Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 25

Manabozho thought, “It is very strange I know so little and grandmother is so wise. I wonder if I have any father or mother.” He went back to the wigwam. He was very silent.

“What is the matter?” said Nokomis.

Manabozho asked, “Have I no father or mother?”

Now his mother had died when he was a very little baby, but Nokomis did not want to tell him. At last she said, “West is your father. He has three brothers. They are North, East, and South. They have great [66] power. They travel on mighty wings. Your mother is not alive.”

Manabozho said, “I will visit my father,” but he meant to make war on him because he had learned that his father had not been kind to his mother and he meant to punish him.

Manabozho started on his journey. He traveled very rapidly. He went very far at each step. So at last he met his father, West, on the top of a high mountain. West was glad to see his son. Manabozho pretended to be glad.

They talked much. One day the son asked, “What are you most afraid of on earth?”

“Nothing,” said West.

Manabozho said, “Oh, yes, there must be something.”

At last West said, “There is a black stone on earth. I am afraid of that. If it should strike me, it would injure me.” West said this was a great secret.

One day he asked Manabozho, “What are you most afraid of?”

“Nothing,” was the answer.

“Oh, yes, there must be something you are afraid of,” said West.

The son said, “Ie-ee Ie-ee—it is—it is—” He seemed afraid to mention it.

[67] West said, “Don’t be afraid!” Then at last his son said, “It is the root of the apukwa, the bulrush.”

They quarreled because West had not been kind to the mother of Manabozho.

Some days later they quarreled. Manabozho said, “I will get some of the black rock.”

“Oh, no! Do not do so,” cried West.

“Oh, yes!” said his son.

West said at once, “I will get some of the apukwa root.”

“Oh, no!” cried Manabozho, pretending to be afraid. “Do not! Do not!”

“Oh, yes!” said West.

Manabozho at once went out and brought to his father’s wigwam a large piece of black rock. West pulled up and brought in some bulrush roots. Manabozho threw the black rock at West. It broke in pieces. Therefore you may see pieces lying around even to this day. West struck his son with the bulrush root. Thus they fought. But at last Manabozho drove West far over the plains to the Darkening Land. So West came to the edge of the world, where the earth is broken off short. Then he cried, “Stop, my son! I am immortal, therefore I cannot be killed. I will remain here on the edge of the Earth-plain. You must go about doing good. You must kill monsters and [68] serpents and all evil things. All the kingdoms of the earth are divided, but at the last you may sit with my brother North.”[11]

[11] Back retreated Mudjekeewis,
Rushing westward o’er the mountains,
Stumbling westward down the mountains,
Three whole days retreated fighting,
Still pursued by Hiawatha
To the doorways of the West-Wind,
To the portals of the Sunset ...
. . . .
“Hold,” at length cried Mudjekeewis,
“Hold, my son, my Hiawatha!
’Tis impossible to kill me,
For you cannot kill the immortal.”