Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians

By John R. Swanton | Go to book overview

The native attitude toward these was, of course, various, some no doubt having been originally sacred legends embodying actual beliefs, while others were told for amusement. Only in the Natchez series have I any absolute clew as to which were considered sacred and the reverse. My Natchez informant stated that certain stories, among which he included numbers 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 18, 23, 30, and the stories about the tie-snake, must be told only during cold weather. Otherwise bad luck would follow. This list was communicated to me before I had collected all of the Natchez stories here given and it is, therefore, defective. It is of value only as indicating that such a distinction was made. It is surprising that such tales as "The Bungling Host" and "The Wolves and the Fawn" should be included.1


CREEK STORIES

1. How DAY AND NIGHT WERE DIVIDED

(Tuggle collection)

The animals held a meeting and No-koos-see (Nokosi), the Bear, presided.

The question was, how to divide day and night.

Some desired the day to last all the time; others wished it all night. After much talk, Chew-thlock-chew (Tciłoktco), the ground squirrel, said:

"I see that Woot-Kew (Wotko), the Coon, has rings on his tail divided equally, first a dark color then a light color. I think day and night ought to be divided like the rings on Woot-Kew's tail."

The animals were surprised at the wisdom of Chew-thlock-chew. They adopted his plan and divided day and night like the rings on Woot-Kew's tail, succeeding each other in regular order.

No-koos-see from envy scratched the back of Chew-thlock-chew and thus caused the stripes on the back of all his descendants, the ground squirrels.


2. BEAD-SPITTER AND THROWN-AWAY2 (3, 10)

Bead-spitter (Konāpkesō'fkȧ) lived in a certain place. Two young women heard the name and, thinking that it must belong to some person, started out to find him. They traveled an entire day and when it was getting dark met Rabbit. "Where are you going?" he said. "We are going to Bead-spitter's.""Ku ku ku ku," he exclaimed, "you are naming somebody.""We do not know him," they replied, "but we thought there might be such a person and so we set out to find him." "What do you want of him?""We want some beads.""You can't go until morning," said Rabbit. "Remain here all night." They did so, and Rabbit slept with one of

____________________
1
Some of the stories included in this bulletin were printed in The Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol. XXVI, no. CI, 1913.
2
This story was "made into a parable" by the Indians, i. e., it was referred to in speeches and used to point morals, etc.

-2-

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Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Letter of Transmittal iii
  • Contents v
  • Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians 1
  • Creek Stories 2
  • Hitchiti Stories 87
  • Alabama Stories 118
  • Koasati Stories 166
  • Natchez Stories 214
  • Comparison of Myths 267
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