The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna

"There was once a young man who was about to enter upon a fast, and nothing less would satisfy him than that he must dream of Ma-o-na [Mą’ųna], the Earth-Maker. He blackened his face, as was the custom, and fasted four days or more, and dreamed of many things; then he ate a little food, and fasted again. So he persevered until he had dreamed of everything on the earth, or under the earth, or in the air; he dreamed of the whole world, but he never saw Ma-o-na. The spirits said to him, 'You have dreamed of Ma-o-na because you have dreamed of all his works.' But the man was not satisfied. He blackened his face and lay down again, and again he dreamed of the whole world, yet still he wished to dream of Ma-o-na, but could not. But after four nights he dreamed again, and now at last he dreamed of Ma-o-na. And Ma-o-na said: 'I am the Earth-Maker. You will see me to morrow at noon. But it is not well; you wish too much.'

So the next morning the man rose up and made himself ready and took some tobacco for an offering, and before noon he set out for the place where Ma-o-na had said that he could meet him, a place where mighty oak-trees grew to a vast height. There he stood still, and watched and listened, till just at noon he saw a large flag drop down to the earth and hang suspended before him. The man looked up and saw that Ma-o-na was there, among the tall oaks; he saw only the face of Ma-o-na, a long face with good eyes, for the flag covered all the rest. Then the face spoke to him and said: 'Nephew, you said that if you could not dream of me you would die. Nephew, you never can die. You never can die, because you are like me. You have dreamed of all my works, you know them all, and so you are like me. The spirits told you this, but you would not believe. You wanted to see me. Now you see me here to-day.'

The man thought that he saw Ma-o-na, and he looked long at the face and never turned his eyes away, till at last the creature before him grew tired and drew back his wing; and then the man saw that it was only a chicken-hawk, one of the evil spirit's birds, that had flown down into a low oak close in front of him; and the chicken-hawk's wing had seemed to be the flag. The man cried for sorrow, and he lay four nights more, and then the spirits came and talked with him and took his soul away with them and said to him: 'Cease trying to dream of Ma-o-na. There are many more little birds and creatures of the evil spirit that may deceive you. You can dream no more, for you have seen all things.'

So the man ceased his fast and no longer tried to dream of Ma-o-na. He never saw Ma-o-na, nor he nor any one upon this earth. It is not possible to see Ma-o-na."1

Commentary. "chicken-hawk" — a colloquial name for any of three kinds of hawks, the Cooper's Hawk, the Sharp-shinned Hawk and the Red-tailed Hawk. None of these hawks is known as a significant predator of chickens.

Concluding note by Natalie Curtis: "This story was told to the recorder as the actual experience of an Indian in his youth. It gives a deep insight into Indian thought. Maona is no personified deity to be seen with fleshly eye. He who would thus seek to look upon the Earth-Maker is but deceived by trivial things. Maona, to the Indian, is seen in all his works, and the whole world of nature tells of spiritual life. Maona is reflected in the mind of man himself, for man is like Maona when he has seen and understood Maona's works — the universe about him."2

Comparative Material. ...

Links: Earthmaker, Herešgúnina.

Stories: This story would be a version of "Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega)" were it not for the fact that its ending is exactly opposite to the other story.

mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hočąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hočągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; about Bird Spirits: Crane and His Brothers, The King Bird, Bird Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Wears White Feather on His Head, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, Owl Goes Hunting, The Boy Who Became a Robin, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Foolish Hunter, Ocean Duck, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Quail Hunter, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Hočąk Arrival Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster and the Geese, Holy One and His Brother (kaǧi, woodpeckers, hawks), Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Turtle's Warparty (Thunderbirds, eagles, kaǧi, pelicans, sparrows), Kaǧiga and Lone Man (kaǧi), The Old Man and the Giants (kaǧi, bluebirds), The Bungling Host (snipe, woodpecker), The Red Feather, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Waruǧábᵉra, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Black and White Moons, The Markings on the Moon, The Creation Council, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Hare Acquires His Arrows, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (black hawk, kaǧi), Worúxega (eagle), The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (eagle), The Gift of Shooting (eagle), Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Blue Jay, The Baldness of the Buzzard, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster (buzzards), The Shaggy Man (kaǧi), The Healing Blessing (kaǧi), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (kaǧi), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Įčorúšika and His Brothers (Loon), Great Walker's Medicine (loon), Roaster (woodsplitter), The Spirit of Gambling, The Big Stone (a partridge), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, The Story of the Medicine Rite (loons, cranes, turkeys), The Fleetfooted Man, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds, and the sources cited there; mentioning oak: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Turtle's Warparty, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Waruǧábᵉra, The Creation Council, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), Sun and the Big Eater, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Roaster, Little Human Head, The Shaggy Man, Wears White Feather on His Head, Peace of Mind Regained, The Dipper (leaves).

Themes: a person who fasts receives blessings from the spirits: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Redhorn's Sons, The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Seer, Maize Comes to the Hočągara, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Thunderbird, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, Great Walker's Medicine, Šųgepaga, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Heną́ga and Star Girl, A Man's Revenge, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Man who Defied Disease Giver, White Thunder's Warpath, Black Otter's Warpath, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Diving Contest, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Holy Song, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Blessing of Šokeboka, The Completion Song Origin, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga, Song to Earthmaker, First Contact (v. 1), The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights; false promises of blessings from a spirit: The Greedy Woman, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Diving Contest; someone is deceived by a spirit: The Greedy Woman, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Seven Maidens, Big Thunder Teaches Čap’ósgaga the Warpath, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Lost Blanket; someone fasts a long time without receiving a blessing: The Seer, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka; persons seeking blessings are not satisfied with what the spirits have given them: Little Fox and the Ghost, The Greedy Woman, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega).


1 Natalie Curtis Burlin, The Indians' Book: an Offering by the American Indians of Indian Lore, Musical and Narrative, to Form a Record of the Songs and Legends of Their Race (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1907) 262-263.

2 Curtis, The Indians' Book, 263 nt.