MS/Lakes: Sky Stories

One of the legends below is about the Aurora Borealis. As you can imagine, there are many legends about the Aurora told by the peoples who live in the north. You can read more about the legends of the Aurora at Wikipedia.

[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).

Sun and Moon

ONCE upon a time, Ke-so, the Sun, and his sister, Tipa-ke-so, the Moon, the “last-night sun,” lived together in a wigwam in the East.

One day Sun dressed himself to go hunting, took his bows and arrows, and left. He was gone a long time. When he did not return, his sister became frightened, and came out into the sky to look for her brother. At last he returned, bringing with him a bear which he had shot.

Moon still comes up into the sky and travels for twenty days. Then she disappears, and for four days nothing is seen of her. At the end of the four days, she comes into the sky again, and travels twenty days more.

Sun is a being like ourselves. He wears an otter skin about his head.

The Moon Person

IN OLDEN days, the Moon Person used to make visits to the Indians. One day a child put out a dirty little hand and made a black spot on Moon Person. Therefore Moon felt ashamed and when night came he disappeared. He went up above.

He stays up above all the time now, so they say. Sometimes he is dressed altogether in a shining robe, and therefore he is bright at night. But immediately afterwards he disappears. You can still see the black spot, so they say.

The Star Creatures

ONE night hunters in the mountains noticed two shining lights moving along the top of a distant ridge. After a while the lights vanished on the other side. Thus they watched many nights, talking around the camp fire.

One morning they traveled to the ridge. Then they searched long. At last they found two round creatures covered with soft fur or downy feathers. They had small heads.

Then the hunters took these strange creatures to their camp. They watched them. In the day, they were only balls of gray fur; only when the breeze stirred their fur, then sparks flew out. At night they grew bright and shone like stars.

They kept very quiet. They did not stir, so the hunters did not fasten them. One night they suddenly rose from the ground like balls of fire. They went above the tops of the trees, and then higher until they reached the Sky-land. So the hunters knew they were stars.


WHEN a star falls from the sky it leaves a fiery trail. It does not die. Its shade goes back to its own place to shine again. The Indians sometimes find the small stars where they have fallen in the grass.

Aurora Borealis

IN THE Land of the North Wind live the manabaiwok, the giants of whom our old people tell. The manabaiwok are our friends, but we do not see them any more. They are great hunters and fishermen. Whenever they come out with their torches to spear fish, we know it because the sky is bright over that place.

(500 words)

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