Illustration: "Only Stories" by Lance Foster
Hand-signed notecard with quality graphic reproduction
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Mayan Wadahe: Mayan "the Earth" + wadahe "someone-stands-there")
This story, recorded in the 1920s by Skinner, comes as a courtesy
from transcriber, Brandi Foster.
The name of this story is derived from the title of one of the
characters who appears later in the tale, Maianwatahe, "World Man" or
"Everywhere Being", a dwarf who is a god of plenty and of good
Children sent out to fast were adjured to try to dream of Maianwatahe
or even of some article connected with him, as this would assure the
boy of future success as a hunter.
Once there was a village in which a young man dwelt. The chief of
this village had a daughter who was very fond of this youth, but the
young man did not care for her. On this account the girl wept
ceaselessly so the chief became very angry and called upon Ishjinki
help him punish the youth.
"Hau, Ishjinki," said the chief. "This young man refuses to marry
my daughter and she cries over it. I want you to take this youth away
to some unknown country and leave him there."
Early one morning Ishjinki came to the youth's lodge and said,
"Young man, you are stout and strong. I want you to go with me in
canoe across the Great Water so that I can get some kinnikinick
To this the youth readily agreed so they got into his canoe and
paddled out into the Great Water until the middle of the afternoon
they arrived at the opposite shore. Then Ishjinki said to his
companion, "Now grandson, while I paddle along the bank, you jump
ashore and I'll throw you a rope to tie the canoe fast." But when the
young man had leaped ashore, Ishjinki paddled away and left him
"Oh Grandfather, why do you abandon me?" cried the youth, but
made no answer and was soon out of sight.
All the afternoon the boy wandered around, and towards evening he
saw smoke rising. He went to the spot, and there he found a lone
wigwam. No one was in sight, yet deer ribs stood roasting beside the
fire, a panther skin was spread for a couch, and various implements
there in disorder as though someone had just left them. The youth sat
down by the fire to warm himself, but he did not touch any of the
He waited for the owner to come back. It grew dark and he lay down to
sleep and yet the owner did not come.
Next morning the youth rose and
left everything untouched. He wandered all day, hungry and faint, and
at night he again saw smoke which led him to a lone wigwam. Here he
found food and utensils spread out just as he had the day before.
This time the youth was nearly starved, so he said to himself,
"I'll eat no matter what happens." He snatched a piece of meat from a
spit and devoured it. When he had satisfied himself he paused to look
around, and beside him he saw a little short man hiding behind a
laughing at him.
"Grandson," said the dwarf Maianwatahe, coming forth. "You should
have done that yesterday. Those things which you see are all yours."
The old man came up to the fire. "Eat all you want," said he.
The two slept together, and the next day they traveled in each
other's company. Towards evening the little man took an arrow and
it ahead of them, and when they got there, there lay a dead deer. The
two companions butchered it and took the choicest part of the meat
which they cooked and ate. Then they slept, and in the morning
continued on their journey.
The fourth day they set out together again. Towards evening the
little old man shot an arrow ahead, and when they reached the spot
where it fell, there lay a dead deer. Thy butchered and prepared its
meat and slept together again as before.
In the village where the youth had lived, his parents mourned him
as dead. They took his property and disposed of it. The boy had had
three pets, a screech owl (Pohri'nge), a barred owl (Ma'koke), and an
eagle (Hkra). These birds they placed in a canoe and set it adrift.
time the canoe was carried over to the shore where the boy was
As the boy and the dwarf were traveling the little old man said:
"Let us go to the water, your animals have been sent to you by your
parents who believe you are lost. Tomorrow we will find them and
Next day they made their way to the shore and found the three
birds. They took them out of the canoe and fed them and all traveled
The next day as they were journeying along, they came to a
place where there was a low tangle of grape vines and many mice. The
screech owl liked this place and said to the boy, "Master, you have
raised me till now, but I'd like to live here. Let me stay, and if
need me at any time, call for me and no matter where you are I will
hear you and come to your assistance." So the youth left the screech
owl in the tangled place.
The next day the travelers came to a similar place where rabbits
abounded. Here the Barred Owl desired to remain. "Master, you have
raised me till now, but I'd like to live here. Let me stay, and if
need me at any time, call for me. I'll hear you and I'll be there."
the youth gave the Barred Owl its freedom.
The next day they came to a forest where wild turkeys were
abundant. Here the eagle wanted to stay. "Master," he said, "you have
raised me till now, but I'd like to live here. Let me stay, and if
need me, call for me, and I will hear you and I'll be there in that
instant." So the youth permitted the eagle to remain.
Next day the dwarf said to the youth, "Now we will find a canoe.
Let us prepare and take lots of food, for soon we shall be in a hard
place." So they cooked much, and took plenty of fresh venison
Next day they set out and soon came to the shore where they found a
canoe. "Now," said the dwarf, "here is your boat. Go on, keep in the
middle of the stream. I must leave you now, but I will hear you if
need help and call for me."
The boy paddled off, but had not gone far when he saw a giant
walking along the bank, followed by his dog which was as big as a
The giant called to his dog, "Hoo! Hoo! Man-hunter, sick him!" Then
called to the boy, "Come here, I want to see you."
The youth obediently paddled over to the giant (Waruska). "Here,"
cried he, "take this and eat it," and he threw the giant some
While the giant was eating the youth attacked him and his dog and
killed them both. Then he paddled on. The dwarf, Maianwatahe, had
taught him how to shoot his arrow ahead of him at nightfall and kill
deer. This he did, and when he was ready to stop for the night, there
was the dwarf and his wigwam waiting for him. The dwarf said to the
boy, "Tomorrow will be the hardest day you have had. You will have to
pass through a whole village of giants. Don't listen to what they
but keep to the middle of the stream and pass by as quickly as you
Make yourself bundles of reeds, tie them with elmbark as thickly as
can, to each side of your canoe."
