Sun and the Big Eater
retold by Richard L. Dieterle
There a man lived with his wife in a round lodge. He was a good hunter and every day he would go out hunting for deer or bear. He never failed to come back with something, and as a result there were full meat racks as far as the eye could see. On one side he kept the venison and on the other he kept the bear meat. Despite the fact that he and his wife were both old, she became pregnant. This made him very proud, and he said to his wife, "Old woman, after all these years alone, you are about to be blessed. Our blessing would be greater still if the child proved to be a boy." One day his wife gave birth to a child. And indeed it was a baby boy. When he was born his father said, "Well, well, this is great, hand him to me so that I can wash him, old woman." When he was done washing him, he said to his wife, "Well, we dreamt that something would be sent to us for our protection, to be a fence to us, and here he is. He is a boy child, and when he goes on the warpath he shall indeed be like a fence since he will make certain that no enemy ever comes upon us."
As the child grew he began to eat solid food. He had a good appetite, and now the man was hunting for his child as well. As he grew, his appetite increased so much that it seemed to them that he was eating all the time; not only that, but he seemed even to eat things that were inedible. At first they would boil his food, but later he simply ate it raw. His appetite grew so ravenous that he soon was eating directly from the meat racks.
His wife urged her husband to stop hunting, but he kept on anyway. She could hardly keep up with the supply of animals, so she decided to try to undermine his prowess by putting harmful things in his food. At first she tried putting her finger nail clippings into his food, but this had no effect. So she combed her hair and put the grease and dirt from her scalp into his meals. This indeed had the desired effect, and for the first time he returned from his hunt empty handed. From then on he was never able to kill anything. One day she said, "Old man if you do not run away, you will surely die of starvation." After much urging, she finally persuaded him. He began running to the east and did not stop until evening fell. At that place was a scrub oak which he began circling around. Suddenly, he fired a arrow into it, and out tumbled a deer. This he prepared by boiling, and saved some of the meat for the morrow. The next morning he finished up the venison, and then left markers indicating the direction in which he was going. He ran all day and did not stop until evening. He same thing happened as on the night before, and the next morning he finished his meal of the night before and left another set of markers nearby showing where he was headed. The same thing happened on the third night and the following morning as well. On the fourth day he came to a creek, and unexpectedly there were bear entrails floating on the edge of the water. He thought to himself, "These must have floated downstream from where some people live," so he set out up stream to see if he could find them. Finally he came across a long lodge facing east with doors at either end. He entered in, and to his amazement it was in immaculate condition, there being no dust anywhere within. It was large, with ten fireplaces and a kettle for each of them. He sat down next to the door. Not long afterwards someone arrived and set his pack down outside. When this man came inside he saw a thin, old man sitting there. He said, "Welcome, grandfather - I see that you have finally arrived." As soon as he boiled something up, he fed the man. A second man arrived, and when he entered he said, "Grandfather has come. It is good." He too dished out some food for the old man. In time all the other brothers arrived one by one and did the same as the first two. Each one arrived in the order of his birth, the oldest first. The last and youngest of the brothers did not come back until it was so dark that all the stars had come out. When he arrived he was in tears, and when his brothers heard him cry, they all bowed their heads and wept as well. One of them went outside to meet the young one, and said to him, "Don't cry. Our grandfather has arrived, and he has forbidden us to cry." He stepped inside the lodge with all that he had managed to bring with him, just two small fish. When he saw the old man, he said, "Aha, grandfather has indeed come." As the other brothers loved the tenth born the most, they had made him the chief. The brothers all loved their grandfather greatly and declared, "Grandfather shall sit in the center of the lodge next to our youngest brother so that when he tells a story, we shall all have a better chance of hearing it. There they spread out for him a fine bear rug.
Each day the brothers would go hunting and they always dressed their game before packing it home. One day their grandfather said to them, "I sit here day by day with nothing much to do. Perhaps you could let me dress the animals for you." "All right," said the brothers, and from that time on they packed their animals whole and the old man dressed each of the deer. Soon, however, the old man became quite fat.
