Redhorn and His Brothers Marry (§3 of the Redhorn Cycle)

Text of Paul Radin

(122) Now in this village there lived an old woman with her granddaughter. Their lodge was on the outskirts. One day the old woman said to her granddaughter, "You must court1 Red Horn." But the granddaughter refused. The grandmother, however, insisted, saying, "He likes you." Finally the girl consented. She teased him, and behold! he turned about and smiled at her. The other girls then became jealous of her, hooted at her and shoved her about. The girl cried bitterly and told her grandmother about it but the old woman said, "Oh, they are only jealous of you. Remember that Red Hom is your husband, so stop crying." The young girl wore a white beaver-skin as a wrap.

Then the men went on the warpath for the fourth time. This time they camped ten nights. They were after ten scalps. They camped the first night just outside the village. The other young women used to take moccasins to the camp and offer them to Red Horn but he would refuse them. Finally the girl in the white beaverskin wrap gave him a pair of moccasins and he accepted them.2 Again the other girls said, "She does not know how to do anything," and shoved her about.

Finally the warparty returned and this time Turtle was one of the victors. When they were near the village a messenger was sent forward and the voices of the victors were audible in the distance. They were saying, "Storms-as-he-walks was killed first, Red Horn was killed second." When the old woman heard this she called her granddaughter aside and said, "Your husband is killed," and she began to cut off the girl's hair. The granddaughter cried bitterly while she was cutting her hair. "Why are you doing this?" said the girl.3 Then the old woman said again, "It is said that your husband has been killed." Just then the victory warwhoop was given and Red Horn was the first in the line of victors. "Oh!" said the old woman, "I have spoiled my granddaughter's hair."

Then the warriors all came to the dancing place and again they danced four days. Many of the young men were very friendly with Red Horn. They wanted him to court their sisters but he refused. They would tell him of the nice girls in the village and tell him to go after them but he would not go. Instead, he asked them, "Where does the girl who wears the white beaver skin as a wrap live?" But they said, "We told you to court nice girls and you refuse. What do you want with this one?" They then said, "She lives just outside the village near the dump-pile." Some of the young men, however, said, "Why do you say such things to him? Perhaps he likes her." So they told him where the girl really lived.

Before he got there the old woman said to her granddaughter, "Granddaughter, if Red Horn comes you must not drive him away." The old woman knew that he would be there. Just then someone lit a light and went to the place where the young girl was lying. The old woman rose from her bed and said, "I am afraid this orphan will not keep him very warm." Then she took a robe and covered them. And so Redhorn was married

(123) Now the people said, "We have been helped by these warriors. Let us make them our chiefs."

Shortly after, the war leader again went on the warpath. Four more times he went and then, when all the dances were over, he4 said, "We must now return." Then said Storms-as-he-walks, "Uncle, I have grown used to my friend and I like the human beings very much so I am going to remain here. The human beings are going to have very hard times." With these words he went to his lodge, taking his war-bundle along with him.

In this way did the actors of this story become the chiefs of the people. Kunu, the brother of Red Horn, was made head-chief.

Then, in the course of time, a man came to the chief's lodge carrying a pipe. This he turned towards Red Horn's mouth. It was to signify that a man had been shot and that the arrow was still in him.5 When Red Horn got to the place specified, the man lay there with the arrow still in him. First, Hawk went towards him, breathed upon him, took hold of the arrow and pulled it out about halfway. "Ouch !" said the man. Then Wolf tried it, but he could only move it a very little. Then Turtle tried it and pulled very hard but, instead of pulling it out, he almost killed the man. "Heigh!" exclaimed the man. Finally Red Horn tried it, taking hold of the arrow and shaking it. At last he pulled it out. Then spitting into his hand he rubbed the sputum over the wound, healing him. He took home with him a young woman who had been given to him as a present in payment for his doctoring.6 This woman he gave to one of his older brothers. He doctored four more times and each time he was presented with a woman and, each time, he gave the women to one of his brothers until they were all married.a

Radin's Notes to the Text

1 Women cannot, of course, take the initiative in courting. In a number of folktales, however, particularly those with a romantic overtone, the author-raconteur reverses the customary method of courting to indicate the in tensity of a woman's affections.
2 Propriety demanded that a man accept moccasins only from his wife and sisters.
3 Only wives cut their hair in mourning.
4 The uncle, one of the thunderbirds, is speaking.
5 Nothing is known of this type of symbolism today.
6 Such a custom is completely unknown today.