The youth obeyed his instructor, and when he was ready he called,
"Oh my pets, I am going to be in trouble." Hardly had he said the
when the three birds arrived crying, "Master, what do you want?"
"I want you to help me go fast through the giant village," said
the youth, so the birds took hold of thongs and pulled the boat
through the water.
It was dark when they reached the village which
extended along both sides of the stream, and the giants made torches
that they were able to see the young man and his pets. They began to
shout, "Brother! Grandson! Come this way!" But the youth did not pay
any heed to them. Then the giants took hooks which they had attached
ropes and threw these at him, but they only caught on the bundles of
reeds that the dwarf had told him to tie to the gunwales of his
Whenever they caught one the giants shouted with glee thinking that
they had caught the youth, and they would fight over the bundle in
dark until they found out their mistake, and so the youth succeeded
getting away. When he was past the village, the birds told him that
The next day he killed a deer with his magic arrow, feasted
his pets, and sent them home.
The next day the youth came to a village. He went to the last
house on the outskirts and there he found an old lady. He asked her
he might stay there for the night, and she said that he might do so.
soon as he had seated himself the old lady ran out and shouted, "We
have a visitor who has come to marry the chief's daughter."
When the chief heard this he was glad and sent for the stranger.
When the youth arrived at the chief's lodge, the chief said, "I am
happy that you have come to marry my girl, but I hope that you are a
person endowed with supernatural power who can help us." The chief
ordered food to be set before his visitor. When the meal was set
the youth he saw in disgust that it consisted of nothing but frogs
frogs' legs, for all the other game in the land had been killed off
giants who infested the country.
Next day the youth started off to see the country. It was
customary for all the human inhabitants to feast him, but the old
where he stayed told him he need expect nothing better than frogs'
legs. "If you don't want to eat them, at least bring them home for
This the youth did.
In a few days the young man tired of this and decided to go
hunting himself. He could see nothing anywhere, not even rabbits. The
chief told him that there was one place, a lake, where there were
ducks and other waterfowl, but no one, even the giants themselves,
able to go to it. The youth, however, found his way to the shore and
saw the water covered with waterfowl of all sorts, from swans to
mudhens. He called upon his pet birds, who came to him immediately.
soon as they arrived, the youth ordered them to get him some of the
waterfowl. The three birds slew the ducks by thousands and brought
in. Eagle and Barred Owl slew the swans and geese, and Screech Owl
killed mudhens until there was an immense pile on the bank. When they
had finished the youth thanked, fed, and dismissed the pets. Then he
picked out some of the best birds and took them to the chief, his
When the people saw him approaching with his game,
thronged around to ask him how he had taken them. He told his wife to
go out and tell the people to help themselves to his catch, so every
one went out and brought home a great store of fowls.
Next day the youth went out again, and so great was his power,
that though the giants had killed off all the deer in the country, he
was able find and kill some. Soon he had all the homes in the village
well supplied with food.
Finally the young couple had a child. One day the Chief said to
his daughter, "I know your husband has a home somewhere. Go with him,
my daughter. I am glad to have so great a man as a son-in-law." So
the couple started, the chief gathered together all manner of
from the people for them to take with them. Again the youth fixed the
bundles of reeds along the sides of his canoe and called upon his
to help him pass through the village of the giants. Again the giants
saw him by means of their torches and threw their hooks at him but
succeeded in catching and pulling back the bundles of reeds, over
When the young man and his family had safely passed the giants, he
fed and thanked his birds. Then he told his wife, "I have pets that
live all along the road and we must spend a night with each as we
They came first to the place where the eagle lived. The bird was
glad to welcome them, and caught turkeys for them to eat. The youth
told his child that this was his pet who had always helped him in
The next place that they came to was where Barred Owl lived.
Barred Owl hunted and brought in rabbits for them to feast upon, and
the youth explained that the bird was one of his boyhood pets who
always helped him in times of trouble.
Last of all they came to where Screech Owl lived, and the bird
hunted and brought them mice to eat and said, "Alas, I can catch
nothing that your son will want to eat, but at least I desire that he
shall play with me." But the baby was afraid because the owl had such
big eyes, and that is the reason that children have since been afraid
of screech owls.
The next night they stopped at dark, and the youth shot an arrow
ahead of him and killed a deer as he had been taught to do. When he
butchered it and made camp, Maianwatahe the dwarf appeared and said,
"Now grandson, I have helped you all these years, and from now on I
will give you the power to be a great hunter. You will reach your own
home today." The little old man then gave the youth his magic arrows,
his panther skin robe, and other objects and left him.
The young man told his wife and child to stay in camp while he
searched for his people. It was not long before he discovered his
father's lodge. He went up to the door and looked in and saw that his
family was almost starved to death. The youth walked in and said,
"Mother I have come back! Father I have come back!" His father looked
up and said, "Why, you have not been anywhere, you had just stepped
(According to the ancient Iowa custom, a child had been adopted by
parents of the youth to fill the vacancy left in the family by his
disappearance. The father, it was explained, thought that it was the
adopted child who was speaking.)
"No father, it is I, your son whom Ishjinki took away and lost
because he would not marry the chief's daughter. I have been away
across the Great Water and have returned with a woman and a child. I
a chief now."
So the youth took his parents and the rest of the family to his
camp where they were all fed and made happy, and that's when I came
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