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January: The Cold Month  [The Red Indian Fairy Book]   Jowiis and the Eagles (Iroquois)   O NE day in the long time ago, Jowiis, an...

January: The Cold Month

January: The Cold Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

January: The Cold Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

 

Jowiis and the Eagles

(Iroquois)  

ONE day in the long time ago, Jowiis, an Indian lad, was hunting in the woods. It was cold and rainy weather, and the floods had wiped out all the trails. There was no Sun or Moon in the black Sky to guide him, and soon he lost his way. So he wandered for days, until hungry and faint, he fell upon a river-bank to die.

Then Donyondo, the Bald Eagle, swift of flight and keen of eye, saw the lad lying on the bank. Though the bird was proud, his heart throbbed with pity at the sight of the dying Jowiis. Dropping down, and lifting him, he flew away to search for an Indian village. As he looked down toward the Earth he discovered smoke rising from some lodges. Alighting near them, he laid Jowiis on the ground, and slowly winged away.

But the rain was still falling, and no one saw the dying boy. Then Sagodaoh, the Hunting Vulture, as he flew close to the Earth looking for prey, saw and pitied Jowiis. The bird's heart was tender and his talons strong, and he gently lifted the lad, and soared with him into the Land of the Sky Birds. And he carried him to the lodge of Gadojih, the Golden Eagle, who was the Chief of all the birds.

Gadojih gave Jowiis food and warmed his body, and grew to love him. And when the lad was restored to health, Gadojih took him to the Council House of the Sky where all the birds were celebrating the New Year feast.

They taught Jowiis their dances, and the birdsongs, and they instructed him in the laws of the birds—how to protect them in nesting-time, how to shelter and feed them during the cold Winter when the snow lies deep on the ground. All this they taught Jowiis while the Seven Star Brothers danced their New Year Dance above the Council House of the Sky. And after that Gadojih, the Golden Eagle, bade Sagadaoh, the Hunting Vulture, return Jowiis to the Earth. And the lad nestled close under the wing of the bird while it flew swiftly downward.

Earth was sleeping beneath her snow blanket when Jowiis returned. Her streams were frozen, and her forests silent, except for the shrill voice of the wind as it moaned through the bare branches. And the Indians were holding a feast in their Council House, when Jowiis entered it.

They welcomed him with joy, and he told them all his adventures. Then he taught them the dances of the birds and all their laws. And while the white snow lay deep upon the earth, Jowiis and the Indian lads daily scattered corn and grains for the hungry birds. And when Summer came, Jowiis sang the joyous bird-songs in the forest.

 

Shingebiss

(Chippewa)  

ONCE Shingebiss, the Wild Duck, lived alone in a little lodge by the side of a bay. It was cold Winter weather, and the ice lay thick on the water. But Shingebiss did not fear the cold, for his lodge was snug and warm, and his fire burned bright. He had four big logs, each of which would burn for a month.

So Shingebiss was hardy and happy, and no matter how bad the weather was, he went each day out on the ice, and, pulling up the rushes with his bill, dived through the hole he had made. Thus he caught many Fish, and got plenty of food.

One day the Northwest Wind came blustering from the Northland. He blew over the Earth, and at the touch of his icy breath the forest creatures shivered and crept into their holes. Then he blew across the bay, and around the lodge of Shingebiss. But the little Wild Duck did not care. He went out on the ice just the same, and pulling up the rushes, dived down and fished. And as he dragged a string of Fish to his warm lodge, he sang:—



     "O Northwest Wind, I know your plan!

      You are but my fellow-man!"



"Hi! Ho!" said the Northwest Wind; "but this is a brave Duck!" He does not seem to mind the cold. But I'll blow my hardest and freeze his blood."

So he blew ten times colder blasts, and piled up the drifting snow, and filled the air with ice-needles that stung the face.

But Shingebiss did not mind it at all, and he searched the ice for more rushes, and, diving through the hole, caught many Fish. Then, as he went home dragging a bigger string than usual, he sang:—



     "Blow you may, your coldest breeze,

      Shingebiss you cannot freeze!"



"Hi! Ho!" said the Northwest Wind; "I will visit his lodge, and freeze his fire." So he went to the door of Shingebiss's lodge, and blew a terrible blast straight through it.

But Shingebiss only stirred his fire the more, and the flames sprang up and cooked his Fish, and made the lodge warmer. And as he did so, he sang:—



     "Sweep the strongest wind you can,

      Shingebiss is still your man!"



