Trickster's Pregnancy and the Seasons of Corn

by Richard L. Dieterle


The Corn Spirit as Berdache

The Lascivious Liver

Of Livers, Spoons, and Oyster Shells

The Blessings of the Moon

The Leap of Time

Trickster's Rotten Luck

The Cricket's Lament

The Intimates of Corn

The Allegory of Corn

The Hočąk (Winnebago) people have gained a well deserved reputation for the artistry of their stories, both sacred (waiką) and profane (worak). Among the best known of the woraks is the cycle of stories centered about the misadventures of Wakjąkaga, "Trickster," who since his popularization in the writings of Paul Radin, has become a veritable paradigm of the trickster figure. Most stories about Trickster appear to be folktales common to the literature of such neighboring peoples as the Kickapoo, Menominee, Sauk, Fox, and Anishanaabeg (Chippewa/Ojibway); but there are a few stories that appear to have the rich esoteric meanings that we usually associate with the concept of myth. The story of Trickster's pregnancy is one of these. By understanding the esoteric meaning of a Trickster myth, we can better understand the nature of Trickster himself and the role that his mythology plays in expressing the Hočąk world view.

What follows is my own translation (based on the interlinear of John Baptiste) of the text of the worak "Trickster's Pregnancy." I have kept it as literal as possible after the example of Paul Radin:

(186) After he went away from there, to his surprise there he suddenly met Little Fox (Wašerekenįka).1 "Hohó, my little brother, here you are traveling here." "Hąhą'ą! here I am accustomed to be," Little Fox said. (187) As the ground is soon going to become hard, I am looking for someplace to live," said Little Fox. (188) "Hohó, my younger brother, you have spoken well, I am also thinking of that sort of thing," he said. When they would say, 'If two decide to live together there,' I always like to be one of them. So let's live there together," he said. (189) They went there together. They were looking for a place to live. There, as they were going along, they saw Blue Jay (Jejejinįka) there. "Hohó, my younger brother, what are you doing going about here?" Trickster asked him. (190) "Older brother, I am looking for a little place to live in because the ground is also going to become hard." "We are looking to take care of the same thing. 'That one and his younger brother are living with them,' they would say. (191) I would envy them. Let us live together. We also are looking to take care of the same thing," he said to him. (192) Again there together they went along when again there they saw Nit (Hečgenįka).2 "Hohó my younger brother, again what are you doing going about?" they said to him. "Older brother, I am looking for a place to live," he said. (193) "My younger brother, we also are taking care of the same thing. Let us be together. When they say, 'If two decide to live there together,' I always like to be one of them. (194) Let us live together," Trickster said. (So the four of them set out together.)

And there it stood: a fork in the river where there were red oaks growing here and there. (195) It was a fine place. They said that there was a nice place to live. There they made themselves a lodge and they began making preparations for the winter. (196) In the fall when things were about to ripen, they had all they wanted to eat. In the course of time, there was a deep snow. There had never been such as this. They had nothing to eat. (197) There the men were hungry. In the course of time, Trickster said, "My younger brothers, it will be very difficult. I'm thinking that if we do one thing, it will be good," he said. (198) "All right, our older brother means that whatever may be good, that sort of thing we'll do, otherwise someone of us will starve to death later on. (199) What should be done so that we may eat? The sort of thing that he means is good," they said. And he said, "Here lies a village. Good things are there. (200) One of the chief's sons is shooting many animals. He has not done it with a woman. Getting married is on his mind. (201) And so we can go there to him. I will make myself into a woman and marry him. There in peace we will be until spring." "Yes!" they said. They were all willing, so they said.

"An elk," they said. (202) An elk's liver (čačuga), that was the vulva. And yet again he used elk kidneys for breasts. Then thus he did and he put on a dress. Finally, they wrapped him in a skirt. (203) They had just those, and that is what he wore. There he was. He was a very pretty woman. And thus he did and he made himself pregnant by Little Fox. (204) And also he made himself pregnant by Blue Jay; also by Hečgenįka (Nit). He was made pregnant by all three of them.

And thus he did, and he went to the town. (205) There he went. He went to the end of the village where there lived an old woman. The old woman said, "My granddaughter, again what do you mean to do? (206) When you go traveling about you have some consideration, as it is not for nothing or for traveling alone that you go about," she said to her. Then she said, (207) "Grandmother, I come to court the chief's son," she said. "Hą, granddaughter, I will tell it," she said. Then she went outside. She said shouting, she said, (208) "Hoho! someone has come to court the chief's son," she would say. "Hąho, the old woman is saying something," they said. So they listened to her and, unexpectedly, she was saying that they have come to court the chief's son. (209) The chief said to his daughters, he said to them, "Hąho, that is the sort of thing she would be doing. My daughters, go get your sister-in-law," he said. (210) So they went after her. She was a very pretty woman. The chief's son liked her very much. Sure enough, right away they boiled for her bear ribs slit together with dried corn. (211) Right off, that was what she was being called to marriage for. Right away they put some before her. They cooled it for her and placed it before her. (212) She ate it up. And there she remained.

The chief's son was very happy over it. He was to become a father. (213) Not long after, right away, she gave birth to one. It was a boy. Yet again, she became pregnant with one right away. She had her children in rapid succession. (214) Yet again she had given birth to a boy. Then again to the third one she finally gave birth. Again it was a boy. The last born cried. (215) Now in the course of time, he would not stop. Now they went after an old woman there. She used to quiet them, but she could not stop him. (216) Finally now, this little child said in song:


T ahuwe, tahuwe!3

If only I could,


A little piece of white cloud

I could play with!

he said. Then they looked for holy ones inasmuch as it was a chief's son who said it. (217) Whatever happened, they must obtain that sort of thing for him. They tried to obtain for him a piece of a white cloud above. How could they do it and obtain a piece of it? (218) Very much they did, but there finally, one of them did it. He made it snow. Then when the snow fell deep, after they gave him a piece of it (219) and he played with it, he stopped. Again in the course of time he said again in song, again he said the same,


T ahuwe, tahuwe!

If only I could,


A little piece of blue (čo) sky

I could play with!

he said. (220) Again they tried to find a piece of blue sky. They tried various things but were not able to get it. Again in the course of time, during the spring of the year, having given him a piece of blue (čo) grass, he stopped. (221) Again he said, "Green (čo) leaves," he said. The fourth time it was for ripe green (čo) corn. Then, consequently, having given him some green corn, he stopped.

(222) Then one day they made steamed corn ("earth corn") there. The chief's wife teased her sister-in-law. She chased her around the steaming pit. (223) Finally, the chief's wife jumped over the pit and there the elk liver dropped. They shouted at her there, "It's Trickster!" the men said. The chief's son was ashamed. (224) Then the others ran away from there in every direction. Little Fox, Blue Jay, and Nit all ran away.4

This comic story is full of bizarre, dream-like images, with a nit taking the form of a human being, and Trickster transforming himself into a woman with the aid of elk organs. Yet all these oddities can be seen as pregnant symbols emanating from a single theme of interpretation: the adventures of the Corn Spirit in her passage through the moons that govern the cycle of corn's growth, fruition, preservation, and replanting. We normally think of maize corn as the American staff of life, without which hunter gatherers would be thrown upon insufficient resources incapable of sustaining them through the winter. Through the centuries the Indian nations have manipulated and shaped maize to be their servant in the struggle for survival. So much has maize been controlled by humans that it evolved into a completely domesticated plant, incapable of sustaining itself without the aid of its saprophitic partner. The very fact that maize cannot sustain itself without human intervention, leads to the comic and true premise of our story: that in fact humans are the servants of maize, carefully tending and protecting it, allowing it to reproduce within their settlements, and thereby getting it through the winter in the form of seed corn. It is precisely this that Trickster and his brothers are seeking for themselves. They represent, as it will become clear as the analysis progresses, the four stages of corn as it developes through its four moons or seasons.

