Native American Legends
Bald Eagle sends Mud-Turtle to the edge of the World
A Seneca Legend
Once upon a time, a bald-headed old man lived on the top of a mountain,
and his wife and three children lived near a lake about half way
to the summit of the same mountain.
Each day the old man went down to fish in the lake. On his way
home he stopped and gave some of the fish to his wife, and thus
they lived well and happily. After they had passed many years in
this manner, the old man became curious to know how large the world
Being chief of his people he called a council, and said, "I
want to know how large the world is. I wish some man would volunteer
to find out."
One young man said, "I will go and find out."
"Very well," said the chief, "How long will you
"I can't tell, for I don't know how far I shall have to travel."
"Go," said the chief, "And when you return you will
tell us about your journey."
The young man started and after traveling two moons he came to
a country where everything was white--the forests, the water, the
grass. It hurt his feet to walk on the white ground, so he hurried
back. When he reached home he notified the chief.
The chief said, "I don't believe that he has been to the end
of the world, but I will call a council and we will hear what he
has to say."
When the people were assembled, the young man said: "I did
not go very far, but I went as far as I was able." And he told
all he knew of the White Country. The chief said, "We must
send another man."
They sent a second man. He was gone four moons and returned. The
chief called a council, and then asked: "Did you go to the
end of the world?"
"No," said the man, "but I went as far as I was
able to go. Everything was as it is here till I came to the White
Country. I traveled two moons in the White Country and could go
no farther. I could not have lived had I continued my journey."
The chief sent a third man. He traveled farther than the second
man, then came back and related that there were people who lived
in white houses and dressed in fur.
The chief was encouraged and he sent a fourth man. As the man traveled
he noticed everything. He crossed white rivers and white lakes and
was gone eight moons.
On his return, he said, "I came back quicker than I went,
for I came a shorter way and reached the green land sooner than
I would if I had come on the trail by which I went."
The chief sent a fifth man. He crossed the White Country and beyond
that he found a place where there was nothing but rocks. He climbed
very high then went down, and so he went up and down till he wore
his moccasins off. He was gone ten moons and came back.
At the council called by the chief the man said, "I passed
over the White Country, crossed rocky places, and then came straight
home. It cannot be very far across the world."
"How did you know the way home?" asked the old man.
''As I went I noticed the trees. The tops of the hemlocks leaned
toward the East and our home is in that direction, so I followed
the bend of the hemlocks."
The bald-headed chief was learning something all the time.
Many men were sent, one after another, and each turned with a story
a little different from that told by others, but still no one satisfied
the chief. At last a man said, "I will start and I will go
to the end of the world before I come back."
The chief looked at the man and saw that he was very homely, but
very strong, and he said, "I think you will do as you promise.
You may go."
The chief called a council of the whole nation and each man agreed
to make a journey by himself, and then come home and describe all
he had seen. The chief and his men went and were gone forty moons.
When they came home a council was held and each told what he had
When the man came who had promised to go to the end of the world,
he said, "I have been to the end of the world, I have seen
all kinds of people, all kinds of game, all kinds of forests and
rivers. I have seen things which no one else has ever seen."
The chief was satisfied, he said, "I am chief of all the people,
you will be next to me. You'll be second chief."
This was the pay the man got for his journey. He took his position
as second chief.
The old chief was Bald Eagle. The first man sent out was Deer.
His feet were tender, he could not endure the ice and snow of the
White Country. The homely man who went to the end of the world was
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