Wolves and Humans

translation based on the interlinear text (presumably translated by Oliver LaMère)

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

(1) There in a longhouse was a married couple. They had ten sons, all of whom were married. Furthermore, all these children themselves had children. Although it was a ten-fireplace one, it was full. They were hunters. They would get game, (2) but finally they failed. Thus it was. They were in want of food. As things had become very difficult, the children said, "Father, if you'll remain here with mother, we'll camp over somewhere that we will not be able to go to and back in a single day. At such a place we might be able to kill something, (3) so we'll go to such a place," they said. "You may do so, my dear children," they said. "Hišjąge, you can run over and see us if you have good luck in hunting," they said. "Yes, ha-a, we will come back and see you soon," they said. "Over here where we used to see a white hill, that we'll go to," they said. (4) They were left alone there as the hunting party started out. They tried very hard to get to the hill that they had mentioned. They reached it with difficulty only after four suns had passed.

They went to where the old folks had been left. (5) In the course of time, something came to them. They came singing. They said as they sang,

Wolf, you tickle things with your mouth, they say;
Tickle me with your teeth;

they said, saying it in song. They entered the lodge. "Be careful of yourselves, as he might be surprisingly strong. If you do it, one of the things might also harm some of you," they said. (6) They went around the lodge, the dance being led by a little spotted fawn. They were deer. They came singing and dancing. As they walked,

Wolf, you always tickle things with your mouth, they say;
Your teeth tickle;

they said as they were dancing. Finally, he got around along side of him. He grabbed the dance-leader. (7) "Hohó, old woman, help me here," he said. Old Woman cut the cords on the back of its neck. There they killed it. They lived on this little one. Finally, they ate it up. Again they could not find anything, and just then again they suddenly returned. Again they came up saying this kind again, the song:

(8) Wolf, you always tickle things with your mouth, they say;
Tickle me with your teeth.


They came along singing and dancing and said it. Again they came and entered into the lodge. Again they came and went around the lodge. Again alone among them there was a forked-horned deer who was the smallest, and he grabbed him. (9) He bit him. The old man was hurled off a long distance. He laughed very much. Deer said, "They have told the truth. The teeth tickle," he said. Again he grabbed one. They laughed very much, whooping, and they would hurl him far off. (10) He did a lot, but couldn't get one of them. Again they came the next morning. After that they would come every day. They would still do the same every time as in the first time. They fooled with him. Thus they did to him four times, then just when they had left, unexpectedly, there one came singing.

(11) When he came, unexpectedly, it was a man who was saying it. He was a tall man, and a black man. He had an oar, and he did it. When he was through singing, he lowered his oar and scooped live coals on them and made these old people jump. (12) Thus he did and he went out again. "Hohó, who is he, I wonder? I wish that one of my sons was here," he said. "You say that you will see your sons sometime, do you?" he said. "Hohó, I wonder whether he meant that my sons are dead," he said. Then again in the morning, (13) they were already here again dancing. Again he did very much, but he only tickled them with his teeth. Again he came, the one who scooped live coals on them. Again this one came four times.

The old woman said, "Old man, if you try and do something, it will be the only way," she said, (14) "as I am old," she said. And he said, "Old woman, go hunt for oyster shells," he said. "I mean one with two sides," he said. The old woman went out. She brought back one. The old man did it: he began to handle his privates. He finally took something from there. Then he took a second one. (15) Thus he did, and he put them in the oyster shell. Then he told the old woman to hold it between her legs. In the night, "Niži! I think there's something in it that may be alive," the old woman said. And the old man said, "Just keep them quiet. (16) Only on the morrow will we look at them," he said. And they opened the oyster shell the next morning. There two terrifying things came out. One was very white, and one was very black. Immediately, they became big. "Hohó, my sons, it is good! (17) Because we are old, the animals are abusing us," he said. The old man said, "Ho!" "Who is doing it?" they said. And the old man said, "My dear sons, right away they will be seen to be coming. A large number of deer always come and dance over us," he said. "Now they always come. They always come early," he said. (18) "Koté younger brother, let us wait for them; let us hide," he said. There they hid themselves. Even then they came singing,

Wolf, you always tickle things with your mouth, they say;
Tickle me with your teeth,

All About Wolves  

they said as they were coming. Even now they appeared dancing as they came. They entered the lodge. There they arose. (19) "Hahowo! the thing is not going to be so. There one said, "Try and save yourselves," and they crowded one another at the door. One by one they crushed them with their jaws there. Then they killed all of these deer. And they dressed them. And they said, "My dear sons, again there is a thing that comes. (20) Again he will usually come," they said. Again he came singing. When he got there, they killed him. Unexpectedly, it was a sturgeon. There they ate a good deal of sturgeon.