The Corn Spirit as Berdache. Trickster is certainly under the Moon when it comes to his actions even in the esoteric meaning of the story. Even though he is a man, he has made himself over into a woman, indeed, without losing his physical identity as a man. He acts as one who has been blessed by Moon, that is, as a berdache. For mortal berdaches this blessing is unlike those of any other spirit. If a young man is blessed by the moon he does not have the option of refusing the blessing, but he must "take up the skirt" less by unseen machinations, Moon causes his demise. The Hočąk for "berdache" is teją́čowįga, "blue Ocean Lake woman."5 The reference is to the mirror surface of a still, blue lake, as the Ocean Sea was imagined. In such a mirror everything is seen upside down and backwards, which is the social-sexual condition of the berdache and indeed of Trickster as well. The Ocean Sea is at the very limit of the world without being outside it. They say that berdaches, while not true women, can excel them in everything that women do.6 Trickster does one better, he even excels women in their defining reproductive role. He produces three children in rapid succession from just one sexual incident. His fecundity is enormous.

The Lascivious Liver. Why did Trickster make his vulva out of an elk liver? As strange as it might sound, the male elk liver, without too much exaggeration, could be called a "secondary sex organ." This can be seen in the context of the rut, the period when the female elks go into estrous, and the males begin to compete for mates. As part of the rut, the bulls "bugle." Their call starts with a low pitched cry that climbs to a very high pitched, sustained sound, similar in many ways to whistling, then terminates at a lower tone in a series of three or four barks. The calls carry well and as regular events of the year, they can be used to mark time. The time when the bull elks bugle is called Hųwą́žugwirá, "the Elk Whistling Moon."7 The onset of this moon heralds a change in the length of the days as the sun declines in its journey through time towards the equinox. The change in the span of daylight stimulates the production of testosterone in males, which sets into motion the whole panoply of rutting behavior. As the males have been approaching the time of the Elk Whistling Moon, they have been gorging themselves in order to build up the great supply of fat needed to see them through the rigors of rutting. So much effort goes into the rut, that for its duration, the bull elks may experience actual starvation. It becomes imperative for them to be able to draw upon their fat reserves. The liver, as an essential organ of metabolism, is the key to the process. During the rut, a great store of fat is transferred to the liver where it plays a role in conjunction with the production of glycogen.8 In this process, called "steatosis", the liver balloons with lipids until it reaches a weight of 7.7 lbs. (3.5 kg.), about 1.2% of the elk's body weight.9 The fat content of the liver becomes an enormous 49.8% of its mass,10 a process with marked visual consequences evident to any hunter experienced in the taking of elk. The elk liver is normally a deep red color, but with the onset of steatosis, it turns pink and even yellow as it becomes bloated with fat. As the bull's sexual prowess becomes enormous, so too does his liver. The striking change in its size and color (and because of the fat, no doubt its taste), is accompanied, ironically, by the depletion of the elk's fat reserves elsewhere in its body. So the meat, during the Elk Whistling Moon, declines in value to the hunter, but the liver becomes more prized than ever. This odd and ironic process exactly correlates with the sexual turmoil of the season, and makes the liver of a bull elk a strange secondary sex organ reconfigured specifically to enhance the sexual success of his rut. So when the female's vulva gives the outward signs of estrous, it finds a hidden counterpart in the bull's sexually mobilized liver. The irony is that Trickster has selected an organ which is sexually charged only in the male, yet it is with this lascivious liver that Trickster makes himself into a woman.

Breasts are important in a corn myth, since it is said that Hare had a vision of Grandmother (Earth) in which two corn plants grew out of her breasts, symbolizing what gift she would bestow upon humanity.11 It is during the Elk Whistling Moon that the corn becomes fully ripe and must be harvested. During this moon the fat around the kidneys of an elk begins to reach its peak.12 With the same irony, it can only be the kidneys of males that are sexually charged, as rutting bull elks profusely urinate on themselves in order to exude a scent that identifies their sexual condition.13 This odd behavior gives the kidneys of the elk a role in sexual identity, although ironically, it is a purely male identity. Here Trickster seizes the irony by making these male sex-identifying organs into images of the uniquely female organs, organs that now supply, not nutrition for the young, but a foul pollutant that belies the sexual identity that Trickster is trying to project. So Trickster once again turns the world on its head by taking the organs associated with the sexual potency of the bull elk and using them to form uniquely female organs. Yet the choice is also appropriate, inasmuch as the mature corn plant is the milk of Grandmother, and the appearance of this milk is heralded by the profuse outpourings of the bull elk's kidneys.

Of Livers, Spoons, and Oyster Shells. The word for the now rotten organ is apparently a Hočąk slang term, ča-čugi, "upper-body-spoon," or even "deer-spoon." The oval shape of the elk liver recalls the wooden spoons used by the Hočągara, which, apart from being shallow, otherwise look more like ladles. However, wooden spoons were almost certainly not of any antiquity, since they require European tools to fashion them efficiently. In the old days, as many Hočągara contend, they "utilized shells of various kinds or other natural objects suitable to their needs."14 The slightly oval shape of the elk liver is certainly similar to an oyster shell. Oddly, spoons can also be connected to vulvas and corn. These connections can be made partly because of the rich panoply of homonyms available in Hočąk. The word ča, for instance, may mean "to parch corn."15 Ča also means, "to chop, to cut across";16 the nazalized version, čą, may have meant, "to shell corn."17 The shelling of corn is done with a natural kind of čugi, an oyster or clam shell.18 One informant told Radin, "The ear corn would be cooked, and they would shell them, and when they were shelled, they would use the outer part of a čugí-s'ą when they shelled them."19 Indeed, such shells are called čugi-są, "spoon shells," because they doubled as spoons. As late as 1921, Jipson tells us that the ordinary word for "spoon" was used to denote "shell ladles".20 When such bivalve shell pairs are turned on edge, they have a striking resemblance to a vulva. Perhaps, then, it is no accident that the word also means "vulva."21 By this path of homonyms or connected sense development, the same word comes to denote both spoons and vulvas. Trickster's reproductive organ, therefore, is at once a liver, a spoon, and a vulva.

This connection between oysters and vulvas is made explicit in the waiką, "Wolves." In this story an old man and his wife, who are of a lupine nature, are left alone because their sons have disappeared during a hunting expedition. In their absence the old people are abused by deer and others, making it necessary for their self-defence that the old man regenerate offspring.

(14) And he said, "Old woman, go hunt for oyster shells," he said. "I mean one with two sides," he said. The old woman went out. She brought back one. The old man did it: he began to handle his privates. He finally took something from there. Then he took a second one. (15) Thus he did, and he put them in the oyster shell. Then he told the old woman to hold it between her legs. In the night, "Niži! I think there's something in it that may be alive," the old woman said. And the old man said, "Just keep them quiet. (16) Only on the morrow will we look at them," he said. And they opened the oyster shell the next morning. There two terrifying things came out. One was very white, and one was very black. Immediately, they became big.22

The two terrifying beings were wolves, whom he welcomed as his sons. This may reflect an understanding of the sexual potency of oysters for males — due to their high concentration of the mineral zinc23 — reflected in the fact that the oyster itself is replaced by a pair of testicles. However, the shell (są) is then treated as something of a vulva (są) and is placed exactly where his wife's vulva is located. Only then does it yield offspring.

So at the time that the elk's upper body čugi, itself a detachable vulva on Trickster, falls off, women are using čugi-są to shell their corn. The power of the frees the kernels, which are seeds as well as food, from the botanical womb in which they were generated. Just as the elk's liver/spoons are sexually charged at the time of the Elk Whistling Moon, so too are the spoons with which corn is given its second birth, a regeneration from its detachable "womb" by which it can be preserved for the winter. It is the są, the vulva/spoon, from which this corn is reborn. Here seed achieves its fruition from a as in the wolf myth, but does so without any period of gestation.

