Native American Legends
The Owl gets married
A Cherokee Legend
A widow with one daughter was always warning the girl that she
must be sure to get a good hunter for a husband when she married.
The young woman listened and promised to do as her mother advised.
At last a suitor came to ask the mother for the girl, but the widow
told him that only a good hunter could have her daughter. "I'm
just that kind," said the lover, and again asked her to speak
for him to the young woman. So the mother went to the girl and told
her a young man had come a-courting, and as he said he was a good
hunter she advised her daughter to take him. "Just as you say,"
said the girl. So when he came again the matter was all arranged,
and he went to live with the girl.
The next morning he got ready and said he would go out hunting,
but before starting he changed his mind and said he would go fishing.
He was gone all day and came home late at night, bringing only three
small fish, saying that he had had no luck, but would have better
success tomorrow. The next morning he started off again to fish
and was gone all day, but came home at night with only two worthless
spring lizards (duwë'gä) and the same excuse. Next day
he said he would go hunting this time. He was gone again until night,
and returned at last with only a handful of scraps that he had found
where some hunters had cut up a deer.
By this time the old woman was suspicious. So next morning when
he started off again, as he said, to fish, she told her daughter
to follow him secretly and see how he set to work. The girl followed
through the woods and kept him in sight until he came down to the
river, where she saw her husband change to a hooting owl (uguku')
and fly over to a pile of driftwood in the water and cry, "U-gu-ku!
hu! hu! u! u!"
She was surprised and very angry and said to herself, "I thought
I had married a man, but my husband is only an owl." She watched
and saw the owl look into the water for a long time and at last
swoop down and bring up in his claws a handful of sand, from which
he picked out a crawfish. Then he flew across to the bank, took
the form of a man again, and started home with the crawfish.
His wife hurried on ahead through the woods and got there before
him. When he came in with the crawfish in his hand, she asked him
where, were all the fish he had caught. He said he had none, because
an owl had frightened them all away. "I think you are the owl,"
said his wife, and drove him out of the house. The owl went into
the woods and there he pined away with grief and love until there
was no flesh left on any part of his body except his head.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends