About two years ago I went to the Anadarko Public Library (in Anadarko, Oklahoma) to see if I could find any books about the Star Priesthood of the Pawnee. I didn't find anything useful but on my way out I saw a pile of old dusty books that the library was giving away. In this pile I found a really cool book filled with articles from The Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. In this book there were legends from the Zia, the Tsimshian, and the Iroquios Confederacy.
The Haudenosaunee tale of The Old Beggar and the Giant was a really interesting story that I came across in this book. Unfortunately I wasn't able to place this story in my own written work as I had already created the chapter formats and I was more than three quarters of the way finished with my manuscript. I had also decided to include only two stories per chapter. Adding this tale to the chapter about giants would have totally thrown off the balance of the entire book. Still I had a hard time leaving this tale out so I decided to share this story with you guys here.
The Old Beggar and the giant
Once, in the days of the grandfathers, there lived an ancient beggar who dwelt near the outskirts of a large Cayuga village. This old man always carried a large leather bag over his shoulder which contained his few earthly belongings. Fortunately for the old beggar, most of the villagers were kind enough to gift the old man with their castoffs so he wanted for very little.
One day the old beggar decided that he needed many shoes so he traveled from house to house and asked the villagers if they could spare any old moccasins. What the old beggar had planned for the moccasins none could fathom, for many of the moccasins were worn down. Some moccasins even sported large, gaping holes and broken seams. Still the old man collected many and soon his leather bag was filled to the top with the worn down shoes.
The old beggar then left the Cayuga village and traveled west deep into the forest. After walking for some time he grew tired and decided to rest for a bit. As the old man sat on a fallen tree he felt the ground rumble beneath him. Startled birds burst from the underbrush and woodland animals took to the high tree tops. The stench of death and decay filled the air. The old beggar knew what was coming but he patiently waited.
Out of the shadows stepped forth a mighty giant girded for war. His face and body were painted red and in each hand he wielded fell weapons. With a voice that rumbled like thunder the giant roared, "Old man, do you know the way to the Cayuga village?"
The old man carefully answered, "Why yes, I do know the way to the Cayuga village. Why do you wish to go there?"
The brawny giant laughed, "I go so that I might destroy this village and all its inhabitants."
"Oh my", replied the old beggar, "I feel sorry for them, for there is no way that they could hope to overcome your formidable might."
Now the old beggar knew that as powerful as giants were, they were none too bright and the old man hatched a plan on the spot.
"Just so you know," continued the old man, "The Cayuga village is many leagues away. I know this because I left this village many months ago. Look at how many moccasins I have gone through on my way from that place."
With that the old man emptied his sack of worn moccasins at the giant's feet.
The giant looked down at the mocassins with a furrowed brow. While he had truly intended to wreak as much havok and bloodshed upon the Cayuga as he possibly could, the giant was far too lazy to make such a long trek.
The giant slumped his shoulders in defeat. He then thanked the old beggar for saving him the trouble of making such a long journey and he departed to parts unknown.
The old beggar returned to the Cayuga village and lived out the rest of his days in peace.
T. D. Hill (Wichita, Kiowa, Pawnee) is a Native American artist, writer, and motivational speaker
What Reviewers are saying...
"The Age of Myths and Legends will take you on an exciting journey through Native American folklore. T.D. Hill artfully draws together characters from many indigenous traditions including his own, exposing both the uniqueness of each story and the commonalities across them. Hill’s beautiful paintings also give these fearsome creatures full visual effect. A valuable and thorough collection of the earliest folktales and teachings of Native American elders."
"Hill takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the tales of monsters and evil beings in Native American folklore. The similarities among the tales across peoples fascinated me and gave me goose bumps, especially when great distances separated the peoples! Hill's art masterfully adds a visual chill to the image his words paint, eliciting an extra shiver of delighted terror."
"Perfect for those who love mythology, and especially mythology of the First Americans. I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series."