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A Hunting Trip

There once was a man who was out hunting with several friends. They wandered off and left him alone, but even so he was lucky and killed a young buck. He dressed it and put it up on his back, and then he went looking for his friends. After searching for a while with no success, he whooped to call them. "Ju hu!" he called. Somebody answered, "O'ho!" The voice seemed close by, just across the valley. He ran to catch up with the person calling, but when he got there he saw no one. Then he called again, "Ju hu!" He heard and answering call, "O'ho!", from the side of the valley he had just left. Every time he crossed the valley, he would hear the voice coming from the place he had just come from.

Eventually the hunter became angry. He threw down the deer and chased the person who was answering him. When he caught him, the hunter found it was a Wematekan'is, one of the Little People, carrying a bow with the bark on it.

"I'll teach you to answer when I am calling my friends," the angry hunter said. "For that we'll have a fight right here."

"Ke'hela! Yes, indeed!" said the little man. "I'll fight, but wait until I take off my jacket." Wematekan'is took off a jacket made of cornhusk, and the hunter was ready to fight.

"Wait! let me take this jacket off, too!" said little Wematekan'is, and he stripped off another one. He kept taking off jackets until he had taken off twelve in all. Each time he took one off, Wematekan'is became smaller, and by the time the twelfth jacket was off, he was so small that the hunter was ashamed to fight him.

"I won't fight you now," said the hunter. "But I'll give you a name. When you get home, tell your people that someone named you Nox'kumi, Answer-Me. And now I want you to answer me this. Why did you try to fool me?"

Wematekan'is laughed, "I just wanted to see how strong you were and how far you could run carrying that deer!"

To we Lenape', the Wematekan'is are Earth Spirits (some call them Wood Dwarfs), who live in the forest, often appearing in the form of little people. They help Misinkhalikan, the Guardian Spirit of the forests, to take care of the trees, plants and animals. Wematekan'is is said to look like a small boy, but he is strong and powerful. Only certain people are able to see him and they usually become noted for their physical strength. Sometimes you may get a glimpse of him in the deep forest as a shadowy something moving out of the corner of your eye, then when you look directly at it to see if something is there, you will see nothing. Wematekan'is is kind, always helping people, and guides lost hunters out of the woods. If offended, he might ruin a hunter's luck, keep the game away or play practical jokes. Sometimes he causes illness or takes a person's mind away. We always leave some tobacco for the Wematekan'is, as this pleases him.

It is said that one day Wematekan'is was discovered by a little boy who went alone to play in the woods. The little boy came to know him well and liked him very much, going to play with him often. When the other children of the village asked the little boy where he had been, he would say, "I have been to play with my little friend who lives in the woods." Sometimes he could see Wematekan'is near where the other children were playing and would point to him, but no one could see him.

Very few people see him any more, because of our modern way of living, distant from the Earth and the wildlife. As a result we have lost our connection to the Earth, and the people are no longer pure enough to be visited by such supernatural beings.

Taken from "The Grandfathers Speak",
by H?takonanu'laxk Interlink Books, New York, 1994

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[ Introduction | Deeds and Prophecies of Old Man ]
[ How the Blackfoot got the Buffalo Jump ]
[ How a Piegan Warrior Found the First Horses ]
[ The Creation | The Story of the Buffalo Dance ]
[ The Piqued Buffalo-Wife | The Wise Man of Chief Mountain ]
[ The Wematekan's are Earth Spirits ]
[ Water Spirit's Gift of Horses | A Hunting Trip ]
[ Coyote and the Rolling Rock | Sacred Otter ]
[ Origin of the Sweat Lodge | The Story of Two Brothers ]
[ Women Who Married Star Husbands ]
[ How the Worm Pipe Came to the Blackfoot ]

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