The good ship sped on her way across the calm Atlantic. It was an outward passage, according to the little charts which the company had charily distributed, but most of the passengers were homeward bound, after a summer of rest and recreat... Read more of The Rival Ghosts at Scary Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational


Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha


In a class of languages, where the personification of ideas, or
sentiments, frequently compensates for the paucity of expression, it
could hardly be expected that death should be omitted. The soul, or
spirit, deemed to be an invisible essence, is denominated Ochichaug;
this is the term translators employ for the Holy Ghost. There is
believed to be the spirit of a vital and personal animus, distinct from
this, to which they apply the term Jeebi or Ghost. Death, or the
mythos of the condition of the human frame, deprived of even the
semblance of blood, and muscle, and life, is represented by the word
Pauguk. Pauguk is a horrible phantom of human bones, without muscular
tissue or voice, the appearance of which presages speedy dissolution.
Of all the myths of the Indians, this is the most gloomy and fearful.

In strict accordance, however, with aboriginal tastes and notions,
Pauguk is represented as a hunter. He is armed with a bow and arrows,
or a pug-gamagan, or war-club. Instead of objects of the chase, men,
women, and children are substituted as the objects of pursuit. To see
him is indicative of death. Some accounts represent him as covered with
a thin transparent skin, with the sockets of his eyes filled with balls
of fire.

Pauguk never speaks. Unlike the Jeebi or ghost, his limbs never
assume the rotundity of life. Neither is he confounded in form with the
numerous class of Monedoes, or of demons. He does not possess the power
of metamorphosis, or of transforming himself into the shapes of
animals. Unvaried in repulsiveness, he is ever an object of fear; but
unlike every other kind or class of creation of the Indian mind, Pauguk
never disguises himself, or affects the cunning of concealment--never
effects to be what he is not.

Manabozho alone had power to invoke him unharmed. When he had expended
all his arts to overcome Paup-Puk-Keewiss, who could at will transform
himself, directly or indirectly, into any class or species of the
animal creation, going often, as he did, as a jeebi, from one carcass
into another, at last, at the final conflict at the rock, he dispatched
him with the real power of death, after summoning the elements of
thunder and lightning to his aid. And when thus deprived of all
sublunary power, the enraged Great Hare, Manito (such seems the meaning
of Manabozho), changed the dead carcass of his enemy into the great
caniew, or war eagle. Nothing had given Manabozho half the trouble
and vexation of the flighty, defying, changeable and mischievous
Paup-Puk-Keewiss, who eluded him by jumping from one end of the
continent to the other. He had killed the great power of evil in the
prince of serpents, who had destroyed Chebizbos his grandson--he had
survived the flood produced by the great Serpent, and overcome, in
combat, the mysterious power held by the Pearl, or sea shell Feather,
and the Mishemokwa, or great Bear with the wampum necklace, but
Paup-Puk-Keewiss put him to the exercise of his reserved powers of
death and annihilation. And it is by this act that we perceive that
Hiawatha, or Manabozho, was a divinity. Manabozho had been a hunter, a
fisherman, a warrior, a suppliant, a poor man, a starveling, a laughing
stock and a mere beggar; he now shows himself a god, and as such we
must regard him as the prime Indian myth.

This myth, the more it is examined, the more extensive does it appear
to be incorporated in some shape in the Indian mythology. If
interpreted agreeably to the metaphysical symbols of the old world, it
would appear to be distilled from the same oriental symbolical
crucible, which produced an Osiris and a Typhon--for the American
Typhon is represented by the Mishikinabik, or serpent, and the American
Osiris by a Hiawatha, Manabozho, Micabo, or great Hare-God, or Ghost.

This myth, as it is recognized under the name of Hiawatha by the
Iroquois, is without the misadventures over which, in the person of
Manabozho, the Algonquins laugh so heartily, and the particular
recitals of which, as given in prior pages, afford so much amusement to
their lodge circles. According to the Iroquois version, Tarenyawagon
was deputed by the Master of Life, who is also called the Holder of
Heaven, to the earth, the better to prepare it for the residence of
man, and to teach the tribes the knowledge necessary to their
condition, as well as to rid the land of giants and monsters. Having
accomplished this benevolent labor, he laid aside his heavenly
character and name, assuming that of Hiawatha; took a wife, and settled
in a beautiful part of the country. Hiawatha having set himself down to
live as one of them, it was his care to hold up, at all times, the best
examples of prudential wisdom. All things, hard or wondrous, were
possible for him to do, as in the case of the hero of the Algonquin
legend, and he had, like him, a magic canoe to sail up and down the
waters wherever he wished.

Hiawatha, after he had performed the higher functions appertaining to
his character, settled down in the Iroquois country, and was
universally regarded as a sage. He instructed the tribes how to repel
savage invaders, who were in the habit of scourging the country, and
was ever ready to give them wise counsels. The chief things of these
good counsels to the tribes were to attend to their proper vocation, as
hunters and fishermen, to cultivate corn, and to cease dissensions and
bickerings among themselves. He finally instructed them to form a
general league and confederacy against their common enemies. These
maxims were enforced at a general council of the Iroquois tribe, held
at Onondaga, which place became the seat of their council fire, and
first government. This normal council of Iroquois sages resulted in
placing the tribes in their assembled, not tribal capacity, under the
care of a moderator, or chief magistrate of the assembled cantons,
called Atatarho.[72]

Tradition recites many particulars of the acts of Hiawatha. It is
preserved in their recitals, that after his mission was virtually
ended, or, rather, drawing to a close, how he proceeded, in great
state, to the council, in his magic canoe, taking with him his favorite
daughter. With her he landed on the shore of the lake of Onondaga, and
was proceeding to the elevated grounds appointed for the council, when
a remarkable phenomenon appeared in the heavens, which seemed, in its
symbolical import, to say to Hiawatha: "Thy work is near its close." A
white bird, the bird of Heaven, appeared to come as a special messenger
to him and to his daughter, appearing as a small speck high in the
higher atmosphere. As it descended and revealed its character, its
flight was attended with the greatest swiftness and force, and with no
little of the impetuosity of a stroke of lightning. To the dismay of
all, it struck the daughter of Hiawatha with such force as to drive her
remains into the earth, completely annihilating her. The bird itself
was annihilated in annihilating Hiawatha's daughter. All that remained
of it were its scattered white plumes, purely white as silver clouds,
and these plumes the warriors eagerly gathered as the chief tokens, to
be worn on their heads as symbols of their bravery in war--a custom
maintained to this day. Hiawatha stood aghast. He did not know how to
interpret the terrible token. He deeply mourned his daughter's fate;
for a long time he was inconsolable, and sat with his head down. But,
in the end, and by persuasion, he roused himself from his reverie. His
thoughts revolved on his original mission to the Indian tribes. The
Great Spirit perhaps tells me, he said to himself, that my work here
below is finished, and I must return to him. For a while, he had not
heeded the invitations to attend the largely gathered council which
waited for him, but as soon as his grief would enable him to attend, he
roused himself for the task. After tasting food, he assumed his usual
manly dignity of character, and assumed the oratorical attitude.
Waiting till the other speakers had finished, he addressed his last
counsels to the listening tribes. By his wisdom and eloquent appeal, he
entranced them. By this valedictory address, replete with political
wisdom, he closed his career. Having done this, he announced the
termination of his mission; then, entering his magic canoe, he began to
rise in the air--sweet strains of music were heard to arise as he
mounted, and these could be heard till he was carried up beyond human

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