Source: Folk-lore And Legends: North American Indian
A man of large stature and great activity of mind and body found
himself standing alone on a prairie. He thought to himself--
"How came I here? Are there no beings on this earth but myself? I must
travel and see. I must walk till I find the abodes of men."
So as soon as his mind was made up he set out, he knew not whither, in
search of habitations. No obstacles diverted him from his purpose.
Prairies, rivers, woods, and storms did not daunt his courage or turn
him back. After travelling a long time he came to a wood in which he
saw decayed stumps of trees, as if they had been cut in ancient times,
but he found no other traces of men. Pursuing his journey he found
more recent marks of the same kind, and later on he came to fresh
traces of human beings, first their footsteps, and then the wood they
had cut lying in heaps.
Continuing on he emerged towards dusk from the forest, and beheld at a
distance a large village of high lodges, standing on rising ground. He
said to himself--
"I will arrive there at a run."
Off he started with all his speed, and on coming to the first lodge he
jumped over it. Those within saw something pass over the top, and then
they heard a thump on the ground.
"What is that?" they all said.
One came out to see, and, finding a stranger, invited him in. He found
himself in the presence of an old chief and several men who were
seated in the lodge. Meat was set before him, after which the chief
asked him where he was going and what his name was. He answered he was
in search of adventures, and that his name was Pauppukkeewis
(grasshopper). The eyes of all were fixed upon him.
"Pauppukkeewis!" said one to another, and the laugh went round.
Pauppukkeewis made but a short stay in the village. He was not easy
there. The place gave him no opportunity to display his powers.
"I will be off," he said, and taking with him a young man who had
formed a strong attachment for him and who might serve him as a
mesh-in-au-wa (official who bears the pipe), he set out once more on
his travels. The two travelled together, and when the young man was
fatigued with walking Pauppukkeewis would show him a few tricks, such
as leaping over trees, and turning round on one leg till he made the
dust fly in a cloud around him. In this manner he very much amused his
companion, though at times his performance somewhat alarmed him.
One day they came to a large village, where they were well received.
The people told them that there were a number of manitoes who lived
some distance away and who killed all who came to their lodge.
The people had made many attempts to extirpate these manitoes, but the
war parties that went out for this purpose were always unsuccessful.
"I will go and see them," said Pauppukkeewis.
The chief of the village warned him of the danger he would run, but
finding him resolved, said--
"Well, if you will go, since you are my guest, I will send twenty
warriors with you."
Pauppukkeewis thanked him for this. Twenty young men offered
themselves for the expedition. They went forward, and in a short time
descried the lodge of the manitoes. Pauppukkeewis placed his friend
and the warriors near him so that they might see all that passed, and
then he went alone into the lodge. When he entered he found five
horrible-looking manitoes eating. These were the father and four sons.
Their appearance was hideous. Their eyes were set low in their heads
as if the manitoes were half starved. They offered Pauppukkeewis part
of their meat, but he refused it.
"What have you come for?" asked the old one.
"Nothing," answered Pauppukkeewis.
At this they all stared at him.
"Do you not wish to wrestle?" they all asked.
"Yes," replied he.
A hideous smile passed over their faces.
"You go," said the others to their eldest brother.
Pauppukkeewis and his antagonist were soon clinched in each other's
arms. He knew the manitoes' object,--they wanted his flesh,--but he
was prepared for them.
"Haw, haw!" they cried, and the dust and dry leaves flew about the
wrestlers as if driven by a strong wind.
The manito was strong, but Pauppukkeewis soon found he could master
him. He tripped him up, and threw him with a giant's force head
foremost on a stone, and he fell insensible.
The brothers stepped up in quick succession, but Pauppukkeewis put his
tricks in full play, and soon all the four lay bleeding on the ground.
The old manito got frightened, and ran for his life. Pauppukkeewis
pursued him for sport. Sometimes he was before him, sometimes over his
head. Now he would give him a kick, now a push, now a trip, till the
manito was quite exhausted. Meanwhile Pauppukkeewis's friend and the
warriors came up, crying--
"Ha, ha, a! Ha, ha, a! Pauppukkeewis is driving him before him."
