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Iena The Wanderer Or Magic Bundle






Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha

A CHIPPEWA ALLEGORY.


There was once a poor man called Iena,[73] who was in the habit of
wandering about from place to place, forlorn, without relations and
almost helpless. One day, as he went on a hunting excursion, he hung up
his bundle on the branch of a tree, to relieve himself from the burden
of carrying it, and then went in quest of game. On returning to the
spot in the evening, he was surprised to find a small but neat lodge
built in the place where he had left his bundle; and on looking in, he
beheld a beautiful female sitting in the lodge, with his blanket lying
beside her. During the day he had been fortunate in killing a deer,
which he had laid down at the lodge door. But, to his surprise, the
woman, in her attempt to bring it in, broke both her legs. He looked at
her with astonishment, and thought to himself, "I supposed I was
blessed, but I find my mistake. Gweengweeshee,"[74] said he, "I will
leave my game with you, that you may feast on it."

He then took up his bundle and departed. After walking some time he
came to another tree, on which he suspended his bundle as before, and
went in search of game. Success again rewarded his efforts, and he
returned bringing a deer, but found, as before, that a lodge had sprung
up in the place where he had suspended his bundle. He looked in, and
saw, as before, a beautiful female sitting alone, with his bundle by
her side. She arose, and came out to bring in the deer, which he had
deposited at the door, and he immediately went into the lodge and sat
by the fire, as he felt fatigued with the day's labors. Wondering, at
last, at the delay of the woman, he arose, and peeping through the door
of the lodge, beheld her eating all the fat of the deer. He exclaimed,
"I thought I was blessed, but I find I am mistaken." Then addressing
the woman, "Poor Wabizhas,"[75] said he, "feast on the game that I have
brought." He again took up his bundle and departed, and as usual, hung
it up on the branch of a tree, and wandered off in quest of game. In
the evening he returned with his customary good luck, bringing in a
fine deer, and again found a lodge occupying the place of his bundle.
He gazed through an aperture in the side of the lodge, and saw a
beautiful woman sitting alone, with a bundle by her side. As soon as he
entered the lodge, she arose with alacrity, brought in the carcass, cut
it up, and hung up the meat to dry. After this, she prepared a portion
of it for the supper of the weary hunter. The man thought to himself,
"Now I am certainly blessed." He continued his practice of hunting
every day, and the woman, on his return, always readily took care of
the meat, and prepared his meals for him. One thing, however,
astonished him; he had never, as yet, seen her eat anything, and kindly
said to her, "Why do you not eat?" She replied, "I have food of my own,
which I eat."

On the fourth day he brought home with him a branch of uzadi[76] as a
cane, which he placed, with his game, at the door of the lodge. His
wife, as usual, went out to prepare and bring in the meat. While thus
engaged, he heard her laughing to herself, and saying, "This is very
acceptable." The man, in peeping out to see the cause of her joy, saw
her, with astonishment, eating the bark of the poplar cane in the same
manner that beavers gnaw. He then exclaimed, "Ho, ho! Ho, ho! this is
Amik;"[77] and ever afterward he was careful at evening to bring in a
bough of the poplar or the red willow, when she would exclaim, "Oh,
this is very acceptable; this is a change, for one gets tired eating
white fish always (meaning the poplar); but the carp (meaning the red
willow) is a pleasant change."

On the whole, Iena was much pleased with his wife for her neatness and
attention to the things in the lodge, and he lived a contented and
happy man. Being industrious, she made him beautiful bags from the bark
of trees, and dressed the skins of the animals he killed in the most
skilful manner. When spring opened, they found themselves blessed with
two children, one of them resembling the father and the other the
mother. One day the father made a bow and arrows for the child that
resembled him, who was a son, saying, "My son, you will use these
arrows to shoot at the little beavers when they begin to swim about the
rivers." The mother, as soon as she heard this, was highly displeased;
and taking her children, unknown to her husband, left the lodge in the
night. A small river ran near the lodge, which the woman approached
with her children. She built a dam across the stream, erected a lodge
of earth, and lived after the manner of the beavers.

