The Ice Man

Once when the people were burning the woods in the fall the blaze set fire to a poplar tree, which continued to burn until the fire went down into the roots and burned a great hole in the ground.

It burned and burned, and the hole grew constantly larger, until the people became frightened and were afraid it would burn the whole world. They tried to put out the fire, but it had gone too deep, and they did not know what to do.

At last some one said there was a man living in a house of ice far in the north who could put out the fire, so messengers were sent, and after traveling a long distance they came to the ice house and found the Ice Man at home. He was a little fellow with long hair hanging down to the ground in two plaits.

The messengers told him their errand and he at once said, “O yes, I can help you,” and began to unplait his hair. When it was all unbraided he took it up in one band and struck it once across his other hand, and the messengers felt a wind blow against their cheeks. A second time he struck his hair across his hand, and a light rain began to fall.

The third time he struck his hair across his open hand there was sleet mixed with the raindrops, and when he struck the fourth time great hailstones fell upon the ground, as if they had come out from the ends of his hair. “Go back now,” said the lee Man, “and I shall be there to-morrow.” So the messengers returned to their people, whom they found still gathered helplessly about the great burning pit.

The next-day while they were all watching about the fire there came a wind from the north, and they were afraid, for they knew that it came from the lee Man. But the wind only made the fire blaze up higher. Then a light rain began to fall, but the drops seemed only to make the fire hotter. Then the shower turned to a heavy rain, with sleet and hail that killed the blaze and made clouds of smoke and steam rise from the red coals.

The people fled to their homes for shelter, and the storm rose to a whirlwind that drove the rain into every burning crevice and piled great hailstones over the embers, until the fire was dead and even the smoke ceased.

When at last it was all over and the people returned they found a lake where the burning pit had been, and from below the water came a sound as of embers still crackling.

giveushearts

Legend Credit:
A Cherokee Legend
James Mooney, 1900

Photo Credit:

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The Two Mohawks

mohawk_warriors

In the year 1747 a couple of the Mohawk Indians came against the lower towns of the Cheerake, and cunningly ambuscaded them through most part of the spring and summer.

The two killed above twenty in different attacks before they were discovered by any party of the enraged and dejected people.

They had a thorough knowledge of the most convenient ground for their purpose, and were extremely swift and long-winded. Whenever they killed any and got the scalp they made off to the neighboring mountains, and ran over the broad ledges of rocks in contrary courses, as occasion offered, so as the pursuers could by no means trace them.

Once, when a large company was in chase of them, they ran round a steep hill at the head of the main eastern branch of Savana river, intercepted, killed, and scalped the hindmost of the party, and then made off between them and Keeowhee.

As this was the town to which the company belonged, they hastened home in a close body, as the proper place of security from such enemy wizards. In this manner did those two sprightly, gallant savages perplex and intimidate their foes for the space of four moons in the greatest security, though they often were forced to kill and barbecue what they chiefly lived upon, in the midst of their watchful enemies.

Having sufficiently revenged their relations’ blood and gratified their own ambition with an uncommon number of scalps, they resolved to captivate one and run home with him as a proof of their having killed none but the enemies of their country.

Advancing with the usual caution on such an occasion, one crawled along under the best cover of the place about the distance of a hundred yards ahead, while the other shifted from tree to tree, looking sharply every way.

In the evening, however, an old, beloved man discovered them from the top of an adjoining hill, and knew them to be enemies by the cut of their hair, light trim for running, and their, postures.

He returned to the town and called first at the house of one of our traders and informed him of the affair, enjoining him not to mention it to any, lest the people should set off against them without success before their tracks were to be discovered and he be charged with having deceived them.

But, contrary to the true policy of traders among unforgiving savages, that thoughtless member of the Choktah Sphinx Company busied himself, as usual, out of his proper sphere, sent for the headmen, and told them the story. As the Mohawks were allies and not known to molest any of the traders in the paths and woods, he ought to have observed a strict neutrality.

The youth of the town, by order of their headmen, carried on their noisy public diversions in their usual manner to prevent their foes from having any suspicion of their danger, while runners were sent from the town to their neighbors to come silently and assist them to secure the prey in its state of security.

They came like silent ghosts, concerted their plan of operation, passed over the river at the old trading ford opposite to the late fort, which lay between two contiguous commanding hills, and, proceeding downward over a broad creek, formed a large semicircle from the river bank, while the town seemed to be taking its usual rest.

They then closed into a narrower compass, and at last discovered the two brave, unfortunate men lying close under the tops of some fallen young pine trees. The company gave the war signal, and the Mohawks, bounding up, bravely repeated it; but, by their sudden spring from under thick cover, their arms were useless. They made desperate efforts, however, to kill or be killed, as their situation required.

One of the Cherokee, the noted half-breed of Istanare [Ustäna’lï] town, which lay 2 miles from thence, was at the first onset knocked down and almost killed with his own cutlass, which was wrested from him, though he was the strongest of the whole nation. But they were overpowered by numbers, captivated, and put to the most exquisite tortures of fire, amidst a prodigious crowd of exulting foes.

One of the present Choktah traders, who was on the spot, told me that when they were tied to the stake the younger of the two discovered our traders on a hill near, addressed them in English, and entreated them to redeem their lives. The elder immediately spoke to him, in his own language, to desist. On this, he recollected himself, and became composed like a stoic, manifesting an indifference to life or death, pleasure or pain, according to their standard of martial virtue, and their dying behavior did not reflect the least dishonor on their former gallant actions.

All the pangs of fiery torture served only to refine their manly spirits, and as it was out of the power of the traders to redeem them they, according to our usual custom, retired as soon as the Indians began the diabolical tragedy.

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The Two Mohawks

A Cherokee Legend

Adair,

American Indians, 1775

photo credit – (Courtesy mohawkvalley-wiki.com)

 

Don’t feed the bad wolf

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Native American Legends
Two Wolves
A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight
is going on inside me”, he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One
is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity,
guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority,
and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy,
peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going
on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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Here is the same story, but it is called, “Grandfather Tells”
which is also known as “The Wolves Within”
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger
at a friend who had done him an injustice,”Let me tell you
a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken
so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like
taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled
with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is
as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm.
He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense
when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right
to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing
will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time,
for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so
great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.

Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me,
for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked,
“Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

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