The Two Brothers
narrated by Philip Longtail (Sįčserečka), Buffalo Clan
translation from the interlinear text of Rev. James Owen Dorsey
Versions 1 and 2 differ only with respect to the last half of each (p. 9 ff.).
Hočąk-English Interlinear Text
Version 1. (1) There a man lived with his wife. The man was strong and was able to kill something regularly. In time his wife had two sons. And this man could hunt something. He got meat for the babies. Not long after his wife became sick and died. And in the same way the little boy died. And the father buried his own son. He did not bury him in the manner used at present. He did this: he took a thin piece of skin and then wrapped him in it. (2) After he did that, he took the little boy and then put him down at the base of a tree. After he had done so, he returned home.
And then they two were left. Then he began to hunt something. This boy stayed home to take care of the lodge. In time this little boy grew larger. The only thing that this boy would eat regularly were just the tongues. This boy never went anywhere at any time. As a matter of course he always sat there in the lodge. After his father made arrows for him, he would regularly stand around shooting them.
In time when his father went hunting, a boy came along singing as he went. (3) And when shortly thereafter he entered, he suddenly stood. The other boy was scared. Soon thereafter, the other boy said this: "You can be my brother," he said. And the other one said that he didn't know anything about that. So all day long they played together. And in the evening this boy went home. Every time when he had come to the lodge, he would always be making song. And again in the morning he went out to hunt. This boy never told it to his father. (4) Again he went to hunt something. And again the younger boy came. And he sang:
When you eat, you eat only the flesh.
Here somewhere is a small stump,
I have that for a grandmother.
Only the small wild beans, those I eat.
Huré'ą'ą́, huré'ą'ą́; huré'ą'ą́.
he said. He stayed there all day long. And when his father had come home, he told it to him, how every day the boy had been coming. (5) And the father said to catch hold of him, he told him. When it was morning, he had come. And he sang:
When you eat, you eat only the flesh.
Here somewhere is a small stump,
I have that for a grandmother.
Only the small wild beans, those I eat.
Huré'ą'ą, huré'ą'ą, huré'ą'ą́.
he said. And the other boy said that he ordered him to stay overnight. The other one did not do it. And in the evening the other boy went home. And the boy followed him. (6) Then a little while later the two of them came upon a stump. And a spring lay under the stump. So the boy dove right into the spring. And the other boy was coming home. In the evening, his father had come home. And he told him how the boy had gone into the spring. In the morning he did not go out to hunt something. He waited for the boy. He did not come. When morning came again, he went out to hunt something. Again the boy came. (7) He stayed there playing with him all day long. And in the evening he again went home. And again his father came home. He said that he would wait for him for four days, he said. For four days he did not go out to hunt something. The boy didn't ever come. And then the two of them thought what to do: how to proceed and when they will catch hold of this boy. Just then he knew one thing. Then in the morning he tied the placenta of an animal into the hair of his son's head. And he said to his son, "When the boy comes, tie this on the hair of his head," he ordered. (8) And the boy came. There the other boy bent down. They tied one to his head. And in the evening the boy went home. This other boy went out to follow him. And when he made it to the spring there, he suddenly dove in. In a very little while he came back up again. In just this way he bobbed up four times. And shortly after he came out, his father came back. So he came running. And they caught hold of him. (9) After they had made a small lodge, they brought him to the lodge and there he put him in. He said that the boy cried much then. In a very short time he was alright. This man knew him from when he had him for a son. And the boys were the ones who were always staying behind to take care of the lodge. In the past the man had said that he ordered them to do it so that they would always be in the lodge.
[At this point the story bifurcates into two versions. Version 1 continues; see Version 2 below.]
Version 1 (continued). (16) Once the man went off somewhere. He never came back. And the boys dwelt alone. Once they themselves also went somewhere. And they never came back. And the boys began to go around the whole earth. In time they arrived at the upper world. And when there they reached a lodge, (17) they entered the lodge of the Bad Spirit. And the two of them talked between themselves. And they both said that they would light it, they said. They came back in the morning. They set the lodge on fire. Not all of it burned. After they did that, they came back to the earth.
And again they began to go around the earth. And once there they immediately came to a hill. There were many of these snakes. The two of them fought the serpents perhaps all day long. And in the evening after they boiled the serpents, they ate them.
And in the morning they started off again. (18) So once when they were going along they unexpectedly reached a lake. The small boy went into the waters. And this other one looked on. It wasn't much later that he joined him. These two fought blood-suckers (leeches). And when they finished, after they boiled the blood-suckers, they ate them. And after they did that, they went off somewhere.
And once again, unexpectedly, they came to a hill. And they climbed the hill. And when they reached the top of the hill, they found a bird nest. There were little birds there. After they killed some by hitting or stabbing them, they ate them. And they were coming back.
