Trickster Concludes His Mission (§23 of the Trickster Cycle)

Hocąk Syllabic Text with an English Interlinear Translation

(566) Then after awhile he said, "Hąhą́, I have stayed here up to now, as for a long time I have remained here. (567) About now, I myself will go wandering around the earth," he said. "In any case, here all of my children have already grown up," he said. "I was not created for this, but I did this anyway," he said. (568) Then again he went around the earth. It is said that he started at the end of the Mississippi. He went down the Mississippi. This, the Mississippi, is a village for the various spirits. (569) Therefore, its waters are a principal highway He knew that there would be Indians inhabiting this waterway. (570) That is why he traveled down it. He decided that if there were things anywhere that troubled the Indians, he would take care of it. Since he would be doing good, he did it. Now then, he called to mind what Earthmaker had sent him to do. (571) He went around, and those who were killing those people, he also killed. Again, here and there, the Waterspirits had put their routes near the surface, and these he also placed deeper. (572) These routes were holes put to reach into the river. The rivers would have big whirlpools, (573) and it would not be good for them to go into the water, that is why he trampled those things down.


He went on, and there, one day, stood a waterfall. (574) The water fell from a great height. He said to that one, "You can lie some other place, as this, the people, they will be at the falls, and you will make their hearts sore," he said. (575) Then it said, "I won't do that. Since for no particular reason I happen to be lying here, that is why I am doing it," it said. (576) "I mean that you should lie somewhere else," he said, but sure enough, he would not do it. Then Trickster said, "This ground here is for the people to live on, as many of them as are going to go to it; (577) you will get up, inasmuch as the reason that I came was to ease this over," he said. (578) "If you don't move, I'll use you in a way that not so easy," he said. Then the Waterspirit said, "When I first spoke to you I said that I would not move from here," he said. (579) Then Trickster did this: he cut off a stick for himself, then with a quick blow, knocked him over, and then he threw him away from the shore.

Then he made a stone kettle there. (580) "Hįhá, I will eat for the last time on this earth," he said. There he boiled it. Then once he had cooked it, there he dished it out into a big plate. He had made a stone dish for himself. (581) And there he sat and ate. He did this on top of a stone. His seat, even to this day, is also visible. (582) The dish and kettle, and also where he sat, as well as the cleft of his buttocks, can also be seen. It is always said that his testicles are also visible, even now. (583) In any case, at the back of the Mississippi River where the Missouri River enters it, at the entrance of the Mississippi, rather close to this place is where he did this, they say. (584) Then he quit there, and went into the ocean. Then at that place he returned to the heavens above. Underneath where Earthmaker sits, there is a place just like it, (585) and there he is in charge of this one, it is said. The third one, this one, Turtle, they say is in charge of that one. (586) And Hare is in charge of this land, the place we are on now. Therefore, if one does Hare's rite correctly, Earthmaker ... [concluding page missing]1

The End of the Trickster Cycle

Commentary. "spirits" — by which is meant specifically, Waterspirits, known in Hocąk as Wakcéxi (q.v.).

"to ease this over" — the Hocąk is pį́hi wažukje. The word wažu comes from wa-, "something," and žu, "to place, put, plant; touch, bag" (Marino); -kje expresses the future tense. The word pį́hi means, "carefully, gently, quietly, restfully, easy, good, well; over"; and it has also the sense "to renew." So the compound means, "to ease something over." The use of this expression makes a play on the stem žu, which has a double meaning appropriate to water, since it also has the sense, "to precipitate" (Miner).

"at the back of the Mississippi River where the Missouri River enters it" — it is interesting that, as Jim Duncan pointed out to me, the place of Trickster's ascent into heaven is none other than Cahokia, the great North American metropolis, the biggest city north of the Rio Grande.2

"in charge of a world" — left out of this list are Bladder and Redhorn.

"concluding page missing" — the sentence continued on to another lost page. The last English words on p. 586 are "Where the ...". The missing portion may have been something like, Mą’ųra mą nįge homįnąknąkše, rekjéną — "he may go to the land where Earthmaker dwells."

Internal Isomorphisms. The internal isomorphism of the story tends to be in reverse order as indicated by the number showing the sequence of each theme:

Episode 1 Episode 2
(1) Trickster has had enough of living in the village and leaves it to travel (9) Trickster travels to heaven where he is assigned a permanent world in which to live
(3) Trickster travels down the Mississippi (8) Trickster travels to the ocean
(2) Trickster remembers that he has a mission (7) (as a memorial)
(4) He pushes the underground pathways of the Waterspirits farther into the depths (6) He leaves an impression of his own buttocks on the rock
(5) Trickster removes obstacles (to navigation) (4) Trickster creates utensils out of rock
(6) Trickster kills and eats those spirits preying upon humans (5) Trickster eats his last meal upon earth
([7] with a warclub?) (2) He moves the waterfall with a stick
(8) Trickster mitigates eddies by driving the roads of the Waterspirits farther down (3) Trickster moves the waterfall onto land
(9) He orders a waterfall to move (1) The waterfall refuses to move

Today we are accustomed to thinking of eddies and whirlpools as the aqueous counterparts of tornadoes; but they are also purely aqueous waterfalls, however circular their motion may be. This isomorphism is part of the structure of the myth, and might even explain what was meant by saying that Trickster moved the waterfall on to land — the "waterfall" in question being in fact a whirlpool.

External Isomorphisms. This story bears some resemblance to Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, the conclusion of the Twins Cycle. Their isomorphism can be set out on a table:

Trickster Concludes His Mission Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins
Trickster resumes travels. Twins are traveling over the whole world.
He travels down the Mississippi. The Twins reach the Mississippi and travel down it.
He killed and ate those spirits who obstructed the free passage of the Mississippi. On the Mississippi, the Twins kill and eat a "beaver." It is in fact a Waterspirit.
Trickster moves a waterfall to land. The Twins paint a picture of their hunt on the side of a perpendicular cliff with the blood of a Waterspirit.
Trickster ordered the waterfall to move, but it refused. When the Twins see Rušewe they are overcome with irrational fear and flee without stopping.
Trickster creates stone utensils and eats his last meal on earth. -
There is a lasting imprint of Trickster's buttocks on a rock The painting of the Twins' exploit is still seen today on a rock face
at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. near McGregor, Iowa (at the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers).
Trickster enters the ocean, then the heavens. The Twins flee over the face of the earth, then enter the abode of Earthmaker.
Earthmaker gives Trickster a heaven in which to live. Earthmaker gives the Twins a spirit abode in which to live.
Trickster rules over this heaven. The Twins may grant blessings to mortals.

The ending of the Trickster Cycle may be a parody of the ending of the Twins Cycle, or it may be a serious myth in its own right that expresses a similar meaning. Trickster's waterfall is the counterpart of the Twins' Rušewe. Rušewe is a turkey, and king of birds. The reason for this is that the arrow has "wings" of turkey feathers, and the arrow is the most powerful of "birds." Water often takes the form of a "bird" when it flies through the air as a cloud, but a waterfall is like a flightless bird: like a turkey it never gets far from the ground when it enters the air. The waterfall, however, refuses to move, but Rušewe refuses to stop moving. The arrow, as turkey, is a kind of "bird" that is moved by a stick (the bow), just as is the waterfall in this story.

Comparative Material. A Fox story has interesting resemblances to our own. "Thus Wī́sa‘kä́ka prepared the world for his people. But he drove the manitous away before he brought the people into the land which he had prepared for them. Some of the manitous fled under ground, and these Wī́sa‘kä́ka gave the charge of fire. Others fled above, where they may now be seen as stars. Among them is Gishä́ Mắnetṓwa [the Great Spirit]. His lodge is on the shore of the White River [Milky Way]; and there he dwells, he and man of the manitous that had warred against Wī́sa‘kä́ka. Wī́sa‘kä́ka made thunderers of some of the manitous that had fled to the south, and these he made guardians of the people." Then Wī́sa‘kä́ka made the human race. He told them what would happen to him. "'I am now going away to leave you. I am going away to the north and build me a lodge amid the snow and ice. Thither you cannot, must not come, unless it is my will for you to see me. But I shall appear to you once every year, not in the form as you see me now, but in the flakes of the first snowfall. I shall live in that land of snow till I think you have dwelt long enough upon this earth. Then I shall return to you as I am. I shall return to you as youthful as when I leave you. ... Then I shall take you with me to the west, to the place where rules Tcīpaíyāpṓswa, my younger brother, your uncle. There we shall meet our kindred that have gone before us, and we shall dwell there with them forever. After I have taken you to the new home, I shall return once more to this world. Then I shall go and live forever with you.' And this is the promise Wī́sa‘kä́ka made before he went away to the north."3 It should be noted that it is Hare who is identified with snow among the Hocągara. [Previous episode of the Fox story.]

