The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee (§3 of Sam Blowsnake's Twins Cycle)

Version 1

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

Sam Blowsnake

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

HEN hen their father became fearful of his own sons. He began to fear them. Then in the morning, very early in the morning, he went hunting. "Flesh, your father has fled. He is afraid of us. (130) "Koté, let's do something to him," he said. He did it. He went a little way and there he marked the ground. There he brought it to an end at the base of a tree which stood by the lodge door. Their father ran all day long. (131) He went in the direction of the rising sun. When night overtook him there, he put away his arrows there, and at the base of a tree he laid he head and went to sleep. (132) The next morning, unexpectedly, someone awoke him by speaking. "Koté Flesh, our father did a grave thing. Look at him," he was saying. Unexpectedly, there he had lain his head by the tree that stood next to the door and was sleeping. (133) "Why do you do this?" they asked him. "Hagagasgeižą, my dear sons, I was tired. I made it only this far from home. I was only able to reach this far last night. Last night when you were asleep, I chased deer. (134) Therefore, I wore myself out. Consequently, I was unable to reach the lodge." They knew all about him, but he was saying this. They nodded their assent. Then again he did it.

Early in the morning, he went hunting. Again he fled. (135) They knew it again. Once more he said, "Flesh, father has left, he has fled in fear. Let's do something to him again." Once more he did the same thing. He marked the ground and he made it reach up to a fallen log. (136) Again that man really moved. He really ran. Yet again he was going in the direction where the sun straightens out (south). He used a log there for a pillow and also he used it part of the night. (137) When it was morning, unexpectedly, he was again awakened by talking. "Koté Flesh, again our father is doing something here. (138) "Hagagasgeižą, my dear sons, night had overtaken me. I was so sleepy. Therefore, I only reached this far," he said again to them. "," they replied. They knew full well what his circumstances were, but he said this. (139) Yet again he did it. This time they marked it to the woodpile. When they had it on there, they marked it. There he was found and as he slept, they awoke him by talking. (140) Again he made an exclamation. "My dear sons, I got an elk in the stomach. I tried to kill it, so all day long I chased it. Therefore, I was worn out. I thought that I went in. Because I had gotten home is why I had done it." (141) He went into the lodge. And he was truly afraid of his sons, and so he was doing this. Now again he thought that he would do it once more. Very early in the morning, he fled. (142) Again he had run hard all day long. Again they did it. This time they made it reach to the fire wood.

(143) "It would be good if he quietly went away someplace, but he acts this way instead," they said. "Flesh, should our father get somewhere, he will be in a bad way, I think, so I am doing this. He will go there, someplace where it would be good," they said. (144) And again in the morning while he was resting on the fire wood, he was awakened by talking. And at this time they said to him, "Father, why should you do this? We knew all the time. (145) We just did these things to you. If you will do there — somewhere where it is good — if you go, it will be good. If we let you continue what you were doing, you would have gotten into bad circumstances. (146) Therefore, we have been doing this to you. We ourselves were the cause of all this. This is why you always returned here. Today take time and care, yet get ready and go. And there sits a village. Go there and marry the woman there. (147) So also if sometime in the future we become lonesome for you, we can come there. We also shall travel about the world. We will not live here. (148) It is in the direction of the rising sun. It's a town nearby. If you were to go now, you would get there in the evening. And at this end of the village, at its edge, (149) there lives an old woman, there you will enter. There they are packing wood for the old woman, the chief's wife. They will see you there. You will marry one of these." (150) After they had directed them, then he left. As a result, he got there at the time that they had said he would. There sat a little oval lodge. Going to a little bark-wood lodge, he peeped in. The old woman was there and said, (151) "A, grandson, come in; why are you standing there peeping in?" she said. He entered in. A little while later, they let the wood down outside. They coughed. "Why am I doing this? (152) If I were doing this it would be better if the old woman had some grandsons," she said. As she said this, she peeped in and unexpectedly, a man was sitting there. She uttered a cough and jerked herself back.

