Native American Legends
The young woman and Thunder
A Seneca Legend
One day a stranger went into a cabin where a man and his wife and
four children lived and asked to marry the youngest daughter of
the family. The father and mother consented and the stranger married
After a time he asked his wife to go home with him; her parents
were willing and the two started. They hadn't gone far when they
came to a cabin and the young man said, "This is my home."
There was nobody in the cabin when the husband and wife came but
toward night the woman heard some one coming on the run. Soon a
man came in and sat down by the door. Again she heard running; another
man came in and sat down; then a third man came.
The three men began talking with one another, relating how far
they had traveled and what they had killed.
One said, "I had good luck, I killed a bear."
Finding that he was the only one who had killed anything, the two
said, "Go and bring the bear. We'll cook it."
The young woman sat at the opposite end of the room, watching.
She saw the man bring in what he called a bear, saw that it was
the trunk and head of a man's body. The men cut it up and put it
in a kettle to boil. When cooked they ate it.
The three walked back and forth in the room without looking toward
the woman. Her husband was there but he didn't talk or eat with
the men. They were his brothers but he never ate their kind of food.
Each morning the three brothers went to hunt for game. in the evening
they came back and sitting down near the door talked over their
journey. Then, if they had killed any game, they brought it into
the cabin, cooked and ate it. If they had no game, they ate what
was left from the meal of the previous evening.
One day when the young woman went for water, she found a man standing
by the spring. The man said to her, "I have come to tell you that
tomorrow your husband is going into the ground. As soon as he goes
put some of your spittle exactly in the center of the cabin and
tell it to answer for you every time your husband speaks. When you
have done that hurry to this place."
The next morning the young man said to his wife, "I am going into
the ground and I want you to stay in the cabin all the time I am
away." He turned around and right where he stood he disappeared.
After doing as she had been told, the woman went to the spring;
the stranger was there. Taking an arrow he put the woman into the
head of it, and saying, "When the arrow falls, jump out and hurry
along the lake, as fast as you can." He shot the arrow into the
The husband called to his wife, "Are you there?"
"I am here" answered the spittle.
After a time he called again, "Are you there?"
"I am here," was the answer.
The man was away a number of days and he often asked, "Are you
there?" and always received the same answer. When he came above
ground and asked, "Where are you, wife?" and her voice answered,
"I am here," he looked around but didn't see her, then he found
what had been talking to him.
He was terribly angry and right away began to hunt for the woman's
tracks. He found them and followed them to the spring, but there
they disappeared. He hunted a long time, then, getting discouraged,
he called his dog Onhdagwíja (Good Ear), and said,
"You didn't take care of my wife while I was gone. Now you must
The man watched the dog. It ran around and around and came back
to the spring, then it stopped hunting on the ground, looked up
in the air, sniffed and ran toward the North, looking up all the
time as if it saw tracks. The man followed the dog. After a while
the two came to where the arrow fell, then there were tracks on
The dog barked and began to run faster, the man urging it on. When
they were about to overtake the woman, the stranger who had been
at the spring stood in front of her.
Putting her into an arrow, he said, "You will come down on an island
in a lake. Run across the island in every direction. I will be there."
When the man and dog came to where the woman met the stranger they
lost her tracks. Again the dog ran around smelling the ground,.
then looking up in the air he saw a trail and followed it.
When Good Ear and his master came to the lake the man changed to
a flea and went into the hair behind the dog's ear.
The dog swam to the island, the flea became a man and the two traveled
on till they came to where the arrow fell. There they found the
woman's tracks and followed their across and around the island.
When they were overtaking the woman the stranger stood in front
of her, and, putting her into an arrow, said, "You will come down
on the shore of the lake. Run as fast as you can. I can do nothing
more for you, but you will soon come to a village and there you
will find some one to help you. Now you may know who I am."
As the stranger turned to go the woman saw that he was Djonkdjonkwen
When the dog came to where the tracks disappeared on the ground,
he saw the trail in the air and knew that the woman had crossed
the lake. Again the man turned to flea and hid in the dog's hair.
The dog swam to the shore; the flea became a man, and the two followed
the woman's footprints.
When her husband was so near that the woman could hear the dog
bark, she came to a house. A man was sitting inside making arrow-heads.
The man was Othagwendonis (Flintmaker). When the woman asked
him to help her, he said, "I will do what I can, but hurry along,
the man in the next house will help you."
When the dog came Flintmaker threw a handful of arrow-heads at
him. Wherever the arrow-heads struck they tore up the trees and
the ground, but the dog dodged them all, ran at Flintmaker, caught
him by the throat and shook him till he was dead.
At the second house the woman found a man making nets. This man
was Hadäe´Onis (Netmaker).
The woman said to him, "I am running away from a bad man. I want
you to help me."
"I'll do what I can," said Hadäe´Onis, "but hurry on.
You will soon come to a house, the people who live there will help
When the dog and the man came, Hadäe´Onis threw out
a net. It caught the two and wound around and around them. For a
long time they struggled to free themselves. At last the dog broke
through the net, ran at Hadäe´Onis, caught him by the
throat and shook him till he was dead.
In the third house the woman found four brothers. When she asked
them for help, they went out and chopping down dry trees piled them
on her tracks. When they had a high pile, they set it afire, and
standing, two at each side of the pile, they waited.
The dog and the man came to the fire, the dog wanted to go around
but the man saw that the tracks led into the fire and he said, "No!
You must go through."
The dog sprang into the fire and the man followed. When they came
out on the other side both dog and man were almost dead. The eldest
of the four brothers said, "We will shoot them."
They shot, but arrows had no effect. all Then the old man said,
"We must catch them, kill them, and pull their hearts out."
They caught the man and the dog, killed them, pulled out their
hearts and put the hearts in a red hot kettle that the old man had
heated over the fire. The hearts flew around and around trying to
get out of the kettle but the brothers pushed them down and shot
at them till they were dead and burned to ashes.
The old man, whose name was Déoneyont (Red-hot) went to
the house and told the woman she was safe. He said to her, "You
must rest four days then go home."
When the fourth day came, Red-hot said, "It is time to go. Your
home is in the South. As you travel you will know where you are."
The woman started. About midday she met a stranger who said, "Towards
night you will find something to eat."
She traveled till the sun went down, then came to a large stump
and found there a pot of hulled corn cooked with bear meat, she
thought, "This must be what the man meant." She ate the hulled corn
and meat then went on till dark. That night she camped under a tree.
The next morning the woman started again. At midday she met the
stranger and he told her that she would soon find something to eat.
Towards night she came to a stump and found there a pot of hulled
corn and bear meat.
The next morning when the woman woke up, the stranger was standing
by her. He said, "You are near your father's home and I shall leave
you now. I am the one whom men call Hí´no' (Thunder)."
The stranger disappeared and the woman went on till she came in
sight of an old house. Then she saw a spring and right away she
knew it was the spring where she used to get water. In the house
she found her father and mother. They were glad to see her and said
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends