Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 27

[12] The Ojibwas have a similar myth.

AFTER his brother Wolf had died, Manabush looked about him. He found he was no longer alone on earth. There were many other people, the children of Nokomis. They were his aunts and uncles.

The evil manidoes annoyed the people very much. Therefore Manabush wished to destroy them. Therefore he went to the shores of the lake where they lived. He called to the waters to disappear. Four times he called out. At once the waters vanished. There lay the Ana maqkiu. They lay on the mud in the bottom of the lake. They looked like fishes. The chief lay near the shore. He was very large.

Manabush said to Great Fish, “I shall destroy you because you will not allow my people to come near the shore.” So he went towards Great Fish. But the smaller manidoes caused the waters to return. Thus they all escaped.

[70] Then Manabush went into the woods. He made a canoe of birch bark. He wanted to destroy Great Fish in the water. As he left the shore in his canoe, he began to sing, “Great Fish, come and swallow me.” Only the young fish came near. Manabush said scornfully, “I do not wish you. I want your chief to come and swallow me.” Great Fish was much annoyed. He darted forward and swallowed Manabush and his canoe.

Thus Manabush found himself in the Great Fish. He looked about him. Many of his people were there. Bear and Deer, Porcupine and Raven, Buffalo, Pine-tree Squirrel, and many others.

Manabush said to Buffalo, “My uncle, how did you get here? I never saw you near the water, but always on the prairie.”

Buffalo said, “I came near the lake to get some fresh green grass. Great Fish caught me.” And thus said all the animals. They said, “We came near the lake and Great Fish swallowed us.”

Then Manabush said, “We will now have to go to the shore of Nokomis, my grandmother. You will all have to help me.” At once they all began to dance around inside of Great Fish. Therefore he began to swim quickly towards shore. Manabush began to cut a hole over his head, so they could get out when Great [71] Fish reached the shore of Nokomis, the Earth. They sang a magic song. They sang, “I see the sky. I see the sky.” Pine Squirrel had a curious voice. He hopped around singing, “Sek-sek-sek-sek!” This was very amusing to the other people.

Great Fish thought, “I ought not to have swallowed that man. I must swim to the shore where Nokomis lives.” So he swam quickly until he reached the beach. Then Manabush cut a larger hole. Thus they all climbed out of Great Fish. The birds helped Manabush. They stood on the sides of Great Fish and picked the flesh from his bones.[13]

[13] And again the sturgeon, Nahma,
Heard the shout of Hiawatha,
Heard his challenge of defiance,
The unnecessary tumult,
Ringing far across the water.
. . . .
In his wrath he darted upward,
Flashing leaped into the sunshine,
Opened his great jaws and swallowed
Both canoe and Hiawatha.




NOW Manabush was going away. He went to Mackinac. When he reached there, he made a high, narrow rock, and this he leaned against the cliff. This rock is as high as an arrow can be shot from a bow. At this place he was seen by his people for the last time. Before he went, he talked with them.

Manabush said, “I am going away now. I have been badly treated by other people who live in the land about you. I shall go across a great water towards the rising sun, where there is a land of rocks. There I shall set up my wigwam. When you hold a mita-wiko-nik and are all together, you shall think of me. When you speak my name, I shall hear you. Whatever you ask, that I will do.”

Then Manabush spoke no more to his people. He entered the canoe. Then he went slowly over the great [73] water, to the land of rocks. He vanished from his people as he went towards the rising sun.[14]

[14] The Ojibwas say he went toward the setting sun.

Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,
In the purple mists of evening,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest wind, Keewaydin ...




THE uncles of Manabush, the people, used to visit a rock near Mackinac where the old men said Manabush was living. They built a long lodge there. They sang in their mita-wiko-nik there. Manabush heard them. Sometimes he came to them. He appeared as a little white rabbit, trembling, with pink ears, just as he had first appeared to Nokomis, his grandmother.




ONE day long after Manabush had gone away from his people, an Indian dreamed that he spoke to him. At daylight, he sought seven friends, chief men of the Mita-wit. They held a council together, and then rose and went in search of Manabush.

The Dreamer blackened his face.

On the shore of the Great Waters, they entered canoes, and paddled toward a rocky place in the Land of the Rising Sun. Very long they paddled over the water, until they reached the land where dwelt Manabush.

Soon they reached his wigwam. Manabush bade them enter. The door of the wigwam lifted and fell again as each one entered. When all were seated, Manabush said:

“My friends, why is it you have come so long a journey to see me? What is it you wish?”

All but one answered, at once: “Manabush, we [76] wish some hunting medicine; thus we may supply our people with much food.”