When the world was first made, men-beings did not know that they must die some time. In those days everyone was happy and neither men, women nor children were afraid of anything. They did not think of anything but doing what pleased them. At one time, in those days, a prominent man was found on the grass. He was limp and had no breath. He did not breathe. The men-beings that saw him did not know what had happened. The man was not asleep because he did not awaken. When they placed him on his feet he fell like a tanned skin. He was limp. They tried many days to make him stand but he would not. After a number of days he became offensive.
A female man-being said that the man must be wrapped up and put in the limbs of a tree. So the men did so and after a while the flesh dropped from the bones and some dried on. No one knew what had happened to cause such a thing.
Soon afterward a child was found in the same condition. It had no breath. It could not stand. It was not asleep, so they said. The men-beings thought it was strange that a girl man-being, should act this wise. So she was laid in a tree. Now many others did these things and no one knew why. No one thought that he himself would do such a thing.
There was one wise man who thought much about these things and he had a dream. When be slept the Good Minded spirit came to him and spoke. He slept a long time but the other men-beings noticed that he breathed slowly. He breathed [nevertheless]. Now after a time this man rose up and his face was very solemn. He called the people together in a council and addressed the people. The head men all sat around with the people.
The wise man spoke and he said, "The Good Minded spirit made every good thing and prepared the earth for men-beings. Now it appears that strange events have happened. A good word has come to me from the Good Minded spirit. He says that every person must do as you have seen the other persons do. They have died. They do not breathe. It will be the same with all of you. Your minds are strong. The Good Minded spirit made them that way so that you could endure everything that happened. So then do not be downcast when I tell you that you all must die. Listen
further to what I say. The name of the one that steals away your breath is S`hondowêk'owa. He has no face and does not see any one. You can not see him until he grasps you. He comes sometimes for a visit and sometimes he stays with us until many are dead. Sometimes he takes away the best men and women and passes by the lesser ones. I was not told why he does this thing. He wants to destroy every person. He will continue to work forever. Every one who hears me and every one not yet born will die. There is more about you than living. Any moment you may be snatched by S`hondowêk'owa, he who works in the thick darkness.
You must now divide yourselves into nine bands, five to sit on one side of the fire and four on the other and these bands shall care for its members. You must seek out all good things and instruct one another, and those who do good things will see when they die the place where the Maker of all things lives."
105:1 Related by Edward Cornplanter, March 1906.