The Hakas And The Tennas
Source: Creation Myths Of Primitive America
After each name is given that of the creature or thing into which the
personage was changed subsequently.
=Darí Jowá=, eagle; =Haka=, flint; =Hakayámchiwi=, the whole Haka
people; =Ilhataina=, lightning; =Tenna=, grizzly bear; =Tsawandi
Kamshu=, red flint clover; =Tsawandi Kamshupa=, young red flint
clover; =Tsuwalkai=, a reddish flint. =Marimi= means woman.
* * * * *
At first about two hundred people lived with the old woman, Tsuwalkai
Marimi, in one great house; they were all descended from her. They
were the Hakayamchiwi,--all the Haka people.
Now, there was a deadly quarrel between the Hakas and the Tennas, who
lived near them, and it began in this way: The Tennas invited the
Hakas to a hunt in the mountains; ten of each people were to make a
party of twenty. One Tenna went early the first morning to make a fire
at some distance from the sweat-house, at a meeting-place for the
hunters of both sides. Ten Hakas went out early, were first at the
fire; but the Tennas came, and then the twenty stood around to warm
themselves,--the Tennas on the north and the Hakas on the south side
of the fire.
The Hakas had flint arrow-heads, good ones; the Tennas had arrow-heads
of pine bark. While they were warming themselves, a Tenna said to a
Haka, "Let me see your arrow-point."
"Here it is," said the Haka; "look at it."
"He, he, he!" laughed the Tenna; "that point is no good!" He held it
out, looked at it, and laughed again. "If I put it down my throat, it
won't hurt me."
"Let me see your arrow-point," said the Haka.
"Here it is," said the Tenna.
The Haka looked at the pointed pine bark, laughed, and said: "That is
no arrow-head; that is nothing but pine bark. If I stab myself behind
with your arrow-head, it won't hurt me. I shall not die."
"Let me see you stab yourself," said the Tenna.
"Look at me. I'll stab myself behind with it."
The Haka stabbed himself, and the Tenna's arrow-head broke; it did not
hurt him a bit. "You see," said he, "I am not dying."
"Let me see your arrow-head," said the Tenna.
He gave the arrow-point, and the Tenna stabbed himself in the same way
that the Haka had. The arrow-head was very sharp and went into him,
cut him,--cut his intestines. He fell over and lay on the ground, lay
"You see that my arrow-head is good; it will kill any one," said the
Right away the Tenna was dying; very soon he was dead. When the Tennas
saw that their brother was dead, they rushed at the ten Hakas and
killed them hand to hand before they could use arrows, before they
could save themselves.
The Tennas went home, but the Hakas did not go home that evening.
Next morning early one of the Tennas came to the house of the Hakas,
and called out,--
"Come to the fire, cousins; come to the fire. We will meet you there.
Oh, cousins, it is time to go hunting; be up. Your brothers who went
yesterday are going again to-day."
"We will go," said the Hakas, who did not know that their brothers
The Tennas had a fire in the same place as the first day, and were
there waiting. After a time the ten Hakas came and stood at the fire
in the same way as their brothers had stood a day earlier. They did
not quarrel now, but went to the woods soon. The Tennas had everything
ready for hunting; other Tennas were hidden in the woods, and ten more
Hakas were killed by them that day.
On the third morning a Tenna came to the Hakas and called,--
"Cousins, it is time to be up, time to hunt. Your brothers of
yesterday and the day before are all waiting."
"We will go, we will go," said the Hakas.
The fire was ready; the Tennas were there. They came earlier, and
acted just as they had acted the second day. Ten more Hakas were
killed by them that day.
The Hakas would not go on the fourth day. The Tennas began now to kill
Hakas whenever they found them out hunting, or fishing, whenever they
saw them in the woods anywhere. When the Haka women went to dig
roots, or find worms, or gather acorns, the Tennas killed them
wherever they caught them. When the children went out to play or went
to get water, they killed them. The Tennas killed on till only one old
woman, Tsuwalkai Marimi, and her grandson, Tsawandi Kamshu, were left
of all the Hakas.