The Blessings of the Moon. Our final scene is one in which Trickster leaps over the roasting pit and loses this hepatic vulva. We know the time of year that this happened because the Hočągara have a month named for this first harvest time, Watajoxhíwirá, "the Corn Popping Moon."24 This is the time when green corn is harvested and is first roasted in a deep pit. It is this month, generally August on our calendar, which directly precedes the Elk Whistling Moon. The ripening of the maize in this month is heralded by insects. The story of how this came about is related in the waiką, "The Blue (Čo) Man."25 The English title is approximate, as the color of the protagonist in Hočąk is čo. The color denoted by čo is anything that falls within the spectrum occupied by either green or blue.26 The blue sky and a green leaf are said equally to be čo. "The Čo Man" tells the story of how the greatest gambler of all time won at every game against the humans until finally mankind had lost everything that belonged to them, even their women. This being could not be killed, since his heart lay outside his body. However, the Čo Man, whom we know to be the great spirit Bluehorn, had gained possession of it. In the final contest, the great spirits, acting on behalf of mankind, pitted themselves against the gambler and the evil spirits allied with him. At stake was the totality of human possessions. They had a contest in which Hare and the Čo Man would try to out jump Grasshopper and the Meteor Spirit. Grasshopper, true to his nature, began with a great leap, but somewhere in midcourse Trickster struck him with raccoon liver, and as Grasshopper suddenly felt a cramp in his stomach, he was knocked off course.27 The Čo Man had no difficulty in jumping over the mountain sitting in front of them. Then the Meteor Spirit made a great leap trailing fire behind him, but Trickster was able again to strike him with raccoon liver, and he too fell short. Then Hare leapt over the mountain with ease. Thus, the great spirits were triumphant.

After his victory, Čo Man recovered his younger brother and his sister from the gambler's captivity. Then the teller of this tale reveals to us the esoteric identity of these three characters. Čo Man, he tells us, is the chief of the black stones, the same that are introduced red hot in the corn roasting pit to create the steam that cooks the corn. His younger brother, who is said to be fat and gluttonous, is the pit itself. His sister is the corn silk under which the kernels lie.28 This is an important revelation, since it is over this pit that Trickster jumps. Still more can be said about the identity of these spirits. Čo Man, as has been noted, is the spirit Bluehorn (Hečoga). Bluehorn is a Waterspirit (Wakčexi).29 He is also the Evening Star,30 and is therefore close to the Moon. In other waikąs we are told that the sister of Bluehorn is Moon,31 who having been impregnated by Sun, gave birth to the famous Twins.32 That the black rocks of the pit belong to a Waterspirit is wholly appropriate, since water is poured over them to create steam. In typical Waterspirit fashion, creation is from bottom to top.33 In the pit the hot rocks are at the bottom, and layers of husks with kernels of corn laid on top of them are piled on top with vents left among them for the steam to ascend.34 Thus the corn is steam cooked. The silk incidentally distributed throughout the corn in the pit is a manifestation of Moon. Therefore, the governess of time — inasmuch as the Hočągara have a purely lunar calendar — is present in the space of the pit. Therefore, Trickster's leap over the pit is a traversing of both corn and the manifestations of the moon.

The Leap of Time. It is a commonplace, not only in Hočąk symbolism, but in world mythology, that space and time are symbolic counterparts of one another.35 This can even be seen extensively in the Hočąk language, where terms referring to space also have meanings making reference to time.36 Trickster not only jumps over manifestations of the moon, but as a berdache, belongs to a group of men who have been blessed by Moon and are under her command. Trickster's leap is esoterically a leap over lunar time, and a transposition of space for time. Under this scheme, how then are we to understand the pit? Since it spatially contains corn as well as Moon, transposed it expresses the time that contains corn, which is to say, the corn moons. The cycle of corn from planting to its first ripening takes place in four months which all make reference to corn: (1) Moinkewira (Planting Moon), May; (2) Mą́įna'ų́wirá (Cultivating Moon), June; (3) Waxojráwirá (Corn Tasseling Moon), July; and (4) Watajoxhíwirá (Corn Popping Moon), August. The pit's edge in space should, in this scheme, be its "edge" or limit in time, one "edge" being its limit in the past, and the other in the future. In a leap, one jumps from one place (edge) to another without setting foot on any place in between. In temporal terms, this would be going from one time to another without traversing the time in between. Given that the extension of the space of the pit is equal to an extension of four months' time, specifically from May through August, Trickster cannot come down on any of these months. May represents one "edge" of time, and August the other. So to leap from one end to the other in this time interval without being in it is simple: Trickster travels from August to May (via September, October ... April). He finally comes to rest on May 1, the time at which corn is planted. The arc over the ground completes a circle with the arc under the ground, creating the cycle of time as defined by corn.

Trickster's jump through time is not without its consequences, as he loses his hepatic sex organ. As we have seen, the liver as sex organ is defined above all by time, the time that the Hočągara call "the Elk Whistling Moon," the month that follows directly after the last month of the corn growing period, the Corn Popping Moon. The Elk Whistling Moon occurs during the period of Trickster's jump, so in spatial terms, the lascivious liver is carried on the jump, but does not make it to the end of the pit. When it fell off, it was said to be "very rotten" (t'ékjį). What does this mean in esoteric terms? To answer this question, we must first look into Trickster's role in the corn cycle.

Trickster's Rotten Luck. What is the significance of Trickster teasing his sister-in-law and being chased around the roasting pit? In the Hočąk social system, certain kin have an especially intimate standing known as "the joking relation." Hįražič means "to practice the joking relation,"37 and žič itself means, "to tease, show disrespect, court."38 This gives some idea of what is involved in this kind of "joking." The joking relation obtained for one's father's sister's children, mother's brother's children, mother's brothers, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law. Radin tells us, "In the two cases last named not only was a man permitted to joke with those relatives but he was supposed to do so whenever he had an opportunity. Under no circumstances were any of these individuals supposed to take offense. This relationship was of course reciprocal."39 Marriage to any joking relative was considered incest with the sole exception of the sister-in-law, although such a marriage might be considered improper on other grounds.40 Therefore, Trickster's sister-in-law has the closest relationship to him, in terms of intimacy, than anyone except his husband. As Trickster plays the role of the Corn Spirit, his closest female intimate stands for the mortal women who tend the corn. In all Native American cultures, the planting and care of maize falls exclusively to women. They tend it and "love" it in a near marriage, protecting it and raising it like a botanical child. The corn "teases" them with its promise of food that it cannot deliver until many moons have tread their course across the sky. Women "chase" corn through time right up to (the space/time of) the roasting pit. The sister-in-law herself, of course, does not leap across the time represented by the pit. In order to jump a gap in time, one must be changeless. How is it, then, that Trickster himself leaps changelessly from one end of this gap of time to the other?

We should recall that Trickster's detachable generative organ has become rotten as he leaps across time, and it falls off, not being able to make this symbolic journey. As we have seen, his vulva acquires its sexual character from the events taking place in the Elk Whistling Moon, the first month after the initial corn harvest and roasting of the green ears. Why is it, at this time, that the generative organ of the Corn Spirit becomes rotten? On the maize plant the generative organ underlies the tassel. It later is moulded into the ear of corn. This ear is detachable just like Trickster's sexually duplicitous elk liver vulva. However, when it is detached, the corn kernels immediately become susceptible to the natural process of rotting. If, as early as the Elk Whistling Moon, the corn is harvested, it will begin the process that it certainly appears that bull elk livers undergo at the same time when they bloat up and turn yellow. Whenever corn is harvested it must either be eaten in a short time or preserved. The process of preservation, of avoiding the negative changes inflicted by time, is to dry the corn out until it forms hard kernels which can be stored in underground pits for the winter.41 Corn that has been treated this way becomes unalterable and changeless through the whole winter, and by this means jumps the gap in time to be available in the Planting Moon to start the cycle all over again. Thus the jump in time by the Corn Spirit is also a loss of her generative organ, whose rottenness is discarded in time by a drying process similar to cooking.42 The ability of the corn to sprout and thereby to reproduce is held in abeyance for the winter. By means of this "trickery" the Corn Spirit returns to the other edge of the corn moons in "her" pristine condition, neither raw nor cooked, neither unripe nor rotten. Again Trickster, the Corn Spirit, escapes with his life.

