Atceco Kills a Bad Man
This version of the legend comes from Pliny Earle Goddard's 1916 collection Beaver Texts.
One time when they were starving they started to move toward a lake
where they knew there were fish. A bad old man was known to live there
but they thought he was away from home. When they came to the place
they found he was still living there. Then that small boy said he would
visit his grandfather, meaning the old man. His friends advised him against
it, but he replied that since he was starving and suffering much he would
visit him nevertheless. The others tried hard to stop him but he set out
to pay the visit.
When he arrived the old man asked why he came. "I came to you,
grandfather, because I am starving," the boy replied. "Well, you will not
live long," the old man said, "go back or I will kill you." "You do not
talk as other people do, grandfather," the boy said. " Well, cook him some
fish," he told his wife. The boy ate the fish when it was set before him. "
What kind of a person are you who eat the fish I give you and still live?
You are Atceco," the old man said. " Why do you say that? I ate what
you gave me and I am happy," the boy replied.
"Cook for him again," he said, and his wife did so. "No person ever
did this way with me before, but let us use supernatural power on each
other," the old man said. "What am I to do, that you speak that way?"
the boy asked. "You have eaten much of my food," the old man replied. "
You do something to me first, grandfather," the boy said. The old man
made a large frog sit on his palm and told the boy to take it. " Now you
do something to me," the old man said. "Yes, grandfather, but what do
I know, that you should say that to me?" the boy asked. "You swallowed
a small frog and how is it that it did not bother you?" the old man asked. "
What sort of a person am I that you should say that?" the boy asked
again. The old man swallowed it and he could hardly breathe.
When Atceco started back the old man said that since he had done
that to him, he would know how to cure him. He sent his wife to bring
the boy back that he might cure him. When the boy saw the sorrowful
looking old woman coming after him he told her that he was not yet old
enough to marry and that her husband might keep her. He turned back
and came to the old man who was still breathing. When the boy began to
sing over him the frog closed the old man's mouth and he died.
The boy then ran back to his friends who asked how it happened he was
still alive. " My grandfather was very kind. He is not a mean man. He
fed me well and I ate what he gave me," the boy replied. They knew the
old man was mean and they were afraid of him.
Atceco killed him and the people were very much pleased. They moved
camp to the place where the fish were and many people were saved from
The old man had many wives for he had taken the wives of the men he
had killed. They took these women away. Many people were glad because
of what Atceco had done.
More stories to read:
Native American heroes
Native American legends about monsters
Native American legends about sharing
Learn more about:
Where Happiness Dwells
The Beaver Native Americans
Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2015 Contacts and FAQ page
Back to American Indian legends website
Buy some Indian books
Powhatan Indian culture
Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?