Hare and the Grasshoppers (§2 of the Hare Cycle)

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

Version 1

Hare asked his grandmother, "How will I get some points for my arrows?" "First go to your grandfather and ask for some tobacco," she said, "then give some tobacco to your other grandfather and he will give you some arrowheads." As Hare approached his grandfather's abode, he enlarged himself, and sang a song:

Grandmother sent me for tobacco,
This is why I have come!

Then Hare heard a loud noise, and suddenly there appeared before him a frightened old man who said, "I have never seen a spirit as great as you. I offer you this pipe full of tobacco." Rather than accepting it, Hare yelled, "Heeyee!" and jumped closer to him. Every time this happened the old man offered him an additional pipe full of tobacco, but Hare still refused to accept any of his offerings. Hare yelled, "Heeyee, heeyee!" and chased him all over the earth, and as he fled, the old man dropped tobacco everywhere. When Hare caught up to him, he smashed him to pieces with his warclub. This grandfather was in reality a giant grasshopper. He took up some of the tobacco and went home. When he told his grandmother that he killed the grasshopper, she was horrified, and yelled, "You ugly varmint, you killed my brother!" But Hare replied, "You evil old woman, if that's the way you feel, then I'll just club you like I did him!" "Grandson," she said, "I only meant that as a joke. You were right to kill him, since he was withholding tobacco from your uncles."1

Version 2

Grandmother (Earth) spoke to her grandson and said, "Let's go to the village of the grasshoppers. They have stolen tobacco from your aunts and uncles and perhaps we can recover it." Hare said, "All right!" As they approached the village of the grasshoppers, Grandmother told Hare to do whatever he thought would work, so Hare let out a mighty yell so loud that the earth shook. The grasshoppers said, "A great and evil spirit is coming upon us, all may be lost!" So the chief of the grasshoppers gave Hare an offering of tobacco. Grandmother took this and put it in a sack. Nevertheless, Hare let out an even louder yell which made the earth shake even more violently than before. The grasshoppers again offered him tobacco, and he told Grandmother, "Put this in your sack. They will soon give us the rest." Hare let out a yell louder still than the one before, and again the grasshoppers tried to placate him with tobacco as before. When Grandmother put this in her sack she said to Hare, "That ought to do it." Nevertheless, Hare roared again with such power that all creation shook. In panic, every grasshopper grabbed a mouthful of tobacco and fled into the air. Thus even to this day they have tobacco in their mouths. Grandmother took the tobacco they had collected and scattered it over the whole of the earth. In time it grew back and mankind once again had tobacco.2

Comparative Material. Essentially the same story is told by the closely related Oto. See "Rabbit and the Grasshoppers."3

The neighboring Menominee tell a different story, but one that still has a number of notable similarities to the Hocąk tale. When Manabush was crossing a mountain he smelled the aroma of tobacco and found that it had come from a chamber inside the mountain where a giant lived. Manabush asked if he too could have some tobacco, but the giant said that he smoked but one a year with the manidos, and they had just finished for this year. Nevertheless, there were bags and bags of tobacco piled up in the cavern, so Manabush grabbed one and took off running. The giant chased him, but as Manabush reached a mountain peak, he suddenly flattened himself, and the giant when flying off into the chasm below. The giant struggled back up the hill and just barely made it to the summit. Manabush grabbed him and through him hard on the ground. "For your stinginess you shall now become Kaku'ene, 'Jumper' (Grasshopper), and you will be known by the stain on your mouth. You shall be a pest to all who grow tobacco,' said Manabush. Thus it was.4

Links: Hare, Earth, Tobacco, Grasshoppers.

Links within the Hare Cycle: §1. Hare Acquires His Arrows, §3. Hare Kills Flint.

