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Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 12

Then Manabush became a man again and ran for the sand bar. Soon the underground Ana maqkiu came back. They saw the two Bear chiefs were wounded. They immediately called for a flood from the earth to drown Manabush. It came very quickly and followed [23] that one. Then Badger came. He hid Manabush in the earth. As he burrowed, he threw the earth behind him, and that held the water back. So the Ana maqkiu could not find Manabush. Therefore they gave up the search just as the water began to fill Badger’s burrow. So Manabush and Badger returned above ground.

Now the underground people carried their chiefs to a wigwam. They said to an old woman, “Take care of them.” Then Manabush followed them. He met the old woman. He took her skin and hid himself in it. So he went into the wigwam. He killed both the Bear chiefs. Then he took the skins of the bears. When he came out of the wigwam he shook a network of basswood twigs, so that the Ana maqkiu might know he had been there.

At once they pursued him. Water poured out of the earth in many places. A great flood came.

Manabush at once ran to the top of the highest mountain. The waters followed him closely. He climbed a great pine tree on the mountain top, but the waters soon reached him. Manabush said to the pine, “Grow twice as high.” At once it did so. Yet the waters rose higher. Manabush said again to the tree, “Grow twice as high.”

He said this four times, yet the waters kept rising [24] until they reached his arm pits. Then Manabush called to Kisha Manido for help. The Good Mystery at once commanded the waters to stop.

Manabush looked around. There were only a few animals in the water. He called, “Ho, Otter! Come to me and be my brother. Dive down into the water. Bring up some earth that I may make a new world.” Otter dived down into the water and was gone a long time. When he appeared again on the surface, Manabush saw he was drowned.

Then he called again, “Ho, Mink! Come to me and be my brother. Dive down into the water. Bring me some earth.” Then Mink dived into the water. He was gone a long time. He also was drowned.

Manabush looked about him again. He saw Muskrat. He called, “Ho, Muskrat! Come to me and be my brother. Dive down into the water. Bring me up earth from below.” Muskrat immediately dived into the water. He was gone a very long time. Then when he came up, Manabush went to him. In his paw was a tiny bit of mud. Then Manabush held Muskrat up, and blew on him, so he became alive again.

Then Manabush took the earth. He rubbed it between the palms of his hands and threw it out on the water. Thus a new world was made and trees appeared on it.

[25] Manabush told Muskrat that his tribe should always be numerous, and that wherever his people should live they should have enough to eat.

Then Manabush found Badger. To him he gave the skin of the Gray Bear chief. But he kept for himself the skin of the silvery White Bear chief.

[26]

ORIGIN OF FIRE

Menomini

WHILE Manabush was still a young man, he said to Nokomis, the Earth, “Grandmother, it is cold here and we have no fire. I shall go and get some.”

Nokomis said, “Oh, no! It is too dangerous.”

But Manabush said, “Yes, we must have fire.”

At once Manabush made a canoe of birch bark. Then he became a rabbit. So he started eastward, across the great water, to a land where lived an old man who had fire. He guarded the fire carefully so that people might not steal it.

Now the old man had two daughters. One day they came out of the sacred wigwam where the fire was kept. Behold! There was a little rabbit, wet and cold and trembling. They took it up at once in their arms. They carried it into the wigwam. They set it down near the fire.

So Manabush sat by the fire while the two girls were busy. The old man was asleep. Then Rabbit hopped nearer the fire. When he hopped, the whole earth [27] shook. The old man roused. He said, “My daughters, what has happened?”

The girls answered, “Nothing at all. We picked up a little wet rabbit and are letting him dry by the fire.” Then again the old man fell asleep. The girls were busy.

Suddenly Rabbit seized a stick of burning wood and ran out of the wigwam. He ran with great speed towards his canoe. The old man and the two girls followed him closely. But Rabbit reached his canoe and paddled quickly away, to the wigwam of Nokomis. He paddled so quickly that the fire stick burned fiercely. Sparks flew from it and burned Rabbit.

At once Rabbit and Nokomis gave fire to the Thunderers. They have had the care of fire ever since.

[28]

THE THUNDERERS AND THE ORIGIN OF FIRE

Menomini

WHEN the Great Mystery created the earth, he made also many manidos. Those of animal form were People of the Underground, and evil. But the bird manidos were Eagles and Hawks. They were the Thunderers. The golden eagle was the Thunder-which-no-one-could-see.

Now when Masha Manido, the Good Mystery, saw that Bear was still an animal, he permitted him to change his form. Thus Bear became an Indian, with light skin. All this happened near Menomini River, near where it empties into Green Bay. At this place also Bear first came out of the ground.


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