[meteorite-list] The Tale of the Huron Meteorite Collector

From: E.P. Grondine <epgrondine_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2016 23:30:34 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: <530057950.5730816.1452900634447.JavaMail.yahoo_at_mail.yahoo.com>


To understand this story, you have to know the Huron (Wendat, Wyandot) word for bollides and meteorites, which are White Panther and "ya' gg'^cra'" respectively.

"Allen Johnson gave the following explanation as to the nature of the White Panther being: these beings, for there are several of them, are supposed to have originated in the northern polar regions and to travel in the air from north to south. From time to time, they alight here and there, making a kind of light when they come down. They are said to drop a round magical stone {ya' gg'^cra') when they want to break the solid ice and get into the water. Whenever this magical stone hits the earth, a thundering clash may be heard. In former days some men whose ears were keen and experienced could detect the presence of these panthers.

XLII. The Ground-Squirrel and the Flying Panther.

(Related in English by Allen Johnson, in May, 1912, at Wyandotte, Oklahoma. Johnson stated that he had heard this myth often recited by late James Armstrong,"Hariwa'kyg^de' ???, Smith Nichols, and his mother. A briefer version of the same myth has been recorded in text, Mrs. Catherine Johnson acting as informant. Allen Johnson's version was recorded before that of Mrs. Johnson. That the monster [uki] was the Ground-squirrel was not remembered by Allen Johnson, but is inferred here from the explicit statement in Mrs. Catherine Johnson's telling of the same tale.)

"On their way home twelve men traveled many days in the woods. They were tired. As they had to rest and gather provisions for the rest of the journey, their leader selected a place where they might pitch camp. When they returned from their hunt that night, each of them related his experiences as to what he had seen and killed while in the woods.

One of the hunters, however, remained silent and would not say anything. The leader requested him to speak out and relate his adventures, as he was the only one left who had not spoken. So he replied that he had really found something, a tree that had been claw-marked, and wherein, no doubt, an animal was dwelling. But, to his mind, the animal was not a bear. When pressed by the chief to explain his thoughts, he added that, in all likelihood, it was an uki (Uki': it-is with "power"; that is: a being gifted with 'mana' or 'power.'), and that they had much better go away without disturbing it. {This tale likely goes back to the Pleistocene, when short faced bears and giant beaver lived. The uns and bullets are likely much later substitutions for iron spear points.]

The leader held a kind of council at which it was decided to investigate the matter. The fellow advising them not to tease the animal having thus been overruled by the majority, showed the others to the spot. The tree in which the giant squirrel being had his abode was hollow from top to bottom. A neighbouring tree was felled against it, and used as a ladder to climb upon. As was the custom, the fellow who had first made the find was appointed to climb the leaning tree and look down into the hollow one. So he did, and having dropped something into the hole in order to drive the animal out, he gave the alarm, exclaiming, "Run for your lives! It isn't a bear; its eyes are fiery!" All the men began to run homewards.

Coming out of his den, the monster chased them. The other man did not move from the tree on which he had climbed; and he heard the gun reports of each of his friends when they were just about to be killed by the giant squirrel. He knew that they were all dead when the last gun report came to his ears.

He felt that he had better run away in the opposite direction. After having run for some time, he came to a steep cliff by a pool. There he saw a man standing upon the ledge of the rock, who told him not to be afraid. "I came here to help you," said he, "and I will fight the monster." He also gave him instructions regarding the animal that was on his trail, adding, "When you see that my body is covered with blood and that I am losing ground in the fight, dip some water [from the pool], pour it on me, and I shall thus be enabled to win the battle." For this purpose he gave him a bark cup.

As the battle was about to begin, the protector of the man who had run away transformed himself into an animal. The man grew so intensely excited over the fight between his protector and the ground squirrel that although he saw the friendly animal dragged around by the other and almost overcome, he forgot for a while all about the instructions he had received. Suddenly they came back to his mind; and no sooner had he poured some water on his friend, than he saw him refreshed and regaining strength.

When the battle was won, the man thanked his protector, who told him what he really was. "I am the White Panther, flying in the air like a blaze."

And he added, "Now go home and bring the best and swiftest runners of your age along with you. The body of this monster ground squirrel you shall burn, and his young ones that are still in the hollow (141) tree you shall destroy. Take this stone [The White Panther gave him some fragments of his own magic stone.], mash it up, and cast its powder in the bullets with which you will shoot the young ones. When you shoot them with your own gun, a deep roar will be heard. And then, all danger will be over, as all the monsters will be dead."

And so it happened. The men came to the hollow tree and shot their bullets through it, at the level of the ground. A roar resounded. The tree having been cut down, a fire of dry slippery elm was built to burn the young monsters.

Then the hunter gave some of the ashes to his friends. "Take these ashes and put them into hide bags, and keep them as medicine", he said. It is said that the ashes from these Giant Squirrels were just like powder and as glittering as ice. Before picking up the powerful ashes, each man had to speak and tell in what way he wished the charm to operate; for the White Panther had warned his friend, saying, "This charm must not be used to injure anybody, but only for good luck, particularly in hunting."

Each hunter, therefore, expressed his wish; some wanted to be lucky in killing bear, buffalo, or some other animal; others preferred to become wealthy, or to live at home without any trouble.

The last to utter his wish could not make up his mind, and the leader of the party asked him, "Well! what is your choice?" And he replied, "To f[ornicate] forever!" It was a grave matter for a man to be so light-headed, the White Panther having, in fact, given them warning that nothing injurious should be chosen.

No sooner had he uttered his wish than it came into effect, until he died as a result.
His friends buried him and went back home.
I suppose they are still living at the same place."
Received on Fri 15 Jan 2016 06:30:34 PM PST

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