell, shot by an unseen
Thus the three boys were left, alone.
Even the eldest was not large enough or
strong enough to bring home much food,
and all that they could do was to set snares
for rabbits. The animals were sorry for
them and took them in.. charge. The
squirrels dropped nuts at their doorway,.
and a great brown bear kept guard ovke
them at night. They were too young to"
remember much of their parents, and they
were brave boys, who tried their best to
learn how to hunt and fish. The eldest
soon became skillful and he taught his
When they were all able to take care of
themselves, the eldest wanted to leave
them and go to see the world, to find
other lodges and bring home wives for
each of them. The younger ones would
not hear of this, and said that they had
gone along so far well without strangers,
and they could still do without them. So
TIE RED SWAN 41
they continued to live together and no
more was said about any of them leaving.
One day they wanted new quivers for
their arrows. One -made his of otter,
another chose sheep, and a third took
wolf skin. Then they thought it well to
make new arrows. They made many,
some being of oak and a few, very pre-
cious, of the thigh-bone of the buck. It
took them much longer to fashion the
heads of flint and sandstone; but at last
all were finished, and they were ready for
a grand hunt. They laid wagers with one
another as to who should come in first with
game, each one agreeing to kill only the
animal he was in the habit of taking, and
not to meddle with what he knew belonged
to his brother.
The youngest, named Deep Voice, had
not gone far when he met a black bear,
which according to the agreement he was
not to kill. But the animal was so close
to him that he could not refrain from tak-
ing aim. The bear fell dead at his feet.
His scruples were gone then, so he began
Soon his eyes troubled him and he
rubbed them with his bloody hands,
when, on looking up, everything appeared
red. He went to the brook- and washed
42 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
his hands and face, but the same red hue
was still on the trees, the ground, and
even on the skin of the black bear. He
heard a strange noise, and leaving the
animal partly skinned, went to see
whence it came.
By following the sound he came to the
shore of a great lake, where he saw a
beautiful swan swimming. Its feathers
were not like those of any other swan he
had ever seen, for they were a brilliant
scarlet and glistened in the sun.
He drew one of his arrows and fired at it,
but the arrow fell short of its mark. He
shot again and again until his quiver was
empty. Still the swan remained dipping
its long neck into the water, seemingly
ignorant of the hunter's presence.
Then he remembered that three magic
arrows which had belonged to his father
were in the wigwam. At any other time
he would not have thought of meddling
with them; but he was determined to se-
cure this beautiful bird. He ran quickly
to the lodge, brought the arrows and fired
them. The first went very near the bird,
but did not strike it. The second also fell
harmless in the water. The third struck
the swan in the neck; but she rose imme-
diately and flew towards the setting sun.
THE RED SWAN
Deep Voice was disappointed, and
knowing that his brothers would be
angry about the loss of the arrows, he
rushed into the water and secured the
first two, but found that the third had
been carried off by the red swan.
He thought that as the bird was
wounded it could not fly far, so, placing
the magic arrows in his quiver, he ran on
to overtake it. Over hills and prairies,
through the forests and out on the plain
he went, till at last it grew dark and he
lost sight of the swan.
On coming out of the forest he heard
voices in the distance, and knew that
people could not be far off. He looked
about and saw a large town on a distant
hill and heard the watchman, an old owl,
call out, We are visited," to which the
people answered with a loud Hallo! "
Deep Voice approached the watchman
and told him that he came for no evil
purpose, but merely to ask for shelter.
The owl said nothing, but led him to the
lodge of the Chief, and told him to enter.
"Come in, come in," said the Chief;
"sit there," he added, as the young man
He was given food to eat and but few
questions were asked him.
44 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
By and by the Chief, who had been
watching him closely, said, "'Daughter,
take our son-in-law's moccasins, and if
they need mending, do it for him."
Deep Voice was much astonished to
find himself married at such short notice,
but made up his mind to let one of his
brothers have her for his wife. She was
not good-looking and she proved herself
bad-tempered by snatching the moccasins
in such a surly manner that Deep Voice
ran after her, took them from her and
hung them up himself.
Being' very tired he soon fell asleep.
Early next morning he said to the girl:
"Which way did the red swan go? "
"Do you think you can catch it?"
she said, and turned angrily away.
Yes," he answered.
"Foolishness!" said the girl; but as
he persisted, she went to the door and
showed him the direction in which the
bird had flown.
It was still dark, and as the road was
strange to him he traveled slowly. When
daylight came he started to run and ran
all day as fast as he could. Towards
night he was almost exhausted and was
glad to find himself near another village,
where he might be able to rest.
