Turtle's Warparty

Version 1

retold by Richard L. Dieterle


Part I

One summer Turtle was walking about when he saw a porcupine dining on the tree tops. Turtle called out, "Hą ho, little brother! I see that you are way up there and I am down here. It is just as our father told us: 'When you get older and go forth and miss me, then you shall all be scattered.' Thus he said, and so it has come to pass. It is too bad, for now we hardly ever see each other. We should gather all our brothers together at midsummer and resolve to live with each other." Then Henu replied, "You have spoken well, Turtle. Let us gather there again at midsummer and see what we shall do then." As Turtle walked on, he unexpectedly saw a squirrel eating at the tops of the trees. "Hą ho, Haga!" he called out. "Our father said much when he told us, 'When you miss me, then you will have been scattered over the face of the earth.' And so it is; but now we meet again, so let us resolve to come together near here when midsummer arrives. I just now saw Henu and he and I talked it over and agreed that we should once again live together." "It is good, Kunu," replied the squirrel, "let us then meet one another here at midsummer." As Turtle went along farther, he came to the edge of a lake. There he saw his younger brother, Little Red Turtle. "Well, if it isn't my brother Nángxi. I have been hunting for you. It is so long that I have seen my brothers, I did not even know where to find you. Thus he who gave us life spoke the truth when he said we would become scattered. I have seen Henu and Haga, and we have decided to gather at Henu's place when midsummer falls. It would be good, little brother, if you could join us." Little Red Turtle replied, "It is good, Kunu. So be it — but you will have to lead the way, for I myself no longer know where Henu lives."

When the time came, Turtle accompanied his brother Little Red Turtle to Henu's place where they also met the squirrel. The brothers decided to build a lodge nearby, and each morning they all went their own ways foraging for food. Every night they would meet back at the lodge. There Turtle would council them. He always said, "I am one of the Great Spirits. They all know me in these parts. As long as I am with you, you have nothing to fear from anyone. No one is greater than I, so wherever you go, have no fear. I have gone on many a warpath and have the ability to foresee an enemy warparty four days in advance of their arrival. So we have nothing to fear." Thus he would speak every night as a council to them.

 
Montreal BioDome  

One day Porcupine went far afield into a giant grove of oak trees where he found such an abundance of acorns that he began to think about how he could carry some back to his brothers. While he was eating the acorns of red oaks, a stranger came up to him. This man was dressed in black with a belt of bark and a shell hanging from his neck. His face was painted completely black which gave him a terrifying appearance. "You there!" he said, "don't you know that this is my plantation, and that the acorns are my corn? You have done wrong to eat my food." So Porcupine was driven off. When Porcupine arrived home, he said nothing to anyone. The next day he went back to the oak forest and began eating the myriad of acorns that grew there, when unexpectedly, the man in black appeared again. "Hey! I told you not to come here. You're a bad character, and I had better not see you around here a third time! Now get out of here!" Porcupine was driven off to the edge of the timber, but when he got home that night, he said nothing to anyone about the matter. The third morning, Porcupine fearlessly went forth to the very same place. He no sooner got there than the man immediately walked up to him and said, "I told you not to come back, now get out of here!" He shoved Porcupine all the way to the edge of the timber, and for good measure, gave him a hard kick. As Porcupine went home, he thought to himself, "Kunu said that we would never be abused." Just the same, Porcupine did not say anything to anyone once he was back with his brothers. Despite all that had happened, Henu left the next morning for the same place. This time when the man came, Porcupine did not mind the thought of being scolded, since he had eaten his fill of the acorns. This time the man in black was furious and struck Porcupine in the face with his fist. Porcupine fell limp to the ground, and the man picked up the body and tossed it beyond the timber. However, Porcupine was not dead, but had only been knocked unconscious. When he woke up his face was swollen and he noticed that he was lying a far piece from where he had encountered the man. He said to himself, "He must have tossed me here and left me for dead." When he got back home, Porcupine put a blanket over his head and sat there in silence. Turtle noticed him and said, "Henu, this is the fourth time that you have acted so. Has someone said something to you? It is only right that you don't hide such things from your brothers." Porcupine replied, "Every night when I return home my heart is made sad, so I could not sit here and be happy. Over that way is a timber full of red oaks and many other oaks, and acorns aplenty. There I was eating, when a man dressed in black approached. He was fearsome, with his face blackened, a white shell about his neck, and basswood bark for a belt. He said to me, 'Porcupine, do you not see that this is a field that I planted? You are eating what is mine. Do not let me see you here a second time!' Yet I went back a second and a third time, and each time he drove me out. On the fourth time, he struck me and threw me out, leaving me for dead. And now look at my face." Porcupine turned towards Turtle, and when Kunu saw his face, he became furious: "That ugly bastard, I'll teach him to act like that! Tomorrow we will pay him a visit."

The next day they walked right into the timber land. Squirrel climbed up a tree, and Turtle hid himself under leaves. As Porcupine began to eat, the man suddenly appeared and declared, "Now you shall die!" No sooner had the words escaped his mouth than Squirrel shot him. Immediately the other brothers fell upon the man and killed him. They cut his head off and stuck it on a pole in front of their lodge. This man was a prince among his people, and not long afterwards they found his headless body when they went out to look for him. The leader said, "This is Turtle's work. Some of you go out to where he lives and take a look around." So a party went out to Turtle's place, and there, unexpectedly, they saw the head of the chief's son stuck atop a pole.

Turtle said, "Younger brothers, they have seen us, so it will now become very difficult for us. Thus we must make a sacrifice to our war weapons, for they say that this will keep us clear of the enemy's weapons. Take the deer scenting dog outside and kill him." So they took it and boiled it up as an offering to their weapons. The "dog" was in fact a very large frog. Then Turtle stuck his famous knife in the ground, and both Porcupine and Squirrel stuck their arrows in the ground next to it, and finally Little Red Turtle thrust his spear into the ground with the other weapons. After this they made solemn offerings of tobacco to their weapons. Turtle sang the Weapon Songs four times, and when he was done he said, "Younger brothers! Let us now eat, as it is said that in eating this we eat the souls of the dead so that none of the enemy may escape. They took the meat and spread the grease of the kettle over it, eating every bit of it. When the feast was over, they began to build the fort. That night, Turtle told them: "Younger brothers! The enemy is already here. So in the morning Henu will guard the back, and Nángxi and I will guard the front while Haga moves around as needed inside the fort.

Very early in the morning the enemy gave the war whoop and the struggle went back and forth all day long until sometime in the afternoon the fort was broken down, and the four brothers had to retreat to their lodge. Finally, when the sun went down, the enemy fell back. Turtle said, "Younger brothers! They shall be back tomorrow reinforced, so let us sacrifice to our weapons, as it is said that this wards off the weapons of the enemy. So get the dog that scents elk and we will sacrifice him." So they got a long legged frog and singed him over the fire. When they feasted they ate the souls of the dead. Then they built another fort outside the perimeter of the first fort so that there was one fort inside another. Again the next day they fought hard without let up, until at evening the enemy had breached both forts. By then, however, the sun was setting, so they withdrew. Again Turtle ordered a feast to the war weapons, and this time they killed a bear scenting "dog," which in reality was a toad. This time they built another fort so that they had three concentric forts. They waited all night for the attack which came in the morning. All day they fought, but the enemy could not completely conquer them before nightfall. Turtle now became concerned. "Younger brothers," he said, "I now have but one dog left, and I think highly of him. You might say he is the only one that allows us to drink soup. Just the same, the enemy will hit us with everything they have got, so we had better sacrifice the buffalo scenting dog." So they killed a large, four legged animal, which they boiled and ate. When they were done, Turtle had a different suggestion: "This time it will be very hard, so we should set up by the lake. There the cliff are precipitous, and Henu and Haga can hide up there, killing many who dare to come after them. Nángxi and I will hide in the lake."

So they traveled there and inspected the area thoroughly so that they would know the lay of the land. Then Porcupine and Squirrel hid in the cliffs, while Turtle and Little Red Turtle hid themselves in the lake. Early that morning the spearhead of the attack rushed through the old fort and into the lodge, but unexpectedly, they found it empty. "They must have gone into hiding," they told their warleader. So they tracked the refugees until they came to the lake, where their trails split in two directions. One trail went up the cliffs, the other to the lake itself. One of the warriors clambered up the cliff, but he didn't get far before he was shot dead. Then Turtle stood up from a sand bar in the middle of the lake and gave a victory whoop. "Turtle is here!" shouted the warleader. Since everyone who climbed the cliffs got shot, the warleader decided to attack Turtle. So the warleader sent out a party swimming to the sand bar. They never made it. The turtle brothers came up from underneath them with spears and skewered everyone of them. "We had better stop," they advised the warleader, "or they will rub us out. Our only recourse is to get your brother-in-law, Pelican." So someone was sent after him. Both Pelican and his wife arrived and immediately began drinking the lake. As they drank, the water level fell more and more, until finally they had drunk it dry. There, unexpectedly, Turtle and his brother found themselves sitting in the middle of a mud flat. As the enemy got ready to rush them, the warleader said, "Do not kill them, but let's torture them with fire!" But before they could launch their final assault, Squirrel snuck up on them and shot both Pelican and his wife in their stomachs. Soon water was gushing everywhere, and the lake bed filled back up. "Let's call it quits," they said, "before they kill any more of us." So they withdrew back to their village. They were actually long legged bears.

Now that the fighting was over, Porcupine announced, "I will remain here in the place that we fought over, for there is abundant food here." Then Squirrel said, "I will remain here with Henu." Little Red Turtle declared, "My brothers, I too will live here by the lake so that I will not be so far away that I cannot visit you." Then Turtle reminded them: "The Creator did not create me to be long in any one place. It is my nature to roam about the world. So now I will take my leave of you and bid you farewell."

