The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds

narrated by Philip Longtail (Sįcserecka), Buffalo Clan
translation from the interlinear text of Rev. James Owen Dorsey

reproduced with the kind permission of the
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Philip Longtail

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

"{60} Once there was a lot tent, such as the Hocągara made. In it dwelt a man who was making arrows every day. He made so many arrows that in the course of time he had to pile them all around inside the lodge. Once in a while he used to take food. But at one time he ate nothing for three moons. Subsequently he said that he would eat. So he took his arrows and went out. In a very little while he brought back a black bear. He boiled the meat and prepared to eat it. Just as he had taken his seat and was about to begin eating the bear meat, some person came and blew sharply and suddenly at him. The man arose and went out of the lodge, looking around in order to discover the other person. But he saw no one. He reentered the lodge, and sat down again to eat, but again was he blown at! So he took the soup and poured it on the ground outside the lodge. Then he went out himself, but he could not find any one.

By this time he {61} became very angry. Whereupon he went first to the upper world in search of the offender. Every time that he met any one there, he always questioned him, saying, "was it you who blew at me through your teeth?" For a whole year he remained in the upper world. But he never learned anything (about the person who had blown at him). At length he returned to this earth, and then went underground in search of the offender. There he stayed a year, without finding him. So he returned to the surface of this world, and then started to go all around this world. At one time, as he was going along, he suddenly met some people. He addressed them, but they said nothing. The man became angry. He seized his bow and shot at one of them, saying, "Why do you not reply when I speak to you?" After this he started home.


In the morning, he said that he would eat. Then a man came suddenly and entered the lodge, saying, "O younger brother! I have come because we two ought to flee from fear of a danger which threatens." And the other one (the man who lived there) said, "Let us be brave men." The larger one replied, "Tomorrow they will come suddenly to fight us." The younger one said, "I will fight tomorrow." The next day, he fought them all day, killing many. The enemy said that they would come to fight on the following day. The elder brother spoke to the younger, trying to induce him to go somewhere. And the younger said, that he would accompany him.

So in the morning they ran away. They went to a hill, where they found a lodge. They raised the door-flap slowly, and then they entered. The two said to {62} the inmates that they had fled through fear. An old man who sat there said that he should accompany them. So the three started off. They traveled till they reached a lake. When they stood on the shore they saw an island in the distance. Then the old man said, "We will go yonder." They got into a canoe and went across the lake till they arrived at the island. There they remained awhile. At length the old man said that he had enough of that mode of life. He had come from the underground world, being the Ruler of the Fishes. He would start home. In a very little while he changed into a fish and off he went. Thus did he abandon his two sons. This is the end."1

Commentary: Is this the Fish Clan origin myth? The two brothers left behind presumably lived on as men, but since they descend from the Chief of the Fishes, they would have to have been of the Fish Clan. It is clear that they are to be viewed as Hocąk, since the story says that they lived in a lodge such as that nation builds.

Links: Fish Spirits.

Stories: featuring (spirit) fish as characters: The Were-Fish, The Greedy Woman, Wolves and Humans, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Great Fish, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The King Bird, Fish Clan Origins, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads; about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, Sunset Point, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧábᵉra, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Petition to Earthmaker, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man Whose Wife was Captured.

Other stories in the Longtail/Dorsey set: I. Watequka and His Brothers; II. The Captive Boys; IV. The Fatal House; V. The Two Brothers; VI. Iron Staff and His Companions; VII. Rich Man, Boy, and Horse; VIII. The Man with Two Heads.

This waiką is very similar to Wears White Feather on His Head.

Themes: blowing upon a person: The Red Man, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Two Children, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Chief of the Heroka, Aracgéga's Blessings; an unseen creature hisses (blows puffs of air) at someone: Wears White Feather on His Head, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Brown Squirrel, The Dipper, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane; creatures turn into fish: Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The Were-fish, The Greedy Woman, The King Bird, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads; preoccupation with making arrows: The Woman Who Became an Ant, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Brave Man; a fruitless visit to the upper and lower worlds: The Lost Blanket, Wears White Feather on His Head, Įcorúšika and His Brothers; despite the assistance of a great spirit, and a determined fight, a group of brothers must flee to a place of safety: Wears White Feather on His Head, Turtle's Warparty, Porcupine and His Brothers.


1 Phillip Longtail (Sįcserecka), Buffalo Clan, "The Man who Visited the Upper and Lower Worlds," text with interlinear translation by James Owen Dorsey, 4800 Dorsey Papers: Winnebago 3.3.2 (Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives, October and November, 1893) III.1-6 (pp. 53-58).