Tiu RED SWAN
This village also had an owl for a
watchman, a large, gray bird, who saw him
at a distance and called to those in the
camp, Tu-who! we are visited."
Deep Voice was shown to the lodge of
the Chief and treated exactly as on the
first night. This time the Chief's daugh-
ter was beautiful and gentle in her ways.
"She shall be for my elder brother,"
thought the boy, for he has always been
kind to me."
He slept soundly all night and it was
nearly dawn when he awoke; but he lost
no time, for the Chief's daughter was
ready to answer his questions at once.
She told him the red swan had passed
about the middle of the previous after-
noon, showed him the exact course it took
and pointed out the shortest road to the
He went slowly until sunrise and then
ran as before. He was a swift runner, for
he could shoot an arrow and then pass it
in its flight so that it would fall behind
him. He did this many times on the
second day, for it helped him to travel
faster. Towards evening, not seeing any
town, he went more leisurely, thinking
that he would have to travel all night.
Soon after dark he saw a glow of light
46 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
in the woods, and found when he went
nearer that it came from a small, low
lodge. I-e went cautiously on and looked
in at the doorway. An old man was sit-
ting by the fire, his head bent forward on
Although Deep Voice had not made the
slightest noise the old man called out,
" Come in, my grandson."
The boy entered.
Take a seat there,"' said the old man,
pointing to a corner opposite him by the
fire. "Now dry your things, for you
must be tired, and I will cook supper for
you. My kettle of water stands near the
Deep Voice had been looking about the
fireplace, but had seen no kettle. Now
there appeared a small earthen pot filled
with water. The old man took one grain
of corn and one whortleberry, dropped
them into the bot and set it where it
would boil. Deep Voice was hungry and
thought to himself that there was small
chance of a good supper.
When the water boiled the old man
took the kettle off, handed him a dish
and spoon made of the same material as
the pot and told him to help himself.
Deep Voice found the soup so good that
THE RED SWAN
he helped himself again and again until
he had taken all there was. He felt
ashamed, but he was still hungry.
Before he could speak, the old man
said, "Eat, eat, my grandchild, help
yourself," and motioned to the pot, which
was immediately refilled.
Deep Voice again helped himself to all
the soup and again the kettle was filled,
and his hunger was satisfied. Then the
"My grandchild," said the old man,
when Deep Voice had finished, you have
set out on a difficult journey, but you will
succeed. Only be determined, and be pre-
pared for whatever may happen. To-
morrow you will go on your way until the
sun sets, when you will find one of my
fellow-magicians. He will give you food
and shelter and will tell you more than I
am permitted to do. Only be firm On
the day beyond to-morrow you will meet
still another who will tell you all you
wish to know and how you are to gain
Deep Voice lay down on the buffalo
skins, which were white and soft, and
slept soundly; for the old man's words
made him very happy.
The magician prepared his breakfast as
A48 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
hle had done the supper, after which the
boy went on his way. He found the second
magician as he had been told, and was
given a supper from a magic kettle, and a
couch upon white buffalo robes.
The second magician did not seem so
sure of the young man's success. Many
have gone this way before you," said he,
"and none have ever come back. We shall
see, we shall see."
This was said to try the courage of
Deep Voice; but he remembered what the
first magician had told him and was firm
in his resolution..
After breakfast next day he ran for-
ward quickly, for he was anxious to meet
the third magician who should tell him
all about the red swan. But though he
.ran all day he did not get to the third
lodge any earlier than he had reached the
After a supper prepared as on the pre-
vious nights, the magician said to him:
"My grandchild, to-morrow night you
will come to the lodge of the Red Swan.
She is not a bird, but a beautiful girl, the
most beautiful that ever lived. Her father
is a magician and rich in wampum. This
wampum is of much value, for many of
the shells were brought from the Great
TIIE RED SWAN
Salt Lake; but he prizes his daughter far
more than all. The Red Swan loves her
father, and all her life is spent in making '
him comfortable. The old man has met
with a misfortune, having lost his cap of
wampum which used to be fastened to his
scalp and was never removed,night or day.
