Hagowane And His Ten Sons - Seneca
- Hagowane And His Ten Sons - Seneca
HODIOnSKOn - the Trickster HÓNGÂK HAGOWANE - Wild Geese
OTHÄGWEnDA - Flint
OnWEnAUNT - Blue Snake
DAGWANOEnYENT - Whirlwind
DJIÄYEn - Spider
GASYONDETHA - Meteor
TSODI´QGWADOn - Snake
DEWAQSOnTHWÛS - Flea
HANÓWA - Turtle
DO´NYONDA - Eagle
HADIA´DES - Black-snake
AT HETGEnGASTENDE lived a man of great power named HAGOWANE. He belonged to
the Eagle family. One day this man started off to hunt. Taking his canoe he
sailed across the lake in front of his house and leaving the canoe traveled
for five days toward the West, then he collected wood and made a camp. The
first day he hunted, he killed five bears and six deer, brought them to camp
and said to himself, "I have had bad luck to-day." The second day he killed
ten bears and twelve deer and brought them to camp. That night he skinned
and roasted the fifteen bears and eighteen deer and finished the work before
The next day he went for more game. He killed twenty-four deer and twenty
bears, brought them to camp skinned and roasted them, finishing exactly at
midnight. Then he said to himself, "I have enough now." Putting the meat
into one pile he tied it up with bark strings and shook it, saying, "I want
you to be small." It shrank to a little package that he hung to his belt. In
the same way, he made the skins into a small package that he hung to his
belt. Then he set out for home.
When HAGOWANE came to the lake he looked everywhere for his canoe, but
couldn't find it. He saw a man coming toward him. When they met, the man
asked, "What have you lost?" "I have lost my canoe," answered HAGOWANE. "The
man who lives on that island over there was here yesterday. He took your
canoe." "Who is the man?" "He is one of the Turtle family." "How can I get
my canoe?" "Give me what meat you have and I will get it for you." "What am
I to eat if I do that?" "Well, I will do better. I will bring the canoe if
you will take your meat home, keep half and put the other half outside your
house for me." "Very well," answered HAGOWANE.
The man himself had taken the canoe to the island and now he brought it
back, "That man on the island," said he, "is an ugly fellow; he nearly
killed me." When HAGOWANE got home, he drew the canoe to a place of safety
among the rocks. Then he took the packages of meat from his belt, untied and
threw them down. That minute they regained their natural size. He piled the
meat up inside of his house and tanned the skins, but he didn't pay
HANDZOYAS for bringing back the canoe.
After a time a woman of the Wild Goose family came to HAGOWANE's house
bringing a basket of bread. She said, "My mother sent me to ask you to take
me for a wife." The man hung his head a while, thinking. At last he said to
himself, "I suppose nothing bad will come of this." Then he looked at the
girl, and said, "I am willing." The girl was glad, She placed the marriage
bread before him. He ate some of it, and said, "I am thankful. I have not
tasted of bread for many years."
The two lived happily. Each year for ten years a son was born to them. Then
one morning when HAGOWANE was sitting on a rock outside the house, he said
to himself, "I am tired of staying here, I am going away." He sat in his
canoe and rowed across the lake. After a time his wife missed him. She
looked everywhere, but could get no trace of him. When the eldest boy was
almost a young man, he said to his mother, "I am going to search for my
father till I find out where he is." "You will get lost on the way," said
his mother. "Oh, no, I will not," replied he.
After a time the mother gave her consent and the boy set out traveling
always toward the North. While crossing a rocky place, he came upon a trail.
"These footprints look like my father's," thought he, and he followed them.
Soon he came to a cross trail, "I wonder where this comes from and where it
goes," thought he. "When I come back, I will find out."
Not far from the cross trail, the boy saw a house and as the trail he was
following entered it, he went in and looking around saw one old man in the
south-east corner, another in the south-west, a third in the north-west and
a fourth in the north-east corner and each one was smoking.
