Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 33

[88] “You punished me last summer, but when winter comes I will show you how strong I am.”

The hunter knew it was Kon’s voice. He at once built another tepee, near the one in which he lived, and filled it full of firewood.

At last winter came again. When the hunter was in the forest one day, he heard Kon say: “Now I am coming to visit you, as I said I should. In four days I shall be at your tepee.”

When the hunter returned home, he made ready more firewood; he built a fire at the two sides of the tepee. After four days, everything became frozen. It was very cold. The hunter kept up the fires in the tepee. He took out all the extra fur robes to cover his wife and children. The cold became more severe. It was hard not to freeze.

On the fifth day, towards night, the hunter looked out from his tepee upon a frozen world. Then he saw a stranger coming. He looked like any other stranger, except that he had a very large head and an immense beard. When he came to the tepee, the hunter asked him in. He at once came in, but he would not go near either of the fires. This puzzled the hunter, and he began to watch the stranger.

It became colder and colder after the stranger had come into the tepee. The hunter added more wood to [89] each of the fires until they roared. The stranger seemed too warm. The hunter added more wood, and the stranger became warmer and warmer. Then the hunter saw that as he became warm, he seemed to shrink. At last his head and body were quite small. Then the hunter knew who the stranger guest was. It was Kon, the Cold. So he kept up his fires until Kon melted altogether away.




IN THE olden days, so they say, the Indians fought much. Always they followed the war trail. Then Gitche Manito, the Good Mystery, thought, “This is not well. My children should not always follow the war trail.” Therefore he called a great council. He called all the tribes together. Now this was on the upper Mississippi.

Gitche Manito stood on a great wall of red rock. On the green plain below him were the wigwams of his children. All the tribes were there.

Gitche Manito broke off a piece of the red rock. He made a pipe out of it. He made a pipe by turning it in his hands. Then he smoked the pipe, and the smoke made a great cloud in the sky.

He spoke in a loud voice. He said, “See, my people, this stone is red. It is red because it is the flesh of all tribes. Therefore can it be used only for a pipe of peace when you cease to follow the war trail. Therefore it is the Place of Peace. To all the tribes it belongs.”

[91] Then the cloud grew larger and Gitche Manito vanished in it.

Now therefore, because of the command of Gitche Manito, the Indians smoke the pipe of peace when they cease to follow the war trail. And because it is the Place of Peace, the tomahawk and the scalping knife are never lifted there.[18]

[18] On the Mountains of the Prairie,
On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
He the Master of Life descending,
On the red crags of the quarry,
Stood erect and called the nations,
Called the tribes of men together.
. . . .
“I am weary of your quarrels,
Weary of your wars and bloodshed,
Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
Of your wranglings and dissensions;
. . . .
Break the red stone from this quarry,
Mould and make it into Peace-pipes,
Take the reeds that grow beside you,
Deck them with your brightest feathers,
Smoke the calumet together.”




THUNDER had a Nest where a very small bird sits upon her eggs during fair weather. When an egg hatches, the skies are rent with bolts of thunder.




BEFORE there were any people on the earth, Gitche Manito hunted the buffalo. He killed them and cooked them before his camp fire on the Red Rocks, on the top of the Coteau des Prairies, the Mountain of the Prairies. So the blood of the buffaloes ran over the rocks and made them red.

Gitche Manito was then a very large bird. We can still see his tracks in the red stone. Now it happened a large snake crawled out of its hole to eat the eggs of the Bird. Then at once the egg hatched out in a clap of thunder.

Gitche Manito took a piece of stone to throw at the snake. He shaped it in his hands like to a man.

Now this man’s feet stood fast in the ground where he was. Thus he stayed for many ages; therefore he grew very old. He was older than a hundred men at the present time. At last another tree grew beside him. It grew a long while, until a snake bit off the roots. Then the two people left the pipestone quarry. They wandered away. They were the grandfathers of all the tribes.




A GREAT flood came. Then the tribes met on the Coteau des Prairies, on the Mountain of the Prairies, to get out of the way of the waters. Then the waters rose higher; thus the tribes were drowned. Gitche Manito made them into stone. Therefore the stone is red.

Now when the waters were rising, a young woman caught the foot of a large bird flying near. It was War-eagle. He carried her to the top of a large mountain. Thus she was saved. Then she married War-eagle.

Now all the tribes were drowned. Therefore the children of War-eagle and the Indian woman were the ancestors of all the Indians.