Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

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[57] hunt, or to plant corn. But first you must fast seven days.”

The people began to talk about it. They said, “Often we do not have enough to eat here. There he says there is plenty. We will go with him.”

So they fasted seven days. Then they left their village and went to the mountains.

Now the other tribes had heard what they had talked in their village. At once they sent messengers. But when the messengers met them, they had started towards the mountains and their hair was long and brown. Their nature was changing. This was because they had fasted seven days. But the Ani Tsagulin would not go back to their village. They said to the others:

“We are going where there is always plenty to eat. Hereafter we shall be called Yana, bears. When you are hungry, come into the woods and call us, and we will give you food to eat.”

So they taught these messengers how to call them and to hunt them. Because, even though they may seem to be killed, the Ani Tsagulin live forever.




ONCE an Ottawa hunter and his wife lived on the shores of Lake Michigan. Then the hunter went south, toward the end of the lake, to hunt. When he reached the lake[8] where he had caught beaver the year before, it was still covered with ice. Then he tapped the ice to find the thinner places where the beaver families lived. He broke holes at these weaker points in the ice, and went to his wigwam to get his traps.

[8] Between Milwaukee and Chicago, going south to where Chicago now stands.

Now the hunter’s wife chanced to pass one of these holes and she saw a beaver on the ice. She caught it by the tail and called to the hunter to come and kill it quickly, before it could get back into the water.

“No,” said the hunter, “if I kill this beaver, the others will become frightened. They will escape from the lake by other openings in the ice.”

Then the woman became angry, and they quarreled.

When the sun was near setting, the hunter went out [59] on the ice again, to set more traps. When he returned to his tepee, his wife had gone. He thought she had gone to make a visit. The next morning she had not returned, and he saw her footprints. So he followed her trail to the south. As he followed her trail, he saw that the footprints gradually changed. At last they became the trail of a skunk. The trail ended in a marsh, and many skunks were in that marsh.

Then he returned to his people. And he called the place, “The Place of the Skunk.”




[9] Schoolcraft gives the origin of the word Chicago, as follows:

Chi-cag The animal of the leek or wild onion.

Chi-cag-o-wunz The wild leek or pole-cat plant.

Chi-ca-go Place of the wild leek.

It would really seem, from the myths and the origin of the word, as given above, that the name originated from the great amount of skunk weed on the marshes now covered by the city.

POTAWATOMI Indians used to live in the marshes where Chicago now stands. They sent out word to the other tribes that hunting was good. Then the Menomini Indians went to the marshes for game. In the night their dogs barked much. But when the Menomini Indians reached the spot where the dogs barked, they found only skunks.




WHEN the daughter of Nokomis, the Earth, died, Nokomis wrapped her new baby in soft dry grass. She laid him on the ground under a large wooden bowl. Then she mourned four days for her daughter.

At the end of four days, Nokomis heard a sound in her wigwam. It came from the wooden bowl. Then she remembered. She took up the bowl. At once she saw a tiny white rabbit, with trembling pink ears. She took it up. She said, “Oh, my dear little Rabbit. Oh, my Manabush.” She took care of him.

One day Rabbit hopped across the wigwam. The earth shook. At once the evil underground spirits, the Ana maqkiu, said to one another, “What has happened? A great manido is born somewhere!” Immediately they began to plot against him.

In this way Manabush came to earth. He soon grew to be a young man.




[10] The Manabozho of the Ojibwa given by Longfellow as Hiawatha.

THE daughter of Nokomis, the Earth, is the mother of Manabush, who is also the Fire. Flint first grew up out of Nokomis, and was alone. Then Flint made a bowl and filled it with earth. Wabus, the Rabbit, came from the earth, and became a man. Thus was Manabush created.

Beneath the earth lived the Underground People, the enemies of Manabush. They were the Ana maqkiu who annoyed him constantly, and sought to destroy him.