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UFO’s and the Children of the Morning Star 

A great thinker once made a sad observation about people today. “The man in the street does not see the stars in the sky.” And modern studies suggest that over 80% of people alive today do not see the stars because of urban light at night, or because of pollution in the atmosphere.

Yet, we descended from the stars!

Indigenous nations across North America honour the Morning Star, the one star/planet that remains visible after the sun rises on the horizon. For the Anishinabeg—the Ojibwa, Cree, Odawa and others—the Morning Star is a holy object and an ancestral home. 

In June 1985, the eastern Lake Superior medicine man Fred Pine, a direct descendant of Shingwaukonce, revealed more background about the Morning Star. 

He stated that he wanted this information to be shared so that people would again follow the old ways.

“Here’s another story. I knew in my younger days that I had something in my head. I took in everything that I heard. The reason that I can tell these stories is study. I worked on it. It’s a gift that you don’t get for nothing. I dreamt [vision quested] for my gifts. At the same time, I have the experience of talking to many Indians.” 

“Indians still are living on the Early Morning Star. Wabanung comes up with the sun. People never die there. They’re big. A fellow went up there and came back. Even the animals are big. Nanabush came from there originally. The fellow that went up and came back saw all of this.” 

The Morning Star woman, according to Fred Pine, came down to Whitefish Island—Bawating—the heartland of the Ojibwe nation located beside Whitefish Rapids in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. 

Fred said the the Star Woman’s beauty was extraordinary; but her knowledge and connection to the ancestral star world was overwealming. She extended her love to an Ojibwa man and later both rose up into the sky. Fred Pine freely stated that the lesson in this story was the ability of the Anishinabeg people to have a home on either world.

Here is a hard–gained story preserved by Fred Pine that explains shooting stars or falling stars. On other occassions, Fred noted more fully that the falling stars replentish the moisture, so vital to life, in the athmosphere.

“You know, these stars, the Indians study them so much. They know them. They even said they [the stars] talk.” 

“Sometimes they rain, the stars. Fall. Rain. Like a rain of falling stars. They’re crying. Mawiwin. They’re crying.” 

“Just like tears dropping out of your eye. Mah–A–Wuhg. Just a drop out their eyes. There must be something too sometimes. It’s just the atmosphere, see. It’s kind of harsh, you know.” 

“Fred,” I asked, “are there more stories about people coming down from the stars?”

Without the slightest hesitation, Fred then replied, “Long time ago, the old fellows [elders] talked to the star people.”

If you like stories such as this, join my Facebook page “Northerners, eh.” By clicking “like,” you will become part of the group and receive future stories. 

I am sharing stories, legends, oral history, and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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7 months ago

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Great. I heard a few stories from him.... he was very much an elder. He knew my dad Vincent zack or Niniis, as was his shave name. Very comical stories too. Too bad we dont have a recorder. When Janine worked st GRFN she had a luncheon and elder gathering. There were stories shared by elders, great lunch too. Be nice to have another.

Beautiful, i have always been drawn to the stars, and the sky, particularly the night.

Thank you for the great stories/history. So very interesting Mr. Conway.

Meeguetch Mishomis for sharing your wisdom and knowledge. ❤

Interesting legend

Thank you for sharing!

Interesting read

Awesome information 👍😊

Thank you for sharing. Wonderful story

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Teachings from a Lake Superior Indigenous Elder

Lake Superior, the world’s largest fresh water lake, and the Ojibwe original people are inseparable. I devoted thirty years of my life trying to understand everything about Lake Superior—legends, history, exploring the lake, and indigenous knowledge gained from their 9,000 years or more beside that lake and its ancestors.

Then, I met Fred Pine.

Fred Pine lived at Garden River, just east of Sault Ste. Marie. Fred was born in 1897 and was chosen to inherit and learn oral histories and legends. He completed vision quests and was given much of the heritage of his ancestor—Shingwaukonce.

I keep alive many lingering visions of Fred Pine. The final summer that we spent together was truly an ending meant to enrich rather than sadden us. In northern Ontario east of Lake Superior, weather rules the land. That summer in 1992 was spread over the months neither too warm, nor too brisk. 

The long July evening on Fred’s ninety–fifth birthday became the sort of time when we sat on his porch listening to the evening chorus of crickets grow with the yellowing twilight. 

Fred sat on a kitchen chair on his perpetually sagging small porch. Earlier in the day, Julie and my daughters had delivered a homemade birthday cake inscribed with his name and “95.” We spent time at Fred’s small home enjoying the warmth of the moment. I drove my family home and returned to be with Fred a few more hours. 

For several years, Fred Pine and I had reached that plateau in friendship where ordinary shared time, including long stretches of silence, became comforting. 

We had grown into a unique relationship which flowed from one image to another––old friends, travelling companions, apprentice and master teacher, and father to son. 

Over the previous few years, Fred would often break a long quiet moment to tell me, “You know, Thor. You are just like a son to me. You treat me well.” 