The first old man raised his head, looked at the boy and asked, "Well my
grandson, what are you doing here? If you want to see your father come to
me, I will show him to you." The boy went to him, the old man seized him by
the hair, bent his head over a bark bowl and cut it off. "I am glad of young
game," said he, "It must be worth eating, it is just the right age," and he
began to cut up the body. At home they waited long for tidings from the
eldest brother. When none came, the second son said, "I must go and find my
"Oh, my son," said the mother, "do not go, some misfortune has befallen your
brother." "I must go," answered the boy. "I cannot help going. I want to
find my father and my brother," and he made ready for the journey. He put on
a shirt, leggings and moccasins of meteor skin and took bow and arrows. The
mother cried but she couldn't prevent his going. He went North, as his
brother had done, followed the same trail till he came to the cross trail
and went into the house where the four old men were sitting. The old man in
the north-west corner called out, "My grandson, do you want to see your
father? Come here."
The boy went and looking into a bowl half full of water saw the face of his
father and the face of his brother. Then the old man seized him by the hair
and cut off his head. Nine of the brothers went, one after another, and all
were killed by the four old men in the house near the cross trail. Then
Yellow Flint, the tenth and youngest son, though he was still small and
young, said to his mother, "I must follow my brothers."
"Oh, my son," said the mother, "you cannot go. There are four old men living
near the trail. They are called HADIA´DES. They have great power." "But I
must go. I want to find my father and my brothers." "You will never see them
again, they are dead." "Can't I kill those old men?" "Maybe you can, if I
give you my power." "Give it to me. I must kill them." "I will go and bring
it," said the mother.
She went West to a rough and rocky place and came back with a slate rock
manikin about half the length of her little finger. "Here," said she, "put
this manikin between your belt and your body and you can do what you like;
you can change yourself to whatever form you please." The boy put the
manikin between his belt and his body, took a bow made of hickory and arrows
of red willow pointed with wasp stings, and went toward the North, as his
brothers had. He found a fresh trail, and thought, "Maybe this is my
father's trail." After a while he came to the cross trail running from east
to west. He stood still and thought, "Where does this trail come from and
where does it go? I will find out."
He went toward the East till he came to a wide opening and saw a cloud of
dust moving toward him. "I must hurry back," said he to himself, "or
something may happen to me." When he turned, the great cloud approached
quickly. Soon it touched him and he grew so weak that he fell to the ground.
Looking up he saw a long-legged person rushing on. He sprang to his feet,
climbed a tree and shot off a wasp sting-pointed arrow. The arrow hit the
man in the cloud and killed him. The long-legged stranger was DJIÄYEn
The boy went East again, another cloud of dust rushed toward him, but he
turned aside. After the cloud passed, he ran on till he came to the place
where the trails crossed and going northward from there came to the house
where the four old men sat smoking. After standing outside a while, he found
a crack and looking in saw the brothers. ''I wonder if those are the men
that my mother told me about," thought he, "I will kill them if I can, if I
can't I will burn down their house."
He took the manikin from his belt and placed it on his hand. It stood up and
he said to it, "I am going to ask You a question. I want to kill those old
men, how am I to do it?"
The manikin said, "You must climb that high rock over there and call out,
'I, OTHÄGWEnDA, am on this high rock!' You will find sharp flint stones up
there. Take a handful of them and throwing them toward the house say, 'I
want it to be hot.'" The boy put the manikin in his belt and listened to the
conversation of the old men. One said, "I think OTHÄGWEnDA is around here."
"Oh," replied the man in the south-east corner. "You said that all the
family were dead." "I think a little boy is left," said the old man in the
south-west corner. "I think they are all dead except the old woman," said
the man in the north-east corner.
"Well," said the old man in the north-west corner. "It seems to me that one
is lurking around here somewhere." "If you think so, hunt for him," said the
old man in the south-west. OTHÄGWEnDA sprang on to the house and sat with
his feet in the smoke-hole. The old man looked all around, but could find no
one, The boy drew his bow and shot through the smoke-hole shot each one of
the brothers. The arrows went deep into' their bodies, but the men were not
hurt. They didn't know that they had been hit. The boy sprang from the house
and landed far away, then he climbed the rock and called out, "I,
OTHÄGWEnDA, am on this high rock!" He heard one of the brothers say, "My
back is sore. I feel as though my bones were broken."
The boy picked up a handful of sharp flint stones and threw them at the
house, saying, "I want you to be red hot and burn up those old men and their
house." The flints went straight to the house; a few pieces went beyond.
Those that struck the house set it on fire; those that fell beyond burned
the forest; everything was blazing in and around the place. Then the boy
threw a second handful of flints, saying, "I want you to cut off the heads
of those old men." The flint struck each man's neck in such a way that his
head dropped off. The boy stood on the rock and watched the fire till only
coals remained. All at once there was an explosion and Whirlwind, a great
head, flew towards him, knocked him off of the rock and rising high in the
air went straight West.