(19) Once when they were going about, there they suddenly met a wild turkey. They were both scared. Separating from one another, they ran in opposite directions. This is the end.1
Version 2. [This version agrees with Version 1 through page 9.]
(9) And once he went to hunt something. And in the evening he had come home. In the morning before he went out hunting, he said to the ones that he had for sons, (10) "Here stands a lake, but to it you must not go," he said. And he went to hunt something. And the small boy said: "Flesh, let's go to the lake," he said. The other one said, "The one we have for a father forbade us to do it, so we must not," he said. So this smaller boy asked him often, coaxing him. And at last they went. When they reached the lake, the smaller boy went into the waters. And shortly thereafter the other one went there too. The lake was full of blood-suckers (leeches). And the two of them fought blood-suckers all day long. (11) And in the evening, after they boiled two blood suckers, they ate them. They took some blood suckers to their father. And the one that they had for a father ordered them to pour (the soup) outdoors.
And in the morning he said to the two that he had for sons: "Here stands a hill to which you two must not go," he said. And he went to hunt something. Shortly thereafter, this smaller boy asked the other one to go to the hill. And at last they went to it. When they reached the top of the hill, there were many serpents there. (12) Right then and there the two of them fought the serpents all day long. And in the evening when they stopped fighting the serpents, after they boiled the aforesaid, they ate them. And they took some of the serpents, and they brought them home to the one that they had for a father. And the one whom they had for a father ordered them to pour it outside.
And that night the man went off somewhere. He kept at it all night long. And he kept on all day long as well. And that night he slept over night at that place. He made a log into a pillow for himself. And in the morning when he awoke, he awoke there where he was sitting asleep in the lodge. That one, Little Ghost, caused that they say, (13) the man in the lodge awaking from where he was sitting asleep. And in the morning the man again went somewhere. And he never came back.
And the boys also went off somewhere. They went to the world above the clouds. And as they were going, they immediately came to a lodge. It was that bad spirit to whose lodge they had come. And the boys spoke to each other concerning what they would do and if they would burn it down. And the smaller boy said that tomorrow they would come, he said. And they went off somewhere. In the morning at last they came. (14) And they set the lodge on fire. Not all of the lodge burned. After they did this, they came back to earth.
When they had come back onto the earth, at one time then they climbed up a hill. And when they arrived on the top of the hill, there they found a bird nest: Thunderbird chicks were living there. The smaller boy climbed a tree. He seized one of the birds and spoke to it: "By what name do they call you?" he said to him. Thus he did three times. And they told their names to him every time. When thus they said, every time after he threw them down, he killed them with his hand. (15) When he asked the fourth one his name, he said, "Wą́nihegá, 'He who is Hallooing,' that is what they called him," he said. And he ordered him to halloo. The bird hallooed. And then in a very short time, very far away something suddenly made a rumbling sound. That rain came down hard. And the two of them fought Thunderbirds all day long. And in the evening after they had boiled them, they ate them.
And they went off somewhere. Once as they were going along they met this wild turkey. When the two were scared, they separated alone in two different directions. This is the end of that. (16) Those boys did not reach the clouds, as it happens. Now, if they had, it would have been something bad. That is what they say.2
Commentary. "put him down at the base of a tree" — this is what is done with the dog that is sacrificed to Disease Giver. It is emphasized in the text that this is not the normal burial procedure.
"the placenta of an animal" — in the Twins Cycle it is the bladder of a turkey, and in the Two Boys, an elk bladder. A placenta seems appropriate, since Ghost is being reborn in some sense. It is the placenta where the spirit is pulled out of its natural element to be forced into the world of flesh.
"the Bad Spirit" (v. 1), (v. 2) — he is more commonly called Herešgúnina. This episode is expanded upon in the Twins Cycle, where they actually end up confronting the occupant of the lodge.
"after they boiled the serpents, they ate them" (v. 1), (v. 2) — this is a highly sacrilegious act. It is forbidden to eat serpents, which are considered sacred, as their name waką, "sacred power," implies.
"blood-suckers (leeches?)" (v. 1), (v. 2) — in the corresponding episode of the Twins Cycle, these opponents are giant leeches.
Little Ghost — elsewhere he is called simply "Ghost." In the present story he refers to his grandmother as being a stump. For the significance of his role in relation to stumps, see the commentary to The Birth of the Twins.
"little birds" (v. 1), v. 2: "Thunderbird chicks" — as we learn from the Twins Cycle, these "little birds" are actually Thunderbirds. To eat them is highly sacrilegious.
"a wild turkey" (v. 1), (v. 2) — this turkey is identified as Rušewe in the Twins Cycle. He is the king of birds and is the only thing that can terrorize the Twins. In the Twins Cycle version, the Twins are driven to the lodge of Earthmaker, who diminishes their power for the good of his creation. In this version, they are apparently separated for good, which we can assume has the same effect.