About this time, the old man's wife also fled from her home. She followed the same route as her husband, who had left caches of meat behind for her to eat at each campsite. Thus, she followed his path every day, and at night, she ate the meat that he had left behind for her. By now the old man had grown so fat that even the flesh on his forehead began to sag so much that it folded over on itself; so he had to tie it up.
One day a very large man peeped into the lodge and said to the old man, "Hoho, you old man, I am here to challenge your grandsons to a contest." But the old man did not hear him because he was busy dressing the deer. So the big man said again, "Hey you, old man, I am here to challenge your sons to a contest." Only then did he look up and say, "All right!" When the Giant returned to his comrades he told them of the very fat man that was living in the lodge. They were cannibals, and when they heard how fat he was, they said, "His liver must taste great," and they all wished that they could dine on this delicacy right then and there. By later in the day when all the brothers began coming home, the whole episode of the Giant's visit had completely slipped his mind, so he had nothing to tell them. The next day the challenger came by and said, "Say, old man, I challenged your sons to a contest!" The old man replied, "Uh oh, I completely forgot about all that." However, that day the matter slipped his mind again. This also happened a third time. Finally, the Giants sent two of their men over with elk clubs. They almost clubbed the old man to death. He told them, "I completely forgot about the matter since I was so occupied with my work." The Giants angrily replied, "Tell them this time, or we'll be back to kill you!" In order to remember, the old man talked to himself all day, saying, "When Kunu arrives I shall tell him about the challenge." When the oldest brother arrived, he could hear his grandfather talking to himself. He was saying over and over, "When Kunu arrives, I shall tell them of it." So Kunu went in and said, "Hoho, grandfather, I am home. What is it that you wish to tell me?" "I will tell you only when Hena comes back," he said. So Kunu ran out to meet Hena and told him, "There's something odd going on with our grandfather, but he says that he won't say anything until you come home." So Hena hurried in and asked what it was that he wanted to say, but the old man kept mumbling to himself and said that he would tell them only when the third born son arrived. And so it went, and he was not ready until the very last one showed up. All the while he kept mumbling his reminder to himself. By the time the last of them arrived, the old man was foaming at the mouth. Finally, he spoke to them and said, "Grandsons, a large man came to challenge you to a contest, but every day I forgot to tell you. Yesterday two of them came by and almost clubbed me to death. Had I forgotten to tell you today, they would return to kill me." After the old man had said this, the brothers hung there heads and became very quiet. They hung their heads because it brought back memories of the time when there had been a thriving village where they were now, and that it had been rubbed out by the Giants except for ten little children. The brothers were these ten children.