The Cricket's Lament. When we last visited the myth of "The Čo Man," the great spirits had defeated their evil opponents and restored all the things of the earth that belonged to mankind. Now the fate of the great spirit of gambling was to be decided. Then the Čo Man produced the great gambler's external heart whose hiding place he had earlier discovered. He handed it to Turtle who raked it to pieces with his claws. The man cried, but just then he disintegrated into a hoard of crickets. As the waiką says, "It is for this reason that crickets weep during Watajoxhiwira, the Moon of Roasted Ears, inasmuch as they were once in charge of the green things of the earth, and they announce when the greens are ripe."43 The gambler turned out to be Cricket. Crickets hatch at about the same time that corn is planted, and in three months they reach maturity. So they hatch in the month of Mą́įna'ų́wirá, "the Cultivating Moon"; then they become nymphs in the month of Waxojráwirá, "the Corn Tasseling Moon"; after which they reach maturity during Watajoxhíwirá, "the Corn Popping Moon," just when the green corn becomes ripe. As soon as they are mature, the males make chirping sounds to attract mates. "The synchrony of season and advent of maturity is one of the universal wonders of nature. One day the crickets are mute nymphs; then, as if by some agreed-upon signal cued by the season, they all molt, become adults, and celebrate the occasion in song."44 However, in the Hočąk imagination, they do not sing or celebrate, but weep for the lost of their once formidable power.

The lamentations of the crickets recall the uncontrollable weeping of Haga, the third born child of Trickster. We know that Haga was fathered by Hečgenįka, a name which has been translated as "Nit."45 So Haga is the son of an insect. Ironically, his father is a totally silent insect, a louse (egg). Also, ironically, Haga ceases his lament just when the crickets are most intense in theirs. As the crickets reflect on their loss of the green things of this earth, Haga becomes satisfied by receiving the most precious of all such things, the ripe ear of green corn. To receive back this prize would surely have silenced the very crickets that herald its inauguration. Recieving the green ear of roasting corn brings to an end all of Haga's tears. The initial harvest coincides exactly with the last corn moon and completes a cycle in which the corn is now roasted and parched.

Let us now take a new look at how his weeping began and for what purpose. His cries and outpouring of tears is another irony, since the child's father is a nit, a tearless mute. He asks for a piece of white cloud, the kind of cloud from which neither rain nor thunder emanates, a cloud that is mute and tearless. What serves as a white cloud, appropriately enough, is snow. The esoteric meaning of this leaps out at us. In Hočąk the child is satisfied by being given wa, and the translators have been right to render this as "snow." Yet from our esoteric viewpoint, no homonym could have been more appropriate, for wa is also the root word meaning "corn (maize)."46 So the infant cries for a white cloud, but is esoterically satisfied with corn. And why should he not be? For popped corn is a perfect image of a white cloud. Even during the Corn Popping Moon, when corn is first roasted, some of the kernels will pop. Even more so once corn is dried out for preservation. Popcorn, which the Hočągara have long enjoyed, 47 can be had all winter long right up through the Planting Moon. These images of white clouds that bear the name of snow, can now stand for the kernels of corn that are dried and stored for the needs of the season of snow. It is from this supply that the seed corn is drawn. So Haga's cry is for the kernels of corn which will serve to start the corn cycle rolling during the first of the corn moons, the Planting Moon.

Then the nit's child begins to cry again. This time he calls for a piece of blue sky (kera-čo). Since čo means both "blue" and "green" at once, it is less surprising that he is satisfied with a piece of čo grass. Since the corn cycle begins with the planting of kernels during the Planting Moon, it must now progress to the Cultivating Moon. During this month, the corn first appears, as the kernels germinate, sending down roots, then thrusting up shoots through the soil. These shoots testify to the evolutionary origins of corn among the varieties of grasses, for they look not unlike ordinary prairie grass. Esoterically, what satisfies the child is the grass-like appearance of the first shoots of corn. It is interesting to note that kera, "sky" also means, "cloud," so that it recapitulates in some measure Haga's first wish.

The myth gives rather short shrift to the next item on Haga's agenda: the wish for a ną-apčo, "a čo leaf." As the corn grows in the succeeding month, it reaches a fair height and begins to tassel, hence the name of this time, "the Tasseling Moon," or "the Moon When the Fields Look Gray." It is then that the leaves, which were once like those of grass shoots, now become long and broad, as if they were leaves befitting some massive tree. Here Haga is satisfied only to recieve the thing itself, which can most easily be obtained from any field of maize. The word for "leaf" is ap, which has an assonance with hąp, "Day," so that ap-čo, "green leaf," sounds almost identical with hąp-čo, "blue day." Uttering ap-čo evokes the word "blue day," a synonym for keračo, "blue sky." So this too links with the imagery of the previous symbolism.

We have now come full circle, back to the Corn Popping Moon, where the child is satisfied with waručo, "green roasting ears." A variant of this word is wahąp, literally, "day-corn," a bridge connecting the present symbolism with what went before. Hitherto the child has been surrounded by attendants who have catered to his every wish, inasmuch as he is deemed to be the grandson of the chief. It is interesting to note that, although those who have tried to satisfy the child have not been explicitly called "attendants," nevertheless they are properly denoted by the term, which happens to be this very same word, waručo. This term is a homonym from waruč, "to eat; food." The primary task of the attendants was to organize a feast for the host, and given the esoteric meaning of this myth, it is clearly appropriate that at the end of this cycle of corn, that they be revealed as those who facilitate the feast, indeed as those bearing the very title, waručo, of the food that is to be the centerpiece of the meal.

The Intimates of Corn. In true Trickster fashion, it is appropriate for us to end our analysis with the beginning of the story. Our story begins with Trickster encountering his three "brothers," Little Fox, Bluejay, and Nit. This group has two things in common: a reputation for mischief, and a penchant for usurping the homes of others in order to raise their young, even feeding off them in the process. This behavior is exactly what takes place in the story, as the four brothers make mischief in connection with living parasitically off the human village where they will see the birth of their children. Foxes are certainly an animal of this type. Little Fox is one of Trickster's chief opponents in the game of dirty tricks.48 When it comes to finding a place to raise its young, the gray fox can also be a usurper. In the northern part of its range, which includes Wisconsin, it often takes over the dens of other animals, particularly the porcupine, and there raises its young.49 The blue jay is mischievous by nature. One name for the bluejay, čosgé, has come to mean "tattletale."50 In myth he has a reputation as a deceiver.51 Furthermore, "In its relation to small birds, consensus classes the blue jay as an outlaw and robber."52 Of more particular pertinance in relation to our present story, they are known to steal the nests of other passerine birds.53 Here, having planted their eggs in another's home, they raise their chicks. The third brother is Nit. Although in Hočąk stories lice engage in tricks,54 they often have a redeeming quality. Once the Louse Spirit in the form of a human being, asked if he could defecate. People merely said, "Go ahead," but his brother-in-law did much more. He spread his own blanket out and told him to use that. So Louse defecated on the young man's blanket, but what landed on the blanket was pure white wampum. When the others asked for the same, he would not do it for them.55 Since wampum consists mainly of cowry shells, we have Nit associated with shells, resonating with an important theme in the esoteric code of the myth; but the immediate point is that his trick resulted in prosperity, at least for someone. It is as parasites looking like little white cowry shells that nits become the biggest usurpers of other's dwelling places. They take up life within the blankets and hair of their host and never leave their new abode unless forcibly ejected. All the brothers in the story are parasites feeding off their human hosts while they raise their own young in another's abode. The strange thing about maize that lends itself to a comic interpretation is its total dependence upon domestication. There is no wild maize in its present form. The maize plant is the product of thousands of years of selective breeding to the point where it cannot reproduce without the saprophitic agency of human planters.56 The humorous view of this relationship is that the corn plant has duped the humans, turning them into its slaves. Like Trickster and his brothers, it is put up in their domiciles, where they tend to its every need, and they insure that it will leave numerous offspring equally under their care. All the while the humans must forego their gratification, for the members of the corn cycle do not yield their fruit until the very end, teasing the humans with their potentiality all the way to the brink of starvation. They are mischievous usurpers whose stay among humans is ephemeral, a passing season after which they flee leaving behind the roasting corn pit.

In understanding this Trickster myth as an allegory of corn, we discover why Hečgenįka is a nit and not a chipmunk. A nit is, in Hočąk, explicitly an egg. The smallest participant in the corn cycle is the seed itself, the kernel of corn which generates the maize plant. It is like a botanical egg which "hatches" into the neonate plant. The nit is the last being that Trickster meets, yet in the upside down world of Trickster, it is the nit, esoterically, that stands for the original of the maize plant, the kernel. This may be because the kernel is both the α and ω of the corn cycle. Its planting initiates the cycle, but its shelling and preservation mark the cycle's conclusion. Elsewhere, lice themselves are thought to most resemble rice among the food grains,57 but the oblong eggs of lice bear a fair semblance to the corn kernel. As to size, the nit is the smallest of Trickster's brothers, and therefore is most like the kernel of corn in relation to the plant as a whole. The nit, in his role as the small starting point of the corn plant, is the father of the last child, Haga, whose plaintive desires are answered by a recapitulation of the whole corn cycle.