Then the Northwest Wind grew very angry, and, entering the lodge, sat down and blew into the fire.

But Shingebiss stirred it again, and the flames leaped up and roared, and threw out a fearful heat. And as he did so, he sang:—



     "Hi! for life! And ho! for bliss!

      Who so free as Shingebiss!"



The tears began to flow down the cheeks of the Northwest Wind, and he felt that he was melting away. "Hi! Ho!" said he; "I can't stand this!" So he flew out of the door. In a great rage he rushed over the bay, and made the ice thicker and piled the snow higher.

But all the happier was Shingebiss! He searched the ice for rushes, and dived and fished. And as he went back to his snug, warm lodge, he sang:—



     "Northwest Wind, I know your plan!

      You are but my fellow-man!

      Blow you may, your coldest breeze,

      Shingebiss you cannot freeze.

      Sweep the strongest wind you can,

      Shingebiss is still your man.

      Hi! for life! and ho! for bliss!

      Who so free as Shingebiss!"



"Hi! Ho!" said the Northwest Wind; "he certainly is a wonderful Duck! I cannot freeze nor starve him; so I'll let him alone." And he rushed blustering back to his home in the Northland.

 

The Boy in the Jug

(Hopi)  

ONCE, long ago, in a Hopi village, a beautiful maiden lived with her old father. They had no one to hunt for them, or provide them with food, so the good people of the tribe gave them what they could spare.

One day the maiden saw the women making earthen jugs, and she said to herself, "I will make one too." So she took some clay, and kneaded it, and shaped it into a beautiful jug with two handles. Then she put it to bake. But when she went to fetch it home, she heard something cry inside it. She looked in, and what did she see but a little boy no bigger than her thumb.

She tried to take him out of the jug, but it was a magic one, and she could not do so. She took the boy in the jug home, and fed him on bits of food, and made him some pretty little clothes, saying, "Now I am your mother, and my old father is your grandfather."

The days passed and the boy grew bigger until his head reached the top of the jug, and when he wished to move about the house, he spun the jug around and around, and that is the way he walked.

Well, a Winter came when it was very cold, and the people had nothing to eat. So the young men of the tribe took their bows and arrows and started out to hunt. When the boy saw this, he said to his grandfather, "Give me a bow and arrows, for I want to hunt."

So his grandfather made him a fine red bow, and tied bright feathers to the arrows, and fastened them to the handles of the jug. Then he lifted up the boy in the jug, and carrying him outside the village, set him on the ground. "Now you may hunt," said he, "and you will soon see many Rabbit tracks."

The boy began to spin his jug, and he spun so fast that he left his grandfather far behind. Sure enough, in a little while he saw some tracks, and there was a Rabbit running away. The boy spun his jug harder, and it moved so fast that its mouth whistled like the wind.

Soon the boy in the jug caught up with the Rabbit, and the little creature, springing into the air, leaped into a bush. The jug, also, rose in the air, to spring into the bush, but fell to the ground with a crash. It split in two, and out bounced the boy—a full-grown Hopi lad!

He unfastened the bow and arrows from the handles of the jug, and following the Rabbit, killed it. Then he shot a dozen more, and tying them together, carried them back to the village.

When his mother saw him coming, she could not believe her eyes for joy. She ran out to meet him, and took the Rabbits, saying, "Now that I have this full-grown son, I shall never be hungry again!"

The grandfather, too, came hurrying to the door, as fast as his old legs could carry him. And when he saw the Rabbits, he said: "Thank you, thank you! Now you may hunt with the young men, and your mother and I will be glad!"

So after that, the boy hunted with the others, and his mother and his old grandfather always had plenty to eat.

 

The Brother and Sister

(Arapaho)  

THERE were three streams all flowing east, and near them a tribe of Indians was camping. A brother and sister were playing at a distance from the camp, and a Chief passed by them. The children called him saucy names and he was very angry. Going to the camp he bade all the people pack up, and move to another camping-ground. Before moving away, the people took the two children who had been saucy to the Chief, and tied them each to a pole. They leaned the poles against some trees, and leaving the children to die, they took their goods, and went to another place.

Well, the poor children suffered hunger and thirst, and wept bitterly. At last an old Wolf, the Chief of all the Wolves, saw them, and he said to himself, "How pitiful these children are!" Then he cried out to the pack, "Come, all ye Wolves, from all directions!"

