MS/Lakes: Manabush and His Brother

You meant Manabush in an earlier story — The Great Flood — in which Manabush confronted the manidoes who killed his brother; they are called the "Underground People" in this story.

[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 Coming of Manabush

WHEN the daughter of Nokomis, the Earth, died, Nokomis wrapped her new baby in soft dry grass. She laid him on the ground under a large wooden bowl. Then she mourned four days for her daughter.

At the end of four days, Nokomis heard a sound in her wigwam. It came from the wooden bowl. Then she remembered. She took up the bowl. At once she saw a tiny white rabbit, with trembling pink ears. She took it up. She said, “Oh, my dear little Rabbit. Oh, my Manabush.” She took care of him.

One day Rabbit hopped across the wigwam. The earth shook.

At once the evil underground spirits, the Anamaqkiu, said to one another, “What has happened? A great manido is born somewhere!” Immediately they began to plot against him.

In this way Manabush came to earth. He soon grew to be a young man.

The Story of Manabush and Wolf-Brother

THE daughter of Nokomis, the Earth, is the mother of Manabush, who is also the Fire. Flint first grew up out of Nokomis, and was alone. Then Flint made a bowl and filled it with earth. Wabus, the Rabbit, came from the earth, and became a man. Thus was Manabush created.

Beneath the earth lived the Underground People, the enemies of Manabush. They were the Anamaqkiu who annoyed him constantly and sought to destroy him.

Now Manabush shaped a piece of flint to make an axe. While he was rubbing it on a rock, he heard the rock make sounds:

Ke ka ke ka ke ka ke ka
Goss goss goss goss

He soon understood what the rock was saying: that he was alone on the earth. That he had neither father, mother, brother, nor sister. This is what Flint said while Manabush was rubbing it upon the rock.

While he was thinking of this, he heard something coming. It was Mokquai, the Wolf. He said to Manabush, “Now you have a brother, for I, too, am alone. We shall live together and I will hunt for you.”

Manabush said, “I am glad to see you, my brother. Therefore I shall make you like myself.” So he made him a man.

Then Manabush and his brother moved away to the shore of a lake and there built a wigwam. Manabush told his brother of the evil spirits, the Underground People, who lived beneath the water. He said, “Never go into the water, and never cross on the ice.”

Now one day Wolf-brother went a-hunting. It was late when he started back. He found himself on the shore of the lake, just opposite the wigwam. He could see it clearly. He did not want to make a long journey around by the lake shore; therefore he began to cross on the ice. When he reached the middle of the lake, the ice broke. The Underground People pulled him under the water and he was drowned.

Now Manabush knew this. He mourned four days for Wolf-brother. On the fifth day, while he was following the hunting trail, he saw him approaching.

Wolf-brother said, “My fate will be the fate of all our people. They will all die, but after four days they will return.” Then Manabush saw it was only the shade of his brother.

Then he said, “My brother, return to the place of the setting sun. You are now called Naqpote. You will have charge of the dead.”

The Wolf-shade said, “If I go there, and others follow me, we shall not be able to return when we leave this place.”

Manabush again spoke. He said, “Go, Naqpote. Prepare a wigwam for others. Build a large fire that they may be guided to it. When they arrive there must be a wigwam for them.”

Thus Naqpote left the earth. He lives in the land of the shades, in the country of the setting sun, where the earth is cut off.

(700 words)

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