Emma Newashe (Sac and Fox)

Biography /  Cultural and Historical Context / Close Reading / Further Reading

“The Merman’s Prophecy”

By Emma Newashe

The spring had not arrived in all its splendor, but it’s coming was clearly seen, for the buds on the trees were beginning to show that everything would be full of life.

One cool morning before sunrise, two devoted brothers decided to go hunting and at the same time keep fast.

They traveled for six days and at the end of the six day younger because I’m tired and hungry. That night they had their usual nights rest but did nothing.

The seventh morning while the brothers sat beside each other the brother passed his wistful eyes up to a large tree. Just where three of the limbs branched from the trunk he saw an unusual sight. A fish! Owing to his curiosity he asked his brother to climb the tree and see if he could not get the fish. The elder was tired and so nearly exhausted from hunger and travel that he failed after five times to climb the tree. The younger was so anxious to obtain the fish and resolved to climb. He was not long in accomplishing the feat. He threw the fish down to his brother who was very much frightened at discovering that it was really a fish. He knew at once that there was some mystery connected with it.

It happened that they were near a village. The younger brother suggested that they boil the fish, but the older was very much opposed to the proposition on account of breaking fast, but because his brother insisted, he suggested that he might go and borrow a Copperkettle to use in through water from the lake nearby. They agreed on this and while the older was gone he cleaned the fish.

After they had their meal the younger become very thirsty. He asked his brother to get some water for him and without delay the elder went to the lake. His brother drank and drank water and his brother kept on carrying water for him until he was overcome with fatigue. At last the elder said that he must go to the lake and drink as much water as you desire. This he did but he could not quench his thirst. His brother who did not accompany him became very uneasy about his stay. He went to the lake and here saw his brother lying with his head down to the waters edge. When the younger saw his brother he gave one leap into the lake. He tried to catch him but it was of no avail. He waited a few minutes and in the middle of the lake he saw his brother changed to a merman. His countenance was stronger and wiser.

Then in a commanding lead merciful voice the merman asked his brother to call all his people to assemble around the lake. The next day all the Sacs gathered around him ready to hear what he had to say. He began by saying that he had always been happy with them but his saddest days concerning his people were rapidly approaching. He told them so long as they were north of where the white barked trees grow, he could constantly watch over them. He told them so long as they stayed north of the Missouri River, they would continue to adopt the customs of their ancestors, but is soon as the tribe crossed they would no longer have this beneficent influence. Their worship, language and customs would change. The prophecy extends to where he said that the tribe would settle near a large body of water and this would be the final resting place of the Sacs.

So many parts of this prophecy had come true that it is considered very wonderful by the tribe.


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