In a minute Wolves and Coyotes came running from every part of the Earth, and the old Wolf said to them:—

"I pity these children. Seize the poles and lower them slowly. Then chew off the ropes and free the children."

The Wolves and the Coyotes did as he told them to do, and loosed the children. But when the boy and girl saw all the wild animals running about them, they were terribly frightened, for they thought that they would surely be eaten. But the old Wolf said:—

"Do not be afraid! Stay with us, and we will care for you." After that he called four big Wolves from the pack, and said: "You, Clouded Wolf, who are above all others in daring deeds, provide food for this boy and girl. White Wolf, I want you also to look for food for them. Black Coyote, go out and find meat. And you also, Black Wolf, who are brave and cunning, provide meat for them."

Immediately the four big Wolves ran away, and soon came back laden with the best parts of a Buffalo; and piled all the meat in front of the children.

The brother and sister ate, and were made strong again. Then the old Wolf told them to go into the timber near by, and live there; and he said that he would stay with them.

It was now Winter. The boy got together some poles and made a frame for a brush house; while his sister gathered long reeds, and with them thatched the house. She made a door of brush and sticks, and inside she put brush for two beds. They then made a nice comfortable bed near the door where the old Wolf might sleep.

When the house was finished, it began to snow. They all went in, and the old Wolf said, "I am feeble, and suffer much from cold. I have no strength, no swiftness, no warmth. If it were not for your kindness I should be out in the snow. Therefore I thank you for letting me live with you in this comfortable house."

So that night the Wolf slept by the door, the girl slept on the north side of the house, and the boy at the back.

Well, in the morning the boy was the first to get up to make the fire; and he looked out, and the snow was over all the land. And what was his surprise to see great herds of Elk near by. The whole snow was yellow with them as far as he could see. In the timber, on the banks of the rivers, and everywhere, the Elk were standing, walking, or lying down.

The boy shut the door quickly, and said to his sister, "Get up! There are herds of Elk close by."

"Why should I get up?" said she; "I can't do anything."

But the boy answered, "Just get up and look at them anyway."

"I can't do anything by looking at them," said she.

"My Grandchild," called the old Wolf, "get up and look at the Elk."

So she rose, and opened the door; and as soon as she looked at an Elk, it fell down dead. Then she gave her brother a flint knife with a bone handle, and he ran out into the snow, and skinned the Elk as easily as if he had always known how to do it.

As soon as he had skinned the animal, he threw its hide into the house, and the girl folded it three times, and sat on it. Immediately the hide became a soft and beautiful skin, all dressed ready for use. Then the girl looked at more Elk, and they fell down dead; and the boy skinned them; and so she did until they had thirty-six skins. They next sliced the meat, and hung it to dry on the trees near the three streams.

After that the girl took some of the thirty-six skins, and piling them one on the other, she sat on them, saying, "I wish that all these skins may be sewed together for a tent." And when she got up, and spread them out, they had become a tent with a bird ornament on top, and four round ornaments on the sides, and rattles over the door.

Then the girl said, "I wish for twenty-nine straight tent poles." And when she went outside, there were the tent poles made of otter-weeds. Soon the tent stood covered, and was very handsome.

Then the girl folded three skins, and sat on them, saying, "I wish for a wall-hanging embroidered with Porcupine quills of every colour." And it was so, for when she got up the Elk skins were changed into a beautiful hanging, which she fastened behind her brother's bed. Then she folded three more skins, and sat on them, and wished for an embroidered hanging for her bed, and she got it. After that she did the same to more skins, and wished for an embroidered and ornamented blanket, and she gave that to the old Wolf.

Well, after seven days it snowed again, and when the boy got up to make the fire, he looked out and saw the snow over all the land. And what was his surprise to see great herds of Buffalo near by. The whole snow was black with them.

He waked his sister, and bade her get up, but she said: "What can I do? You have broken my sleep. Let me sleep longer."

"My Grandchild," called the old Wolf, "get up and look at the Buffalo."

So she rose, and opened the door, and as soon as she looked at some of the Buffalo, they fell down dead. The boy skinned the animals, and brought in their hides. The girl took one, and folded it three times, saying, "I wish this to become a robe with bird ornaments." Then it became an embroidered robe, and she gave it to her brother. Then she took another skin and did the same, saying, "I wish this to be a painted robe for myself." And it turned into a robe; and when she spread it out the painting was seen bright and beautiful. Then she took another skin, and, in the same manner, made it a robe with red and yellow embroidery at the four corners, and eight lines of embroidery across it, and between them black lines painted with charcoal. This she gave to the old Wolf.

