Native American Legends
War between Senecas and Cherokees
A Seneca Legend
Hatcinobdon was a great warrior, the greatest of all
the Senecas. Once, when out with a party of warriors, he came to
a high cliff and knowing that the Cherokees were on the lookout
he told his men to stay where they were and he would go ahead and
see what could be done. He hadn't gone far when a party of Cherokees
saw him and started in pursuit.
Hatcinobdon ran into tall reeds that grew in two great
patches with a narrow space between them. He escaped from the first
patch and hid in the second one. His pursuers thought he was in
the first patch; they watched the narrow space and set fire to the
reeds. When the reeds were destroyed they expected to find him dead,
Hatcinobdon fell asleep in his hiding place. In the
night two men came, wakened him, and said, "Follow us, we have come
He went with the men and after a time one of them pointed at a
house, and said, "Nohnohsot, the man who lives there, sent for you."
He went to the house, but could find no door. After a while a voice
called, "Come in!"
A door opened and he went in and saw a man, who said, "I sent for
you and you have come. Are you hungry?"
Hatcinobdon smiled and said in his mind, "That's a strange
question. That's not the way I do; I give food."
Nohnohsot laughed, he knew the man's thoughts. He brought out half
a loaf of acorn bread, half of a wild apple, and half of a pigeon.
Hatcinobdon said, "How little will fill me."
"If you eat all of this I will give you more," said Nohnohsot.
As the Seneca ate he noticed that each thin-, became whole again,
that he was unable to finish either the loaf, the apple or the pigeon.
When he had eaten all he could, Nohnohsot said to him, "Now I will
talk with you."
Just then the door was thrown open and Sun came in so quickly and
with such brightness that Hatcinobdon had to hold down
Sun spoke to Nohnohsot and right away hurried off towards the East.
Then Nohnohsot said, "That is the man you call Endekha Geqgwa´(the
orb of day). It is night down below and he is hurrying to the East.
He told me of a great battle.
Nohnohsot was Háweniyo(Great Spirit), and he said, "That
is what I expected when I made people, I thought they would fight.
Hereafter when you meet an enemy don't run away, go up to him; he
can't harm you; no arrow can kill you. I am the cause of the Senecas
not fighting with the Cherokees. You will find your warriors where
you left them. Now the Hsdionyageonon (Spirits)
are ready to go with you."
Hatcinobdon went out, passed through an opening, as
he thought, and found himself in the reeds. He got back I o his
party and told the men what he had seen, and they all went home.
Soon after this the Senecas held a council and the warriors decided
to go again to the Cherokee country.
When the Senecas and Cherokees met, Hatcinobdon, remembering
what Nohnohsot had told him, went straight up to a Cherokee warrior,
killed and scalped him, then called out, "I have killed and scalped
a man! My name is Hatcinobdon."
After that there was a battle and many men were killed. But the
Senecas won and went home carrying a large number of scalps.
Another party started off to fight the Cherokees. This time Hatcinobdon
was captured; he was tied and led to the Cherokee village.
It was a Cherokee custom when a man was captured to leave it to
two women to say how he should be tortured.
The two women decided that Hatcinobdon was to be bound
to a tree and burned to death.
They tied him to a tree and piled dry brush and wood around him.
He thought, "Now I am going to die." But, just as the women were
setting fire to the brush a terrible rain storm came and every one
ran for shelter, leaving the Seneca bound to the tree.
While he was there alone, an old woman came to him, and said, "My
Grandson, you think that you are going to die, but you are not.
Try to move."
He moved, the thongs fell off and he was free.
The woman said, "I have returned your kindness. Once when your
people were making a circle of fire, you saw a toad inside the circle,
you took it up and put it in your bosom and when you came to water
put it down. I was that toad. Now when I saw you in trouble I brought
rain to save you. Go to the river and run with the current."
When the rain was over the Cherokee women came back to the tree
and found that their prisoner was gone. They raised an alarm, men
ran together, found tracks, and followed them.
When they came to the river, they lost the trail, and after a time
they abandoned pursuit and went home.
Two men came and sat down near Hatcinobdon's hiding
place, and one said to the other, "It is strange where that man
The Seneca was afraid they would discover where he was, but at
last they went away, then he went down the stream some distance
and struck off toward the South.
Toward night he came to an opening and saw three men building a
fire. He watched and listened till dark, then crept up to a place
opposite the fire and found that the men were asleep; he stole their
weapons and provisions.
The next morning he traveled in a circle till he found the trail
by which he and his party had come. Soon he saw men sitting around
a fire, he crept near and heard Seneca words, then he called "Goweh!
Goweh!" three times. The men shouted with joy and ran to
This is their story.
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