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109. The War Medicine

Some warriors had medicine to change their shape as they pleased, so that they could escape from their enemies. Once one of these medicine warriors who had been away from home came back and found a strong party of the enemy attacking the settlement while nearly all the men were off on a hunt. The town was on the other side of the river, but his grandmother was there, so he made up his mind to save her. Going down the stream a little way, he hunted until he found a

[1. MacGowan, Dr D. J., Indian Secret Societies, Historical Magazine, X, p. 139, 1866. Morrisania, N.Y.]

p. 694

mussel shell. With his medicine he changed this to a canoe, in which he crossed over to his grandmother's house, and found her sitting there, waiting for the enemy to come and kill her. Again he made medicine and put her into a small gourd which he fastened to his belt. Then climbing a tree he changed himself to a swamp woodcock, and with one cry he spread his wings and flew across to the other side of the river, where both took their natural shape again and made their way through the woods to another settlement.

There was another great Cherokee warrior, named Dasi`giya'gï, or Shoe-boots, as the whites called him, who lived on Hightower creek, in Georgia. He was so strong that it was said he could throw a corn mortar over a house, and with his magic power could clear a river at one jump. His war medicine was an uktena scale and a very large turtle shell which he got from the Shawano. In the Creek war he put this scale into water and bathed his body with the water, and also burned a piece of the turtle shell and drew a black line around his men with the coal, and he was never wounded and never had a man killed.

Some great warriors had a medicine by the aid of which they could dive under the ground as under water, come up among the enemy to kill and-scalp one, then dive under the ground again and come up among their friends.

Some war captains knew how to put their lives up in the tree tops during a fight, so that even if they were struck by the enemy they could not be killed. Once, in a battle with the Shawano, the Cherokee leader stood directly in front of the enemy and let the whole party shoot at him, but was not hurt until the Shawano captain, who knew this war medicine himself, ordered his men to shoot into the branches above the head of the other. They did this and the Cherokee leader fell dead.

Next: 110. Incidents Of Personal Heroism