Native American Legends
The Great Spirit overpowers the Cold and Frost of Winter, Stone Coats
A Seneca Legend
In the old time when men got lost while hunting it was supposed
the Winter God (Stone Coat) ate them up.
Once three Senecas started off on the war-path, going toward the
West. At night they camped in a deep ravine at the head of a stream.
When they had made a fire, a fine looking man came and said to
them, "I think it is right to do what I am going to do. I have come
to tell you that there are many people, man-eaters, on the war-path.
Tonight they will make their camp in sight of yours. One of you
must go to their fire and say, "Hallo! I've found your fire. Where
are you going?"
"They will answer, 'We are on the war-path.' The man must say,
'I am on the war-path too.' They will say, 'Well, we will fight.'
Then the man must leave them and come back to your camp."
The stranger disappeared and soon people came and camped a short
distance from the Seneca camp. One of the three Senecas said, "I
will go over there." As he approached he called out, "Hallo! I've
found your fire! Where are you going?"
"We are on the war-path."
"So am I," answered the Seneca.
"Well, we must fight," said the chief of the Stone Coats.
As the man turned to go away he saw stone clothing leaning against
a tree; the owner of the clothes was lying on the ground.
The next morning the Stone Coat warriors came up the ravine toward
the Seneca camp. They made a terrible noise for they sang, "We are
going to eat up the Seneca nation! We are going to eat up the Seneca
When they were about half way through the ravine, they gave a war
whoop and moved forward quickly. But that moment huge rocks began
to roll down on them and great trees to fall on them. The Senecas
saw a strange man running along on top of the rocks and trees. Whenever
he saw a Stone Coat head sticking up, he struck it and killed the
Of all the warriors only one was left alive and he was never seen
again. All the time the stranger was throwing rocks and trees he
sang, and the song said, that the Seneca nation could stand against
anything, could stand against the whole world.
When the battle was over, the stranger came to the three men, and
said. "I am he whom you call Háweniyo (Great Spirit). I have
saved you. I did not make the Stone Coats, some one else made them.
I want you, the Seneca people to be the most active of all tribes,
in war, in games and in hunting."
The stranger disappeared and the three Senecas went home.
One day a Seneca, who was out hunting in the woods, saw that a
Stone Coat was following him; he was frightened and began to run.
When he saw that the Stone Coat was gaining on him, he climbed a
tree that had fallen part way and lodged on another tree.
Stone Coat came to the tree and stopped but he couldn't see the
man for he couldn't look up. Taking a finger from his pocket he
placed it on the palm of his hand. The finger raised up and pointed
at the man. The man was a swift runner. He slipped down from the
tree, snatched the finger and ran off with it. Stone Coat shouted
after him, begged and promised to be his friend forever if he would
give him the finger. The man, afraid of being deceived, wouldn't
go near Stone Coat, but he threw the finger back to him. Ever after
this, this man and the Stone Coats were good friends.
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