Native American Legends
The Hunter and the Tla'nuwä
A Cherokee Legend
A hunter out in the woods one day saw a Tla'nuwä overhead
and tried to hide from it, but the great bird had already seen him,
and sweeping down struck its claws into his hunting pack and carried
him far up into the air.
As it flew, the Tlä'nuwä, which was another bird, spoke
and told the hunter that he need not be afraid, as she would not
hurt him, but only wanted him to stay for a while with her young
ones to guard them until they were old enough to leave the nest.
At last they alighted at the mouth of a cave in the face of a steep
Inside the water was dripping from the roof, and at the farther
end was a nest of sticks in which were two young birds. The old
Tlä'nuwä set the hunter down and then flew away, returning
soon with a fresh-killed deer, which it tore in pieces, giving the
first piece to the hunter and then feeding the two young hawks.
The hunter stayed in the cave many days until the young birds were
nearly grown, and every day the old mother hawk would fly away from
the nest and return in the evening with a deer or a bear, of which
she always gave the first piece to the hunter. He grew very anxious
to see his home again, but the Tlä'nuwä kept telling him
not to be uneasy, but to wait a little while longer.
At last he made up his mind to escape from the cave and finally
studied out a plan. The next morning, after the old bird had gone,
he dragged one of the young birds to the mouth of the cave and tied
himself to one of its legs with a strap from his hunting pack. Then
with the flat side of his tomahawk he struck it several times in
the head until it was dazed and helpless, and pushed the bird and
himself together off the shelf of rock into the air.
They fell far, far down toward the Earth, but the air from below
held up the bird's wings, so that it was almost as if they were
flying. As the Tlä'nuwä revived it tried to fly upward
toward the nest, but the hunter struck it again with his hatchet
until it was dazed and dropped again.
At last they came down in the top of a poplar tree, when the hunter
untied the strap from the leg of the young bird and let it fly away,
first pulling out a feather from its wing. He climbed down from
the tree and went to his home in the settlement, but when he looked
in his pack for the feather he found a stone instead.
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