: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Not only was Mackinack the birthplace of Hiawatha: it was the home of God

himself--Gitchi Manitou, or Mitchi Manitou--who placed there an Indian

Adam and Eve to watch and cultivate his gardens. He also made the beaver,

that his children might eat, and they acknowledged his goodness in

oblations. Bounteous sacrifices insured entrance after death to the happy

hunting-grounds beyond the Rocky Mountains. Those who had failed in these
offerings were compelled to wander about the Great Lakes, shelterless,

and watched by unsleeping giants who were ten times the stature of


These giants still exist, but in the form of conical rocks, one of

which-called Sugar-Loaf, or Manitou's Wigwam--is ninety feet high. A cave

in this obelisk is pointed out as Manitou's abiding-place, and it was

believed that every other spire in the group had its wraith, whence has

come the name of the island--Michillimackinack (place of great dancing

spirits). Arch Rock is the place that Manitou built to reach his home

from Sunrise Land the better. There were many such monuments of

divinities in the north. They are met with all about the lakes and in the

wooded wilderness, the most striking one being the magnificent spire of

basalt in the Black Hills region of Wyoming. It is known as Devil's

Tower, or Mateo's Tepee, and by the red men is held to be the wigwam of a

were-animal that can become man at pleasure. This singular rock towers

above the Belle Fourche River to a height of eight hundred feet.

Deep beneath Mackinack was a stately and beautiful cavern hall where

spirits had their revels. An Indian who got leave to quit his body saw it

in company with one of the spirits, and spread glowing reports of its

beauties when he had clothed himself in flesh again. When Adam and Eve

died they, too, became spirits and continued to watch the home of


Now, there is another version of this tradition which gives the, original

name of the island as Moschenemacenung, meaning great turtle. The

French missionaries and traders, finding the word something too large a

mouthful, softened it to Michillimackinack, and, when the English came,

three syllables served them as well as a hundred, so Mackinack it is to

this day. Manitou, having made a turtle from a drop of his own sweat,

sent it to the bottom of Lake Huron, whence it brought a mouthful of mud,

and from this Mackinack was created. As a reward for his service the

turtle was allowed to sleep there in the sun forever.

Yet another version has it that the Great Spirit plucked a sand-grain

from the primeval ocean, set it floating on those waters, and tended it

until it grew so large that a young wolf, running constantly, died of old

age before reaching its limits. The sand became the earth. Prophecy has

warned the Winnebagoes that Manibozho (Michabo or Hiawatha) shall smite

by pestilence at the end of their thirteenth generation. Ten are gone.

All shall perish but one pure pair, who will people the recreated world.

Manibozho, or Minnebojou, is called a culture myth, but the Indians

have faith in him. They say that he lies asleep on the north shore of

Lake Superior, beneath the hill of four knobs, known as the Sleeping

Giant. There offerings are made to him, and it was a hope of his speedy

rising that started the Messiah craze in the West in 1890.