Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 16

“It is enough. You have conquered.” He sat himself down in the wigwam. “The Great Mystery has granted your wish,” he said. “Tomorrow when I come, after we have wrestled and you have thrown me down, you must strip off my garments. Clear the earth of roots and weeds and bury my body. Then leave this place; but come often and keep the earth soft, and pull up the weeds. Let no grass or weeds grow on my grave.” Then he went away, but first he said, “Touch no food until after we wrestle tomorrow.”

The next morning the father brought food to his son; it was the seventh day of fasting. But the boy refused until the evening should come.

Again came the handsome youth from the Sky-land. They wrestled long, until he fell to the earth. Then the Indian boy took off the green and yellow robes, and buried his friend in soft, fresh earth. Thus the vision had come to him.

Then the boy returned to his father’s lodge, for his [36] fasting was ended. Yet he remembered the commands of the Sky-land stranger. Often he visited the grave, keeping it soft and fresh, pulling up weeds and grass. And when people were saying that the Summer-maker would soon go away and the Winter-maker come, the boy went with his father to the place where his wigwam had stood in the forest while he fasted. There they found a tall and graceful plant, with bright silky hair, and green and yellow robes.

“It is Mondamin,” said the boy. “It is Mondamin, the corn.”[6]

[6] Then Nokomis, the old woman,
Spake, and said to Minnehaha:
“’Tis the Moon when leaves are falling;
All the wild rice has been gathered,
And the maize is ripe and ready;
Let us gather in the harvest,
Let us wrestle with Mondamin,
Strip him of his plumes and tassels,
Of his garments green and yellow.”




WHEN the Ottawas lived on the Manatoline Islands, in Lake Huron, they had a very strong medicine man. His name was Mass-wa-wei-nini, Living Statue. Then the Iroquois came and drove the Ottawas away. They fled to Lac Court Oreilles, between Lake Superior and the Mississippi River. But Living Statue remained in the land of his people. He remained to watch the Iroquois, so that his people might know of their plans. His two sons stayed with him.

At night, the medicine man paddled softly around the island, in his canoe. He paddled through the water around the beautiful green island of his people. One morning he rose early to go hunting. His two boys were asleep. So Living Statue followed the game trail through the forest; then he came to a wide green plain. He watched keenly for the enemy of his people. Then he began to cross the plain.

When Living Statue was in the middle of the plain, [38] he saw a small man coming towards him. He wore a red plume in his hair.

“Where are you going?” asked Red Plume.

“I am hunting,” said Living Statue.

Red Plume drew out his pipe and they smoked together.

“Where does your strength come from?” asked Red Plume.

“I have the strength common to all men,” said Living Statue.

“We must wrestle,” said Red Plume. “If you can make me fall, you will cry, ‘I have thrown you, Wa ge me na!’”

Now when they had finished smoking, they began to wrestle. They struggled long. Red Plume was small, but his medicine was strong. Living Statue grew weaker and weaker, but at last, by a sudden effort, he threw Red Plume. At once he cried, “I have thrown you, Wa ge me na!”

Immediately Red Plume vanished. When Living Statue looked at the place where he had fallen, he saw only Mondamin, an ear of corn. It was crooked. There was a red tassel at the top.

Someone said, “Take off my robes. Pull me in pieces. Throw me over the plain. Take the spine on which I grew and throw it in shady places near the [39] edge of the wood. Return after one moon. Tell no one.”

Mass-wa-wei-nini did as the voice directed. Then he returned into the woods. He killed a deer. So he returned to his wigwam.

Now after one moon, he returned to the plain. Behold! There were blades and spikes of young corn. And from the broken bits of spine, grew long pumpkin vines.