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Lake Superior Water Gods


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

There were many water gods about Lake Superior to whom the Indians paid
homage, casting implements, ornaments, and tobacco into the water
whenever they passed a spot where one of these manitous sat enthroned. At
Thunder Cape, on the north shore, lies Manibozho, and in the pillared
recess of La Chapelle, among the Pictured Rocks, dwelt powerful rulers of
the storm to whose mercy the red men commended themselves with quaint
rites whenever they were to set forth on a voyage over the great unsalted
sea. At Le Grand Portal were hidden a horde of mischievous imps, among
whose pranks was the repetition of every word spoken by the traveller as
he rested on his oars beneath this mighty arch. The Chippewas worked the
copper mines at Keweenaw Point before the white race had learned of a
Western land, but they did so timidly, for they believed that a demon
would visit with injury or death the rash mortal who should presume to
pillage his treasure, unless he had first bestowed gifts upon him. Even
then they went ashore with fear, lighted fires around a surface of native
copper, hacked off a few pounds of the softened metal, and ran to their
canoes without looking behind them.

There was another bad manitou at the mouth of Superior Bay, where
conflicting currents make a pother of waters. This spirit sat on the
bottom of the lake, gazing upward, and if any boatman ventured to cross
his domain without dropping a pipe or beads or hatchet into it, woe
betide him, for his boat would be caught in a current and smashed against
a rocky shore. Perhaps the most vexatious god was he who ruled the
Floating Islands. These islands were beautiful with trees and flowers,
metal shone and crystals sparkled on their ledges, sweet fruits grew in
plenty, and song-birds flitted over them. In wonder and delight the
hunter would speed toward them in his canoe, but as he neared their turfy
banks the jealous manitou, who kept these fairy lands for his own
pleasure, would throw down a fog and shut them out of sight. Never could
the hunter set foot on them, no matter how long he kept up his search.

Next: The Witch Of Pictured Rocks

Previous: Mackinack

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