In the four moons of corn, the first (Planting Moon) is associated with the corn kernel which is planted as seed corn. The kernels start out partly wrapped in the corn silk, just as a louse lives in the scalp wrapped in a blanket of hair. The term for the louse, he, is one and the same as the word for "horn," which has the secondary meaning "hair" (from the habit of forming hornlike queues in the traditional tonsure).58 The corn silk, as we have seen, is a manifestation of Moon and the time that she keeps. The preserved kernels of corn have to persevere through many moons before they are ready to generate the next crop. The stored grainery is the key to prosperity, as it represents both the continuation of food beyond the corn season and the means by which another crop of corn can be raised. The kernels correspond to nits because, not only are they small, but lice are said to possess a peculiar power of fecundity. As it says in the waiką entitled, "The Man's Head," "When the lice are about, people are never in want of food, they say, for lice dread hunger among humans above all else, and always make sure that people are well fed. When people are in hunger, they have nothing to do, and spend all their time hunting down their lice."59 In times of starvation, a similar fate befalls the corn kernels, as even those reserved for planting would be eaten. It is the seed corn, in the spirit of the nit, that makes certain that the people are well fed indefinitely. In our story, it is to escape starvation that Trickster concocts his plan with the nit and his other brothers.

The next of Trickster's brothers, whom he meets just before he encounters Nit, is Bluejay. Naturally, in Trickster's reversed world, the temporal order is the reverse of the symbolic order. Bluejay is the second largest of the three brothers, and therefore ought to correspond to the next stage of corn developement after that symbolized by the nit. This stage would be the sprouting of the čo "grass" which represents the sprouts of corn. Such grass is what Haga got when he cried for want of a little piece of blue sky. There could hardly be a mischief maker more suitable for representing both the blue sky and leaves of grass. Čo is in one of the very names for the bluejay, čosgé. The color čo is exemplified in the bluejay's feathers, which also have a shape similar to the elongated leaf of grass or sprouting corn. It is the coincidence of feather shape and color to grass, as well as the bluejay's mediation between sky and earth, that make it a counterpart to the sprouting corn and the blue sky. This sprouting takes place in the Digging the Ground Moon, which takes its name from the hoeing of the corn fields that takes place during this time. The hoeing also recalls the feeding habits of bluejays, whose bills are like earth tilling tools that hoe the ground in a predatory manner. Once corn is available, however, they don't hesitate to steal it; on the other hand, since they bury many of their seeds in the ground, they often "plant" corn.60 Thus, they cache corn much like humans.

The first brother that Trickster met was Little Fox, so his symbolic position in time is last. This places him in the Corn Tasseling Moon, the month during which the fields turn gray. This suits the color of the gray fox, which is in its dens from about mid-May to mid-July. So during the Corn Tasseling Moon the gray foxes will emerge, like the gray tassels of the maize plants, from their places of concealment. The gray fox is the only fox that is semi-arboreal, although in northern lattitudes of its range, it will typically build its dens on the ground.61 The fox is a quantum jump larger than the bluejay, reflecting a corresponding increase in the size of the maize plants during this moon. In Hočąk symbolism, the fox is the exemplar of penury and want. The story is told of how Bear distributed fat among the various kinds of animals.62 This was to be the quantity of fat that their kind was to carry on their bodies for the rest of time. Bear rolled thoroughly in the pond of fat, and that is why bears are so fat today. When it was finally Fox's turn to roll in fat, he became greedy and kept rolling in it until the other indignant animals yanked him out. In retaliation, the animals squeezed off every bit of fat they could except for a little in the upper arms, and that is why foxes today are practically emaciated. In the corn cycle, the Tasseling Moon is the last before the Corn Popping Moon when the first harvest takes place. Consequently, it is the moon during which there is the maximum deprivation of corn supplies. This is also the time when people fast in preparation for the feast to come in the succeeding Corn Popping Moon.63 It is appropriate, therefore, with respect to size, color, and degree of emaciation, that the fox stand as the symbol of this time in the corn cycle.

Such are the intimates of corn, the spirits of the seasons of the maize plant. How the myth repeats this set of correlations within the "maize code" can be tabulated:

Month of the Corn Cycle Winter through Planting Moon Cultivating Moon Tasseling Moon Corn Popping Moon
Brothers Nit Bluejay Little Fox Trickster
Size of Brother/Corn Plant tiny small medium large
Color white blue (čo) gray (tasseling) green (čo)
Haga Requested white cloud blue sky leaves corn
Haga Received snow grass leaf corn
Esoteric Counterpart corn kernel corn sprout large corn leaves ripe green corn

The humorous, and indeed true, premise of this story is that corn is a parasite that cannot survive on its own and must trick humans into supplying its every need in exchange for its marriage to them and the offspring it will leave behind from this union. The four stages of the maize plant's growth are equally sires to the offspring that result in the final stage where the corn spirit is most fully expressed. It is this stage during which offspring emerge, the actual corn for which the humans undertook to marry this inverted expression of the corn spirit. The brothers are all usurping tricksters who have suborned humans into serving them so that they might be kept alive. When they are found out they flee back whence they came, a spatial depiction of the temporal process of the cycle, the eternal return to that place in time where they began. In the beginning the Corn Spirit in the form of Trickster meets each of these in reverse temporal order, in keeping with the general inversion of things; however, when considered spatially, Trickster meets Little Fox after the least amount of travelling. Given the mirroring of time in space, this means that the penultimate stage of the maize plant's growth is nearest in time to the ultimate stage symbolized by Trickster. The others trail off into the past in temporal intervals reflected in how much farther Trickster had to travel before meeting them. They unite with the Corn Spirit in that same order. The four brothers occupy the four moons of corn, with only the last of these, spatially symbolized by Trickster, being the one who is the mother of the offspring. So the pregnancy of corn is three months, and birth occurs in the fourth. So corn exists from the fourth month through the twelfth, a period of nine months, the inverse of the situation among humans. It is the nit, the louse egg, that is farthest in space from Trickster, and so is the most distant in time. Like the louse who plants its eggs on human "ground", the nit as corn kernel is planted nine months hence, and like an egg, it germinates into all that follows.

