The Revenge of Wonyoni
This version of the legend comes from Pliny Earle Goddard's 1916 collection Beaver Texts.
There was an old man who raised his children by themselves. When
the boys were grown up one of them said, "Father, do you know of any
people living close by?" The father replied, "No, my son, I do not know
of any people living close by except your uncle who lives near, but he has
always been a bad man." "We will visit him," the boys said. "Do not
do it; you will not live if you do," said the father. "We will visit our
uncle any way; it is hard for us to live by ourselves," the boys replied. "
Well, go then," the father said. Addressing the youngest boy he asked
him what supernatural help he had. "My dream was of newly fallen snow
that does not pack," the youngest replied. When the two older boys
started the youngest one told his father that he too would go. "Well,"
replied his father, "your uncle is bad. If your brothers go into the house,
you stay outside and play."
The boys started to make the visit. The two older ones came to their
uncle who recognized them. "They are my nephews. Quick, give them
something to eat," he said. His wife gave them some bear grease by means
of which he killed them. He killed the two boys but the youngest ran
away. He came where he had left his snowshoes, put them on, and made
When he came to his father he said, " Father, he killed my two brothers."
The father was little disturbed and slept as usual. The old man was undersized
and his name was Wonyoni which means "smart." "I will pay my
brother-in-law a visit tomorrow morning," he said.
He went where the camp had been but found his brother-in-law had
moved away. The bodies of his sons were lying there. The camp had been
moved across the lake. Wonyoni started to cross on the ice and saw his
brother-in-law walking by the lake. " Do not come this way," the brother-
in-law called, "you are in pitiful condition."
They say he was a large man. "Brother-in-law, why do you speak as
any other man might? Do I visit you for nothing that you say that."
Wonyoni said. "Don't you come here, nevertheless; you are pitiful," he
replied, but the old man paid no attention to him. He walked on until he
came near him. "You are coming to me because I killed your children.
You begin the fight," he said to Wonyoni, who replied, "I am in pitiful
condition as you say. What am I able to do to you?" "You begin the
fight anyway," he said again. "Fix yourself," Wonyoni said.
The large man had a buffalo rawhide and Wonyoni had beaver skins of
the same sort. The latter had a jawbone for a weapon and the former the
backbone of a buffalo. Wonyoni made a feint at the head of the other man
who thinking he was to be hit in the head raised his buffalo hide. Wonyoni
striking under this, broke his legs and killed him. Although he was a small
man he was a formidable one they say.
More stories to read:
Native American hero myths
Native American legends about family
Native American legends about revenge
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Where Happiness Dwells
Beaver Indian myths
The Beaver people
Beaver Facts for Kids
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