|Creation Story & The Importance Of Dreaming
An Abenaki Legend
The Great Spirit, in a time not known to us looked about and saw nothing. No colors, no beauty. Time was silent in darkness. There was no sound.
Nothing could be seen or felt. The Great Spirit decided to fill this space with light and life.
From his great power he commanded the sparks of creation. He ordered Tolba, the Great Turtle to come from the waters and become the land. The
Great Spirit molded the mountains and the valleys on turtle's back. He put white clouds into the blue skies. He was very happy. He said, "Everything
is ready now. I will fill this place with the happy movement of life." He thought and though about what kind of creatures he would make.
Where would they live? What would they do? What would their purpose be? He wanted a perfect plan. He thought so hard that he became very
tired and fell asleep.
His sleep was filled with dreams of his creation. He saw strange things in his dream. He saw animals crawling on four legs, some on two. Some
creatures flew with wings, some swam with fins. There were plants of all colors, covering the ground everywhere. Insects buzzed around, dogs
barked, birds sang, and human beings called to each other. Everything seemed out of place. The Great Spirit thought he was having a bad dream.
He thought, nothing could be this imperfect.
When the Great Spirit awakened, he saw a beaver nibbling on a branch. He realized the world of his dream became his creation. Everything he
dreamed about came true. When he saw the beaver make his home, and a dam to provide a pond for his family to swim in, he then knew that every
thing has it's place, and purpose in the time to come.
It has been told among our people from generation to generation. We must not question our dreams. They are our creation.
|Abenaki Emergence Myth
An Abenaki Legend
[Note: The character Kloskurbeh is identified with Glooscap of the Algonquin myths. The Abenaki, or Wabanaki, are an Algonquin people of Maine
and New Brunswick.]
First Manitou, the Great Spirit, made Kloskurbeh, the great teacher. One day when the sun was directly overhead, a young boy appeared to
Kloskurbeh. He explained that he had been born when the sea had churned up a great foam, which was then heated by the sun, congealed, and came
alive as a human boy.
The next day, again at noon, the teacher and the boy greeted a girl. She explained that she had come from the earth, which had produced a green
plant which bore her as fruit. And so Kloskurbeh, the wise teacher, knew that human beings came forth from the union of sea and land. The teacher
gave thanks to Manitou and instructed the boy and girl in everything they needed to know. Then Kloskurbeh went north into the forest to meditate.
The man and the woman had many, many children. Unfortunately, they had so many children that they were unable to feed them all by hunting and
picking wild foods. The mother was filled with grief to see her children hungry, and the father despaired. One day the mother went down to a
stream, entering it sadly. As she reached the middle of the stream, her mood changed completely and she was filled with joy. A long green shoot had
come out of her body, between her legs. As the mother left the stream, she once again looked unhappy.
Later, the father asked her what had happened during the day while he was out trying to gather food. The mother told the whole story. She then
instructed the father to kill her and plant her bones in two piles. The father, understandably, was upset by this command and he questioned the
mother many times about it. Naturally, it was shocking and disturbing to think that he had to kill his wife in order to save his children: But she was
insistent. The father immediately went to Kloskurbeh for advice. Kloskurbeh thought the story was very strange, but then he prayed to Manitou for
guidance. Kloskurbeh then told the father that the mother was right; this was the will of Manitou. So, the father killed his wife and buried her bones
in two piles as he was commanded to do.
For seven moons, the father stood over the piles of bones and wept. Then one morning, he noticed that from one pile had sprouted tobacco and, from
the other, maize. Kloskurbeh explained to the man that his wife had really never died, but that she would live forever in these two crops.
To this day, a mother would rather die than see her children starve, and all children are still fed today by that original mother. Men like to plant in
the cornfields extra fish they catch as a gift of thanks to the first mother and a remembrance that we are all children of the union of sea and land.
When Glooscap came in from the sea, he was riding his canoe, which was made of stone. He ran aground near what we now call St. John. He had
been chasing two giant beavers. He was trying to stop them from raising any trouble.
