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The Hunter In The Däkwä'


In the old days there was a great fish called the Däkwä', which lived in Tennessee river where Toco creek comes in at Däkwä', the "Däkwä' place," above the mouth of Tellico, and which was so large that it could easily swallow a man. Once a canoe filled with warriors was crossing over from the town to the other side of the river, when the Däkwä' suddenly rose up under the boat and threw them all into the air. As they came down it swallowed one with a single snap of its jaws and dived with him to the bottom of the river. As soon as the hunter came to his senses he found that he had not been hurt, but it was so hot and close inside the Däkwä' that he was nearly smothered. As he groped around in the dark his band struck a lot of mussel shells which the fish had swallowed, and taking one of these for a knife he began to out his way out, until soon the fish grew uneasy at the scraping inside his stomach and came up to the top of the water for air. He kept on cutting until the fish was in such pain that it swam this way and that across the stream and thrashed the water into foam with its tail. Finally the hole was so large that he could look out and saw that the Däkwä' was now resting in shallow water near the shore. Reaching up he climbed out from the side of the fish, moving very carefully so that the Däkwä' would not know it, and then waded to shore and got back to the settlement, but the juices in the stomach of the great fish had scalded all the hair from his head and he was bald ever after.

Wahnenauhi Version
A boy was sent on an errand by his father, and not wishing to go he ran away to the river. After playing in the sand for a short time some boys of his acquaintance came by in a canoe and invited him to, join them. Glad of the opportunity to get away he went with them, but had no sooner got in than the canoe began to tip and rock most unaccountably. The boys became very much frightened, and in the confusion the bad boy fell into the water and was immediately swallowed by a large fish. After lying in its stomach for some time he became very hungry, and on looking around he saw the fish's liver hanging over his head. Thinking it dried meat, he tried to cut off a piece with a mussel shell he had been playing with and still held in his hand. The operation sickened the fish and it vomited the boy.

‘Myths Of The Cherokee’ by James Mooney [From Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I.]



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