I would grab his hand and just try to live in the transitory moment as fully as my senses would allow. I loved him.

We seldom discussed the future. Although Fred was approaching his final year, he never lost his spirited nature as his physical existence began to fail. 

That July evening, as his favoured stars began to create a nighttime sky map overhead, we sat on his wooden steps contentedly listening to the growing sounds from river and forest. 

And as twilight changed the world, Fred Pine repeated a very important teaching that he wanted to survive through time.

“When you study this traditional culture like I did, you will find that its true teaching. The way paintings are bringing up Indian beliefs today returns us to the past. When I was a boy, I fasted and dreamed. These visions come back to me now.” 

“The markings on the rocks. Its not a story. Its just like a map for your mind. Youll see a big crooked line-thats the shape of the country, the spirit of the land.” 

“Writing on rocks. Indians traveled and looked ahead in their lives. For a better place to live. Animals for food. Writing tells you what the background is to the country. You can follow the rocks [pictographs] from Lake Superior all the way down to Parry Sound [eastern Lake Huron], where Indians traveled the coast. Now that Im getting old, I realize that this is true teaching.” 

“Pictographs represent. Everything thats on Agawa Rock is a good sign. It tells you how to maneuver. Every little article painted there, that you see, always has a meaning to it. A meaning-like shorthand. But if you understand this meaning, you will know the path to travel in the spiritual world. I will tell you these things because my culture is part of this land. And we live together.” 
Sah-Kah-Odjew-Wahg-Sah (Fred Pine, 1897-1992) 

If you like stories such as this, join my “Northerners, Eh” Facebook page. By clicking “like” on a story, you will become part of the group and receive future stories. 

I am sharing stories, legends, oral history and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

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i heard that once before too that the pictographs “spoke” if you knew how to read them. i don’t think the word spoke is accurate here, maybe i should say, the pictographs could be read and understood if the person knows what the pictograph lines mean. they remind me of chinese characters in the sense that “一” can be understood to mean 1 for example, or “三” can be understood as 3. i’m rambling but fascinated and would love to chat more to anyone about pictographs and their meanings.

Thank you Thor Conway!

Joette Baldwin in this story!

Honouring the Sun and Healing Ourselves

Dan Pine, Senior, the eastern Lake Superior holy man who was born in 1900, took complicated knowledge and stated it in words that were very accessible to us.  Truly wise prophets can guide us to great spiritual knowledge with seemingly simple statements.

All who knew him, acknowledged that Dan Pine was a master.

“Try for one month. Get up. Meet the sun. Burn tobacco. Bindakwe [thanks].” 

“Unbelievable things will happen.”

Here are some more of his precious words.

“At night when the sun is going down, ask him what you didn’t do. What you did wrong. Ask him to help you tomorrow. This is your life. Keep close to the sun all of the time.”

Dan Pine always stressed the fact that each of us could reach into the powers of healing. The ultimate source was the sun at dawn or sunset.

Just commit your heart and soul. And do it.

If you like stories such as this, join the “Northerners, Eh” Facebook page. By clicking “like” on a story, you will become part of the group and receive future stories. 

I am sharing stories, legends, oral history and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

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Sunset at Nokomis beach Florida. On Wednesday and Saturday nights during drumming, some of us blow conch shells to thank sun for the day and welcome the night, and the opportunity for rest and restorative sleep. Thank you Thor Conway.

I’ve been so bad for this. Always taking January off. Been waking up at 5 each morning, knowing spirit wants to talk. Today I make the commitment to get back to it. Thanks, Thor.

Fighting the Spirits in Dreamtime

Did you ever hold someone’s hand, not realizing that they were leading you into deep water?

I have known, and been close friends with, many Anishinabeg elders for over half a century. One thing that I learned was to never underestimate anyone. And be prepared for surprises.

The fascinating personal story was taped in 1953 when a visiting journalist “got his eyes opened” by a group of elders at Wikwemikong, a large indigenous community on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, part of northern Ontario, Canada.

Andrew Trudeau, elder, chief, and holder of great spiritual powers offered this account of jealousy and revenge.

The journalist—Andrew, you were telling us a story about a man over at Sagamok that was a victim of a sorcerer. Can you tell us what that story was about?”

Andrew Trudeau’s Story:

“Yes. Not so very long ago. I remember it quite well. And the way it was told to me, that’s the only way I can tell it. I won’t exaggerate and I won’t… I’ll try and tell it every word the way it was told to me.” 

“It was way back in 1913 or ’14 certain Indians went and built on the reserve close by. Spanish River Reserve. And when he started to settle there, the Indians didn’t want him there because they thought he wasn’t a member there. But legally he was.” 

“And by the way, the chief there at that reserve, this fellow told him, “No. I’m not leaving because I belong there and I have rights to live here in Canada. Same as any other Indian.” 

[The chief replied] “No, you’re not. You have to leave that place.” 

[Remember that the international border between Canada and the United States divided many families and indigenous communities.] 

