Big Man-Eater and the Persimmon Tree
A Creek / Alibamo Legend
Six brothers lived together. While five of them were out hunting the last one remained at home as cook. He spent his time digging wild potatoes close to the water and washing them. He took one white wild potato and was trying to wash it when it fell into the water and disappeared. He hunted about in the water for it for a while and pulled out a baby tied to a baby board. He brought it to camp and laid it down. When the others came back he said, "I
have a little something to show you." Bringing something out, he took out a baby on a baby board.
They kept the child, which was a girl, and when she grew up and they were gone hunting she stayed there and cooked. At that time a Sharp- buttocks came in a canoe, landed, and brought fish. He said (in Choctaw), "Very good niece of the six men, roast it for me." "How shall I roast it?" "Stick your finger into it, put it close to the fire and it will be done." "How shall I
set it down for you?" she said. "Stoop over and lie down," he answered. And when she stooped over and lay down, he ate it up on her back and it killed her, and he went off in his canoe. Afterwards she returned to life.
The next time her brothers went hunting the Sharp-buttocks brought fish and said, "Roast it for me," and she roasted it for him with the same result as before.
"Next time say to him, 'You roast it for me'" her brothers said to her, and they stayed near by. When he came, he said, "Roast this for me," but she answered, "You roast it for me." They remained a little while, saying to each other, "You roast it for me," when the brothers all exclaimed, "Roast it for me," and came in. Sharp-buttocks said, "How shall I roast it?" "Stick
it on your buttocks," they said, and he stuck it on his buttocks.
After he had stooped down for a little while, it was cooked. "How shall I set it out for you to eat?" he said. ["Stoop over and lie down," they said.] He stooped over and lay down, they ate off of his back, and killed him. Then they took him back, put him into the canoe, pushed it off, and it started away. It went on, turning about as it went, and presently remained circling about in one
spot. One of the brothers went to discover why this was so and did not come back. Another went and did not return. The next went and did not return. The fourth went and did not return. Another went and did not return.
Then the last one started off. Going on for a while he came to where a persimmon tree stood, climbed up into it and ate some of the fruit. The stem of this tree was smooth on one side as if someone had climbed it frequently. While he was standing there, a female Big Man- eater came underneath carrying a basket in which was a club (atasi). She looked up and saw him. She said, "Get down and let us wrestle, hee, hee, hee, hee."
So the man came down and when he got to the ground the Big Man-eater laid the basket with the club to one side and stood ready. When he got down they wrestled and after a while the Big Man-eater threw him down. But he got up and they wrestled again. After they had done this for a while she threw him
down again. He stood up again and when in wrestling around they got close to the basket, the man threw the Big Man-eater down, seized the club, killed her, and cut her head off. But when Big Man-eater said "Come together," it reunited with the body. When he cut it off again, she said, "Come together,"
and it reunited. It kept on reuniting every time, but the fourth time he cut the head off it remained that way.
When she was dead the man cut her in pieces and threw the parts away. He took out her heart and hit a tree with it. "Stick there and become tree fungus (bakta)," he said. The intestines he took and threw into the bushes and they hung on a tree. "Keep on
hanging as balkapitca (a long blue or black vine found in the bottoms)," he said. Her nose he cut off and carried along, and he took the club and carried that also, going in the direction
from which the Big Man-eater had come. Presently he heard some girls pounding corn with a pestle and reached the place. When he sat down with them they saw the club and said, "This looks like our grandmother's club."
"No," he answered, "God sent it to me." They saw her nose and said, "This looks like our grandmother's nose." "No," he answered, "It is a pipe which God sent me." "The club is to tickle people," he said, and he tried to tickle them. "If you all lie down in a straight line, I will tickle you," he said. All lay down, whereupon he stood over them holding the club and cut all of their throats.
Then he asked a boy who was there, "Do you eat human beings who are brought here?" "Yes," he said. "Where do you throw their bones?" he asked. "We throw them over there under that tree," he answered. "Go and point out the place."
So he guided him and he went there. He reached the place and said "Here it is," and there were many human bones piled under that tree. Then the youth shot an arrow up and when it came down said, "Look out! It will stick into you."
"Ofhaha," said the dead man, and awoke and sat down. He shot above the next in the same manner and when the arrow descended he awoke and sat down. It went on that way until all came to life.
Then he took them and guided them on. "Do not turn to look behind you," he said. He went on, but after they had gone along for a while one looked back and turned into a wildcat. It said "W?'?, w?'?," and disappeared. The others went on for a while, when another turned and looked back. He turned into a
crow, crying, "a' a' a'" and flew out of sight. After they had gone on for a while longer another one turned and looked back. He turned into a chicken hawk which cried "blank, blank, blank," and flew out of sight. Two others disappeared in the same way until only the first one returned to his place.
Owl was carrying might be something good to eat. When she got to him she said, "Big Owl, give me some of what you are carrying there."
Pretty soon he met another man and told him what he had done. This man had a long manhood, just like Big Owl's. But Big Owl said, "I have a short manhood, so from here on that's the way all men will be, because I am that way," and from that time on men had it the way Big Owl had made himself The rock
Around the base of the big rock his manhood is still coiled and piled on top
Coyote said: "Where are you going?" "I am going to a camp where there are many people," said the turtle. "Let me see you run," the turtle said. Coyote ran. The turtle said: "You cannot run fast; I do not want you."
"All right," said the turtle, "that will suit me for I will spread out my legs and burn some of you. People said: "True, let us then put a kettle over the fire, and when the water boils let us put him in." The turtle said: "Good! Put me in, and I will scald some of you." People said: "True! Let us throw him into the stream."