Stories: featuring Hare as a character: The Hare Cycle, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Necessity for Death, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Hare Kills Wildcat, The Messengers of Hare, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Hare Kills Flint, Hare Kills Sharp Elbow, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Grandmother Packs the Bear Meat, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads, Hare Visits the Blind Men, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane, Hare Burns His Buttocks, Hare Gets Swallowed, The Hill that Devoured Men and Animals, Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Grandmother's Gifts, The Spirit of Gambling, The Red Man, Maize Origin Myth, Hare Steals the Fish, The Animal who would Eat Men, The Gift of Shooting, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Petition to Earthmaker; mentioning grasshoppers: The Green Man, The Two Boys, The Dipper, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Thunderbird; mentioning tobacco: Tobacco Origin Myth, Hocąk 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, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth; featuring Grandmother Earth as a character: Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Maize Origin Myth, Grandmother Packs the Bear Meat, Grandmother's Gifts, Owl Goes Hunting, Hare Acquires His Arrows, The Plant Blessing of Earth, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, Hare Visits the Blind Men, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads, Hare Burns His Buttocks, Hare Gets Swallowed, Hare Kills Wildcat, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, The Necessity for Death, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Hare Steals the Fish, Hare Kills Sharp Elbow, Hare Kills Flint, The Gift of Shooting, The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man (vv 4, 6), Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Redhorn's Father (?).

This is a variant of the third episode in Hare Acquires His Arrows (§1 of the Hare Cycle).

Themes: a being is able to enlarge himself: Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (v. 1), The Canine Warrior.

Songs. Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 2), Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 3), Buffalo Dance Songs, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Returning, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Starting Out, Clan Song, Bear Clan, Song of the Youngest, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, The Four Songs of Hojanoka, Clan Songs—Deer Clan, Clan Songs—Wolf Clan, Clan Songs—Wonáǧire Wąkšik Clan, The Crawfish's Song, Duck Song, Farewell Songs, The Four Services Songs, Grandfather Sparrow's Rain Songs, Grizzly Bear Songs, Hare's Song to Grasshopper, Hare's Song to the Wągepanįgera, Hare's Song to Wildcat, Hawk's Song, Heroka Songs, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Little Fox's Death Song, Little Fox's Death Song (for the Warpath), Little Fox's Tail Song, Love Song I (female), Love Song II (female), Love Song III (female), The Mouse Song, Nightspirit Songs, The Quail's Song, Redman's Song, Slow Song of the Heroka, Soldier Dance Songs, Song for Calling the Buffalo, Song from the Water, Song from the Water (King Bird), The Song of Bluehorn's Sister, Hocąk Text — The Song of Sun Caught in a Net, The Song of the Boy Transformed into a Robin, Song of the Frog to Hare, Song of the Thunder Nestlings, The Song of Trickster's Baby, Song to Earthmaker, The Song to the Elephant, The Sun's Song to Hare, Three Warrior Songs, Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 1), Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 2), Turtle's Four Death Dance Songs, Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 1), Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 2), Twins, Ghost's Song (The Two Brothers), Twins, the Songs of Ghost and Flesh, Twins, Song of the Father-in-Law, Victory Song, Wailing Song, Warrior Song about Mącosepka, What a Turtle Sang in His Sleep, Wolf-Teasing Song of the Deer Spirits. Songs in the McKern collection: Waking Songs (27, 55, 56, 57, 58) War Song: The Black Grizzly (312), War Song: Dream Song (312), War Song: White Cloud (313), James’ Horse (313), Little Priest Songs (309), Little Priest's Song (316), Chipmunk Game Song (73), Patriotic Songs from World War I (105, 106, 175), Grave Site Song: "Coming Down the Path" (45), Songs of the Stick Ceremony (53).


1 Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 93-98. Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) §5, pp. 65-66. The original Hocąk text is missing, but the English translation of Oliver LaMère is preserved in Paul Radin, "The Hare Cycle," Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3851 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago IV, #1: 13-17.

2 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 principal translator.

3 J. Owen Dorsey, "The Rabbit and the Grasshopper: An Otoe Myth," The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, 3 (1880).

4 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Manabush: Menomini Tales, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1948) 7.