Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 63



LONG ago, an Ojibwa Indian and his wife lived on the shores of Lake Huron. They had one son, who was named “O-na-wut-a-qui-o, He-that-catches-the-clouds.”

Now the boy was very handsome, and his parents thought highly of him, but he refused to make the fast of his tribe. His father gave him charcoal; yet he would not blacken his face. They refused him food; but he wandered along the shore, and ate the eggs of birds. One day his father took from him by force the eggs of the birds. He took them violently. Then he threw charcoal to him. Then did the boy blacken his face and begin his fast.

Now he fell asleep. A beautiful woman came down through the air and stood beside him. She said, “I have come for you. Step in my trail.”

At once he began to rise through the air. They passed through an opening in the sky, and he found himself on the Sky-plain. There were flowers on the beautiful plain, and streams of fresh, cold water. The [186] valleys were green and fair. Birds were singing. The Sky-land was very beautiful.

There was but one lodge, and it was divided into two parts. In one end were bright and glowing robes, spears, and bows and arrows. At the other end, the garments of a woman were hung.

The woman said, “My brother is coming and I must hide you.” So she put him in a corner and spread over him a broad, shining belt. When the brother came in, he was very richly dressed, and glowing. He took down his great pipe and his tobacco.

At last, he said, “Nemissa, my elder sister, when will you end these doings? The Greatest of Spirits has commanded that you should not take away the children of earth. I know of the coming of O-na-wut-a-qui-o.” Then he called out, “Come out of your hiding. You will get hungry if you remain there.” When the boy came out, he gave him a handsome pipe of red sandstone, and a bow and arrows.

So the boy stayed in the Sky-land. But soon he found that every morning, very early, the brother left the wigwam. He returned in the evening, and then the sister left it and was gone all night. One day he said to the brother, “Let me go with you.” “Yes,” said the brother, and the next morning they started off.

The two traveled a long while over a smooth plain. [187] It was a very long journey. He became hungry. At last he said, “Is there no game?”

“Wait until we reach the place where I always stop to eat,” said the brother. So they journeyed on. At last they came to a place spread over with fine mats. It was near a hole in the Sky-plain.

The Indian looked down through the hole. Below were great lakes and the villages of his people. He could see in one place feasting and dancing, and in another a war party silently stealing upon the enemy. In a green plain young warriors were playing ball.