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Eroneniera Or An Indian Visit To The Great Spirit

Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha


A Delaware Indian, called Eroneniera, anxious to know the Master of
Life, resolved, without mentioning his design to any one, to undertake
a journey to Paradise, which he knew to be God's residence. But, to
succeed in his project, it was necessary for him to know the way to the
celestial regions. Not knowing any person who, having been there
himself, might aid him in finding the road, he commenced juggling, in
the hope of drawing a good augury from his dream.

The Indian, in his dream, imagined that he had only to commence his
journey, and that a continued walk would take him to the celestial
abode. The next morning very early, he equipped himself as a hunter,
taking a gun, powder-horn, ammunition, and a boiler to cook his
provisions. The first part of his journey was pretty favorable; he
walked a long time without being discouraged, having always a firm
conviction that he should attain his aim. Eight days had already
elapsed without his meeting with any one to oppose his desire. On the
evening of the eighth day, at sunset, he stopped as usual on the bank
of a brook, at the entrance of a little prairie, a place which he
thought favorable for his night's encampment. As he was preparing his
lodging, he perceived at the other end of the prairie three very wide
and well-beaten paths; he thought this somewhat singular; he, however,
continued to prepare his wigwam, that he might shelter himself from the
weather. He also lighted a fire. While cooking, he found that, the
darker it grew, the more distinct were those paths. This surprised,
nay, even frightened him; he hesitated a few moments. Was it better for
him to remain in his camp, or seek another at some distance? While in
this incertitude, he remembered his juggling, or rather his dream. He
thought that his only aim in undertaking his journey was to see the
Master of Life. This restored him to his senses. He thought it probable
that one of those three roads led to the place which he wished to
visit. He therefore resolved upon remaining in his camp until the
morrow, when he would, at random, take one of them. His curiosity,
however, scarcely allowed him time to take his meal; he left his
encampment and fire, and took the widest of the paths. He followed it
until the middle of the day without seeing anything to impede his
progress; but, as he was resting a little to take breath, he suddenly
perceived a large fire coming from under ground. It excited his
curiosity; he went towards it to see what it might be; but, as the fire
appeared to increase as he drew nearer, he was so overcome with fear,
that he turned back and took the widest of the other two paths. Having
followed it for the same space of time as he had the first, he
perceived a similar spectacle. His fright, which had been lulled by the
change of road, awoke him, and he was obliged to take the third path,
in which he walked a whole day without seeing anything. All at once, a
mountain of a marvellous whiteness burst upon his sight. This filled
him with astonishment; nevertheless, he took courage and advanced to
examine it. Having arrived at the foot, he saw no signs of a road. He
became very sad, not knowing how to continue his journey. In this
conjuncture, he looked on all sides and perceived a female seated upon
the mountain; her beauty was dazzling, and the whiteness of her
garments surpassed that of snow. The woman said to him in his own
language, "You appear surprised to find no longer a path to reach your
wishes. I know that you have for a long time longed to see and speak to
the Master of Life; and that you have undertaken this journey purposely
to see him. The way which leads to his abode is upon this mountain. To
ascend it, you must undress yourself completely, and leave all your
accoutrements and clothing at the foot. No person shall injure them.
You will then go and wash yourself in the river which I am now showing
you, and afterward ascend the mountain."

The Indian obeyed punctually the woman's words; but one difficulty
remained. How could he arrive at the top of the mountain, which was
steep, without a path, and as smooth as glass? He asked the woman how
he was to accomplish it. She replied, that if he really wished to see
the Master of Life, he must, in mounting, only use his left hand and
foot. This appeared almost impossible to the Indian. Encouraged,
however, by the female, he commenced ascending, and succeeded after
much trouble. When at the top, he was astonished to see no person, the
woman having disappeared. He found himself alone, and without a guide.
Three unknown villages were in sight; they were constructed on a
different plan from his own, much handsomer, and more regular. After a
few moments' reflection, he took his way towards the handsomest. When
about half way from the top of the mountain, he recollected that he was
naked, and was afraid to proceed; but a voice told him to advance, and
have no apprehensions; that, as he had washed himself, he might walk in
confidence. He proceeded without hesitation to a place which appeared
to be the gate of the village, and stopped until some one came to open
it. While he was considering the exterior of the village, the gate
opened, and the Indian saw coming towards him a handsome man dressed
all in white, who took him by the hand, and said he was going to
satisfy his wishes by leading him to the presence of the Master of

The Indian suffered himself to be conducted, and they arrived at a
place of unequalled beauty. The Indian was lost in admiration. He there
saw the Master of Life, who took him by the hand, and gave him for a
seat a hat bordered with gold. The Indian, afraid of spoiling the hat,
hesitated to sit down; but, being again ordered to do so, he obeyed
without reply.