One evening Tsawandi Kamshu hung his bow (an old bow bound around
closely with deer sinew) over his bed on the south side of the
sweat-house. With this bow he hung an otter-skin quiver full of
"My grandmother," said he in the night, "I may not come back
to-morrow. If anything happens, the bow and the quiver and all that
are with them will fall on the bed. You will know then that some one
has killed me. But a child will rise from the spittle which I have
left near the head of the bed; a little boy will come up from the
Tsuwalkai Marimi listened, said nothing, made no answer. Tsawandi
Kamshu went out the next morning at daybreak, stayed out all that day.
At dusk the bow fell with the quiver.
The old woman began to cry. She cried bitterly. "All our people are
dead," said she. "All our people are gone, and I am alone."
She went around crying; went along the four sides of the house; went
to where the bows, arrows, and otter-skin quivers were hanging; cried
all that night, cried all the next day.
The Tennas watched for the old woman, watched closely. They wanted to
kill her, but they could not break, into the house, and she would not
go out to them. They wanted to kill her and put an end to the last of
While Tsuwalkai was crying the second night, the Tennas were near the
house listening and watching.
"The old woman is laughing," said they. "She is having some feast;
that is why she is laughing. She must be glad, that old woman."
Tsuwalkai heard these words of her enemies. "Oh, Tennas, do not talk
that way," said she. "Something may happen yet that will hurt you.
Some one may come who will make your hearts sore. You may drop tears
yet, you may be sorry."
The old woman cried the third night and third day. The fourth night
she dropped no tears, but she could not sleep. In the middle of the
fourth night she heard crying on the ground near Tsawandi Kamshu's
sleeping-place. A little baby was crying, rolling, struggling,
wailing. The old woman listened, she heard "U ná, u ná." She was
frightened at first.
"I must be dreaming of a baby, I must be dreaming," said she. "Oh, my
people are making me dream. I hear a noise like the crying of a baby
in my sweat-house. Oh, it is no baby; I am only dreaming."
The baby cried on, kept crying. The old woman went to the spot where
the crying was, looked, found a baby covered with dirt, mud, and
ashes. She had not carried the ashes out since her grandson had gone;
she could not carry them. The Tennas were watching outside for her,
watching to kill the old woman. The baby rolled around in the dirt
and the ashes.
"I don't think any one brought that baby into this house," said the
old woman to herself. "Tsawandi Kamshu said that a baby would come
from the ground, would rise from his spittle. Maybe this is his spirit
that has come back and is a baby again. I will call this baby Tsawandi
She took up the baby, a little boy, washed him, washed him all night,
the little child was so dirty. She washed him in cold water, and he
grew while she washed. She washed him till morning, but gave him no
The Tennas heard now the noise of two people inside. Tsuwalkai Marimi
felt glad, she had the company of this little boy. All day and two
nights she washed the child. He ate nothing.
"I want you to live and grow large, little boy," said the old woman.
"I want you to grow quickly; you will be a great help to me."
The little boy did not know what was said yet. She washed the child,
talked three days and three nights to him. The little boy could creep
around the house now, could creep through every part of it. She washed
him in the night, in the day; washed him often. He grew very fast. In
ten days he was a man full grown. He could talk now as well as any
one, and one day he asked the old woman,--
"What house is this? What people live here?"
She told him the whole story of her people; told how all had been
killed by the Tennas in the woods, in the fields, on the water.
"I am sorry to hear what you tell," said he.
He asked now for a bow. She gave him a fresh one. He broke it.
"I want one to kill birds outside with it."
"You must not go out," said the old woman; "bad people are near us."
"I only want to kill birds. Whose arms are these?" asked he, pointing
to knives, bows, and arrows on the walls.
"Oh, it makes me sorry to tell you, it makes me sorry to talk of them.
These are the arms of many men. The Tennas killed all of them."
She went to the west side of the house and gave him bows. He broke one
after another. He broke every bow on the walls except one. When he
came to his own bow, his old bow, he laughed. He took it himself
without asking. He tried and could not break it; tried again, laughed,
and was glad.
"Tsuwalkai, whose bow is this?" asked he.
"That was the bow of a good man."
"He was a good man, I think," said Tsawandi Kamshupa; "why did he die?
