Myths & Legends


Iroquois: The Echo God

The Echo as God of the Iroquois, as told by Erminnie A. Smith, in Myths of the Iroquois, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology.

This short look at the Echo God in Iroquois legend offers a link to an alternative version of the Echo deity.
— Orly


When engaged in wars with different nations the voice of the Echo God served for signals, as it would only respond to the calls of Iroquois. At the coming of evening it was used by them to call in those who were out on the war-path. When the warrior would whoop the Echo God would take it up and carry it on through the air, the enemy not being able to hear it, as this was the special god of the Six Nations. Therefore when they had gained a great victory a dance was held to give praise to this god. When enemies were killed their victors called out as many times as there were persons killed, the cry being "Goh-weh! Goh-weh!" "I'm telling you!" These words the Echo God took up and repeated. But if one of their own tribe was killed they called out, "Oh-weh! Oh-weh!" meaning "Our own!"

After any of these signals were given all assembled together to hold council and make arrangements for an attack or pursuit. Then were sent out runners, who also proclaimed. If no response was made by the Echo God it was an omen that they should not start, but they continued calling, and if the god still remained silent, a service was held to ask the cause of his anger.

When a warfare was ended victoriously a dance was held to the Echo God and the nations assembled to rejoice—but first to mourn for the dead and decide on the fate of the captives. As the Echo God was never called upon except in emergencies during warfare, now since wars are over the feast and dance to the Echo God have ceased to be a part of the Iroquois ceremonies.

For an alternative version of the Echo God, go here.


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