The Origin Of White-fish





An Indian who lived far in the north was so devoted to the chase that he

was never at home for the whole of a day, to the sorrow of his two boys,

who liked nothing so much as to sport with him and to be allowed to

practise with his weapons. Their mother told them that on no account were

they to speak to him of the young man who visited the lodge while their

father was away, and it was not until they were well grown and knew what

the duty of wives should be that they resolved to disobey her. The hunter

struck the woman dead when he learned of her perfidy. So greatly did her

spirit trouble them, however, that they could no longer abide in their

old home in peace and comfort, and they left the country and journeyed

southward until they came to the Sault Sainte Marie.



As they stood beside the falls a head came rolling toward them on the

earth--the head of the dead woman. At that moment, too, a crane was seen

riding on the surface of the water, whirling about in its strongest

eddies, and when one of the boys called to it, O Grandfather, we are

persecuted by a spirit; take us across the falls, the crane flew to

them. Cling to my back and do not touch my head, it said to them, and

landed them safely on the farther shore.



But now the head screamed, Come, grandfather, and carry me over, for I

have lost my children and am sorely distressed, and the bird flew to her

likewise. Be careful not to touch my head, it said. The head promised

obedience, but succumbed to curiosity when half-way over and touched the

bird's head to see what was the matter with him. With a lurch the crane

flung off his burden and it fell into the rapids. As it swept down,

bumping against the rocks, the brains were pounded out and strewn over

the water. You were useless in life, cried the crane. You shall not be

so in death. Become fish! And the bits of brain changed to roe that

presently hatched to a delicate white fish, the flesh whereof is esteemed

by Indians of the lakes, and white men, likewise. The family pitched a

lodge near the spot and took the crane as their totem or name-mark. Many

of their descendants bear it to this day.





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