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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Ojibwa Myths and Legends

Hi dear friends and followers, today I introduce to you the Native American Ojibwe Myths and Legends

Perhaps you have heard of the Ojibwe, the original residents of the northern half of the state of Minnesota. It's that place that borders on Lake Superior and has the headwaters of the Mississippi River in it. It's possible that you have heard of the Ojibwe as the Chippewa. They are one and the same.

They occupied a huge area of North America, from Minnesota and Wisconsin, into Ontario, and all the way to western Quebec. They might not have been the dominant society in the regions but they certainly left their mark.

Our last legends, those of the Menominee, spoke of Manabush, the god-trickster, and his adventures among humans. Manabush is a part of the Ojibwe mythology and is called Nanabozho. In the legends presented here, he seems to be more of a god than a trickster, setting things right with animals, nature, and men. If the second legend seems familiar that's because the Iroquois have one that is similar.

The third legend speaks of a time when humans and animals spoke with one another. There is also mention of the hole in the sky, and the word, "mitewin." The hole in the sky occurs in Iroquois and other myths

I could not find a translation or interpretation for "mitewin." I can only surmise that it means something like "life" or "living."

"Gitchee manitou" is the Ojibwe name for the Supreme Being, the Creator of All Things.

"Anishinabe" is what the Ojibe call themselves - The Original People.

Why Porcupine Has Quills

Long ago, when the world was young, porcupines had no quills. One day when Porcupine was in the woods, Bear came along and wanted to eat him. But Porcupine climbed to the top of a tree and was safe. The next day, when Porcupine was under a hawthorn tree, he noticed how the thorns pricked him. He had an idea. He broke off some of the branches of the hawthorn and put them on his back. Then he went into the woods and waited for Bear. When Bear sprang on Porcupine, the little animal just curled himself up in a ball. Bear had to go away, for the thorns pricked him very much.

Nanabozho saw what happened. He called Porcupine to him and asked, "How did you know that trick?"

"I am always in danger when Bear comes along," replied Porcupine. "When I saw those thorns, I thought I would use them."

So Nanabozho took some branches from the hawthorn tree and peeled off the bark until they were white. Then he put some clay on the back of the Porcupine, stuck the thorns in it and made it a part of his skin.

"Now go into the woods," said Nanabozho. Porcupine obeyed, and Nanabozho hid himself behind a tree. Soon Wolf came along. He sprang on Porcupine and then ran away, howling. Bear came along, but he did not get near Porcupine. He was afraid of those thorns. That is why all porcupines have quills today.

Manabozho and the Maple Trees

A very long time ago, when the world was new, Gitchee Manitou made things so that life was very easy for the people. There was plenty of game and the weather was always good and the maple trees were filled with thick sweet syrup. Whenever anyone wanted to get maple syrup from the trees, all they had to do was break off a twig and collect it as it dripped out.

One day, Manabozho went walking around. "I think I'll go see how my friends the Anishinabe are doing," he said. So, he went to a village of Indian people. But, there was no one around. So, Manbozho looked for the people. They were not fishing in the streams or the lake. They were not working in the fields hoeing their crops. They were not gathering berries. Finally, he found them. They were in the grove of maple trees near the village. They were just lying on their backs with their mouths open, letting maple syrup drip into their mouths.

"This will NOT do!" Manabozho said. "My people are all going to be fat and lazy if they keep on living this way."

So, Manabozho went down to the river. He took with him a big basket he had made of birch bark. With this basket, he brought back many buckets of water. He went to the top of the maple trees and poured water in, so that it thinned out the syrup. Now, thick maple syrup no longer dripped out of the broken twigs. Now what came out was thin and watery and just barely sweet to the taste.