When the hunter awoke, he found himself alone in his lodge, and his
wife and children absent. He immediately made diligent search after
them, and at last discovered their retreat on the river. He approached
the place of their habitation, and throwing himself prostrate on the
top of the lodge, exclaimed, "Shingisshenaun tshee neeboyaun."[78] The
woman allowed the children to go close to their father, but not to
touch him; for, as soon as they came very near, she would draw them
away again, and in this manner she continued to torment him a long
time. The husband lay in this situation until he was almost starved,
when a young female approached him, and thus accosted him: "Look here;
why are you keeping yourself in misery, and thus starving yourself? Eat
this," reaching him a little mokuk containing fresh raspberries which
she had just gathered. As soon as the beaveress, his former wife,
beheld this, she began to abuse the young woman, and said to her, "Why
do you wish to show any kindness to that animal that has but two
legs? you will soon repent it." She also made sport of the young woman,
saying, "Look at her; she has a long nose, and she is just like a
bear." The young woman, who was all the time a bear in disguise,
hearing herself thus reproached, broke down the dam of the beaver, let
the water run out, and nearly killed the beaver herself. Then turning
to the man, she thus addressed him: "Follow me; I will be kind to you.
Follow me closely. You must be courageous, for there are three persons
who are desirous of marrying me, and will oppose you. Be careful of
yourself. Follow me nimbly, and, just as we approach the lodge, put
your feet in the prints of mine, for I have eight sisters who will do
their utmost to divert your attention and make you lose the way. Look
neither to the right nor the left, but enter the lodge just as I do,
and take your seat where I do." As they proceeded they came in sight of
a large lodge, when he did as he had been directed, stepping in her
tracks. As they entered the lodge the eight sisters clamorously
addressed him. "Oh, Ogidahkumigo[79] has lost his way," and each one
invited him to take his seat with her, desiring to draw him from their
sister. The old people also addressed him as he entered, and said, "Oh,
make room for our son-in-law." The man, however, took his seat by the
side of his protectress, and was not farther importuned.

As they sat in the lodge, a great rushing of waters, as of a swollen
river, came through the centre of it, which also brought in its course a
large stone, and left it before the man. When the water subsided, a
large white bear came in, and taking up the stone, bit it, and scratched
it with his paws, saying, "This is the manner in which I would handle
Ogidahkumigo if I was jealous." A yellow bear also entered the lodge and
did the same. A black bear followed and did the same. At length the man
took up his bow and arrows, and prepared to shoot at the stone, saying,
"This is the way I would treat Odanamekumigo[80] if I was jealous." He
then drew up his bow and drove his arrow into the stone. Seeing this,
the bears turned around, and with their eyes fixed on him, stepped
backward and left the lodge, which highly delighted the woman. She
exulted to think that her husband had conquered them.

Finally, one of the old folks made a cry, and said, "Come, come! there
must be a gathering of provisions for the winter." So they all took
their cossoes, or bark dishes, and departed to gather acorns for
the winter. As they departed, the old man said to his daughter, "Tell
Ogidahkumigo to go to the place where your sisters have gone and let
him select one of them, so that, through her aid, he may have some food
for himself during the winter; but be sure to caution him to be very
careful, when he is taking the skin from the animal, that he does not
cut the flesh." No sooner had the man heard this message, than he
selected one of his sisters-in-law; and when he was taking the skin
from her, for she was all the while an enchanted female bear, although
careful, he cut her a little upon one of her arms, when she jumped up,
assumed her natural form, and ran home. The man also went home, and
found her with her arm bound up, and quite unwell.

A second cry was then made by the master of the lodge: "Come come! seek
for winter quarters;" and they all got ready to separate for the
season. By this time the man had two children, one resembling himself
and the other his wife. When the cry was made, the little boy who
resembled his father was in such a hurry in putting on his moccasins,
that he misplaced them, putting the moccasin of the right foot upon the
left. And this is the reason why the foot of the bear is turned in.

They proceeded to seek their winter quarters, the wife going before to
point the way. She always selected the thickest part of the forest,
where the child resembling the father found it difficult to get along;
and he never failed to cry out and complain. Iena then went in advance,
and sought the open plain, whereupon the child resembling the mother
would cry out and complain, because she disliked an open path. As
they were encamping, the woman said to her husband, "Go and break
branches for the lodge for the night." He did so; but when she looked
at the manner in which her husband broke the branches, she was very
much offended, for he broke them upward instead of downward. "It is
not only very awkward," said she, "but we will be found out; for the
Ogidahkumigoes[81] will see where we have passed by the branches we
have broken:" to avoid this, they agreed to change their route, and
were finally well established in their winter quarters. The wife had
sufficient food for her child, and would now and then give the dry
berries she had gathered in the summer to her husband.

One day, as spring drew on, she said to her husband, "I must boil you
some meat," meaning her own paws, which bears suck in the month of
April. She had all along told him, during the winter, that she meant to
resume her real shape of a female bear, and to give herself up to the
Ogidahkumigoes, to be killed by them, and that the time of their coming
was near at hand. It came to pass, soon afterward, that a hunter
discovered her retreat. She told her husband to move aside, "for," she
added, "I am now giving myself up." The hunter fired and killed her.

Iena then came out from his hiding-place, and went home with the
hunter. As they went, he instructed him what he must hereafter do when
he killed bears. "You must," said he, "never cut the flesh in taking
off the skin, nor hang up the feet with the flesh when drying it. But
you must take the head and feet, and decorate them handsomely, and
place tobacco on the head, for these animals are very fond of this
article, and on the fourth day they come to life again."





Next: Mishosha Or The Magician Of Lake Superior

Previous: Pauguk



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