Native American Legends
A battle between Frost and Whirlwind
A Seneca Legend
an old woman, the oldest of all her people, lived in the forest
with her two grandchildren, a boy and a girl.
One day when the grandmother was out digging roots a Génonskwa
woman came to the cabin, picked up the little girl and, after speaking
kindly, telling her she was a nice little thing, swallowed her.
Then she began to talk to the boy. Sitting down by him, she said,
"Get on to my back and I will carry you to where your grandmother
is digging roots."
The boy did as Génonskwa told him to, but he
was frightened, and he clung to her so tightly that he became fastened
to her back, and couldn't get off, though he tried hard.
Génonskwa started off, but in a different direction
from where the boy's grandmother was. When the boy told her she
was going the wrong way, she said, "No, I am not, we will soon
come to where she is at work."
The woman went far into the forest and the boy began to cry for
his grandmother. He cried so hard and loud that Génonskwa
told him to get off of her back. She didn't like to hear him cry,
and she thought it was best to eat him at once.
He couldn't get off and she couldn't put her hands around to pull
him off, nor turn her head to bite him.
When the boy saw that she couldn't harm him if he stayed where
he was, he clung all the tighter and stopped trying to get away.
When the grandmother came home and found that the boy and girl
were not in the cabin, she was frightened and began to search for
them. After a while she came upon the tracks of the Génonskwa
woman and then she knew who had stolen the children and she followed
the tracks, thinking she would soon overtake the thief.
The woman was tired of the boy and tried in every way to free herself
of him. She rubbed him against hickory trees and against rocks.
He said, "Oh, I like that, rub harder." She stopped then
and traveled on.
The grandmother followed in the form of a Whirlwind Génonskwa
said to the boy, "Your grandmother is coming. She will kill
us both. Get off of my back."
The boy kept still, didn't answer. The woman looked around for
a hiding place and found one in a deep ravine. She dug a hole, went
into it and covered herself with the earth that slipped down from
above. When she heard Whirlwind coming nearer and nearer she asked
the boy, "Can you hear your grandmother coming?"
He didn't answer.
When Whirlwind rushed over the place where the woman lay, the boy
shouted to her. She heard him and, changing her course, came straight
to where they were. When she asked the boy if he was there, the
woman told him to keep still, but he called out, "I am here!"
Whirlwind blew the earth from the hiding place and shouted, "Dagwanoenyent,
get off of Génonskwa's back!" That instant
the boy slipped off and went among the rocks. The old woman hurled
stones at the Génonskwa, tore off her clothes
and killed her. Then she took her grandson and started for home.
On the way, she said to him, "Never let yourself be treated
in that manner again. Never let anyone abuse you. You can conquer
everybody if you use your power, for you are of the Whirlwind family."
The old woman stayed at home for a time, caring for her grandson.
Meanwhile some of the Génonskwa woman's people
found her trail and followed it till they came to where her body
was. They asked who had killed her and her spirit answered, "Whirlwind
killed me." Right away the Génonskwa men
decided to kill old woman Whirlwind.
Whirlwind, out on one of her journeys, discovered their plans.
She went home and said to her grandson, "We must get your sister
out of Génonskwa 's stomach, she is sitting there
and crying for me."
They set out and when they reached the place where the body lay,
the old grandmother built a fire and began to burn tobacco, saying,
"This is what we like! This is what we like!" She burned
half a pouch full and pushed the smoke toward the body, repeating,
"This is what we like." Then she called, "My grandchild,
come out of Génonskwa's body!"
When the girl didn't come, the old woman said to her grandson,
"We must have people come and help us. We have many relatives,
uncles, aunts, and cousins, we will call them." Then she called
each relative by name, and one after another they came. They built
a fire at Génonskwa's head, and burned tobacco,
as they walked around the fire each threw in tobacco, saying, "Ne
vonoes, ne vonoes" (This is what we like).
When the last one had thrown in tobacco, the girl, panting for
breath, came out and asked, "How long have I been here?"
She was very weak. They gave her tobacco smoke and she inhaled it
till she gained strength, then all Whirlwinds went home.
When the old woman and her grandchildren had been at home some
time a Génonskwa woman came to the cabin, she
talked pleasantly, found out there were only three persons there
and left thinking it would be a small task to kill them.
After the woman had gone, Whirlwind said to her grandchildren,
"We are in trouble now. A great number of those people will
come against us. They have assembled somewhere nearby. When the
struggle begins I don't know that we will be able to come home again."
She went out and called, "Dagwanoenyent Gowa! Dagwanoenyent
The girl asked, "Grandmother, what are you doing?"
"I am calling our relatives," answered the old woman,
The Whirlwinds came, one by one, when all were there the old woman
said, "Each one of you must have a big round stone to strike
They had just picked up the stones when the Génonskwa's
began to come; there were thousands and thousands of them.
The Whirlwinds were frightened when they saw how strong the enemy
was. The old woman said, "We must separate and fight singly.
Keep the stones in your hands, Be firm and have faith that you will
kill one man with each blow you strike."
The Whirlwinds went in different directions; the Génonskwa's
The Whirlwinds struck whenever they had the chance and kept retreating,
they went up a high mountain, fighting as they went. The old woman
said, "When we all reach the top we will go down a short distance
on the other side. When the Génonskwa's come to
the top we will strike them on the east and on the west, some of
us will get behind them and drive them over the mountain and into
the deep ravine on the other side, they will die there for a river
runs through the ravine and they cannot cross it.
The Génonskwa's came to the top of the mountain
and seeing nothing of the Whirlwinds, thought they had escaped.
They stood and listened. Soon they heard wind on each side of them.
The sound grew louder and louder and right away the Dagwanoenyent's
struck them on both sides and, uniting in the rear, struck them
from behind., So fierce was the attack and power of the Whirlwinds
that they tore out all the trees by their roots, swept the earth
from the top of the mountain and hurled trees and earth into the
ravine and river below. The Génonskwa's were piled
up, like rocks, in the river and along the banks.
The Whirlwinds were dancing and rejoicing on the top of the mountain
when the old woman said, "We have hurled our enemies into the
ravine, now we will finish them. Half of you go along the ridges
east of the river and the other half go along the western ridges
and blow all the trees and rocks and earth into the ravine."
They went, and when they came together again they had stripped
the mountain spurs naked and filled up the ravine. The river had
no outlet; it became a great lake and ever after was called, "The
grave of the Génonskwa's."
Gowa - Whirlwind or Cyclone
- Frost and Cold
- Hadioqsadon Génonskwa Ganyudai
- The Grave of Frost, or the so-called Stone Coats
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