Journey With Story


Journey With Story

The Rough Face Girl: E217

The Rough Face Girl

The Rough Face Girl: E217

An enchanting Native American version of Cinderella.  A young Native American girl, disfigured from years of being forced to tend the fire by her stepsisters, wins the heart  of the Invisible Being Warrior who chooses her to be his bride.  (duration- 15 minutes) An episode from storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.

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The Rough Face Girl – A Native American Indian Tale

Episode 217

February 9,2023

Do you know how many versions there are of the Cinderella story?  Have a guess.

Hello everyone.  I’m Kathleen Pelley.  Welcome to Journey with Story.  Well I wonder how you answered my question.  The answer is – more than 500.  Isn’t that amazing?  All around the world, there are different versions of this tale about a poor young girl who is mistreated by her horrible sisters but in the end, she is the one who wins the heart of the good and noble prince.  So – to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, later this week, today’s episode is a beautiful love story –a Cinderella kind of story – a Native American Indian version.  After listening, you might like to compare all the ways it is the same as the Cinderella story you know and all the ways it is different.

Before we begin – if you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to rate, review and share this podcast with others.  And don’t forget you can download some free coloring sheets if you go to

Now, let’s take a journey with The Rough Face Girl.

There was once a large village situated on the border of Lake Ontario.  At one end of the village was a lodge in which lived a being who was always invisible. He was a mighty hunter, whose Spirit Guide was the Moose. He had a sister who attended to all his wants, and it was known that any girl who was able to see him would  marry him. There were many maidens who tried, but none succeeded.

In the early evenings, when the Invisible One was supposed to be returning home, his sister would walk down to the lakeshore with any  of the girls who had come to visit. She could see her brother returning home, since to her he was always visible, and when she saw him, she would say to her companions, “Do you see my brother?”

As it happens, none of these girls could ever see him. However, while some honest girls would say “no,” most would answer that they could indeed see him.

Then the sister would ask “Of what is his shoulder strap made?” Or, as some tell the tale, she would inquire about other things, like his sled harness or his bowstring.

They would reply, “A strip of rawhide,” or “A green sapling,” or something of that kind, and of course all of them were only guessing.

And the sister always knew they had not told the truth, and she would turn her face away, and reply, “Very well, let us return to the wigwam.”

When they entered the wigwam, she would ask them not to take a certain seat, for it was the seat of the Invisible One. After they had helped to cook supper, they would wait with great curiosity to see her brother eat.

And they could always tell that he was a real person, because as he took off his moccasins they became visible, and his sister would hang them up. They would also see food leaving his birch bark dish and disappear in mid-air, but beyond that they would see nothing.

Elsewhere in the village there lived an old man, a widower with three daughters. The youngest of those was very small, weak, and often ill, but this did not prevent her sisters from treating her with great cruelty. They would make her sit close to the burning fire to tend it and so close was she to the flames and sparks and smoke that after a while, her hands and arms became red and scarred, and her once beautiful face became pocked and riddled with tiny blemishes. Even her lovely long hair hung limp and lifeless and scorched.  After a while, the people called her, The Rough Face Girl.

When her father returned home from the day, he would ask why the child was so disfigured, and her sisters would promptly say that it was her own fault, for even though the father had forbidden her from going close to the fire, she had done so anyway, and had fallen in. The father would shake his head, and wonder what would become of his youngest daughter.

One day, it occurred to the two older sisters that they should go and try their luck at seeing the Invisible One. They wore their finest clothing, and took great effort to look their best. That evening they walked to the end of the village, and finding his sister at home, they walked with her down to the water.

Then when the Invisible One came, and his sister asked if they saw him, they said, “Certainly,” and also replied to the question of the shoulder strap or sled harness saying “A piece of rawhide.” Of course, they could not actually see him, and they got nothing for their lies, and eventually went home disappointed.

When their father returned home that evening he brought with him many pretty little shells and the next day the two older sisters began to string them into beads.  While they busied themselves, Rough Face Girl decided it was time for her to see whether she might catch sight of the Invisible One.

Having no clothes beyond a few rags, and knowing that she would get nothing from her sisters,  she wet off into the woods and found a few sheets of birch bark to make  herself a dress and leggings, and she decorated them by scraping figures on the bark.

Then she found a pair of her father’s old moccasins, stiff with age, and soaked them in water so that they would become flexible enough to wear. Finally she begged her sisters for a few shells.  The older sister just scoffed at her, but the middle sister, feeling sorry for her threw her a few of the smallest shells.

So poor  Rough Face Girl dressed in birchbark and shells and wearing her father’s great old moccasins (which came nearly up to her knees,) started across the village to try her luck. And if her sisters’ scorn was not bad enough, little Rough Face Girl’s courage was sorely tested even more, because the entire village erupted in laughter and ridicule as she passed by.

Her sisters tried to shame her into returning home, but she would not obey, and carried on to the door of the Invisible One’s lodge despite all the teasing from the villagers. Some say that a spirit had inspired her, and walked with her to give her strength, and this may indeed be so.

The Invisible One’s sister stared in surprise ather young visitor with surprise, but she said, “You are welcome,” and treated her with kindness. As usual, Rough Face Girl helped prepare the evening meal, and when the sun was nearly down, the Invisible One’s sister led her to the lake.

“My brother comes,” she said, “Do you see him?”
Little Rough Face Girl gazed along the shore. “I’m not sure…”
Then her eyes lit in wonder. “Yes, I see him! But how can there be such a one?” The sister looked at her curiously. “What is his shoulder strap made from?” “His shoulder strap is…is a Rainbow!”

The sister’s eyes grew wide. “And his bowstring?” “His bowstring is…the Milky Way!”
His sister smiled. “Let us return to the wigwam.”

When they reached the wigwam, the Invisible One’s sister took the strange clothes off Rough Face Girl and washed her with water from a special jar. Under her gentle hands, the young girl’s scars disappeared, leaving her skin shining and smooth.

She also combed Rough Face Girl’s  hair, and as she did, it grew to her waist, black and gleaming as a raven’s wing and ready for braiding.  It had been so long since anyone had treated poor Rough Face Girl so kindly, that her joy and gladness overflowed, making her face ablaze with a beauty beyond words.

Then the sister opened a chest and took out a beautiful wedding outfit, and asked Rough Face Girl to wear it. She had just put it on when a deep voice said, “Greetings, my sister.”

Rough Face Girl turned to the entrance and stared at the magnificent young hunter. She saw surprise light his face when their eyes met.

“Greetings, my brother,” said the sister. “You are discovered at last!”

The Invisible One walked over to Rough Face Girl and took her hands in his. “For years I have waited to find a woman of pure heart and brave spirit. Only such a one could see me. And now that I have found you, you shall be my bride.”

And so they were married. And from then on, Rough Face Girl had a new name: the Lovely One.

Like her husband, she too had kept herself hidden, waiting for the right person to find her, and now that she had that person’s love, she was hidden no more.

What do you think this story’s souvenir is – that little nugget of truth about what it means to be human and walk in this world?

Yes, I think it must have something to do with realizing – the most wonderful beauty of all is that of a kind and loving heart – just like Rough Face Girl.

If this story painted some pictures in your mind, do send us your drawings to so we can share with others.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story.

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