A tribe of Indians, who had heard of it,
one day sent to him, saying that their
Chief's daughter was very ill and that
but one thing could cure her-a sight of
this magic cap of wampum. The magician
did not suspect the messengers, though
he tried to persuade them to bring the
maiden to him. They declared that she
could not be moved; whereupon the old
man tore off his cap, though it gave him
much pain to do so, and sent it to the
Chief. The story was all a pretense; and
when they got the cap they made fun of
it and placed it on a pole for the birds to
peck at, and the stranger to ridicule. The
old man is not strong enough to get the
cap back; but he has been told that a
young warrior shall some day procure it
for him. The Red Swan goes forth in
in the Moon of Falling Leaves to seek for
this Brave, and she has promised to be the
wife of him who is successful. My grand-
child, many have followed her and have
30 AMERnICAN INDJIAN TALES
failed, but I think you will be more fa-
vored. When you are seated in the lodge
of the Red Swan, the magician will ask
you many things. Tell.him your dreams
and what your guardian spirits have done
for you. Then he will ask you to recover
his cap of wampum and will show you
what you are to do to find and punish the
wicked possessors of it."
Deep Voice was greatly pleased to hear
that he might win such a beautiful wife.
He leaped and ran gaily through the
forest the next day, and the idea that
he might fail never entered his mind.
Towards evening he heard deep groans,
which he believed came from the lodge of
the Red Swan.
It was not long before he reached a fine
wigwam, and on entering saw the magi-
cian seated in the center, holding his
head with both hands and moaning with
The old man prepared supper, for no
one was allowed to see the Red Swan, or
even to know that she was in the wig-
wam. But Deep Voice saw a curtain
dividing the lodge, and thought that he
heard a rustle of wings.
His heart did not fail him, and he
answered the old man's questions pa-
TIE RED SWAN
tiently and truthfully. When he told
his dreams, the magician shook his head,
saying, No, that is not the one, that is
not it,"' to each, until Deep Voice thought
he would not tell him any more. He was
not willing, however, to give up the Red
Swan, so at last he remembered a dream
wholly different from the others, which
he straightway told.
The magician became quite excited
before he had finished his, story, and ex-
claimed: "'That's it, that's it! You will
cause me to live! That is what I have been
waiting for a young man to say. Will
you go and get my cap for me? "
Yes," said Deep Voice, "and on the
day beyond to-morrow when you hear the
voice of the night-hawk, you must put
your head out of the door of the lodge.
You will see me coming with the cap,
which I will fasten on your head before I
enter. The magic food that I have eaten
has given me the power to change my
form, so I shall come as a night-hawk,
and will give the cry to let you know
that I am successful. Have ready your
war-club that I may seize it to strike
with when I come."
Deep Voice had not known when he
began speaking what he would say, but
52 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
as the magician looked at him the words
came. In spite of all the tales that he
had heard about the young men who had
gone before him, and the magician told
him many that night, Deep Voice was
anxious to begin his task. He rose early
and went in the direction pointed out to
When he saw the cap at a distance he
thought that no one was near it; but as
he went nearer he found that those about
it were as the hanging leaves for number.
Knowing that he could not pass unharmed
through so great a crowd, he changed him-
self into a humming-bird and flew close
enough to the cap to examine it, but did
not touch it, for fear an arrow might be
aimed at him.
The cap was tied securely to a tall pole
and no bird could unfasten it without his
actions being noticed. Deep Voice, there-
fore, changed himself into the down of a
dandelion and lighted on the cap itself.
He thrust his silver fingers under and
between the cords, untied them, and
lifted the cap slowly, for it was a great
weight for so small a thing to carry.
When the crowd below saw the cap
moving, and that it was being carried away,
they raised a great shout and ran after it,
"He flew swiftly toward the magician's lodge."
THE RED SWAN
shooting clouds of arrows as they went.
The wind which blew the arrows blew the
down out of their reach; so it was soon
far enough from them to be safe for Deep
Voice to take the form of a bird. As a
night-hawk he flew swiftly towards the
magician's lodge, giving the call he had
named as a signal.
The old man heard him and looked out.
Deep Voice flew close to him and dropped
the cap upon his head; then changing
himself into a man, he seized the war-
club which the magician had placed just
outside the lodge, and with one power-
ful blow fastened the cap securely, but
knocked the old man senseless. When
he recovered, what was the surprise of
Deep Voice to see, not the old magician
who had entertained him, but a handsome
young warrior who said to him, Thank
you, my friend, for the bravery and kind-
ness by which you have restored my youth
He urged Deep Voice to remain in his
lodge as his guest. They hunted togeth-
er many days and became fast friends.
At last Deep Voice wished to return to
his brothers. The young magician then
brought out gifts-buffalo robes and deer
skin white as snow, strings and belts of
54 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
wampum, as much as he could carry,
enough to make him a great man in any
During all his stay nothing had been
said about the Red Swan. This day, as
they were smoking their farewell pipe,
the young magician said to Deep Voice:
" My brother, you know the reward that
was to be for him who restored my cap of
wampum. I have given you riches that
will be all that you will want as long as
you live. I now give you the best gift
At this the Red Swan appeared.
