Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 61




ONCE there dwelt in a village two sisters, who were the swiftest runners in the Menomini tribe. Towards the setting sun was another village, two days’ walk away.

The sisters wished to visit this village. They began to run at great speed. At noon they came to a hollow tree lying across the trail. In the snow on the ground, there, behold! lay the trail of Porcupine, leading to the hollow tree. One of them broke off a stick and began to poke into the log, that Porcupine might come out. She said, “Let’s have some fun with him.”

“No,” said the other sister, “he is a manido. We should leave him alone.”

But the girl with a stick poked into the hollow log until Porcupine came out. Then she caught him and pulled out his long quills and threw them in the snow. The other said, “No, it is cold. Porcupine will need his robe.”

At last the sisters ran on. The village was still far away.

[178] Now when they left Porcupine, he crawled up a tall pine tree until he reached the very top. Then he faced the north and began to shake his small rattle, singing in time to its sound.

Soon the sky darkened. Snow began to fall. Now the sisters could not run rapidly because of the deepening snow.

One looked back and saw Porcupine in the tree top, shaking his rattle. She said, “We must go back to our own village. I am afraid some harm will overtake us.”

The other answered, “No, let us go on. We need not fear Porcupine.” The snow became deeper, so they rolled up their blankets as they ran on.

When the sun followed the trail over the edge of the world, the sisters could not even see the village. Still they ran on. Then in the late evening they came to a stream which they knew was near the village.

Behold! It was dark. The snow was very deep. The sisters no longer had strength. They could hear voices in the village. They could not call loud enough to be heard. Thus they perished in the snow.

One should never harm Porcupine because he is a manido.




IN THE beginning, so they say, Dog was put on the mountain side and Wolf beside the fire. When winter came, Dog could not stand the cold, and drove Wolf away from the fire. Wolf ran into the mountains and he liked it so well that he has stayed there ever since.




ONCE when the Catfish were all together in one place in the water, the Catfish chief said, “I have often seen a moose come to the edge of the water to eat grass. Let us watch for him and kill him and eat him. He always comes when the sun is a little way up in the sky.”

The Catfish agreed to attack Moose. So they went to watch. They crept everywhere in among the grass and rushes when Moose came down to the water’s edge, slowly picking at the grass. All the tribe watched to see what the Catfish chief would do. He slipped slowly through the marshy grass to where Moose was standing. He thrust his spear into Moose’s leg.

Moose said, “Who has thrust a spear into my leg?” He looked down and saw the Catfish tribe. At once he began to trample upon them with his hoofs. He killed many, but others escaped and swam down the river.

Catfish still carry spears, but their heads are flat, because Moose tramped them down in the mud.




THERE was a large camp in which Miqkano, the Turtle, took up his abode. He built a wigwam but he had no one to keep house for him. He thought he needed a wife.

Now Turtle found a young woman whom he liked. He said, “I want you to be my wife.”

She said, “How are you going to provide for me? You cannot keep up with the rest of the people when they move.”

Turtle replied, “I can keep up with the best of your people.”

Then the young woman wanted to put him off. She said, “Oh, well, I will marry you in the spring.”

Turtle was vexed with this. At last he said, “I shall go to war and take some captives. When I return in the spring, I shall expect you to marry me.”

Then Turtle prepared to go on the war path. He called all his friends, the Turtles, to him. He left camp, followed by a throng of curious Indians. The [182] young woman he wanted to marry laughed as the Turtles moved away. They were so very slow.

Turtle was vexed again. He said, “In four days from now you will surely mourn for me because I shall be at a great distance from you.”

“Why,” said the girl, laughing, “in four days from this time you will scarcely be out of sight.”

Turtle immediately corrected himself, and said, “I did not mean four days, but four years. Then I shall return.”

Now the Turtles started off. They traveled slowly on until one day they found a great tree lying across their trail.

Turtle said, “This we cannot pass unless we go around it. That would take too long. What shall we do?”