After that she made three pillows for the beds. On the one for her brother was the picture of an animal embroidered in yellow quills. The eye was dark with yellow quills around it. On the throat were a hundred bars of yellow quills. The ear was a yellow cross of quill-work. The head was round, and the tail and nose were bars of yellow quills. All around the edge of the pillow were fifty bars of yellow quills. The pillow for the girl was white, embroidered with an animal made of black and white bars of quill-work; while the pillow for the old Wolf was very beautiful, embroidered with red and yellow quills.

Well, after seven days it snowed again, and when the boy got up in the morning to make the fire, he looked out and saw the snow covering the land. And what was his surprise to see more herds of Elk near by. The snow was yellow with them. He called his sister, and the old Wolf bade her rise and look at the animals, and she did. Immediately some of them fell down dead. Then as before, the girl folded, and sat on their skins, and wished for a fine hunting-shirt for her brother, embroidered in circles of red and yellow quills, with fringes along the edge, and tufts of long hair hanging between the fringes. Then she wished for leggings for him, and a pair of moccasins embroidered with birds. For herself she wished for a woman's dress handsomely embroidered, and with four rows of fringes, also for leggings and moccasins. As the old Wolf could not wear clothes, she of course did not wish for any garment for him.

Then the boy said, "I wish I could have for a Dog a Panther of yellow colour with white sides." His sister went outside the tent, and called, "Come, Panther of yellow colour with white sides!" And immediately the Panther came walking through the timber, slowly twisting his tail. He entered the tent, and lay down by the boy, and put his head on the boy's knee.

Then the boy said, "I wish you could have for a Dog a Bear with white streaks down his fore legs, and whose claws are white with black streaks." So his sister went outside the tent, and called, "Come, Bear with white streaks down your fore legs, and with claws white with black streaks." And immediately the Bear came pacing through the timber, and sat down at the foot of the girl's bed.

After that the brother and sister lived very happily with the old Wolf, the Panther, and the Bear. They had plenty to eat, for the dried meat was piled up before the door of the tent, and there was meat still hanging from the trees.

One day two Indians from the tribe that had deserted the children, happened to be hunting by the streams, and they saw the handsome tent in the timber. They went toward it, and, lo, there were the boy and girl beautifully dressed; while on one side of the tent sat the Panther, and on the other side the Bear, and the old Wolf was lying just in front of the door.

Well, when the animals saw the men, the old Wolf rose up growling, the Panther crouched to spring, and the Bear stiffened his hair. The men were very much frightened, but the boy told the animals to lie down, and he invited the men into the tent. The girl bade them be seated, and gave them pemmican in wooden bowls.

Now the men saw the wonderful tent and all its fine furnishings, and they looked at the great pile of dried meat before the door, and said to the children that they would return at once to the tribe, and tell the people to come and see them. But the girl said that if they came, they must camp down by the streams, and not approach the tent, or the animals would kill them.

So the men went back to the people, and the tribe came to the streams, and made their camp. And though they could see the beautiful tent in the distance, they dared not approach it for fear of the animals.

But the brother and sister gave some of their meat to the people, and after that the two continued to live happily in their tent, guarded by the faithful old Wolf, the Panther, and the Bear.

January: The Cold Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

 

The Snow Man

(Menominee)  

ONCE there was a hunter who with his family lived in a lodge apart from the other lodges of his village. And why he lived apart was this:—

One day in the early Spring he was hunting in the woods. The Sun shone warmly, and the snow was melting. As he walked along he heard the lumps of snow go "Snip! Snap!" with a zipping sound.

"Ah! Ha! Master Snow," laughed he, "so you are afraid of the Sun, are you!"

Immediately a voice replied: "Oh, you need not speak that way to me! I come because I am sent by my master the North; he tells me to stay only a little while, and I must obey him. The Sun helps me to disappear. But since you have made fun of me, I will put you to a test. NEXT WINTER, BEWARE!"

The hunter stopped, stared, and listened, but did not see any one. And as he turned to hurry away from the spot, he heard the voice say again: "We shall see who is the greater, you or I! NEXT WINTER, BEWARE!"

