Native American Legends
A brother and sister pursued by a Man-Eater
A Seneca Legend
A Man-Eater stole a little girl and carried her to his house in
the woods. There was a partition in the house. The Man-Eater stayed
on one side of the partition and the girl the other side. He brought
deer meat for the girl, but he ate human flesh.
The girl had a brother and he determined to get her away from the
Man-Eater. When he was ready to start, his father gave him a bow
and an arrow, the arrow was hollow. He gave him a piece of flint,
a pigeon's feather, and the tooth of a beaver, and said, "If
you are in great danger throw the flint, the feather, or the tooth
One day, when the Man-Eater was off hunting, the brother, who had
been watching around, went to the house, saw his sister and told
her she must come with him, but they couldn't go home, for if they
did the Man-Eater would find and kill them. The young man shook
his sister till she was small.
Then he put her in his arrow, and said, "The arrow will strike
a stone at the end of the world; it will burst and you will come
out. Then run toward the South as fast as you can. I'll overtake
He shot the arrow, then ran in increasing circles around the Man-Eater's
house till he came to a tall hickory tree. He climbed the tree,
made a long leap toward the South, came to the ground and followed
the trail the arrow had left in the sky.
When the Man-Eater came home and found the girl gone, he was angry,
and said, "I'll find her, no matter where she is."
He changed himself into a bear, found the young man's tracks and
followed them around and around the house till he came to where
they ended. He searched a long time and at last found the place
where the young man had come down when he sprang from the tree.
"Now, I'll get you!" said the Man-Eater, and he was glad.
In the form of a bear he followed the young man's tracks till he
came to the stone where the arrow struck. Then he followed farther
till he came to where the brother and sister met.
One day when the two stopped to rest, they heard a bear roar, and
the roar said, "You can't get away from me! I'll find you,
no matter where you go."
The girl was so frightened that she fell. The young man didn't
know what to do, then he remembered that he had a wonderful pair
of moccasins that belonged to his mother. He took the moccasins
out of his pocket, put them on the ground, and said, "Go West
as fast as you can." He put his sister in the arrow and shot
it off toward the South, and climbing a tall tree he sprang from
it, landed far away, and followed the arrow.
When the Man-Eater saw the moccasin tracks, he thought they were
the girl's tracks and he said, "Now I'll overtake you!"
He ran west all day, ran through swamps and across rough places.
Just at dark he came to a rotten log and there he found two moccasins.
He tore up the moccasins and roaring, "You'll not get away
from me!" he turned and ran back, ran all night and the next
day, came to the old track, then ran in circles till he found where
the young man struck the ground.
After a long time he came to the stone where the arrow burst, then
to the place where the brother and sister met. He had almost overtaken
them when the young man thought of the piece of flint his father
had given him. He threw the flint behind him, and said, "Be
a rock across the world!"
When the Man-Eater came to the rock, he said, "I never heard
of a rock across the world. I'll soon get around this."
He ran a long time, then, thinking that he was going ill the wrong
direction, turned and went back to the starting place and off in
the other direction. After running all day and finding no end to
the rock, he went back, a second time, to the starting place. A
little piece of flint lay where the rock had been. The Man-Eater
was terribly angry; he broke up the flint and ran on faster than
Again the Man-Eater, in the form of a bear, was getting near. The
girl was tired and cried, the young man encouraged her, told her
they had friends on the road and would soon have help.
When the bear roared, "I'll have you now!" the young
man threw the pigeon feather behind him with the wish that pigeon
droppings would block the way.
The Man-Eater came to the deposit and couldn't get through. He
ran all day to get around it, then, thinking that he had gone in
the wrong direction, he went back to the starting place and ran
in the opposite direction, but finding no end, came back to the
starting place and lay down. When he woke up, a pigeon feather was
on the trail; the deposit had disappeared. He was mad with rage.
He went on swiftly and again was near the brother and sister.
The young man threw the beaver tooth, and said, "Let there
be a beaver swamp deep and wide."
The Man-Eater came to the swamp and tried to cross, but couldn't,
saying, "I never heard of a beaver swamp so long that I couldn't
go around it." He started toward the West, traveled all day,
then went back and off toward the East, but finding no end to the
swamp he returned to the starting place and lay down. When he woke
up the swamp was gone and on the trail was a beaver's tooth.
The young man thought, "I've nothing more to delay the Man-Eater.
Maybe we will die now." But he encouraged his sister and they
ran on and soon came to an opening. In the opening was a house and
in the house was an old man. They called him "Uncle" and
begged for help.
