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The Division Of The Saranacs


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

In the middle of the last century a large body of Saranac Indians
occupied the forests of the Upper Saranac through which ran the Indian
carrying-place, called by them the Eagle Nest Trail. Whenever they raided
the Tahawi on the slopes of Mount Tahawus (Sky-splitter), there was a
pleasing rivalry between two young athletes, called the Wolf and the
Eagle, as to which would carry off the more scalps, and the tribe was
divided in admiration of them. There was one who did not share this
liking: an old sachem, one of the wizards who had escaped when the Great
Spirit locked these workers of evil in the hollow trees that stood beside
the trail. In their struggles to escape the less fortunate ones thrust
their arms through the closing bark, and they are seen there, as withered
trunks and branches, to this day. Oquarah had not been softened by this
exhibition of danger nor the qualification of mercy that allowed him
still to exist. Rather he was more bitter when he saw, as he fancied,
that the tribe thought more of the daring and powerful warriors than it
did of the bent and malignant-minded counsellor.

It was in the moon of green leaves that the two young men set off to hunt
the moose, and on the next day the Wolf returned alone. He explained that
in the hunt they had been separated; he had called for hours for his
friend, and had searched so long that he concluded he must have returned
ahead of him. But he was not at the camp. Up rose the sachem with visage
dark. I hear a forked tongue, he cried. The Wolf was jealous of the
Eagle and his teeth have cut into his heart.

The Wolf cannot lie, answered the young man.

Where is the Eagle? angrily shouted the sachem, clutching his hatchet.

The Wolf has said, replied the other.

The old sachem advanced upon him, but as he raised his axe to strike, the
wife of the Wolf threw herself before her husband, and the steel sank
into her brain. The sachem fell an instant later with the Wolf's knife in
his heart, and instantly the camp was in turmoil. Before the day had
passed it had been broken up, and the people were divided into factions,
for it was no longer possible to hold it together in peace. The Wolf,
with half of the people, went down the Sounding River to new
hunting-grounds, and the earth that separated the families was reddened
whenever one side met the other.

Years had passed when, one morning, the upper tribe saw a canoe advancing
across the Lake of the Silver Sky. An old man stepped from it: he was the
Eagle. After the Wolf had left him he had fallen into a cleft in a rock,
and had lain helpless until found by hunters who were on their way to
Canada. He had joined the British against the French, had married a
northern squaw, but had returned to die among the people of his early
love. Deep was his sorrow that his friend should have been accused of
doing him an injury, and that the once happy tribe should have been
divided by that allegation. The warriors and sachems of both branches
were summoned to a council, and in his presence they swore a peace, so
that in the fulness of time he was able to die content. That peace was
always kept.

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