MS/Lakes: The Hunter and the Alligator

Choctaw is one of the languages you can study at the University of Oklahoma: Choctaw Language Program.

Traditionally the Choctaw lived in the Mississippi River Valley, but they were expelled from their land by the Indian Removal Act in the 1830s. It was a Choctaw chief at that time who called the removal a "trail of tears and death." To find out more about the Trail of Tears, see Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Mississippi Valley / Great Lakes unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1914).

The Hunter and the Alligator
Choctaw (Bayou Lacomb)

ALL the hunters in a village killed many deer one winter, except one man. This one saw many deer. Sometimes he drew his bow and shot at them, yet they escaped.

Now this hunter had been away from his village three days. He had seen many deer; not one had he killed. On the third day, when the sun was hot over his head, he saw an alligator.

Alligator was in a dry, sandy spot. He had had no water for many days. He was dry and shriveled.

Alligator said to the hunter, “Where can water be found?”

The hunter said, “In that forest, not far away, is cold water.”

“I cannot go there alone,” said Alligator. “Come nearer. Do not fear.” The hunter went nearer, but he was afraid.

“You are a hunter,” said Alligator, “but all the deer escape you. Carry me into the water, and I will make you a great hunter. You shall kill many deer.”

The hunter was still afraid. Then he said, “I will carry you, but first I must bind you so that you cannot scratch me, and your mouth, so that you cannot bite me.”

So Alligator rolled over on his back and let the hunter bind him. He fastened his legs and mouth firmly. Then he carried Alligator on his shoulders to the water in the forest. He unfastened the cords and threw him in.

Alligator came to the surface three times. He said, “Take your bow and arrow and go into the woods. You will find a small doe. Do not kill it. Then you will find a large doe. Do not kill it. You will meet a small buck. Do not kill that. Then you will meet a large, old buck. Kill that.”

The hunter took his bow and arrow. Everything happened just as Alligator had foretold. Then he killed the large, old buck. So he became a very great hunter. There was always venison in his wigwam.

(400 words)

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