Ojeeg Annung Or The Summer-maker





ODJIBWA.





There lived a celebrated hunter on the southern shores of Lake

Superior, who was considered a Manito by some, for there was nothing

but what he could accomplish. He lived off the path, in a wild,

lonesome, place, with a wife whom he loved, and they were blessed with

a son, who had attained his thirteenth year. The hunter's name was

Ojeeg, or the Fisher, which is the name of an expert, sprightly little

animal common to the region. He was so successful in the chase, that he

seldom returned without bringing his wife and son a plentiful supply of

venison, or other dainties of the woods. As hunting formed his constant

occupation, his son began early to emulate his father in the same

employment, and would take his bow and arrows, and exert his skill in

trying to kill birds and squirrels. The greatest impediment he met

with, was the coldness and severity of the climate. He often returned

home, his little fingers benumbed with cold, and crying with vexation

at his disappointment. Days, and months, and years passed away, but

still the same perpetual depth of snow was seen, covering all the

country as with a white cloak.



One day, after a fruitless trial of his forest skill, the little boy

was returning homeward with a heavy heart, when he saw a small red

squirrel gnawing the top of a pine bur. He had approached within a

proper distance to shoot, when the squirrel sat up on its hind legs and

thus addressed him:--



"My grandchild, put up your arrows, and listen to what I have to tell

you." The boy complied rather reluctantly, when the squirrel continued:

"My son, I see you pass frequently, with your fingers benumbed with

cold, and crying with vexation for not having killed any birds. Now, if

you will follow my advice, we will see if you cannot accomplish your

wishes. If you will strictly pursue my advice, we will have perpetual

summer, and you will then have the pleasure of killing as many birds as

you please; and I will also have something to eat, as I am now myself

on the point of starvation.



"Listen to me. As soon as you get home you must commence crying. You

must throw away your bow and arrows in discontent. If your mother asks

you what is the matter, you must not answer her, but continue crying

and sobbing. If she offers you anything to eat, you must push it away

with apparent discontent, and continue crying. In the evening, when

your father returns from hunting, he will inquire of your mother what

is the matter with you. She will answer that you came home crying, and

would not so much as mention the cause to her. All this while you must

not leave off sobbing. At last your father will say, 'My son, why is

this unnecessary grief? Tell me the cause. You know I am a spirit, and

that nothing is impossible for me to perform.' You must then answer

him, and say that you are sorry to see the snow continually on the

ground, and ask him if he could not cause it to melt, so that we might

have perpetual summer. Say it in a supplicating way, and tell him this

is the cause of your grief. Your father will reply, 'It is very hard to

accomplish your request, but for your sake, and for my love for you, I

will use my utmost endeavors.' He will tell you to be still, and cease

crying. He will try to bring summer with all its loveliness. You must

then be quiet, and eat that which is set before you."



The squirrel ceased. The boy promised obedience to his advice, and

departed. When he reached home, he did as he had been instructed, and

all was exactly fulfilled, as it had been predicted by the squirrel.



Ojeeg told him that it was a great undertaking. He must first make a

feast, and invite some of his friends to accompany him on a journey.

Next day he had a bear roasted whole. All who had been invited to the

feast came punctually to the appointment. There were the Otter, Beaver,

Lynx, Badger, and Wolverine. After the feast, they arranged it among

themselves to set out on the contemplated journey in three days. When

the time arrived, the Fisher took leave of his wife and son, as he

foresaw that it was for the last time. He and his companions travelled

in company day after day, meeting with nothing but the ordinary

incidents. On the twentieth day they arrived at the foot of a high

mountain, where they saw the tracks of some person who had recently

killed an animal, which they knew by the blood that marked the way. The

Fisher told his friends that they ought to follow the track, and see if

they could not procure something to eat. They followed it for some

time; at last they arrived at a lodge, which had been hidden from their

view by a hollow in the mountain. Ojeeg told his friends to be very

sedate, and not to laugh on any account. The first object that they saw

was a man standing at the door of the lodge, but of so deformed a shape

that they could not possibly make out who or what sort of a man it

could be. His head was enormously large; he had such a queer set of

teeth, and no arms. They wondered how he could kill animals. But the

secret was soon revealed. He was a great Manito. He invited them to

pass the night, to which they consented.



He boiled his meat in a hollow vessel made of wood, and took it out of

this singular kettle in some way unknown to his guests. He carefully

gave each their portion to eat, but made so many odd movements that the

Otter could not refrain from laughing, for he is the only one who is

spoken of as a jester. The Manito looked at him with a terrible look,

and then made a spring at him, and got on him to smother him, for that

was his mode of killing animals. But the Otter, when he felt him on his

neck, slipped his head back and made for the door, which he passed in

safety; but went out with the curse of the Manito. The others passed

the night, and they conversed on different subjects. The Manito told

the Fisher that he would accomplish his object, but that it would

probably cost him his life. He gave them his advice, directed them how

to act, and described a certain road which they must follow, and they

would thereby be led to the place of action.