The boy sprang to his feet and looking up saw Whirlwind going higher and
higher. Soon he heard a crash as Whirlwind struck the Blue, then the head
came down again. When it reached the ground, OTHÄGWEnDA ran forward quickly
and crushed it with a white flint stone. The boy searched through the coals,
with a pointed stick. At the north-west corner of the coals of the house he
came upon a trail running towards the north-west, and he followed it till he
came to an opening. A cloud of dust rushed toward him. He ran into the
forest and waited. The cloud stopped at the edge of the forest, and from it
came an enormous Spider.
"Oh," said the Spider, "I thought somebody was on the trail. My master is
fooling me. I thought he had found another one of the Goose family." Spider
turned back, running as fast as he could. The boy followed till Spider
reached a house which was sunken in the ground. The boy listened outside and
soon he heard some one crying. He thought, "That sounds like my father's
voice; he must be in there." He took out the manikin, placed it on his hand.
It came to life, stood up, and the boy asked, "How am I to kill the Spider
that lives in this house?"
"Go to a tree just west of here," said the manikin, "Climb to the top of it,
and call out, 'I am OTHÄGWEnDA, and I am more powerful than anything under
the Blue, I can kill any kind of game on earth.' When you have spoken these
words, cut a limb from the tree, throw it towards the house and tell it to
split open Spider's heart; the heart is in the ground under the house. When
Spider is dead, rescue your father and burn the house." The boy did as the
manikin said. He cut off a limb of the tree, spat on it, and straightway it
was alive and he threw it towards the house, saying, "Split Spider's heart
in two." The limb went under the house to where the heart was hidden. That
instant Spider stretched out and died. The boy slipped down from the tree
and went to the house. Spider lay dead in the middle of the room. Under the
much lay a man who seemed to be almost dead. OTHÄGWEnDA raised the couch and
found his father. The flesh was gone from his legs and arms and he was
"My father," said the boy, "You must go home." "My son," said HAGOWANE, "You
will die if you stay here." "There is no danger now," answered the boy. Then
he put the manikin on his hand and asked, "What shall I do with my father?"
The manikin answered, "Rub saliva over him and flesh will come on his
bones." The boy did this and his father was as strong and well as ever.
"Now, said he "I am HODIOnSKOn (the Trickster). I have heard old people say
that when he dies he comes to life again. We will go home." "You can go,"
said OTHÄGWEnDA, "but I must find my brothers." When HAGOWANE reached home,
his wife looked at him and cried, "Oh, my dear son, I wish you were here. I
have seen something strange."
"Why do you talk in that way?" asked HAGOWANE, "Why do you cry? Are you
sorry that I have come?" "You are not alive." "Yes, I am." "No, you are
not." And thinking he was a ghost she drove him on to the rocks, and there
he had to stay. After his father had gone, the boy burned Spider's house,
When only coals were left, something shot up and flew westward. It alighted
on the plain and became a Sandpiper. "This is the way I do, this is why I
say that I can kill anybody," cried the boy, and going around the edge of
the opening on the eastern side he found a broad trail and followed it till
he came to a cross trail. He stood at the four corners of the two trails,
one going North and South, the other East and West, put the manikin on his
hand, and said, "I want you to tell me what I am to do." "At the foot of
that tree over there you will find a bark bowl; beyond the tree is a
medicine spring; on the other side of the spring a plant is growing. Put the
plant in the bowl and fill the bowl with water from the spring. Here, where
the trail crosses, dig a hole and put the bowl into it with the plant
standing in the water. Then stay close by and see what will happen."
The boy put the manikin away and went to the pine tree that grew in the
north-west, between the northern and western trails. He found the spring and
farther on a plant with bright red blossoms. He did as the manikin had told
him to, then put the bowl in the ground at the crossing of the trails and
standing aside watched and listened. Soon he heard a noise in the forest
like a heavy wind coming from the North. Nearer and nearer it came, with,
terrible cloud of dust, and nothing could be seen till the cloud stopped at
the crossing. Then, in the middle of it, the boy saw the skeleton of Blue
Lizard. The skeleton walked up to the plant and ate one of its red blossoms.