The next morning they all set out for the place chosen by the Giants. The old man came along with them bringing his blunt red cedar arrows. The old man told his grandsons to call to the Giants that they were coming, so they shouted, "Hąho, we are going to run a race!" The Giants replied, "The two standing here will do the running for our side." These two looked impressive: their calves were like gourds, and they had grapevines wrapped around their necks, and they had necklaces made of bones strung together. The brothers were going to pick the tenth born to race against them, but the old man said that he would go up against them himself. When the Giants heard that the fat man was going to race against them they were incredulous. The old man's forehead was a mass of wrinkled flesh, and he was dressed in nothing more than a breech cloth. The Giants laughed and said, "If this guy is doing the running, then we might as well kill them now and save everyone the trouble." "Yes," said others, "then we can eat that fat man's liver right now." Nevertheless, the wagers were made and they began the race. The Giants were quickly across the plain, but the old man had just reached its edge. He was so fat that he wasn't actually running, but he waddled along using his bow as a cane. The Giants had reached the second hill by the time the old man had just begun crossing the plain. Soon the Giants had disappeared from view. When the old man finally reached the fourth hill, he took his necklace off. This necklace was perfectly circular and made of leather. He gave this hoop a good roll and it soon picked up speed. Rolling this along, he soon found that he had caught up to the Giants. He said to them, "I thought you started long ago, but I see that you're still here." He rolled along until he reached a great oak tree at the end of the world which they had designated as the turn around point. There he sat down to rest and smoke. When the Giants finally arrived there, he was still smoking. He told them, "You'd better make it back before I finish smoking." The two Giants turned and ran back towards the starting point while the old man sat there leisurely smoking his pipe. In good time he began his pursuit. There at the starting point were all the spectators waiting to see who would come back first. Then, unexpectedly, it was the old man who suddenly came into view. Some of the Giants began to complain that he had turned back partway. Now the old man was wobbling along on the plain using his cane with all haste when the two Giants came into view. As he neared his grandsons, they called out to him, "Run! the Giants are closing in!" But all he did was to stop and shade his eyes to see who was speaking, and then ask, "What?" "Grandfather," they yelled back, "you had better start running!" "Very well," he said, and began to use his cane. He just reached the finish line moments before the Giants, running at full speed, sailed by him. The other Giants asked, "How does the matter stand?" "He out ran us," they confessed. Then all the Giants who had been wagered were lined up in a neat row, and the old man took out his blunt, red cedar arrow, and killed all of them with a single shot.
The next day they ran a race again, and the brothers were going to choose the tenth born to run for them, but the old man insisted on being the racer again. Once more he defeated them. He was faster than the tenth born because it was he who had blessed the youngest brother, and therefore he was the holier. He was Sun, and therefore could not be beaten.
In the next race the Giants were much better runners than their predecessors. They dressed with the usual bones and grapevines for necklaces, but in addition wore eagle skins. The race started and the Giants soon disappeared from view while the old man was still waddling across the plain. Then at the right moment, he took out his disk shaped object and rolled it along, and it thundered as it moved. Soon he was gliding by the two Giants. The Giants took grapes off the grapevines they were wearing and threw them at him, but he just threw them back. Then the Giants tried to whip their grapevines around him. In the past they had never failed to ensnare their opponents in the vines, but this time they could not even reach him. They tried to shoot him with the bones from their necklaces, but these too he threw back at them. Normally, they could pin a man's legs together by piercing them with these bones, but they had no success, even though they had used eagle bones. When he reached the turn around point, he took a leisurely smoke and watched the Giants run back with a head start. Soon, however, he rolled by them, and was back on the plain, even though they cast everything they had at him. He waddled along as he had at the beginning, and his grandsons became concerned and yelled, "Run!" He stopped and said, "What?" "Run, or you'll lose the race!" they yelled. "Oh, very well," he replied, but just barely reached the finish line ahead of the competition. Once again he shot a row of Giants with a single blunt, red cedar arrow.
On the fourth day, the old man raced for his side again. This time when he was out of view, he actually began to run. He ran so fast in his own right that he soon past the two Giants and had time for a relaxing smoke at the turn around point. He then chased after the two Giants and when he got by them they tried with no avail to shoot him with the things that they were carrying. This time he kept running and ran towards the finish line. He came thundering in and was fearful to behold. He had so much momentum that he tore whole groves of trees out by the roots as he tried to stop, even so he could not stop at the finished line, but dragged scores of trees along with him before he ground to a halt. This scene so terrified the Giants that many panicked and fled to escape the consequences, but others were honest and stuck to their word. When the two who lost confirmed that they had been fairly beaten, they were shot in the same way as the others.
The Giants that fled went in two directions. They left two very visible paths in flight, so the old man took out a arrow and shot it directly down one of the paths and killed everyone on it. His arrow came right back to him, then he shot it again down the other path with the same fatal results. There was a young girl who was carrying a little boy on her back. These he captured. He said to them, "I came down to earth because I knew you were abusing the people. Now you will never abuse them again. From now on you will live on the other side of the ocean." Then he picked them up and threw them to the east. After that all the brothers went home. They had loved their grandfather even when he had not done anything for them, but now that he had saved them, they had twice the love that they had before.