The Allegory of Corn. Trickster plays the role of the Corn Spirit and the mature corn plant in which it is fully expressed. His brothers are the stages of the corn plant as seen during each moon of the maize plant's maturation. They are connected with Trickster in the exact reverse order. The nit, who represents the corn-as-egg, is the naissant plant introduced into the soil during the Planting Moon. Like the corn kernel he is the smallest, and as an egg, he is the faunal counterpart of the botanic seed. The next in order and in size is the bluejay, who is the "same" color (čo) as the young corn plant. He represents the corn as it has matured in the Cultivating Moon. During the next month, the fields turns as gray (xoč) as the coat of a fox. It is then, during the Wa-xoj-ra Wira, the Moon When the Fields Turn Gray, that the corn begins to form its tassels. So the next in order is the fox, who is larger still than the bluejay. Finally, it is Trickster who stands as the last month of the season of corn, the Corn Popping Moon, when the green corn is first harvested. Thus, the four brothers are the corn as it progresses to greater and greater size during the season of its growth from May through August. Having completed the aggregation of his brothers (space for time), Trickster is now transformed into a strange super-berdache whose sexual potency is expressed in terms of elk organs, the liver and the kidneys. This transformation moves him into the next month, where as a berdache, he is blessed by the moon, the Elk Whistling Moon, and becomes sexually charged with a set of gender-bending elk organs strongly associated with sex. It is then that each of these brother-stages of corn reproduce themselves through the mature phase which gives rise to the seed corn from which they come into existence again the next year. During the September harvest, the corn may first undergo preservation in order to seed the next year's crop. This saves the humans from starvation; but the humans are also saving the corn from "starvation," since it cannot care for itself without being tended by human hands. Trickster becomes a high-ranking "woman", one whose needs are going to be tended to by the other women of the village. He will arrive at the outskirts, and his marriage will be heralded by an old woman, just as corn is to be planted at the outskirts and tended by women. Having secured himself a position in the village, he is a protected and nourished. He eventually gives birth to the three children of his brothers, who represent a repetition of their father's roles. The last of these is, by the inverse order of the Trickster tale, the son of the nit. As the corn kernel, it is he who heralds the recapitulation of the corn cycle. It must start with the corn kernel which has been dried and stored during the winter. Such corn can be used to make popcorn, which looks both like snow and a white cloud. So he asked for a white cloud. And indeed he is given what he is really asking for, which in Hočąk is wa, a homonym for both snow and corn. So they give him wa, and he is satisfied that it is a kind of white cloud. In time he begins to cry for a piece of blue (čo) sky, and his pleadings are answered by green (čo) grass, something very near in appearence to the early sprouting maize plants. Afterwards, he cries for a green tree leaf, and they are able to give him that, since by now we have symbolically entered the Corn Tasseling Moon, where the leaves are larger than those found on most trees. Finally, the nit's son cries for the very fruit of the Corn Popping Moon, the green ripe corn itself. This he can now obtain. Then they may roast the corn in the earthen pit that has been excavated for that purpose. The pit represents the time of corn (space for time again). Trickster teases the woman most concerned with taking care of him, his joking relative (sister-in-law), and she in turn chases him around the pit. This pursuit, space for time, is a chasing by women of maize through time. The maize teases them with its promise. And just as he makes his leap over the pit, which is a leap over the time of corn, his elk vulva falls as rotten flesh from his body. This is symbolic of the falling away of rotteness from corn, which having been dried (by steam ?), now has the ability to cross over time changelessly, without decay and decomposition as it goes beyond the time of the elk into the winter moons that terminate in the new planting season. When he lands at the end of the pit, which is the beginning of its time, he is seen for what he is, one who has tricked the humans into saving him from the vagaries of the winter months. He and his brothers scatter in space (= time), each going to his own destination (= his own month). Thus the humorous, but beautifully painted, story of the seduction of humans by the Corn Spirit comes to an end as it began, completing as a story the cycle which it represents.

1 Radin adjusts the translation of John Baptiste to read, "a little fox," but the Hočąk is Wašerekenįka (Wašere-ke-nįk-ka), the final -ka being a definite article used almost exclusively for personal names. Elsewhere in the Trickster Cycle where Oliver LaMère took over the translation, Wašerekenįka is translated as "Coyote," a practice that LaMère followed consistently in the translation of other works. However, the unambiguous name for Coyote, who does indeed appear later on in the Trickster Cycle, is Mąnįkaksika. "Little Fox" is an odd name for a coyote unless coyotes were classified as a variety of gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus).

2 The name Hečgenįka is ambiguous in meaning between "Nit (Louse-egg)" and "Chipmunk." The issue is discussed in the text.

3 This is an imitation of a child's crying.

4 Another English translation of the story is found in Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) 21-24. The original text, which is written in Hočąk syllabary, is in "Wakdjukaga," from Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3897 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) Winnebago V, #7, 186-224. The Hočąk syllabic text follows: e tt. se Kidi. te we s Ki. e tt w deAe se Ke niK Ai Ki lA tti nK deAe. Ao Ao. Ai roAo Ki tti. e Ki niKi Ao we doo dA wK deAe tte s. A A a. e Ki A o mK dA n. e de w deAe se Ke ni K. m s. Ao reAe Ai Ko so Ao Ke. Ao m ttiAi niKi w Ki to xotto w o mK dA n. e de. w deAe se Ke ni K. Ao Ao. Ai roAo Ki tti liAi w s Ke. Ai deKe de rKe y s nK dA n. e de. Ki Ki nolo e tt A m Ki ttiAi se n. ay se Ki. w Ki liAi doAo no n. e A m K s Ki ttiAi Kette n. e de. e tt to we s wi de. Ao m ttiAi Ao so xotto tts. e tt ow Ai wi K tt. e tt. tte tte ttini K A tty se de. Ao Ao Ai roAo Ki tti. tt Ko Ao we doo dA wK. Ai Ke de. w Ktt K K. Ai ni xitti. Ao we Ao m ttAi niKi w Ki to xotto w o mK dA n. m s Ao rAe Ai Ko so Ao Ke tti ni. Ai deKe de rKe w o A AK wi n. K a. Ai roAo Ko w Ai s. e tt w m K s Ki ttiAi n ay se K w Ki liAi doAo no n. A m K s Ki ttAi Ktt wi n. Ai deKe de rKe w o A AK wi n. Ai Ke de. di Ke e tt. tto we A Ki Ki do A sy se de. K tt. di Ke e tt. Ae tteKe ni K. A tty se de. Ao Ao Ai roAo Ki tti. di Ke tt Ko Ao we doo dA wK deAe. Ai Ky se de. Ai ni xitti wi s. Ao we Ao m ttiAi w Ki to xotto mK dA n. e de. Ai roAo Ki tti. Ai deKe de rKe. w o A AK wi n. Ai ow ni Ae Ktt wi n. Ki Ki nolo e tt m ttiAi se n ay se Ki w Ki liAi doAo no n. A m K s Ki ttiAi Ktt wi n. e de. w Ktt K K. e Ki. e tt. niyo ttA Ki d Keyi d. n di Ki di. Ao ttA Key n s. liAi Kiri Ko tt de. Ao liAi xitti de. e tt. Ao m ttiAi liAi de ay se Ki di. e tt ttiAi Ki Koo Ai se de. e Ki. m ni Ai Ko so Ao se Ki w o nK deAe. ttA ni se Ki. w d s. A xi Ai s se Ki di. s doKo ni w so tti se de. A Ko sey d. w deAe we de. A Ke w d de rK ni de. A s Kese ri se de. e tt w Ks. to Ke we Ai se de. A Ko se d. w Ktt K K. we de. Ai rAo Ki tti wi s. Ai Ke w d de rK ni Ktt n Ae n. w di o wi Ki di. liAi n. y s nK dA n. e de. A Ao. tt rKe liAi n tte Ai ni Ai Ai wi s w Ke Ki di de rKe Ai Ai Ktt n A wi K tt. tt Ko. Ai d. to Ke we Ai w K tee Ktt ni A wi K tt. tt rKe Ki di. Ai w so tt nK wi n Ki di. de rKe w Ke Ki di. liAi K tt. ay se de. e Ki. we de. ttiAi n Ki d. e Ki n K dA n. w d liAi o nK dA n. Ao Ks. Ai d Ai niKi Ai s. w niyo tteKe s. Ao lo wotto tte n. A Ke Ai noKo K nK ni d w o tte n. Ai noKo K n Ki Kette Ai s tte n. e rKe de e. e tt Ao wy s wi n n. Ai noKo A Kiy n K. w so Kn n. e tt s doKo ni. w K we n wi n n. A Ao. ay se de. A ntt Ki liAi se de. Ki. wy se n. Ao w. ay se n. Ao w. ttA ttoAo Ki d. de e. dA o de. e Ki. Ai Ko di Ke. Ao w. ttA Kodoyi d. wiri o de. e Ki. de Ko Aiy n K. w tte Ao w xoKo deAe. A Ko se d. w tte. Ai so w riKi Ki s ni Ae s. Ai Ko de e w ni n Ki di. de e e wi Ki Kx deAe. te nK deAe. Ai rKe tt Ai noKo liAi de se de. e Ki de Ko Aiy n K. w deAe se Ke ni K. o ttK nK deAe. e Ki di Ke. tte tte ttini K o ttK nK deAe. di Ke. Ae tteKe niK. Ai t ni Ke w o ttK nK deAe. e Ki. de Ko Aiy n K. ttiAi nK w K ni Ae K. eyo w se de. ttiAi n Ko de tty tt. Ai to Ke ni Ki d. ttiAi n Ki di e tt Ai de. Ai to Ke niKi n K. we de. Ai ttAo dK A xitti. di Ke tt Koyi. s doo K tt Ao we Ai s Ki dAi w se dA w Ki di. w d Aoyi ni Ke xitti. Ai Ki w se s dA n xitti w doo dA w Ki Kette de. Ai Ke de. e Ki we de. Ko ni K. Ao Ks Ai ni Ks. Ai to xA tti Ke w o n. e de. A. Ai ttAo dK A xitti Ao tK se A Kette n. e de. e Ki. Ai Ai nl deAe. we de. w n diy n K. we de. Ao. Ao. Ao Ks Ai ni Ks. Ai so xA A tti s tti Ko. e ra de. A Ao. Ai to Ke ni K. w d a tte n. ay re Ki di. A n xKo Ai se K tt. te we s Ki. Ao Ks Aini Ks. Ai so xA tti se de a tte de. Ao Ks. we de. Ai noKo w Ai s w w Ke de. A Ao. de rKe se Ke w o tti Ki di Ai noKo A xitti wi s. Ai diAi K s wi K. A Ai A Ko wi se. e Ki di. A Ko A Ai se de. wo Ki roKo Ai noKo liAi de se de. Ao Ks. Ai ni Ks. m dtt Ki liAi de. Ao w se s. tt tti ne tt. w so roKo Aotto so Ai m r rK Ai s Ki o Ao Ki Ay se de. tt tti ne tt. de rKe w Ki o Ke. Ai K n ttAo n Ks. tt tti ne tt. w Ki se Ai se de. rAi ni Ki Ki s n K. Ai tt Ki Ke se Ai se de. ttAe li de. e Ki. e tt. o ni Ae de. A Ko reyi d. tt tti ne tt. w o ttK nK doKo ni de. Ao Ks. Ai ni Ks. A Ke w di so K n Ai ni de. ni K K ni se Ktt n Ae Ki di. Ai tt w d rii Kette de. tt tti ne tt. Ai d ttAo de. w Kini Ki d Ae se de. Ai Ko di Ke. tt tti ne tt. Ai d o ttK nK Ki ni de. Ai rKe tt ni Ktt K ni rAK deAe. Ai Ko di Ke w Ki d ttAo de. e Ki. Ai t ni s. di Ke. A Ko se d. ttAo de. w Ki d Ae se de di Ke. Ai sow Kini n K. xK deAe. A Ko se d. de Ko Ai Ke s dtt ni de. K tt K. de e e tt. Ai to Ke ni Ki d. A Kow Ai se de. de e s dtt w Ai ra Ki de. Ai Ke se deKe s dtt ni de. A Ko se d. K tt K we de. n w n K. te ni Ktt Kini K Kese we de. t Ao we. t Ao we. ny xitti m xiAi rK niKi Ks. ni Ke y dKtt deAe di. e de. e Ki. w K ttK Ao w se de. e Ki Ao Kini Ktt Ki d w Ke tti ni. Ai Ko tt rKe Ki di. Ki so xoAo so Ki se Kette. de rKe de. m xiAi rK a K. ni Ke Ki so xoAoKo n i se de. e Ki tt rKe Ai s n K. ni Ke so xoAo so Ki se Ktte de. o xitti Ai s no ni Ke. de e A Ko se d. Ai d. w o de. w Ao Ai Ai de. e Ki w reAe wi(?) we tti li Ki di. w ni Ke Ao Koo Ai se di. Ai dKtt Ki Ki se Ki di. s dtt de. di Ki Ko. A Ko se d. we de. di Ki Ko. n w de. di Ke de rKe e de. t Ao we. t Ao we. n ixitti Ke s ttAo ni Ks. ni Ke y dKtt deAe di. e de. di Ke. Ke s ttAo s ni Ke. Ai e n i se de. w d Ai Ki ttK ttK Ai s no ni Ke Ai K K A so ttA li s ni de. di Ke A Ko se d. we n Ki di. xA wi ttAo ni Ki d. Ao Koo Ai se Ki di s dtt de. di Ke. e de. n al ttAo. e de. Ai tto l A s. w so ttAo A xiAi se de. e Ki. de e di w so ttAo Ao Koo Ai se Ki di s dtt de. e Ki. de e A Ko sey d. m wi so A oyi se de. e tt. Ao Ks. Ai ttA wi s. Ai diAi K s. Ko so ditti deAe m wi ro A s. wo xeAe s. Ao Ki Kixi Ko so xeAe Ai se de. o tt o. Ao Ks Ai ttA wi s. wo xeAe s. A tal lK tt. e tt. ttA ttAo Ki s. so dA n de. teeKe Kitti. e tt A xe se de. w Ktt K K w o tte n. ay se de. w Ks. Ao Kisi ni Ks Ai so diAiKi deAe. di n K deKe e Ki se tt ni Ke Ao Ki nK Ai se de. w deAe se Ke ni K. tte tte ttini K. Ae tteKe ni K deKe. A ntt. Kiyr ri se de.