Thus it was. They came into possession of plenty. Then the old man said, "My dear sons, some of your older brothers went out on a hunting expedition. (21) We were starving to death, so they went hunting. The went out long ago. Perhaps by this time they might be dead," he said, the old man said. Thus he told his sons. And his sons said, "Father, we are going to look for them," they said. And even then they were ready to go. (22) And they said, "But you are very well supplied with food, so we are going to look for our brothers," they said. Then they went. They started in the evening, so they stopped overnight. It snowed a great deal and it was very cold. They could not do anything, and there they kicked away the snow. (23) They were very powerful. It landed there at the place where their older brothers were sitting. The kicking of the snow against the reed lodge when they were camping would make it rattle. And when they were about to go to sleep, there one of them howled. He howled four times. And the earth seemed to shake. His older brothers heard him. "Well, what can it be? (24) No one is anywhere around. Our parents are getting old, yet they must have done something," they said.

Again the next morning they started out right away. They reached them there. Unexpectedly, they entered. There stood two frightening beings. "Hohó, our older brothers," they said. "Hohó, our younger brothers," they said. (25) And thus it was. "Younger brothers, it is all up as we are prisoners and then they said that perhaps we cannot go back home. Thus they do to us and we do to them this also what they did to you last night. These are the same ones who make the weather (the day) very bad. (26) If you were weaklings there, they intended for you to give out they said. And they will come. They always come. Thus they do and when any one of us goes, they tire us out," they were saying. And they drive back a herd of deer and the least one they might give us. (27) That one the children would eat. But there were many of them and they would get only a small piece apiece to eat," he said. Just then, "Hąho!" he said in the distance. "Howo!" he said, "I will go, younger brother," the white one said. He went. Unexpectedly, a frightening one appeared. "Hąho, I thought how not a one of them would be like this," he thought. (28) Then he went with him. On the way he said, "Hąho, young man, you take the lead," he said to him. There in turn White Wolf took the lead. He followed walking behind. He kept blowing at him as he walked. He intended to get them exhausted from the cold. He tried to make ice on the other's ankles, (29) but the snow would not stick on. Thus the snow would fall off as he walked along. Thus he would act in mysterious ways as they walked. Indeed, he had done it to others. That way he would make their ankles freeze up with ice and they would be unable to walk, and so he intended to try to do that. There he would exhaust them in order to win. They would return and he would go on alone. (30) There he did it to them. A herd of deer he would drive back and the smallest one he would give them. Thus he meant to do but he failed. There he finally exhausted himself. There he was exhauted from the cold, so he turned back. From there he went on alone. (31) And there where the deer kept a village, there he came. Some of them he drove and he came home. When he returned, they did it to him in turn. They gave them the one that was the smallest. They gave them a fawn. Then, unexpectedly, Kunu arrived there. He came with his belly dragging on the ground. (32) He had eaten one of the deer raw, and it was thus. "Hąhó, what has our older brother done?" they said. "My younger brothers, I made myself very sick," he said. "Hąhó, since he has done it, it will be made thus here; henceforth we will have to do that way," they said. There they ate them raw. Things were like that from that time on. (33) At the beginning of their first existence, there at least they used to cook and it was eaten. It was good that they did this. From that time on they ate things raw. Then again the next morning they already came and shouted over, "Hąhó, it's time to go hunting," they said. Both of them went. (34) There again he tried him. Instead he once again exhausted himself. They went there alone, did these two wolves. When they got there to the deer town, they scattered them. They scattered them all over the earth. Not for a second time could they gather to stay any place. (35) Thus they did to them. And they said, "Not a second time will you hold the village. Not such a thing did He create." They did not hold the village. They went off. They called them. They did it. Then they went to the one who was doing it. The North Wind was the one who was doing it. (36) He made them cold and there they went to him. And they said, "Not such a thing did He create. He did not create you to act in this way. Go back to where you sit and sit there and go back to doing only what you are in charge of doing. Do not try to come here to the center to kill them. (37) He did not give you this to kill with. He did not create you this way." There this wind also went back north. There he settled down. Then they went home. They went home to their parents. When they had returned, they were thankful. The parents made groaning sounds.

