American Demons

Dagwanoenyent

In Iroquois mythology, Dagwanoenyent was the daughter of the Wind who often took the form of a whirlwind. The Seneca Tribe considered her a dangerous witch who could not be killed.

In a tale about Dagwanoenyent, there is an uncle and nephew that live near Dagwanoenyent. Though the uncle forbids the nephew to visit her, he sneaks off frequently to visit Dagwanoenyent and her child. During his visits, Dagwanoenyent ignores the nephew. Each time he plays with the child, he steals a piece of meat from Dagwanoenyent’s place. When the child turns 15, he informs the visiting nephew that the two are really cousins. The nephew’s uncle is really the child’s father and husband of Dagwanoenyent.

When the nephew returns home, his uncle questions him. The boy admits to visiting Dagwanoenyent, stealing meat from her house, and puncturing the bag of bear’s oil that hangs above her head. The uncle then grows angry and informs him that because the bag is now broken, they are in great danger.

Soon, Dagwanoenyent comes as a whirlwind, destroys the uncle’s lodge and carries him away. The nephew goes to Dagwanoenyent’s house to ask his cousin what happened to the man. He doesn’t know, but warns the nephew that Dagwanoenyent will come for him the next day.

To escape Dagwanoenyent’s fury, the nephew hides in the belly of his guardian, Mole. She soon finds him and kills him, but Mole is able to resuscitate him. Mole and the nephew then find the uncle under an elm tree, which is standing on his chest. The nephew helps his uncle out from under the tre and then goes to Dagwanoenyent’s lodge and kills her by burning her body in a fire of bear oil.

Dagwanoenyent soon revives and goes after the nephew. He is able to escape and when she finally retreats back to her lodge, the nephew and the uncle kill her again with fire. This time, though, they remove her bones from the fire and pound them into a fine powder. they then divide the powder into 3 separate bags – one for uncle, nephew, and Mole. They then decide that whenever there is a storm outside, they must keep the bags apart so the powder can’t unite and revive Dagwanoenyent.

There is also a legend that Dagwanoenyent gave two brothers three hairs from his head, so that whenever they wanted rain, they were to make the hairs wet and shake off the drops. Heavy rains would soon follow.
Two brothers, one a young man, the other a small boy were one day out in the woods together. They heard a great noise overhead and looking up saw a Dagwanoenyent, an enormous head, flying above them.

The elder brother called out “Gowe! gowe!”

The Dagwanoenyent said, “Thank you. Thank you. You should always sing in that way when you are going to fight. If you do, I will be on your side and kill your enemies for you.”

Taking three hairs from his head the Dagwanoenyent gave them to the brothers, saying, “When you want to escape from danger, get water and draw these hairs along in it. When you take them out, drops of water will hang to them and those drops will bring rain.” Then the Dagwanoenyent went on, leaving the two brothers.

By those hairs the brothers often escaped from their enemies.

Whenever they wanted rain, they had only to draw the hairs through water and then shake off the drops; right away heavy rain fell. The hairs were long kept by the Senecas.
– Seneca Indian Myths by Jeremiah Curtin [1922]

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