(153) Then shortly thereafter Turtle proceeded to come in. "Hohó my friend, I have come as I was thinking that it is about time that he is at the lodge. It is as I expected," he said. (154) He remained for a long time. They were still talking to each other. And once it was night, he said, "Aren't you also going out to court women?" he said. "I know where they are lying. I always go there," he said. (155) "I'll point out the place to you," he said. He was saying that he had had relations with all of them. In truth, Turtle was saying this because he didn't have knowledge of them. "Koté young man, first I will go, and when I've returned, then you go," he said. (156) Turtle finally went in. He had gotten there. "What does this Turtle mean by doing this?" said the chief's daughter. Then he said, "Princess, the traveling man ..." (157) when he said it, she had listened to him, and he chuckled. They were lying on a fixed place above the ground. Therefore, they were not on the ground. "What? What did you say?" the princess said. She had grown to like this traveling man already. (158) But because she thought he said something there, she was listening. Then he said again, "Princess, the travelling man ..." he said, and again he began to laugh. Then the traveling man went outside. (159) When he heard it, he would be thinking that they were friends, that is why he said it. He began to laugh. When he said it again, he was thrown out. "What did this guy mean by 'Man'?" she said and the old man rattled as he hit the ground. (160) He was almost killed. He came out laughing. "Hi hi hi, chee chee chee," he said. "Jáha-á," he said. (161) "Koté young man, the princess was always grabbing me and tickling me, and when I suddenly jumped, I fell off the edge. So I came back. I don't often come. (162) Because she always likes it, she plays around all the time. I did it only because this time you were going there and because I wanted to persuade her for you. (163) I had not intended to marry her. I said to her, 'Marry him'. As for me, I told her that I would not do that." He went there. When he got there, she fixed the bed for him. There he was married.1

The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee

(§4 of Jasper Blowsnake's Twins Cycle)

Version 2

by Jasper Blowsnake

Jasper Blowsnake

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

(31) "And I will go hunting, my sons." "Koté Flesh, your father is running away. This man did nothing but run all day long. He has fled far afield. Koté Flesh, let's mark for your father the way he should go." They marked for him in the ashes (32) how he should go. "If he goes this way, he will come back this way. And over here he will come back and sleep. He will rest his head at the woodpile as he goes by coming back." They marked it for him. The next morning, when they went out, it was their father. He was in back by the woodpile sleeping. "Koté Flesh, father is here sleeping." When they woke him up by talking, he laughed. "My sons, as I came home, I went in as I was very sleepy, I thought." Again the next morning, very early in the morning, he went hunting, and again he ran away. "Koté Flesh, you father has run away again. Let's do it to him again. Let's mark for him the way he should go." They marked it in the ashes. "Let's mark it back up to the door for him." All day long the old man ran fast. Then it was night, but he continued on. (33) Now then he was very weak with sleepiness and he fell asleep. In the morning those boys went out. He was back there sleeping at the door. Then I must have fallen asleep. I don't know." Again for a third time he ran away. "Koté, your father has run away again. Let's again mark out for him how he should go." They marked it. They marked the door to be entered. Then he ran all day long, doing a very great deal of running. "Next time I will not go back to the lodge. They did it." And so he ran with great energy all day long. Now, then at night he continued on. He was weak with sleepiness going back, (34) so a log he laid against there, resting his head there, and going to sleep. The next morning, these Twins as they were going out, this one who is their father was sleeping by the door way. He was resting his head on the firewood and, "Why not lay on the bed rather than doing this?" they were saying to him when they woke him up. He laughed. "My sons, last night I became very sleepy, so I went and laid on bedding, I thought. I did not go and lay on a bed." For the fourth time again he ran away. Then again they marked how he should go. Now they marked for him to rest his head in bed. Having run at night, he camped. The next morning he was asleep at the lodge. He had slept in the wilderness. The next morning they said, "Why don't you sleep in the bed right?" they said to him. Then, "My sons, at night I was getting very sleepy, (35) so on the way back I lay down in bed, so I thought. But I cannot have."