And the old man said, (38) "Hąhą́, my dear sons, about now I will go someplace and settle down." There he would live in a hill and he would be around there, he said. And the young people said that they would remain behind on earth. They said they would feed upon the earth. (39) "And we will not go about together. We went about together, and it was not good. We were poor," they said. Therefore, they are the wolves. That was their first existence. There these ate things raw from that time one and from that time on they wandered about in the wilderness. In the beginning they were human. (40) Therefore, from there they came. The redskin [sic] people came. Also some people originated from them. That is why they are of that clan. They originated the names. In time the animals separted from them there. Some became humans. Therefore, in that way they originated from them. Hąhą, it is ended.1

Commentary. The oyster, because it contains zinc, is a source of sexual potency, which here translates into powerful progeny. The oyster is an aquatic animal, and the wolves are said to have originated in the middle of the waters (see The Wolf Clan Origin Myth). The white hill may allude to the deer mound where the Great White Doe sends out deer spirits. That the old man retired to a hill and is associated with oysters and fish, suggests that he is a Waterspirit. The clan of this name is considered at least by some to be chief of the lower moiety to which the Wolf Clan belongs. The North Wind is strongly associated with bears, which may explain the non-violent character of his conflict with the wolf-people, since the Bear and Wolf Clans have a special friendship relation. However, it is the deer who are in league with the North Wind. The reason for this is that the deer have control over the winds and weather. It is partly because they are as fleet as the wind, and partly because their voices pervade the four quarters. As large animals that run to survive, deer have great lung capacity. This is their own "wind." Thus they have a particular power of wind. The winds reside at the four quarters, so the command over wind is a command over the four quarters to some extent. The Deer Clan, in its origin myth, says that whenever they traveled the earth, they always came back to the center where they found a chief's medallion. The Center, which corresponds to where the chief lives in the village, is symbolic of his sovereignty, not only here, but in other parts of the world. This claim to centrality is in this waiką expressed in the form of the concentration of the deer in a single village. It is the wolves who disperse the deer to the four winds, which is their clear subordination: — centrality is to concentration as marginalization is to dispersion. Inasmuch as centrality is identified with political power, marginalization, and likewise dispersion, must be associated with disenfranchisement. Thus, in this world, the wolves and humans have power, not the haughty deer.

Comparative Material. In a Nootka tale the abuse takes on the form of a world-altering theft. It was decided that Deer would be sent to steal fire from Woodpecker who had a monopoly over its use. Deer came to his realm singing, and the wolves, who owned the dance lodge, prevailed upon Woodpecker to give the Deer hospitality so that they could see his wonderful dancing. Deer put on quite a show for the wolves, but during his dance he caused his coat of cedar bark to catch fire. Then with a great leap, he bolted through the open smoke hole of the lodge and took off running. The wolves gave chase, but when Deer came upon Periwinkle Shell, he hid the fire in his shell. The wolves came by Periwinkle Shell and asked if he had seen which way the deer had fled, but Periwinkle Shell misdirected them, thereby securing for the world the blessings of fire.2

The relationship that this myth lays out between oysters and male genitals is also seen in the Tlingit myth in which Raven "tied something around the head of a clam and gave it the same name as a man's privates."3

A Shipibo myth has quite a number of interesting convergences upon the episode the birth of the wolf twins. "A young man lived with his mother. Even though he was an adult, he did not have a wife. Therefore every night his mother had to arrange his mosquito netting. At first, when she arranged the mosquito netting, she did not find any fruit in it; she was an old woman. One morning, as she was putting the mosquito netting up for the morning, she noticed a shopan [a watermelon-like fruit] of this size [indicating about 35 cm. with her hands]. The man was sleeping with it, using it like a vagina. The mother from that time on always had to put the shopan aside when she put her son's mosquito netting back in the morning. She set it up, the mother of this man, and put it away in the morning. She always saw that the shopan was there. After much time the Old Woman grew tired of this work. She said, 'Why is my son always sleeping in this fashion?' The she got the shopan and threw it away. Po! it sounded as it fell and broke open. As soon as it had split, two children appeared from inside. They cried. The Old Woman saw that they were two males and was startled. She said, 'They are my children, for I threw the fruit thus.' Then she ran to get clothing and dressed the two children. She carried them and placed them inside the mosquito netting. A little later she saw that they were already very large babies. Very rapidly the two children grew."4

Links: North Wind (Waziregi Huhira), Island Weights, Were-Grizzlies and Other Man-Bears, Disease Giver, Deer Spirits, Wolf & Dog Spirits.