“Well, that fellow got mad and chased this chief right in the water. Licked him [gave a beating] with his very fists. But the chief got away on him anyway and that was that.”
 
“A few days afterwards, a few nights afterwards rather, they [local men] were piling lumber in the daytime.”

“And three of them bachelors [lived] in a little shack. They used to sleep together in one bed.” 

“And this night, he [the man who had moved back to Spanish River] didn’t know he was dreaming. He thought it was really happening what he was going through.” 

“A voice came and got him. He had to… 

[The voice said] “Come along with me. And then he went through a space in the dark. In the black. Everything was black. And just for a few moments like.”

“And they arrived in the place. He could see a ball of fire only. Just a ball of fire. Big ball of fire. Just he see these artificial fires on a stage like. Flames going up. That’s what he saw.” 

[Remember that shape shifters know as bearwalkers often appeared as a ball of fire to torment their victims.]

“Then he saw Indians sitting around that fire. He didn’t see nothing, just a fire. I imagine he thought it was fire. Something light anyway. He even knew some of these Indians that were sitting around that fire. One of them was the chief of [the reserve].” 

“Well, as soon as he got there, somebody out of the fire spoke to him. Something out of the fire spoke to him. No. Spoke to the fellows around the fire.” 

“What are you going to do with this man now you got him here?” 

“Well, he just… He has to promise us to get out of the reserve. Keep off and stay out.” 

Then the voice spoke to him from the fire, “Are you going to get off that reserve?” 

“No. There’s no man living there that’s putting me off that reserve. I’m going to stay there.” 

And then the voice spoke again to the fellows around the fire, “What are you going to do now?” 

“Well, the only thing now is just give it to him [fight] that’s all.” 

“And then something appeared out of the fire. A blond head with big blue eyes. Rather fair skin. And oh, about that high. The size of a five-year-old boy [about three or four feet tall].”

“And then they [the man who would not leave and supernatural beings] battled. And this fellow was no slouch. He could fight. He could fight or any kind of a fight. He was one of the hardest men around there. It didn’t take him long to put him [the first opponent] away [win the fight].” 

“Then another one appeared. It was a little shorter. About the same size, but shorter.” 

[This is Andrew Trudeau’s indirect way of saying the that man was fighting the powerful little people, often known as Maymaygwashiuk or Buhkwudjininik, or Little Wild Men.]

“Didn’t take him very long to put him away because he was so skilled at… He knew what they call jiu jitsu. That means wrestling. You know, all these holds. Strangle holds and others. He put him away. Right down.” 

“The third man was still shorter. [The fight went on] until the tenth man. Tenth pigmy it was. He was already tired out then, you see, after battling nine of them. He was already tired out. Now, it was just his skill. His strength was almost gone. It was just his skill and willpower that was holding him on. And he eventually overpowered them.” 

“And he killed all these, you know.” 

And a voice spoke again from that fire. “Now what are you going to do?” 

“Well,” he says, “It’s too much for you. You’ll never be… None of you will stop… Djiski men can never touch that.” 

“Then he was being hurled through space again. Said he could imagine his ears traveling through wind.” 

“Then, he come take up. He woke up right there in his bed. Then he come to then. It was pitch dark and he nudged his brother. His brother was sleeping with him.” 

“For God’s sake put the lights on. There’s something wrong with me.” 

“And he put the light on. They had to pull him up he was [worn out]. And his hand was just shaking like that. And there was soot. Soot from the top of his forehead right clean down. All over [from the fire]. And he was just shaking like that.” 

“Well in the event, he just thought that he had a nightmare. That’s all he thought. That’s all he had in his mind. A nightmare.” 

[Andrew Trudeau continued with this strange, powerful story.]

“A day or two after, he had an aunt living on that reserve too. Mrs. Toulouse. She’s dead quite a while now. And she used to come over and see him once and awhile. Just to visit her nephew.” 

“And she come over there. And she says, “You know what happened two nights ago? Djiski and Little Wild Men were trying to get you. And you just kill all those.” 

“I just dreamt,” he said, “I dreamt. I thought I dreamt about that two nights ago.”

[Andrew Trudeau then offered a clue.]

“That man is living today.”

The journalist then asked, “What is his name?”

Andrew Trudeau replied with a surprising statement. 

“Andrew Trudeau.”

The interviewer, like us, was astonished—Andrew Trudeau? Is that what you dreamt?

“That’s what happened to me one time.” [laughs]

The journalist then asked, “And where was this meeting of the Djiski supposed to have been held?”

Andrew Trudeau replied. “Right on the reservation. I don’t know. I never bothered asking just where. She happened to be… It was almost in everybody’s mouth [a topic of conversation in the community] there at the time for a while.” 

“For that summer anyway. Just now, it was in everybody’s mouth. [It took place in ‘13 or ‘14. I think it was ‘14. I was right in my prime. Right in my prime. About 24, 25 [years old].”

