Native American Legends
The Slant-Eyed Giant
A Cherokee Legend
A long time ago a widow lived with her one daughter at the old
town of Känuga on Pigeon river. The girl was of age to marry,
and her mother used to talk with her a good deal.
One day, her mother told her she must be sure to take no one but
a good hunter for a husband, so that they would have some one to
take care of them and would always have plenty of meat in the house.
The girl said such a man was hard to find, but her mother advised
her not to be in a hurry, and to wait until the right one came.
Now the mother slept in the house while the girl slept outside
in the âsï. One dark night a stranger came to the âsï
wanting to court the girl, but she told him her mother would let
her marry no one but a good hunter. "Well," said the stranger,
"I am a great hunter," so she let him come in, and he
stayed all night. Just before day he said he must go back now to
his own place, but that he had brought some meat for her mother,
and she would find it outside. Then he went away and the girl had
not seen him. When day came she went out and found there a deer,
which she brought into the house to her mother, and told her it
was a present from her new sweetheart. Her mother was pleased, and
they had deer steaks for breakfast.
He came again the next night, but again went away before daylight,
and this time he left two deer outside. The mother was more pleased
this time, but said to her daughter, "I wish your sweetheart
would bring us some wood."
Now wherever he might be, the stranger knew their thoughts, so
when he came the next time he said to the girl, "Tell your
mother I have brought the wood"; and when she looked out in
the morning there were several great trees lying in front of the
door, roots and branches and all.
The old woman was angry, and said, "He might have brought
us some wood that we could use instead of whole trees that we can't
split, to litter up the road with brush." The hunter knew what
she said, and the next time he came he brought nothing, and when
they looked out in the morning the trees were gone and there was
no wood at all, so the old woman had to go after some herself.
Almost every night he came to see the girl, and each time he brought
a deer or some other game, but still he always left before daylight.
At last her mother said to her, "Your husband always leaves
before daylight. Why don't he wait? I want to see what kind of a
son-in-law I have."
When the girl told this to her husband he said he could not let
the old woman see him, because the sight would frighten her. "She
wants to see you, anyhow," said the girl, and began to cry,
until at last he had to consent, but warned her that her mother
must not say that he looked frightful (usga'së`ti'yu).
The next morning he did not leave so early, but stayed in the âsï,
and when it was daylight the girl went out and told her mother.
The old woman came and looked in, and there she saw a great giant,
with long slanting eyes (tsul`kälû'), lying doubled up
on the floor, with his head against the rafters in the left-hand
corner at the back, and his toes scraping the roof in the right-
hand corner by the door.
She gave only one look and ran back to the house, crying, Usga'së`ti'yu!
Tsul`kälû' was terribly angry. He untwisted himself
and came out of the âsï, and said good-bye to the girl,
telling her that he would never let her mother see him again, but
would go back to his own country. Then he went off in the direction
Soon after he left the girl had her monthly period. There was a
very great flow of blood, and the mother threw it all into the river.
One night after the girl had gone to bed in the âsï her
husband came again to the door and said to her, "It seems you
are alone," and asked where was the child. She said there had
Then he asked where was the blood, and she said that her mother
had thrown it into the river. She told just where the place was,
and he went there and found a small worm in the water. He took it
up and carried it back to the âsï, and as he walked it
took form and began to grow, until, when he reached the âsï,
it was a baby girl that he was carrying.
He gave it to his wife and said, "Your mother does not like
me and abuses our child, so come and let us go to my home."
The girl wanted to be with her husband, so, after telling her mother
good-bye, she took up the child and they went off together to Tsunegûñ'yï.
Now, the girl had an older brother, who lived with his own wife
in another settlement, and when he heard that his sister was married
he came to pay a visit to her and her new husband, but when he arrived
at Känuga his mother told him his sister had taken her child
and gone away with her husband, nobody knew where.
