Grasshoppers

by Richard L. Dieterle


In primordial times, Grasshopper was of giant proportions and went about abusing people. He allied himself with Cricket, who was in the process of winning everything humanity owned in a series of gambling matches with the sons of Earthmaker (minus Bladder). The other bad spirits who were helping him were the Meteor Spirit, One Legged One, and Horsefly. When the Green Man appeared, the sons of Earthmaker began to win. They decided to play a game called "Jump," which involved jumping over a very high hill. When Grasshopper took his turn, he leapt a great distance in the air, but Trickster shot him with raccoon liver while Grasshopper was ascending, and this caused him to feel a cramp in his stomach which made him fail to clear the hill. As a result of his defeat, he shrank in size and was ever after of no great consequence.1

Grasshopper, like many bad spirits, was the brother of Grandmother Earth. She advised Hare to go see him to get some tobacco that might prove useful in making offerings to other spirits. So Hare approached Grasshopper's abode singing, when suddenly a frightened old man materialized before him with a loud noise. This was Grasshopper. The old man offered Hare tobacco to pacify him, as he had never seen such a powerful spirit, but Hare rejected it, jumping at him and yelling, "Heeyee!" As Grasshopper fled, Hare smashed him to bits with his club, picking up all the tobacco that he wanted.2 This tobacco had been stolen from the humans, who are the only race entitled to possess it. When Hare killed Grasshopper, the rest of his tribe fled in terror, but before leaving each grabbed a bit of tobacco and jammed it in his mouth. That is why even today grasshoppers can spit tobacco.3


Links: The Sons of Earthmaker, One Legged One, The Meteor Spirit, Trickster, Earth, Hare, Tobacco, Raccoons.


Stories: mentioning grasshoppers: The Green Man, Hare and the Grasshoppers, The Two Boys, The Dipper, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Thunderbird; mentioning tobacco: Tobacco Origin Myth, Hare and the Grasshoppers, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth (v 2), How the Thunders Met the Nights, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Grandmother's Gifts, The Thunderbird, First Contact, Peace of Mind Regained, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, The Dipper, The Masaxe War, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts.


Notes

1 Paul Radin, (untitled), Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3858 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago IV, #5: 13, 16. This is a typewritten MS of the conclusion of the "Green Man."

2 Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 93-98

3 Oliver LaMère (Bear Clan), "The Rabbit and the Grasshoppers," in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 86-87. Oliver LaMère was Paul Radin's translator.