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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 177

These giants still exist, but in the form of conical rocks, one of which-called Sugar-Loaf, or Manitou's Wigwam—is ninety feet high. A cave in this obelisk is pointed out as Manitou's abiding-place, and it was believed that every other spire in the group had its wraith, whence has come the name of the island—Michillimackinack (place of great dancing spirits). Arch Rock is the place that Manitou built to reach his home from Sunrise Land the better. There were many such monuments of divinities in the north. They are met with all about the lakes and in the wooded wilderness, the most striking one being the magnificent spire of basalt in the Black Hills region of Wyoming. It is known as Devil's Tower, or Mateo's Tepee, and by the red men is held to be the wigwam of a were-animal that can become man at pleasure. This singular rock towers above the Belle Fourche River to a height of eight hundred feet.

Deep beneath Mackinack was a stately and beautiful cavern hall where spirits had their revels. An Indian who got leave to quit his body saw it in company with one of the spirits, and spread glowing reports of its beauties when he had clothed himself in flesh again. When Adam and Eve died they, too, became spirits and continued to watch the home of Manitou.

Now, there is another version of this tradition which gives the, original name of the island as Moschenemacenung, meaning "great turtle." The French missionaries and traders, finding the word something too large a mouthful, softened it to Michillimackinack, and, when the English came, three syllables served them as well as a hundred, so Mackinack it is to this day. Manitou, having made a turtle from a drop of his own sweat, sent it to the bottom of Lake Huron, whence it brought a mouthful of mud, and from this Mackinack was created. As a reward for his service the turtle was allowed to sleep there in the sun forever.

Yet another version has it that the Great Spirit plucked a sand-grain from the primeval ocean, set it floating on those waters, and tended it until it grew so large that a young wolf, running constantly, died of old age before reaching its limits. The sand became the earth. Prophecy has warned the Winnebagoes that Manibozho (Michabo or Hiawatha) shall smite by pestilence at the end of their thirteenth generation. Ten are gone. All shall perish but one pure pair, who will people the recreated world. Manibozho, or Minnebojou, is called a "culture myth," but the Indians have faith in him. They say that he lies asleep on the north shore of Lake Superior, beneath the "hill of four knobs," known as the Sleeping Giant. There offerings are made to him, and it was a hope of his speedy rising that started the Messiah craze in the West in 1890.





LAKE SUPERIOR WATER GODS

There were many water gods about Lake Superior to whom the Indians paid homage, casting implements, ornaments, and tobacco into the water whenever they passed a spot where one of these manitous sat enthroned. At Thunder Cape, on the north shore, lies Manibozho, and in the pillared recess of La Chapelle, among the Pictured Rocks, dwelt powerful rulers of the storm to whose mercy the red men commended themselves with quaint rites whenever they were to set forth on a voyage over the great unsalted sea. At Le Grand Portal were hidden a horde of mischievous imps, among whose pranks was the repetition of every word spoken by the traveller as he rested on his oars beneath this mighty arch. The Chippewas worked the copper mines at Keweenaw Point before the white race had learned of a Western land, but they did so timidly, for they believed that a demon would visit with injury or death the rash mortal who should presume to pillage his treasure, unless he had first bestowed gifts upon him. Even then they went ashore with fear, lighted fires around a surface of native copper, hacked off a few pounds of the softened metal, and ran to their canoes without looking behind them.


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