The journalist replied, “I heard of a fellow who could lick his weight in wildcats, but that’s the first time I ever heard he could lick his weight in Djiskis. What was it about nine times your weight?”

Andrew Trudeau explained matter of factly, “Well no, it was… No. I was the giant. They were only little [wild men]. I licked about ten of them.”

“I woke up. And just shaking like that. My hands were all swollen up. And sore all over where they’d been hit and grabbed. Bit and everything. Bounced out here and there.”

The journalist said, “Well that’s the finest first first-hand story I’ve had.”

Andrew Trudeau calmly said, “I hardly ever tell this one. This was all in that dream that I had.”

When Andrew Trudeau stated that all of this extraordinary experience took place in a dream, that was his gentle way of explaining to a non–indigenous person that he was in another, spiritual realm.

And oh, to have been able to sit with these elders seventy years ago. For Andrew Trudeau was not done. He wanted to explain more about the Little Wild Men.

Cape Smith mentioned in the next story is located on the Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada. All experiences with the Little wild People were discussed widely in the local communities. Everyone knew of the them and respected them. An element of fear also entered the experience.

Andrew continued. 

“Yes. I can make from one story. It was a woman that told me the story. That they [the Little Wild People] actually lived around this here big bluff. Cape Smith. They claimed that. They [Little Wild Men] had been seen there. And they have a striking resemblance to a human being. But not at all.” 

“They have no tail. They are like a human in a way. But their face is awful. And I don’t know about language. I don’t know if anybody ever spoke to them. I can’t tell you that. I didn’t know enough to ask these people. But they [the Little Wild Men] have spoken to some of our people in the past. Way back.”

“It just happens that maybe you’re one of these sickly persons yourself. And you’re in trouble. And wondering about something else. And you’d like to see someone of that nature, that is spirits like, you know. And they appear, I guess, only to those [who have fasted]. But not to an ordinary, ordinary human being.”

Can you imagine the effect of sitting in front of a traditional person such as Andrew Trudeau and hearing this story?

You and I would be educated. And changed forever.

If you like stories such as this, join my Facebook page “Northerners, Eh.” 

By clicking “like,” you will become part of the group and receive future stories. I am sharing stories, legends, oral history and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Thank you so much for stories of the little people. I would love it for you to share more stories of them.

Miigwetch for sharing hope there will be more 🦅🪶

Very revealing. Thanks for sharing.

It was a good story. I know the little people.

..

Nah

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The Adventures of Nanabush and the Lion Queen

This full, old time story came from a gathering of elders, including Andrew Trudeau, Joe Ense, Dominic Pelletier and Albert Williams, at Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island when the tale was recorded at Andrew Trudeau’s house in 1953 by a journalist who had a summer cottage nearby. 

One of the elders retold the tale in English after another had, off tape, narrated it in the Ojibwe language.

The story recalls the adventures of Nanabush. Most Anishinabeg, the Original People, claim descent from this complicated ancestor known as Nanabush who was alternately wise and foolish. But he established the order of the natural world.

In the following, remember that the Lion Queen, also known as Michi–Peshu, the Giant Lynx or the Underwater Panther, and her close allies, the Giant Serpents or Chignebikook, lived in the darkness of deep lakes and often threatened the lives of indigenous people.

Typically for the era, the 1950’s, the elder calls the tale a “little story.”
 
Elders also displayed respect for this story which was told with ease. Stories have lives; and elders kept track of these across time. In their world, oral traditions were very formal processes that kept traveling through the generations.

The ‘Adventures of Nanabush and the Lion Queen’ was a favourite story of many, many elders. I probably heard it over fifty times in fifty years. And it has not grown old yet.
 
In this version, the narrator alternates between calling the friends of the Lion Queen as “dragons” and “big snakes.” Older generations searched for the best word that at least would convey some of the meaning of the term in the language of the Original People.

The tale:
Well, Nanabush was not a real person, it’s kind of… It’s a magic. It’s a mythical person.

Once upon a time, Nanabush lived near the lake, you know. Near kind of a small lake. And it happened that those people [spirit creatures] that live in that lake, or in the pond, came out one fine night right there, and lay themselves on the sandy beach, or in the opening, and have a rest. Have a rest. Have a nap. 

Nanabush happened to go down and see them sleeping. He saw two white loons. And they died. They came up. One came up and made a sound. Another one came up and made the same sound. 

So Nanabush thought, “Well, something’s going to happen. That’s a warning. I’ll stay here.” Because nobody sees him. 

“And well then I’ll be a stump. I’ll be an old, old tree stump. Some about six or seven feet high.” 

So, they all stood standing there near the shore. Watchfully. Wanting to see what’s going… What’s going to happen near that lake. And so, all those people that were living in that lake, that’s under the water, you know. All those…

Manidoos and dragons. Oh, all big snakes. 

One came out and slept there. It was a white lion [the Queen of the Lions]. Another one [lion] came out and slept there too. It was some different colour. And the big snake, big dragon, too came. 

And it happened that they noticed that big stump standing there. They’ve never seen that before. 

