Kaǧiga and Lone Man

Interlinear Hocąk-English Text

(1) There a village was. Their chief had two groups of children. (2) One [group] had two children, and one had ten. They disliked the one who had two, and the brother who lived alone. All the others knew it. Once the lone man disappeared, so they picked up and moved the village to another place.

Soon they became hungry, so Kaǧiga's ("Crow's") child (said), "What was left [on the meat racks at the old village] must have some sinews left on it — I will go and see. (3) Let us go, we will be on the way together." These arrived there. On the meat racks plenty of bear entrails were stretched here and there. "Hohó, old man," he said, "what a good thing this is! Old man, I long for these bear entrails," in this way he spoke. He ate some of the entrails belonging to Lone Man (Wąk’į́nekiga). They arrived. Lone Man's sister, the chief's daughter, was there. "Waho! We barely made it here. The village is starving. (4) It is not without expectations that we come to see you. What a good thing you are doing," in this way they spoke. She replied, "Grandfathers, my brother has come back to life. We are doing well." She boiled food for them, and it became warm in their stomachs. The crow (kaǧi) vomited, he vomited up chunks of bear entrails. "Grandfather, you said you were hungry, but you are vomiting up bear entrails. How is it that you are doing such a thing?" "Hohó, hagágasge, in the past I had forbidden it, but as we have arrived, never mind. (5) This I said to him, but when I arrived here he stole it. He always does this." "Hohó, grandfather," she replied, "it is still good, come and eat." She gave them food, and then Lone Man returned. "Hohó, grandfather, you have come back! You have come back, good, good! Nephew, in this country that we live in, there are many animals." "We are going home, for we have children." "Take this for them," and he gave them dried meat and bear fat.

(6) They finally arrived back. Kunu heard them since they were making the noise of crying. "Hohó, grandfather, thus it is when they eat anything of consequence," is what they were saying as he came towards him. They gave him only one piece of cork (noširi). "Grandson, it is from eating cork that they did it." "," he replied.

Again they came [to Lone Man]. "Hohó, the grandfathers have come. Eat, grandfather." Then they went home taking jerky and bear fat with them. They arrived home and fed the children again. (7) Kunu came and in this way they were speaking, "Grandfather, how about a little something to eat?" thus they were saying. He (Kunu) went in and took away the food that they were eating and the crow got angry. "Thus you always do when I try to feed the children. Lone Man has come back to life. The village where we came from has plenty, so we are going back there," So Kunu said, "I also." "Grandfather, we're all going back. (8) Crier, go there calling, go and tell them, 'Lone Man has come back to life, therefore, he has plenty, they say.' Where we have come from, animals are in abundance, so let us go back there. So hurry up and get ready." Then they went back there.

They arrived here. Lone Man said, "You did well to come home," he said. He did not give a thought to what they had done to him. Just as the village used to be, now it had become again. (9) Now the village lived well. They [the spirits] had blessed Lone Man, and so this village was good; so they made Lone Man its chief. So good a chief did they have, they say, that the village never passed through such travails a second time. They say that because Lone Man had dreamt, the village lived well.

The End.1

Commentary. "two groups" — these are ten plus two, making a total of twelve offspring for the chief. The clans of the Hocąk nation number twelve: {1} Thunderbird, {2} Eagle, {3} Pigeon, {4} Hawk, {5} Buffalo, {6} Waterspirit, {7} Bear, {8} Deer, {9} Elk, {10} Fish, {11} Snake, and {12} Wolf.

"the brother who lived alone" — this is confusing. What seems to have been meant is that the chief of this village had two groups of children. Ten of them lived together in a lodge, and the remaining two lived alone. When it is said that Lone Man lived "alone," what is meant is that he lived apart from his brothers. The story makes it clear that he lived with his sister, the daughter of the chief. So it is the group of ten who dislike the two that live apart, and most particularly their brother, Lone Man.

"all the others" — that is, everyone in the village knew of the schism.

"disappeared" — the basic idea is that one of the brothers lived alone because he was holy. The others did not like him for being stand-offish. He disappeared to fast on behalf of the village, as we learn later on.

"moved" — this is later portrayed as a hostile act. Apparently their thought was that they would rid themselves of him if he were still alive. The danger of living apart from the village is the highly increased likelihood of being "picked off" by an enemy raiding party.

"Kaǧiga" — this is a Bear Clan name, since the avian counterpart to bears is the kaǧi, "crow, raven." The following names are attested in the bear clan: Kaǧiskaga, "White Crow"; Kaǧižįkáka, "Yellowish Raven"; and the following were not identified by clan: Kaǧiga, "Crow"; Kaǧinįka, "Little Crow" (q.v.). Kaǧiga is a masculine name.