There was a good man in this house; he had that bow; he was a great
Tsawandi Kamshupa tried again to break the bow with his feet and
hands, but he could not.
"There was a good man in this house," said the old woman, "the best
man of all the Haka people. That was his bow."
"I wished to go hunting to-day, but I will go very early to-morrow. I
will go before daylight," said Tsawandi Kamshupa. "I am going to look
around. I am going a short distance to hunt. I will come back; have no
The old woman was afraid. She had lost the owner of the bow, the best
of her grandsons.
"I will only go down south a little way," said he.
Early next morning he took a deerskin, wrapped it around his body,
tied a belt around his waist, and took his arrows. There was dew on
the grass yet. He looked down the mountain-side, saw many people near
a big fire, and said,--
"I know who those people are; they are Teptewi" (Tenna women).
There were fifty of them. They had come to that swampy mountain-side
early in the morning. They had come before daybreak to dig worms and
gather clover. Each had a stick to dig worms with.
The young man stood watching these women, and said to himself: "What
shall I do? These Tennas have killed all my people except my old
grandmother. They tried to kill her. They will kill her and me if they
can. What shall I do? There are a great many women there. I will kill
a lone one to begin with, then hide my bow and quiver and go to those
He went along the slope somewhat, came to one Tenna woman, and killed
her. The others did not see him, did not know that he was on the
mountain, thought that all the Hakas were dead.
He opened the Tenna's throat, took her heart, put it inside his
blanket, and left the body dead on the ground. The other Tenna women
were working not far from a fire. These women had taken their teeth
out and hung them on a tree near the fire. Whenever they were angry
the women put these teeth in their mouths to bite with.
Tsawandi went along the mountain-side carefully. "I will go to that
fire," thought he. Then he sprang up and stood near the fire, warmed
his hands. The women did not see him yet. One looked up at the fire,
but saw no one. "Hei!" cried he, "you women are out very early. Come
here and warm yourselves. Cook worms for me; I am hungry, I want
The women gave no answer, said nothing. They were afraid; they could
not bite, for their teeth were out. "If I had my teeth, I would kill
that man," thought each woman.
Tsawandi kept his eye on the teeth, which were at one end of the fire;
he would let no woman come near them. "Come up! come up!" called he.
At last they came up and sat near the fire, but could not get their
teeth. "I did not know that women go out in the morning so early,"
said he. "I saw a deer some distance back here and killed it. I was in
a great hurry. I took only a small piece of meat."
He took out the heart, cut it into pieces, roasted them by the fire;
then he gave some to each woman. The women were hungry, and were glad
to get meat.
"Have you no bread?" asked Tsawandi.
"We have no bread," said the women.
"Well, I have acorn bread." He had no bread, but he put his hand in
his bosom and thought, "I want bread of red flint meal." This bread
came to his bosom, and he gave each woman a piece of it. "My
grandmother makes good bread," said he. "I carry it with me always to
show people and let them have some to eat. Every one likes my
The bread tasted well; all ate. He watched their teeth closely. Very
soon a woman fell dead; then all fell quickly and died. He cut their
hearts out--fifty hearts--and carried them under his deerskin. He went
farther south now; ran quickly. He saw fifty more women working near a
fire; went near the fire, sprang up to it, and cried,--
"Hu, hu! women, you are out early; why so early? It is cold; come warm
your hands. Give me something to eat; give me worms and clover; give
me something to eat, and I will give you something; I will give bread,
I will give venison."
These women had come out to dig roots; their teeth were hanging on a
tree near the fire. The Tenna women never kept their teeth in their
mouths while they were working. "I wish my teeth were in my mouth,"
thought each woman, "I would kill that man."
All these fifty women came up to the fire, ate acorn bread as the
others had eaten, and died.
From this fire Tsawandi Kamshupa went to another, and that morning he
killed all the Tenna women who were out; not one was left alive,
except a few who had remained at home in the sweat-house. He went
farther south now; went to their sweat-house. It was still early
morning. All the Tenna men were at home. "How shall I kill them?"
thought Tsawandi. "I will go into the house and say that I am sent by
my brother to invite them to a feast and a hunt. They'll believe
He looked down from the top of the house. There were many Tennas
there. All the Tenna men were in the sweat-house. Tsawandi Kamshupa
went in boldly; sat near the fire, warming his hands. The Tennas
whispered to each other, "That's my blood, sister; that's my blood,
brother!" meaning, "he's my share; I'll eat him."