Take her," said the magician; she
is my sister, let her be your wife."
So Deep Voice and the Red Swan went
home by the way he came, stopping at the
lodges of the old magicians to take with
them the wives for his brothers. The Red
Swan far surpassed them in beauty and
loveliness, and her daughters and their
daughters have ever been known as the
handsomest women of the tribe.
THE BENDED ROCKS.
THE BENDED ROCKS.
A STORY OF NIAGARA.
,FTT.- ENDING WILLOW was
i'.---' the most beautiful girl
I I.'.',i in a tribe noted for its
Sf i handsome women. She
S had many suitors, but
i---i she refused them all; for
Sher love was given to a
young warrior of a dis-
tant nation, who, she felt sure, woukl some
day return to throw a red deer at her feet
in token that he wished to marry her.
Among her suitors was a hideous old
Indian, a chief who was very rich. He-
was scarred and wrinkled and his hair
was as gray as the badger that burrows
in the forest. He was cruel also, for
when the young men were put to the tor-
ture to prove themselves worthy to be
warriors, he devised tests more dreadful
than any that the tribe had ever known.
But the chief, who was rightly named No
Heart, declared that he would marry Bend-
ing Willow, and, as he was powerful, her
parents did not dare to refuse him. Bend-
ing Willow' "-,..-.:- and pleaded in vain.
58 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
On the night before the day set for the
marriage, she went into the woods, and
throwing herself on the ground, sobbed
as if her heart would break. All night
she lay there, listening to the thunder of
the great cataract of Niagara, which was
but a woman's journey from the village.
At last it -,ii._-t- 1 to her a sure means
Early in the morning before any one
was stirring, she went back to her father's
wigwam, took his canoe and du -.-- it
to the edge of the river. Then stepping
into it she set it adrift and it headed
quickly towards the Falls. It soon
reached the rapids and was tossed like a
withered branch on the white-crested bil-
lows, but went on, on, swiftly and surely
to the edge of the great fall.
For a moment only, she saw the bright,
green water, and then she felt herself
lifted and was borne on great, white wings
which held her above the rocks. The
water divided and she passed into a dark
cave behind the rainbow.
The spirit of Cloud and Rain had gone
to her rescue and had taken her into his
lodge. He was a little, old man, with a
white face and hair and beard of soft,
white mist, like that which rises day and
" Was borne on great white wings."
TIHE BENDED ROCKS
night from the base of the Falls. The
door of his lodge was the green wave of
Niagara, and the walls were of gray rock
studded with white stone flowers.
Cloud and Rain gave her a warm wrap-
per and seated her on a heap of ermine
skins in a far corner of the lodge where
the dampness was shut out by a magic
fire. This is the fire that runs beneath
the Falls, and throws its yellow-and-green
flames across the water, forming the rain-
He brought her dainty fish to eat and
delicate jelly made from mosses which
only the water spirits can find or prepare.
When she was rested he told her that
he knew her story, and if she would stay
with him he would keep her until her
ugly old suitor was dead. A great ser-
pent," added he, "lies beneath the vil-
lage, and is even now poisoning the spring
from which No Heart draws all the water
that he uses, and he will soon die."
Bending Willow was grateful, and said
that she would gladly remain all her life
in such a beautiful home and with such a
Cloud and Rain smiled; but he knew
the heart of a young girl would turn
towards her own home when it was safe
60 AinMEICAN INDIAN TALES
for her to return. He needed no better
proof of this than the questions she asked
about the serpent which caused so much
sickness among her people.
He told her that this serpent had lain
there many years. When he once tasted
human blood he could never be satisfied.
He crept beneath a village and cast a black
poison into the springs from which people
drew water. When any one died the
serpent stole out at night and drank his
blood. That made him ravenous for more.
So when one death occurred more followed
until the serpent was gorged and went to
sleep for a time.
When you return," said Cloud and
Rain, "persuade your people to move
their camp. Let them come near me, and
should the serpent dare to follow I will
Bending Willow stayed four months
with Cloud and Rain, and he taught her
much magic, and showed her the herbs
which would cure sickness.
One day when he came in from fishing
he said to her: No Heart is dead. This
night I will throw a bridge from the foot of
the waters across the Falls to the high hills.
You must climb it without fear, for I will
hold it firmly until you are on the land."
