Myth & Lore

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Native American Mermaid Stories: The Mermaid - A Sikanni Tale

Two hunters who were following an old trail along the shore of a lake came upon three women with very long hair. They seemed different from any women they had ever seen.

One of them awoke and alarmed her companions whereupon all three rushed away to dive into the water. Two escaped, but the third was captured by one of the men, who tied her by the hair to a tree until she promised to marry him. Then he led her to his tent. The mermaid was very lonely during that first winter. At night, when the ice of the lake congealed and cracked, she would say, “That is my sister’s dog chasing something. I wish I could have remained down there in the water.”

She complained of the cold so that her husband had to build a large fire for her every day. On the first day, when he used dry logs, she complained that the wood was poor and gave no heat. Then when he steeped the logs in water and re-laid them on the fire, creating a dense cloud of smoke and steam, she protested that it was too hot.

During the second winter the hunter was unable to kill much game, so that long before spring they were very short of food. His wife then said to him, “Dig me a hole through the ice of the lake.”

“No”, he answered. “You would go down into the water and never return. I do not want to lose you.”

“Don’t be afraid. I will come back to you.”

He dug a hole and she went down into the water, leaving her little son with the father. After a time a hand came up, deposited a large pack of dried meat on the surface of the ice, and disappeared again. More packs followed. Last of all his wife emerged and said, “See, all those packs were given me by my sisters”. After this the mermaid lived very happily with her husband for many years and bore him several children. Every year, however, the longing for her old home grew more intense. At last she said to him, weeping, “Let me now return to the water.”

Very reluctantly he consented and dug a hole through the ice for her. She dived into the water but returned immediately because her children were unable to follow her. One after another she rubbed their mouths with water and told them to dive in after her. Then they all went down into the water and never returned.

Source: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/native-american-mermaid-stories-the-mermaid-sikanni-tale/

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