He was sorry to see his mother so lonely, so he said he would go
after his sister and try to find her and bring her back. It was
easy to follow the footprints of the giant, and the young man went
along the trail until he came to a place where they had rested,
and there were tracks on the ground where a child had been lying
and other marks as if a baby had been born there. He went on along
the trail and came to another place where they had rested, and there
were tracks of a baby crawling about and another lying on the ground.
He went on and came to where they had rested again, and there were
tracks of a child walking and another crawling about. He went on
until he came where they had rested again, and there were tracks
of one child running and another walking. Still he followed the
trail along the stream into the mountains, and came to the place
where they had rested again, and this time there were footprints
of two children running all about, and the footprints can still
be seen in the rock at that place.
Twice again he found where they had rested. and then the trail
led up the slope of Tsunegûñ'yï, and he heard
the sound of a drum and voices, as if people were dancing inside
the mountain. Soon he came to cave like a doorway in the side of
the mountain, but the rock was so steep and smooth that he could
not climb tip to it, but could only just look over the edge and
see the heads and shoulders of a great many people dancing inside.
He saw his sister dancing among them and called to her to come out.
She turned when she heard his voice, and as soon as the drumming
stopped for a while she came out to him, finding no trouble to climb
down the rock, and leading her two little children by the hand.
She was very glad to meet her brother and talked with him a long
time, but did not ask him to come inside, and at last he went away
without having seen her husband.
Several other times her brother came to the mountain, but always
his sister met him outside, and he could never see her husband.
After four years had passed she came one day to her mother's house
and said her husband had been hunting in the woods near by, and
they were getting ready to start home tomorrow, and if her mother
and brother would come early in the morning they could see her husband.
If they came too late for that, she said, they would find plenty
of meat to take home. She went back into the woods, and the mother
ran to tell her son. They came to the place early the next morning,
but Tsul`kälû' and his family were already gone. On the
drying poles they found the bodies of freshly killed deer hanging,
as the girl had promised, and there were so many that they went
back and told all their friends to come for them, and there were
enough for the whole settlement.
Still the brother wanted to see his sister and her husband, so
he went again to the mountain, and she came out to meet him. He
asked to see her husband, and this time she told him to come inside
with her. They went in as through a doorway, and inside he found
it like a great townhouse.
They seemed to be alone, but his sister called aloud, "He
wants to see you," and from the air came a voice, "You
can not see me until you put on a new dress, and then you can see
"I am willing," said the young man, speaking to the unseen
spirit, and from the air came the voice again, "Go back, then,
and tell your people that to see me they must go into the townhouse
and fast seven days, and in all that time they must not come out
from the townhouse or raise the war whoop, and on the seventh day
I shall come with new dresses for you to put on so that you can
all see me."
The young man went back to Känuga and told the people. They
all wanted to see Tsul`kälû', who owned all the game
in the mountains, so they went into the townhouse and began the
fast. They fasted the first day and the second and every day until
the seventh-all but one man from another settlement, who slipped
out every night when it was dark to get something to eat and slipped
in again when no one was watching.
On the morning of the seventh day the sun was just coming up in
the east when they beard a great noise like the thunder of rocks
rolling down the side of Tsunegûñ'yï. They were
frightened and drew near together in the townhouse, and no one whispered.
Nearer and louder came the sound until it grew into an awful roar,
and every one trembled and held his breath-all but one man, the
stranger from the other settlement, who lost his senses from fear
and ran out of the townhouse and shouted the war cry.
At once the roar stopped and for some time there was silence. Then
they heard it again, but as if it where going farther away, and
then farther and farther, until at last it died away in the direction
of Tsunegûñ'yï, and then all was still again.
The people came out from the townhouse, but there was silence, and
they could see nothing but what had been seven days before.
Still the brother was not disheartened, but came again to see his
sister, and she brought him into the mountain. He asked why Tsul`kälû'
had not. brought the new dresses, as he had promised, and the voice
from the air said, "I came with them, but you did not obey
my word, but broke the fast and raised the war cry."
The young man answered, "It was not done by our people, but
by a stranger. If you will come again, we will surely do as you
say." But the voice answered, "Now you can never see me."
Then the young man could not say any more, and he went back to Känuga.
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