"I'll do what I can," said he, "but farther on you
have another uncle, who will help you more than I can." The
old man was a net-maker. He gathered up his nets and spread them
on the trail. When the Man-Eater came he got tangled up in the nets
and was a long time freeing himself. He wanted to kill the old man,
but not seeing him called out, "You have made me lose time,
I'll come back and kill you."
The brother and sister came to a village, and when the chief heard
the young man's story, he rubbed them with his hands, changed their
looks, gave them different clothes and told them to stay with his
When the Man-Eater was near the village, he took his own form and
going to the chief said, "A young man has stolen my daughter.
I am following him, but I am tired and want to stay here and rest"--he
knew that the brother and sister were in the village.
After a while the Man-Eater said, "I was brought up to have
"We have no time for fun," said the chief, "We are
going into the: woods to hunt."
The young man knew that the Man-Eater was looking for tracks, so
he went to the edge of the clearing where there was a stump, put
down a pair of moccasins, and said to them, "Run all day but
come back at night."
The Man-Eater saw the tracks and followed them. Towards night the
moccasins came to the stump, dropped down and were nothing but moccasins.
When the Man-Eater came and saw them he was so mad that he tore
them to pieces and tore up the stump.
The chief knew that the Man-Eater would stay around till he found
the brother and sister, so he said to the young man, "I will
help you all I can."
He spat on four pieces of bear skin, then gave them to the brother
and sister to fasten on to their feet. "Now," said the
chief, "your tracks will be like bear tracks. When the Man-Eater
is getting near, put your sister in an arrow and shoot it toward
the West, then spring from a high tree and follow her. You will
come to a house where there is an old man. He will tell you what
The Man-Eater came upon the bear tracks but didn't mind them. After
traveling a long distance and finding no other tracks he rubbed
his hand over a track and smelt of it, then he knew they were the
young man's tracks and he followed them till he came to where the
arrow was shot off, and after hunting a while he found where the
I young man came down when he sprang from the tree.
The brother and sister came to an opening and saw ten boys playing
ball. In the middle of the opening was a house and in the house
was an old man, who, when he heard the young man's story, said,
"I will help you all I can and my boys will help you. I know
that man, I am older than he is, but he hasn't as much power as
I have. He will come in the form of a bear."
When they heard the bear coming, the boys threw up their clubs,
gave a war-whoop, and ran forward. One hit the bear a blow; the
bear chased him. Then another gave it a blow, and it turned and
chased that one till another boy hit it a blow. This went on till
the bear stumbled and fell, then the boys cut off its head. They
buried the body but made a ball of the head.
The brother and sister wanted to start for home, but the old man
said, "Many people are coming to play games. You must stay
and see the sport."
Early the next morning a crowd of people came. Their leader said,
"We have come to play games."
"That is what I like," said the old man. "I have
ten sons who will play ball with you, but if you want a foot race,
I'll run with you myself. I am old, but I can run. Do you know what
"We do. You bet heads."
"How many men have you?"
"Well, we will play ball. If you beat us, you may cut off
my head and the head of each one of my ten sons. If we beat you,
I'll have your head and the head of each one of your fifty men."
The old man always carried his ball West. The head man of the fifty
wanted to carry his ball West.
"No," said the old man, "it is my rule to carry
West. You must go East."
They disputed a long time, then the old man brought out a board,
black on one side and red on the other, and said, "Choose your
color. I'll throw the board up. If it comes down your color, you
may carry the ball West; if it comes my color, I'll carry West."
The head man chose black.
The board went up out of sight. The old man kept saying in his
mind, "Red; red; red!" It came down the red side up.
The old man had a ball and the head man had one. They quarreled
over the balls but at last agreed to play twice, once with each
They put the old man's ball down; his boys snatched it and ran
West. Fifty men followed the ten, but couldn't catch them. They
came back, took the head man's ball and ran East. The ten followed
and the swiftest runner of the ten snatched the ball and ran West
with it. The old man won, and the fifty with their head man lost
When the brother and sister were ready to start, the old man said,
"I'll make a trail for you. Look at the sky and you'll not
He took a stick and made a mark on the ground, then he motioned
and a line came on the sky. He said, "If you lose the trail
on the ground, you'll see it in the sky. Follow it and you will
The girl was in a hurry. She said, "We can travel in the night
as well as in the day time for we can see the trail along the sky."
They traveled fast and were not many days in getting home.
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