Lake Superior Water Gods

: 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.