He tried to stop them right there, where the Reversing Falls is today. He built a dam so they couldn't go up the river. But still, the beavers managed
to get past Glooscap, and traveled up the "Beautiful River", which is now called the St. John River.
Glooscap took two stones and threw them at these beavers. One stone landed a long way up the river and became Grand Falls.
The other stone hit the beaver. It landed in a rocky area, which is now called Plaster Rock. To this day, you can still see the red clay on the river
bank. They say that this comes from the blood of the beaver.
Glooscap often used animals who were bad to make something good. He paddled up and down this Beautiful River (St. John) many times.
Even near Kingsclear where Glooscap came up, long before the Mactaquac Dam was built, he used the ledges to hold on to when he fell. Glooscap
even left his image on those rocks. And where he left his snowshoes is where they were transformed and turned into The Snowshoe Islands.
These are all sacred places. Even the little people lived near the village of Kingsclear.
|Glooscap Turns Bad Into Good
An Abenaki Legend
Long ago. Gluscabi lived with his grandmother, Woodchuck, in a small lodge beside the big water.
One day, Gluscabi was walking around when he looked out and saw some ducks in the bay.
"I think it is time to go hunt some ducks," he said. So he took his bow and arrows and got into his canoe. He began to paddle out into the bay and as
he paddled he sang:
"Ki yo wah ji neh
yo hey ho hey
Ki yo wah ji neh
Ki yo wah ji neh".
But a wind came up and it turned his canoe and blew him back to shore. Once again Gluscabi began to paddle out and this time he sang his song a
"KI YO WAH JI NEH
YO HEY HO HEY
KI YO WAH JI NEH
KI YO WAH JI NEH"
But again the wind came and blew him back to shore. Four times he tried to paddle out into the bay and four times he failed.
He was not happy. He went back to the lodge of his grandmother and walked right in, even though there was a stick leaning across the door, which
meant that the person inside was doing some work and did not want to be disturbed.
"Grandmother," Gluscabi asked, "What makes the wind blow?"
Grandmother Woodchuck looked up from her work. "Gluscabi," she said, "Why do you want to know?"
Then Gluscabi answered her just as every child in the world does when they are asked suck a question. "Because," he said.
Grandmother Woodchuck looked at him. "Ah, Gluscabi," she said. "Whenever you ask such questions I feel there is going to be trouble. And
perhaps I should not tell you. But I know that you are very stubborn and would never stop asking. So, I shall tell you. If you walk always facing
the wind you will come to the place where Wuchowsen stands.
"Thank you, Grandmother," said Gluscabi. He stepped out of the lodge and faced into the wind and began to walk.
He walked across the fields and through the woods and the wind blew hard. He walked through the valleys and into the hills and the wind blew
harder still. He came to the foothills and began to climb and the wind still blew harder.
Now the foothills were becoming mountains and the wind was very strong. Soon there were no longer any trees and the wind was very, very
The wind was so strong that it blew off Gluscabi's moccasins. But he was very stubborn and he kept on walking, leaning into the wind. Now the
wind was so strong that it blew off his shirt, but he kept on walking. Now the wind was so strong that it blew off all his clothes and he was naked,
but he still kept walking.
Now the wind was so strong that it blew off his hair, but Gluscabi still kept walking, facing into the wind. The wind was so strong that it blew off
his eyebrows, but he still continued to walk.
Now the wind was so strong that he could hardly stand. He had to pull himself along by grabbing hold of the boulders. But there, on the peak ahead
of him, he could see a great bird flapping its wings. It was Wuchowsen, the Wind Eagle.
Gluscabi took a deep breath, "GRANDFATHER!" he shouted.
The Wind Eagle stopped flapping his wings and looked around. "Who calls me Grandfather?" he said.
Gluscabi stood up. "It's me, Grandfather. I came up here to tell you that you do a very good job making the wind blow."
The Wind Eagle puffed out his chest with pride. "You mean like this?" he said and flapped his wings even harder. The wind that he made was so
strong that it lifted Gluscabi right off his feet, and he would have been blown right off the mountain had he not reached out and grabbed a boulder
"GRANDFATHER!!!" Gluscabi shouted again.