They set off in the morning, and met their friend, the Otter, shivering

with cold; but Ojeeg had taken care to bring along some of the meat

that had been given him, which he presented to his friend. They pursued

their way, and travelled twenty days more before they got to the place

which the Manito had told them of. It was a most lofty mountain. They

rested on its highest peak to fill their pipes and refresh themselves.

Before smoking, they made the customary ceremony, pointing to the

heavens, the four winds, the earth, and the zenith; in the mean time,

speaking in a loud voice, addressed the Great Spirit, hoping that their

object would be accomplished. They then commenced smoking.



They gazed on the sky in silent admiration and astonishment, for they

were on so elevated a point, that it appeared to be only a short

distance above their heads. After they had finished smoking, they

prepared themselves. Ojeeg told the Otter to make the first attempt to

try and make a hole in the sky. He consented with a grin. He made a

leap, but fell down the hill stunned by the force of his fall; and the

snow being moist, and falling on his back, he slid with velocity down

the side of the mountain. When he found himself at the bottom, he

thought to himself, it is the last time I make such another jump, so I

will make the best of my way home. Then it was the turn of the Beaver,

who made the attempt, but fell down senseless; then of the Lynx and

Badger, who had no better success.



"Now," says Fisher to the Wolverine, "try your skill; your ancestors

were celebrated for their activity, hardihood, and perseverance, and I

depend on you for success. Now make the attempt." He did so, but also

without success. He leaped the second time, but now they could see that

the sky was giving way to their repeated attempts. Mustering strength,

he made the third leap, and went in. The Fisher nimbly followed him.



They found themselves in a beautiful plain, extending as far as the eye

could reach, covered with flowers of a thousand different hues and

fragrance. Here and there were clusters of tall, shady trees, separated

by innumerable streams of the purest water, which wound around their

courses under the cooling shades, and filled the plain with countless

beautiful lakes, whose banks and bosom were covered with water-fowl,

basking and sporting in the sun. The trees were alive with birds of

different plumage, warbling their sweet notes, and delighted with

perpetual spring.



The Fisher and his friend beheld very long lodges, and the celestial

inhabitants amusing themselves at a distance. Words cannot express the

beauty and charms of the place. The lodges were empty of inhabitants,

but they saw them lined with mocuks[55] of different sizes, filled with

birds and fowls of different plumage. Ojeeg thought of his son, and

immediately commenced cutting open the mocuks and letting out the

birds, who descended in whole flocks through the opening which they had

made. The warm air of those regions also rushed down through the

opening, and spread its genial influence over the north.



When the celestial inhabitants saw the birds let loose, and the warm

gales descending, they raised a shout like thunder, and ran for their

lodges. But it was too late. Spring, summer, and autumn had gone; even

perpetual summer had almost all gone; but they separated it with a

blow, and only a part descended; but the ends were so mangled, that,

wherever it prevails among the lower inhabitants, it is always

sickly.[56]



When the Wolverine heard the noise, he made for the opening and safely

descended. Not so the Fisher. Anxious to fulfil his son's wishes, he

continued to break open the mocuks. He was, at last, obliged to run

also, but the opening was now closed by the inhabitants. He ran with

all his might over the plains of heaven, and, it would appear, took a

northerly direction. He saw his pursuers so close that he had to climb

the first large tree he came to. They commenced shooting at him with

their arrows, but without effect, for all his body was invulnerable

except the space of about an inch near the tip of his tail. At last one

of the arrows hit the spot, for he had in this chase assumed the shape

of the Fisher after whom he was named.



He looked down from the tree, and saw some among his assailants with

the totems[57] of his ancestors. He claimed relationship, and told them

to desist, which they only did at the approach of night. He then came

down to try and find an opening in the celestial plain, by which he

might descend to the earth. But he could find none. At last, becoming

faint from the loss of blood from the wound on his tail, he laid

himself down towards the north of the plain, and, stretching out his

limbs, said, "I have fulfilled my promise to my son, though it has cost

me my life; but I die satisfied in the idea that I have done so much

good, not only for him, but for my fellow-beings. Hereafter I will be a

sign to the inhabitants below for ages to come, who will venerate my

name for having succeeded in procuring the varying seasons. They will

now have from eight to ten moons without snow."



He was found dead next morning, but they left him as they found him,

with the arrow sticking in his tail, as it can be plainly seen, at this

time, in the heavens.





Oh: The Tsar Of The Forest Okikurumi Samayunguru And The Shark facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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