Native American Legends
The Ghost Woman
A Seneca Legend
In a Seneca village there was a young man who was an orphan. He
had neither home nor relatives. He lived first with one family and
then with another.
One fall, when the men were getting ready to go deer hunting, the
young man asked if he could go. The hunters didn't want him and
he was left alone.
Then he said, "I'll go by myself," and he started Towards night
he came to an opening in the woods and saw a brush house over by
He went to the house and looked in; there was no one there. The
young man thought that the other hunters had built the house and
spent a night there. He went in, kindled a fire, made a place to
sleep on, and lay down.
About midnight he heard someone come in and, opening his eyes,
he saw a woman. She looked at him but didn't speak, then she moved
toward his couch and stopped again.
At last she said, "I have come to help you. You must not be afraid.
I will stay all night in the, cabin."
He said, "If you will help me, you may stay."
"I have passed through this world," said the woman,
I know that you are poor; that you have no relatives and are alone;
the hunters didn't want you to go with them. This is why I came
to help you. Tomorrow start early and travel till it is time to
camp, then I will be there."
Towards daylight the woman left the cabin.
In the morning the young man started on. Towards dark, when he
thought it was time to stop, he looked for a spring, found one and
had just finished his camp when night came.
In the night the woman came as before. The next day the man had
good luck. He killed every kind of game.
The woman stayed with him till the hunting season was over. No
hunter in the woods had killed as much game as he had. When he was
ready to go home the woman said, "I will go with you to the first
camp you made."
They spent the night at that camping place. The next morning, she
said, "I will stay here. When you get home everybody will find out
that you have brought all kinds of meat and skins. One and another
will come to you and say, 'You must marry my daughter,' an old woman
will say, 'You must marry my granddaughter.' Don't listen to them.
Come back next year and you will have good luck. When you are getting
ready, if a man wants to come with you, don't let him. Come alone.
We will meet here."
They parted, and the young man continued his journey, carrying
on his back a heavy load of game.
In the village he found some of the hunters. Others came soon after.
All boasted of the game they had killed.
The young man said, "I will give each man as much meat as he wants,
if he will go to my camp and get it."
Many went and brought back all the meat they could carry; still
there was meat left.
Every woman who had a daughter or a granddaughter, asked the young
man to come and live with them. At last the chief asked him. to
marry his daughter. The man was afraid that if he refused harm would
come to him, for the chief was a powerful person. He consented and
married the chief's daughter.
When the hunting season came, a great many men, and the chief,
who thought his son-in-law was the best hunter in the tribe, wanted
to go hunting with him, but he said, "I'm not going, this year."
The hunters started off one after another. When all had gone, the
young man went alone to the camp where he was to meet the woman.
Early in the night she came in, stopped by the door, and said,
"I am sorry you didn't do as I told you to. I cannot stay with you,"
and she disappeared.
Day after day the man hunted but he saw no large game. He shot
small game, squirrels and birds, for he was hungry. He went back
to the village and had to tell the people that he had seen no game.
The woman was a ghost woman.
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