Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 66

Then the hunters took these strange creatures to their camp. They watched them. In the day, they were only balls of gray fur; only when the breeze stirred their fur, then sparks flew out. At night they grew bright and shone like stars.

They kept very quiet. They did not stir, so the hunters did not fasten them. One night they suddenly rose from the ground like balls of fire. They went above the tops of the trees, and then higher until they reached the Sky-land. So the hunters knew they were stars.




WHEN a star falls from the sky it leaves a fiery trail. It does not die. Its shade goes back to its own place to shine again. The Indians sometimes find the small stars where they have fallen in the grass.




IN THE Land of the North Wind live the manabaiwok, the giants of whom our old people tell.

The manabaiwok are our friends, but we do not see them any more. They are great hunters and fishermen. Whenever they come out with their torches to spear fish, we know it because the sky is bright over that place.




A LITTLE boy named Ustapu was one day lying on the shore of a lake. His people had just reached the shore from the prairies, but the wind was too high for them to cross.

As he lay there, he suddenly saw another boy fanning himself with a fan of turkey wings. This was the boy who made the West Wind. Ustapu said to his tribe, “I can break the arm of the boy who makes West Wind.” But they laughed at him. He took a shell and threw it at the boy and struck his left arm.

Therefore when the west wind is high, the Indians say that the boy is using his strong arm. When the west wind is a gentle breeze, they say he is using his injured arm. Before that, the west wind had always been so strong it was very disagreeable, because Wind-maker could use both arms. Now it is much gentler.

The Indians think this boy also made the other winds.




AT ONE time an orphan boy whose uncle was very unkind to him ran away. He ran a long way. He ran until night. Then because he was afraid of wild animals, he climbed into a tree in the forest. It was a high pine tree, and he climbed into the forked branches of it.

A person came to him from the upper sky. He said, “Follow me. Step in my trail. I have seen how badly you are treated.” Then at once as the boy stepped in his trail, he rose higher and higher into the upper sky. Then the person put twelve arrows into his hands. He said, “There are evil manitoes in the sky. Go to war against them. Shoot them with your bow and arrows.”

The boy went into the northern part of the upper sky. Soon he saw a manito and shot at him. But that one’s magic was too strong. Therefore the shot failed. There was only a single streak of lightning in the northern sky, yet there was no storm, and not even a cloud.