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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 189

Incidents of the Hiawatha legend are not all placed, but he is thought to have been born near the great lakes, perhaps at Mackinack. Some legends, indeed, credit him with making his home at Mackinack, and from that point, as a centre, making a new earth around him. The fight with his father began on the upper Mississippi, and the bowlders found along its banks were their missiles. The south shore of Lake Superior was the scene of his conflict with the serpents. He hunted the great beaver around Lake Superior and brought down his dam at the Sault Sainte Marie. A depression in a rock on the southern edge of Michipicotea Bay is where he alighted after a jump across the lake. In a larger depression, near Thunder Bay, he sat when smoking his last pipe. The big rocks on the east side of Grand Traverse Bay, near Antrim City, Michigan, are the bones of a stone monster that he slew.

So trifling an incident as the kicking of the duck has been localized at Lake Itasca. [It is worth passing mention that this name, which sounds as if it were of Indian origin, is held by some to be composed of the last syllables of veritas and the first letters of caput, these words-signifying "the true head"—being applied by early explorers as showing that they were confident of having found the actual source of the Mississippi.] Minnehaha lived near the fall in Minneapolis that bears her name. The final apotheosis took place on the shores of Lake Onondaga, New York, though Hiawatha lies buried under a mountain, three miles long, on the east side of Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, which, from the water, resembles a man lying on his back. The red man makes oblation, as he rows past, by dropping a pinch of tobacco into the water. Some say that Hiawatha now lives at the top of the earth, amid the ice, and directs the sun. He has to live in a cold country because, if he were to return, he would set the earth on fire with his footsteps.


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