Part II

Turtle went off following a trail up a high hill and when he reached its summit, he sat down and said to himself, "What a magnificent day! On a day like this when I was out with men, it used to be perfect; but why am I now traveling alone?" Then he thought to himself, "What am I saying? Many men are given me, and many are the roads upon which I have yet to travel. Going on this road all summer would be fine." Then he sang:

Whom will I lead on the war path?
Whom will I lead on the war path?

Then thundering was heard in the west, and it seem to come closer and closer. Finally, it began to lightning all around Turtle and chunks of rock were splintering all around him. Then they landed, the Thunders. They were led by Sleets as He Walks. "What you just saw," said Sleets as He Walks, "is what we will do to the enemy if you lead us on the warpath." Turtle was dismissive: "When I go on the warpath, I never act like that. How are we suppose to surprise the enemy when we go in thundering and raining? You're a liability: even when you're at the ends of the earth you sound like a village in the middle of a celebration — when the enemy hears you coming, all they have to do is waylay you. No, you're not up to my standards." So the Thunderbirds left, thundering as they went. "Let those šįąge go," said Turtle contemptuously. Again Turtle sang out,

Whom will I lead on the war path?
Whom will I lead on the war path?

Again his song was answered by a great noise from above. "You may lead us on the warpath," they said. But once again Turtle had the same complaint: "How are we to take the enemy unawares if you come on with so much noise. You will never do. When I sang, I was asking for real men." These were eagles who landed, and when they heard what Turtle said, they flew away. "There go those šįange," growled Turtle. So he sang out again,

Whom will I lead on the war path?
Whom will I lead on the war path?

Soon he was answered by a large group of soldiers (manąpe) dressed in pitch black clothing. "Now then, Turtle, we are without doubt more than equal to your task!" they said. But Turtle was of the opposite opinion: "You made as much noise as a whole village. Maybe I didn't make myself clear — I didn't ask for dung eaters. You can go back to wherever you came from, you šįange that you are." So they too left. These soldiers were ravens (kaǧi) — that's why Turtle called them "dung eaters." Again Turtle chanted:

Whom will I lead on the war path?
Whom will I lead on the war path?

However, this time his song was greeted with dead silence. The eerie quiet went on for some time, and all the while Turtle strained his eyes to see what might be approaching, for he believed that someone would answer his call. Then, unexpectedly, there before him was an hoard of little turtles. "Now, then," declared Turtle, "here we have real warriors. With men like these we can approach the enemy with complete surprise. These are after my own heart. Follow me, younger brothers, and we will find our first piece of ground."

So they found a likely spot and there they set up their first camp. That night they danced the Farewell Dance. Turtle did the singing, and all night long they danced the Death Dance. The next morning, Turtle made a call for the supplies. Turtle appointed each by name, selecting four of them and sending them in the cardinal directions. He sent Soft Shelled Turtle and Rough Edge Shelled Turtle among them. Soon the whoop was heard as each of the foragers came back driving a bear before him. These they feasted upon, and the next day they traveled until night fell when they set up their second camp. Again the same four were selected to forage for the warparty. They soon came back each driving a bear before him. In fact these "bears" were actually toads. On these they feasted that night. During the night, one of the turtles had a nightmare. In his sleep he sang these words:

Turtle who always wants to go on the warpath;
But now they put us in sacks, I dreamed;
Thus I dreamed.

This made Turtle angry. "Wake him up!" Turtle yelled. Turtle denounced him: "You šįange, I'm not ending up in a sack — it's the enemy's scalps that are going to end up in my sack. If you're afraid, then you should turn back. You have dreamt a false dream." The next night the man had a second nightmare and announced the same grim forecast. Again Turtle was angry. The next camp, the man, who was a yellow breasted turtle, once again told of this same nightmare. Turtle tried to persuade him to go back, if that was the way he felt, but the man refused. At the fourth camp the man again said, "I dreamed that they put us in sacks, thus I dreamed." Turtle angrily jumped up and yelled, "Hold me back or I'll kill the bastard!" Several of his men jumped up and restrained him, but Turtle got off a good kick which struck the man right in the chest and knocked him unconscious. This is why such turtles are called "hollow breasted turtles," as Turtle's blow caved in his chest.

The next day, after breaking camp, the expedition crossed a stream and came in sight of a village. Turtle declared, "I will scout them out. I may be gone for a long time, so if I don't return by morning, the one that I appoint will give the war whoop." Before he left, he appointed someone with a good voice. Then he concealed himself outside the village to wait for darkness and the villagers to fall asleep. After everyone had retired for the night, Turtle slipped into the village and headed for the chief's lodge. On one side of the lodge he found a partition in which two children slept. These he beheaded. However, they were almost immediately discovered, so Turtle had to scramble for some place to hide. He dove into the yard before the door of the chief's lodge, and covered himself over so that no one could see him. The alarm was raised, but no one could see a trace of an enemy, so there was nothing for them to do. Nevertheless, they did exercise one recourse: they offered tobacco to the spirits and asked that they might reveal something about where the enemy could be found. The spirits indicated that the enemy was still within the village, so the villagers began to scour the immediate area for the hidden enemy. While all this was going on, a woman went out to urinate in the yard where Turtle lay hidden. She was so close to him that Turtle almost got wet. Turtle said indignantly, "You evil old woman that you are, you almost soaked my shield!" The old woman leapt up and screamed, "Turtle is here and said that I might have soaked his shield." Many of them said, "It must be him." They jumped on him and bound him so hard that they bent his back over. "Let him suffer," they said, "he has committed a crime." They posted four warriors to watch over him all night long.

At sunrise they heard the war whoop. The voice was a good one, and when the others joined in, it was great. The guards yelled, "Men, take to arms!" but they saw no one. Then, unexpectedly, a hoard of little red turtles descended upon them. The warriors yelled, "Women, get your bags — there are plenty of red turtles to be had." The women rushed about and put the little red turtles in their sacks. A yųgiwi (princess) took a fancy to one of them that had many stripes. She spoke tender words to it and found it so cute that she stuffed in her shirt. Unexpectedly, the red turtle bit off one of her nipples. She screamed in pain and threw it off, so he was able to scramble into the water and escape. The people set many kettles full of water to boiling in anticipation of a great feast. They asked Turtle, "How do they usually kill your younger brothers?" Turtle replied, "By putting soft things into the crease of their necks. This also fattens them." Upon hearing this, they elected not to boil them after all, but to fatten them up a bit. So they did exactly what Turtle told them to do, and the little red turtles hung their heads down as if dead. The people put them in a cool place so that they would not spoil. The next morning, to their chagrin, all the turtles had disappeared. They had in fact fled to the water and made good their escape. The few that they had left in their kettles they promptly boiled. They proved to be very good eating, as they were fat and full of eggs. So those who missed out on their share were all the more angry at Turtle.

They gathered together and talked about how they were going to kill Turtle. "First," they said, "we shall make him do the Death Dance." So they tied his arms behind him just above the elbows, then tied his wrists together in front of him. In his right hand they placed a gourd rattle, and in his left, they placed a sacred goad. They put a rope around his ankles so that he could only take small steps. Turtle sang as he danced through the village. Then he stopped and changed his song:

O death!
O death!
Young women come naked and see me;
I am anxious for death.

They said, "The prisoner has said something. You women come here and raise up your dresses and look at him." All the young women came and one by one raised their dresses in front of him. Then Turtle went on. When he was done, they told him how they were going to kill him. "The young men who have hardened arrow points will all shoot at you," they said, but Turtle replied, "Good idea! I will use my shield and the deflected arrows will kill many bystanders, so go ahead and do it." After they thought it over, they said among themselves, "Let's not do it — he is right, we will kill many of our own people." They turned to Turtle and told him, "We will not do that after all, but tomorrow after your Death Dance, then we will tell you your fate." The next day Turtle began his Death Dance all over again. This time he sang another song:

O death I am anxious for you;
You grass widows,
Come naked and see me.

The bystanders said, "The prisoner is saying something. You grass widows, come lift up your skirts and see him." So they did it. Then Turtle went on until the dance was over. They said to him, "Turtle, we have decided to build a bonfire and throw you in." Turtle seemed unfazed, and said, "All right! I will kick cinders and flaming brands onto the lodges and those who do not move fast enough will die with me. So go ahead!" When they heard this, they had second thoughts: "He speaks the truth. Let's not do that. After his Death Dance tomorrow we will decide again," they said. The next day they made Turtle do another Death Dance. This time he sang,

O death, I am anxious for you,
O death, I am anxious for you;
You married women, come naked and see me;
O death, I am anxious for you!

So the married women came up to him one by one and lifted up their skirts. Then Turtle moved on. After that, they told him how they would kill him: "Turtle, we will boil a great kettle of water and throw you in." Turtle replied with satisfaction: "It is good! Do so and I will tip it over and scald some of you to death. It is good that you should die with me." This gave them second thoughts, and they said among themselves, "He is right, so let us reconsider." So they gathered there to hold council on the matter. Just then a thirsty infant cried, "Water!" Turtle flinched, and everyone saw it. They asked the child to say it again, so he cried, "Water!" Turtle tried to turn away when he heard that. Then the men said, "That's it. Let's tie him up and throw him into deep water." Unexpectedly, Turtle cried out, "Do not let me die like that!" They responded, "Now then, that will be it for sure." The next day they made Turtle do his final Death Dance. Turtle went about crying,

O death I am anxious for you,
O death I am anxious for you;
You old women come naked and see me,
O death I am anxious for you.

