Iena The Wanderer Or Magic Bundle

: The Myth Of Hiawatha


There was once a poor man called Iena,[73] who was in the habit of

wandering about from place to place, forlorn, without relations and

almost helpless. One day, as he went on a hunting excursion, he hung up

his bundle on the branch of a tree, to relieve himself from the burden

of carrying it, and then went in quest of game. On returning to the

spot in the evening, he was
surprised to find a small but neat lodge

built in the place where he had left his bundle; and on looking in, he

beheld a beautiful female sitting in the lodge, with his blanket lying

beside her. During the day he had been fortunate in killing a deer,

which he had laid down at the lodge door. But, to his surprise, the

woman, in her attempt to bring it in, broke both her legs. He looked at

her with astonishment, and thought to himself, "I supposed I was

blessed, but I find my mistake. Gweengweeshee,"[74] said he, "I will

leave my game with you, that you may feast on it."

He then took up his bundle and departed. After walking some time he

came to another tree, on which he suspended his bundle as before, and

went in search of game. Success again rewarded his efforts, and he

returned bringing a deer, but found, as before, that a lodge had sprung

up in the place where he had suspended his bundle. He looked in, and

saw, as before, a beautiful female sitting alone, with his bundle by

her side. She arose, and came out to bring in the deer, which he had

deposited at the door, and he immediately went into the lodge and sat

by the fire, as he felt fatigued with the day's labors. Wondering, at

last, at the delay of the woman, he arose, and peeping through the door

of the lodge, beheld her eating all the fat of the deer. He exclaimed,

"I thought I was blessed, but I find I am mistaken." Then addressing

the woman, "Poor Wabizhas,"[75] said he, "feast on the game that I have

brought." He again took up his bundle and departed, and as usual, hung

it up on the branch of a tree, and wandered off in quest of game. In

the evening he returned with his customary good luck, bringing in a

fine deer, and again found a lodge occupying the place of his bundle.

He gazed through an aperture in the side of the lodge, and saw a

beautiful woman sitting alone, with a bundle by her side. As soon as he

entered the lodge, she arose with alacrity, brought in the carcass, cut

it up, and hung up the meat to dry. After this, she prepared a portion

of it for the supper of the weary hunter. The man thought to himself,

"Now I am certainly blessed." He continued his practice of hunting

every day, and the woman, on his return, always readily took care of

the meat, and prepared his meals for him. One thing, however,

astonished him; he had never, as yet, seen her eat anything, and kindly

said to her, "Why do you not eat?" She replied, "I have food of my own,

which I eat."

On the fourth day he brought home with him a branch of uzadi[76] as a

cane, which he placed, with his game, at the door of the lodge. His

wife, as usual, went out to prepare and bring in the meat. While thus

engaged, he heard her laughing to herself, and saying, "This is very

acceptable." The man, in peeping out to see the cause of her joy, saw

her, with astonishment, eating the bark of the poplar cane in the same

manner that beavers gnaw. He then exclaimed, "Ho, ho! Ho, ho! this is

Amik;"[77] and ever afterward he was careful at evening to bring in a

bough of the poplar or the red willow, when she would exclaim, "Oh,

this is very acceptable; this is a change, for one gets tired eating

white fish always (meaning the poplar); but the carp (meaning the red

willow) is a pleasant change."

On the whole, Iena was much pleased with his wife for her neatness and

attention to the things in the lodge, and he lived a contented and

happy man. Being industrious, she made him beautiful bags from the bark

of trees, and dressed the skins of the animals he killed in the most

skilful manner. When spring opened, they found themselves blessed with

two children, one of them resembling the father and the other the

mother. One day the father made a bow and arrows for the child that

resembled him, who was a son, saying, "My son, you will use these

arrows to shoot at the little beavers when they begin to swim about the

rivers." The mother, as soon as she heard this, was highly displeased;

and taking her children, unknown to her husband, left the lodge in the

night. A small river ran near the lodge, which the woman approached

with her children. She built a dam across the stream, erected a lodge

of earth, and lived after the manner of the beavers.

When the hunter awoke, he found himself alone in his lodge, and his

wife and children absent. He immediately made diligent search after

them, and at last discovered their retreat on the river. He approached

the place of their habitation, and throwing himself prostrate on the

top of the lodge, exclaimed, "Shingisshenaun tshee neeboyaun."[78] The

woman allowed the children to go close to their father, but not to

touch him; for, as soon as they came very near, she would draw them

away again, and in this manner she continued to torment him a long

time. The husband lay in this situation until he was almost starved,

when a young female approached him, and thus accosted him: "Look here;

why are you keeping yourself in misery, and thus starving yourself? Eat

this," reaching him a little mokuk containing fresh raspberries which

she had just gathered. As soon as the beaveress, his former wife,

beheld this, she began to abuse the young woman, and said to her, "Why

do you wish to show any kindness to that animal that has but two

legs? you will soon repent it." She also made sport of the young woman,

saying, "Look at her; she has a long nose, and she is just like a

bear." The young woman, who was all the time a bear in disguise,

hearing herself thus reproached, broke down the dam of the beaver, let

the water run out, and nearly killed the beaver herself. Then turning

to the man, she thus addressed him: "Follow me; I will be kind to you.