TIHE BENDED ROCKS
When the moon rose and lighted all the
river, Cloud and Rain caused a gentle wind
to raise the spray until it formed a great,
white arch reaching from his cave to the
distant hills. 'He led Bending Willow to
the foot of this bridge of mist and helped
her to climb until she was assured of her
safety and could step steadily..
All the tribe welcomed her, and none
were sorry that she had not married No
Heart. She told them of the good spirit,
Cloud and Rain, of his wonderful lodge,
of his kindness, and of the many things
he had taught her.
At first they would not entertain the
idea of moving their village, for there
were pleasant fishing-grounds where they
lived, and by the Falls none but spirits
could catch the fish. But when strong
men sickened and some of the children of
the Chief died, they took down their
lodge poles and sought the protection of
the good spirit.
For a long time they lived in peace and
health; but after many moons the serpent
discovered their new camp and made his
Cloud and Rain was soon aware of his
arrival, and was very angry because the
serpent dared to come so near his lodge.
62 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
He took a handful of the magic fire and
molded it into thunderbolts which he
hurled at the monster. The first stunned
him, the second wounded him severely,
and the third killed him.
Cloud and Rain told them to drag the
body to the rapids and hurl it into the
water. It took all the women of the tribe
to move it, for it was longer than the
flight of twenty arrows. As it tossed upon
the water, it looked as though a mountain
had fallen upon the waves, and it drifted
but slowly to the edge of the Great Fall.
There it was drawn between the rocks and
became wedged so firmly that it could
not be dislodged, but coiled itself as if
it had lain down to sleep. Its weight was
so great that it bent the rocks, and they
remain curved like a drawn bow to this
day. The serpent itself was gradually
*washed to pieces and disappeared.
In the Moon of Flowers the young war-
rior whom Bending Willow loved came
and cast a red deer at her feet, and they
were happy ever after.
WHITE HAWK THE LAZY.
WHITE HAWK, THE LAZY.
I \ f '-2.H
known as the laziest
boy in the tribe.
When his father set
his nets, even on the
coldest days in winter,
he had to do it alone;
for White Hawk would
never help him either to carry the net
or to cut the ice. He neither hunted nor
fished, he took no part in the games
of the young men, and he refused to
wait upon his parents, until his name
became a reproach.
His father and mother were deeply
grieved by his conduct, for they them-
selves were industrious and frugal. They
did not, like many of their tribe, return
from the wintering grounds to feast and
be idle; but built themselves a lodge in
the forest, where they laid store for the
future. At last they determined to try
to shame White Hawk out of his lazi-
ness. So one night when he had refused
to go to fetch water for them, the father
said: Ah, my son, one who is afraid to
66 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
go to the river after dark will never kill
the Red Head."
Now, it was the ambition of every In-
dian boy to kill the Red Head. Though
his parents did not know it, White Hawk
had always believed that he would accom-
plish it, and he often sat and thought of
li t. ~-rt, ways in which it might be done,
for he was strong, despite his laziness.
He made no answer, but went at once
to bed. The next morning he asked his
mother to make him some new moccasins
of deer skin while he cut some arrows.
He made only four, which he put into a
shabby quiver and laid beside his moccasins
ready to take with him in the morning.
He rose before daylight, and without
waking either his father or his mother
put on his moccasins, took his bow and
quiver and set out, determined to kill
the Red Head before he returned. He
did not know which way to go, so as soon
as it was light he shot an arrow into the
air and followed the direction of its flight.
He traveled all day. Towards night he
was tired and hungry, for he had brought
no food with him and had found but a.few
acorns in the forest. To his surprise he
saw a fat deer with an arrow in its side
lying across his path.
WHITE HAWK, THE LAZY
It was the arrow he had shot that
morning. He did not pull it out, but cut
'off as much meat as he wanted to eat and
left the rest for the coyotes.
He slept in a hollow tree all night.
Early the next morning he shot another
arrow into the air to find out in what
direction to go that day, and at night he
found another deer that had been pierced
by this arrow.
Thus it happened every day for four
days; but as he had not withdrawn any
of the arrows, on the fifth day he had
none to use and so was without food. He
was very hungry, for he had long since
left the woods and there were no nuts or
berries on the prairie.
He lay down, thinking he might as well
die there as elsewhere, for he was suffer-
ing great pain from hunger. It was not
long before he heard a hollow, rum-
bling sound that seemed to be under
He stood up and looking around, saw
a broad, beaten path leading across the
prairie. An old woman was walking along
this path, thumping the ground with a
stick at every step.