Early in the spring the brothers informed the old man that a woman had been seen coming their way, but she stumbled along, falling at every step. He told them, "I had a wife, so this must be her." So the brothers ran out to get her and when they brought her home they fed her. Once she had regained enough strength to talk, she said, "I ran away not long after the old man, as it had become unbearable. Our boy reached the point where he was boiling the bones and drinking the soup. What he is doing now, I can only guess. I was able to get here by the markers he left on the trail. These were pieces of boiled meat." The old man said, "It will be all right if the boy comes, for we have more than we need here." The brothers said, "Let's go after him," but the parents said not to, therefore, the brothers stayed put. One day, unexpectedly, they saw a man standing by the meat racks. "This must be him," they said, so they went after him. They treated him very kindly. Nevertheless, he ate enormous quantities of food, and no matter how much he ate, he was never satisfied.
After awhile, Kunu said to the old man, "It is about time I returned, as I was traveling the whole world. I liked to eat animals as I went." One of the brothers was a Thunderbird, four were Nightspirits, and others were wolves. The old man was the sun and his wife was the moon. The tenth born brother is the star that is seen near the sun and is visible in the daytime. The ninth born brother is the star nearest the moon. They were there to be near their grandparents. The big eater stayed at the lodge, but after he had eaten everything there, he did not know what to do with himself. By now it was summer time and the grass was tall and green. He had nothing else left to eat, so in desperation he began eating grass. He found it delicious, so he became a horse and ate nothing else.1
Commentary. "he goes on the warpath" — horses, of course, are capable of going on the warpath.
"he began running to the east" — what follows is a description of the sun as it progresses through the zodiac for the period of a year. The sun, having reached its northernmost position on the summer solstice in June, then begins to turn east.
"a scrub oak" — since a myriad of stars look like leaves on a tree at a distance, the Milky Way is often homologized to a tree. As we trace the path of the sun through the zodiac, around the beginning of December, it comes to the top of the Milky Way in Scorpius near the bright red star Antares. As can be seen below, this part of the Milky Way can pass as a scrub oak.
The Milky Way in Scorpius
"circling around" — in relation to the axis of the Milky Way "scrub oak" in Scorpius, the sun appears to curve to the east. Actually, the dark axis of the "tree" is rotating counterclockwise.
"markers" — these markers are the stars of the zodiac along which the moon also travels.
"fourth day" — four is the number of completion, so this should refer to the end of the sun's travels through the zodiac, which brings us back to the summer solstice.
"creek" — the Milky Way is often homologized to a river or creek. In the origin myth of the Milky Way, it is said to have come from water that was splashed into the sky. At the end of the sun's cycle through the zodiac, it ends up on June 10 right at the "bank" of the Milky Way in Gemini. For the Milky Way as a body of water, see "The Origin of the Milky Way," and the links and sources there.
"no dust" — the sun next crosses the Milky Way, and by July is close to the star Pollux. Here the Milky Way is homologized to a cloud of dust, so that once he clears it, the place at which he arrives is dust-free.
"youngest of the brothers" — in "Grandfather's Two Families," we learn that the tenth brother is Morning Star. This identity is confirmed by what is said further on. In the aforementioned myth, it is also said that Morning Star, the tenth brother, is the "most holy (powerful)." Being made the youngest is the usual way of expressing superior power.
"dark" — the Evening Star comes out before dark, whereas the Morning Star always appears before sunrise.
"cry" — in Hočąk symbolism, sound is used (especially in astronomical codes) to represent light. That the tenth brother is crying is a way of emphasizing that his light is bright. All the other brothers cry as well, since they too are stars.
"our grandfather has arrived, and he has forbidden us to cry" — when the sun appears, it washes out the light of the stars, and they cease to "cry" (sound for light).
