Native American Witch Stories: The Man They Cannot Hold

Published on December 17, 2012 by Casey

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The Man
Native American Witch Stories: The Man They Cannot Hold

Native American Witch Stories: The Man They Cannot Hold

Wa-Sha-Xnend was a musician and a great hunter, who lived in times long past and gone. For hours and hours he would play on his flute which was made of cedar wood. Sometimes he would stop and sing, as if he was talking to someone. He learned, while a small boy, a secret of the medicine men, which came to him while playing the flute.

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It was this: “All are possessed of certain influences, although they may not know it. Some derive their power from one source and some from another. When we know in what way we are strong and from where we get that power, all we need then is firmness and bravery to succeed. If we fail, it is not because our Guardian Spirit is not faithful, but because we listen to voices of our enemies and not to our own Guardian Spirit who would lead us aright.”

Wa-Sha-Xnend’s guardian spirit came from the water Manitou, and by the use of his flute he could summon this Guardian Spirit to him, and receive from him great power, which he could use to influence both man and beast. So great was his power, that many times all he had to do was desire a thing done and his Guardian Spirit would bring it about.

When he was old enough to be called a man, he had acquired a great deal of fame as a hunter, and to some extent was considered a conjuror or Medicine man, for the people felt that they were drawn to him by some unknown power.

The women of the tribe especially, were very partial to him, and spoke his praises everywhere. This made the old Medicine men very angry and the young hunters and warriors jealous, so the Medicine men began to contrive some way to get get rid of him by means of conjury, which was often done in those days, when they wanted to kill a person without anyone knowing of it, but all their means failed.

When the Medicine men saw that their conjury failed, they next went to the Sachem and told him of the great powers that Wa-Sha-Xnend possessed, but did not tell the Sachen that they had tried to kill him. The Sachem went to see Wa-Sha-Xnend but did not find him at home, but saw his mother instead, who was a very old woman. The Sachem told her he wanted Wa-Sha-Xnend to marry one of his daughters. The old lady was pleased, for the Sachem was rich and had some very pretty daughters, so she said that she would tell her son when he came home from hunting. When Wa-Sha-Xnend came home his mother, with joyful face, told him of the Sachem’s visit and what he said. Wa-Sha-Xnend laughed and said: “Mother, they only want to kill me; they have been trying to do this for some time.” The old lady was very sad, but went and told the Sachem that her son refused to marry his daughter. This made the Sachem very angry, and he said to the old lady: “Wa-Sha-Xnend will never marry anyone then.” The old lady went home crying, and told her son of the Sachem’s threats. Wa-Sha-Xnend admitted that his life was in danger, and told his mother that if he should be killed, to tie his flute to his wrist and then throw his body into the river, so his Guardian Spirit, who lived in the water, would care for him, and under no circumstances to let his body be buried, which the people will certainly want to do.

The Sachem called together his braves and Medicine men and told them of his wrath against Wa-Sh-Xnend and that he wanted him gotten out of the way. Then they told the Sachem that they had tried all means of cojury they knew, but could not kill him, that Wa-Sha-Xnend was brave and watchful, and it would be dangerous to try to kill him, besides he was very popular, and his friends would avenge his murder. While they were trying to solve the problem, a woman came to the Sachem and told him she could kill him if they would wait until a certain time. The woman was a very untidy, good-for-nothing woman, who lived alone and was believed to be a witch, so the Sachem agreed to let her try.

All this time Wa-Sha-Xnend knew what was going on, but he knew too that the water Manitou had greater powers than the evil Manitou, who guarded the witch, and that he was brave and steadfast enough to overcome his enemies in the end, for malice cannot conquer right if we will bravely stand up for right ourselves.

Wa-Sha-Xnend told his mother that the witch was going to succeed in in getting him out of the way, and that she must do as he told her to do with his body; she must not lose courage or hesitate at all.

The next morning when Wa-Sha-Xnend’s mother went to wake him, he was dead. Very soon after, the Sachem came to see him, for the witch had told him he would be dead, and when he heard that Wa-Sha-Xnend was dead, he seemed very surprised and greived and offered to give Wa-Sha-Xnend a magnificent funeral and himself would furnish the burial dress, as he was a great hunter, and besides was well loved by the people. But Wa-Sha-Xnend’s mother said she did not want honors shown for her son, for she believed him to be killed, and therefore should be treated as one who was killed–simply thrown away. So she tied his flute to his wrist, took him by the feet, dragged him to the river and threw him in.

The Sachem was very much astonished at this action of the mother and he could not drive away the vision of that sight. The man he had caused to be murdered, dragged to the river by the frantic mother, and thrown away as one would a dog. He wondered why he had murdered him when he had not done him nor anyone else any harm.

Six days after this, the old lady heard the music of Wa-Sha-Xnend’s flute, and she shouthed for joy, for after all her son was not dead, but had been away with the water Manitou, who lived in a great cave, the entrance of which was known to Wa-Sha-Xnend alone, and could only be found by diving in the water. He told his mother that he was very glad she was faithful to his charge, for had she not done so, she would never have seen him again.

Wa-Sha-Xnend lived with the Delawares a long, long time after this and had many firends, and no one dared to try to do him harm.

But the Sachem and the witch woman soon died, for they never could drive away the horrible vision of his death.

All should remember their fate and never seek to do those harm who have done you no wrong, for even though you may succeed for a while (by the help of the Evil Manitou), your own spirit will weaken at last and you will suffer the most in the end.

Source: nativeamericanembassy Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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