Legends Of The Iroquois

The Iroquois are a group of several Native American tribes, they are also known as the Haudenosaunee ('People of the Longhouse').

One of their core beliefs was that nature was manipulated by Spirits. who also controlled the seasons.

Our collection is taken from the book 'Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children' by Mabel Powers, published in 1917.

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Thumbnail For Corn Plume And Bean Maiden
The Great Spirit gave Indians gifts for life: the corn, the bean, and the squash. However, the Spirit of the Corn was lonely and sought a wife for himself.
Thumbnail For The Greedy Fawn And The Porridge
Greedy Fawn lived with his mother and father, Deerheart and Sky Elk. At that time grew a chestnut, that the smallest part would make a potful of porridge.
Thumbnail For How A Boy Was Cured Of Boasting
A boastful boy was named Spread Feather by the other children, as he strutted like a peacock or turkey. But, he changed after a rabbit heard his boasts.
Thumbnail For How An Indian Boy Won His Name
In spring time an Indian boy found a tiny papoose. Taking it back to his mother he was chased by a tiny woman. In return for her baby she gave him a stone.
Thumbnail For How The Coon Outwitted The Fox
Raccoon watched Fox play a trick on Bear, that cost him his tail. He thought to teach Fox a lesson and used apples as bait, just as Fox had done to Bear.
Thumbnail For How The Fairies Worked Magic
An orphan lived with relatives, who did not want her. After being told to leave the lodge she was comforted by the Little People, who made things right.
Thumbnail For How Good And Evil Came To Be
A long time ago, near the beginning, there was only a cloud-sea for the animals over which water birds flew. At that time there was neither earth or light.
Thumbnail For How The Indians Learned To Heal
Some Indians fired their arrows at a rabbit, who then changed into a sick old man. No one would help cure him, apart from an old woman from the bear clan.
Thumbnail For How Little Shooter Lost His Luck
A little elf man offered to trade his bows and arrows with an Indian boy. He refused, thinking his bigger and better. He would come to regret the decision.
Thumbnail For How Mice Overcome The Warriors
An Iroquois tribe wanted only to fight, forgetting even the Great Spirit. Their talk of battle was overheard by mice, who thought to teach them a lesson.
Thumbnail For How The Morning Star Lost Her Fish
The Little People were often seen until White Man came, but now hide. Morning Star went to collect fish from her baskets and there she saw a whole tribe.
Thumbnail For How Old Man Winter Driven Back
Every year Old Man Winter leaves his sky wigwam coming down to earth with his friend, North Wind. Once a little boy mocked him and was saved by South Wind.
Thumbnail For How The Robin Burned His Breast
A group of Indians went hunting for moose, but there were none and they slowly died, until just one remained alive. A bird hearing his calls came to help.
Thumbnail For How The Turkey Buzzard Got His Suit
The Great Spirit made birds to fly amongst the trees. At first, they had no feathers until he made them each a suit, which Turkey Buzzard went to fetch.
Thumbnail For How Two Boys Settled A Quarrel
Flying Squirrel and Lightning Bow lived by Singing River. Once the boys began foot races, each won three and then they quarreled about who won the seventh.
Thumbnail For How The White Man Came
Indian had a dream that a great White Bird would come out of the east and sweep all before it. Then white man came, with his tricks and took Indian's land.
Thumbnail For How The Woman Overcame The Bear
A brave Indian woman built a wigwam deep in wood. For two nights there was a knocking, but no one came in. On the third she opened the latch to see a bear.
Thumbnail For What The Ash And The Maple Learned
Once, when trees and animals could talk, Maple and Ash argued about which one was of most use to man. South Wind told them it was Mother Nature at work.
Thumbnail For Why The Chipmunk Has Black Stripes
Once animals had tribes and the porcupine was a chief. He called a council, to decide whether it should always be night or day. The chipmunk wanted both.
Thumbnail For Why Crows Are Poor
Ga gaah, the Crow, claims the Great Spirit told him to bring corn to man. The gift was placed in his ear. That is why he is not stealing, when he has corn.
Thumbnail For Why The Cuckoo Is So Lazy
It was winter and all the Indians were hunting, save one lazy man who sat with his wife and child. He smoked a pipe, waiting for the hunters to bring game.
Thumbnail For Why Dogs Chase Foxes
After stealing a fish from an Indian, the fox played a trick on a bear. At this time, bears had long tails so the fox told the bear to use it to fish with.
Thumbnail For Why Goldfinches Look Like The Sun
Racoon played another trick on fox, by sticking his eyes shut with pitch. The birds pecked the pitch away and in return Fox painted them new bright suits.
Thumbnail For Why The Hermit Thrush Is So Shy
The birds held a council to decide which one could fly to heaven to bring back a song. All the birds tried and failed, apart from the little Hermit Thrush.
Thumbnail For Why Hounds Outrun Other Animals
A bull was chased by wolves and panthers, but they could not catch him, so they decided to chase a hound instead. The bull heard this and helped the hound.
Thumbnail For Why The Ice Roof Fell
Once, a tribe destroyed all about them. This angered the Great Spirit, who overnight made a giant ice roof that in the morning fell and killed them all.
Thumbnail For Why The Indian Loves His Dog
When dogs and Indians could talk to each other a hunter took his pack to the woods. They caught much game and the dogs suggested that he follow animal law.
Thumbnail For Why Indians Never Shoot Pigeons
A hunter was trapped by the roots of a giant oak tree and could not free himself. A dove, seeing his plight, flew to tell the tribe and the man was saved.
Thumbnail For Why Lightning Sometimes Strikes
An old man wanted to marry a beautiful Indian maiden, bringing the family many expensive gifts. Although her parents agreed, she did not want to marry him.
Thumbnail For Why The Partridge Drums
The Evil Spirit saw the Great Spirit's beautiful birds and songs making people happy. To make them unhappy he made a bird, that drummed and could not sing.
Thumbnail For Why The Eagle Defends Americans
A mother bear found a boy lost in the woods and took him to live with her two cubs. As he grew up, the bear worried that he might be killed by hunters.
Thumbnail For Why The Hare Has Split Lip And Short Tail
A hare ran around calling 'Snow. Magically it snowed and it was so high that when he went to sleep he was in the tree tops. But, by morning it had thawed.
Thumbnail For Why The Woodpecker Bores For Its Food
The Great Spirit came to earth, disguised as a beggar, asking at wigwams for food. A woman agreed to bake a cake, but when it was cooked it was very big.

Sources And Further Reading

Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers [1917]