The men said, "He is pitiable, so do it for him." Thus the old women came and did as the other women had done. When they got Turtle back to the place of execution, they told him, "Now Turtle, you are going to die." Turtle said with fear in his voice, "Brave men — in the name of your children, I beg you, don't let me die. O chiefs, don't let me die, in the name of your children." Then he cried out in terror. The young men tied him up tightly, but as they tried to take him away, he struggled mightily. He even grabbed the lodge posts at the door and pulled them out of the ground. Finally, they put him in the boat. Even then, he grabbed for the rudder, but when they reached a deep spot, they threw him overboard. He fell to the bottom and landed on his back. Many bubbles rose up to the surface. When they saw this, they said, "He is dead," and they headed back. Some boys who had been out fishing went to the spot. One of them said, "It looks like he is still alive." So they jabbed him in the crouch with a long pole. Turtle started. The boys yelled, "He's alive!" They ran back to the village yelling, "Turtle is still alive!" When the men rowed back out to the spot, they found that Turtle had gone. Some said, "We did not think it was right. He is a turtle, yet you threw him into the water to kill him." The others replied, "Well, then, you should have said something at the time!"

 
Ken Thomas  

That night a drum could be heard from somewhere out on the water. They sang victory songs and gave whoops. It was very loud. "Turtle is on the island dancing the Victory Dance with his younger brothers," they said. Then they asked themselves, "What can we do to kill him?" Some said, "Let's send the son-in-law Otter over there." Turtle was able to overhear all this, and told his men, "Say, younger brothers, they are sending Otter over to do something. You continue on with the dance, and I will way lay him." Turtle slipped into the water and swam out to a good ambush point. He hid himself on the bottom, covering his entire body except for the tip of his nose. Otter dove down into the water and began swimming for the island. When he got directly overhead, Turtle lunged up and bit Otter, grabbing him right in the middle of his testicle sack. Otter frantically appealed to Turtle: "Turtle, brave man that you are, let go of me. I did not come of my own free will. I didn't come here to hurt any of you. Turtle, you brave man, let me go and I will do as you say. I will take your side — we are both men of the water, and should not be enemies." Turtle replied, "No, I will not let you go. If they come over here I will kill you. However, there is just one circumstance under which I will let you go, and that is if it thunders." Both floated to the surface, with Otter still firmly in Turtle's painful grip. Otter called out to the villagers, "Turtle is biting me and says that he will not let go." "Shall we come over?" they asked. "No," Otter replied, "he says that he will kill me if you do; but if it thunders he will let me go." They asked again, "Where is he biting you?" "In the odd place," replied Otter. They all asked one another, "Where is the odd place?" "It must be in the back," they suggested, so they called to Otter: "Do you mean in the back?" "No," Otter replied, "I mean in the odd place." Again they talked among themselves, saying, "He must mean in the breast." So they called out to him: "Do you mean in the breast?" "No," Otter replied, "I mean in the odd place!" "Does that mean between the legs?" they shouted back. "Yes," Otter said, "you're getting very close." "He must mean the privates," they said among themselves. So they shouted out, asking him if that is what he meant. "Very near," he replied. Then they shouted back, "Do you mean the testicles?" Then Otter said, "Yes." They said among themselves, "That's the tenderest part. Now we will have to figure out how to make it thunder."

Someone suggested, "Let's take all the dried deerskins and shake them out over the hill. That ought to sound like thunder." So that went up the hill and did it. Otter took heart and said, "Now then, Turtle, let me go, as it has thundered"; but Turtle said, "That is not thunder, it is only the rattling of dried deerskins." Otter called back and told them that Turtle knew of the ruse, so they said among themselves, "Let's take a drum to the hill. It will sound more like thunder." So they took a drum up and beat it like thunder. "Turtle," said Otter, "you heard the thunder, so let me go," but Turtle said, "That's not thunder, it's only a drum." So Otter called back to the men and said, "Turtles says that it wasn't thunder, but only a drum." The villagers said to themselves, "He knows. Let us make an offering of tobacco to our grandfather, he can make the Thunders come." Now the grandfather that they spoke of was an old man who lived at the edge of the village. Soon the whole village assembled there and gave him much tobacco. When he received this offering, he said, "All right!" This grandfather was actually a little sparrow. Then the old man climbed a nearby tree and sang,

Uncle! Uncle!
Come! Come!

He kept singing this over and over. Unexpectedly, it thundered near the horizon. Otter said, "Turtle, that was real thunder, so let me go"; but Turtle replied, "Not until they are directly above." Otter shouted to the men, "He says that they must be directly above." Then grandfather scaled the tree again and sang,

Uncle, rain!
Uncle, rain!

Then they did indeed come directly overhead and thundered. Only then did Turtle finally let Otter go, but when he did so, he did it in the roughest way possible, ripping down the whole length of the sack. Otter had to slowly struggle back to shore. Thus the saying that has come down to our own day: "If a turtle bites, it will not let go unless it thunders." That is the way Turtle taught them to bite, and it is their nature to do so.

They put Otter in a mantel and made a special lodge for him. They discussed at length what they should do to heal his wound. The tear was so great that it would need stitching. However, the stitching had to be done by an expert sewer. They could not ask his wife to do it for fear that he would get excited and break the stitches. "Why not let his niece do it?" some asked. "No," they said. "How about his sister-in-law?" other asked. "That will be best," they said. They fetched the sister-in-law, who was a yųgiwi (princess). They told her, "Make small stitches — it would look bad otherwise." So she sewed it up very finely. She reached the spot where the testicles meet the private member, which she had to hold in order to complete the stitching. Unfortunately, it aroused his passions, and the stitching from one end to the other ripped apart. So she had to start all over again. They advised her, "This time you will have to hurry." She stitched faster, but the same thing happened again. So she tried yet again, only faster. Just the same, his passions were aroused and the stitches broke again. On the fourth attempt, she hurried so much that the stitches were wide apart. This time she succeeded. This is why down to this day every man has a rough seam between his testicles.1


Turtle's Warparty

Version 2

by Charlie N. Houghton


Hočąk-English Interlinear Text


(290) Hąho! And now Turtle was about to go on the warpath,

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

After he said it, then mm! as now the Thunderbirds started to come.

We will do it,
We will do it!

Ga! woirak'irak'úni, they struck down a deer. "A! impossible! It would not be right for you to go on the warpath. (291) After starting from the ends of the earth, even from there you made a mighty noise as you came on, I am trying to say that it's people that I'm going for on this warpath. It would be impossible, as they would ambush us and we would be rubbed out. You truly make noise. Stand aside. You will see the ones that I'm going with," he said, they say.

(292) This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

(102) Tą!

We will do it,
We will do it!

they said. Now an eagle brought back a bound turkey with him. "A, you are not good people for the warpath. I'm going on the warpath for people is what I'm saying. (293) After you came from where you started screeching along, they would ambush us and rub us out. These men are mighty," he said. "Stand aside. You will see the ones that I'm going with," Again for the third time,

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

Ho, and now Hare came along with, "Gabrí, gabrí, gabrí!" (294) And now the two little Twins then came along running. Then they came up very near him. "A, you would not be good men to have on the warpath. After coming now from where you started with that great ground stomping noise you are making, if you came that way, these people would ambush us and wipe us off the face of the earth is what they would do to us. (295) Koté, stand aside. You will see the ones that I'm going with," he said. Again now for the fourth time,

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

This warpath that I'm going on,
With whom shall I go?

Right then and there as if waiting for their cue, "Ų-ų-ų-ų-ų —- ba-a-a-a-a!" "Gwo, along came a big crowd of turtles, as many as there are — red turtles, and soft-shelled turtles, yellow-throated turtles as well. (296) Now in this way they came waddling up, right here where he was standing. "Yes, I shall go with these, with these and these alone are good men for the warpath," he told them. "Ho, koté, nįgéšge! Men will now be caused to be given to them, is why I say this." Now the others went back to their places.

(297) Hąhá, now then, he went with them. "Hąha, my brothers, let us make war against men," he said. And so, now then, now there they went. Finally, they slept there. Gwo, just about midnight, "Turtle is always wanting to go on the warpath, but I dreamt that they put us in a coarse bag. Hihí, hihí," a yellow-throated turtle said. (298) "Bo-o-o, you who are saying that, shut up and lie still. You told things backwards. Put it like this: Turtle always wants to go on the warpath, so we will put them in sacks," he said. So in the morning they started out again. When they started off, again they finally they slept there. (299) For a second time they slept there. Around midnight, "I dreamt that while Turtle was trying to lead us on the warpath, we were placed in a coarse bag. Hihí, hihí." "Bo! kóra, you who are saying this, quiet down. You are speaking so because you are afraid, and you should turn back. Why are you telling this backwards? Say that Turtle is gathering us together in a coarse bag because he is always trying to go on the warpath," he told him. (300) So the next morning while it was still dark, again for the third time, "Because Turtle was always trying to lead us on the warpath, we were later put in a coarse bag, I dreamt. Hihí, hihí!" "Bo-o-o, ho not another time, if you say it a fourth time, I will kill you, the one who is talking. Why, if you are afraid, are you coming along again? (301) You ought to turn back. Now then, Small Testicled Turtle said to them, "My younger brothers, when the next time if he speaks again a night, then gather around and take hold of me. But, though, I will not do anything to him. Just for nothing, I will scare him. Cowards put out a very bad smell and he is such a one. (302) Whoever can put me into any sack, can, just hold me. I will do a lot, so keep hold of me," he said. Now then, so — ho! — they were at it again all day long. Then the fourth time during the night, "I dreamt that Turtle, because he is always trying to go on the warpath, caused us all later to be put in a coarse bag. Hihí hihí!" "Bo-o-o, ho, you, the one who is saying this, will die." (303) Now then, so, hų-ų, my older brother, now don't do it, no, no!" "I'll kill him! I'll kill him!" Then they stomped on the yellow-shelled turtle, kicking him into the ground, snapping his breast with their feet. "Yes, here you will always be doing it. You won't be going along. (304) If you speak, it is because of being afraid of men. For as long as you are alive, you will be afraid of these people, you will live in fear. You are like women, so therefore, you will really be afraid."Ho, now then, for the fourth time they departed. "Ho my younger brothers, here it is. We will leave at daylight. (305) Now then, here my little brother, Little Red Testicled Turtle, will give the warcry. As he cries, will shout at them and jump them." And so all night they stayed close to their shelters. Then they all made themselves ready.

