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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 257

In 1700 there lived in the village of Keoxa, below Frontenac, Minnesota, on the Mississippi River, a Dakota girl named Winona (the First Born), who was loved by a hunter in her tribe, and loved him in return. Her friends commended to her affections a young chief who had valiantly defended the village against an attack of hostiles, but Juliet would none of this dusky Count de Paris, adhering faithfully to her Romeo. Unable to move her by argument, her family at length drove her lover away, and used other harsh measures to force her into a repugnant union, but she replied, "You are driving me to despair. I do not love this chief, and cannot live with him. You are my father, my brothers, my relatives, yet you drive from me the only man with whom I wish to be united. Alone he ranges through the forest, with no one to build his lodge, none to spread his blanket, none to wait on him. Soon you will have neither daughter, sister, nor relative to torment with false professions." Blazing with anger at this unsubmissive speech, her father declared that she should marry the chief on that very day, but while the festival was in preparation she stole to the top of the crag that has since been known as Maiden's Rock, and there, four hundred feet above the heads of the people, upbraided those who had formerly professed regard for her. Then she began her death-song. Some of the men tried to scale the cliff and avert the tragedy that it was evident would shortly be enacted, and her father, his displeasure forgotten in an agony of apprehension, called to her that he would no longer oppose her choice. She gave no heed to their appeals, but, when the song was finished, walked to the edge of the rock, leaped out, and rolled lifeless at the feet of her people.

When we say that the real name of Lover's Leap in Mackinac is Mechenemockenungoqua, we trust that it will not be repeated. It has its legend, however, as well as its name, for an Ojibway girl stood on this spire of rock, watching for her lover after a battle had been fought and her people were returning. Eagerly she scanned the faces of the braves as their war-canoes swept by, but the face she looked for was not among them. Her lover was at that moment tied to a tree, with an arrow in his heart. As she looked at the boats a vision of his fate revealed itself, and the dead man, floating toward her, beckoned. Her death-song sounded in the ears of the men, but before they could reach her she had gone swiftly to the verge, her hands extended, her eyes on vacancy, and her spirit had met her lover's.

From this very rock, in olden time, leaped the red Eve when the red Adam had been driven away by a devil who had fallen in love with her. Adam, who was paddling by the shore, saw she was about to fall, rushed forward, caught her, and saved her life. The law of gravitation in those days did not act with such distressing promptitude as now. Manitou, hearing of these doings, restored them to the island and banished the devil, who fell to a world of evil spirits underground, where he became the father of the white race, and has ever since persecuted the Indians by proxy.


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