At length Pauppukkeewis threw the manito to the ground with such force
that he lay senseless, and the warriors, carrying him off, laid him
with the bodies of his sons, and set fire to the whole, consuming them
Around the lodge Pauppukkeewis and his friends saw a large number of
bones, the remains of the warriors whom the manitoes had slain. Taking
three arrows, Pauppukkeewis called upon the Great Spirit, and then,
shooting an arrow in the air, he cried--
"You, who are lying down, rise up, or you will be hit."
The bones at these words all collected in one place. Again
Pauppukkeewis shot another arrow into the air, crying--
"You, who are lying down, rise up, or you will be hit," and each bone
drew towards its fellow.
Then he shot a third arrow, crying--
"You, who are lying down, rise up, or you will be hit," and the bones
immediately came together, flesh came over them, and the warriors,
whose remains they were, stood before Pauppukkeewis alive and well.
He led them to the chief of the village, who had been his friend, and
gave them up to him. Soon after, the chief with his counsellors came
to him, saying--
"Who is more worthy to rule than you? You alone can defend us."
Pauppukkeewis thanked the chief, but told him he must set out again in
search of further adventures. The chief and the counsellors pressed
him to remain, but he was resolved to leave them, and so he told the
chief to make his friend ruler while he himself went on his travels.
"I will come again," said he, "sometime and see you."
"Ho, ho, ho!" they all cried, "come back again and see us."
He promised that he would, and set out alone.
After travelling for some time, he came to a large lake, and on
looking about he saw an enormous otter on an island. He thought to
"His skin will make me a fine pouch," and, drawing near, he drove an
arrow into the otter's side. He waded into the lake, and with some
difficulty dragged the carcass ashore. He took out the entrails, but
even then the carcass was so heavy that it was as much as he could do
to drag it up a hill overlooking the lake. As soon as he got it into
the sunshine, where it was warm, he skinned the otter, and threw the
carcass away, for he said to himself--
"The war-eagle will come, and then I shall have a chance to get his
skin and his feathers to put on my head."
Very soon he heard a noise in the air, but he could see nothing. At
length a large eagle dropped, as if from the sky, on to the otter's
carcass. Pauppukkeewis drew his bow and sent an arrow through the
bird's body. The eagle made a dying effort and lifted the carcass up
several feet, but it could not disengage its claws, and the weight
soon brought the bird down again.
Then Pauppukkeewis skinned the bird, crowned his head with its
feathers, and set out again on his journey.
After walking a while he came to a lake, the water of which came right
up to the trees on its banks. He soon saw that the lake had been made
by beavers. He took his station at a certain spot to see whether any
of the beavers would show themselves. Soon he saw the head of one
peeping out of the water to see who the stranger was.
"My friend," said Pauppukkeewis, "could you not turn me into a beaver
"I do not know," replied the beaver; "I will go and ask the others."
Soon all the beavers showed their heads above the water, and looked to
see if Pauppukkeewis was armed, but he had left his bow and arrows in
a hollow tree a short distance off. When they were satisfied they all
"Can you not, with all your united power," said he, "turn me into a
beaver? I wish to live among you."
"Yes," answered the chief, "lie down;" and Pauppukkeewis soon found
himself changed into one of them.
"You must make me large," said he, "larger than any of you."
"Yes, yes," said they; "by and by, when we get into the lodge, it
shall be done."
They all dived into the lake, and Pauppukkeewis, passing large heaps
of limbs of trees and logs at the bottom, asked the use of them. The
"They are our winter provisions."
When they all got into the lodge their number was about one hundred.
The lodge was large and warm.
"Now we will make you large," said they, exerting all their power.
"Will that do?"
"Yes," he answered, for he found he was ten times the size of the
"You need not go out," said they. "We will bring your food into the
lodge, and you shall be our chief."
"Very well," answered Pauppukkeewis. He thought--
"I will stay here and grow fat at their expense," but very soon a
beaver came into the lodge out of breath, crying--
"We are attacked by Indians."
