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     The Story of Chahnameed
     Chahnameed Squeezes the Stone
     Why the Cricket is Black
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Why Lovers Should Never Become Jealous

There once were a young Mohegan man and woman who were very much in love. All of the older people remarked on it: "Look at that-they are very happy."

One day the young man shot a deer. He brought it to the woman he loved and laid it in her house. But for some unknown reason, he suddenly became jealous. Then he seized the antlers of the deer and rushed up to her and pressed them on her forehead.

The antlers grew on her head, and no one could get them off her. They grew and grew until her parents thought they would grow through the roof of their wigwam. The young woman's family grew increasingly anxious and sent for the powwow or shaman. With a magic oil, he rubbed the place where the antlers were attached to her head, and soon the antlers dropped off.

After all that, the young woman was all right but the young man was so scared by his jealous rage that he ran away and never came back.

(Adapted from William S. Simmons, 1986, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Hanover NH: University Press of New England.)

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The Silver Pipe

Massasoit was the sachem of the Wampanoag and was widely known for his fairness. King James of England heard about Massasoit and wanted to reward him for his goodness with the gift of a silver pipe. Massasoit prized the pipe given to him by the king, but later gave it to one of his warriors as a reward for bravery.

Later in life, the warrior grew ill and knew he was going to die. He asked his wife to bury the pipe with him in his grave. Unfortunately, she was greedy and wanted the pipe for herself, so when her husband died, she hid the pipe and did not bury it with him. A few days later, she went to the place where she had hidden the pipe, intending to smoke it and then hide it again. She reached into the hiding place and felt for the pipe, but it moved away from her all on its own. She tried again and again to reach the pipe, but it continued to move on its own, and she suddenly knew that her husband's spirit was keeping it from her. She vowed to do as her husband had asked her and bury the pipe with him if she could reach it. As soon as she made this promise, she reached in again and found the pipe in her hand.

She buried the pipe with her husband and was no longer bothered by his spirit or with guilt over her actions in breaking her promise to him.

(Adapted from William S. Simmons, 1986, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Hanover NH: University Press of New England.)

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The Little People or Makiaweesug

Long ago, before White people came, there were giants and little people as well. These "little people" were called Makiaweesug by the Mohegan, and those who were especially perceptive could see them sometimes in the woods. They were generally friendly to the Indian people, especially if they were left alone. The Little People were quite shy, and if you stared at them, they would point their finger at you and then you could no longer see them, and they could cause mischief and you wouldn't know whether they were doing it or whether it was just an accident.

If the Makiaweesug came to your house asking for food, you should always give them what they wanted. Otherwise, they might point at you so you couldn't see them and then take whatever food they wanted. And even if the Little People did not come to your house, it was a good idea to leave some food for them so they would not have to come up to the house. Small baskets were made for this purpose, and the Mohegan left these baskets with food at the edge of the woods so the Little People could take it and not bother the people.

Although the Little People were shy, they occasionally needed the help of Indian people. On one dark and stormy night, a Mohegan man and his wife were at home by their fire. They heard a rap on the side of their wigwam, and the woman went to see who it was. The wind blew in as she opened the door to see who was there. A Little Person was there-a man-but she thought it was a boy. He said that he needed her help because his wife was sick. She packed up a few things and told her husband that she was going out to help the man. With the Little Man leading her, she walked on and on through the storm, and the woman didn't know where she was being taken. At last she saw a light in front of her, and there was a house. Saying nothing, the Little Man led her inside and showed her his wife: a Little Woman lying ill on a bed of skins. The Mohegan woman was surprised, because it was at that point that she realized that she was with the Little People. But keeping her surprise to herself and not asking any questions, she doctored the Little Woman and stayed with them until the Little Woman was well again.

Because the Little Woman was better, it soon was time for the Mohegan woman to go back to her own wigwam. The Little People gave her presents, thanking her for the kindness she had shown in leaving her own home to take care of the sick Little Woman. The Mohegan woman packed up her belongings and medicines and then the Little Man put a skin blindfold over her eyes and led her away from their house and back to her own. When they arrived, she took the blindfold off, but the Little Man was already gone and she could not tell which direction they had come.

She told her husband about her adventure and they wanted to find the Little People and looked and looked for them but couldn't find them. Some think that the Little People died out when the Whites came, but the Mohegan feel that they just live far back in the woods and show themselves only to those who still believe in them.

(Adapted from William S. Simmons, 1986, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Hanover NH: University Press of New England.)