He went nearer and was terribly fright-
ened, for he discovered that she was a
68 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
witch, known throughout the country as
" the little old woman who makes war."
She wore a mantle made entirely of
women's scalps. Her staff, which was a
stout, hickory stick, was ornamented with
a string of toes and bills of birds of all
kinds. At every stroke of the staff they
fluttered and sang, each in its own fash-
ion, and the discord was horrible.
White Hawk followed her, creeping
along in the high grass so as to hide him-
self, until he saw her lodge, which was on
the shore of the lake. She entered, took
off her mantle and shook it several times.
At every shake the scalps uttered loud
shrieks of laughter, in which the old witch
Presently she came out, and without
seeming to look, walked directly up to
White Ha wk. She told him that she knew
all about his determination to kill the
Red Head, and that she would help him.
" Many young men have thought about
killing him," she said, but you are the
only one who has set out to do it."
She insisted upon his going to her
lodge to spend the night, and he went,
although he knew that he would not be
able to sleep in such a place.
She told him to lie down, and taking
WIITE HAWK, THE LAZY
out a comb, began to comb his hair,
which in a few moments became long and
glossy, like a woman's. She tied it
with a magic hairstring, and gave him a
woman's dress of fine, soft skin, a neck-
lace, and brooches of silver, and many
strings of wampum. Then she painted
his face red and yellow, not forgetting to
put on some love-powder. Last of all she
brought a silver bowl for him and slipped
a blade of scented sword-grass into his
She told him that the Red Head lived
on an island in the center of the lake on
the shore of which her lodge was built.
On the morrow White Hawk should go
down to the water and begin dipping the
silver bowl into the lake and drinking
from it. The Indians who were with the
Red Head would see him, and, supposing
.him to be a woman, would come over in
their canoes, and each would wish to
make her his wife.
He was to say, No, I will only marry
the Red Head, and he must bring his own
canoe for me, for I have traveled a long
way in order to be his wife."
When the Red Head should receive the
news he would cross in his canoe and take
White Hawk to the island. The witch
70 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
loaded him with presents to give in the
event of a marriage, in which case he was
to be on the watch for an opportunity to
kill the Red Head by cutting off his head
with the spear of scented sword-grass.
White Hawk rose next morning, put
on the woman's garments that had been
given him, went down to the lake and be-
gan dipping water with the silver bowl.
Presently many canoes were pat out
from the island. They were driven
swiftly to the spot where he stood, and the
men strove with one another in offers of
White Hawk acted as the witch told
him a woman would under the circum-
stances. To all their entreaties he replied :
" I have come a great way to see the Red
Head, whom I am resolved to marry. If
he wants me let him come in his own
canoe to take me to his wigwam."
The message was taken to the Red
Head, who immediately crossed the lake
in his canoe. As it neared the shore
White Hawk saw that its framework was
of live rattlesnakes, who thrust out their
heads and hissed and rattled as he
stepped into the boat. The Red Head
spoke to them and they quieted down, as
dogs at the word of their master.
WHITE HAWK, THE LAZY
When they landed the Red Head went
straight to his wigwam and the marriage
was performed. Then a feast was spread,
the presents were given and White Hawk
waited his opportunity.
By and by Red Head's mother, who had
been watching the bride closely, said to
her husband, That is no woman our son
has married; no woman ever looked out
of her eyes like that."
Her husband was very angry; and
White Hawk, who had overheard the con-
versation, jumped up and said: I have
been insulted, and by my husband's peo-
ple. I cannot live here. I will return at
once to my nation,"' and he ran out of the
wigwam, followed by the guests and by
the Red Head, who motioned to them to
White Hawk went down to the shore
and made pretense of getting into a canoe,
when the Red Head laid a hand upon him
and sorrowfully begged him to wait at
least a little time. He turned back and
sat down, when the Red Head threw him-
self at his wife's feet and put his head
into her lap.
White Hawk lost not a moment in draw-
ing out the blade of sword-grass and cut-
ting off his head at a single stroke. He
72 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
then plunged into the water and swam
across the lake with the head in his hand.
He had scarcely reached the shore when
he saw the Red Head's followers come
down with torches in search of him and
his wife. He heard their shrieks when
they found the headless body, and so lost
no time in making his way to the witch's
lodge, whither they would not be likely
to follow him.
The witch received him with great joy.
She told him that he must give her a little
piece of the scalp for herself, but he might
take the rest home.
