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Onaiazo The Sky-walker A Legend Of A Visit To The Sun






Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha

AN OTTOWA MYTH.


A long time ago, there lived an aged Odjibwa and his wife, on the
Shores of Lake Huron. They had an only son, a very beautiful boy, whose
name was O-na-wut-a-qut-o, or he that catches the clouds. The family
were of the totem of the beaver. The parents were very proud of him,
and thought to make him a celebrated man, but when he reached the
proper age, he would not submit to the We-koon-de-win, or fast. When
this time arrived, they gave him charcoal, instead of his breakfast,
but he would not blacken his face. If they denied him food, he would
seek for birds' eggs, along the shores, or pick up the heads of fish
that had been cast away, and broil them. One day, they took away
violently the food he had thus prepared, and cast him some coals in
place of it. This act brought him to a decision. He took the coals and
blackened his face, and went out of the lodge. He did not return, but
slept without; and during the night, he had a dream. He dreamed that he
saw a very beautiful female come down from the clouds and stand by his
side. "O-no-wut-a-qut-o," said she, "I am come for you--step in my
tracks." The young man did so, and presently felt himself ascending
above the tops of the trees--he mounted up, step by step, into the air,
and through the clouds. His guide, at length, passed through an
orifice, and he, following her, found himself standing on a beautiful
plain.

A path led to a splendid lodge. He followed her into it. It was large,
and divided into two parts. On one end he saw bows and arrows, clubs
and spears, and various warlike implements tipped with silver. On the
other end were things exclusively belonging to females. This was the
home of his fair guide, and he saw that she had, on the frame, a broad
rich belt, of many colors, which she was weaving. She said to him: "My
brother is coming and I must hide you." Putting him in one corner, she
spread the belt over him. Presently the brother came in, very richly
dressed, and shining as if he had points of silver all over him. He
took down from the wall a splendid pipe, together with his sack of
a-pa-ko-ze-gun, or smoking mixture. When he had finished regaling
himself in this way, and laid his pipe aside, he said to his sister:
"Nemissa" (which is, my elder sister), "when will you quit these
practices? Do you forget that the Greatest of the Spirits had commanded
that you should not take away the child from below? Perhaps you suppose
that you have concealed O-no-wut-a-qut-o, but do I not know of his
coming? If you would not offend me, send him back immediately." But
this address did not alter her purpose. She would not send him back.
Finding that she was purposed in her mind, he then spoke to the young
lad, and called him from his hiding-place. "Come out of your
concealment," said he, "and walk about and amuse yourself. You will
grow hungry if you remain there." He then presented him a bow and
arrows, and a pipe of red stone, richly ornamented. This was taken as
the word of consent to his marriage; so the two were considered husband
and wife from that time.

O-no-wut-a-qut-o found everything exceedingly fair and beautiful around
him, but he found no inhabitants except her brother. There were flowers
on the plains. There were bright and sparkling streams. There were
green valleys and pleasant trees. There were gay birds and beautiful
animals, but they were not such as he had been accustomed to see. There
was also day and night, as on the earth; but he observed that every
morning the brother regularly left the lodge, and remained absent all
day; and every evening the sister departed, though it was commonly but
for a part of the night.

His curiosity was aroused to solve this mystery. He obtained the
brother's consent to accompany him in one of his daily journeys. They
travelled over a smooth plain, without boundaries, until
O-no-wut-a-qut-o felt the gnawings of appetite, and asked his companion
if there were no game. "Patience! my brother," said he, "we shall soon
reach the spot where I eat my dinner, and you will then see how I am
provided." After walking on a long time, they came to a place which was
spread over with fine mats, where they sat down to refresh themselves.
There was, at this place, a hole through the sky; and O-no-wut-a-qut-o,
looked down, at the bidding of his companion, upon the earth. He saw
below the great lakes, and the villages of the Indians. In one place,
he saw a war party stealing on the camp of their enemies. In another,
he saw feasting and dancing. On a green plain, young men were engaged
at ball. Along a stream, women were employed in gathering the a-puk-wa
for mats.

"Do you see," said the brother, "that group of children playing beside
a lodge? Observe that beautiful and active boy," said he, at the same
time darting something at him, from his hand. The child immediately
fell, and was carried into the lodge.

They looked again, and saw the people gathering about the lodge. They
heard the she-she-gwun, of the meeta, and the song he sung, asking that
the child's life might be spared. To this request, the companion of
O-no-wut-a-qut-o made answer: "Send me up the sacrifice of a white
dog." Immediately a feast was ordered by the parents of the child, the
white dog was killed, his carcass was roasted, and all the wise men and
medicine men of the village assembled to witness the ceremony. "There
are many below," continued the voice of the brother, "whom you call
great in medical skill, but it is because their ears are open, and they
listen to my voice, that they are able to succeed. When I have struck
one with sickness, they direct the people to look to me; and when they
send me the offering I ask, I remove my hand from off them, and they
are well." After he had said this, they saw the sacrifice parcelled out
in dishes, for those who were at the feast. The master of the feast
then said, "We send this to thee, great Manito," and immediately the
roasted animal came up. Thus their dinner was supplied, and after they
had eaten, they returned to the lodge by another way.

After this manner they lived for some time; but the place became
wearisome at last. O-no-wut-a-qut-o thought of his friends, and wished
to go back to them. He had not forgotten his native village, and his
father's lodge; and he asked leave of his wife to return. At length she
consented. "Since you are better pleased," she replied, "with the cares
and the ills, and the poverty of the world, than with the peaceful
delights of the sky, and its boundless prairies, go! I give you
permission, and since I have brought you hither, I will conduct you
back; but, remember, you are still my husband, I hold a chain in my
hand by which I can draw you back whenever I will. My power over you is
not, in any manner, diminished. Beware, therefore, how you venture to
take a wife among the people below. Should you ever do so, it is then
that you shall feel the force of my displeasure."

As she said this, her eyes sparkled--she raised herself slightly on her
toes, and stretched herself up, with a majestic air; and at that
moment, O-no-wut-a-qut-o awoke from his dream. He found himself on the
ground, near his father's lodge, at the very spot where he had laid
himself down to fast. Instead of the bright beings of a higher world,
he found himself surrounded by his parents and relatives. His mother
told him he had been absent a year. The change was so great, that he
remained for some time moody and abstracted, but by degrees he
recovered his spirits. He began to doubt the reality of all he had
heard and seen above. At last, he forgot the admonitions of his spouse,
and married a beautiful young woman of his own tribe. But within four
days, she was a corpse. Even this fearful admonition was lost, and he
repeated the offence by a second marriage. Soon afterwards, he went out
of the lodge, one night, but never returned. It was believed that his
Sun-wife had recalled him to the region of the clouds, where, the
tradition asserts, he still dwells, and walks on the daily rounds,
which he once witnessed.





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Previous: The White Stone Canoe



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