The Two Children
by John Hazen Hill
retold by Richard L. Dieterle
Long ago when the Hočągara lived at Long Lake they were very holy. In those days there were two children who had grown up there as life long friends. Children liked to spend the day playing in the lake, but one day two boys disappeared, presumably drowned. A council was called in which an old and holy man stepped forward and said that the only ones who could tell them anything about the two lost boys were the two friends. So they were summoned before the council. They told the council of their fasting dreams, and of their previous life among the spirits, and why they had come to live among the humans. This was the first time that the people had ever heard that they were spirits. They agreed to help, and set out for the Mississippi. As they moved towards the bank, they began blowing on themselves and turned into two great white otters. Into a large swirling eddy they dove, and no sooner had they entered the water than it began to swirl with ever increasing force. Then, unexpectedly, they brought up the two children. They were dead, with large holes in the top of their heads. The people became frightened. The otter-men said, "Don't be afraid, the hardest part is over." Then they took some mud and rubbed it over each hole in the heads of the boys. The two friends next blew water over the injuries, and no sooner had they done this than the two boys came back to life. Then they went hunting down the bank and soon found the lair of an evil Waterspirit. They killed him and burned his body and his lodge. Similar things happened many times, and every time the two friends did thus. Soon even the Anishinaabe and the Menominee were asking for their help. These friends were spirits sent to earth to help the humans against evil spirits who were wrongly using their powers for war. The friends were given great powers by Earthmaker, but they never once used them in war, but used them only for life. When they had accomplished their mission, they returned to the Creator from whom they had come. It is said that because the Hočągara loved war so much, they became weakened in life. Yet even so, they say the Anishanaabe feared them. 
Commentary. This story is a worak, that is, it is taken as something that actually happened in relatively recent times. The informant, Xatenišaraka (John Hazen Hill), was given this tale when he was a small boy, but only after he had fasted. A spirit blowing on a person tends to augment that person's power, and if they are sick it may cure them.
"Long Lake" — the English is almost certainly incorrect. The prominent Te Sereč, "Long Lake," is found at the site of present day St. Paul, Minnesota (for which see the Commentary to The Lost Blanket). What is probably meant is "Large Lake" (Te Xete), which today is called "Lake Winnebago." This is where in early times a large portion of the Hočąk nation lived. Nevertheless, it may refer to the less well known Long Lake of Winnebago County, Wisconsin.
Comparative Material. A Siouan story, perhaps Omaha or Dakota, has some resemblance to the Hočąk tale. A popular child drowned in a river, and his parents were inconsolable. Two young men appeared and said that they could hear the cries of the child, and that they could find him. The parents were extremely thankful. The two men dove into the depths of the river until they came to the Waterspirit who live there. In his lodge they found the child alive and well, so they told the spirit that they must bring him back, but he said, "You're too late, for he has eaten of my food and he will die if he returns." When the young men returned, the father of the child said he would have him back one way or another, so the two men went back and retrieved the child. The child was dead. However, when they lost their daughter, she had not eaten of Waterspirit food, so she was retrieved with the sacrifice of four white haired dogs. 
Links: Earthmaker, Waterspirits, Otter & Otter Spirits, Lake Winnebago.
Stories: mentioning otters: Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Fleetfooted Man, The Dipper, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Turtle's Warparty, 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; in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Mulberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧápara, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Peace of Mind Regained, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake; about two brothers: The Twin Sisters, The Captive Boys, The Twins Cycle, The Two Brothers, The Two Boys, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, The Lost Blanket, The Man with Two Heads, Bluehorn's Nephews, Snowshoe Strings, The Old Man and the Giants, The Brown Squirrel, Esau was an Indian; mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hočąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hočągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow; mentioning the Menominee: Origin of the Name "Winnebago" (Menominee), The Hočąk Arrival Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 2b) (Origins of the Menominee), The Fox-Hočąk War, First Contact, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I (v. 2), Annihilation of the Hočągara II, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Gatschet's Hočank hit’e (Extracts ...), Introduction; mentioning the Anishinaabeg (Chippewa, Ojibway): White Fisher, White Thunder's Warpath, Great Walker and the Anishinaabe Witches, The Masaxe War, The Annihilation of the Hočągara II, The First Fox and Sauk War, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, First Contact (vv. 2-3), Introduction; set at Lake Winnebago (Te Xete): Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The First Fox and Sauk War, White Thunder's Warpath, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Great Fish, The Wild Rose, The Two Boys, Great Walker's Warpath, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Fox-Hočąk War, Holy Song, First Contact (v. 2); set on the Mississippi (Nį Kuse): Trickster Concludes His Mission, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Oto Origins, Bluehorn's Nephews, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle.
Themes: blowing upon a person: The Red Man, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Chief of the Heroka, Aračgéga's Blessings; a Waterspirit takes a child: The Lost Child, Old Man and Wears White Feather; a Waterspirit kills a human: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, Waruǧapara, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Seer, The Twin Sisters, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Blanket; powerful spirits (who are brothers) set out for the Mississippi where they kill a Waterspirit: Trickster Concludes His Mission, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Bluehorn's Nephews; a powerful spirit burns down the abode of a Waterspirit: Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Lost Blanket.
 Paul Radin, "The Two Children," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #66, Story #3.
 Lewis Spence, Myths of the North American Indians (London: George G. Harrap & Company, 1916) 285-287.