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Native American Legends

Big Man-Eater and the Persimmon Tree

A Creek / Alibamo Legend

Six brothers lived together. While five of them were out hunting the last one remained at home as cook. He spent his time digging wild potatoes close to the water and washing them. He took one white wild potato and was trying to wash it when it fell into the water and disappeared. He hunted about in the water for it for a while and pulled out a baby tied to a baby board. He brought it to camp and laid it down. When the others came back he said, "I have a little something to show you." Bringing something out, he took out a baby on a baby board.

They kept the child, which was a girl, and when she grew up and they were gone hunting she stayed there and cooked. At that time a Sharp- buttocks came in a canoe, landed, and brought fish. He said (in Choctaw), "Very good niece of the six men, roast it for me." "How shall I roast it?" "Stick your finger into it, put it close to the fire and it will be done." "How shall I set it down for you?" she said. "Stoop over and lie down," he answered. And when she stooped over and lay down, he ate it up on her back and it killed her, and he went off in his canoe. Afterwards she returned to life.

The next time her brothers went hunting the Sharp-buttocks brought fish and said, "Roast it for me," and she roasted it for him with the same result as before.

"Next time say to him, 'You roast it for me'" her brothers said to her, and they stayed near by. When he came, he said, "Roast this for me," but she answered, "You roast it for me." They remained a little while, saying to each other, "You roast it for me," when the brothers all exclaimed, "Roast it for me," and came in. Sharp-buttocks said, "How shall I roast it?" "Stick it on your buttocks," they said, and he stuck it on his buttocks. After he had stooped down for a little while, it was cooked. "How shall I set it out for you to eat?" he said. ["Stoop over and lie down," they said.] He stooped over and lay down, they ate off of his back, and killed him. Then they took him back, put him into the canoe, pushed it off, and it started away. It went on, turning about as it went, and presently remained circling about in one spot. One of the brothers went to discover why this was so and did not come back. Another went and did not return. The next went and did not return. The fourth went and did not return. Another went and did not return.

Then the last one started off. Going on for a while he came to where a persimmon tree stood, climbed up into it and ate some of the fruit. The stem of this tree was smooth on one side as if someone had climbed it frequently. While he was standing there, a female Big Man- eater came underneath carrying a basket in which was a club (atasi). She looked up and saw him. She said, "Get down and let us wrestle, hee, hee, hee, hee."

So the man came down and when he got to the ground the Big Man-eater laid the basket with the club to one side and stood ready. When he got down they wrestled and after a while the Big Man-eater threw him down. But he got up and they wrestled again. After they had done this for a while she threw him down again. He stood up again and when in wrestling around they got close to the basket, the man threw the Big Man-eater down, seized the club, killed her, and cut her head off. But when Big Man-eater said "Come together," it reunited with the body. When he cut it off again, she said, "Come together," and it reunited. It kept on reuniting every time, but the fourth time he cut the head off it remained that way.

When she was dead the man cut her in pieces and threw the parts away. He took out her heart and hit a tree with it. "Stick there and become tree fungus (bakta)," he said. The intestines he took and threw into the bushes and they hung on a tree. "Keep on hanging as balkapitca (a long blue or black vine found in the bottoms)," he said. Her nose he cut off and carried along, and he took the club and carried that also, going in the direction from which the Big Man-eater had come. Presently he heard some girls pounding corn with a pestle and reached the place. When he sat down with them they saw the club and said, "This looks like our grandmother's club." "No," he answered, "God sent it to me." They saw her nose and said, "This looks like our grandmother's nose." "No," he answered, "It is a pipe which God sent me." "The club is to tickle people," he said, and he tried to tickle them. "If you all lie down in a straight line, I will tickle you," he said. All lay down, whereupon he stood over them holding the club and cut all of their throats.

Then he asked a boy who was there, "Do you eat human beings who are brought here?" "Yes," he said. "Where do you throw their bones?" he asked. "We throw them over there under that tree," he answered. "Go and point out the place." So he guided him and he went there. He reached the place and said "Here it is," and there were many human bones piled under that tree. Then the youth shot an arrow up and when it came down said, "Look out! It will stick into you."

"Ofhaha," said the dead man, and awoke and sat down. He shot above the next in the same manner and when the arrow descended he awoke and sat down. It went on that way until all came to life.

Then he took them and guided them on. "Do not turn to look behind you," he said. He went on, but after they had gone along for a while one looked back and turned into a wildcat. It said "W?'?, w?'?," and disappeared. The others went on for a while, when another turned and looked back. He turned into a crow, crying, "a' a' a'" and flew out of sight. After they had gone on for a while longer another one turned and looked back. He turned into a chicken hawk which cried "blank, blank, blank," and flew out of sight. Two others disappeared in the same way until only the first one returned to his place.

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