Then he raised up two large buttes there and named them the Knees. They are called the Knees to this day. He went on farther north, and with some of the rocks he carried with him he built the Sweet Grass Hills.
So Old Man said to it,
Old Man took the antelope down to the prairie and turned it loose. When he saw it running away fast and gracefully, he said, "This is what you are suited to, the broad prairie."
They walked down to the river with their maker, and
When he tied them at the ends of his arrows, he found that the black flint stones, and some white flint, made
It may be some animal. Whatever this animal tells you in your sleep, you must do. Obey it. Be guided by it. If later you want help, if you are traveling alone and cry aloud for help, your prayer will be answered. It may be by an eagle, perhaps by a buffalo, perhaps by a bear. Whatever animal hears your prayer you must listen to it."
When he got back home, the others would say, "They always give us a lot."
He found Blue jay almost dead; but he cooked some meat, and gave him some, and, after getting a little stronger, he was able to eat a great deal; and the two ate nearly all night.
But your mind has long been made up. I see that you must go; do it quickly.
One morning he started out for a day of hunting, and while he was walking along looking for wild game, he saw someone ahead of him sitting under a small elm tree. As he approached, he was surprised to find that the person was a young woman, and he started to turn aside.
"Come here," she called to him in a pleasant voice. Braveness went up to her and saw that she was very young and very beautiful.
They started for his home at once, and when they arrived there Buffalo Woman asked Braveness's parents if she could stay with them and become the young man's wife. "If Braveness wants you for his wife, we will be pleased," said Snow Bird, the medicine man. "It is time that he had someone to love."
And so Braveness and Buffalo Woman were married in the custom of the Caddo people and lived happily together for several moons. One day she asked him,
Braveness said that he would go, and the next day they started for her home, she leading the way. After they had walked a long distance they came to some high hills, and all at once she turned round and looked at Braveness and said: "You promised me that you would do anything I say."
"Well," she said, "my home is on the other side of this high hill. I will tell you when we get to my mother. I know there will be many coming there to see who you are, and some may provoke you and try to make you angry, but do not allow yourself to become angry with any of them. Some may try to kill you."
"Listen to what I am about to tell you," she said. "I knew you before you knew me. Through magic I made you come to me that first day. I said that some will try to make you angry, and if you show anger at even one of them, the others will join in fighting you until they have killed you. They will be jealous of you. The reason is that I refused many who wanted me."
Braveness smiled at her, but he did as she had told him to do. He rolled over twice, and when he stood up he found himself changed into a Buffalo.
For a moment Buffalo Woman looked at him, seeing the astonishment in his eyes. Then she rolled over twice, and she also became a Buffalo. Without saying a word she led him to the top of the hill. In the valley off to the west, Braveness could see hundreds and hundreds of Buffalo.
"They are my people," said Buffalo Woman. "This is my home."
For two moons they stayed with the herd. Every now and then, four or five of the young Buffalo males would come around and annoy Braveness, trying to arouse his anger, but he pretended not to notice hem. One night, Buffalo Woman told him that she was ready to go back to his home, and they slipped away over the hills.
When they reached the place where they had turned themselves into Buffalo, they rolled over twice on the ground and became a man and a woman again.
They stayed at Braveness's home for twelve moons, and then Buffalo Woman asked him again to go with her to visit her people. They had not been long in the valley of the Buffalo when she told Braveness that the young males who were jealous of him were planning to have a foot-race. "They will challenge you to race and if you do not outrun them they will kill you,"
That night Braveness could not sleep. He went out to take a long walk. It was a very dark night without moon or stars, but he could feel the presence of the Wind spirit.
The next day was the day of the race. At sunrise the young Buffalo gathered at the starting place. When Braveness joined them, they began making fun of him, telling him he was a man buffalo and therefore had not the power to outrun them. Braveness ignored their jeers, and calmly lined up with them
An old Buffalo started the race with a loud bellow, and at first Braveness took the lead, running very swiftly. But soon the others began gaining on him, and when he heard their hard breathing close upon his heels, he threw the magic herb behind him.
By this time he was growing very tired and thought he could not run any more. He looked back and saw one Buffalo holding his head down and coming very fast, rapidly closing the space between him and Braveness. Just as this Buffalo was about to catch up with him, Braveness threw down the dried mud from the medicine wallow.
Soon he was far ahead again, but he knew that he had used up the powers given him by the Wind spirit. As he neared the goal set for the race, he heard the pounding of hooves coming closer behind him.
At the last moment, he felt a strong wind on his face as it passed him to stir up dust and keep the Buffalo from overtaking him. With the help of the Wind spirit, Braveness crossed the goal first and won the race. After that, none of the Buffalo ever challenged him again, and he and Buffalo Woman lived peacefully with the herd until they were ready to return to his Caddo people.
About this time his mother came out to look for him, and when she saw the children running in fear she knew that something must be wrong. She went to see what had happened and found her son changed into a Buffalo calf. Taking him up in her arms, she ran down the hill, and as soon as she was out of sight of the village she turned herself into a Buffalo and with Buffalo Boy
Late that evening when Braveness returned from hunting he could find neither his wife nor his son in the lodge. He went out to look for them, and someone told him of the game the children had played and of the magic that had changed his son into a Buffalo calf.
At first, Braveness could not believe what they told him, but after he had followed his wife's tracks down the hill and found the place where she had rolled he knew the story was true. For many moons, Braveness searched for Buffalo Woman and Buffalo Boy, but he never found them again.