MS/Lakes: The Lone Lightning

This story will give you something to think about the next time you see lightning; think about the path of an arrow!

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Mississippi Valley / Great Lakes unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1914).

The Lone Lightning
Ojibwa

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.

Eleven times the boy thus failed to kill a manito, and thus he had but one arrow left. He held this in his hands a long while, looking around. Now these evil manitoes had very strong medicine. They could change their form in a moment. But they feared the boy’s arrows because they were also strong magic. And because they had been given to him by a good manito, they had power to kill.

At last the boy saw the chief of the evil manitoes. He drew his bow and shot his last arrow, but the chief saw it coming. At once he changed himself into a rock. And the arrow buried itself in a crack of the rock. The chief was very angry. He cried, “Now your arrows are all gone! And because you have dared to shoot at me, you shall become the trail of your arrow.”

Thus at once he changed the boy into Nazhik-a-wawa, the Lone Lightning.



(400 words)




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