Hąhá, now then, the day came and, "Hą-ą-ą!" "Ho yų!" "Ho ho ho ho!" Now they started for them. "Hu hu!" It was great. Tį, tį, tį! (306) Werakirakúni, there two princesses, he cut them off at the necks. Thus Turtle did, and he let his little brother Little Red Testicled Turtle hang them on his belt. Then he hid himself there. Now these people had nightmares and began to run here and there. "Wuo, wuo, how can this be?" (307) No one from the warparty showed up. "Hmmm, hagagasgéžąxjį! The turtles have scattered us. They are gathering them up, they are doing that. We will eat them." Now then, they took coarse bags and gathered them up. Still they had not seen their necks. Then finally, they never did find the heads of the princesses. (308) Kóra, werakirakúni, there they lay covered, this Turtle and his brothers with him. Now a young maiden discovered them while she was walking by. "Waną! Here is one and he has her head with him!" "Ho, thus it would be, I had said. Now then, they see us. My dear younger brothers, we are men. (309) Whatever they do, never weaken, do not cry out," he said. There finally, "Ho, you turtle, we are taken prisoner." "Ho, that is what sort of thing I used to do to you here. I used to do that way to these old women. The War Controllers have conceived this for you, that you would capture us." "Put them in the Men's House and let them die," they said. "Ho, what am I doing here, man that I am?" is what Turtle said. (310) Now then, they had been placed in the Men's House. Hu-hu-u-u-u, now they would kill many turtles. "Ho, we will eat them in our leisure, these are just the ones we were hoping to see," they said. Now then, finally, "Ho, let these captives dance. Let them use gourds and have them dance." "Yuhu, yuhu, yuhu, yuhu. Ho my brothers, dance. Yuhú, yuhu, yuhu, yuhu, yuhú." (311) Woná! How Turtle's eyes seem to be crossed," they said. "O, what of it? I have used them to look at young virgins so often that they have no become crossed." "Wana, his legs are bowed." "Well, what of it? I am a man, so I am bowlegged." "How blue (čo) Turtle's privates seem to be." "Ha, what of it? (312) Women have come into contact with it often, that's why it came to be blue," again he said to them. Finally, now then, Turtle was finished dancing. "Koté, what? Hųsgé, let us put them in boiling water. Let us kill them with boiling water." "Ho, do it. I am thinking, which side of us will die? Ho, I will die with some of you. Ha, I will tip it over and burn your throats. (313) Do it, do it." "Koté, we also were saying this too. How could it work if we used fire?" "Hąhą́-o, koté, do it, so I can hit you with embers and die along with many of you." "Koté, he speaks the truth. Koté, now we will put him in water, (314) and we'll tie him up, and put him in the water so that he will sink and drown." "Hoho, koté, hagagasgéžą, braves, do not do that to us, I fear it greatly," he said. "Ho, now then, it will be good." Now when daylight came, they bound him about the ankles, and they threw him in the deepest water. And so Turtle was in the water. Anyhow, Turtle loosened himself and pretended to be dead. And the other one was also pretending to be dead. (315) "Now my younger brother, I am going to pretend to be dead. Let's do something bad to these that are saying it there." At least the others ran into the water, and they did not kill them all.

They went to live on an island. There they were living, so now then, now — ho! — there they would go, so now Turtle spread his legs out and pretended to be dead. (316) Korá, finally boys were out trying to catch minnows. Now — 'ų́sge! — they used a little fish spear and now they would spear the minnows. They were using the weeds. Korá, between Turtle's legs now there were leeches, now there were minnows, as the boys continued to do it. (317) Between his legs he speared a minnow. Turtle got pierced very hard. Korá, now he twitched. Right away the boys took off running. "Ho, the captive, koté, Turtle, between his legs there were many minnows and I struck there hitting Turtle instead, and he twitched. (318) He is alive." "Hahú, go there and kill him," they said. And so, now then, there they came, but he was not there. This one, werakirakúni, over there on the island, "Ų-ų-ų-ų-ų," he was saying. "Koragá, it is that guy, that bad guy, Turtle. (319) Now then, there they sang the victory songs and did a great deal.

Wirá rowa,
wirá rowa,
ąhą́, ąhą́!

so they did the Victory Dance. "Koté, you go and look," they said. "Koté, the son-in-law can go." They meant Otter. There he was being a son-in-law. "Now then, you should go, son-in-law." And Turtle could hear them. (320) "There's a spy that's going to come. Give a mighty song and shout every now and then. Often I'll go there. The rotten guy that he is, I'll fix him," he said. Now he went under water and waited for him there. Having waited for him, now — ho! — finally Otter was about to go by him when he went up from behind and bit him in the scrotum. (321) "Tuwí! Tuwí! Koté, Turtle, let me go." "What were you planning to do here?" "I was going out just for the fun of it, honest, just for the fun of it." "You are lying. You are out spying on me. They told you to come over and spy. I'm not going to let go of you." "Ą, koté Turtle, let me go." "No. 'Whenever the Thunders make their thunder he bites me. (322) They used to tell about how smart Turtle is,' say that to them." "I've gotten myself trapped," he said. "He-e-e-e-e!" "We-e-e-e!" "They used to tell us how smart Turtle was. I've gotten into it. He has bitten me!," he said. "Ho-o-o-o-o! Where did he bite you?" "There." Koté, he is saying 'there'. (323) Where does he mean? Did he bite you in the arm?" "No!" "Did he bite you in the leg?" "Pretty near." "Did he bite you in the 'wilderness'?" "Yes," he said. "Koté, well, nothing can be done, can it, since now he has been killed. He is saying, 'He will let loose of me only when the Thunders thunder'. (324) Hohó, hagagasgéžą! Koté, anyhow, that old buffalo hide there, let's rattle it. "Something else you are doing," he was saying. "Tell those braves I will not go and let you loose." "Hąhó-o-o-o! this brave says that you are rattling something." "Hohó, hagáwažą, how smart he is." (325) Há, now then, they gave some tobacco to him. "Há-o, I will try." They gave tobacco to him. Now he placed tobacco for them and called the Thunderbirds. Finally, werakirakuni, m-m-m, they said. "Ho, now they're coming. Ho, not a thing but m-m-m did the Thunders say. (326) "Tell them, 'Only if they thunder directly above us will he let me go, he says'." "Only if they thunder directly above us will he let me go, he says." "Hohó, what he is saying is something way beyond the limits of that cross-eyed guy." Now again, straight above there was a flash of lightning. Gwó, now then, Turtle proceeded to tear his bag. "Korá, go home you image of a woman. No one is to come here again." (327) Wó, Otter just barely got home. Now when he got home, Hohó, he pretty near killed me." "Koté, have his sisters-in-law sew it," they said. And so they had his sisters-in-law sew it, but now they teased him while they were doing it. His penis became excited. Now it tore loose, splitting the stitches. "Koté, let our grandmother do it. She would not be that way. His thoughts were doing something so that in doing it, it burst. So now the old woman she used her needle and now she stitched it far apart.

(328) Hó, now then, they say he said, "Hohó, well now, let them go. What a regretful loss we meted out to the princesses thus far my younger brothers. (329) Now we will surrender. As long as the Hočągara shall live, they will always eat us. Never hold an ill-tempered thought towards them. Hąhá, we will go forward on that," he said, they say. It is on account of Turtle that we are now eating turtles and tortoises of all kinds, (330) but the yellow-throated turtle, because he was a coward, they trampled him into the ground. As a result, they did not come to us, so only these we do not eat, they say. The red turtle, all kinds of turtles, the small turtle, now we will eat them. This they say, is how he declared it. (331) In the beginning the first people knew all these things and did them. It is not to be doubted. As long as we continue to live, we will eat all kinds of these turtles all the time, for that reason he did us injury, but on the other hand we used to abuse them really mercilessly. Yet not a one of them would ever get angry. This is the rule he stated, they say. From then on, we have been eating turtles.2


Turtle's Warparty

Version 3

by Jim Pine


Hočąk-English Interlinear Text


(244) I shall tell of Turtle. Turtle said that he was going on the warpath. (245) And on the warpath he would fight them. He was after people again, but they did it to him: they captured Turtle. They said of him, "He is impossible to kill," and they said, "Koté, let's stand on either side of him and shoot him with arrows." And they say that Turtle said, "Koté, indeed, do so. You know how to do things. If you do so, then I will die with many of you. If I turn my shield from side to side, (246) then you yourself will kill many of your own." And then they said, "Koté, what would be best to kill him with?" "Kora, do you know nothing of how to have fun with turtles?" And then a little child, one that had been weaned, then that child asked for water and the child said, "Water," he said. And so he flinched. "Kora," they said. "Koté, when that child of a pregnant mother asked for water, he flinched. (247) Koté, let's bind him and throw him in the water." Then that turtle said telling them, "Howaá," he said. "Don't do it to me, I'll die if you do that." And so they did it. They bound him and threw him in the middle of the water. Having been scratched, there was much blood from Turtle's nose. "Haho kara, on account of a weaned child, we knew his mode of death." (248) He sat in the water like that for four days.