Though the skeleton had no place to hide the blossom, it vanished. The boy
wondered greatly. "It is nothing but bones," thought he, "Where does food
The skeleton grew sick. It jumped around till arms, legs, head and ribs fell
apart. OTHÄGWEnDA laughed, but just then he heard the noise of a heavy wind
and saw it coming from the South, with a great cloud of dust. The cloud
stopped at the crossing and the boy saw the skeleton of Snake. It went to
the bowl and ate a blossom. That minute it began to shake and soon it fell
to pieces, became a pile of bones. Then a terrible wind came from the East
and stopped at the crossing. In the middle of the cloud of dust was the
skeleton of NYAGWAIHE, the Ancient of Bears. It ate a blossom and then began
to tremble and to disjoint; soon it was only a pile of bones. From the West
came the skeleton of the Ancient of Winged Snakes. When it had turned to
bones the boy put the manikin on his hand, and asked, "Is it finished?"
"It is," said the manikin. "All the trails are clear. If You go to the end
of the southern trail you will find three of your brothers." When the boy
came to the end of the southern trail, he couldn't see anything, but after
looking around a while, he found a rock with an opening in it. He went to
the opening and down into the ground. It was dark there and he thought,
"Maybe there are other skeletons here, but I must go on., At last be came to
a place where there was no fire but a plenty of light, and just beyond he
found three of his brothers. The' eldest called out, "Oh, my brother, you
must hurry away, the skeleton will come soon." "I will kill it," said the
"My brother, if you stay here, you will not live." I have come to take you
away," said OTHÄGWEnDA. "We cannot walk," answered the three. "The skeleton
has eaten our flesh." The boy looked at his brothers and saw that their legs
and arms were simply bones. He rubbed the bones with saliva and they were
covered with flesh. "You must go home," said OTHÄGWEnDA. "I am going for my
other brothers." The three went home. When their mother saw them she cried
out, and, thinking them ghosts, seized a club and drove them away. They
found their father and sat on the rock with him.
The boy went back to the crossing and followed the eastern trail till he
came to the end of it. At first he didn't see anything and he wondered where
the Ancient of Bears came from. Then he found an opening in the ground and
went down into it. "There must be other skeletons here," thought he, "but I
must go on." Soon he came to a place where there was a bright light from
rotten wood which was packed up there, and farther on he found three of his
brothers. All their flesh had been eaten and they were too weak to move; he
brought flesh to their bones and sent them home. The mother drove them away
as she had their father and brothers.
OTHÄGWEnDA went back to the crossing and followed the northern trail till he
came to a small opening. While he was looking around, a whirlwind came upon
him and he ran to the shelter of a maple tree that stood near by. Soon he
heard a heavy blow on the opposite side of the tree. He looked and saw an
OnWI (Winged-snake), lying dead at the foot of the tree. Coming in the
whirlwind, it had struck the tree and been killed.
The boy went to the edge of the opening but right away he heard a second
whirlwind coming. "I shall die this time," thought he, for he saw that a
great number of winged-snakes were in the whirlwind. He hid behind the tree
and the whirlwind rushed by, then he ran to the other side of the opening.
The boy put the manikin on his hand; it stood up, alive, and he asked, "What
can I do with the snakes that are chasing me?" "You must make a fire across
the trail." He gathered boughs and sticks, made a large, long pile, set fire
to the west end of it, and said to the wind, "My grandfather, blow gently on
the west end of this pile." His grandfather heard him and soon there was a
mighty fire. When it was burning fiercely the boy said, "Grandfather, let
the breeze die down." Straightway it stopped blowing. When the whirlwind of
snakes came again, the snakes were swept into the fire and every one of them
Free of the snakes, the boy hurried along the northern trail till he saw a
whirlwind going toward the north-east, then he took out the manikin and
asked, "Which way must I go?" "North," answered the manikin. As the boy
traveled along he saw a trail going toward the north-west, but he went
straight ahead. When he came to the end of the trail he found an opening in
the ground near a birch tree. He went into the opening and soon came to a
place where an old man sat smoking. "What can that old man be doing?"
thought he. The old man straightened up, and said, "I am weak this morning.
It seems to me that somebody is around here. He raised his head and looked
around and as he looked his eyes seemed to project from his head. He saw
OTHÄGWEnDA, and said, "My nephew, I am glad that you have come. I will find
out what luck you have." He took a rattle made of a DAGWANOEnYENT and shook
it, saying "Sáwa, Sáwa!" "Stop," said the boy. "I will try your luck first."
