Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 19

“That’s right, brothers! Sing as loudly as you can,” shouted Manabush.

Soon he seized another Swan by the neck. Then he seized a Goose. At last there were not so many birds singing. Then a tiny duck opened his eyes to see why. At once he shrieked, “Manabush is killing us! Manabush is killing us!” And he started for the water, followed by the rest of the birds.

Now this little duck was a poor runner. Manabush quickly caught him and said, “I won’t kill you; but you shall always have red eyes. And you shall be the laughing stock of all the birds.”

And with that Manabush pushed him so hard, yet holding on to his tail, that the duck went far out into the middle of the lake and his tail came off. Because of that he has red eyes and no tail, even to this day.

[47] Then Manabush gathered up the birds he had killed and took them out on the sand spit. He buried them in the sand and built a fire over them to cook them, but he left sticking out the heads of some and the legs of others so he would know where they were.

But Manabush was tired. He slapped his thigh and said, “You watch the birds and awaken me if anyone comes near them.” He stretched out on the sand with his back to the fire and went to sleep.

After awhile, Indians came along in their canoes. They saw the fire and the roasting birds. They went ashore on the sand pit. They pulled out the birds and ate them. But they put back into the sand the heads and feet, just as they had found them. So they departed.

Afterwards, Manabush awoke, very hungry. He pulled at the head of a swan. Behold! The head came out, but there was no bird. He pulled at the feet of a goose. No bird was there. So he tried every head and foot; but the birds were gone.

He slapped his thigh again and asked, “Who has been here? Someone has robbed me of my feast. I told you to watch.”

His thigh answered, “I fell asleep also. I was very tired. See! There are people moving away in their canoes! They are dirty and poorly dressed.”

[48] Then Manabush ran to the point of the sand spit. He could see the people who were just disappearing around a point. He shouted, “Winnebago! Winnebago!” Therefore the Menomini have always called their thievish neighbors Winnebago.




ONE day when Manabush was passing by a high mountain, a fragrant odor came to him from a crevice in the cliffs. He went closer. Then he knew that in the mountain was a giant who was the Keeper of the Tobacco. He entered the mouth of a cave, going through a long tunnel to the center of the mountain.