5 Nancy Oestreich Lurie, "Winnebago Berdache," American Anthropologist 55, #1 (1953): 708-712. The term is given as teją́čowįga. This is from de, "lake"; ją, "encirling"; čo, "blue/green"; wį, a suffix indicating the female gender; and ga, a definite article suffix typically used to indicate a personal name. The Te Ją, the Ocean Sea, is envisioned as an encircling lake, more on the model of the Great Lakes than the ocean with which coastal people are familiar.

6 Lurie, "Winnebago Berdache."

7 Kenneth L. Miner, Winnebago Field Lexicon (Kansas City: University of Kansas, June 1984) s.v. Hųwą́žugwirá. Cf. "Elk Whistling" of Dorsey and Flecther; Radin, Hųwaižúkera, "Elk Whistling," (Wisconsin Hočągara); Jipson, Ho-wy-shook-we-ra, "Elk Calling Moon"; Susman, Hųwą́žuk'wira, "Elk Whistle"; Radin, Hųwaižúkera (Nebraska Hočągara, where it is said to fall in October).

8 Elk of North America, Ecology and Management, compiled and edited by Jack Ward Thomas and Dale E. Toweill (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1982) 137; Attallah Kappas and Alvito P. Alvares, "How the Liver Metabolizes Foreign Substances," Scientific American 232, #6 (1975): 22-31; D. R. Flook, "Causes and Implications of an Observed Sex Differential in the Survival of Wapiti," Canadian Wildlife Service Bulletin, Report Series 11 (Ottawa: Canadian Wildlife Service, 1970) 1-59.

9 Elk of North America, Ecology and Management, 137; Raymond J. Boyd, Elk of the White River Plateau, Colorado, Technical Bulletin 25 (Denver: Colorado Division of Game, Fish, and Parks: 1970).

10 Elk of North America, Ecology and Management, 137; Flook "Causes and Implications of an Observed Sex Differential in the Survival of Wapiti," 1-59.

11 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 308.

12 Elk of North America, Ecology and Management, 135.


14 Radin, Winnebago Tribe (1923): 118. Radin argues against the claim made by some others that wooden utensils were traditional, largely because of the difficulty of their manufacture without European tools. Buffalo Bird Woman of the Hidatsa says that corn was shelled by "smart, quick strokes of a mussel shell," or by "using large spoons instead of shells. There were very few metal spoons in use in my tribe when I was a girl; mussel shells were used instead for most purposes." Gilbert Livingstone Wilson (1868-1930), Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation. PhD Thesis (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1917), reprinted in Gilbert L. Wilson, Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1987) 41. See also the shell spoon used in the Mississippian culture at Spiro Mound inJames A. Brown, The Spiro Ceremonial Center: The Archaeologyof Arkansas Valley Caddoan Culture in Eastern Oklahoma, Memoirs of the Museum of "Anthropology, University of Michigan, #29 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, 1996) 2:429, fig. 2-51e.

15 Marino, s.v. čą.

16 Marino, s.v. ča.

17 Marino, s.v. čą.

18 Radin, Winnebago Tribe (1923): 117.

19 Woh?´bera tujirą́genaną, (c)gi wawašgú-iranąga wawašgúirega, čugís'ą ha hi'úinešonúna wawašgú-irega. From Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 75, p. 7. This account is paraphrased in Radin, Winnebago Tribe, 69.