"No, my nephew, I will try first," said the old man whose name was
DEWAQSOnTHWÛS (Flea). They disputed till they came to blows. The old man
threw down his rattle and struck at the boy and his own arm fell off. He
struck with the other hand and that arm fell off. Then he kicked at him with
one leg and that fell off; with the other and that dropped. The old man was
now only head and body.
The arms and legs tried to get back to their places on the body but the boy
pushed them away and shot an arrow through the old man. The arrow took root
and became a small tree. Flea tried to bite the boy but as he made the
attempt his head flew off. The boy pounded the body, jumped and danced
around it, and said, "Oh, my uncle is in pieces now!" In the old man's house
he found the last three of his brothers, weak and wretched as the others had
been. He cured them and sent them home. The mother drove them from the house
and they sat down on the rock with their father and brothers. After his
brothers had gone OTHÄGWEnDA took out the manikin and asked, "Is there
anything on the north-east trail?" "You will rescue people if you go there,"
answered the manikin. "Is there anything bad on the north-west trail?"
"There is." At the end of the north-west trail, the boy found a house
without a door. "How can I get into this house," thought he. Looking through
a crack he saw an old woman of the Blue Snake people; she was singing and
the song said, "OTHÄGWEnDA is coming. OTHÄGWEnDA is coming!
"She knows that I am here," thought the boy. Presently she said, "I will go
out and play a while." The boy didn't see how the woman got out of the
house, but all at once he saw her going along the trail that ran toward the
West; he followed her. She went into a small lake and down deep in the
water. Then he saw a tail come to the surface and begin to move around in a
circle. On the tail were two little things like fins. They rubbed against
each other and made beautiful music. In the water the old woman was a fish.
After a while she came partly out of the water but seeing the boy she drew
back, and said, "My grandson, don't kill me. I have never harmed any of your
people." "I will spare you if you will give me something that will be useful
to me." "I will give you a fin. Keep it to find your luck with." "How can I
use it?" "When you lie down, put it under your head. You have a dream and
the dream will tell you what you want to know." The boy went home with the
old woman and looking around saw an opening in the ground and in it many
people almost dead. He got them out, rubbed them with saliva, healed them
and sent each man to his own home. When all had gone, he asked the old woman
why she had captured these people and shut them up.
"I did not shut them up," said the woman. "My husband is a man-eater. He
brought them here. He lives on another trail. His name is DEWAQSOnTHWÛS (The
Weeper-Flea)." "Was that man your husband? I have killed him." "I am glad,"
said the woman. "Your people are safe now, for you have destroyed their
greatest enemy." OTHÄGWEnDA traveled on the north-east trail till he came to
a house where he heard singing. The song said, "The youngest son of the
HÓNGÂK (Goose) woman is going everywhere in the world. We wish he would come
to us." The song stopped and the woman said, "I feel badly. Let us go and
throw rocks." They went to a place where there were white flint rocks as
large as a house. The woman picked up one of the rocks and threw it into the
air. It came down on her head, but didn't hurt her. Then she threw it to-the
man, who caught it and threw it back. When tired of playing they went to the
house. The man said, "I feel as though some one were here." Looking around
he saw the boy, and he asked, "My grandson, what are you doing here?" "I
have come to visit you."
"My grandson," said the woman, "I am glad you have come, we have been
waiting for you. You have killed the man-eater and the skeletons. Now we
want you to free the men who are in an opening under our house." The boy
found many men in the opening which the man-eater had forced this man and
woman to guard. He liberated them, and sent each man to his own home. "Now,"
said OTHÄGWEnDA, "let all the trails disappear. Trails must not be made
across the world to deceive people." The trails disappeared, then the boy
went home. When he saw his father and nine brother sitting on a large flat
rock he asked, "Why don't you go into the house?" "Your mother wouldn't let
us stay in the house; she drove us out," answered HAGOWANE. The boy went
into the house, and asked, "Mother, are you sorry that I found my father and
my brothers?" "Did you find them and send them home?" "I did."
The woman was glad then. She welcomed her husband and sons. They came in,
and all were happy.
Seneca Indian Myths, by Jeremiah Curtin; New York; E.P. Dutton & Company
 and is now in the public domain.