And one of them asked, “Who’s that? What’s that stump there standing there? Do you think that’s a real stump?” 

“Well, I guess you better go and find out.”

So, the dragon went up there. Big snake. And wind [squeeze] around that stump. Wind it up and then tightened. 

While he [the giant serpent] was going tightening that stump, Nanabush almost squealed, you know. “Eeee!” Almost that. 

So, he didn’t. 

Oh, the dragon unwind again. Came back there. “Well, that’s not…That’s a stump.” So, they rest peacefully. 

And then, well Nanabush saw everything. And they were all sleeping. So, he took his bow and arrow and shot the white lion, that’s the head one, that’s the king [queen] of the animals. And he shot the next one. 

So, that’s it. That’s what he do. 

And then the water turned swirling around. Everybody goes back to their hiding place. Everybody goes back to the lake.

[What an image of the lake swirling and spirit creatures diving into the whirlpool to return to their underwater realm after being wounded].

So Nanabush was… When he’s away, that’s what he did. When he’s away in the south he saw two old women cutting basswood and making basswood twine. They want to trap Nanabush. They heard there’s a mischievous person around. Nanabush. 

And they want to make a trap. They want to know him whenever he passes their way. They make kind of a spider web twine. Fence or barbwire fence, something like that. With the basswood twine. 

So, he happened to pass there and saw these two women and he helped them. He knew what was going on.
 
Sometime after he went back again and he met these two women again. And asked them, “What are they doing?” 

“There are two Ogimaak,” they said. “Our two big chiefs are sick. They’re badly wounded. They have arrows in their bodies. They’re very, very sick and we’re trying to heal them. Heal the wounds, or take out those arrows. We can’t.” 

So, he heard all their story. And he killed them. These two women. These two old women. And he [Nanabush] skinned them. 
 
He put on the old woman’s skin and all their belongings. So, he went under[water], where those two wounded are laying. He went and see them first, like a doctor does. 

Next, he told them, “I’ll be back again. I’ll be back sometime.”
 
He went back again and found his arrows still sticking there. And he pulled them arrows out with his teeth about some halfway long. And then as soon as he pulled these two arrows out of these two wounded lions, he just pulled them [arrows] back and forth like this. And he killed them right away. They were both dead at the same time. 

[Nanabush pretended to help the two supernatural lions by removing the arrows. But he actually pushed the sharp–tipped arrows back and forth to kill the underwater lions.]

Nanabush cut them in pieces. He killed them, and skinned them. Cut them in pieces to cook them in his big pot. 

So, he cooked them. And then he heard somebody coming. Hardly a footstep. Well, before he [another underwater lion or giant serpent] appeared, he [Nanabush] just take one chunk of meat there and threw it. “Well here, here’s your share. Have a feast. I got lots of meat.” 

Another one come. And another. 

Another chunk of meat. He [Nanabush] throws it. “Here’s your share. Take all you want.” 

And well they [Michi–Peshu and the Giant Serpents] soon found out it was Nanabush that’s killing them. That’s not the women that were going to heal them. They find out that he [Nanabush] was in the woman’s clothing. [Wore] the woman’s skin on.

They find out that he was the one that killed these two and cooked them. And he was the Nanabush that was feeding them their masters, you know. 

So, they were very much afraid. All ran away again.

So, Nanabush ran away, and then the water chased him. All that lake again chased him. Oh, it was water all over. Deluge, you know. 

[The underwater lion, Michi–Peshu, and her allies the giant serpents, control all water. So, they caused the first flooding destruction of the earth.]

Big flood, deluge came. While he was running, he saw a big pine standing. A long tall pine. So, he climbed there. 

“Well,” he [Nanabush] asked the pine. “Well, my brother, help me. I need help.” 

So, the old pine stretched about seven times longer than he was. 

Nanabush stood right on top of the pine. And everybody died. 

While he was standing there, he saw a mink. 

And he speak to him. “Well brother, you might as well go down and try to get some land. Down to the bottom.” 

So, the mink dived. Never came back. Too far down. Too deep. He had no breath to come up again. And then a muskrat tried. 

So, he walked down to the bottom and grabbed mud and he also died. Tired of breath you know. When he came up there, he, Nanabush, saw him dead. And he pulled him, opened his hands, he saw a little bit of ground there. Mud. 

Between the paws. His paws. And then he [Nanabush] put this in his hand and dried the land. And then he threw it out. Well, there will be land again. Soon there was land. And then Nanabush traveled on the land again. 

End of the tale.

This legend is a treasure. And I am happy that I could rescue this version from obscurity.

Many more fine stories are preserved from that magical evening and I will share them soon.

