Author Topic: Native American Legend/The Woman and the Giants  (Read 2466 times)

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Native American Legend/The Woman and the Giants
« on: January 15, 2009, 12:25:35 pm »

The Woman and the Giants
A Paiute Legend

Once there lived a giant named Tse'nahaha who killed people by looking at them. He always carried a big basket of thorns on his back. When he caught anyone, he threw him over his back into the basket.

A group of Indians were playing the hand game in a certain house, and were having a good time. They had stationed a woman outside to watch for Tse- nahaha. After a while, she heard Tse'nahaha coming. He was talking to himself and singing. The woman tried to warn the people that the giant was coming, but they did not hear her. Tse'nahaha was getting closer. The woman became frightened, and jumped into a little pit and pulled a basket over herself.

She heard Tse'nahaha come up and stop. He stooped down and crawled into the doorway of the house and looked around. Twice he made a sucking noise with his lips. When he looked at anyone in the house, that person died at once. The others noticed the dead ones staring and said, "What are you people looking at? What is there worth looking at?"" Then they, too looked at Tse'nahaha and died. Soon they were all dead. Only a little baby was left inside, sleeping. Tse'nahaha went away.

The baby commenced to cry. It was almost daylight now. The baby crawled over to the people and pushed them over. Then the woman left the pit and went inside, but she did not look at the dead people. She called the baby, and said, "Let's go away." She set the house on fire, took the baby, and went away. With her digging-stick, she dug kani'd while the baby slept and ate.

As she was living this way, another giant, Pu'wihi came along. Pu'wihi picked up the baby, holding his head between his second and third fingers, and carried him over to the woman. He said to her, "Where are you from?" She answered, "I am from that house over there--the one with the smoke coming out. There are many men in it." The giant went toward the house. The woman was very frightened and tried to hide. She set her digging-stick in a clump of wild oats and vaulted as far as she could.

When the giant came back from the house he did not see her. He looked all around. He was furious and twisted his nose in anger. He found the wild oats and saw the mark of her stick. This showed in which direction she had jumped, and he went to a big flat rock. She had gone under this rock, and was crying.

The giant took the rock away and uncovered her, but it was dark by this time. He said, "I'll get her in the morning. Now I'll make a fire and grind up this baby." He found a large flat rock, ground up the baby, and ate him. He was having a fine time and lay there, singing. The woman could hear him. After a while he went to sleep. Then the woman got up and made another jump toward the east, to the house of her aunt.

When the woman came to her aunt's house, she was safe. The giant could not see the mark of her stick to find out which way she had jumped because this time she had jumped from a rock.

The Paiute Indians come from this woman.


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Re: Native American Legend/The Woman and the Giants
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2009, 03:11:01 pm »
I love reading about native american legends, and I found this one interesting..wonder how far she managed to jump in one leap...
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Re: Native American Legend/The Woman and the Giants
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2009, 07:28:01 am »
It's rather gruesome as quite a few Native American legends tend to be. If you research their mythology to some extent, you'll realise that a significant part of it deals with the terror posed by monstrous abominations and the important role that culture heroes play in ridding the world of these abominations. From the plains of North America to the jungles of the Yucatan, this pattern is rather evident.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 06:06:51 am by blow_fly »
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Re: Native American Legend/The Woman and the Giants
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2009, 12:34:31 pm »
Ah blowfly, while what you say is definitely true, any of us who have done any studying of the Native Americans also know that there is so much more to this particular area of lore. So, although this is Mythical Monsters, I am adding this just to give a bit of balance.

How the Lakota People Acquired the Flute

Once many generations ago, the people had drums, gourd rattles, and bull-roarers, but no flutes. At that long-ago time a young man went out to hunt. Meat was scarce, and the people in his camp were hungry. He found the tracks of an Elk and followed them for a long time. The Elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can't help sleeping with him. He will also be a lucky hunter. This young man I'm talking about had no Elk Medicine. After many hours he finally sighted his game. He was skilled with bow and arrows, and had a fine new bow and a quiver full of straight, well-feathered, flint-tipped arrows. Yet the Elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him on and on. The young man was so intent on following his prey that he hardly noticed where he went.

When night came, he found himself deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the Elk, and there was no moon. He realized that he was lost and that it was too dark to find his way out. Luckily he came upon a stream with cool, clear water. And he had been careful enough to bring a hide bag of wasna, dried meat pounded with berries and kidney fat, strong food that will keep a man going for a few days. After he had drunk and eaten, he rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back against a tree, and tried to rest. But he couldn't sleep, the forest was full of strange noises, and the cries of night animals, the hooting owls, the groaning of trees in the wind. It was as if he heard these sounds for the first time.

Suddenly there was a entirely new sound, of a kind neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before. It was mournful and ghost like. It made him afraid, so that he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow to make sure that it was properly strung. On the other hand, the sound was like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope, and yearning. Then before he knew it, he was asleep. He dreamed that the bird called wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker, appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, "Follow me and I will teach you."

When the hunter awoke, the sun was already high. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecker. The bird flew away to another tree, and another, but never very far, looking back all the time at the young man as if to say, "Come on!" Then once more he heard that wonderful song, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made easy to follow. At last it lighted on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. Suddenly there was a gust of wind, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.

Then he discovered that the song came from the dead branch that the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized also that it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.

"Kola, friend," said the hunter, "let me take this branch home. You can make yourself another."

He took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy all the same.

In his tipi the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waves it around, no sound came. It made him sad, he wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing. In the middle of the fourth night, wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying, "Watch me," turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing, saying again and again, "Watch this, now." And in his dream the young man watched and observed very carefully.

When he awoke, he found a cedar tree. He broke off a branch and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, cedar, and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once there was the song, ghost like and beautiful beyond words drifting all the way to the village, where the people were astounded and joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.