Stories: relating to dogs or wolves: The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, A Man and His Three Dogs, White Wolf, 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, Sun and the Big Eater, 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 Hocąk 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, Black Otter's Warpath, Black Otter’s Sacrifice to a Thunder, Chief Wave and the Big Drunk, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers, Peace of Mind Regained (?); mentioning white wolves or dogs: White Wolf, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Worúxega, The Messengers of Hare, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2), A Man and His Three Dogs, Grandmother's Gifts, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers, Peace of Mind Regained (?); about black dogs: .The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2); featuring (spirit) fish as characters: The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Were-Fish, The Greedy Woman, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Great Fish, The Spirit of Maple Bluff, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The King Bird, Fish Clan Origins, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads; featuring sturgeons as characters: Redhorn's Father, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Great Fish, The Twin Sisters, see also White Flower; alluding to the creation of man: The Creation of Man, The Creation of the World, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Elk Clan Origin Myth, The Spirit of Gambling, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth; featuring deer as characters: Deer Clan Origin Myth, A Deer Story, Little Fox and the Ghost, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Green Man, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Trickster's Tail, Fireman's Brother, cf. The Race for the Chief's Daughter; featuring North Wind as a character: Death Enters the World; mentioning Island Weights: The Creation of the World, The Island Weight Songs, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, East Shakes the Messenger, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, North Shakes His Gourd, Šųgepaga, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Lost Blanket, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, South Seizes the Messenger, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Messengers of Hare, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Petition to Earthmaker; in which dancing plays a role: Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Mijistéga and the Sauks, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Little Priest's Game, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Migistéga’s Magic, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Trickster and the Dancers, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Black Otter's Warpath; 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), Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Lost Child, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 2), Turtle's Warparty, The Lost Blanket (mussel), The Annihilation of the Hocągara I, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads (crab); mentioning teeth: The Animal who would Eat Men, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Two Boys, The Birth of the Twins, The Twins Disobey Their Father, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Dipper, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Children of the Sun, The Green Man, Holy One and His Brother, Partridge's Older Brother, The Brown Squirrel, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, East Shakes the Messenger, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, White Wolf, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth; mentioning snow: Waruǧábᵉra, The Glory of the Morning, Holy One and His Brother, Grandfather's Two Families, The Four Steps of the Cougar, Redhorn's Father, The Old Man and the Giants, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Great Walker's Warpath, White Wolf, North Shakes His Gourd, The Fleetfooted Man, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, Witches, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, The Raccoon Coat, Silver Mound Cave, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married.

Themes: someone is abducted and led off into captivity: The Captive Boys, A Man's Revenge, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Lost Child, Wears White Feather on His Head, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Bladder and His Brothers, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Black Otter's Warpath, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Green Man, Brave Man, The Chief of the Heroka, Šųgepaga, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers, Hare Gets Swallowed, Hare Acquires His Arrows, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, The Woman Who Became an Ant, Thunderbird and White Horse, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 5), The Boy who Flew, Testing the Slave, Soldiers Catch Two Boys, a Black One and a White One; a song taunts a predator to kill or eat the singer: Hare Gets Swallowed, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth; an evil spirit throws hot coals upon someone: The Raccoon Coat; dogs rescue humans from their enemies: A Man and His Three Dogs, The Dog that became a Panther, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Canine Warrior, The Dog Who Saved His Master; scattering of animals from their primordial village into permanent exile: The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The War among the Animals; animals begin as humans, then turn into humans again when they establish a Hocąk clan: Elk Clan Origin Myth, Great Walker's Warpath; animals evolve into humans: Hawk Clan Origin Myth.

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, Hocąk 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 Mącosepka, 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 Paul Radin, "Wolves," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #5: 1-40.

2 Ella Elizabeth Clark, Indian Legends of Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1960) 21-23.

3 Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) 108. Tlingit trickster tales are collected in J. R. Swanton, Tlingit Myths and Texts, Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D. C.: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1909) Bulletin 39, 416-419.

4 Peter G. Roe, "Myth 8. The Cayman's Mandible." The Cosmic Zygote: Cosmology in the Amazon Basin (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1982) 63.