THE LITTLE PEOPLE – Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers

All children who live close to Mother Earth come to know and to see the fairies of the flowers, the woods, the rocks, and the waters. These fairies the Iroquois call the Jo gah oh, or “Little People,” because they are so small. The Little People can do wonderful things. Whatever they wish, they can do. They can fly through the air. They can dart under or through the water, into the earth and through the rocks, as they please, for they wear invisible moccasins and travel in winged canoes.

Their wee babies are carried on the little mothers’ backs,—just like the Indian’s papoose. The little fathers have wonderful winged bows and arrows, that can shoot any distance they wish.

The Little People bring good luck to the Indians

The Little People bring good luck to the Indians. Whatever Indian boys and girls wish for,—if they wish hard enough, the Jo gah oh will bring to them.

It is said that there are three tribes of these Little People,—those that live in the rocks beside streams and lakes, those that hover near the flowers and plants, and those that guard the dark places under the earth.

The rock Little People are very strong. They can uproot large trees and can hurl great rocks. Sometimes they dare the Indians to a test of strength with them. They also like to play ball with stones.

The Red Children fear the Stone Throwers, as they call them. But they love the little folk that help the flowers to blossom, and the fruit and grains to grow and ripen.

They remember these Little People in their Feasts of Thanksgiving, for do the Jo gah oh not help the sweet waters of the maple to flow? Do they not whisper to the growing seeds and show the way to the light? Do they not guide the runners of the strawberries, turn the blossoms to the sun, and paint the berries red? They also tint the grains, and give to the corn its good taste.

A third tribe of Little People dwell under the earth. They guard the sacred white buffaloes, and keep the serpent monsters that live in the darkness below from coming to the surface to the Red Children.

There are trails that lead out to the sunlight, but the Little People guard them close, although sometimes a great serpent will find the trail of a spring, and will follow it and poison the waters.

Often, at night, these elves of the dark come to the upper world to dance with the other Little People.

Wherever you find a tree in a deep, dark part of the wood, around which no grass will grow, there you may be sure a dance ring has been formed. There the Little People have danced till the moon dropped out of the sky.

Dance Rattle
Original text from the book:
Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children