Commentary: "on the outskirts" — this is where single grandmothers and orphans are always said to live. It is a reflection of low status (the chief lives in the center of the village). It is the most undesirable part of a village since it is most susceptible to enemy attack. In the astronomical code, the full moon is as distant from the sun in its opposition as it can get. The sun corresponds to the fire which represents the center (as it is in the center of every lodge).

"you must court" — this is a reversal of the usual practice. The risk is that it can be received as offensive.

"she teased him" — teasing is an activity tightly circumscribed by custom. The right to tease defines the "joking relationship." Hįražic means "to practice the joking relation," and žic itself means, "to tease, show disrespect, court."b This gives some idea of what is involved in this kind of "joking." The joking relation obtained for one's father's sister's children, mother's brother's children, mother's brothers, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law.c Such teasing by an outsider is liable to be rebuffed by a remark like, "What kind of joking relation are you to me?" That she teased Redhorn is once again a reversal of the normal courting tradition. The response from the other young women is not only jealousy, but resentment that she has acted successfully without knowing the proper way to proceed.

"the other young women used to take moccasins to the camp" — the custom observed among the Hocągara is that the wives and sisters bring moccasins. For an unmarried woman to bring moccasins to a bachelor is to present herself as the equivalent of a wife. If he accepts them from her, it is almost tantamount to consenting to marriage. Having a spare set of new moccasins is a practical matter, since the returning warparty will run all the way back. However, it may also have symbolic value, as it says here,

When the earth was young it had neither hill nor valley, but was without any contour. Then the Thunders strode forth upon the land, and where they stepped the valleys formed, and where they struck the land with the Thunderbird Warclub, great indentations were pressed upon it.d

The feet of the Thunders create depressions and valleys, which is a way of representing hierarchy. So the presentation of a new set of moccasins may also represent the power to trample down the enemy and be victorious over them.

"the girl in the white beaverskin wrap" — Redhorn is identical to Wears Faces on His Ears (Įcorúšika). He is a fixed star, which can be shown to be Alnilam, the central star in the belt of Orion. In the story "Įcohorucika and His Brothers", each acquires a wife over a period of days, with Įcorúšika obtaining the last and fairest (hinųkšįra, "the fat woman"). These are moons that pass near the constellation of Orion in the west as the moon waxes to fullness. So Įcorúšika's wife is the full moon. This comports well with the color of the beaverskin wrap. Beavers are associated with both wood and water. When the moon sets, it falls either into the trees or into a body of water, both realms of the beaver. Elsewhere (1, 2, 3) the crescent moon is often pictured as a woman carrying wood on her back (the wood being the darkened part of the moon that creates the crescent).

"she began to cut off the girl's hair" — hair is cut as part of the ritual of mourning. Hair is considered the stuff of the spirit, so the loss of the husband's spirit is represented by a loss of her own spirit- or life-substance. In the case of the moon, this substance ought to be her light. This is confirmed to some extent by the terminology of the Medicine Rite where the word hąp, which means "light", is used as a metaphor meaning "life", so that Radin usually has it translated as "Light-and-Life." This loss of light, which is the waning of the moon down to its crescent stage, is in response to the presumed death of Redhorn. In other stories, Redhorn is actually killed. In one he is beheaded and his head placed in the central fireplace, which is symbolic of Redhorn-as-Alnilam being in "conjunction" with the sun. This occurs in July. At this time of the year, the only moon close to the "dead" Redhorn is the crescent moon. At the opposite time of the year (December) Redhorn is in opposition to the sun, being in the west. There he can only come into contact with the full moon, the girl in the white beaverskin wrap. So the myth says, on the assumption that Redhorn is dead (in [near] conjunction with the sun), it follows that the moon will have cut its hair (light). So when Orion is invisible (due to [near] conjunction), the moon will only have a sliver of its life-substance.

"outside the village near the dump-pile" — the dump is the repository of "dead" inanimate objects. She in fact lives in the west at the time of her union with Redhorn (in Orion), and the west is the land of the setting sun, where the light-and-life of things disappears.

"Redhorn was married" — this is all there is to Hocąk marriage. There is no wedding ceremony.

"the war leader" — the warleader (tocąwąk) is apparently the chief of the Thunders, Great Black Hawk.