"This is how it will be from now on," Manabozho said. "No longer will syrup drip from the maple trees. Now there will only be this watery sap. When people want to make maple syrup they will have to gather many buckets full of the sap in a birch bark basket like mine. They will have to gather wood and make fires so they can heat stones to drop into the baskets. They will have to boil the water with the heated stones for a long time to make even a little maple syrup. Then my people will no longer grow fat and lazy. Then they will appreciate this maple syrup Gitchee Manitou made available to them. Not only that, this sap will drip only from the trees at a certain time of the year. Then it will not keep people from hunting and fishing and gathering and hoeing in the fields.

This is how it is going to be," Manabozho said.

And, that is how it is to this day.

The Two Foolish Girls Who Married Stars
At the time of which my story speaks, people were camping just as we are here. In the winter time they used birch bark wigwams. All the animals could then. talk together. Two girls, who were very foolish, talked foolishly and were in no respect like the other girls of their tribe, made their bed out-of-doors, and slept right out under the stars. The very fact that they slept outside during the winter proves how foolish they were.

One of these girls asked the other, "With what star would you like to sleep, the white one or the red one?" The other girl answered, "I'd like to sleep with the red star." "Oh, that's all right," said the first one, "I would like to sleep with the white star. He's the younger; the red is the older." Then the two girls fell asleep.

When they awoke, they found themselves in another world, the star world. There were four of them there, the two girls and the two stars who had become men. The white star was very, very old and was gray-headed, while the younger was red-headed. He was the red star. The girls stayed a long time in this star world, and the one who had chosen the white star was very sorry, for he was so old.

There was an old woman up in this world who sat over a hole in the sky, and, whenever she moved, she showed them the hole and said, "That's where you came from." They looked down through and saw their people playing down below, and then the girls grew very sorry and very homesick. One evening, near sunset, the old woman moved a little way from the hole.

The younger girl heard the noise of the mitewin down below. When it was almost daylight, the old woman sat over the hole again and the noise of mitewin stopped; it was her spirit that made the noise. She was the guardian of the mitewin.

One morning the old woman told the girls, "If you want to go down where you came from, we will let you down, but get to work and gather roots to make a string-made rope, twisted. The two of you make coils of rope as high as your heads when you are sitting. Two coils will be enough." The girls worked for days until they had accomplished this. They made plenty of rope and tied it to a big basket. They then got into the basket and the people of the star world lowered them down. They descended right into an Eagle's nest, but the people above thought the girls were on the ground and stopped lowering them. They were obliged to stay in the nest, because they could do nothing to help themselves.

Said one, "We'll have to stay here until some one comes to get us."

Bear passed by. The girls cried out, "Bear, come and get us. You are going to get married sometime. Now is your chance!" Bear thought, "They are not very good-looking women." He pretended to climb up and then said, "I can't climb up any further." And he went away, for the girls didn't suit him.

Next came Lynx. The girls cried out again, "Lynx, come up and get us. You will go after women some day!" Lynx answered, "I can't, for I have no claws," and he went away.

Then an ugly-looking man, Wolverine, passed and the girls spoke to him. "Hey, wolverine, come and get us." Wolverine started to climb up, for he thought it a very fortunate thing to have these women and was very glad. When he reached them, they placed their hair ribbons in the nest. Then Wolverine agreed to take one girl at a time, so he took the first one down and went back for the next. Then Wolverine went away with his two wives and enjoyed himself greatly, as he was ugly and nobody else would have him.

They went far into the woods, and then they sat down and began to talk. "Oh!" cried one of the girls, "I forgot my hair ribbon." Then Wolverine said, "I will run back for it." And he started off to get the hair ribbons.

Then the girls hid and told the trees, whenever Wolverine should come back and whistle for them, to answer him by whistling. Wolverine soon returned and began to whistle for his wives, and the trees all around him whistled in answer. Wolverine, realizing that he had been tricked, gave up the search and departed very angry.

Thank you again for dropping by and taking a few minutes to read Some Ojibwa Myths and Legends. I would appreciate knowing what your thoughts are on it. Thank you and have a wonderful Tuesday

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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