"two small fish" — in mid-July, the sun passes by Castor and Pollux (Gemini), and just behind it is Morning Star. So just before Morning Star achieves conjunction, which is to say, arrives in the same lodge as that in which the sun resides, he passes by the two Gemini stars.
"the chief" — as the most powerful it is appropriate that he be chief. This too is consistent with an identity as Morning Star, which among the stars is usually reckoned the foremost.
"sit in the center of the lodge" — the center of the lodge is where the fire is placed. Therefore, Grandfather, the Sun, is identified with the fire.
"next to our youngest brother" — at the time that Grandfather arrives at the lodge on the other side of the Milky Way "creek," Morning Star comes into conjunction with the sun, and thus "sits next to" Grandfather Day.
"a fine bear rug" — this is obscure. However, the Bear Clan holds that the four primordial spirit bears hold down the four cardinal points. Therefore, since the sun rises in the east, it sits on a bear.
"quite fat" — a reference to the fact that the sun is literally rotund.
"the old man's wife also fled from her home" — she is later identified as the moon. To say of the sun and moon that they are living together is an allegorical way of saying that they are in conjunction. Once the moon leaves conjunction, it separates from the sun, travels across the sky, then meets up with the sun again in the east.
"the same route" — the moon, like the sun, follows the ecliptic through the stars of the zodiac.
"caches of meat" — the moon will appear to swallow anything that it occludes. Therefore, it appears to "eat" the stars over which it passes. The sun, having first traveled over the ecliptic, leaves the zodiac stars behind as "food" for the moon.
"campsite" — if the solar year is divided by moons, then the sun camps at 12 places on the ecliptic, which corresponds to the 12 signs of the zodiac, although they are not likely to be the same stars that make up the zodiac of the Old World.
|The "Wrinkles" of Day's Face|
"the flesh on his forehead began to sag" — this makes it clear that he is unusually wrinkled, far beyond what is normal for an aged man; yet the "face" of the sun seems perfectly smooth to the glance of the unaided eye. However, the sun deals with his wrinkles at dawn, when he rises and falls subject to the distorting medium of the atmosphere near the horizon. The inset photo (taken in England) shows remarkably well how low lying clouds can accentuate the distortions effected by the air, which include the faint outlines of a sun-pillar above the solar disk. The striations of the clouds would be the most common source of the solar disk appearing to be "wrinkled," which can also be well appreciated from this photo.
"he had to tie it up" — as the sun rises, it clears the clouds that hang at the horizon, which is here expressed as a raking back of his hair and skin, where it is tied. This seems to express the pulling of the sun away from the clouds, which in Hočąk symbolism are homologized to hair. It is only at this point, when Day is free of such obstructions, that it can "see" with its unoccluded solar "eye."
"liver" — since the sun turns blood red near the horizon, it suggests that it is rich in that substance. The liver is the organ richest in blood (at least it seems so once an animal has been killed), so it would seem to follow that the sun has an unusually rich liver.
"by the time the last of them arrived" — the last to arrive is Morning Star, so dawn is imminent.
"foaming" — perhaps a reference to the sun rising at the edge of the world at the Ocean Sea (Te Ją).
"very quiet" — here again we have sound for light. As the sun is talking, he has risen (his light is visible); therefore, the brothers, as stars, have set. Since there light is not visible any longer, they have grown quiet.
"his bow as a cane" — this bow is the same as the silver bow of the ancient Greek god Apollo: the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the path through the stars that the sun travels in the course of a year. It arches across the sky and thus resembles a bow. This traveling appears in quantum jumps from day to day, rather like a cane being lifted up and placed down at an interval of space ahead without being dragged through the space in between.
"he gave this hoop a good roll and it soon picked up speed" — this is the actual physical disc of the sun, which travels faster than Day, which does not leave the sky until after the sun disc has set.
