Native American Tales

The Powerful Boy

The Powerful BoyThe Powerful Boy

Seneca

There was once a man who had a son and a wife, but the wife giving birth to the next son. She was buried and the next son was so tiny that the father did not think he would live so he put him in a hollow tree. The other son found the baby, heard his cries, and gave him food. Soon the baby could run around. The father asked about it and found out that the son had lived so they contrived to catch him, which was no easy task.

The boy turned out to be very powerful. Their father told them not to go to the north because there were bad people there. As soon as he left the little boy wanted to go north, the older brother obliged. There they found a bunch of frogs, which the little boy killed with red-hot stones.

The next time the father left he told them not to go west, but the little boy of course wanted to go west. There he found a nest, high up, with children in it. He killed the entire family. They were thunders. His father told him that the thunders were powerful, but the boy said not to worry because he had killed them.

The father again told his son not to go north, but he did it anyway. Stone Coat lived there. The little boy met Stone Coat and his dog after hiding in a tree. They both ate bears, or the little boy pretended to eat a bear. He hid most of his with the agreement that he could kill stone coat if he finished his bear first. Then Stone Coat and the little boy had a competition to see who could kick a log the highest. The little boy played a trick on Stone Coat and brought the log down on his head. The little boy then took Stone Coat’s dog home for his father.

The father then told the boy never to go to the land in the southwest because it was a land of gambling. The boy went anyway. There a man had won people and was waiting to kill them. The boy stepped into the gambling arena and threw the dice, but they turned into birds and came down all with the same design and the boy won. He won all of the people back and they asked him to be their chief. He said he would not do it, but he would ask his father. His father did not want to move to the land of gambling.

The father told him never to go to the east where they play ball, but of course he went. There he entered the ball competition and won the entire land to the east. He told his father and he agreed to move to the east.

Observations

This kid seems like a handful. He just does whatever he wants even when his father didn’t want him to.

This story is about people moving from one location to another. There is a little evidence that this tribe did move from another location, but mainly in stories. There isn’t a whole lot of archaeological evidence to back it up. Maybe they did leave, maybe they didn’t.

Themes

The powerful boy is sort of a superhero. He throws caution to the wind and decides to just go out and get something. While the things he got for his father were nice, some of the things he did weren’t very nice, and certainly obeying your parents has its merit.

When someone discovers something or creates something, they’re revered almost as a god in history books. We don’t worship this person, but historians eyes begin to sparkle when they speak of these people. The Powerful Boy is one of those people. He was the person, as myth would have it, who did the things that caused this particular tribe to move from the west to the east. Maybe he was real or maybe he wasn’t. If he was real, certainly his true deeds have been blown out of proportion. History always seems glamorous as opposed to what really happened.

Overall

May your child not be this willful.

Weigh In

What would you do if this was your kid?

If the powerful boy was real, do you think the real thing was anything nearly as interesting as this story?

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