Follow me closely. You must be courageous, for there are three persons

who are desirous of marrying me, and will oppose you. Be careful of

yourself. Follow me nimbly, and, just as we approach the lodge, put

your feet in the prints of mine, for I have eight sisters who will do

their utmost to divert your attention and make you lose the way. Look

neither to the right nor the left, but enter the lodge just as I do,

and take your seat where I do." As they proceeded they came in sight of

a large lodge, when he did as he had been directed, stepping in her

tracks. As they entered the lodge the eight sisters clamorously

addressed him. "Oh, Ogidahkumigo[79] has lost his way," and each one

invited him to take his seat with her, desiring to draw him from their

sister. The old people also addressed him as he entered, and said, "Oh,

make room for our son-in-law." The man, however, took his seat by the

side of his protectress, and was not farther importuned.

As they sat in the lodge, a great rushing of waters, as of a swollen

river, came through the centre of it, which also brought in its course a

large stone, and left it before the man. When the water subsided, a

large white bear came in, and taking up the stone, bit it, and scratched

it with his paws, saying, "This is the manner in which I would handle

Ogidahkumigo if I was jealous." A yellow bear also entered the lodge and

did the same. A black bear followed and did the same. At length the man

took up his bow and arrows, and prepared to shoot at the stone, saying,

"This is the way I would treat Odanamekumigo[80] if I was jealous." He

then drew up his bow and drove his arrow into the stone. Seeing this,

the bears turned around, and with their eyes fixed on him, stepped

backward and left the lodge, which highly delighted the woman. She

exulted to think that her husband had conquered them.

Finally, one of the old folks made a cry, and said, "Come, come! there

must be a gathering of provisions for the winter." So they all took

their cossoes, or bark dishes, and departed to gather acorns for

the winter. As they departed, the old man said to his daughter, "Tell

Ogidahkumigo to go to the place where your sisters have gone and let

him select one of them, so that, through her aid, he may have some food

for himself during the winter; but be sure to caution him to be very

careful, when he is taking the skin from the animal, that he does not

cut the flesh." No sooner had the man heard this message, than he

selected one of his sisters-in-law; and when he was taking the skin

from her, for she was all the while an enchanted female bear, although

careful, he cut her a little upon one of her arms, when she jumped up,

assumed her natural form, and ran home. The man also went home, and

found her with her arm bound up, and quite unwell.

A second cry was then made by the master of the lodge: "Come come! seek

for winter quarters;" and they all got ready to separate for the

season. By this time the man had two children, one resembling himself

and the other his wife. When the cry was made, the little boy who

resembled his father was in such a hurry in putting on his moccasins,

that he misplaced them, putting the moccasin of the right foot upon the

left. And this is the reason why the foot of the bear is turned in.

They proceeded to seek their winter quarters, the wife going before to

point the way. She always selected the thickest part of the forest,

where the child resembling the father found it difficult to get along;

and he never failed to cry out and complain. Iena then went in advance,

and sought the open plain, whereupon the child resembling the mother

would cry out and complain, because she disliked an open path. As

they were encamping, the woman said to her husband, "Go and break

branches for the lodge for the night." He did so; but when she looked

at the manner in which her husband broke the branches, she was very

much offended, for he broke them upward instead of downward. "It is

not only very awkward," said she, "but we will be found out; for the

Ogidahkumigoes[81] will see where we have passed by the branches we

have broken:" to avoid this, they agreed to change their route, and

were finally well established in their winter quarters. The wife had

sufficient food for her child, and would now and then give the dry

berries she had gathered in the summer to her husband.

One day, as spring drew on, she said to her husband, "I must boil you

some meat," meaning her own paws, which bears suck in the month of

April. She had all along told him, during the winter, that she meant to

resume her real shape of a female bear, and to give herself up to the

Ogidahkumigoes, to be killed by them, and that the time of their coming

was near at hand. It came to pass, soon afterward, that a hunter

discovered her retreat. She told her husband to move aside, "for," she

added, "I am now giving myself up." The hunter fired and killed her.

Iena then came out from his hiding-place, and went home with the

hunter. As they went, he instructed him what he must hereafter do when

he killed bears. "You must," said he, "never cut the flesh in taking

off the skin, nor hang up the feet with the flesh when drying it. But

you must take the head and feet, and decorate them handsomely, and

place tobacco on the head, for these animals are very fond of this

article, and on the fourth day they come to life again."