"a great oak tree" — the oak is the tree most often struck by lightning. Here the substance of lightning is taken to be the same as that of the sun.
"he sat down to rest and smoke" — this is the setting of the sun on the opposite, western, horizon. The smoke is the clouds on the horizon at dusk.
"his blunt, red cedar arrow" — red cedar is sacred, but most particularly to the Thunders. In the story, "The Brown Squirrel," the red cedar arrow is called "the red protruding horn," which connects it with Redhorn, who is able to transform himself into an arrow at will. Redhorn gets his name in part from the red light of the sun that baths the sky when his star Alnilam of Orion rises with the sun. The red cedar arrow is the beam of solar light. The arrow is blunt because a beam of light rarely penetrates through ordinary objects, but only those that are transparent.
"he was faster than the tenth born because it was he who had blessed the youngest brother" — Morning Star races ahead of the sun in the morning hours, and so might be thought faster; but the sun grants him this power, and in the end overtakes him once he gets going across the sky himself.
"it thundered as it moved" — this confirms the identification made above with the light of the sun and the substance of lightning.
"they could pin a man's legs together by piercing them with these bones" — this same theme occurs in the mythology of Sirius, where a racing opponent pierces the ankles together of Wears White Feather (Sirius), and also attempts to trip him up with grape vines. See the commentary there. The pinning of the ankles also occurs in the Greek myth of Oedipus (see the comparative material of the aforesaid myth).
"eagle" — the eagle is paradigmatically the bird of the day sky, so it was thought that it might be more efficacious against Day himself.
"his arrow came right back to him" — the arrow of Day is his beam of light. The course of the sun is circular, crossing the sky in the day, then under the earth at night. The path of his arrow is probably being seen as this same circular path.
"east" — the Giants are usually associated with the north. The east is where the Night Spirits reside.
"she stumbled along" — we are told later that she is the moon. As the moon approaches the place of the sun, it moves from full to crescent, becoming more and more "emaciated." Thus, she is portrayed as one whose strength is failing.
"visible in the daytime" — this would seem to be Morning Star. See the previous comment above. However, the Crow call the Evening Star, Bāppā-Ihké, "Day-Star."2
"the star nearest the moon" — this should be Evening Star, and although we usually think of Morning Star as closest to the moon, Evening Star is no different in this respect.
"horse" — the word for horse in Hočąk is šųk-xete, "big dog." This is almost identical in meaning to šųk-čąk, "great dog = wolf." In nature the horse is similar to the wolf with its voracious appetite, including meat of every sort. Like a wolf, it eats grass only as a last resort. However, in this his limitless appetite finds a limitless reservoir of food. The gradual approach of the equine man to the brothers is reminiscent of the arrival of the first dog among the clans, who later added him as one of their number (the Wolf Clan).
Comparative Material. For a Greek parallel, see above. See this for the Crow.
Links: Sun, Moon, Horses, Wolf & Dog Spirits, Giants, Celestial Spirits, Nightspirits, Thunderbirds.
