Native American Legends
Whirlwind and Panther
A Seneca Legend
Once, in a Seneca village, a party of men was preparing to go on
a hunting expedition. In that village was a young man whom people
thought was foolish, not strong of mind. He knew that hunters were
getting ready for an expedition and he went to one and another and
asked to go with them, but no one would let him go.
After the hunters started a young woman took pity on the young
man, went to him, and said, "Let us marry and go hunting." He was
willing. They started off together and after going some distance
camped in the forest. The man couldn't find any big game, but he
killed squirrels and small game. He made traps to catch deer and
put them down where he thought deer would come.
One morning, when the young man went to look at his traps, he heard
some one crying; the sound came nearer and nearer. Soon he saw a
woman and two little boys. The woman was crying.
As she came up she said to the young man, "Help me, or we will
be killed. One of my little boys stole a feather and pulled it to
bits and we are going to be killed for it. I want you to shoot the
hawk on that tree over there and when the person comes whose feather
my little boy took, throw the hawk at him and call out, 'Here is
The man killed the hawk and no sooner had he done so than he heard
a terrible roar and noise, and trees began to fall. A man came and
stood on a close-by tree. This man had enormous eyes and long hair,
and that was all there was of him--just a great head without a body.
The young man threw the hawk at him, and said, "Here is your feather."
The Head caught it, said, "Thank you," and was satisfied.
The woman was a panther and the children were her cubs, but to
the young man she appeared to be a real woman. She told him that
she lived among the rocks and that the Head (Whirlwind) was her
neighbor. While he was away from home, her little boy went to his
cabin, found his feathers and spoiled one of them. When Whirlwind
came home he was angry and chased her.
She told the young man that she knew he was poor, that no man would
hunt with him, and she said, "Hereafter I will help you and you
will get more game than any of the hunters, I do this because you
saved me and my boys."
After that the young man killed more game than any other hunter
in the village.
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