If you like stories such as this, join my “Northerners, Eh” Facebook page. By clicking “like,” you will become part of the group and receive future stories. I am sharing stories, legends, oral history and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at thorconway@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

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Just what I needed for my little class. 😃👍

Kitchi Miigwetch

Oh I just love this! I told my daughter a version of it the other night. I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one who puts the pronoun she where it's usually he. There's a place along the southern boarder of the U.P. that is said to be the spot where Nanaboozhoo shot them. I love that there were two old woman and not just one medicine told woman. This story is medicine, especially people who need to hear that sometimes Nanaboozhoo dressed as a woman and that woman were chiefs. Thank you so much for sharing this version!!!!!!

Jane—A Friend, Story Teller and Indigenous Woman Who Inspired Us

Jane Espaniel McKee was exceptional. She was an indigenous woman with an extra ability to apreciate life. Jane was a good friend. 

The first time that I phoned her to see if we could talk, she replied, “For goodness sakes, just come over.”

We shared many friends and experiences in the same areas of the northern Ontario bush. We talked, laughed, and just enjoyed our times.

Always remember that Jane survived several husbands, grew up in the bush near Bicotasing, and never complained about hardships in life. Jane carried a lot of heritage. One of her ancestors was a Spanish child captured in Texas and traded north where he eventually ended up becoming aboriginal in the Spanish River area of the north.

When Jane was a teenager, Archie Belaney lived in her father’s home where he continually learned native ways. Jane knew Archie, alias Grey Owl, all too well. Someday, I will post her memories of the complicated Englishman.

Since winter is upon us now, here is one of Jane’s brilliant memories.

Thats All We Did Was Eat and Sleep—An Indigenous Woman Enjoying Winter Life in the Bush

Sometimes, it is useful to leave behind, for a moment, the epic stories and legends and just take some time to look at the day to day lives of the elders. Even in describing ordinary activities, many elders gave hints of their great humour, their attachment to ancestral lands, and their personal relationships with nature. They followed a style of living that characterizes northerners with the added dimensions of treating the lands and waters as living relatives. 

Jane Espaniel always displayed great humour; and her sweet personality made her stories even funnier. I visited her many times at a retirement home in Toronto.

In an interview made in 1983, Jane Espaniel spoke about her life, as she recalled residing in the bush with her second husband, Tom McKee. They made a living guiding hunters and fishermen in summer and fall months; and by trapping in the winter months in the bush north of Lake Huron. Jane Espaniel McKee often spoke to me of this happy part of her long life.

Oh yeah, my kids and I, we used to go around and wed look at traps, eh. We did the river side and my old man [husband] did way far in the back, eh. Thats after we were finished with [guiding] the Americans and all that. Then my husband trapped, eh. 

But January, around after the deep snow came, he didnt trap anymore. So, all we did was go around and visit relatives, stay home, and eat, and sleep, read the papers. [laughs]

And then the fall, too, we had moose hunters. I tell you we had a good time. We lived the life of Riley. All we did was sleep and eat all winter. Wed buy a hundred pounds of fish. Wed buy a side of beef, and a whole hog. And then we had moose meat at the same time. And sometimes beaver meat, and the odd rabbit, partridge or so. 

That’s all we did was eat and sleep. No wonder I got fattened up when I was up there. [laughs] Before, I only weighed about 110 pounds. After that, when I got up there, I got fattened up. [laughs] Because I didn’t have to do so much work.

Jane Espaniel’s humour is based upon her joyful nature. Most Anishinabeg, the Original People, claim descent from a complicated ancestor known as Nanabush who was alternately wise and foolish. But he established the order of the natural world. And Nanabush left a great streak of humour in his descendants.

If you like stories such as this, join my Facebook page “Northerners, eh.” By clicking “like,” you will become part of the group and receive future stories. 

I am sharing stories, legends, oral history, and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

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Miss my Aunt Jane, she would come visit with us and tell the most amazing stories. She was indeed an incredible person.

Amazing Lady and family friend. She taught my mom how to make moose hide mitts. I still have her hand drawn patterns and many pairs of mitts that lasted over 40 years used on the trapline.

Some of Grandma's stories are included in my book, Grey Owl: the Mystery of Archie Belaney (new edition with introduction, Wolsak & Wynn, 2021).

This is a good read...thanks.

Miigwech. The new introduction serves to contextual the book, and Archie amid the current debates around 'identity politics'.

Thanks for sharing

Armand Garnet Ruffo Tiffany Cuthbert Ernest Jonathan

thank you thour

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A Tale of Windigo, the Horse and the Fox

This tale survived from 1953 on a forgotten reel to reel tape resting on a shelf in a small town museum until ten years ago. You could say that we saved it. But I suspect that the sprit in the tape was waiting patiently for us.

Bill McGregor, an elder from Birch Island in northern Lake Huron, told this precious  folktale describing the Windigo.

Bill McGregor had warmed up during an evening of interviews with a journalist; and so told a wonderful, long, old style legend involving a Windigo, a horse and a fox. He calls it a “short story” because in his era many tales required hours, or even several evenings, to fully narrate. 

Take me back to those days.

I’ll tell you a short story about Windigo. He lived in a place. And this Windigo had a horse. One white horse and one fox. And he fed this horse meat. And he fed the fox on hay. Opposite than what one animal should be eating. 