Stories: featuring Sun as a character: Grandfather's Two Families, The Big Eater, The Children of the Sun, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Hare Burns His Buttocks, The Birth of the Twins, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Origins of the Milky Way, Red Cloud's Death; pertaining to the Moon: The Markings on the Moon, Black and White Moons, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Sunset Point, The Big Eater, Hare Kills Wildcat, Grandfather's Two Families, Berdache Origin Myth (v. 1), Turtle and the Giant; with Bluehorn (Evening Star) as a character: Bluehorn's Nephews, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Children of the Sun, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Grandfather's Two Families, The Man with Two Heads, The Green Man (?), Brave Man (?); mentioning horses: The Big Eater, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights, Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride, James’ Horse, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Boy who Flew, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, They Owe a Bullet, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2); relating to dogs or wolves: The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, A Man and His Three Dogs, White Wolf, Wolves and Humans, The Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, Worúxega, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Dog that became a Panther, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Wild Rose, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Canine Warrior, The Dog Who Saved His Master, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, The Big Eater, Why Dogs Sniff One Another, The Healing Blessing, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Trickster Loses His Meal, Redhorn's Sons, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Hog's Adventures, Holy One and His Brother, The Messengers of Hare, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Grandmother's Gifts, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Bladder and His Brothers, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Old Man and the Giants, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Kunu's Warpath, Morning Star and His Friend, Chief Wave and the Big Drunk; Peace of Mind Regained (?); featuring Giants as characters: A Giant Visits His Daughter, Turtle and the Giant, The Stone Heart, Young Man Gambles Often, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Morning Star and His Friend, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Old Man and the Giants, Shakes the Earth, White Wolf, Redhorn's Father, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, The Roaster, Grandfather's Two Families, Redhorn's Sons, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Little Human Head, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, The Big Eater, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Origins of the Milky Way, Ocean Duck, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Wears White Feather on His Head, cf. The Shaggy Man; about stars and other celestial bodies: The Dipper, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Seven Maidens, Morning Star and His Friend, Little Human Head, Turtle and the Witches, Sky Man, Wojijé, The Raccoon Coat, The Big Eater, The Star Husband, Grandfather's Two Families, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Children of the Sun, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Origins of the Milky Way, The Fall of the Stars; about the interrelationship between Thunderbirds and Nightspirits: How the Thunders Met the Nights, Ocean Duck, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Big Stone, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga; mentioning Nightspirits: The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga, The Origins of the Sore Eye Dance, The Rounded Wood Origin Myth, The Big Stone, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Fourth Universe, Battle of the Night Blessed Men and the Medicine Rite Men, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Ocean Duck, The Origins of the Nightspirit Starting Songs, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; having characters who are fat: Grandfather's Two Families, The Green Man; 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, Turtle's Warparty, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Waruǧábᵉra, The Creation Council, The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), 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 cedar (juniper, waxšúč): The Journey to Spiritland (vv. 4, 5) (used to ascend to Spiritland), The Seer (sacrificial knife), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (sacrificial knife), Redhorn's Sons (coronet of Thunders, lodge), Aračgéga's Blessings (coronet of Thunders), The Twins Disobey Their Father (trees found on cliffs of Thunders), Partridge's Older Brother (smoke fatal to evil spirit), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (purifying smoke), The Creation Council (purifying smoke), The Dipper (incense), The Brown Squirrel (arrow), Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (log used as weapon); mentioning the Ocean Sea (Te Ją): Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 1), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Rounded Wood Origin Myth, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster and the Children, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Wears White Feather on His Head, White Wolf, How the Thunders Met the Nights (Mąznį’ąbᵋra), Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Redhorn's Sons, Grandfather's Two Families, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (sea), The Dipper (sea), The Thunderbird (a very wide river), Wojijé, The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 1), Redhorn's Father, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Berdache Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Morning Star and His Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed.
The short variant of this story is The Big Eater. However, it differs in an interesting number of particulars and should probably be considered a version.
