Native American Legends
A young man rescued by a Toad
A Seneca Legend
Two brothers lived together. The elder hunted but never brought
home any game. The younger noticed that his brother's back was always
bloody, as though he had been carrying freshly killed game. He couldn't
understand this, so one day he followed his brother, saw him kill
a deer, throw it over his shoulder and start for home, but he hadn't
gone far when a woman approached from one side, took the deer and
carried it off.
The next day the younger brother went in the direction the woman
had taken. He soon came to a house and going in found a young woman.
She laughed and began to talk to him. After talking a while, he
started for home. When he had gone some distance, he found that
he was going back to the house he had just left.
As be turned to go in the opposite direction his brother came up
behind him, and said, "Don't you know that there is a fishhook in
The elder brother took out the fishhook, stuck it in a bush and
said "Your safety depends upon getting away from here as quickly
as you can." He made his brother small, put him in his arrow, and
saying, "When the arrow comes to the ground, get out of it and run
for your life," he shot the arrow into the air.
When the woman pulled on the hook and couldn't move it, she followed
the line and found the hook in a bush. She was angry, and said,
"You cannot escape from me in this way."
She went to the young man's cabin. He wasn't there. She tracked
him to her own house and then back to the bush and looking up she
saw the trail of the arrow and she followed it till she came to
the place where the arrow fell, then she ran on quickly.
As the woman approached, the young man heard her steps and pulling
off his moccasins he told them to run to the end of the world. And
there, where he stood, he became a stump.
The woman came to the stump, halted, and looking at it said, "This
stump is like a man. But the tracks go on," and she hurried away.
The woman reached the end of the world and there stood the moccasins.
She rushed back to where she had seen the stump. It wasn't there,
but she found fresh tracks and followed them.
When the young man heard the woman coming he took up a stone, threw
it behind him, and said, "Let there be a high rock from one end
of the world to the other." That minute the rock was there.
The woman came to the rock and could neither go through it nor
over it, nor could she crawl under it.
"I never heard of this rock," said she. "It can't go across the
world, I'll go around it."
She ran to the end of the world, went back and ran to the opposite
end but she couldn't get around the rock. Then going to the place
she started from she tried to break the rock by striking her head
against it. The rock didn't break, but she struck her head such
a blow that she fell back apparently dead. After a long time she
opened her eyes and looked up; the rock had disappeared, only a
little stone lay there.
"Oh, he is using his power," said the woman, and again she hurried
When the young man heard her coming, he took a pigeon feather out
of his pocket, and said, as he threw it behind him, "Let there be
a pigeon roost across the world and so many pigeons on it that their
droppings will be so deep and high that nothing can get through
or over them."
The woman came to the roost and when she couldn't get through the
droppings, she said, "I never heard of a pigeon roost that went
across the world. I'll go around it."
She went to one end of the world, then to the other, but couldn't
go around the roost. Going back to the place she started from she
tried to break through with her head, but fell back apparently dead.
After a long time she opened her eyes and saw a small feather on
the ground; the roost had disappeared. She was angrier than ever
and ran on with greater speed.
The young man came to a lake and saw people in the water playing
tag. He halted, and said, "Let one of those men become just like
me. Let me become a stump."
The woman came to the stump but hearing the laughter of the people
playing tag she looked at them and saw that the man far out in the
lake was the man she was following.
The people, seeing the woman, called out, "Come and help us catch
this man who outswims us."
She sprang into the water, chased the man and at last caught hold
of him. That instant he took his own form. Then she knew that she
had been fooled. She hurried back to the shore; the stump had disappeared.
Again the woman followed the young man's tracks. As he heard her
coming, a man stood in front of him and asked, "What is the trouble?"
"A woman is chasing me."
"I will help you. Get on to my back," said the stranger, stooping
down, "I'll throw you on to the side of a hill. Run along the hill
till you are forced to descend."
The stranger was Nosgwais.
The young man sat on his back. Nosgwais stretched till his legs
were of enormous length, then he threw the young man off a great
The woman came to where the man met Nosgwais. The ground was soft
and springy. As she tried to go forward it rose up and threw her
back. Looking around she found that she was on the back of an enormous
toad. She got off and, running in circles, hunted for the young
man's tracks, and after a long time she reached the hill.
When the young man struck the hill, he jumped up and ran on, ran
till he' fell and, unable to get up, rolled down the hill, going
so fast that he didn't realize anything till he struck a house and
a voice inside of it said, "Something is in our trap!"
A young woman came, lifted him out of the trap and led him into
"What is the trouble?" asked an old woman who was there.
"A woman is chasing me," said the young man.
"I will help you." She filled a kettle with bear oil and put it
over the fire. When the oil began to boil, she said, "Let this man's
face look up from the bottom of the kettle."
There was a noise outside, the door opened and the woman came in.
"Where is the man I am following?" asked she.
"He ran into this kettle," said the old woman, "that's the last
we saw of him."
The woman looked into the kettle, saw the man, and saying, "I knew
that I should overtake you!" she plunged into the kettle to seize
him. The boiling oil killed her.
The old woman called to the man, and said, "The person who was
chasing you is dead."
Her daughter said, "This man will be my husband."
After a time the young man became the father of twin boys. When
the boys began to run around, their father said to them, "You must
go for your uncle."
They started and after traveling a long time came to a house; in
the house was an old man.
One of the boys said to him, "Uncle, we have come for you."
The man got ready and went with them. When they reached home the
younger brother greeted the elder, and said, "Now you will always
live with us."
And so it was.
Nosgwais - Toad
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