Native American Legends
A Hupa Legend
An old woman was living with her granddaughter, a virgin. The girl
used to go to dig roots and her grandmother used to say to her,
"You must not dig those with two stocks." The girl wondered
why she was always told that.
One morning she thought, "I am going to dig one," so
she went across the river and began digging. She thought, "I
am going to take out one with a double stock." When she had
dug it out she heard a baby cry. She ran back to the river, and
when she got there she heard someone crying "mother" after
her. She jumped into the boat and pushed it across. When she got
across, the baby had tumbled down to the other shore. She ran up
to the house and there she heard it crying on that side. She ran
into the house, then she heard it crying back of the house. At once
she sat down and then she heard it tumble on the roof of the house.
The baby tumbled through the smoke-hole and then rolled about on
the floor. The old woman jumped up and put it in a baby basket.
The young woman sat with her back to the fire and never looked at
The old woman took care of the baby alone. After a time it commenced
to sit up and finally to walk. When he was big enough to shoot,
the old woman made a bow and he began to kill birds. Afterward he
killed all kinds of game; and, because his mother never looked at
him, he gave whatever he killed to his grandmother. Finally he became
a man. The young woman had been in the habit of going out at dawn
and not returning until dark. She brought back with her acorns as
long as her finger. One time the young man thought "I am going
to watch and see where she goes." The young woman had always
said to herself, "If he will bring acorns from the place I
bring them, and if he will kill a white deer, I will call him my
son." Early one morning the son saw his mother come out of
the house and start up the ridge. He followed her and saw her go
along until she came to a dry tree. She climbed this and it grew
with her to the sky. The young man then returned saying, "Tomorrow
I am going up there." The woman came home at night with the
usual load of long acorns.
The next morning the man went the way his mother had gone, climbed
the tree as he had seen her do, and it grew with him to the sky.
When he arrived there he saw a road. He followed that until he came
to an oak, which he climbed, and waited to see what would happen.
Soon he heard laughing girls approaching. They came to the tree
and began to pick acorns from allotted spaces under it.
The young man began to throw down acorns. "That's right, Bluejay,"
said one of the girls. Then another said, "It might be Dug-from-the-ground.
You can hardly look at him, they say, he is so handsome."
Two others said, "Oh, I can look at him, I always look at
this walking one (pointing to the sun); that is the one you can
hardly look at." He came down from the tree and passed between
the girls. The two who had boasted they could look at him, turned
their faces to the ground. The other two who had thought they could
not look him in the face were able to do so.
The young man killed the deer, the killing of which the mother
had made the second condition for his recognition as a son. He then
filled the basket from his mother's place under the tree and went
home. When the woman saw him with the acorns as long as one's finger,
she called him her son.
After a time he said, "I am going visiting." "All
right," said the grandmother, and then she made for him a bow
and arrows of blue-stone, and a shinny stick and sweat-house wood
of the same material. These he took and concealed by putting them
under the muscles of his forearm.
He dressed himself for the journey and set out. He went to the
home of the immortals at the edge of the world toward the east.
When he got down to the shore on this side they saw him. One of
them took out the canoe of red obsidian and stretched it until it
was the proper size. He launched it and came across for him.
When he had landed, the young man placed his hand on the bow and
as he did so, the boat gave a creak, he was so strong. When they
had crossed he went to the village. In the middle of it he saw a
house of blue-stone with a pavement in front of black obsidian.
He went in and heard one say, "It is my son-in-law for whom
I had expected to be a long time looking."
When the sun had set there came back from different places ten
brothers. Some had been playing kiñ, some had been playing
shinny, some had been hunting, some spearing salmon, and others
had been shooting at a mark.
Eagle and Panther were both married to daughters of the family.
They said to him, "You here, brother-in-law?" "Yes,"
he said, "I came a little while ago." When it was supper
time they put in front of him a basket of money's meat, which mortal
man cannot swallow.
He ate two baskets of it and they thought he must be a smart man.
After they had finished supper they all went to the sweat-house
to spend the night. At midnight the young man went to the river
to swim. There he heard a voice say, "The sweat-house wood
is all gone." Then Mink told him that men could not find sweat-house
wood near by, but that some was to be found to the southeast.
They called to him for wood from ten sweat-houses and he said "Yes"
to all. Mink told him about everything they would ask him to do.
He went back to the sweat-house and went in. When the east whitened
with the dawn, he went for sweat-house wood as they had told him.
He came to the place where the trail forks and one of them turns
to the northeast and the other to the southeast. There he drew out
from his arm the wood his grandmother had provided him with and
split it fine.
He made this into ten bundles and carried them back to the village.
When he got there he put them down carefully but the whole earth
shook with the shock. He carried a bundle to each sweat-house. They
all sweated themselves. He spent the day there and at evening went
again to the sweat- house. When he went to the river to swim, Mink
met him again and told him that the next day they would play shinny.
After they were through breakfast the next morning, they said,
"Come, brother-in-law, let us go to the place where they play
shinny." They all went and after placing their bets began to
play. Twice they were beaten. Then they said, "Come, brother-in-law,
play." They passed him a stick.
He pressed down on it and broke it. "Let me pick up something,"
he said. He turned about and drew out his concealed shinny stick
and the balls. Then he stepped out to play and Wildcat came to play
against him. The visitor made the stroke and the balls fell very
near the goal.
Then he caught Wildcat, smashing his face into its present shape,
and threw the ball over the line. He played again, this time with
Fox. Again he made the stroke and when he caught Fox he pinched
his face out long as it has been ever since. He then struck the
ball over the line and won. The next time he played against Earthquake.
The ground opened up a chasm but he jumped over it. Earthquake
threw up a wall of blue-stone but he threw the ball through it.
"Dol" it rang as it went through. Then he played with
Thunder. It rained and there was thunder. It was the running of
that one which made the noise. It was then night and he had won
back all they had lost. There were ten strings of money, besides
otter skins, fisher skins, and blankets.
The next day they went to shoot at the white bird which Indians
can never hit. The others commenced to shoot and then they said
to their guest, "Come, you better shoot." They gave him
a bow, which broke when he drew it. Then he pulled out his own and
said, "I will shoot with this although the nock has been cut
down and it is not very good." They thought, "He can't
hit anything with that." He shot and hit the bird, and dentalia
fell all about. They gathered up the money and carried it home.
The Hupa man went home to his grandmother. As many nights as it
seemed to him he had spent, so many years he had really been away.
He found his grandmother lying by the fire. Both of the women had
been worried about him. He said to them, "I have come back
for you." "Yes," they said, "we will go."
Then he repaired the house, tying it up anew with hazel withes.
He poked a stick under it and away it went to the end of the world
toward the east, where he had married. They are living there yet.
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