And the boys went fishing. As they were coming, he saw them. And then he made his penis appear. The boys who came, then used a (fishing) spear and prodded him in his penis. And Turtle did it: he brought his hand back. And the boys said, "He is not dead," they said. Then they started back. (249) When they got home they told the story, "Turtle is not dead." "What? He was dead," they said. "He was very bloody, so he must have been dead." "He is not dead." And so the big men went out to look at him. He wasn't there, and so thus again in the course of time a man went to bathe in the water. Then Turtle did it: he bit him in the testicles. "Hąhé, Turtle!" "I have bitten him. In the privates he bit you. (250) In the privates! In the privates! In the privates! In the privates! In the privates!"3


Commentary, Version 1. The first version of "Turtle's Warparty" appears to be two essentially distinct stories that have been pieced together (as indicated by the numerals "I" and "II" inserted above the relevant text).

"let us now eat" — the sacrificial meal first eaten by Turtle and his brothers is also called the "Fast Eating Contest," the object of which is to insure that none of the enemy escape in the ensuing battle.

"the voice was a good one, and when the others joined in, it was great" — this is taken verbatim from the original English translation. This is called "symbolism." It consists of a play on words that expresses an esoteric meaning. We do not have a Hočąk text, but the word for voice is ho, and one of the words meaning "great" is čąk — put together it is Ho-čąk. It suggests that the meaning of the term for the nation comes from the strength of their war cry. [For more on the meaning of Hočąk, see the Introduction.]

Version 2. "Men will ... be given to them" — it is believed that when someone going on the warpath has been blessed by the spirits in his endeavor, they will hand over to him the lives a certain men that he is destined to kill in battle. They are then said to "give" him those men.

"dance" — this is the Prisoner's Dance (q.v.), also known as the "Death Dance."

"use gourds" — part of the ritual of the Prisoner's Dance was for the victim to dance while shaking a gourd rattle.

"ha" — this is probably for hą, "is that so?".


Comparative Material. The dream of the yellow-throated turtle has a good Greek parallel in a famous incident of the Iliad. There a man from the ranks, Thersites, speaks up:

Now the others sate them down and were stayed in their places, only there still kept chattering on Thersites of measureless speech, whose mind was full of great store of disorderly words, wherewith to utter revilings against the kings, idly, and in no orderly wise, but whatsoever he deemed would raise a laugh among the Argives. Evil-favoured was he beyond all men that came to Ilios; he was bandy legged and lame in the one foot, and his two shoulders were rounded, stooping together over his chest, and above them his head was warpen, and a scant stubble grew thereon. Hateful was he to Achilles above all, and to Odysseus, for it was they twain that he was wont to revile; but now again with shrill cries he uttered abuse against goodly Agamemnon. With him were the Achaeans exceeding wroth, and had indignation in their hearts. Howbeit with loud shouting he spake and chid Agamemnon. (2.211-224)

He tells the warleader (Agamemnon) that he should give into Achilles or military disaster will ensue. He does in fact utter the truth, but gets an altogether different reward for speaking above his station:

But quickly to his side came goodly Odysseus, and with an angry glance from beneath his brows, chid him with harsh words, saying: "Thersites of reckless speech, clear-voiced talker though thou art, refrain thee, and be not minded to strive singly against kings. For I deem that there is no viler mortal than thou amongst all those that with the sons of Atreus came beneath Ilios. Wherefore 'twere well thou shouldest not take the name of kings in thy mouth as thou pratest, to cast reproaches upon them, and to watch for home-going. In no wise do we know clearly as yet how these things are to be, whether it be for good or ill that we sons of the Achaeans shall return. Therefore dost thou now continually utter revilings against Atreus' son, Agamemnon, shepherd of the host, for that the Danaan warriors give him gifts full many; whereas thou pratest on with railings. But I will speak out to thee, and this word shall verily be brought to pass: if I find thee again playing the fool, even as now thou dost, then may the head of Odysseus abide no more upon his shoulders, nor may I any more be called the father of Telemachus, if I take thee not, and strip off thy raiment, thy cloak, and thy tunic that cover thy nakedness, and for thyself send thee wailing to the swift ships, beaten forth from the place of gathering with shameful blows." So spake Odysseus, and with his staff smote his back and shoulders; and Thersites cowered down, and a big tear fell from him, and a bloody weal rose upon on his back beneath the staff of gold. Then he sate him down, and fear came upon him, and stung by pain with helpless looks he wiped a way the tear. But the Achaeans, sore vexed at heart though they were, broke into a merry laugh at him, and thus would one speak with a glance at his neighbour: "Out upon it! verily hath Odysseus ere now wrought good deeds without number as leader in good counsel and setting battle in array, but now is this deed far the best that he hath wrought among the Argives, seeing he hath made this scurrilous babbler to cease from his prating. Never again, I ween, will his proud spirit henceforth set him on to rail at kings with words of reviling." (2.243-277)

Yet he is often viewed by scholars as the exemplar of the "ugly truth." In our story, Turtle is the točąwąk or warleader. It is his role, and his role alone, to have a vision (called a "dream") about how the warpath is fated to go; so when one of his subordinates of no particular standing tells his dream about the warpath that has already commenced, he is very much out of place. However, his telling is in fact prophetic down to the last detail. He is rewarded by his deluded warleader with the same scorn and beating that was heaped upon the Greek Thersites, and for much the same reasons.

The Oto have a version that is similar to the Hočąk. "A little Spotted Turtle sat asleep on a log above the water and dreamed that he went with a war-party. Snapping Turtle, swimming by, called out, 'Little fellow, why do you sleep while the sun shines?' Spotted Turtle felt very proud because he had dreamed he was a great war-chief. Looking down on Snapping Turtle, he boasted, 'We are to go on a real war raid and bring home scalps.' Snapping Turtle feared that they were too slow for warriors, but Spotted Turtle said, 'We shall sing war-songs and get the scalps of even the ones who run so fast.' Rabbit, on hearing the Turtles singing their songs of war, decided he would like to join the gathering; but Spotted Turtle objected. 'I am chief of this war-party,' he said; 'you travel too fast; we shall not let you go with us.' Rabbit laughed at them, saying, 'You foolish ones, whoever heard of turtles being warriors?' Skunk came by and asked if he might join them. Snapping Turtle said, 'Yes, you can go with us if you do not travel fast.' Spotted Turtle thought for a long time about who else they should ask, then he decided: 'We shall get Squirrel to join our party. He will travel in the trees and be our scout.' Mortar and Pestle cried to go with them. 'Take me along,' wailed Mortar; 'I always wanted to go to war and get a scalp.' Snapping Turtle replied, ' If Mortar thinks she can get a scalp, we had better let her go with us.' Squirrel thought that Comb should go along too. Then they sang their war-songs and were ready to start to the land of the enemy. Spotted Turtle declared, ' I am chief of this war-party; I shall stay home and sing songs while you go after scalps.' Snapping Turtle was angry. He snapped his jaws at Spotted Turtle. 'No, little brother, you will not stay home,' he said. 'You thought of this war-party and now you will have a brave heart and be first to attack the enemy.' They searched for a long time to find an enemy camp easy to surprise. At last they found a village near the water. 'Here is a fine place to fight,' declared Spotted Turtle. 'Throw me into the brush close to the camp,' demanded Mortar, while Comb wanted to be left close to the camp where some one would find her. Skunk slipped away into the brush, bragging, ' I shall soon have a scalp!' Squirrel sat in a high tree, keeping watch, and all the time talking to his brother warriors. Little Spotted Turtle, certain that his war-songs had given him great power as a warrior, was the first to attack. Before he could take a scalp, the enemy found him. 'Here is a foolish one who attacks us. What shall we do with him?' they said. All cried, 'We shall throw him into the fire and listen to him cry!' Spotted Turtle was greatly frightened, for he did not like fire. 'Before you put me in the fire, let me sing,' he begged. 'That's good! We shall listen to you sing; perhaps we can learn a new song.' Spotted Turtle sang four songs. When he had finished, he told the people who were standing around the fire that to throw him into it would not be good, because he would use his medicine and explode, throwing fire all over camp. The enemy talked long: 'What shall we do to kill this Turtle? He acts as if he had a strong medicine. We will throw him in a big kettle of hot water and boil him.' Spotted Turtle sang again. In his fourth song he chanted: 'That way is no good; that way is no good. I shall blow up; I shall blow up, and the hot water will scald all the people.' Then the enemy decided to drown him in the pond. Spotted Turtle laughed to himself, but aloud he cried: ' I am afraid of the water! I am afraid of the water!' As they threw him into the pond, they shouted, 'Listen to the brave warrior cry!' Spotted Turtle swam through the water and crawled out on the bank at the feet of the enemy. 'Now see how strong is my medicine!' he said. Again they tossed him into the water, but farther from the shore, and a second time he came back to laugh at them. Then a man threw him far across the pond, so that he went splash! They shouted, 'This time he will drown!' but soon he was back at their feet. At last a young man who could throw more strongly than any of the tribe threw him for the fourth time. So far did he cast him across the pond that the watchers could scarcely see the splash. For a long time the people on the bank watched, and when Spotted Turtle did not return as before, they said, 'That Turtle will not laugh at us any more.' Then from far across the water they heard Spotted Turtle singing, 'You foolish ones, my home is in the water; you took me home!' The people were angry and discussed what they could do to this Turtle who so bravely laughed at them. Finally the chief called Big Belly, and commanded, 'Swallow all the water; then we can kill Turtle with a club!' Big Belly came and drank and drank. As the water receded more and more in the pond, Turtle became frightened and cried out, 'My friends, you must help me!' Squirrel from high in the trees chattered: 'I shall help! I shall help!' Then he shot the monster in his big belly, so that the water all flowed back into the pond. Skunk hid in the forest close to the camp. A woman came by, and, seeing him, thought, 'He will be good to eat.' As she leaned over to hit Skunk with a club, he shot her in the face with his stench. She fell over stunned. While she lay as if dead, Skunk took her scalp. Squirrel from the trees chattered, 'Skunk has taken a scalp!' A girl seeing Comb on the ground took it home. As she entered her lodge, she called to her father, 'See what a fine comb I have found!' Then she began to comb her hair. As she drew Comb through her tresses, the hair all came off. Father thought: 'That's strange. I'll try it.' He, too, lost his locks. The father angrily said to his daughter, 'Take that Comb far out into the forest and throw it away!' Squirrel laughingly said: 'Comb took a scalp! Comb took a scalp!' Two women returning home from root-digging saw Mortar. One said: 'Oh, here is a fine mortar we have found. We shall take it home.' Then she tried to lift it by the pestle, but it stuck to the bottom, regardless of how hard she lifted. Suddenly it became released and flew up, hitting the woman on the forehead. As she fell over, Squirrel laughed, 'Mortar has a scalp!' Snapping Turtle had hid in the deepest part of the pond, waiting for his chance. Soon a party of boys came down to swim. As one of them swam in the deep pool, Snapping Turtle caught him by the foot and pulled him down to the bottom. Four times he did this, until the boys ran to their homes, crying out, 'A monster is swallowing us!' Squirrel chattered, 'Now each of us has a scalp; we had better go home.' He jumped from limb to limb as he guided his victorious companions slowly homeward. On reaching camp Spotted Turtle called all his Turtle brothers together to help him in the scalp-dance. When they were all there, some of the Turtles complained: 'Scalps may be all right for some, but we want a feast. Who is going to supply the feast?' Spotted Turtle was very proud, and boasted: 'Do not cry, brother; remember I led the war-party; I shall give you a great feast. First we shall sing songs of war.' Elk, hearing the singing, came by, and when he saw a scalp-dance was being performed, he laughed: 'How did you slow ones get scalps? Perhaps you found them.' Spotted Turtle answered: 'We are not so slow; I'll run you a race. I'll bet my scalps against your life that I can beat you. We shall run to the three hilltops in the distance and back to this camp.' Elk laughed at him. 'You are foolish, but I shall show how I can beat you,' he answered. Spotted Turtle was wearing a cap, and he dressed three brother Turtles just like himself, sending one to each hilltop. All the people gathered to see the race start. Elk thought, 'This will be no race at all.' He merely trotted to the first hill. As he reached the top, a Turtle was starting down the other side, running so fast that one could not see his feet go. Elk thought: 'That Turtle can run a little. I shall go faster to the next ridge.' But as Elk came to the second hilltop, a Turtle was again ahead of him. To the next hill he ran even faster, yet a Turtle was just going over the summit. Then Elk thought, ' If I am not to lose my life, I must really run this time.' He ran as swift as the wind, so swift that his belly hardly left the ground; yet, as he came into the camp, Turtle was scampering slightly ahead of him. Spotted Turtle called all his people together, saying, 'Now we shall feast'."4