The Assiniboine trickster Inktumni left his impression on rocks with which he was playing.4

Links:Trickster, Earthmaker, The Sons of Earthmaker, Turtle, Hare, The Twins, Waterspirits, Little Fox.

Links within the Trickster Cycle: §22. Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride.

Stories:featuring Trickster as a character: The Trickster Cycle, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster's Warpath, Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster Soils the Princess, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Elk's Skull, Trickster and the Plums, Trickster and the Mothers, The Markings on the Moon, The Spirit of Gambling, The Woman who Became an Ant, The Green Man, The Red Man, Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride, Trickster Loses His Meal, Trickster's Tail, A Mink Tricks Trickster, Trickster's Penis, Trickster Loses Most of His Penis, The Scenting Contest, The Bungling Host, Mink Soils the Princess, Trickster and the Children, Trickster and the Eagle, Trickster and the Geese, Trickster and the Dancers, Trickster and the Honey, Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, The Pointing Man, Trickster's Buffalo Hunt, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Visits His Family, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Petition to Earthmaker, Waruǧábᵉra, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge; in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Nannyberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Two Children, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Heną́ga and Star Girl, Peace of Mind Regained, The Story of the Medicine Rite, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spiritual Descent of John Rave's Grandmother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake; mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hocąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hocągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Hocągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; set on the Mississippi (Nį Kuse): The Two Children, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Oto Origins, Bluehorn's Nephews, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Serpents of Trempealeau, The Story of the Medicine Rite, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle, Black Otter's Warpath; set on the Missouri River (Nį̄šóc): Bluehorn's Nephews, Black Otter's Warpath, Buffalo Dance Origins, The Captive Boys, Little Priest’s Game, The Message the Fireballs Brought, Mijistéga and the Sauks; mentioning the Ocean Sea (Te Ją): Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 1), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Rounded Wood Origin Myth, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster and the Children, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Wears White Feather on His Head, White Wolf, How the Thunders Met the Nights (Mąznį’ąbᵋra), Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Redhorn's Sons, Grandfather's Two Families, Sun and the Big Eater, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (sea), The Dipper (sea), The Thunderbird (a very wide river), Wojijé, The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 1), Redhorn's Father, Berdache Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Morning Star and His Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed.

Themes: powerful spirits (who are brothers) set out for the Mississippi where they kill a Waterspirit: The Two Children, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Bluehorn's Nephews; heroes leave a lasting impression of their exploits on the face of a rock: Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins; a hero drives evil subterranean spirits deeper into the lower world: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 4), The Necessity for Death; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧábᵉra, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Rainbow and the Stone Arch (v. 2), The Friendship Drum Origin Myth; visiting Earthmaker: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Lame Friend, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Petition to Earthmaker, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins; each soteriological hero is appointed to rule over his own paradise: Cosmography, The Cosmic Ages of the Hocągara.


1 Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) 52-53. The original text, which is incomplete, is found in John Baptiste (trs.), "Wakdjukaga," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3897 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) Winnebago V, #7: 566-586.

2 James Duncan, personal communication, email dated July 14, 2010.

3 William Jones, "Episodes in the Culture-Hero Myth of the Sauks and Foxes," The Journal of American Folk-lore, XIV, #55 (Oct-Dec, 1901) 225-238 [237-238].

4 Radin, The Trickster, 97, #4. These tales are collected in R. H. Lowie, The Assiniboine, in The Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1909) 4:239-244.