He was anxious to return, so she gave
him a partridge to offer the spirit of the
earth, in case he should meet him on the
As White Hawk crossed the prairie, he
heard a great rumbling and crackling
sound, and the earth split and opened in
front of him. He threw the partridge
into the crack and it was closed imme-
diately, so that he passed over it in
On reaching home he found that his
parents had fasted and mourned for him
as dead, for he had been gone a year.
Many young men had come to them and
had said, "See, I am your son," until
14A- .. _
"Swam across the lake with the head in his hand."
WHITE HAWK, THE LAZY
when White Hawk did return they would
not even look at him.
He threw himself at their feet and told
them that he had killed the Red Head.
They paid no attention to him, and the
young men of the tribe to whom he re-
peated the story laughed in his face.
He went outside the camp and brought
back the head. Then indeed his parents
rejoiced, for they knew that he would
be admitted at once to the company of
warriors for having rid them of so great
an enemy. While they all wondered
how one who was so lazy could have be-
come so great a brave, he told them why
he had acted as he did before he left the
village. He was so strong that he had
been afraid of breaking things, and so
did not dare to touch them. He took
hold of some fishing-nets, and as he turned
them over in his lingers, they snapped in
many places. But now that he was a
man his strength would be useful to him
and to the tribe. He could clear the for-
est of fallen trees, and carry some to the
streams, where he could throw them so
that his people might go from one side
to the other in safety. Thereafter he
was not known as White Hawk the Lazy,
but as The Strong Man."
THE MAGIC FEATHER.
THE MAGIC FEATHER.
1 I N the depths of the forest
in the land of the Daco-
tahs stood a wigwam
many leagues distant
from any other. The
old man who had been
known to live in it was
supposed to have died;
but he kept himself in hiding for the
sake of his little grandson, whose mother
had brought him there to escape the
The Dacotahs had once been a brave
and mighty people. They were swift
runners and proud of their fleetness. It
had been told among the nations for
many generations that a great chief
should spring from this tribe, and that
he should conquer all his enemies, even
the giants who had made themselves
strong by eating the flesh of those they
took in battle and drinking their blood.
This great chief should wear a white
feather and should be known by its
The giants believed the story and
78 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
sought to prevent it coming true. So
they said to the Dacotahs: Let us run
a race. If you win you shall have our
sons and our daughters to do with them
as you please, and if we win we will take
Some of the wise Indians shook their
heads and said: Suppose the giants
win; they will kill our children and will
serve them as dainty food upon their
tables." But the young men answered:
"Kaw: who can outrun the Dacotahs?
We shall return from the race with the
young giants bound hand and foot, to
fetch and carry for us all our days." So
they agreed to the wager and ran with
Now, it was not to be supposed that
the giants would act fairly. They dug
pitfalls on the prairie, covering them
with leaves and grass, which caused the
runners to stumble, and lose the race.
The Dacotahs, therefore, had to bring
out their children and give them to the
giants. When they were counted one
child was missing. The giants roared
with anger and made the whole tribe
search for him, but he could not be
found. Then the giants killed the father
instead and ate his flesh, grumbling and
THE MAGIC FEATHER
muttering vengeance with every mouth-
This was the child whose home was in
the forest. When he was still a very
little fellow his grandfather made him a
tiny bow and some smooth, light arrows,
and taught him how to use them.
The first time he ventured from the
lodge he brought home a rabbit, the sec-
ond time a squirrel, and he shot a fine,
large deer long before he was strong
enough to drag it home.
One day when he was about fourteen
years old, he heard a voice calling to him
as he went through the thick woods:
" Come hither, you wearer of the white
feather. You do not yet wear it, but you
are worthy of it."
He looked about, but at first saw no
one. At last he caught sight of the head
of a little old man among the trees. On
going up to it he discovered that the
body from the heart downwards was
wood and fast in the earth. He thought
some hunter must have leaped upon a rot-
ten stump and, it giving way, had caught
and held him fast; but he soon recognized
the roots of an old oak that he well
knew. Its top had been blighted by a
stroke of lightning, and the lower branches
80 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
were so dark that no birds built their nests
on them, and few even lighted upon
The boy knew nothing of the world ex-
cept what his grandfather had taught
him. He had once found some lodge
poles on the edge of the forest and a
heap of ashes like those about their own
wigwam, by which he guessed that there
were other people living. He had never
been told why he was living with an old
man so far away from others, or of his
father, but the time had come for him to
know these things.
