Heroes: Dug-From-Ground (cont.)

You will see a reference here to "money's meat," which refers to meat from a type of mollusk called dentalia shellfish whose shells were used as a form of money. You can read more about Dentalia at Wikipedia. The photo below (by Edward Curtis) shows a woman wearing a dentalia shell headdress and earrings:

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Native American Hero Tales unit. Story source: Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1929).

Dug-From-Ground (cont.)

When the sun had set there came back from different places ten brothers. Some had been playing kiƱ, some had been playing shinny, some had been hunting, some spearing salmon, and others had been shooting at a mark.

Eagle and Panther were both married to daughters of the family. They said to him, "You here, brother-in-law?"

"Yes," he said, "I came a little while ago."

When it was supper time, they put in front of him a basket of money's meat, which mortal man cannot swallow. He ate two baskets of it and they thought he must be a smart man.

After they had finished supper they all went to the sweathouse to spend the night. At midnight the young man went to the river to swim. There he heard a voice say, "The sweathouse wood is all gone."

Then Mink told him that men could not find sweathouse wood near by, but that some was to be found to the southeast. They called to him for wood from ten sweathouses and he said "Yes" to all. Mink told him about everything they would ask him to do.

He went back to the sweathouse and went in. When the east whitened with the dawn, he went for sweathouse wood as they had told him. He came to the place where the trail forks and one of them turns to the northeast and the other to the southeast. There he drew out from his arm the wood his grandmother had provided him with and split it fine. He made this into ten bundles and carried them back to the village.

When he got there he put them down carefully but the whole earth shook with the shock. He carried a bundle to each sweathouse. They all sweated themselves. He spent the day there and at evening went again to the sweathouse. When he went to the river to swim, Mink met him again and told him that the next day they would play shinny.

After they were through breakfast the next morning, they said, "Come, brother-in-law, let us go to the place where they play shinny." They all went and after placing their bets began to play. Twice they were beaten. Then they said, "Come, brother-in-law, play." They passed him a stick. He pressed down on it and broke it. "Let me pick up something," he said. He turned about and drew out his concealed shinny stick and the balls.

Then he stepped out to play and Wildcat came to play against him. The visitor made the stroke and the balls fell very near the goal. Then he caught Wildcat, smashing his face into its present shape, and threw the ball over the line.

He played again, this time with Fox. Again he made the stroke and when he caught Fox, he pinched his face out long as it has been ever since. He then struck the ball over the line and won.

The next time he played against Earthquake. The ground opened up a chasm, but he jumped over it. Earthquake threw up a wall of blue-stone, but he threw the ball through it. "Dol" it rang as it went through.

Then he played with Thunder. It rained and there was thunder. It was the running of that one which made the noise. It was then night and he had won back all they had lost. There were ten strings of money, besides otterskins, fisherskins, and blankets.

The next day they went to shoot at the white bird which Indians can never hit. The others commenced to shoot. and then they said to their guest, "Come, you better shoot." They gave him a bow, which broke when he drew it. Then he pulled out his own and said, "I will shoot with this although the nock has been cut down and it is not very good." They thought, "He can't hit anything with that." He shot and hit the bird, and dentalia fell all about. They gathered up the money and carried it home.

The Hupa man went home to his grandmother. As many nights as it seemed to him he had spent, so many years he had really been away. He found his grandmother lying by the fire. Both of the women had been worried about him. He said to them, "I have come back for you."

"Yes," they said, "we will go."

Then he repaired the house, tying it up anew with hazel withes. He poked a stick under it and away it went to the end of the world toward the east, where he had married. They are living there yet.

(800 words)

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