The Indian being seated, God said to him, "I am the Master of Life,
whom thou wishest to see, and to whom thou wishest to speak. Listen to
that which I will tell thee for thyself and for all the Indians. I am
the Maker of Heaven and earth, the trees, lakes, rivers, men, and all
that thou seest or hast seen on the earth or in the heavens; and
because I love you, you must do my will; you must also avoid that which
I hate; I hate you to drink as you do, until you lose your reason; I
wish you not to fight one another; you take two wives, or run after
other people's wives; you do wrong; I hate such conduct; you should
have but one wife, and keep her until death. When you go to war, you
juggle, you sing the medicine song, thinking you speak to me; you
deceive yourselves; it is to the Manito that you speak; he is a wicked
spirit who induces you to evil, and for want of knowing me, you listen
to him.

"The land on which you are, I have made for you, not for others:
wherefore do you suffer the whites to dwell upon your lands? Can you
not do without them? I know that those whom you call the children of
your great Father supply your wants. But, were you not wicked as you
are, you would not need them. You might live as you did before you knew
them. Before those whom you call your brothers had arrived, did not
your bow and arrow maintain you? You needed neither gun, powder, nor
any other object. The flesh of animals was your food, their skins your
raiment. But when I saw you inclined to evil, I removed the animals
into the depths of the forests, that you might depend on your brothers
for your necessaries for your clothing. Again become good and do my
will, and I will send animals for your sustenance. I do not, however,
forbid suffering among you your Father's children; I love them, they
know me, they pray to me; I supply their own wants, and give them that
which they bring to you. Not so with those who are come to trouble your
possessions. Drive them away; wage war against them. I love them not.
They know me not. They are my enemies, they are your brothers' enemies.
Send them back to the lands I have made for them. Let them remain

"Here is a written prayer which I give thee; learn it by heart, and
teach it to all the Indians and children." (The Indian, observing here
that he could not read, the Master of Life told him that, on his return
upon earth, he should give it to the chief of his village, who would
read it, and also teach it to him, as also to all the Indians). "It must
be repeated," said the Master of Life, "morning and evening. Do all that
I have told thee, and announce it to all the Indians as coming from the
Master of Life. Let them drink but one draught, or two at most, in one
day. Let them have but one wife, and discontinue running after other
people's wives and daughters. Let them not fight one another. Let them
not sing the medicine song, for in singing the medicine song they speak
to the evil spirit. Drive from your lands," added the Master of Life,
"those dogs in red clothing; they are only an injury to you. When you
want anything, apply to me, as your brothers do, and I will give to
both. Do not sell to your brothers that which I have placed on the earth
as food. In short, become good, and you shall want nothing. When you
meet one another, bow, and give one another the ... hand of the heart.
Above all, I command thee to repeat, morning and evening, the prayer
which I have given thee."

The Indian promised to do the will of the Master of Life, and also to
recommend it strongly to the Indians; adding that the Master of Life
should be satisfied with them.

His conductor then came, and leading him to the foot of the mountain,
told him to take his garments and return to his village; which was
immediately done by the Indian.

His return much surprised the inhabitants of the village, who did not
know what had become of him. They asked him whence he came; but, as he
had been enjoined to speak to no one until he saw the chief of the
village, he motioned to them with his hand that he came from above.
Having entered the village, he went immediately to the chief's wigwam,
and delivered to him the prayer and laws intrusted to his care by the
Master of Life.

[86] Pontiac told this story to the assembled Indians in 1763, to
enlist them in his plan to resist the transfer of the country to
the English authority, on the fall of the French power in the

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