Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 8

[9] The Indian said, “I do not know how.”

Therefore the creator made the fire. Then he said, “Put the meat on the fire. Roast it.”

The Indian did this, but he did not turn the stick. Therefore it was burned on one side and not roasted on the other. So the creator showed him how to turn the stick.

Then the Great Mystery called all the Indians up out of the earth. They came out by tribes. To each tribe he gave a chief. Then he made a head chief over all the tribes, who should teach them what they should do.

The Great Mystery also made Good and Evil. They were brothers. One made pleasant things grow. The other spent all his time spoiling his brother’s work. He made stony places, and rocks, and made bad fruits to grow. He made great trouble among men. He annoyed them very much. Good had to go back and do his work over again. It kept him very busy. Then Good decided to destroy Evil.

Therefore Good proposed to run a race with Evil. When they met, Good said, “Tell me first—what do you most fear?”

“Bucks’ horns,” said Evil. “What do you most fear?”

“Indian grass braided,” said Good.

[10] Then Evil at once went to his grandmother, who braided Indian grass. He got a great deal of it. He put the grass in the trail, and put it in the limbs of the trees along the trail where Good was to run. Good also filled the path, where his brother Evil was to run, with bucks’ horns.

They said, “Who shall run first?” They argued about it. At last Good said, “Well, I will, because I proposed the race.” So he started off and Evil followed him. When Good became tired, he pulled down a strand of braided green grass and chewed it. Thus he ran rapidly. But Evil became tired. Yet Good would not stop until he reached the end of the trail.

The next day Evil started on his trail. Everywhere he was stopped by the branches of bucks’ horns. They greatly annoyed him. He said to Good, “Let me stop.” Good said, “No, you must go on.” At last, towards evening, Evil fell in the trail. At once Good took bucks’ horns and killed him.

Then Good returned to his grandmother. She was very angry. She loved Evil. That night Good was awakened by a sound. The spirit of Evil was talking with his grandmother. Then when Evil knew Good was awake, he said, “Let me into the wigwam.” But Good always said, “No.”

[11] At last Evil said, “I go to the northwest land. You will never see me more. Those who follow me will never come back. Death will keep them.”




[3] Obviously influenced by missionary teaching, but a most curious myth.

KUTI MANKDCE, the One Above, made people. He made one person, an Indian. While the Indian was sleeping, he made a woman. Then the One Above went away to find food for the man and woman.

After he left, something was standing there upright. It was a tree. A person said, “Why do you not eat the fruit of this tree? I think he made it for you to eat.”

So the woman pulled off some fruit and stewed it and she and the Indian ate it. Shortly after, the One Above returned. Now he had gone away to find food for them. When he found they had stewed this fruit, he was very angry. He said, “Work for yourself. Find your own food, else you shall be hungry.”

When the One Above had been a long time gone, he sent back a letter to the Indians. But the Indians did not receive it, because the Americans took it. That is why Americans know how to read and write.

[13] Now after the letter came, the people found a very clear stream of water. The American found it first and lay down in it; therefore he is very white all over. Next came the Frenchman, but the water was not so clear. Then came the Indians; therefore Indians are not of light complexion, because they did not find the water when it was clear. Afterwards came the Spaniard, and he was not white, because the water had become very muddy.

Some time after the Negro was made. The One Above thought he should attend to work, so he made the Negro’s nose flat. And by this time the water was very muddy, and the stream was very low. So the Negro washed only the palms of his hands. Therefore Negroes are very black except on the palms of their hands.




WHEN Gitche Manito, the Good Mystery, created the earth-plain, it was bare, without trees or shrubs. Then he created two Indians, a man and a woman. Now when there were ten persons on the earth-plain, death happened. The first man lamented, and went back and forth over the plain, complaining.

He said, “Why did the Good Spirit send death so soon?” The Good Mystery heard this. He called a great council. He said, “Man is not happy. I have made him very frail, therefore death happens. What shall we do?”

The council lasted six days, and there was not a breath of air to disturb the waters. The seventh was the nageezhik, the excellent day. The sky was blue and there were no clouds. On that day Gitche Manito sent down a messenger to earth. In his right hand was a piece of white hare’s skin, and in the left the head of a white-headed eagle. On each was the blue stripe of peace.

[15] The messenger said, “Gitche Manito sent me. He has heard your words. You must obey his commands.” Then he gave to the Indians the hare’s skin, the eagle’s head, and a white otter skin with the blue stripe of peace.