The Adventures of Haníshéonon
A Seneca Legend
A man lived in the ground. His name was Haníshéonon. One morning this man thought, "I ought to go around the world and find people." He came out of the ground and went off through the woods. After a while he saw a cabin, and going near it he peeped through a crack and saw a blind woman, Corn-worm. He stood around thinking what to do.
At last he said, "I'll go in there and have sport with her."
When inside Haníshéonon picked up live coals and put them on the woman's head.
She began to cry and to say, "Oh, my head aches! My head aches!" She didn't know there were coals on her head. Then she thought she heard some one moving around. Picking up a club, she raised it and ran toward the noise screaming, "I'll kill you! I'll kill you!" She struck out and nearly hit Haníshéonon.
He was frightened; he thought, "She will kill me if I stay here. I'll get away." He left the cabin and traveled on. At last he came to another cabin. Looking through a crack he saw an old blind man, and thought, "I'll have sport with him."
As soon as Haníshéonon was in the house, he took up a bucket, that stood there full of water, and poured the water on to the old man's head.
"What a rain!" said the old man. "My house leaks. I'll go to a corner where it is dry," and getting up he went to the other end of the cabin. Haníshéonon followed him and poured more water on his head.
"It leaks here, too!" said the old man. "I'll sit where I was before and I'll smoke."
Taking a pipe out of a pouch he put tobacco into it and lighted it. Haníshéonon poured water into the pipe and put out the fire.
"I thought there was fire in my pipe," said the old man.
He got a second coal. Haníshéonon poured water into the pipe a second time. A third time the old man put in a coal and that time Haníshéonon let him smoke, but he took a black flint and struck him on the thigh, saying, "That's the way I do when I want some one to stop."
Then he went out and set the old man's house on fire, saying, "I'll burn him up, I don't want blind men around here."
The old man said, "It's hot here. I think my house is burning. I don't want to be burnt to death," and taking a flint knife he stabbed himself in the breast; blood gushed out and ran across the hut.
When nothing was left of the hut but coals, Haníshéonon saw that a stream of blood came from under the coals and flowed toward the West. (The door of the hut opened to the West). Right away the blood turned to the old man; he was alive again. Haníshéonon said to him, "if you want to stay alive you must live under the ground." The old man crawled into the ground.
This is why angleworms are in the ground now.
Haníshéonon went on till he came to a house where another old man lived and going in, he said, "Uncle, I've come to visit you."
"I'm glad that you've come, Nephew; I get lonesome sometimes."
"Haven't you a game to play?" asked Haníshéonon.
"I have no game."
"Well, I have one," and taking hold of the old man, Haníshéonon began to pull him to pieces. He pulled off his arms and legs, and killed him. Then he made up his mind to bring him to life and he began to put the pieces together. As he joined the pieces he pulled them out and when the man came to life he was very long and thin, and Haníshéonon said, "You are Otgóndahen (Red Belly, a snake)."
Haníshéonon went off toward the West and coming to a house he walked in and looked around. A man was sitting by the fire.
Haníshéonon said, "Uncle, I've come to visit you."
"Very well," said the man, "I'm lonesome."
"Why do you live here?"
"I like to track game."
"Do you catch any?"
"Yes, I've just caught a deer."
"Where is your trap?"
"Down in Open Rocks."
"Come and show it to me."
They went out together and Haníshéonon found that at a place where large rocks nearly met at one end, the man had suspended a tree in such a way that if it were touched by an animal trying to pass, it would fall and catch it.
"Try it yourself," said the man.
Haníshéonon didn't think it was much of a trap; he laughed at it, but when he tried to go under the tree he was caught. The man let him out, but Haníshéonon was angry. He threw the old man down, jumped on him and killed him, then said, "I'll fix him up again, but I don't want to make another snake." He broke each arm into two pieces and each leg into four pieces, pulled out the body, made it longer, and put three legs on each side, and small bits of the arms on the man's face, one each side of his nose Then he said, "I've finished you!" He had changed the man into an Ongwe'.
This time Haníshéonon went toward the West. After a while he came to a clean, beautiful forest, there was no underbrush, and seeing a house he went to it and found an old woman sitting by a fire.
"I've come to visit you," said Haníshéonon.
"I don't want you to visit me, I don't like you," said the woman.
"Why do you live here?" asked Haníshéonon.
"To watch. If I see a man, I kill him."
"That is wrong," said Haníshéonon. "I'm going around to fix this world over. If I see people doing wrong, I punish them," and catching the old woman by the hair, he pulled her out of the house. She was very angry and Haníshéonon was afraid of her. He ran off and she after him. When she overtook him he began to cry and beg. The woman said, "You began this, now I'll kill you."
Haníshéonon picked up a large piece of flint and threw it at her head; it bounded back and hit him. He fell over, but soon sprang up and threw a second stone. This time he killed the woman.
"I'll not bring her to life," said he, and he pounded the body till it was a mass of blood and bones. Then he sat down and watched a little stream of blood that came from the mass. When the blood dried, a very small thin insect came from it. "I didn't kill you, after all," said Haníshéonon. "Now you can live forever and I'll call you Sehdonhgwade" (Wood-tick). She was a mosquito before.
When Haníshéonon came to another house, he heard some one singing. He stood at one side of the house and listened. The song said, "Haníshéonon is walking around this earth. Haníshéonon is walking around this earth."
"Somebody is singing about me," thought Haníshéonon.
The singing stopped and he heard a man say, "Last night I dreamed that Haníshéonon came here and was standing outside."
"How does he know that I'm standing outside?" thought Haníshéonon.
He went in, and said, "Yes, I'm here."
The man laughed, and asked, "Which way did you come?"
"I came out of the ground. Wouldn't you like a new blanket?" asked Haníshéonon.
"I would like a new blanket, mine is worn out."
Haníshéonon got some slate stone, dug out two small bowls and gave them to him.
"How can I wear these?" asked the man.
"I'll fix them," said Haníshéonon, and he put one on each side of the man's back and fastened them on so they couldn't come off. And the man, who had been a woodworm before, was changed to a June-bug.
"Now I have finished my work," said Haníshéonon, and he went home to the hole in the ground under the center of the Blue. He was a great power and that was why he was called Haníshéonon. Whenever he came out of his house under the ground, he chased people and changed them to something worse than they were before.
Haníshéonon stayed at home a long time. One morning he heard steps and he said to himself, "Somebody is coming to visit me." Soon there was a kick at the door and a woman came in. "You are at home," said she.
"You have been doing bad things," said the woman. "I don't want you to harm people. I gave you power and if you don't stop making bad use of it, I will punish you."
"I shan't stop doing as I am doing, for I am doing right."
The woman was angry. She threw flint stones at Haníshéonon, hit him on the head and stunned him, then she pounded him till his bones were crushed.
"Now," said she, "You'll be this way forever."
She had taken his power away and changed him to a common muckworm.
The narrator says that Haníshéonon was an evil spirit and that spirits like him are still walking around in the world.
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