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A Man Conquers Stone Coat

A Seneca Legend

Once there was a village in a clearing in the forest. The people of that village had been told not to go North, for in the North the Stone Coats (Ice and Cold) lived, and they were man-eaters.

One of the men said, "I am not afraid of those Stone Coats, maybe there is good hunting in their country. I'm going there. If they trouble me I'll kill them."

Getting into their canoe, the man and his wife rowed up the river till they came to the country of the Stone Coats. Then the man pulled the canoe on to the bank, made a fire, and went hunting. While he was gone, a Stone Coat woman came to the camp. When the man's wife saw her she was so frightened that she lost her senses. The Stone Coat woman pushed her around, and said, "She must have been a long time dead."

The woman came to her senses, ran to the river, pulled the canoe to the water, sprang into the canoe and rowed away. The Stone Coat followed her to the bank of the river, but couldn't go farther for she had no canoe.

When the woman came to where her husband was, she said, "You boasted that you could kill the Stone Coats, now show what you can do."

The man built a fire and sharpened his flint knife. Soon a Stone Coat man came to the opposite side of the river and called out, "You are the man who boasts that you can kill the Stone Coats. Come over and try your strength."

"I'll not go to you," said the man, "You can come to me."

After a good deal of talk, Stone Coat started to cross the river. When water covered his head, he walked under the water.

The man ran up the river to where he had seen a tree in the water. He crossed on the tree, ran along the bank and, when Stone Coat came out of the water, shouted to him, "Where are you going? You must have turned around in the river."

Stone Coat started back and while he was under the water, the man crossed again on the tree, and as Stone Coat came to the bank he shouted, "You foolish fellow! Don't you know enough to cross the river?"

After the man had fooled Stone Coat a number of times, he thought, "I'll let him come. I won't fool him again."

When Stone Coat came out of the river, he looked at the man, and asked, "What is that in your hand?"

The man gave his hatchet to Stone Coat, who looking at it, rubbed the edge of it with his hand and without knowing it, gave the hatchet such power that it was harder than anything else in the world.

"Show me what you can do with this thing," said Stone Coat.

The man struck a rock. The rock split open.

Stone Coat was terribly frightened. He thought that the power came from the man. "This man," said he in his mind, "is as strong as we are. Maybe he can kill us."

He left the man, crossed the river and went off. When he reached home and told his people what he had seen they said, "We'll go away from here. We'll go toward the West and leave this man."

The man and his wife lived, undisturbed, in the Stone Coat country till one day a Stone Coat woman came to the bark house they had built, and said, "My husband and I quarreled and I ran away. After he has looked everywhere else for me, he will come here. I will help you till he comes, then you must help me."

The next day when the man started off to hunt, the Stone Coat woman went with him, and she brought him good luck. Each day she went with him and each day he killed a great deal of game.

One morning she said, "My husband will come today. When we begin to fight, you must put a stick in the fire and heat it red hot, and as soon as he overpowers and throws me, you must run the firebrand into his body."

When Stone Coat came he pulled up a tree. His wife pulled up another tree, and they began to fight, using the trees as clubs. At last the woman fell. That minute the man ran the firebrand into Stone Coat's body and killed him.

When the man and his wife were ready to go back to their village, the Stone Coat woman said, "When the Stone Coats went away, one of our women left her little boy. You must take him home with you."

The man went to the place the Stone Coat indicated and found, on a high cliff, two trees, a swing hung between the trees and in the swing sat a little Stone Coat boy, swinging back and forth and singing. The man felled the trees; the swing came down and the boy too, but the boy still kept singing and swaying his body as though he were swinging.

The man took the child home and as he grew up and began to play with other boys he showed great strength. If he struck a boy, he killed him. Every child he hit, even in play, he killed. The people of the village told the man that he must send the boy back to his own people. The man sent for the Stone Coat woman and she took the boy to his mother.

"The Stone Coats are Frost, Ice and great Cold."

Ice and Cold (Stone Coat) - Genónskwa

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