The head which had called him, said
as he came near: "Go home, White
Feather, and lie down to sleep. You will
dream, and on waking will find a pipe, a
pouch of smoking mixture, and a long
white feather beside you. Put the
feather on your head, and as you smoke
you will see the cloud which rises from
your pipe pass out of the doorway as a
flock of pigeons." The voice then told
him who he was, and also that the giants
had never given up looking for him. He
was to wait for them no longer, but to go
boldly to their lodge and offer to race
with them. Here," said the voice, "is
an enchanted vine which you are to
THE MAGIC FEATHER
throw over the head of every one who
runs with you."
White Feather, as he was thenceforth
called, picked up the vine, went quickly
home and did as he had been told. He
heard the voice, awoke and found the
pouch of tobacco, the pipe, and the white
feather. Placing the feather on his head,
he filled the pipe and sat down to
His grandfather, who was at work not
far from the wigwam, was astonished to
see flocks of pigeons flying over his head,
and still more surprised to find that they
came from his own doorway. When he
went in and saw the boy wearing the
white feather, he knew what it all meant
and became very sad, for he loved the boy
so much that he could not bear the thought
of losing him.
The next morning White Feather went
in search of the giants. HIe passed through
the forest, out .upon the prairie and
through other woods across another
prairie, until,at last he saw a tall lodge
pole in the middle of the- forest. He
went boldly up to it, thinking to surprise
the giants, but his coming was not unex-
pected, for the little spirits which carry
the news had heard the voice speaking to
82 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
him and had hastened to tell those whom
it most concerned.
The giants were six brothers who lived
in a lodge that was ill-kept and dirty.
When they saw the boy coming they
made fnn of him among themselves; but
when he entered the lodge they pretended
that they were glad to see him and flat-
tered him, telling him that his fame as a
brave had already reached them.
White Feather knew well what they
wanted. He proposed the race; and
though this was just what they had in-
tended doing, they laughed at his offer.
At last they said that if he would have it
so, he should try first with the smallest
and weakest of their number.
They were to run towards the east until
they came to a certain tree which had
been stripped of its bark, and then back
to the starting point, where a war-club
made of iron was driven into the ground.
Whoever reached this first was to beat
the other's brains out with it.
White Feather and the youngest giant
ran nimbly on, and the giants, who were
watching, were rejoiced to see their
brother gain slowly but surely, and at
last shoot ahead of White Feather.
When his enemy was almost at the goal,
THE MAGIC FEATHER
the boy, who was only a few feet behind,
threw the enchanted vine over the giant's
head, which caused him to fall back help-
less. No one suspected anything more
than an accident, for the vine could not
be seen except by him who carried it.
After White Feather had cut off the
giant's head, the brothers thought to get
the better of him, and begged him to
leave the head with them, for they
thought that by magic they might bring
it back to life, but he claimed his right
to take it home to his grandfather.
The next morning he returned to run
with the second giant, whom he defeated
in the same manner; the third morning
the third, and so on until all but one were
As he went towards the giant's lodge
on the sixth morning he heard the voice
of the old man of the oak tree who had
first appeared to him. It came to warn
him. It told him that the sixth giant was
afraid to race with him, and would there-
fore try to deceive him and work en-
chantment on him. As he went through
the wood he would meet a beautiful
woman, the most beautiful in the world.
To avoid danger he must wish himself an
elk and he would be changed into that
84 AMERICAN INDIAN TALES
animal. Even then he must keep out of
her way, for she meant to do him harm.
White Feather had not gone far from
the tree when he met her. He had never
seen a woman before, and this one was so
beautiful that he wished himself an elk
at once; for he was sure she would be-
witch him. He could not tear himself
away from the spot, however, but kept
browsing near her, raising his eyes now
and then to look at her.
She went to him, laid her hand upon
his neck and stroked his sides. Looking
from him she sighed, and as he turned
his head towards her, she reproached him
for changing himself from a tall and
handsome man to such an ugly creature.
"For," said she, "I heard of you in a
distant land, and, though many sought
me, I came hither to be your wife."
As White Feather looked at her he
saw tears shining in her eyes, and almost
before he knew it he wished himself a
man again. In a moment he was re-
stored to his natural shape, and the
woman flung her arms about his neck
and kissed him.
By and by she coaxed him to lie down
on the ground and put his head on her
lap. Now, this beautiful woman was
THE MAGIC FEATHER 85
really the giant in disguise; and as
White Feather lay with his head on her
knee, she stroked his hair and forehead,
and by her magic put him to sleep. Then
she took an ax and broke his back.
This done, she changed herself into the
giant, turned White Feather into a dog,
and bade him follow to the lodge.
The giant took the white feather and
placed it on his own head, for he knew
there was magic in it; and he wished to
make the tribes honor him as the great
warrior they had long expected.