And they said to him, "Father, I know we did what you are doing. I know we made where you were going on the way. If you don't want to stay with us, over here sits a village, go there and you may marry a woman. There you could remain. Sometimes we will go back there and see you." "My dear sons, you mean well." And there they took him. He married the princess. They returned alone to the lodge.2

The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee

(§3 of the Susman Twins Cycle)

Version 3

collected by Sam Blowsnake

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

(100) And Little Ghost said, "K'oté Flesh, your father is afraid of us. He fled in fear while he was out hunting," he said. And Little Ghost said, "Your father will be back. (101) Thus, I will do him some good. Then he did it. He went out and he marked on the ground outside and marked it so that it reached where a tree stood outside the rear of the lodge. And that evening he did not come back from the hunt. (102) So they went to sleep. When they awoke then next morning, he had placed his head there at the foot of the tree outside (the lodge) and leaned his quiver against it, and there he was sleeping. Then they shook him. (103) "Why didn't you come inside and sleep?" he said to him. And he said, "Because I got lost, I came back very late, and was tired. So, anyway, I slept here," he said.

There that man again became even more afraid of his own sons. (3.1) Thus he thought. "As my sons are powerful, in time they will do something to hurt me," he thought. Again when he went hunting the next morning, he ran all day long. He fled in fear. (2) In the evening, as he had become very tired, he laid there on top of a big fallen tree. "Before when I laid on the ground, they made me come back there," he thought. (3) "If I lie on top of a dead tree, that might turn out differently," he thought. And Little Ghost said, "Flesh, your father is really afraid of us. Again he fled. Once more I'll make him come back. (4) Then we can talk it over and he can take his time going back somewhere," he said. And again they marked the ground, and as a dead tree lay close by the lodge, there he marked it to reach that point. (5) And that night they slept and the next morning, unexpectedly, he lay asleep atop a dead tree. Again they woke him up. "Why didn't you come in the house and sleep?" they said to him. (6) He said, "My dear sons, I shot a deer. I hit his leg, which I broke. In order to kill him, I ran a long way after him, but I couldn't kill him. So I had gone a long way. So I slept here," he said.

(7) Then they said, "We know that from fear you wanted to flee," they said to him. "We are doing a job. We ourselves will keep doing it until we are finished, only then will we quit. (8) And you should not be afraid of us. We can't do anything to you. We killed some things. As they were bad, we did it to them. And you can easily travel back to the place where you came from. (9) You can go back there. There a man can live. But we, on the other hand, will be around the whole earth. Whatever is not good in creation, we will kill. So when you go back, we will go around by ourselves. We will take care of ourselves. (10) Then the man said, "My dear sons, what you said was right, what I did was not good. I tried to run away and hide myself," he said. "My dear sons, I like it. (11) I am going back and put myself in the village. I will go back there. But my sons, I will be thinking, 'How are my sons doing?'. (12) In the morning, I will take my time and go back. I'll just take a some small things of my own with me," he said. Then after that, in the morning, when it was time to go, they said to their father, "We will come and see you," they said to him. (13) "Every once in a great while, we'll come to the lodge," they said and he went back.3

Commentary. "princess" — the Hocąk word is Hųgiwira (also, Yųgiwira), "the chief's woman." The suffix -wi denotes a female, so it might also serve to mean, "female chief," but in fact it is the common title given to the daughters of the chief, not to his wife. Despite the fact that the woman is clearly single, John Baptiste translates this word as "queen." His successor as translator, Oliver LaMère, always translated this word as "princess."

"the traveling man (wąk hikiwarera)" — the father of the Twins is the Sun, who is paradigmatically a traveler.

"Little Ghost" — this is the first time Susman gives the literal translation of his name (Wanąǧinįka).

"he had placed his head there at the foot of the tree outside (the lodge)" — in the astronomical code the father is the sun. In the morning when the sun rises, it "runs" across the sky with great velocity ending up at the opposite end of the world, yet while its light is out, while it is "sleeping," somehow it ends up right back where it started from by the next morning.