"Oh, you Tenna people, what are you talking of? I am your neighbor. I
do not live very far from you, I am no stranger. I have come down here
early this morning to invite you to a feast, to a hunt. Tsawandi
Kamshu sent me down here to ask you; he would like to see you at his
"This one here looks like Tsawandi Kamshu himself," whispered some.
"Oh, no," whispered others. "Tsawandi Kamshu is dead this good while.
We killed him."
"What are you telling each other?" interrupted Tsawandi Kamshupa. "I
am not Tsawandi Kamshu. He does not look like me. He is my brother. He
sent me to ask you to hunt. I killed some deer on the way here, but
could bring only their hearts. Here are the hearts."
He cut the hearts into pieces, gave them all to the Tennas. They
roasted the hearts and ate them. He gave flint bread to them, as he
had to the women on the mountain slope. All ate the bread, praised
it, asked for more, ate it very eagerly. They began soon to fall on
every side. Four Tennas only would not eat the flint bread. They
closed the ground door, fastened it outside, went to the top of the
sweat-house, and watched. Soon every Tenna in the sweat-house was
Tsawandi Kamshupa looked up and saw the four Tennas there looking down
at him. Their four heads were close together, and they looked very
"Why are you four looking down here so? What are you watching for,
what are you trying to do up there? The people down here have all gone
to sleep, and can't talk with me. I want you men to talk a while. Come
down, you, and talk with me; then I'll go home."
The four Tennas said nothing.
"You want to catch me; I know that. I will show you how I can jump."
They said nothing, watched sharply, sitting opposite each other with
their long teeth sticking out. When he saw that they would not leave
the opening, he said again, "I will show you how I can jump."
He bent to one side a little, shot up like an arrow, darted out
between the four. The next thing the Tennas saw was Tsawandi Kamshupa
in the field beyond the house.
When he had passed through the opening, the Tennas closed their jaws
with a snap, and almost bit each other's noses off. Their bite was too
Tsawandi Kamshupa now sent three arrows from his old bow. They went
through the hearts of three Tennas; they dropped dead where they
stood. The fourth ran away, ran with all his strength, was never seen
in that place again. He ran northwest, and from that Tenna come all
that are in the world in our time.
Tsuwalkai Marimi could go out now and dig roots. She was free to go
anywhere. While digging one day she saw the strong stalk of shitpayu
sticking out of the ground. She dug around it and below the roots,
found a little baby. The stem was growing out of the child's navel.
She took the baby, twisted the stalk off, and bound up the child. She
had nothing to wrap around the little one; so she took her skirt made
of buckskin, the only clothing she wore, and wrapped it around the
baby. Holding it close to her breast, she fondled the child and
"Grow, little boy, grow quickly; you will be company yet for your
She brought the boy home, washed him, washed him many times, put him
in a wildcat skin. When Tsawandi Kamshupa came and saw Tsuwalkai with
the baby, he wondered and cried,--
"Oh, grandmother, where did you find the little boy?"
She told how she had found him in the field, dug him out of the
ground, and brought him home. That same day Dari Jowa, Tsawandi
Kamshupa's great friend, came, and, seeing the little boy, laughed
"Oh, my aunt," said he, "that is not your baby. Where did you find
that little boy?"
She told him the same story that she had told her grandson.
The baby grew quickly, grew large in a little while.
"Oh, my aunt," said Dari Jowa, "give this boy to me. I want to hear
him talk. I want him for myself. I will take good care of him. I want
to hear him talk, I want to hear him shout. He will be a great
shouter. Oh, my aunt, give this little boy to me."
The old woman agreed at last. Dari Jowa took the boy and called him
Ilhataina. One day Dari Jowa brought Ilhataina to the sweat-house and
said, "Talk now."
Ilhataina began to talk, and the sweat-house trembled. He shouted; the
whole earth shook. He was thundering.
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