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The Old Woman's Death (Hendricks)

In the great throng of people who traveled with Elder Brother after he emerged from Ashes Hill,[5] there were two brothers who had their old grandmother with them. This little group could not keep up with the crowd when it was moving, and at evening they always camped a distance behind the others. The two brothers had to go in the evening and overtake the party to find what the people would do the next morning. They built a big fire and left their grandmother near it. They kept doing this for a long time, and at last they grew tired of it. The older brother said, "I guess we had better kill our grandmother and be able to travel with the rest, so we will know what is going on all the time. Perhaps we will meet some of the people we are going to fight, and


we would not be able to see them because we are always behind."

The younger brother said, "All right, but we must tell our grandmother and see what she will say about it." They told their grandmother and said, "Well, grandmother, we would like to know what you think of this plan that we kill you, because you know that we are always behind and do not know what is going on over there. So we thought we would kill you and keep up with the crowd." She said, "Well, grandsons, it is all right because I have been living a long time and have seen many things in this world. I would like you to be with the crowd and see what is going on." She sang the following song, but she felt so badly that she was crying rather than singing. (This quality of tone was imitated by the singer when recording the song.)

Oh! I have seen many things in this world and I have
     been in this world a long time.

The old grandmother said, "After I die, find some fine sand and bury me in it. When you come back this way, stop and see what you find." The boys then sang the following song. They sang it four times, and when they came near the end of the fourth time, the grandmother began to die.

Our grandmother says it will be all right if she dies,
Because she has been alive a long time


That is why she does not mind dying,
Because we cannot keep up with the crowd.

The boys buried their grandmother in the sand and joined the crowd on its journey. As they were returning they came to the place where they had buried her, and they saw a plant growing. It was tobacco. Ever afterwards they did not smoke because they said the tobacco was the flesh of their grandmother. (Densmore, 1929: 27–30)


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Part 11— After the Conquest
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