The Omaha have a version of this story that has a great deal in common with Part II of our own waiką. Kaetunga ("Big Turtle") called for a warpath. Responding to his call were Indapa, the stone corn crusher; Waku, the awl; and Nawehe, the fire brand. That night they danced the Coyote Dance, the war dance of the Omaha, then filed out to journey to the country of the enemy. They were gone four days and four nights when they met Tenuga ("Buffalo Bull"). He asked to join the warparty, but the turtle recounted to him the virtues of the warriors who were with him and wondered if he could match their prowess. Tenuga said he would show him his powers, so Tenuga snorted and pounded the earth, then tore up grass and even knocked over an old oak tree. However, Kaetunga was unimpressed and called him a "blusterer." They went on until they came to a great river, where Kaetunga made a raft to tow across his men and supplies. However, before he reached the other side, with a loud hiss Nawehe fell in and drown. This did not faze Kaetunga who led his men onward. Soon they came upon Singa ("Squirrel"). Squirrel asked to join the warparty, and without hesitation or examination of any kind, Kaetunga immediately accepted him. They eventually reached the camp of the enemy and Kaetunga gave instructions to his men. He told squirrel to climb the highest cottonwood that he could find near the water of the lake and to wait there until he called for him. He ordered Indapa to wait along the path to the spring to meet the enemy; and Waku was to lie in the middle of the camp in a conspicuous place. Kaetunga himself was going lie in the ash heaps on the outskirts until the time was right for him to attack. Just before sunrise a woman walked down the path and found Indapa. She thought that it was an excellent crusher, so she took it home and began to use it, but she ended up striking her own finger, so she threw it out the teepee door. Another woman went out just after the sun was up and ran across Waku. She took the awl home and began to work on making some moccasins. However, as she worked, the awl pierced through one of her fingers, so the tossed it away. Soon there was a great commotion and people began to yell, "Kaetunga is captured. Let's kill him with our stone axes." But Kaetunga said, "That would be foolish, since my shell will deflect your blows and you will hit your own shins." They agreed that he was right. Then they thought to throw him to the flames, but he pointed out that his violent kicking would scatter live coals upon their children, so they abandoned that idea. Then they thought to boil him, but he promised to splash boiling water all over them, so they gave up on that scheme. Just then a little child cried out to his mother for water, and hearing this Kaetunga fell to the ground, trembling in fear. At this the crowd yelled, "He is afraid of water. Let's drown him!" So they threw him in. When all the bubbles rose to the surface, they concluded that he was surely dead, but eventually he came up and winked at them with one eye. Kaetunga ridiculed them for their stupidity, since water was his home element. Then he disappeared into the depths. At this juncture, they called upon Peton the crane to drink up the water. Peton emptied the whole lake, and there Kaetunga stood alone in the mud. He called out to Squirrel to attack. He jumped down on Peton from a nearby tree and ripped him in the stomach so that all the water of the lake flowed back into its bed again. Then the people called for the help of Nucnon, the otter. Nucnon dove to the bottom of the lake where he grappled in hand-to-hand combat with Kaetunga; but in the end the turtle got the better of him, holding him by his left foot. The people heard the turtle say that he would not let go until he heard thunder, so they began beating on their drums. Just the same, Kaetunga was not fooled and would not loosen his grip. Finally the lake froze over and the turtle held his grip until one spring day, the first thunder was heard. Then the otter escaped and the battle was over. Then Kaetunga gathered up his warriors and returned home. There they danced the Triumph Dance.5

Some correspondences in Omaha and Hočąk names in this story:

Kaetunga — Kečųgega
Indapa — Ingúk' (whetstone)
Waku — Wok
Singa — Zika (< Zik-ka)
Peton — Peja(ga)
Nucnon — Tošonogéga

The Iroquois, specifically the Seneca tribe, also have a tale of Turtle's Warpath. Turtle paddles his canoe down the river singing, "I am going on the warpath." Someone hails him and says that he will go with him. Turtle says, "Anyone coming with me must be swift of foot, so run to the mountain and back." The person who hailed him was Elk, and he ran to the mountain and back in no time, but Turtle declared, "You have failed the test, I must go on without you." Then Turtle was hailed by Skunk, who was put to the same test. But before Skunk had hardly gotten underway, Turtle called out, "Good enough. You can join me." Then they came to Porcupine who hailed them. The same was demanded of him, but when he started, he fell flat on his face. Nevertheless, Turtle said, "You'll do, get in." The they were hailed by Buffalo. Turtle made him prove himself the same way. Buffalo crashed through the brush and made it swiftly to the mountain and back, but Turtle said, "That's not fast enough for me. We will leave you behind." Then Turtle came to Rattlesnake, and when he was put to the test, he could hardly get underway at all. Just the same, Turtle said, "You'll do nicely. Join us." They were going after the Seven Sisters. Each took up a place suitable to his warring skills. When the mother went to stir the fireplace with a poker, she encountered Skunk who nearly suffrocation her. Despite his attack, the old woman clubbed him to death. One of the sisters went to fetch wood, but was attacked with the countless quills of Porcupine. The other sisters came to her rescue and clubbed Porcupine to death with logs. One sister went to get corn and was struck by Rattlesnake, and fell over dead. Her sisters rushed up with clubs and killed the serpent. Then one sister went down to fetch water, but Turtle bit her on her toe and would not let go, so she walked backwards until she reached the lodge, where he sisters took Turtle captive. The old woman said, "We shall burn him alive." But Turtle just laughed and said, "You will do me a favor by tossing me into a fire, for it was from fire that I was born, and being cast into the flames is like going home." So the mother said, "Then we shall drown you in water." Turtle begged piteously for his life, but this made the women all the more determined, and they threw him into the water, where he promptly sank to the bottom. Soon he arose in the middle of the stream and said, "I am a brave, and this is where I live!" Thus did Turtle escape.6

