Myth-Folklore Unit: The Song of Hiawatha

Overview. This unit contains the first half of The Song of Hiawatha, an epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that was published in 1855. Although Longfellow named his hero "Hiawatha," the poem is actually based on the adventures of the Ojibwa culture-hero Manabozho who figures prominently in the Great Lakes unit for this class and also in the Canadian unit. Longfellow's poem begins with Hiawatha's childhood and his dramatic confrontation with his father Mudjekeewis, the West Wind. You will then learn how Hiawatha discovered corn, how he defeated his rival Pearl-Feather, and finally how he courted and married Minnehaha. The unusual meter of the poem (called trochaic tetrameter: DA-duh DA-duh DA-duh DA-duh) was inspired by Longfellow's reading of the Finnish epic Kalevala, which forms part of the European module for this class later in the semester.

Language. This poem by Longfellow is one of the classics of American 19th-century poetry. If you are interested in learning about the connections between American literature and Native American storytelling traditions, this is the unit you should read!

Story Length. This is one continuous story, although it is divided up into separate episodes which recur one after another. What you will be reading here is one half of the complete poem, leading up to the marriage of Hiawatha and Minnehaha.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Hiawatha. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. The Four Winds
  2. The Four Winds (cont.)
  3. Hiawatha's Childhood
  4. Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis
  5. Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis (cont.)
  6. Hiawatha's Fasting
  7. Hiawatha's Fasting (cont.)
  8. Hiawatha's Friends
  9. Hiawatha's Sailing
  10. Hiawatha's Fishing
  1. Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather
  2. Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather (cont.)
  3. Hiawatha's Wooing
  4. Hiawatha's Wooing (cont.)
  5. Hiawatha's Wedding-Feast
  6. The Son of the Evening Star
  7. The Son of the Evening Star (cont.)