How They Brought Back Tobacco

In the beginning of the world, when people and animals were all the same, there was only one tobacco plant to which they all came for their tobacco until the Dagulku geese stole it and carried it away to the South. The people were suffering without it, and there was one old woman who grew so thin and weak that everybody said she would soon die unless she could get the tobacco to keep her alive.

Different animals offered to go for it, one after another - the larger ones first and then the smaller ones, but the Dagulku saw and killed every one before they could get to the plant. After the other, the little mole tried to reach it by going under the ground, but the Dagulku saw his track and killed him as he came out.

At last, the Hummingbird offered, but the others said he was entirely too small and might as well stay at home. He begged them to let him try, so they showed him a plant in the field and told him to let them see how he would go about it. The next moment he was gone, and they saw him sitting on the plant. In a moment, he was back again, but no one had seen him going or coming because he was so swift. "This is the way I'll do it," said the Hummingbird. So they let him try.

He flew off to the East, and when he came in sight of the tobacco, the Dagulku were watching all about it. They could not see him because he was so small and flew so swiftly. He darted down on the plant - tsa! - and snatched off the top with the leaves and the seeds, and was off again before the Dagulku knew what had happened. Before he got home with the tobacco, the old woman had fainted, and they thought she was dead. However, he blew the smoke into her nostrils and with a cry of "Tsalu!" (tobacco), she opened her eyes and lived again.

[Second Version]

A long time ago, so I was told when I was a boy, tobacco was kept by the animals and used as a very high medicine for Man. The great cranes were jealous of the Tobacco Keepers and stole it. They flew way high in the mountains and hid the tobacco among very sharp rocks on a tall mountain.

The animals held council to get the tobacco back, and everyone was anxious to try. The first to go was the great Falcon, the Warrior Bird, who could soar and dive so fast his enemies didn't know what hit them. So he flew way high above the mountain peaks, and when he spotted the tobacco, he dove to retrieve the plant. The cranes were waiting and attacked him with great vigor as he was trying to pick the plant. The Great Blue Heron was the leader of the cranes and is a vicious hunter himself. The Falcon did not stand a chance and was killed.

When the other animals heard of this, they were so afraid that they decided there was no way that the tobacco could be recovered. The Panther, the Great Night Hunter, said he would go under the cover of darkness, when the cranes were asleep. He would get the tobacco and bring it back. The cranes were smart and left guards at night to watch the pathways up the mountain. The panther did not stand a chance, so many cranes descended upon on him - he never even got halfway up the mountain.

In the Council House, the animals said it was no use. A little voice from the corner said that she would go. This was the Hummingbird. They asked, "How are you going to do this?"

The little Hummingbird said, "Look over here." As they were watching her, she suddenly disappeared and was behind them, saying, "I'm over here." They were so impressed at her speed, they said she might be able to do it. They wondered how she would make the long journey to the mountain, and she told them she would store energy and sleep at night, as the hummingbirds do when they migrate to South America.

Off she went towards the mountains, and each night, she slept safely in a tree while she stored her energy for the next day's flight. When she got to the mountain, she darted so fast that the cranes did not spot her. She found the tobacco, clipped a seed pod off, and began to leave. She could not resist the temptation to taunt the cranes. She darted back and forth around their feet, saying, "I'm over here! No, I'm over here!"

This confused the cranes so much, they began pecking at the ground around their feet trying to get the Hummingbird. The Hummingbird flew away and brought the tobacco back to the Council House, and we have had tobacco ever since. The cranes, to this day, stand in the water looking at their feet, still trying to find the Hummingbird.