The man was frightened out of his senses, and ran home with all speed, and when he reached his lodge in the village, he told his wife and children all about it. After that he went to the next lodge, where lived a very old man together with some ancients, and told them what had happened.

"If you heard the Snow Man speak," said the ancients, "what he said he will do, that he will do!"

But the old man said: "It is no wonder that the Snow Man was angry with you if you made fun of his melting away. But since he has made a wager with you, my Grandson, you must be ready to meet him next Winter. Indeed, all your time from now on must be spent in getting ready."

"What shall I do to get ready?" asked the hunter.

"You must begin now," said the old man, "to kill Deer, Bear, Buffalo, and all other large creatures that you can find. You must press out their fat and oil, and put it all in skin bags. You must also fill some bags with pitch. Then you must cut and lay aside a great deal of gummy wood full of knots. After that you must build yourself a lodge apart from every one, with a door to the south. Take Pine pitch and fill up all the cracks in the walls, and hang a closely braided mat before the door, so that nothing can get through. Inside you must build a fireplace with a small smoke-hole. Then carry into the lodge your supply of wood and the skins full of fat, oil, and pitch. You will need all you can get, for the contest will be long and hard."

"All right, Grandfather," said the hunter. And the poor fellow immediately fell to work, and spent the whole Summer and Autumn hunting by night, and cutting wood and preparing the other things by day. He made a great quantity of grease and tallow cakes and bars of all sizes, and filled skin bags with oil and pitch. And he built his lodge as the old man had told him to do.

Well, as Winter approached, the hunter trembled with fear, and bidding his family good-bye, entered the lodge and shut himself in. At first he made only a little fire, but by and by, as the cold increased, he heaped on more wood.

One night a fierce wind arose, and tore around outside the lodge, shrieking, "Boo-oo-oo-oo!"

"He is coming, now!" thought the hunter. But no one came.

Then the wind blew and blew and blew,&$8212;"Boo-ooo-oo-oo-oo-oooooo!"—and the hunter felt himself getting very cold, so he made a rousing fire. The trees and bushes outside snapped and cracked louder and louder, as the wind tore through them. "He is surely coming, now!" thought the hunter. But no one came.

The hunter stirred the fire, and the cold grew worse and worse, and the wind howled and shrieked, and tore the trees apart. "I wonder what he looks like," thought the hunter. But no one came.

The time seemed very short, but it was already Mid-Winter, and the hunter did not know it!

Well, at last he saw him. In the tightly pitched and chinked lodge, with its closely woven mat over the door, a Manlike-Object-of-Snow walked about. It passed close to the hunter, and at the same moment its icy breath filled the lodge, and the fire began to go out.

But the hunter rose up, and threw on more wood keeping back the better sort. The Manlike-Object-of-Snow sat down opposite him, and stared at him with its icy eyes. The lodge grew colder and colder, and the hunter shook in every limb, and the fire shrank and almost went out. But the hunter remembered what the old man had said, and he piled on more wood.

The time seemed very short, but the Winter was almost over, and the hunter did not know it!

After that he felt his limbs getting numb, so he piled on the best wood, and stirred the fire, and the flames sprang up and threw out heat. And the Snow Man groaned. Then the hunter began to throw the grease and tallow on the flames, and they shot up and blazed and sputtered, and threw out a fearful heat. And the Snow Man groaned again, but still he sat there with his icy stare, and his breath numbed the hunter's limbs.

The time seemed very short, but Winter was just over, and the hunter did not know it!

At last the man began to throw on the pitch, and piled up his largest logs, and the Snow Man groaned horribly, and grew smaller and smaller, and gasped and groaned again. Then the hunter poured on the oil, and soon only a little lump of ice lay where the Snow Man had sat. At that a voice cried out:—

"Ho, my Grandson! You have conquered! You are greater than I, so I give up to you!"

But the man did not stop. He continued to pour on his oil, and throw on the pitch, and heap on wood; and the Snow Man cried:—

"Oh, stop, my Grandson! I have spoken the truth. I will return to the North where I have power. And you shall live in this lodge, and become a great hunter. Your wife and children may always go barefooted in the snow, and I will not hurt them. Your name from now on shall be 'The-Man-who-Mastered-the-Winter.' "

Then the Snow Man disappeared, and the hunter lifted the mat at the door. And, lo, the Sun shone, the grass was green, the flowers were blooming, the birds were singing, for Winter was gone and the Springtime was there!

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