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Sagoianawasai, Our Grandfather
- according to the oral traditions of the Iroquois people

See Also: Tales of the Iroquois


After Satkonseriio (Sot-goom-say-LEE-yo; "eye"), the Good Spirit, had created the creatures of the earth, he decided to inspect his work. As he walked over the earth, he saw a stranger who was a giant with a very large ugly face. Good Spirit asked the strange being who he was. The creature answered with a roaring voice, "I am master of the earth and all things on it."

"If you are master of the earth, then the things of this earth should obey you. Let me see you show your power. Prove to me that you are what you claim to be," said Satkonseriio.

The monster said, "What shall be your test?" Good Spirit pointed to a distant mountain. "Can you bring the mountain to you?" he asked.

Good Spirit and the stranger turned their backs to the mountain so that they would not see it until it was near. "Mountain come here!" roared the stranger. After waiting a moment, they turned and looked at the mountain. It had not moved.

"Now it is my turn," said Good Spirit. Again they turned their backs to the mountain. Good Spirit said, "Mountain, come here!" There was a roaring sound as if of a strong wind. Before the roaring sound had died away, the creature turned to look. As he did so, the onrushing mountain brushed his face. It bent his nose and twisted his mouth, and it has remained so to this very day.

The creature then said, "I now know you to be master. Command me and your wishes shall be my law."

Good Spirit said, "Because you love to wander about, it shall be your duty to travel the earth to help mankind whom I am about to create. You will cease your evil ways and henceforth do only good."

"I will do this thing you command," said the creature who was Sagoianawasai (Sah-go-yah-nah-WAH-say). "Mankind must carve a likeness of my face from living basswood trees. They must sing a song that pleases me. My spirit will enter this face. From time to time they must give me tobacco of which I am very fond. If they follow my directions, I will be of great service to them for my spirit and face have the power to drive away evil forces," continued Sagoianawasai (He Defends).

Such is the story of Sagoianawasai, our Grandfather, He Who Defends Us. This happened long ago when the world was young.

 

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