The Kickapoo tell a similar story. Snapping Turtle decided to go on the warpath and appointed Wiza'ka'a (the trickster) as his attendant. For their feast they roasted a bull frog. The warleader ordered his attendant to fetch "the tall one," so Wiza'ka'a came to the tallest tree he could find, and shook it, telling it that Snapping Turtle bade it come to him. But the tree said nothing and stayed in place. On learning of this, Snapping Turtle then order his attendant to seek out "the horned one," so Wiza'ka'a came up to Elk, but upon hearing that Snapping Turtle wanted, Elk fled. Wiza'ka'a finally caught him, but the Elk refused to come. So Snapping Turtle decided to go out with his own brothers. At the first encampment, one of his brothers, Prairie Turtle had a dream, and when he awoke the next morning he put it to song. "I dreamt that Snapping Turtle was capture; I dreamt he was cut up and boiled in a kettle." Prairie Turtle would not stop singing his defeatist song, so Snapping Turtle stomped him into the mud. Then he told his warriors of his vision. He would kill the chief's daughter and when the sky turned red in the morning, the deed would be done and they could give their war cries and attack. That night he attempted to climb the ladder to the platform where the girl slept, but kept falling off. Finally he arrived and cut off her head. When he descended, the turtles were whooping and charging into the village. The villagers said, "Look at this, a veritable hoard of prairie turtles!" and stuffed them into sacks. They boiled all these turtles, and thus the vision of one of them came to pass. The woman went to fetch her daughter, but found he beheaded. She was overtaken with such grief that she emptied her bladder. She happened to be standing over the place where Snapping Turtle had concealed himself. He spoke up and said, "Your urine has spoiled my shield!" "You are the one who killed my daughter," she said, and the villager grabbed Snapping Turtle and carted him off to be judged. It was suggested that he be thrown into a pit of fire, but Snapping Turtle replied, "I would throw out hot coals and injure many." So they decided against that. Then they said that they should throw him in a kettle of boiling water, but Snapping Turtle said, "I will splash it around and injure many." Then they hit upon the idea of throwing him in a lake. To this Snapping Turtle responded by begging for mercy. They had to drag him there, and they threw him out into the middle of the lake. Soon he was floating up on his back, so they thought he was dead. However, sometime later some boys poked him in a tender place, and Snapping Turtle jerked up. They ran back and told of his still being alive. Since Turtle had disappeared in the lake, the villagers sought the help of Otter. Otter went into the water, but Snapping Turtle found him first, and bit him on the testicles. "I will not set you free until the Thunders cry," he declared. Otter yelled back, explaining his predicament. As he ordered, they spread his medicine bundle upon a roof, and soon the Thunders could be heard. Thus Otter was freed. Then they called upon Bittern, and asked him to suck up the water of the lake until it was dry. This he did, but before he could quite finish, Snapping Turtle bit him in his stomach, and the whole lake drained back into its bed from the hole. Thus did Snapping Turtle escape death.7

The Cherokee have a story that parallels the episode in which Turtle feigns fear of water when his enemies consider how they will kill him. A wolf interfered with Possum and Terrapin while they were eating persimmons, so Possum killed the wolf and Terrapin made hominy spoons out of his ears. When Terrapin went around to eat, he often used his wolf ear spoons, so the word went out that he had killed the wolf. Consequently, the wolves went looking for him. They finally captured him, and decided that they would boil him in a clay pot. Terrapin only laughed and said that he would kick it to pieces. Then they said they would burn him, but Terrapin said that he could put out such a fire. Then they said that they would throw him into the deepest part of the river and drown him. Terrapin acted frightened and begged them not to do it, which only increased their resolve. He was thrown into the river, but he came up on the other side. His shell, however, struck a rock and fractured. Even after it healed, the scars could still be seen, and thus it is with terrapin shells down to this day.8

In a Hopi story, Water Turtle wanders too far from his element and gets sunburned. By the time he gets back to water, he is crying out in pain, "Ow ow ow!" Coyote tracked the down the noise, and said to Water Turtle, "Say, that's a pretty song. I'll have you teach me a number of Turtle Songs, then I'll roast you up and make a meal of you." Water Turtle replied, "You're a very ignorant fellow. Don't you know that turtles are fireproof?" "Well, then," replied Coyote, "I'll set you out in the sun until your shell cracks open, then I'll scoop the meat out with a spoon." "You're really an idiot," said Water Turtle, "everyone knows that turtle shells open only when we want them to." Coyote said, "Then I'll drop you off a cliff and your shell will shatter on the rocks below." "Now that's foolish," said Water Turtle. "You obviously don't know that turtle shells are stronger than any kind of rock, and will never crack." Coyote suddenly had an inspiration. "I'll throw you into a stream, and the water will dissolve your shell," he said confidently. Water Turtle look perturbed. He begged Coyote not to throw him in — "My shell will melt, and I'll be done for," he said. Coyote gloated, "Well, who's stupid now? You should have kept your mouth shut." Coyote pitched Water Turtle into the nearest stream, but he rose to the top and just laughed. "Thanks, you saved my life!" And that's how Coyote lost a meal from his own foolishness.9

This same theme is also expressed in a Gros Ventre story. One day Coyote was passing about when he saw Hare sitting before his house. Coyote thought, "In a minute I will catch you," and he sprang and caught Hare. Hare cried, "Man Coyote, do not eat me. Wait just a minute; I have something to tell you - something you will be glad to hear - something you must hear." "Well," said Coyote, "I will wait." "Let me sit at the entrance of my house," said Hare. "Then I can talk to you." Coyote allowed Hare to take his seat at the entrance. Hare said, "What are you thinking of, Coyote?" "Nothing," said Coyote. "Listen, then," said Hare. "I am a hare and I am very much afraid of people. When they come carrying arrows, I am afraid of them. When they see me they aim their arrows at me and I am afraid, and oh! how I tremble!" Hare began trembling violently until he saw Coyote a little off his guard, then he began to run. It took Coyote a minute to think and then he ran after Hare, but always a little behind. Hare raced away and soon entered a house, just in time to escape Coyote. Coyote tried to enter the house but found it was hard stone. He became very angry. Coyote cried, "I was very stupid! Why did I allow this Hare to fool me? I must have him. But this house is so strong, how can I open it?" Coyote began to work, but after a while he said to himself, "The stone is so strong I cannot open it." Presently Hare called, "Man Coyote, how are you going to kill me?" "I know how," said Coyote. "I will kill you with fire." "Where is the wood?" asked Hare, for he knew there was no wood at his house. "I will bring grass," said Coyote, "and set fire to it. The fire will enter your house and kill you." "Oh," said Hare, "but the grass is mine. It is my food; it will not kill me. It is my friend. The grass will not kill me." "Then," said Coyote, "I will bring all the trees of the wood and set fire to them." "All the trees know me," said Hare. "They are my friends. They will not kill me. They are my food." Coyote thought a minute. Then he said, "I will bring the gum of the pinon and set fire to that." Hare said, "Now I am afraid. I do not eat that. It is not my friend."10

The Osage have a parallel to Turtle's feigning fear of drowning. "Turtle comes to a camp. Men take him to the death judge, who proposes to put him in hot water. Turtle says he will knock hot water all over them. The judge then proposes to put him in the fire. Turtle says he will knock coals on them. Finally, he said, 'Let us tie a rock to him and throw him in the creek.' So the Turtle said, 'That is the only way you can kill me.' So they tie a rock to Turtle and throw him into a creek. Turtle gets loose and gets to the opposite bank of the creek. Turtle goes home and his wife breaks him to pieces with a rock for objecting to her urinating on log under which he was."11

To the story of Turtle's feigned fear of drowning, the Natchez have a classic story about Rabbit. Rabbit was taken prison and his enemies said, "Let's throw him into the fire." But Rabbit replied, "Nothing can happen to me there, that's where I play around." So they talked among themselves as to how they might find a particularly disagreeable way to dispose of Rabbit. Then they hit upon an idea: "Let's tie a rock around his neck and throw him into the water," but all Rabbit did was laugh at that suggestion. "I live in the water, so nothing can happen to me there," he said. They thought some more and came up with a plan to throw him into a brier patch. When they told Rabbit of this, he looked shocked and said, "Now you have killed me for sure." They dragged him weeping towards the brier patch. They picked him up and tossed him in with all their might, but when he landed he just ran away whooping. The brier patch is where he really lived.12

There is a well known African American parallel to the episode in which Turtle feigns fear of drowning when his enemies threaten him as a prisoner. This is one of the stories from Uncle Remus. Brer Bear and Brer Fox finally capture Brer Rabbit. They present him with a number of unpleasant fates, but each time he laughs and says that such things will not harm him. Finally, they come up with the idea that they will throw him into the middle of a briar patch. Brer Rabbit feigns fear and pleads with them not to do such a things, as it holds a singular terror for him, so naturally, they catapult him into the middle of the briar patch. However, Brer Rabbit laughs and calls back to them that it is in that very briar patch that he was born.13


Links: Turtle, Turtle Spirits, Kaǧi, Thunderbirds, Storms as He Walks, Bird Spirits, Turtle Spirits, Otters, Frogs.


