Showing Category: Myths

The Hare and the Tortoise (the Rabbit and the Turtle)

One fine spring morning, a Hare came out of his nest to eat fresh grass. As he was eating, he saw a Tortoise nearby and he thought that the Tortoise walk was too funny. So the Hare started mocking the Tortoise and said that even the snails are faster. The […]

The Grasshopper and the Ant

Once upon the time there was a Grasshopper and an Ant. The Grasshopper built its nest in the branches of a tree and the Ant to its roots. It was summertime, and in the morning when the sun rose, Ant began working. The Ant came out of the nest and […]

Infant Raised by Bears

A man and his wife and child went off hunting from an Indian village and encamped a long way from home. At first, good luck attended the hunter, who brought into camp plenty of deer and other game. At last, game became scarce, and day after day the hunter returned […]

Origin of the Constellations

Iroquois tradition tells us that the sun and moon existed before the creation of the earth, but the stars had all been mortals or favored animals and birds. Seven little Indian boys were once accustomed to bring at eve their corn and beans to a little mound, upon the top […]

Origin of the Human Race

The Iroquois legend of an origin of the human race, which includes the creation of the spirits of good and evil, is undoubtedly of modern origin. In the great past, deep water covered all the earth. The air was filled with birds, and great monsters were in possession of the […]

An Incantation to Bring Rain – Rainmaking Ritual – Indian Rain Dance

In a dry season, the horizon being filled with distant thunder-heads, it was customary to burn what is called by the Indians real tobacco as an offering to bring rain. On occasions of this nature the people were notified by swift-footed heralds that the children, or sons, of Thunder were […]

Origin of the Seneca Medicine

Nearly two hundred years ago a man went into the woods on a hunting expedition. He was quite alone. He camped out in a field and was wakened in the night by the sound of singing and a noise like the beating of a drum. He could not sleep any […]

The pigmy’s mission

There was once a pigmy living in a little cave. Near him dwelt a hunter in a wigwam. The pigmy sent to him and bade him visit him. The hunter went accordingly, and saw many wonderful things; the little people themselves in great numbers, and the corn and huckleberries and […]

The Pigmies and the Great Hunters

The following story is told as having actually occurred: Mr. Johnson and others of the Seneca Reservation went out on a hunting expedition to a region quite remote from their homes. Upon their arrival at the hunting grounds they found game so plentiful that they were obliged to throw away […]

The Stone Giant’s challenge

A Stone Giant challenged a Seneca chief to a race. The challenge was accepted, and the time for the start appointed two days later. The hunter employed the time in making a pair of moccasins, and in due time the race began. The hunter was in advance; he led the […]

Great Head

It was a common belief among Indians that there was a strange, human-like creature, consisting simply of a head made terrific with large eyes and covered with long hair. His home was upon a huge rock, a rifted promontory, over which his long hair streamed in shaggy fierceness. Seen or […]

The North Wind

It was the custom at a certain season for the medicine men to go about demanding gifts of the people; but an icy figure had also appeared, demanding a man as a sacrifice; whereupon the Thunder God was appealed to, and he came to the rescue with his assistants and […]

Extermination of the Stone Giants

The stone giants, who principally inhabited the far West, resolved to come East and exterminate the Indians. A party of Senecas, just starting out on the war-path, were warned of their impending danger and were bidden to accept the challenge to fight the stone giants and appoint a time and […]

A Seneca Legend of Hi-nuⁿ and Niagara

A beautiful Indian maiden was about to be compelled by her family to marry a hideous old Indian. Despair was in her heart. She knew that there was no escape for her, so in desperation she leaped into her canoe and pushed it from shore on the roaring waters of […]