All huddled together in great fear. The water began to lower, for the
hunters had broken down the dam, and soon the beavers heard them on
the roof of the lodge, breaking it in. Out jumped all the beavers and
so escaped. Pauppukkeewis tried to follow them, but, alas! they had
made him so large that he could not creep out at the hole. He called
to them to come back, but none answered. He worried himself so much in
trying to escape that he looked like a bladder. He could not change
himself into a man again though he heard and understood all the
hunters said. One of them put his head in at the top of the lodge.
"Ty-au!" cried he. "Tut-ty-au! Me-shau-mik! King of the beavers is
Then they all got at Pauppukkeewis and battered in his skull with
their clubs. After that seven or eight of them placed his body on
poles and carried him home. As he went he reflected--
"What will become of me? My ghost or shadow will not die after they
get me to their lodges."
When the party arrived home, they sent out invitations to a grand
feast. The women took Pauppukkeewis and laid him in the snow to skin
him, but as soon as his flesh got cold, his jee-bi, or spirit, fled.
Pauppukkeewis found himself standing on a prairie, having assumed his
mortal shape. After walking a short distance, he saw a herd of elks
feeding. He admired the apparent ease and enjoyment of their life, and
thought there could be nothing more pleasant than to have the liberty
of running about, and feeding on the prairies. He asked them if they
could not change him into an elk.
"Yes," they answered, after a pause. "Get down on your hands and
feet." He did so, and soon found himself an elk.
"I want big horns and big feet," said he. "I wish to be very large."
"Yes, yes," they said. "There," exerting all their power, "are you big
"Yes," he answered, for he saw he was very large.
They spent a good time in playing and running.
Being rather cold one day he went into a thick wood for shelter, and
was followed by most of the herd. They had not been there long before
some elks from behind passed them like a strong wind. All took the
alarm, and off they ran, Pauppukkeewis with the rest.
"Keep out on the plains," said they, but he found it was too late to
do so, for they had already got entangled in the thick woods. He soon
smelt the hunters, who were closely following his trail, for they had
left all the others to follow him. He jumped furiously, and broke down
young trees in his flight, but it only served to retard his progress.
He soon felt an arrow in his side. He jumped over trees in his agony,
but the arrows clattered thicker and thicker about him, and at last
one entered his heart. He fell to the ground and heard the whoop of
triumph given by the warriors. On coming up they looked at the carcass
with astonishment, and, with their hands up to their mouths,
There were about sixty in the party, who had come out on a special
hunt, for one of their number had, the day before, observed
Pauppukkeewis's large tracks in the sand. They skinned him, and as his
flesh got cold his jee-bi took its flight, and once more he found
himself in human shape.
His passion for adventure was not yet cooled. On coming to a large
lake, the shore of which was sandy, he saw a large flock of brant,
and, speaking to them, he asked them to turn him into a brant.
"Very well," said they.
"But I want to be very large," said he.
"Very well," replied the brant, and he soon found himself one of them,
of prodigious size, all the others looking on at him in amazement.
"You must fly as leader," they said.
"No," replied Pauppukkeewis, "I will fly behind."
"Very well," said they. "One thing we have to say to you. You must be
careful in flying not to look down, for if you do something may happen
"Be it so," said he, and soon the flock rose up in the air, for they
were bound for the north. They flew very fast with Pauppukkeewis
behind. One day, while going with a strong wind, and as swift as their
wings would flap, while they passed over a large village, the Indians
below raised a great shout, for they were amazed at the enormous size
of Pauppukkeewis. They made such a noise that Pauppukkeewis forgot
what had been told him about not looking down. He was flying as swift
as an arrow, and as soon as he brought his neck in, and stretched it
down to look at the shouters, his tail was caught by the wind, and he
was blown over and over. He tried to right himself, but without
success. Down he went from an immense height, turning over and over.
He lost his senses, and when he recovered them he found himself jammed
in a cleft in a hollow tree. To get backward or forward was
impossible, and there he remained until his brant life was ended by
starvation. Then his jee-bi again left the carcass, and once more he
found himself in human shape.
