GÉHA – Wind
NYAGWAIHE -- The Ancient of Bears

~ Jerry Pope

The boy ran to the first knoll, looked but didn't

see his opponent, reached the second knoll and

saw him on a knoll far ahead, then saw him on

the fourth knoll. Now a Whirlwind took the boy

up and, like a flash of lightning, put him at the

runner's heels. He called out, "Hurry, or I'll overtake you!"

The runner used all his strength and soon was out of sight.

Again a Whirlwind picked up the boy and put him at the heels of his opponent. He shot twice and called out, "Do your best or I'll beat you!"

The runner couldn't get out of sight, he was losing strength.

Again a Whirlwind came and as it picked the boy up a voice said, out of the cloud, "This is the last time I'll help you."

Whirlwind put the boy down at his opponent's heels; the runner, now in his real form, the form of a NYAGWAIHE (ancient bear), said, "You have overtaken me and won the race."

Exactly at midday the boy cut off the Bear's head, and taking it started for home. When over three hills he was tired; he hung the head on the limb of a tree and taking the tongue, went on. He went over two other hills and was tired; he hung the tongue on the limb of a tree and went on over other hills and knolls. When he reached home and told the people that he had killed his opponent, they said, "We will go and see the body."

"You'll find it over the tenth hill. I tried to bring back the head, but seven hills from here I was tired and I hung it on the limb of a tree. I took the tongue, but when I came to the fifth hill I was tired and I hung the tongue on the limb of a tree."

It took a long time for the people to get to the first hill. When they had traveled five Summers and five Winters, they came to a hill. On the top of the hill was a tree, and on the tree was the tongue of the NYAGWAIHE. The ground around the tree was trampled down; thousands of wild beasts had been there and tried to get the tongue, the men looked at it and went on.

When they had traveled two more Summers and two more Winters they came to the seventh hill and found a skull, all that was left of the head. The ground around the tree was trampled down; thousands of wild beasts had been there and tried to get the head.

They traveled three Summers and three Winters, then reached the tenth hill. For a great distance around the ground had been made bare and hard by the trampling of wild beasts.

The place where NYAGWAIHE fell had become a deer-lick, not a bone or a trace of the body was left.

The men were ten years going home.
 
However, the boy aided by GÉHA, had made the journey between sunrise and midday.



Seneca Indian Myths, by Jeremiah Curtin; New York; E.P. Dutton & Company [1922] and is now in the public domain.