Native American Tales

Son of Light Kills the Monster

Son of Light Kills the MonsterSon of Light Kills the Monster

Hopi

Man-eagle used to take women and girls and then use them for four days before killing them and eating them. One day Son of Light’s wife was taken by Man-eagle and he vowed to get her back. Along the way he met the Pinion maidens, mole, and spider woman. They volunteered to help. The Pinion maidens made a shirt of resin exactly like Man-eagle’s. Spider woman was to go and sit right beside Son of Light’s ear.

The mole burrowed a passage through a tall mountain, but they still weren’t tall enough to get to Man-eagle’s home in the sky. Spider woman called birds to help out. One bird would fly as far up as it could go before tiring, with everyone on its back, before they switched to another bird. Four birds were used in total, but they finally arrived in the clouds where Man-eagle lived.

Son of Light found his wife quickly, but Man-eagle came back. It was decided that there would be four challenges that Son of Light would have to best Man-eagle at in order to get his wife back.

First there was a smoking contest. Man-eagle had a large pipe, which he filled with his poisonous tobacco, which he was used to, but anyone else would fall down dead. Mole burrowed underneath the pipe, so when Son of Light smoked, all the smoke just went away and Man-eagle was the first to become sick from smoking his own tobacco.

The next challenge was to break two large elk antlers. Spider woman switched out Man-eagle’s with a piece of hard rock. Son of Light got a weak antler. Son of Light was able to break his antler, but Man-eagle could not.

The next challenge was to pull up an entire tree, roots and all. Man-eagle chose the tree he thought would have shallower roots. Mole burrowed underneath the tree Son of Light was going to pull up and loosened up all the roots. Son of Light was able to pull up his tree with no problem.

The next challenge was to eat a small mountain of food, every single bit of it. Mole burrowed another hole and when Son of Light ate his food went into the hole. Son of Light was able to polish off the entire heap of food.

Son of Light had won, but Man-eagle said there was one last thing to do. They must both get into a fire, lit by Son of Light’s wife and whoever burned was the loser. Man-eagle’s magic shirt had been switched out for the resin shirt the pinion maidens had made. Both Man-eagle and Son of Light got onto piles of wood. Son of Light was wearing Man-eagle’s magic shirt, while Man-eagle was wearing the resin shirt. The fire was lit and Man-eagle was burned because his shirt was made of resin.

Spider woman gave Son of Light a special medicine to put on Man-eagle’s ashes. When he did, Man-eagle came back to life as a good-looking man. They asked him if he was ever going to kill people and eat them again, and he promises that he would not. Spider woman brought back all the Hopi people to life that Man-eagle had killed. Son of Light and his wife went home.

Observations

Wife-stealing was a thing in some Native American tribes. If you liked someone else’s wife, you took her. Maybe you kept her and maybe she went back to the previous guy. Attitudes about the wife after being stolen were different in each tribe, although the idea tended to be a little more acceptable among Native American tribes versus anyone European. A woman wasn’t necessarily “ruined” or “dirty” or “to blame” if someone else slept with her who wasn’t her husband.

Son of Light seemed to have no problem with the fact that Man-eagle most likely raped his wife. Son of Light wanted his wife back. When this story says “abused” or “used” in relation to the people Man-eagle stole, it means he was sexually assaulting them and maybe physically abusing them as well. It doesn’t mean he was making them do his dishes. He was tying them up in his little torture/sex chamber and messing them over for four days and then killing them and eating them. It’s pretty screwed up.

Certainly, if you knew a serial killer like Man-eagle had your family member, you would try everything to get them back.

Themes

This is a hero’s tale. It’s very similar in structure to some European hero tales. Someone was taken from a hero. A hero finds people who will aid him. A hero must make an incredible journey to get to the person he’s trying to rescue. A hero competes with a giant/monster in several impossible challenges, the hero only wins because he has the help of the people he met along the way. A hero then bests the giant/monster.

In European stories, the hero would have three challenges; in Native American stories there are four challenges.

The hero doesn’t win by honest means, but the giant/monster wasn’t exactly being nice either. In some of our hero stories, the hero must uphold to moral standards. For instance, in some versions of Batman he never uses guns or he never kills people. Those are his moral upholdings. The hero in this story doesn’t have those moral upholdings, but is he any less of a hero? If you really look at it, the “hero” wasn’t the one doing the actual work, his friends were. The hero just took credit for it.

Sounds like life, you know? There’s a politician or some type of president or vice president or CEO who takes credit for something that other people did. They make themselves the hero, when in reality it was someone else who did everything and possibly several someones.

Overall

Kudos for wanting to get your wife back, Son of Light, hope you sent Thank You cards to everyone who helped you out.

Weigh In

What merit did Son of Light bring to this story?

Would you do the things Son of Light and his friends did to rescue your significant other?

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