Travelling was still his passion, and one day he came to a lodge, in
which were two old men whose heads were white from age. They treated
him well, and he told them he was going back to his village to see his
friends and people. The old men said they would aid him, and pointed
out the way they said he should go, but they were deceivers. After
walking all day he came to a lodge very like the first, and looking in
he found two old men with white heads. It was in fact the very same
lodge, and he had been walking in a circle. The old men did not
undeceive him, but pretended to be strangers, and said in a kind
"We will show you the way."
After walking the third day, and coming back to the same place, he
discovered their trickery, for he had cut a notch in the door-post.
"Who are you," said he to them, "to treat me so?" and he gave one a
kick and the other a slap that killed them. Their blood flew against
the rocks near their lodge, and that is the reason there are red
streaks in them to this day. Then Pauppukkeewis burned their lodge.
He continued his journey, not knowing exactly which way to go. At last
he came to a big lake. He ascended the highest hill to try and see the
opposite shore, but he could not, so he made a canoe and took a sail
on the water. On looking down he saw that the bottom of the lake was
covered with dark fish, of which he caught some. This made him wish to
return to his village, and bring his people to live near this lake. He
sailed on, and towards evening came to an island, where he stopped and
ate the fish.
Next day he returned to the mainland, and, while wandering along the
shore, he encountered a more powerful manito than himself, named
Manabozho. Pauppukkeewis thought it best, after playing him a trick,
to keep out of his way. He again thought of returning to his village,
and, transforming himself into a partridge, took his flight towards
it. In a short time he reached it, and his return was welcomed with
feasting and songs. He told them of the lake and of the fish, and,
telling them that it would be easier for them to live there, persuaded
them all to remove. He immediately began to lead them by short
journeys, and all things turned out as he had said.
While the people lived there a messenger came to Pauppukkeewis in the
shape of a bear, and said that the bear-chief wished to see him at
once at his village. Pauppukkeewis was ready in an instant, and
getting on the messenger's back was carried away. Towards evening they
ascended a high mountain, and came to a cave, in which the bear-chief
lived. He was a very large creature, and he made Pauppukkeewis
welcome, inviting him into his lodge.
As soon as propriety allowed he spoke, and said that he had sent for
him because he had heard he was the chief who was leading a large
party towards his hunting-grounds.
"You must know," said he, "that you have no right there, and I wish
you to leave the country with your party, or else we must fight."
"Very well," replied Pauppukkeewis, "so be it."
He did not wish to do anything without consulting his people, and he
saw that the bear-chief was raising a war-party, so he said he would
go back that night. The bear-king told him he might do as he wished,
and that one of the bears was at his command; so Pauppukkeewis,
jumping on its back, rode home. Then he assembled the village, and
told the young men to kill the bear, make ready a feast, and hang the
head outside the village, for he knew the bear spies would soon see it
and carry the news to their chief.
Next morning Pauppukkeewis got all his young warriors ready for the
fight. After waiting one day, the bear war-party came in sight, making
a tremendous noise. The bear-chief advanced, and said that he did not
wish to shed the blood of the young warriors, but if Pauppukkeewis
would consent they two would run a race, and the winner should kill
the losing chief, and all the loser's followers should be the slaves
of the other. Pauppukkeewis agreed, and they ran before all the
warriors. He was victor; but not to terminate the race too quickly he
gave the bear-chief some specimens of his skill, forming eddies and
whirlwinds with the sand as he twisted and turned about. As the
bear-chief came to the post Pauppukkeewis drove an arrow through him.
Having done this he told his young men to take the bears and tie one
at the door of each lodge, that they might remain in future as slaves.
After seeing that all was quiet and prosperous in the village,
Pauppukkeewis felt his desire for adventure returning, so he took an
affectionate leave of his friends and people, and started off again.
After wandering a long time, he came to the lodge of Manabozho, who
was absent. Pauppukkeewis thought he would play him a trick, so he
turned everything in the lodge upside down and killed his chickens.
