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and his mother a great-granddaughter of the moon. His character is worthy of such a parentage. Sometimes he is a wolf, a bird, or a gigantic hare, surrounded by a court of quadrupeds; sometimes he appears in human shape, majestic in stature and wondrous in endowment, —a mighty magician, a destroyer of serpents and evil manitous; sometimes he is a vain and treacherous imp, full of childish whims and petty trickery, the butt and victim of men, beasts, and spirits. His powers of transformation are without limit; his curiosity and malice are insatiable; and of the numberless legends of which he is the hero, the greater part are as trivial as they are incoherent.1 It does not appear that Manabozho was ever an object of worship; yet, despite his absurdity, tradition declares him to be chief among the manitous, in short, the "Great Spirit."2 It was he who restored the world, submerged by a deluge. He was hunting in company with a certain wolf, who was his brother, or, by other accounts, his grandson, when his quadruped relative fell through the ice of a frozen lake, and was at once devoured by 1 Mr. Schoolcraft has collected many of these tales. See his Algic Researches, vol. i. Compare the stories of Messou, given by Le Jeune (Relations, 1633, 1634), and the account of Nanabush, by Edwin James, in his notes to Tanner's Narrative of Captivity and Adventures during a Thirty Years' Residence among the Indians; also the account of the Great Hare, in the Memoire of Nicolas Perrot, chaps, i., ii.
■i "Presque toutes les Nations Algonquines ont donné le nom de Grand Liivre au Premier Esprit, quelques-uns l'appellenl Michabou (Manabozho)." — Charlevoix. Journal Historique, 344.
certain serpents lurking in the depths of the waters. Manabozho, intent on revenge, transformed himself into the stump of a tree, and by this artifice surprised and slew the king of the serpents, as he basked with his followers in the noontide sun. The serpents, who were all manitous, caused, in their rage, the waters of the lake to deluge the earth. Manabozho climbed a tree, which, in answer to his entreaties, grew as the flood rose around it, and thus saved him from the vengeance of the evil spirits. Submerged to the neck, he looked abroad on the waste of waters, and at length descried the bird known as the loon, to whom he appealed for aid in the task of restoring the world. The loon dived in search of a little mud, as material for reconstruction, but could not reach the bottom. A musk-rat made the same attempt, but soon reappeared floating on his back, and apparently dead. Manabozho, however, on searching his paws, discovered in one of them a particle of the desired mud, and of this, together with the body of the loon, created the world anew.1 There are various forms of this tradition, in some of which Manabozho appears, not as the restorer, but as the creator of the world, forming mankind from the carcasses of beasts, birds, and fishes.2 Other 1 This is a form of the story still current among the remoter Algonquins. Compare the story of Messou, in Le Jeune, Relation, 1633,16. It is substantially the same.
2 In the beginning of all things, Manabozho, in the form of the Great Hare, was on a raft, surrounded by animals who acknowledged him as their chief. No land could be seen. Anxious to ATAHOCAN.
stories represent him as marrying a female musk-rat, by whom he became the progenitor of the human race.1 Searching for some higher conception of supernatural existence, we find, among a portion of the primitive Algonquins, traces of a vague belief in a spirit dimly shadowed forth under the name of Atahocan, to whom it does not appear that any attributes were ascribed or any worship offered, and of whom the Indians professed to know nothing whatever;2 but there is no evidence that this belief extended beyond certain tribes of the Lower St. Lawrence. Others saw a supreme manitou in the Sun.3 The Algonquins believed also in a malignant create the world, the Great Hare persuaded the beaver to dive for mud; but the adventurous diver floated to the surface senseless. The otter next tried, and failed like his predecessor. The musk-rat now offered himself for the desperate task. He plunged, and, after remaining a day and night beneath the surface, reappeared, floating on his back beside the raft, apparently dead, and with all his paws fast closed. On opening them, the other animals found in one of them a grain of sand, and of this the Great Hare created the world. — Perrot, Memnire, chap. i. 1 Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 16. The musk-rat is always a conspicuous figure in Algonquin cosmogony. It is said that Messou, or Manabozho, once gave to an Indian the gift of immortality, tied in a bundle, enjoining him never to open it. The Indian's wife, however, impelled by curiosity, one day cut the string: the precious gift flew out, and Indians have ever since been subject to death. — Le Jeune, Relation, 1634,13.
2 Le Jeune, Relation, 10*3, 10; Relation, 1634,13.
8 Biard, Relation, 1611, chap. viii. — This belief was very prevalent. The Ottawas, according to Ragueneau (Relation des Hurons, 1048,77), were accustomed to invoke the "Maker of Heaven "at their feasts; but they recognized as distinct persons the Maker of manitou, in whom the early missionaries failed not to recognize the Devil, but who was far less dreaded than his wife. She wore a robe made of the hair of her victims, for she was the cause of death; and she it was whom, by yelling, drumming, and stamping, they sought to drive away from the sick. Sometimes, at night, she was seen by some terrified squaw in the forest, in shape like a flame of fire; and when the vision was announced to the circle crouched around the lodge-fire, they burned a fragment of meat to appease the female fiend. The East, the West, the North, and the South were vaguely personified as spirits or manitous. Some of the winds, too, were personal existences. The West-Wind, as we have seen, was father of Manabozho. There was a Summer-Maker and a Winter-Maker; and the Indians tried to keep the latter at bay by throwing firebrands into the air. When we turn from the Algonquin family of tribes to that of the Iroquois, we find another cosmogony, and other conceptions of spiritual existence. While the earth was as yet a waste of waters, there was, according to Iroquois and Huron traditions, a heaven with lakes, streams, plains, and forests, inhabited by animals, by spirits, and, as some affirm, by human beings. Here a certain female spirit, named Ataentsic, the Earth, the Maker of Winter, the God of the Waters, and the Seven Spirits of the Wind. He says, at the same time, "The people of these countries have received from their ancestors no knowledge of a God;" and he adds, that there is no sentiment of religion in this invocation.
was once chasing a bear, which, slipping through a hole, fell down to the earth. Ataentsic's dog followed, when she herself, struck with despair, jumped after them. Others declare that she was kicked out of heaven by the spirit, her husband, for an amour with a man; while others, again, hold the belief that she fell in the attempt to gather for her husband the medicinal leaves of a certain tree. Be this as it may, the animals swimming in the watery waste below saw her falling, and hastily met in council to determine what should be done. The case was referred to the beaver. The beaver commended it to the judgment of the tortoise, who thereupon called on the other animals to dive, bring up mud, and place it on his back. Thus was formed a floating island, on which Ataentsic fell; and here, being pregnant, she was soon delivered of a daughter, who in turn bore two boys, whose paternity is unexplained. They were called Taouscaron and Jouskeha, and presently fell to blows, Jouskeha killing his brother with the horn of a stag. The back of the tortoise grew into a world full of verdure and life; and Jouskeha, with his grandmother, Ataentsic, ruled over its destinies.1 1 The above is the version of the story given by Brelieuf, Relation des Hurons, 103f!, 8(! (Cramoisy). No two Indians told it preeisely alike, though nearly all the Hurons and Iroquois agreed as to its essential points. Compare Vanderdonck, Cusick, Sagard, Mid other writers. According to Vanderdonck, Ataentsic became mother of a deer, a bear, and a wolf, by whom she afterwards bore all the other animals, mankind included. Brebeuf found also among the Hurons a tradition inconsistent with that of Ataentsic, and bearing a trace of Algonquin origin. It declares, that, in the beginning, a man, a fox, and a skunk found themselves together on