BNA: Big Turtle

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Big Turtle

AN OLD man lived with his nephew. Every day the nephew went somewhere. Every day the uncle asked, "Well, where have you been today? What did you see today?"

One day the nephew said, "I have pulled off Eagle's feather."

And in truth he had Eagle's tail feather. His uncle at once exclaimed, "Danger! We are in danger!" Then he hung the eagle feather in the smoke hole of his house.

Soon Eagle came and stood for a while over the smoke hole. The uncle exclaimed, "Danger! We are in danger! We must have a council at once!"

So they called a council of all the animals. The young man sent around saying, "Come, for there is danger!"

They all came at once. The old man stood at the door of his house. Some of the animals he would not allow to enter. He said to Deer, to Bear, and to Wolf, "I do not want you at this council. You can run too fast."

Only the animals that could not run fast were allowed to form a council. Turtle came, and Otter and Skunk and Porcupine and others. Then they held their council. Each said what he would do in case of danger. Porcupine said, "I will shoot my quills through them when they come near me." They all said things like that.

Then the people from the council all ran away to where a big tree stood for fear Eagle would come. For safety they all climbed the tree.

Then Eagle came and stood over the smoke hole for the second time, but the feather was not there. Turtle had carried it away.

Now the tree that all the people had climbed was very rotten. A strong wind came and blew it down, so the animal people were scattered all about.

Porcupine had been covered with bits of rotten wood. Therefore Porcupine climbed up on Turtle's back to hide him, and they went away. Turtle carried the Eagle's feather.

Now all along the way Porcupine kept scattering ashes on Turtle's trail so Eagle would not see him. But Eagle followed the trail of ashes.

Then, just as he got to the bank of the river, Eagle's friends caught Turtle. They said, "We will throw Turtle into the fire."

Turtle pretended to enjoy it very much.

Then they struck him, but they hit Turtle on his shell. They could not see that he minded it.

Then someone said, "Let us drown Turtle."

Turtle began to cry, "Oh, no! I am afraid of the water!"

Then they dragged him toward the water. Turtle pushed back—he pushed back, and he cried. That is why someone said, "Let us drop him to the bottom of the water. That is the place for him."

So it was done. They threw him in. They could see Turtle lying on his back on the bottom of the water. Then they left him.

At once Turtle turned over and swam to a log near the opposite shore. Turtle climbed on that log and waved Eagle's feather high in the air. He shouted, "Ki-he." Truly, that is the cry of one who has overpowered his enemy.

Now Eagle's friends heard it. They gathered on the shore. They said, "Who will bring back Eagle's feather?" They held a council.

One said, "No, I cannot go there."

Another said, "No, I would be drowned if I went there."

At last Otter said, "I will try it." So he did.

Now Turtle sat on that log waving the feather. Otter darted across the river and reached that log where Turtle was sitting. Turtle dropped off the back side into the water.

Soon Otter began to yell," Oh-oh! He is hurting me so badly!"

Turtle was pinching him all over.

Otter yelled, "Oh, he is pinching me all over!"

Therefore Turtle kept that feather of Eagle's. Turtle cannot be overpowered by anyone—so the Wyandots say.

(700 words)

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