Themes: gluttony: Grandfather's Two Families, The Big Eater, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear; hunting is bad because of the misconduct of a man's wife (or mother-in-law) towards that which aids the hunt: White Wolf, The Red Man, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, A Man and His Three Dogs; someone eats so much that his closest relatives flee from him (to avoid starvation): The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families; starvation: The Brown Squirrel, White Wolf, The Red Man, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, A Man and His Three Dogs, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Kaǧiga and Lone Man, The Shaggy Man, The Bungling Host, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Jarrot and His Friends Saved from Starvation; someone is rejected by at least one member of his family: The Big Eater, The King Bird, Grandfather's Two Families, Kaǧiga and Lone Man, Moiety Origin Myth, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, The Story of the Medicine Rite; a (grand)father abandons his family: The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee, The Two Boys, The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families, The Birth of the Twins, The Two Brothers, Trickster Visits His Family; a man flees until he reaches a lodge belonging to ten brothers with whom he then lives: The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families; a man is adopted into a family who live in a distant village: The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families, Moiety Origin Myth, Origin of the Decorah Family, The Captive Boys; a large group of brothers (usually ten) live alone together: The Big Eater, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Quail Hunter, Bladder and His Brothers, Wojijé, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Spotted Grizzly Man; a group of brothers return from the hunt in the order of their birth: The Quail Hunter, Grandfather's Two Families, The Old Man and His Four Dogs; the youngest offspring is superior: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Young Man Gambles Often, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Twins Cycle, The Two Boys, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Children of the Sun, The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Story of the Medicine Rite, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 4, 7), Snake Clan Origins, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Snake Clan Origins, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth; the human incarnation of the sun eats enormous amounts of food: Grandfather's Two Families; an old man is told by a Giant that his grandsons are challenged to a contest, but he keeps forgetting to tell them until the Giants (attempt to) club him, then he remembers by repeating it all day long: Grandfather's Two Families, Bladder and His Brothers; contests with the Giants: Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Redhorn's Father, White Wolf, The Roaster, Young Man Gambles Often, Little Human Head, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Redhorn's Sons, Morning Star and His Friend, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Big Eater, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, The Old Man and the Giants, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Shakes the Earth, The Origins of the Milky Way, The Shaggy Man, Grandfather's Two Families; racing to the end of the world and back: Old Man and Wears White Feather, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Green Man, The Roaster, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), The Big Eater; contestants race to an oak tree at the edge of the world and back: Old Man and Wears White Feather, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Roaster; an old man has a disc shaped object which when rolled makes him the fastest man in any race: Grandfather's Two Families; in an athletic competition, one side throws objects at the other to impede their progress: The Green Man, Old Man and Wears White Feather; in a foot race one runner derides the other by suggesting that he is practically standing still: Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Roaster; one man finishes so far ahead of the competition in a foot race that he has time to smoke a pipe before they reach the finish line: Old Man and Wears White Feather, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Moiety Origin Myth; a spirit has so much speed that he tears down trees trying to come to a stop: Grandfather's Two Families; an old man wins a race: The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families; good people (and spirits) completely annihilate a race of bad spirits except for two, whom they allow to live (so that they do not undo the work of the Creator): Grandfather's Two Families, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Redhorn's Father, Morning Star and His Friend, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle; some of a group of brothers are Stellar Spirits and others are animals: Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families; a human turns into a (spirit) animal: How the Thunders Met the Nights (Thunderbird), Waruǧábᵉra (Thunderbird), The Dipper (hummingbird), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (blackhawk, owl), Elk Clan Origin Myth (elk), Young Man Gambles Often (elk), The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Were-Grizzly, Partridge's Older Brother (bear), The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother (bear), Porcupine and His Brothers (bear), The Shaggy Man (bear), The Roaster (bear), Wazųka (bear), The Spotted Grizzly Man (bear), Brass and Red Bear Boy (bear, buffalo), White Wolf (dog, wolf), Worúxega (wolf, bird, snake), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (buffalo), The Brown Squirrel (squirrel), The Skunk Origin Myth (skunk), The Fleetfooted Man (otter, bird), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (otter), The Diving Contest (Waterspirit), The Woman who Married a Snake (snake, Waterspirit), The Omahas who turned into Snakes (four-legged snakes), The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 3) (alligators), Snowshoe Strings (a frog), How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (v. 3) (earthworms), The Woman Who Became an Ant, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (ant).
1 Paul Radin, "The Sun," Transcripts in English of Winnebago Tales, Freeman #3860 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago IV, #7L, 1-9 (= 78-86 = 978-996).
2 Timothy P. McCleary, The Stars We Know: Crow Indian Astronomy and Lifeways (Prospect Hills, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1997) vii #4, 19.