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Chahnameed Squeezes the Stone

A long time ago there was a man who lived on an island a ways from shore. His name was Chahnameed and he was a terrible glutton. There once was a man who thought that he knew more tricks than Chahnameed and he told him so. Chahnameed said "Can you squeeze water out of a stone? I'll show you that I can."

Chahnameed took a wet and soggy piece of cheese into his hand and climbed up a tree. The cheese looked just like a white piece of stone. When he got to the top of the tree, he reached out with his hand, holding the piece of cheese and squeezed it. Water dripped out and fell on the ground and all the people thought that he could squeeze water out of a stone. Chahnameed came down out of the tree and dared the other man to do the same.

So the other man picked up a stone and climbed up the tree. When he got top the top, he held the stone out and squeezed and squeezed. No water came out of the stone. He squeezed harder and harder until he cut his hand on the sharp edges of the stone and cut his hand. He had to admit his defeat even though Chahnameed had tricked him and all the other people.

(Adapted from William S. Simmons, 1986, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Hanover NH: University Press of New England.)

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The Story of Chahnameed's Wife

Chahnameed lived on an island a ways from shore. On his island he had a house and kept two canoes nearby. One day he stood looking out at the mainland and saw a beautiful young girl walking along the beach. He called to her. When she looked up, he asked her to come over and live with him. The girl hesitated, but Chahnameed pestered her and finally she agreed to come live with him on his island. Using one of his canoes, he paddled to the mainland. When he got there, the girl explained that she had to go to her village to get some things for their life on the island. She came back carrying a large wooden mortar and pestle for grinding corn and some eggs. She got into Chahnameed's canoe and they paddled to the island and lived there together for a long time.

Having been a bachelor for a long time, Chahnameed had his own habits, including leaving home for long periods and not telling his wife where he had gone. His wife did not like this, but she said nothing. But she was lonely on the island by herself, and decided to leave him.

In preparation for her departure, she made a number of dolls, with one of the dolls larger than the rest. One day Chahnameed left as usual, and she took her mortar and pestle and some eggs down to where the second canoe was pulled up on shore. Then she went back to the house and arranged the dolls all around the walls of the house, all facing toward the center. She put the large doll into the bed and covered it up with furs. With each doll, she left a small amount of a magical substance.

When Chahnameed came home, he called out for his wife, but there was no answer. He went into the house and saw the dolls and walked toward one. As soon as he did this, the doll behind him started to scream. He turned around and another one screamed. He saw something larger under the covers of the bed. Thinking it was his wife, he took a big stick and whacked at it, and it screamed louder than the dolls had. He ripped the covers off the bed and saw that it was only a doll. He looked around and saw that his wife's mortar and pestle were gone and he realized that she had left him.

He ran down to the shore where he had left his canoe and looked out over the water. In the far distance, he could see his wife paddling very fast and heading toward the mainland. Taking his canoe, he went after her. Since he was strong and a better paddler than she was, he soon started to catch up to her. When he was almost next to her canoe, she moved to the front of the canoe, and lifting up her mortar, threw it into the water. As soon as she did that, the water all around the mortar had turned to hundreds of mortars. Chahnameed could not paddle through that, and had to climb out and drag his canoe over all of the mortars and back into the water.

He soon caught up to her again, but as he drew near, she threw her pestle into the water and the water all around him was turned into pestles. As she paddled away, he had to again get out and climb over the obstacles with his canoe. He tried again to catch up to her but she threw the eggs in the water and the water turned to eggs. The eggs were even more difficult to get over than the mortars and the pestle had been, but he finally made it and soon began to catch up to his wife again. This time, he thought he would catch her because she had nothing else to throw into the water to block his path.

As he drew near, she stood up in her canoe and raised her hand to her head, plucking out one long hair. She drew it through her fingers and it became hard and stiff like a spear. Since Chahnameed was paddling so hard, he didn't see what she was doing. When he got close, she hurled the hair at him and hit him in the forehead, knocking him out of canoe. He sank in the water and died. The woman went back to her people, the Mohegan, and lived happily until the end of her life.

(Adapted from William S. Simmons, 1986, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Hanover NH: University Press of New England.)

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Why the Cricket is Black

Cricket and Mosquito were going to have a feast, so Cricket sent Mosquito to catch some eels while he built a fire. Mosquito came back and Cricket asked how many eels he had caught. Mosquito said that he had caught one eel the size of his leg. Cricket thought this was awfully funny and laughed so hard that he fell into the fire and got burned. That is why the cricket is black.

(Adapted from William S. Simmons, 1986, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore, 1620-1984. Hanover NH: University Press of New England.)

 
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