"every once in a great while, we'll come to the lodge"ex hypothesi, the Twins are the Morning and Evening Mercuries in the astronomical code. They are with their father the Sun when they are in conjunction with him. When they decide to separate from one another, the two Mercuries reappear in the sky farther and farther away from the sun. This is represented allegorically by their traveling about the world. However, after a very long time, they will once again come into conjunction with the sun, they will, allegorically, "enter his lodge."

Comparative Material. The Sauk version is quite similar to the Hocąk, but rather short. By now the father of the Twins had begun to fear them. He decided that he would run away from them. So the next morning he set out to escape. After traveling all day, he sat down by a log and tied his gun to a nearby branch. When he woke up, the Twins were standing over him. "Father, why are you sleeping on the floor instead of your bed?" Then he looked up and saw that he was inside his own lodge and that his gun was tied to one of the lodge posts. He tried four times to escape, but only when he ran all day and all night did he finally get away.4 [the previous episode of this story]

The Skidi Pawnee have a parallel to this story. As their father reflected upon the wondrous power of the Twins, he began to fear them. He thought how he might run away. While the Twins were away for several days in the woods, he took his chance and fled. At first the older brother, Handsome Boy, refused to believe that their father had run away, but he was eventually persuaded of the fact by his brother After Birth Boy. After Birth Boy took his brother to where he had lived after he was thrown away. It was a wood rat's nest. He explained that the wood rats were his grandmothers and had fed him on nuts, fruit, and beans. Afterwards, they went about the earth asking all creatures if they had seen their father, but each answered that he had not. Then they encountered Mouse, who told them that their father had fled to the underworld through a hole in the ground, so they went down the passage into the world below. They found a village of bad people, and they used their powers to cause all of them to die. They did the same at the next village, and there among the dead, they found their father's corpse. This they cremated, and as the smoke billowed up, they too ascended in different directions into the heavens.5 [the previous episode of this story]

Among the Cherokee, Wild Boy and his brother bear interesting similarities to the Hocąk Twins. They were both very mischievous, but this trouble-making went too far when they killed their own mother Corn. When their father Kanáti (Lucky Hunter) found out, he fled to the Wolf people. He got the Wolf people to raid the two boys, but they were rubbed out instead. The boys took a gaming wheel and rolled it in every direction, and the first three times it came back, so they knew their father was not where the wheel had been. Finally they rolled it towards Sun Land, and the wheel did not come back, so they knew their father was hiding there. So the boys set off to the east and soon overtook Kanáti. The gaming wheel had turned into a dog who accompanied their father. He was not pleased to see them, but they fell in with him anyway. After staying seven days with their parents in the eastern Spiritland, they went to live in the west. "We call them Anisgáya Tsunstí (The Little Men), and when they talk to each other we hear low rolling thunder in the west."6

The Natchez version is inverted, with the father coming after the Twins. After the Twins had started to destroy good things and generally to become a menace, their father announced that he was going to a council meeting and would return later. The boys followed him, hiding under the floor boards of the council house. They soon discovered that it was they themselves who were on trial and that they had been condemned to death. So they set up a defensive perimeter of guardian birds with quails on the outer rim. Soon they received word that their enemies were upon them, so they released a swarm of stinging insects and the enemy were swinging so wildly at these bees and hornets that they finally clubbed one another to death. Among the pile of bodies the Twins found their own father still alive. They changed him into a crow and he flew away crying, gax, gax, gax, gax.7

The Creek version is very similar to the Natchez. The Twins realized that their father was angry with them and was going to get some warriors to help kill them. So they made defensive preparations, surrounding themselves with loud voiced birds to warn them of his approach. When the cranes called out, they knew that he was coming. When the host arrived, the Twins released a swarm of stinging insects, and they stung the man and his warriors to death. They found their father laying face down, and they took an arrow and rubbed it against his buttocks, transforming him into a crow who flew away, crying, Ga ga ga ga! Because of the crow's origins, people today use bows and arrows to scare crows away from their crops.8

To the strange phenomenon of traveling far but getting nowhere, the Mohave have a version with the primary roles switched. "[Pacekarawe and his relatives] came to the house of an old woman who had horn-toes. This woman had the power to stretch distances, and however fast the travelers walked, they could not advance at all. Pacekarawe got angry at last. 'Who do you think you are? Do you think your power is so much greater than mine?' he said. He stamped his foot, cutting the distance into half and at once the travelers found themselves near their home."9

Links: The Twins, The Twins Cycle, Turtle, Thunderbirds.