Well at that time, there were Indians living some place. And there was one boy. And him and his uncle, they took a voyage from where they were living onto this island where this Windigo fellow is living. He lived. 

Well, this uncle of his, well, he might have been very cruel. Cruel to him. Anyway, they landed on this island where this Windigo was living. 

And this uncle, well, he left this little boy. Right on there, he went away without him in the boat, or in the canoe. 

Well, when nighttime came along, well, this little boy didn’t know where to go. And then finally, he took to the bush and away he went. Maybe he didn’t know where he was going. 

On his journey, well, he seen a light. It was dark then. And he seen a light and a house. And he went by the stable. Well, he looked in and seen a horse and this fox. And they were very hungry. Skinny. Of course, Windigo didn’t feed them… Feed them their food. 

Oh anyway, he went to the house, where the light was on. And he seen a big fellow there. Sitting there by the table. So, he went in. He was very much scared. And that big fellow sitting in the chair, his legs straddling out. 

And this young fellow came in and went under this Windigo’s chair. He didn’t know. He wasn’t sure if he would ever be living if he were come out from under the chair. If the Windigo see him, well, he’d kill him and eat him. 

Well anyway, this Windigo has his supper. Big supper. Human flesh. Killing Indians. And that’s what he had eaten. 

Well, all of the sudden, well of course, his stomach got going. And all of the sudden, well he let out the wind. And it made an awful noise. And right at that instant, well, this here young fellow had jumped out. 

“Oh, my father, I’m coming from your wind!” [Narrator laughs] 

And Windigo says, “No wonder, I’m eating so many Indians. No wonder that you’re coming from there.” [Everybody laughs] 

Well, he didn’t kill him. And he lived with him for so many days. And every day, well, this Windigo had gone out for his food. Looking for Indians to eat. But he wanted this young boy. 

Well, “I have a horse in there and one fox. And you get the horse, meat, for the horse’s meal. And the fox, get hay for the fox. Because that’s the way I feed them.” 
 
Well, he went over and fed the horse some meat. Hay for fox. 

So after while, well, the horse spoke to him then. 

“Say, can’t you have mercy on us because I don’t eat meat. It’s hay what I’m eating. That’s my food.” 

And the fox spoke up, “Yeah, that’s right. And this Windigo, well he’s feeding me on hay. Well, my food is meat, any kind of meat. Can you give us that?”   

He might get killed by Windigo if he refuses what Windigo had told him to do. 

Well anyway, a few days after, well he turned around. He gave meat to the fox and hay to the horse. 

“Well,” he said, “we’ll he ran away from this Windigo.” 

And the horse says and also the fox. 

“We’ll go straight out west. And there’s a big river up ahead, so many miles from here. And I’m going to give you a warning. An advice what you are to do after when we go.” 

“We’ll just watch Windigo to leave, to go out and hunt again and then that’s the time we’ll leave. We’ll run away from him because he’s going to kill us anyway. Sometime.” 

Well, then the boy had known also, well the Windigo was going to kill us.
 
Well, anyway, they started off one day, one morning. And, shortly after, well of course Windigo had known almost everything that was going on. He knew soon after when he had left, well, the boy, the horse, and the fox had left already his place. They’re running around. 

Well, he turned back. Well, the boy was traveling on horseback. And the fox was leading because he was supposed to know the way out to which way they’re going. 

Well, Windigo was very fast. He caught up to them. And this horse sweat. 

He [the horse] spoke to the boy, “You just gather up my… The foam, my sweat, and throw that behind.”

“No, no, no, I’m mistaken.” 

He gave him [the boy], one berry. They were blueberries. He threw one behind, down there a big patch of blueberries. 

When Windigo came along, by golly he didn’t want to go over them things [berries].
 
Well, he gathered up as much as he can, eating them. After when he got filled up, well, he had made a long circle. Those animals. This here berry bushes. When he came to the tracks again, well he started off again after for them. 

When he caught up to them, “Well, I’m the last one who do something,” that the horse said to the boy. “You just pick up, or gather up the foam, my sweat, and throw that behind. And we’ll stop right there beside this. There will be a river.” 

So, when the Windigo got close up to them, well this boy had done what this horse had told him. Well, he threw that thing behind. The foam. The sweat. And by god, there was a big wide river. It was a lot of rapids. And well, they stopped right there, alongside of the river.

And well, Windigo came down to the river. And then he jumped for the other side. But he didn’t make it. He landed right in the middle of the river. 

And that’s the last of Windigo. [Remember that Windigo is an ice giant and water will melt him.] And the boy and the horse and the fox were saved.

This is a serious story, with humour woven into it. That is the indigenous manner—keep a little humour going even in the direst situations. After all, everyone is descended from Nanabush; and he lived a life of tricky humour.

We are fortunate to have such an ancient long tale full of teachings. The obvious lesson is kinship with all animals. Once the boy treated the horse and fox fairly and restored their true natures, they communicated with him. The horse and fox then offered the means for escape and destruction of the Windigo. 