When we tabulate the episodes of the Two Brothers against the Twins Cycle we can see that there are a few divergences, but that they do match fairly well the order and content of the cycle.
|Two Brothers, v. 1||Two Brothers, v. 2||Twins Cycle|
|1. The birth of the twins||1. The birth of the Twins||§1. The Birth of the Twins|
|4. The Twins kill and eat various holy animals, but their father is not around.|| 2. The Twins disobey their father in their travels. They kill and eat various holy animals, then bring them back for their father to eat.
5. The Twins, now alone, kill Thunderbird chicks, then fight the Thunderbird adults.
|§2. The Twins Disobey Their Father (the killing and eating of various holy animals; the killing of the Thunderbird chicks)|
|2. The father leaves (barely mentioned).||3. The father of the Twins attempts to flee, but initially cannot due to magical tricks.||§3. The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee|
|3. The Twins burn the Bad Spirit's lodge.||4. The Twins burn the Bad Spirit's lodge.||§4. The Twins Get into Hot Water (the burning of Herešgúnina's lodge)|
|§5. The Twins Visit Their Father's Village|
|§6. The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty|
|5. The Twins encounter a wild turkey and run away in opposite directions.||6. The Twins encounter a wild turkey and run away in opposite directions.||§7. Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins|
Comparative Material. See the various episodes of the The Twins Cycle.
Links: The Twins, Gottschall, Ghosts, Herešgúnina (the Bad Spirit), Tree Spirits, Leeches.
Stories: mentioning the Twins: The Twins Cycle, The Man with Two Heads, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket; about two brothers: The Two Children, The Twin Sisters, The Captive Boys, The Twins Cycle, 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, Sunset Point, The Old Man and the Giants, The Brown Squirrel, Esau was an Indian; featuring Herešgúnina (the Bad Spirit or One Legged One) as a character: The Creation of Evil, The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Woman Who Became an Ant, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, Šųgepaga, The Spirit of Gambling, Bladder and His Brothers, The Origins of the Milky Way, The Buffalo's Walk; see also Black and White Moons, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara; about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, Sunset Point, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧábᵉra, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Petition to Earthmaker, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man Whose Wife was Captured; in which leeches occur: The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Seduction of Redhorn's Son, The Two Boys, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth; involving tree stumps: The Twins Cycle, The Two Boys, The Creation of the World (v. 15), The Pointing Man, The Were-fish, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name; mentioning springs: Trail Spring, Vita Spring, Merrill Springs, Big Spring and White Clay Spring, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Bear Clan Origin Myth, vv. 6, 8, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, Bluehorn's Nephews, Blue Mounds, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Lost Child, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Wild Rose, The Omahas who turned into Snakes, Snowshoe Strings, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Nannyberry Picker, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, The Two Boys, Waruǧábᵉra, Wazųka, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, Turtle and the Witches.
Versions of this story are found in The Two Boys, and in The Twins Cycle.
Other stories in the Longtail/Dorsey set: I. Watequka and His Brothers; II. The Captive Boys; III. The Man who Visited the Upper and Lower Worlds; IV. The Fatal House; VI. Iron Staff and His Companions; VII. Rich Man, Boy, and Horse; VIII. The Man with Two Heads.
Themes: multiple births: The Birth of the Twins, The Twin Sisters, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Man with Two Heads, The Children of the Sun, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension; someone returns from the dead: Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Sunset Point, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, White Fisher, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Shaggy Man, The Two Boys, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Waruǧábᵉra, The Lost Blanket, The Old Man and the Giants; someone dives into a body of water and disappears into its depths: The Red Feather, The Birth of the Twins, The Two Boys, The Woman who Married a Snake, The Shaggy Man; the Twins disobey the commands of someone with fatherly authority over them: The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket; a knowledgeable person tells someone not to go to a certain place because of the danger, but that person goes there anyway: The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Fox-Hočąk War, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket, Bladder and His Brothers, The Thunderbird, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle; a (grand)father abandons his family: The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee, The Two Boys, Sun and the Big Eater, The Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families, The Birth of the Twins, Trickster Visits His Family; traveling over the whole earth: Deer Clan Origin Myth, The Pointing Man, Trickster and the Dancers, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Necessity for Death, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Cycle, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket, Bluehorn's Nephews.
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).
1 Alexander Longtail, "The Two Brothers, Waloga and Little Ghost," text with interlinear translation by James Owen Dorsey, 4800 Dorsey Papers: Winnebago 3.3.2 (Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives, October and November, 1893) Story V: 1-9, 16-19.
2 Longtail, "The Two Brothers, Waloga and Little Ghost," pp. 1-16.