"these arrived there" — what is meant is that they arrived at the meat racks. It is clear from the context that they had not yet met Lone Man and his sister inside the lodge.

"bear entrails" — this reiterates the Bear Clan theme introduced by the reference to kaǧira (crows). Bear gut was used by many tribes to make bowstrings.

"old man" — this would seem to be Kaǧiga, who is here addressed by his child who accompanied him.

"the chief's daughter" — the term for the chief's daughter, (hi)yųgiwi, is often translated "princess"; its literal meaning is "chief's woman." In other contexts, it may refer to the chief's wife.

This shows that Lone Man belongs with the pair of siblings that were living apart from the ten others. She had continued to live in the lodge after Lone Man disappeared, no doubt on the assumption that he would return. While he was in the wilderness, he had been blessed by the spirits, and returned with the supernatural powers that enabled him to prosper.

At this point, we may entertain an esoteric meaning for this story. Mr. Kaǧi, who craves to have bear entrails, represents the Bear Clan. The friendship clan of the Bear Clan is the Wolf Clan, who are so close to the Bear Clan, or "soldiers" (manąpe), that they are called "little soldiers." Lone Man is living with his sister, which was usually considered a bit scandalous. This probably symbolizes the unique standing of the Wolf Clan as being the only one in which its members can marry within their own clan. All the other clans must marry not only outside their own clans, but outside their own moiety. Since a Wolf Clansman can marry his own clan sister, it may be that his living alone with his clan sister is intended to mark Lone Man as a member of the Wolf Clan. His name, "Lone Man," recalls the character of his clan animal, some of whom a lone wolves. According to Bird Clan ideology, the Wolf Clan is the last and least important of all clans, and is treated with a certain disdain in the Thunderbird account of the origins of the clans. This would account for the hatred of the ten for Lone Man. Naturally it is the representative of the Bear Clan who is going to be the first to visit Lone Man, since that clan is the most friendly to his clan.

"vomiting up bear entrails" — it is said in a Bear Clan myth that originally members of the Bear Clan were not allowed to eat bear meat. Crows like most birds, typically "vomit" up food when they are feeding their young. This is actually food from their gizzard, not their stomachs.

"he stole it" — apparently Crow's son had eaten some of the bear entrails raw and without permission. Since the grandfathers are addressed in the dual (-wi-) we know that there are just two of them. It is therefore Kaǧiga (Crow) who is talking, inasmuch as he is senior and had laid down the prohibition. These two may represent the two kinds of kaǧi, common kaǧi, which we call "crows," and shrieking kaǧi, which we call "ravens."2

"nephew" — it is hard to determine who is speaking, since the remarks of a particular person are not set off by the usual, "he said, ..., he said." Even though Kaǧiga is an older brother, he is addressed by both Lone Man and his sister as "grandfather" (coka). This is apparently a courtesy extended to him by virtue of his age. Here, however, the person speaking says hicųšge, which is translated as "grandson." This would mean that Kaǧiga is speaking, but he says, "the country we live in has many animals," despite the fact that he has told the sister that the village that he lives in is starving. If we assume that it is Lone Man who is talking, "this country we live in" would be where he, Lone Man, lives in prosperity and would be expected to have many animals in consequence of the blessing that he has received. So the word hicųšge must refer to its other meaning, "nephew." He must be here addressing his brother's son, since, inasmuch as the word can denote, as Radin records, a "son of a brother or sister," Kaǧiga's son would be Lone Man's hicųšge.

"Kunu" — a birth-order name for the eldest male. He is the one who is in charge of his siblings. Of the twelve siblings, he is the first, as well as heir apparent to the chief, and therefore represents the Thunderbirds among the twelve clans.

"cork" — this appears to be the word that translates noširi. This cork is the phellem that underlies the very surface (epidermis) of the tree's bark. It is generally made up a porous dead cells that form a barrier to the penetration of water and other outside agents into the core of the tree. As food, one would expect that it is starvation fare. Clearly, they are trying to conceal from Kunu that they have visited their lost brother, who is no doubt particularly unpopular with Kunu. For this reason, they lie about why their crow offspring are making such a fuss, and instead of giving him fat and jerky, they give him a piece of phellem instead.

"they did it" — this is Kunu speaking, and he is referring to the noise that the crow "children" made when, as he thinks, they were given cork-phellem. The word "grandson" translates hicųšge, and could, therefore, also be translated as "nephew" if he is talking to Kaǧiga's son.

