MS/Lakes: The Porcupine and the Two Sisters

This is not just any porcupine; it is a spirit being, a manido, as you have seen in other stories in this unit. So when the porcupine begins to shake his rattle and sing his song... watch out!

[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 Porcupine and the Two Sisters

ONCE there dwelt in a village two sisters who were the swiftest runners in the Menomini tribe. Towards the setting sun was another village, two days’ walk away.

The sisters wished to visit this village. They began to run at great speed. At noon they came to a hollow tree lying across the trail. In the snow on the ground, there, behold! lay the trail of Porcupine, leading to the hollow tree.

One of them broke off a stick and began to poke into the log, that Porcupine might come out. She said, “Let’s have some fun with him.”

“No,” said the other sister, “he is a manido. We should leave him alone.”

But the girl with a stick poked into the hollow log until Porcupine came out. Then she caught him and pulled out his long quills and threw them in the snow.

The other said, “No, it is cold. Porcupine will need his robe.”

At last the sisters ran on. The village was still far away.

Now when they left Porcupine, he crawled up a tall pine tree until he reached the very top. Then he faced the north and began to shake his small rattle, singing in time to its sound.

Soon the sky darkened. Snow began to fall. Now the sisters could not run rapidly because of the deepening snow.

One looked back and saw Porcupine in the tree top, shaking his rattle. She said, “We must go back to our own village. I am afraid some harm will overtake us.”

The other answered, “No, let us go on. We need not fear Porcupine.”

The snow became deeper, so they rolled up their blankets as they ran on.

When the sun followed the trail over the edge of the world, the sisters could not even see the village. Still they ran on. Then in the late evening they came to a stream which they knew was near the village.

Behold! It was dark. The snow was very deep. The sisters no longer had strength. They could hear voices in the village. They could not call loud enough to be heard. Thus they perished in the snow.

One should never harm Porcupine because he is a manido.

Next: Turtle

(400 words)

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