Dan Pine, the eastern Lake Superior Ojibwe holy man, always told me never to despair. Even the smallest friendship can hold a flame to your problems. I hear that lesson in this tale.

I have several more direct accounts of Windigo from Fred Pine which I am currently writing up and will share.

If you like stories such as this, join my Facebook page “Northerners, Eh”. By clicking “like,” you will become part of the group and receive future stories. 

I am sharing stories, legends, oral history and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

Comment on Facebook

Love the story. Keep them coming please.

Thank you Thor Conway!

Learning How to Kill Giants and Other Useful Stories

You never can have too many Fred Pine stories. Tonight, I am especially missing him. Memories are precious. And memories carry emotions. But if we did not have feelings, well we would not be alive.

Each of us, no matter our cultural backgrounds, experiences moments when we wish we could again listen to the rich teachings that were available to our elders in their youth. Fred Pine’s words fulfill this dream.

Let us start at the beginning. Fred Pine, the eastern Lake Superior Ojibwa elder born in 1897, once spoke about learning traditional stories as a boy, when he sat at the feet of old Wab–May–May, The Pileated Woodpecker. 

Fred Pine knew hundreds of ancient legends, many learned directly from Wab–May–May. Each unfolded as a great story, but always contained a teaching. But what can be more enticing that listeing to an elder who tells you that when he was a boy, he sat at the feet of a master storyteller, who among many things, explained how to kill giants!

In general conversations spoken in English, Ojibwa trappers would call the Pileated Woodpecker by another name, “The Black Woodpecker.” This over–sized woodpecker is a large bird at least as big as a crow. Often heard calling at the break of dawn, the literal translation of the Pileated Woodpecker’s name in Ojibwa is “Dawn’s Calling Woodpecker”—Wab–May–May.

“Wab–May–May was an Indian nearly one hundred years old when he died. He and his wife lived right next door to me when I was young. They raised many kids.”
 
“When Wab–May–May and his wife got old, I used to go over to Wab–May–May’s house and carry water for them. He went blind later in his life. When they had no water, the old lady took him outside. He had a cane, and that old lady would pull him along with another cane. Pull Wab–May–May down to the river. He would carry the water with a yoke. But his wife led him.”

“A bunch of us kids would go over to Wab–May–May’s house. He smoked a lot. And the old lady too. We would go to the store first, and buy a big plug of tobacco for a nickel. A great big package of tobacco for five cents.”

Here Fred Pine paused to utter words that will remain with me forever. “I knew in my young days that I had something in my head. And I knew it. I took in everything I heard.” 

“I even went and offered tobacco with the little money I had as a boy. I hung it up on a string. The tobacco would be hanging up there in the bush or tree while he was telling stories. And all that time, Wab–May–May was smoking. Not smoking for his benefit. But burning tobacco for the manidoog [spirits].”

“Telling different stories. How to kill giants. How to learn from animals, even insects. The old storyteller. I went to him. He taught me about the old culture. How Nanabush got about.“

“Wab–May–May would sit there. He always shut his eyes. And he had a bunch of those sticks there. Red willow sticks. Wab–May–May would whittle the red willow sticks and strip off the bark. Then he would mix that tobacco right in with the bitter willow bark. He smoked that.”

“You know, it’s a funny thing with stories like that. They are very interesting when you can’t read [Fred did not read nor write]. Like today, a lot of people will read stories, but it’s not the same as somebody telling them.”

“Wab–May–May died around 1910 or 1911. I was a pretty young boy yet.”

 “But I have a wonderful memory. That’s the reason I can tell these stories, because I studied them. I worked on it. It’s a kind of a gift.”

“You don’t get that gift for nothing. To get what you want to accomplish, you must dream [vision quest] about things. At the same time, I have the experiences of many Indians that I talked to.”

“I have the experiences…” is an important statement that acknowledges the living tradition and living stories. Elders served as keepers of this culture for a generation then passed it along to the next.

And there is so much more unstated as a subtext. The old storyteller, Wab–May–May, possessed the powers of the Dawn Woodpecker. Dawn is a time when the energies of the earth are in transition. Spiritual people believe that there is a brief opening between night and day where they easily can enter another realm at dawn or sunset. 

Try to avoid giants, for we will get to that story another day.

If you like stories such as this, join my Facebook page “Northerners, Eh”. By clicking “like,” you will become part of the group and receive future stories. I am sharing stories, legends, oral history and personal experiences that came into my life while seeking out tribal elders of the Deep Water People and other wise northerners. 

These stories are parts of future books that I am writing. I love to share and give back to our community the rich heritage that makes us Canadians living up north and friends across the continent. 

And please feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook. If you have any questions, please email me at northernerseh@gmail.com Thanks—Thor Conway.

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8 months ago

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He was a historical man. Many important teachings in his stories.....!

Sharing is Caring Thanks

Love your stories 💕

Gchi-meegwech