"breathed" — the breath (ni) of a spirit seems to have a special power. A secondary sense of ni means "to be born." This stem gives rise to ni'ąp, the standard word meaning "life." The Hawk is the patron spirit of the Hawk Clan, which is also known as the Warrior Clan. So Hawk has some power over war weapons. For more on Hawk as a physician, see the commentary to "Holy One and His Brother."

"he pulled it out" — Redhorn, who is also identical to Herokaga, the spirit of the bow and arrow, has the greatest power of any spirit over the arrow, which here answers only to his control.

"spitting into his hand he rubbed the sputum over the wound" — in Hocąk, the word 'į, į, "to be, to become, to live"; and i, "mouth" form an assonance and are nearly homonymous. So the mouth becomes associated with being, becoming, and life itself. It is the source of breath, ni, as well as mouth-water (saliva), also (i-)ni. The naǧirak, the ghost-spirit within a person, is defined as, "shadow, a man's reflection in the water."e It should follow that a spirit's saliva has special life powers. However, there may be more to it than that — see Comparative Material below.

Comparative Material: Just as Redhorn is able to heal a wound with his spittle, in Christian mythology, Jesus is said to have cured infirmities by use of the same procedure.

And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. (Mark 7:31-35)

And again he cures a blind man in a similar way,

And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. (Mark 8:22-25)

In this second case, the spit of Jesus is only partially efficacious.

Links: Redhorn, The Redhorn Cycle, The Sons of Earthmaker, Turtle, Wolf, Storms as He Walks, Otters, Hawks, Wonáǧire Wąkšik, Thunderbirds, The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. An American Star Map.

Links within the Redhorn Cycle: §2. Kunu's Warpath; §4. Redhorn Contests the Giants.

Stories: mentioning Redhorn: The Redhorn Cycle, Redhorn's Sons, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Redhorn's Father, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Spirit of Gambling, The Green Man, The Hocągara Contest the Giants, cp. The Cosmic Ages of the Hocągara; 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, The Skunk Origin Myth, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Creation of Man, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee, 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; mentioning Storms as He Walks: Redhorn's Sons, Kunu's Warpath, Redhorn Contest the Giants, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty.

Themes: a woman takes the initiative in courtship: The Seduction of Redhorn's Son, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Old Man and Wears White Feather, (see also, Redhorn's Father); a woman expresses grief for her slain husband by altering her hair: Redhorn's Sons, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth; a doctor successfully extracts an arrow from someone's body by shaking it while he pulls it out: Holy One and His Brother; blowing upon a person: The Red Man, The Two Children, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Chief of the Heroka, Aracgéga's Blessings; a man is cured when someone spits on his own hands and rubs them on the wound: The Raccoon Coat, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth; a hero wins a girl but decides to let one of his brothers marry her: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Kunu's Warpath, The Raccoon Coat, The Seduction of Redhorn's Son.


a Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 122-123.

b Charles N. Houghton, "The Orphan who Conquered Death," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 70, p. 4, handwritten note by Radin. Mary Carolyn Marino, A Dictionary of Winnebago: An Analysis and Reference Grammar of the Radin Lexical File (Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, December 14, 1968 [69-14,947]) s.v. jic.

c Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 85.

d Charles E. Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends (Madison: Works Progress Administration, Wisconsin, 1936): 5; Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 166.

e Albert Samuel Gatschet, "Hocank hit’e," in Linguistic and Ethnological Material on the Winnebago, Manuscript 1989-a (Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution National Anthropological Archives, 1889, 1890-1891) s.v. nąǧidak — "1. dead man’s spirit, 2. soul, 3. shadow, 4. man’s reflection in the water" (q.v.); Marino, s.v. nąǧi ("soul, ghost, spirit"); nąǧirak ("soul, vital principle, the spirit"); Kenneth L. Miner, Winnebago Field Lexicon (Kansas City: University of Kansas, June 1984) s.v. nąǧírak ("ghost, shadow"); Hocąk Teaching Materials, edd. Johannes Helmbrecht and Christian Lehmann, 2 vols. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010) 1:151, s.v. nąąǧírak. This is an old Siouan word: cf. Hidatsa, nokidáḣi, "a human shade, a ghost"; dáḣi, "a dim shadow or shade." Washington Matthews, Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians. Department of the Interior, United States Geological and Geographical Survey, Miscellaneous Publications, #7 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1877) 143, s.v. dokidáḣi, 225, s.v. "Ghost"; 143, ss.vv. dok, doḣ; 138, s.v. dáḣi, 158, s.v. idáḣi, 234, s.v. "Shade."