Stories: featuring Turtle as a character: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, 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, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Skunk Origin Myth, The Hočąk 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 Hočągara 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 turtles (other than Turtle): Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Porcupine and His Brothers, Redhorn's Sons, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Healing Blessing, The Spider's Eyes, The Mesquaki Magician; featuring Little Red Turtle as a character: Porcupine and His Brothers; mentioning frogs: The Stone that Became a Frog, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, The Two Boys, The Woman Who Became an Ant, Snowshoe Strings, Porcupine and His Brothers, Young Rogue's Magic; featuring Otter as a character: Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Origins of the Milky Way, Redhorn's Sons, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), Kunu's Warpath, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Morning Star and His Friend; mentioning otters: Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Fleetfooted Man, The Dipper, The Two Children, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Origins of the Milky Way, Redhorn's Sons, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Kunu's Warpath, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Woman who Loved Her Half Brother, The Chief of the Heroka, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), Wojijé, Holy Song II, Morning Star and His Friend, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga; mentioning squirrels: The Brown Squirrel, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Wears White Feather on His Head, Porcupine and His Brothers; mentioning porcupines: Porcupine and His Brothers; featuring were-bears as characters: The Were-Grizzly, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Spotted Grizzly Man, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, The Roaster, Wazųka, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Shaggy Man; mentioning kaǧi (crows & ravens): Kaǧiga and Lone Man, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2, 3), The Hočąk Arrival Myth, The Spider's Eyes, The Old Man and the Giants, The Shaggy Man, Trickster's Tail, The Healing Blessing, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Ocean Duck; mentioning sparrows: Old Man and Wears White Feather; 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 Hočąk Arrival Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster and the Geese, Holy One and His Brother (kaǧi, woodpeckers, hawks), Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Kaǧiga and Lone Man (kaǧi), 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, Waruǧápara, 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 the Star Girl (black hawk), Worúxega (eagle), The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (eagle), The Gift of Shooting (eagle), Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk 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, Įčorúšika 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 Fleetfooted Man, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds; mentioning Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird, Waruǧápara, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Thunderbird and White Horse, Bluehorn's Nephews, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (vv. 1, 2), The Man who was a Reincarnated Thunderbird, The Thunder Charm, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, The Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, Brave Man, Ocean Duck, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Quail Hunter, Heną́ga and the Star Girl, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Redhorn's Sons, The Dipper, The Stone that Became a Frog, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Origin of the Hočąk Chief, The Spirit of Gambling, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Aračgéga's Blessings, Kunu's Warpath, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, The Glory of the Morning, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Big Stone, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Song to Earthmaker, The Origins of the Milky Way; mentioning Sleets as He Walks: The Lost Blanket, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; mentioning oak: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Waruǧápara, The Creation Council, The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), Sun and the Big Eater, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Roaster, Little Human Head, The Shaggy Man, Wears White Feather on His Head, Peace of Mind Regained, The Dipper (leaves); mentioning red oaks: The Children of the Sun, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Bladder and His Brothers, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Trickster Gets Pregnant; mentioning shells: The Gift of Shooting, The Markings on the Moon, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Wild Rose, Young Man Gambles Often (wampum), Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2) (wampum), Wolves and Humans (oyster), Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Lost Child, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 2), The Lost Blanket (mussel), The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads (crab); mentioning basswood: The Children of the Sun, Redhorn's Father, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 3), The Big Stone, The Fox-Hočąk War, Hare Burns His Buttocks, The King Bird, Hare Kills Wildcat, The Birth of the Twins, The Messengers of Hare, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store; mentioning drums: The Descent of the Drum, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Buffalo's Walk, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 5), Young Man Gambles Often, Trickster and the Dancers, Redhorn's Father, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Elk's Skull, Ghosts, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Great Walker's Medicine, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 1b), Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, Trickster and the Geese, Snowshoe Strings, Ocean Duck, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Hog's Adventures, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts; mentioning feasts: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (Chief Feast), The Creation Council (Eagle Feast), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (Eagle Feast), Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth (Waterspirit Feast), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (Mąką́wohą, Waną́čĕrehí), Bear Clan Origin Myth (Bear Feast), The Woman Who Fought the Bear (Bear Feast), Grandfather's Two Families (Bear Feast), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (Wolf Feast), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Feast), Buffalo Dance Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (Buffalo Feast), The Blessing of Šokeboka (Feast to the Buffalo Tail), Snake Clan Origins (Snake Feast), Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief (Snake Feast), Rattlesnake Ledge (Snake Feast), The Thunderbird (for the granting of a war weapon), Porcupine and His Brothers (War Weapons Feast), Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega) (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Big Thunder Teaches Čap’ósgaga the Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), White Thunder's Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Fox-Hočąk War (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Šųgepaga (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (Warbundle Feast, Warpath Feast), Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (Warpath Feast), Kunu's Warpath (Warpath Feast), Trickster's Warpath (Warpath Feast), The Masaxe War (Warpath Feast), Redhorn's Sons (Warpath Feast, Fast-Breaking Feast), The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits (Fast-Breaking Feast), The Chief of the Heroka (Sick Offering Feast), The Dipper (Sick Offering Feast, Warclub Feast), The Four Slumbers Origin Myth (Four Slumbers Feast), The Journey to Spiritland (Four Slumbers Feast), The First Snakes (Snake Feast), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (unspecified), Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts (unnamed).

The first part of this waiką is very similar to Porcupine and His Brothers.


Themes: brothers meet by chance and decide to lodge together: Crane and His Brothers, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Porcupine and His Brothers; four brothers, Turtle, Porcupine, Squirrel, and Little Red Turtle, live together and go to war together: Porcupine and His Brothers; the oldest brother anounces that he is so great a spirit that his brothers have nothing to fear: Holy One and His Brother, Įčohorucika and His Brothers, Bladder and His Brothers; someone is confronted by a man dressed completely in black: The Pointing Man, Visit of the Woodspirit; a young man who has been abused by someone comes home showing signs of sorrow, but when his eldest brother asks him about it, he does not tell him what really happened: The Brown Squirrel, Porcupine and His Brothers; a young hero (becomes depressed and) sits in silence with a blanket over his head: Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Necessity for Death, Moiety Origin Myth, The eldest brother (Turtle) realizes that one of his brothers has been abused but has said nothing to him, so he gets his brother to tell him about it, after which he avenges him upon his tormentor: Porcupine and His Brothers (Red Breasted Turtle), The Brown Squirrel (Henu); Turtle has a sacred, double-edged knife: Turtle and the Giant, Redhorn's Sons, The Chief of the Heroka, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Turtle; Turtle and his brothers kill an enemy who had been harassing them but find out that he is a prince among the bears: Porcupine and His Brothers; head hunting: White Fisher, Big Thunder Teaches Čap’ósgaga the Warpath, A Man's Revenge, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Little Priest's Game, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), The Dipper, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Porcupine and His Brothers, Ocean Duck, The Markings on the Moon, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Man with Two Heads, Brave Man, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Redhorn's Sons, Fighting Retreat, The Children of the Sun, Heną́ga and the Star Girl, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, The Were-Grizzly, Winneconnee Origin Myth; someone's head is used as the lodge flag or its base: Porcupine and His Brothers, Redhorn's Sons; a spirit's "dogs" turn out to be another kind of animal: Old Man and Wears White Feather (human), Porcupine and His Brothers (frogs), Chief of the Heroka (grizzly, wolf, otter, beaver), The Red Man (alligators), Bladder and His Brothers (giant raccoon); a sacrificial meal ("Fast Eating Contest") whose object is to insure that none of the enemy will escape alive: Redhorn's Sons, Kunu's Warpath; an enemy warparty breaks through successive barricades, but is not victorious: Porcupine and His Brothers, How the Thunders Met the Nights; concentric fortifications: How the Thunders Met the Nights, Porcupine and His Brothers; someone fleeing enemies hides in a crevice of a cliff: The Woman Who Became an Ant, Shakes the Earth, Porcupine and His Brothers, Little Human Head, Heną́ga and the Star Girl; despite the assistance of a great spirit, and a determined fight, a group of brothers must flee to a place of safety: Porcupine and His Brothers, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds; a warleader sets out to capture alive an enemy spirit: Porcupine and His Brothers, Šųgepaga; a leader orders his men to capture their enemy so that they can torture him with fire: The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2), The Markings on the Moon; Turtle attacks from below: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; birds are called by a warparty to drink up a lake in which their enemies are hiding: Porcupine and His Brothers; hunters are sent out for bears and each comes back with one: Great Walker's Warpath, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara; the Prisoner's Dance: Brave Man; a death song makes reference to "grass widows": Little Fox and the Ghost; Turtle overhears ordinary conversations at a remote distance: Redhorn's Father; Turtle conceals himself completely except for the tip of his nose: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; a small bird's call causes the Thunderbirds to come forth thundering: The Quail Hunter; because of what was done to the body of a primordial spirit, a human organ has the form and shape that it does today: Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks (anus), Trickster Loses Most of His Penis (penis).


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, Hočąk 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 Mąčosepka, 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).


Notes

1 Paul Radin, "Turtle's Warparty," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #28: 1-74; #29: 75-143.

2 Charlie N. Houghton, Untitled, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3900 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1908) Winnebago III, #18, Story XXXV: 314-360 (interlinear). Charlie Houghton, Untitled, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3882 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, July, 1908) Winnebago III, #5, Story XI: 101-115 (corrected phonetic text). How Turtle went on the Warpath, by Charlie Houghton, translated by Oliver LaMere, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3892 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago III, #11a: 290-331.

3 Jim Pine, [untitled,] in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 26, 244-250.

4 Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian (Norwood: The Plimpton Press, 1930) 19: 164-166.

5 Francis La Flesche, Ke-Ma-Ha, the Omaha Stories of Francis La Flesche (Lincoln: the University of Nebraska Press, 1995) 96-104.

6 "6. Hahnowa (the Turtle) and His Forces on the Warpath," in Jeremiah Curtin and John Napoleon Brinton Hewitt (collectors), Seneca Fiction, Legends, and Myths, in Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1918) 32: 92-95.

7 Kickapoo Tales, collected by William Jones, trs. by Truman Michelson. Publications of the American Ethnological Society (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1915) IX: 29-45.

8 "The Terrapin's Escape from the Wolves," in James Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (Asheville, North Carolina: Bright Mountain Books, 1992 [1891/1900]) Story 31: 278-279.

9 "Better Luck Next Time," in Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz (edd.), American Indian Trickster Tales (New York: Penguin-Putnam, Inc., 1998) 40-41.

10 Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest, compiled and edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1912).

11 "12. The Turtle's War-Party," in George A. Dorsey, "Traditions of the Osage," Field Columbian Musem, Anthropological Series, 7, #1 (Feb., 1904): 15-16.

12 "33. The Tar Baby," in John Reed Swanton, Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians, Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 88 (1929): 258-259.

13 Joel Chandler Harris, "4. How Mr. Rabbit was too Sharp for Mr. Fox," in The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1983) 11-13.