Now Manabozho calls all the fowl of the air his chickens, and among
the number was a raven, the meanest of birds, and him Pauppukkeewis
killed and hung up by the neck to insult Manabozho. He then went on
till he came to a very high point of rocks running out into the lake,
from the top of which he could see the country as far as eye could
reach. While he sat there, Manabozho's mountain chickens flew round
and past him in great numbers. So, out of spite, he shot many of them,
for his arrows were sure and the birds many, and he amused himself by
throwing the birds down the precipice. At length a wary bird called
"Pauppukkeewis is killing us: go and tell our father."
Away flew some of them, and Manabozho soon made his appearance on the
Pauppukkeewis slipped down the other side of the mountain. Manabozho
cried from the top--
"The earth is not so large but I can get up to you."
Off Pauppukkeewis ran and Manabozho after him. He ran over hills and
prairies with all his speed, but his pursuer was still hard after him.
Then he thought of a shift. He stopped, and climbed a large pine-tree,
stripped it of all its green foliage, and threw it to the winds. Then
he ran on. When Manabozho reached the tree, it called out to him--
"Great Manabozho, give me my life again. Pauppukkeewis has killed
"I will do so," said Manabozho, and it took him some time to gather
the scattered foliage. Then he resumed the chase. Pauppukkeewis
repeated the same trick with the hemlock, and with other trees, for
Manabozho would always stop to restore anything that called upon him
to give it life again. By this means Pauppukkeewis kept ahead, but
still Manabozho was overtaking him when Pauppukkeewis saw an elk. He
asked it to take him on its back, and this the animal did, and for a
time he made great progress. Still Manabozho was in sight.
Pauppukkeewis dismounted, and, coming to a large sandstone rock, he
broke it in pieces, and scattered the grains. Manabozho was so close
upon him at this place that he had almost caught him, but the
foundation of the rock cried out--
"Haye! Ne-me-sho! Pauppukkeewis has spoiled me. Will you not restore
me to life?"
"Yes," replied Manabozho, and he restored the rock to its previous
shape. He then pushed on in pursuit of Pauppukkeewis, and had got so
near as to put out his arm to seize him, when Pauppukkeewis dodged
him, and raised such a dust and commotion by whirlwinds, as to make
the trees break, and the sand and leaves dance in the air. Again and
again Manabozho's hand was put out to catch him, but he dodged him at
every turn, and at last, making a great dust, he dashed into a hollow
tree, which had been blown down, and, changing himself into a snake,
crept out at its roots. Well that he did; for at the moment Manabozho,
who is Ogee-bau-ge-mon (a species of lightning) struck the tree with
all his power, and shivered it to fragments. Pauppukkeewis again took
human shape, and again Manabozho, pursuing him, pressed him hard.
At a distance Pauppukkeewis saw a very high rock jutting out into a
lake, and he ran for the foot of the precipice, which was abrupt and
elevated. As he came near, the manito of the rock opened his door and
told him to come in. No sooner was the door closed than Manabozho
knocked at it.
"Open," he cried in a loud voice.
The manito was afraid of him, but said to his guest--
"Since I have sheltered you, I would sooner die with you than open the
"Open," Manabozho cried again.
The manito was silent. Manabozho made no attempt to force the door
open. He waited a few moments.
"Very well," said he, "I give you till night to live."
The manito trembled, for he knew that when the hour came he would be
shut up under the earth.
Night came, the clouds hung low and black, and every moment the forked
lightning flashed from them. The black clouds advanced slowly and
threw their dark shadows afar, and behind was heard the rumbling noise
of the coming thunder. When the clouds were gathered over the rock the
thunders roared, the lightning flashed, the ground shook, and the
solid rock split, tottered, and fell. Under the ruins lay crushed the
mortal bodies of Pauppukkeewis and the manito.
It was only then that Pauppukkeewis found that he was really dead. He
had been killed before in the shapes of different animals, but now his
body, in human shape, was crushed.
Manabozho came and took his jee-bi, or spirit. "You," said he to
Pauppukkeewis, "shall not be again permitted to live on the earth. I
will give you the shape of the war-eagle, and you shall be the chief
of all birds, and your duty shall be to watch over their destinies."
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