20 Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923) 326, s.v. "shell ladles". Jipson actually renders this as "choo-je-ra", which would be čujira. However, his list was typed from original lon?and field notes, where a /g/ and a /j/ are easily confused. There can be no doubt that the word for ladle is čugira.

21 Miner, s.v. są́.

22 (14) Égi, "Hitokenįkra, wišókąną́kra hižą honirare," (c)že. "Hiragikarašura hižą wageną," (c)že. Hitokenįkjega reže. Hižą hanikiriže. Wąknunąkere wa'ųže. Rera hikaragišereže. E nąk'ų (c)ja wažižą ruse. Žiginųpra hija rusše . (15) Žegų hiyanąga wišókąną́kanąga rogeja wožuže. Égi hitokenįknąka rekaračgą wahišeže. Hąhegiži, "Niži wažą higi ni'ąpiregųnį, yareną," (c)že hitokenįkaga, w(c)že. Égi wąknura w(c)že, "Žegų kis(c)we wanįre. (16) Hainigi šana hiworuxujikjeną," (c)že. Égi hainigiži wišókąną́kra ru'ášwigają. Éja wažą nąkewesgera nųpiwi hihinąpwiže. Hižą sgaxjįže. Žig(c) hižą sepjįže. Higųwąną, xetexjį jijereže. Paul Radin, "Wolves," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #5: 14-16. My own translation.

23 Robert A. Hedeen, The Oyster (Centerville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1986).

24 Miner, s.v. Watajoxhíwirá. Cf. "Corn Popping Harvest" of Dorsey and Flecther; Thomas George, Watočuwira, "When the Corn Gets Ripe"; Radin, Witájox, "When the Roasted Ears of Corn Burst," of the Nebraska Hočągara.

25 Paul Radin, "The Blue Man," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook 55; Paul Radin, (untitled), Winnebago Notes, Freeman #3858 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) 4-16.

26 Thomas Foster, Foster's Indian Record and Historical Data (Washington, D. C.: 1876-1877) vol. 1, #2: p. 4, coll. 2-4 ("bed" - "chafe"), s.v. "blue". Miner, Winnebago Field Lexicon, s.v. čo.

27 Trickster himself is sometimes said to wear a raccoon coat, a symbol of his nature, as the raccoon is also a trickster, one that specializes, as raccoons in nature often do, in leading people astray. So Trickster projects a raccoon's power to deflect the course of his rivals astray. The choice of liver probably turns on a pun. The term for liver is pi, which has a verb homonym meaning "to break up, spread out, defeat" (Marino). So Trickster strikes his opponents with pi, "defeat". Grasshopper was struck in such a way that it affected his stomach, šibera, and in another pun on a near homonym, he was caused to fall, šibere.

28 Paul Radin, "The Blue Man," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook 55; Radin, (untitled), Winnebago Notes, 4-16.

29 So called explicitly in the title of the waiką, "Wak'čexi Hečoga (Waterspirit Bluehorn)," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Library) #66, Story 2.

30 Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. A Study in Comparative Literature (Basil: Ethnographical Museum, Basil, Switzerland, 1954 [Part I], 1956 [Part II]) I:41 (§75), I:80-84, II:119, II:125.

31 "The Epic of the Twins, Part One," in Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, I:41.

32 See the sources cited in note 11 and "Children of the Sun," in Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, I.75-80.

33 On the inverse process of creation practiced by the Waterspirits, see Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 193-194. Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1927) 196-199. Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 89-91. "Hinašax Ruwiná," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago III, #2, Section 7, pp. XV-XVI.

34 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (1923): 117.


36 Even (c)ja is sometimes ambiguous between "there" and "then".

37 Charles N. Houghton, "The Orphan who Conquered Death," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 70, p. 4, handwritten note by Radin.

38 Mary Carolyn Marino, A Dictionary of Winnebago: An Analysis and Reference Grammar of the Radin Lexical File (Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, December 14, 1968 [69-14,947]) s.v. žič.

39 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 85.

40 Radin, Winnebago Tribe, 86.

41 Radin says only, "corn was cached (wox(c))." Winnebago Tribe (1923): 118.

42 Radin says no more on this topic than, "When the shelling is over, the corn is spread out and dried." Winnebago Tribe (1923): 117. Buffalo Bird Woman (ca. 1839-1932) of the Hidatsa tribe in her very thorough account of the raising and processing of corn, says that the corn was first half-boiled, then shelled off. After this it was spread out on hides and allowed to dry in the sun and air. She states, "The corn dried in about four days." Wilson, Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, 41.

43 Radin, "The Blue Man," Notebook 55.

44 Vincent G. Dethier, Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992) 10.

45 However, there is some question as to the translation of this name, as Radin himself admits. In the syllabic MS, the word is initially untranslated; however, in its second occurrence, the translator John Baptiste, renders it as "Nit." The name of a character that occurs later in the Trickster Cycle, Chipmunk, is an exact homonym, except perhaps for the accent. The latter is from an old stem heč-, which is followed by -ge, a suffix used to denote animal names; nįk means "little" and -ka is the definite article used in the context of personal names. (To heč-, compare Dakota tacnaheča, "chipmunk.") However, Nit is denoted by He-čge-nįk-ka, where he means "louse," and čge means "egg." (To hečge, cf. Osage heç?zhįga.) Clearly, as Miner explicitly states in his lexicon, hečg(c) means "louse egg." (Miner, s.v. hečg(c).) The English word "nit" is ambiguous, denoting not only the egg, but the larva that emerges from it, as well as the specific kind of louse, the head louse. Later on in the text, "Louse (Egg)" is fixed upon as the translation rather than "Chipmunk". As we will see below, the comic interpretation of Hečgenįka as the spirit of a louse egg is the very one that fits into the systematic interpretation of the myth as a whole.

46 Marino, s.v. wa.

47 "According to Chief Whirling Thunder, a 20th century Winnebago chief in Chicago, Winnebago Indians have — for as long as anyone remembers — popped popcorn right on the cob by inserting a sharp stick through the cob and holding it near the fire." From the website, "History of Popcorn" (

48 cp. the story of how Trickster duped Little Fox so that he was dragged by a horse, in Radin, The Trickster, 50-52; the story of how Little Fox was fooled by Trickster in a scenting contest, in Radin, The Trickster, 40-41. There is a story in which Little Fox is a trickster in his own right, trying to swindle a corpse in Sam Blowsnake (ed. Paul Radin), Crashing Thunder. The Autobiography of an American Indian (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983 [1926]) 44-49.

49 David Alderton, Foxes, Wolves and Wild Dogs of the World (New York: Facts On File, 1994) 71, 122.

50 Miner, s.v. čosg(c). A case is recorded , for instance, of a blue jay alerting a porcupine to the presence of a human. This kind of behavior presents an obvious problem for hunters. Arthur Cleveland Bent, Life Histories of North American Birds, Smithsonian Institution, United States National Museum Bulletin (Washington, D. C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1947) 191:32-52.

51 A case in point is the story of how Earthmaker blessed Wagíšega, in Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 497.

52 Bent, Life Histories.

53 "Blue Jay" at the Internet site of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology (1999),

54 Such a trick may be seen in the waiką about the Chief of the Lice, Paul Radin, "The Man's Head," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Library) Notebook 51.

55 Radin, "The Man's Head."

56 "Plants that did not disperse their seeds were appealing, because harvesting their grain was easier, although this characteristic made a plant's propagation dependent on humans." Stephen A. Goff, and John M. Salmeron, "Back to the Future of Cereals," Scientific American, vol. 291, #2 (Aug., 2004): 44.

57 Paul Radin, "Ocean Duck," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook 13, 1-77.

58 William Lipkind, Winnebago Grammar (New York: King's Crown Press, 1945); Marino, Dictionary, s.v. he; Miner, Winnebago Field Lexicon , s.v. h(c).

59 Radin, "The Man's Head."

60 Bent, Life Histories: "Where they are resident they lay up quite a store of acorns, corn, and nuts in various places for winter use ..."

61 Alderton, Foxes, Wolves and Wild Dogs of the World, 71, 122.

62 Charles Edward Brown, Wigwam Tales (Madison, Wisc.: Charles E. Brown, 1930) 28.

63 Radin, Winnebago Tribe (1923): 384.