Links within the Sam Blowsnake's Twins Cycle: §2. The Twins Disobey Their Father (v. 1), §4. The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 1).

Links within Jasper Blowsnake's Twins Cycle: §3. The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 2), §5. The Twins Visit Their Father's Village (v. 2).

Links within Amelia Susman's Twins Cycle: §2. The Twins Disobey Their Father (v. 3); §4. The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 3).

Stories: about the Twins: The Twins Cycle, The Man with Two Heads, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Two Boys, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket; featuring Turtle as a character: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Turtle's Warparty, Turtle and the Giant, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, Turtle and the Merchant, Redhorn's Father, Redhorn's Sons, Turtle and the Witches, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster Soils the Princess, Morning Star and His Friend, Grandfather's Two Families, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Kunu's Warpath, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Skunk Origin Myth, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Creation of Man, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, The Chief of the Heroka, The Spirit of Gambling, The Nannyberry Picker, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Markings on the Moon (v. 2), The Green Man, The Hocągara Contest the Giants, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Origins of the Milky Way.

Versions of this story are found embedded in The Two Boys, and The Two Brothers.

The episode of Turtle's courtship is essentially identical with that of Trickster Soils the Princess and The Nannyberry Picker.

Themes: a (grand)father abandons his family: The Two Boys, Sun and the Big Eater, The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families, The Birth of the Twins, The Two Brothers, Trickster Visits His Family; to escape a dangerous person, someone runs into the wilderness: Bluehorn's Nephews, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, The Two Boys; someone runs away at full speed, but despite running for some time, he finds himself only a short distance from where he started: Redhorn's Father, The Two Boys; (three or) four young women, one of whom is a princess, encounter a suitor while they are bringing wood to an old woman's lodge: Redhorn's Father, Morning Star and His Friend, Trickster Soils the Princess, The Nannyberry Picker, The Two Boys; Turtle courts a chief's daughter with his friend, but is rebuffed by being pushed off her platform bed: Trickster Soils the Princess, The Nannyberry Picker.


1 Sam Blowsnake, "Warecáwera," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) Winnebago V, #11: 129-163. An English translation is published in "The Twins," in Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. A Study in Comparative Literature, Part I (Basil: Ethnographical Museum, Basil Switzerland, 1954) 91-93.

2 Jasper Blowsnake, "Waretcawera," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman Numbers 3850, 3896, 3897 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 67: 1-40 [30-37].

3 Amelia Susman, Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, May 29 - Oct. 10, 1938) Book 2.98-103, Book 3.1-13.

4 Mary Lasley, "Sac and Fox Tales," The Journal of American Folk-lore, 15 (1903): 170-178. Mary Lasley (Bee-way-thee-wah) was the daughter of Black Hawk.

5 Woman Newly Made Chief, "Handsome-Boy and After-Birth Boy," in George A. Dorsey, The Pawnee Mythology (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997 [1906]) 152-155.

6 "Kanáti and Selu: The Origin of Game and Corn," in James Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (Asheville, North Carolina: Bright Mountain Books, 1992 [1891/1900]) Story 3: 246-248.

7 "6. Lodge Boy and Thrown-Away," in John Reed Swanton, Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians, Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 88 (1929): 227-230 [228-229].

8 "2. Bead-Spitter and Thrown-Away," in Swanton, Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians, 2-7 [6-7].

9 George Devereux, "Mohave Coyote Tales," Journal of American Folk-lore 61 (1948), #241: 233-255 [249].