"went in" — this time Kunu goes in an sees for himself. The raconteur does not mention that he discovers that they are being fed rich food, but assumes that the listener understands that he has made this discovery. His younger brother and his nephew now have to explain where they got it.

"to what they had done" — a reference to abandoning him by moving the village. This is very similar to the story of the founding of the Wolf Clan (q.v.). The Thunderbird progenitors came down from an oak tree to the lodge where the ancestors of the Wolf Clan were living.

They asked the Thunders to come into their lodge and they had great difficulty in persuading them. After they entered the Wolf lodge they wanted to go home again immediately, but the Wolf Clan people asked them to stay over for four days. From that fact a name has originated, "One who is Waited for by the Thunders." The Thunders stayed, but not in the lodge of the Wolf people. They built themselves one just outside their door. Then they built a fire in it. After the four days were over the Thunders went home.

This expresses the premiere clan's rejection of the Wolf Clan, whom they say is the least of the clans. Just as the Thunders moved away from the Wolves, so Kunu, the counterpart of the Thunders, moved his village away from Lone Man. Yet despite the rejection by the Thunders (≈ Kunu), in the end the Wolves are forgiving. Just as the former are the denizens of the Centre, so the Wolves are the denizens of the Periphery. Thus, Lone Man is in the wilderness when they move the village site. The Thunders say that in the time of beginnings, the Wolf gradually approached the lodge of the other clans, and peaked in its nose. Thereafter, it was accepted as one of the clans. But in this story, the roles are reversed, with the chief of the village moving it back to where the lupine Lone Man dwells. This is because it is from the periphery that powerful blessings may be obtained, and at some point in the history of hunter gatherers, no matter where they dwell, depletion undermines the center so that it has to be moved to what was once the periphery. It is this brute fact that mitigates the opposition between center and periphery, Thunder and Wolf, Kunu and Lone Man. We also discover that it is the Kaǧi-Bear who is the agent for reconciliation, the natural mediator between center and periphery; and those whose police function in society prevents its fragmentation from its natural centrifugal forces.

Links: Kaǧi, Bird Spirits.

Stories: mentioning kaǧi (crows & ravens): Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2, 3), The Hocąk Arrival Myth, The Spider's Eyes, The Old Man and the Giants, Turtle's Warparty, The Shaggy Man, Trickster's Tail, The Healing Blessing, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Ocean Duck, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, A Snake Song Origin Myth; about Bird Spirits: Crane and His Brothers, The King Bird, Bird Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Wears White Feather on His Head, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, Owl Goes Hunting, The Boy Who Became a Robin, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Foolish Hunter, Ocean Duck, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Quail Hunter, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Hocąk Arrival Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster and the Geese, Holy One and His Brother (kaǧi, woodpeckers, hawks), Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Turtle's Warparty (Thunderbirds, eagles, kaǧi, pelicans, sparrows), The Old Man and the Giants (kaǧi, bluebirds), The Bungling Host (snipe, woodpecker), The Red Feather, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Waruǧábᵉra, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Black and White Moons, The Markings on the Moon, The Creation Council, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna (chicken hawk), Hare Acquires His Arrows, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (black hawk, kaǧi), Worúxega (eagle), The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (eagle), The Gift of Shooting (eagle), Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Blue Jay, The Baldness of the Buzzard, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster (buzzards), The Shaggy Man (kaǧi), The Healing Blessing (kaǧi), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (kaǧi), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Įcorúšika and His Brothers (Loon), Great Walker's Medicine (loon), Roaster (woodsplitter), The Spirit of Gambling, The Big Stone (a partridge), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, The Story of the Medicine Rite (loons, cranes, turkeys), The Fleetfooted Man, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds; mentioning bear entrails: The Shaggy Man, Grandfather's Two Families, The Brown Squirrel.

Themes: someone is rejected by at least one member of his family: Sun and the Big Eater, The Big Eater, The King Bird, Grandfather's Two Families, Moiety Origin Myth, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, The Story of the Medicine Rite; although a group of brothers moves their village, abandoning one of their number for dead, a loyal sister remains behind until the missing brothers returns: The Shaggy Man; starvation: The Brown Squirrel, White Wolf, The Red Man, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, A Man and His Three Dogs, Sun and the Big Eater, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Shaggy Man, The Bungling Host, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Jarrot and His Friends Saved from Starvation; kaǧi (crows, ravens) are starving, so one of them goes looking for sinews left on the meat racks of the old village: The Shaggy Man; kaǧi (crows, ravens) find their favorite food, bear entrails: The Shaggy Man.


1 Paul Radin, "Kaγíga, "Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook 18: 1-9.

2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 309.