Native American Legends
A Warrior cared for by Wolves
A Seneca Legend
Among the Seneca's there was a war chief named Ganogwioeon. Once,
with ten men, he went on the warpath to the Cherokee country. They
found the Cherokees on the watch and could do nothing.
Then the chief said to his men, "I'll go alone to their village."
And after dark, leaving his men in the woods, he went to the Cherokee
In the first cabin he came to, he found an old woman and her granddaughter.
They didn't see him. He crept into a little place where they kept
After dark the old woman said to her granddaughter, "Maybe
Ganogwioeon is around here. I'll shut the door," and she spoke
a word of warning to Odjú, her granddaughter. The chief heard
After a while the girl said, "It is time to sleep."
The chief heard this also and heard the girl going up the ladder
to sleep above, meanwhile talking with her grandmother, who was
The old woman fastened the door of the little wood house, with
bark strings and fastened the chief in, leaving the door to the
After waiting till the old woman was asleep, the chief went into
the cabin. The fire had burned down to coals but he could see the
ladder that the girl had climbed. He went up. The girl was not asleep
and was about to scream when he said, "If you scream I'll cut
off your head. The chief of this village has a daughter. If you
will get her to come into the woods with you I will spare your life."
Odjú said, "In the morning, as soon as the grass is
dry, I will go to the chief's house and ask his daughter to come
with me to gather wood."
Threatening to come back and kill the girl if she failed to do
as planned the chief left the cabin.
Early the next morning, Odjú went to the chief's house and
said to his daughter, "Come with me and gather wood."
(This was the custom in those days.)
The chief's daughter was willing to go and they started. As soon
as they came to the forest the Seneca sprang out of his hiding place
and ran toward them. Odjú stood still, but the chief's daughter
screamed and ran toward home. Ganogwioeon caught her, scalped her,
and then, giving a war whoop, ran away. Men rushed out of their
cabins and pursued him.
The Seneca saw that among the men following him there was one good
runner. He hid in a ravine and when the runner came to the entrance
of the ravine he shot him with an arrow and pulling off the man's
scalp held it up before the people who were following.
When the Seneca came to a second ravine another runner was ahead
of the rest. He aimed at the man, but his bowstring broke. The pursuer
saw this and rushed into the ravine. The Seneca ran swiftly, but
the Cherokee overtook and closed with him. A second and a third
man came, then others; they bound Ganogwioeon, led him to the village
and summoned the people to assemble.
Among the Cherokees there were two women who were looked upon as
the head women of the tribe. Each woman had two snakes tattooed
on her lips--the upper jaws of the snakes were on the woman's upper
lip, and opposite each other, the lower jaws on the lower lip in
the same way. When the woman opened her mouth, the snakes seemed
to open theirs.
These women said, "This is the way to torment him; tie him
near a fire and burn the soles of his feet till they are blistered,
then let the water out of the blisters, put kernels of corn inside
the skin, and chase him with clubs till he dies."
When Ganogwioeon's feet were blistered, the women stripped him
and tied a bark rope around his waist. One old man said, "I
want to hold the rope."
The people stood in two lines and at the end of each line were
many people. The Seneca had to run between the lines. He ran so
fast that he pulled the rope out of the old man's hand, then plunging
to one side, he broke through the line and ran with all his strength
toward the place where he had left his men.
When running he thought he was going to die, for he was naked and
unarmed, far from home, and his feet were raw, but he evaded his
enemies and, when night came, crept into a hollow log. In the night
he heard steps on the dry leaves, and thought the Cherokees had
discovered his hiding place. Whoever it was came up to the tree
and said to someone who was with him, "This man is our friend."
Then he called to Ganogwioeon, "You think that you are going
to die, but you will not. We will take care of you. Stick out your
The chief put out his feet and right away he felt someone licking
After a while one of the strangers said, "We have licked his
feet enough. Now we must get him warm, we will go into the tree
and one of us lie down on each side of him."
It was very dark in the hollow log, but the man felt someone lie
down on either side of him, and soon he was so warm and comfortable
that he fell asleep.
Just before daylight the strangers crept out of the log and told
the man to stick out his feet. They licked them again, and then
said, "We have done all we can now. You will go on till you
come to a place where you put a piece of bark. Raise the bark up,
you will find something under it."
When the man came out of the log, he found that his feet were better,
he could walk comfortably. At midday he came to four posts holding
up a bark roof. On the ground, under the roof, was a large piece
of bark. He raised the bark and found a piece of flint, a knife
and an awl, then he remembered that his men had put those things
there a couple of years before, when on the warpath. He took them
and went on.
When it began to grow dark he looked for a hollow tree, found one
and crawled into it. In the night he heard steps on the dry leaves
and a voice said, "Our friend is here.
Then someone said, "Put your feet out."
He did so and again they were licked.
Then the stranger said, "That is enough, we will lie near
our friend and keep him warm."
They went into the tree and lay down, but before daylight they
crept out, and, after licking the man's feet again, said, "About
midday you will find food."
The man went on till he found a bear that apparently had been killed
only a few minutes before; it was still warm. When he had skinned
the bear and cut out some of the meat, he saw, not far away, a smouldering
fire, he blew it and it blazed up. He cut meat into small pieces
and roasted it on sticks. When night came he lay down, and soon
he heard steps on the leaves as he had the preceding nights, then
a voice said, "Our friend is lying down; he isn't going to
die; he has plenty to eat. We'll lick his feet."
When they finished, they said to him, "Nothing will happen
to you now, you will reach home in safety." And they went away.
The next morning the man, taking some of the meat, went on toward
home. That night his friends came again. They said, "Your feet
are well, but you will be cold," and they lay down one on each
side of him. Before daylight, when going away, they said, "At
midday you will find something to eat and to wear."
The man traveled on till toward midday, then found two young bears,
just killed. He skinned the bears, cooked some of the meat, tanned
the skins and lay down, very tired.
The next morning he made leggings of the skins, took what meat
he wanted and went on.
That night the friends came to him, and said, "Tomorrow you
will find something to wear on your feet."
About midday the man came upon two fawns, just killed.
He tanned the skins and made moccasins. When night came, he made
a fire, cooked meat, ate, and then lay down.
Soon he heard a voice say, "Our friend, you will reach home
tomorrow. Now we will tell you why we healed your feet and cared
for you. Always when you have been off in the woods hunting and
have killed game, you have given the best part of the animal to
us, and kept the smallest part for yourself; we are thankful. In
the morning you will see us and know who we are."
When daylight came the chief saw two men, as he thought. As soon
as he stood up the men took leave of him and started off. Wanting
to see his friends as long as he could he turned to look at them
and in the twinkle of an eye he saw that one of them was a white
and the other a black wolf.
The chief reached home as his friends, the wolves, said he would.
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