The Wind Eagle stopped flapping his wings. "Yes?" he said.
Gluscabi stood up and came closer to Wuchowsen. "You do a very good job of making the wind blow, Grandfather. This is so. But it seems to me
that you could do an even better job if you were on that peak over there."
The Wind Eagle looked over toward the other peak. "That may be so," he said, "but how would I get from here to there?"
Gluscabi smiled. "Grandfather," he said, "I will carry you. Wait here."
Then Gluscabi ran back down the mountain until he came to a big basswood tree. He stripped off the outer bark and from the inner bark he braided
a strong carrying strap which he took back up the mountain to the Wind Eagle.
"Here, Grandfather," he said, "let me wrap this around you so I can lift you more easily." Then he wrapped the carrying strap so tightly around
Wuchowsen that his wings were pulled in to his sides and he could hardly breathe.
"Now, Grandfather," said Gluscabi, picking the Wind Eagle up, "I will take you to a better place."
He began to walk toward the other peak, but as he walked he came to a place where there was a large crevice, and as he stepped over it he let go of
the carrying strap and the Wind Eagle slid down into the crevice, upside down, and was stuck.
"Now," Gluscabi said, "it is time to go hunt some ducks."
He walked back down the mountain and there was no wind at all. He walked till he came to the tree line and still no wind blew. He walked down to
the foothills and down to the hills and the valleys and still there was no wind. He walked through the forest and the fields and the wind did not blow
He walked and walked until he got back to the lodge by the water, and by now all his hair had grown back.
He put on some fine new clothing and a new pair of moccasins and took his bow and arrows and went back to the bay and climbed into his boat to
He paddled out into the water and sang his canoing song:
"Ki yo wah ji neh
yo hey ho hey
Ki yo wah ji neh
Ki yo wah ji neh".
But the air was very hot and still and he began to sweat. The air was so still and hot that it was hard to breathe. Soon the water began to grow dirty
and smell bad and there was so much foam on the water he could hardly paddle.
He was not pleased at all and he returned to the shore and went straight to his grandmother's lodge and walked in.
"Grandmother," he said, "what is wrong? The air is hot and still and it is making me sweat and it is hard to breathe. The water is dirty and covered
with foam. I cannot hunt ducks at all like this."
Grandmother Woodchuck looked up at Gluscabi. "Gluscabi," she said, "what have you done now?"
And Gluscabi answered just as every child in the world answers when asked that question. "Oh, nothing," he said.
"Gluscabi," said Grandmother Woodchuck again, "Tell me what you have done."
Then Gluscabi told her about going to visit the Wind Eagle and what he had done to stop the wind.
"Oh, Gluscabi," said Grandmother Woodchuck, "will you never learn? Tabaldak, The Owner, set the Wind Eagle on that mountain to make the wind
because we need the wind. The wind keeps the air cool and clean. The wind brings the clouds that give us rain to wash the Earth. The wind moves
the waters to keep them fresh and sweet. Without the wind, life will not be good for us, for our children, or our children's children."
Gluscabi nodded his head. "Kaamoji, Grandmother," he said. "I understand."
Then he went outside. He faced in the direction from which the wind had once come and began to walk.
He walked through the fields and through the forests and the wind did not blow and he felt very hot. He walked through the valleys and up the hills
and there was no wind and it was very hard for him to breathe. He came to the foothills and began to climb and he was very hot and sweaty indeed.
At last he came to the mountain where the Wind Eagle once stood and he went and looked down into the crevice. There was Wuchowsen, the Wind
Eagle, wedged upside down.
"Uncle?" Gluscabi called.
The Wind Eagle looked up as best he could. "Who calls me Uncle?" he said.
"It is Gluscabi, Uncle. I'm up here. But what are you doing down there?"
"Oh, Gluscabi," said the Wind Eagle, "a very ugly naked man with no hair told me that he would take me to the other peak so that I could do a better
job of making the wind blow. He tied my wings and picked me up, but as he stepped over this crevice he dropped me in and I am stuck. And I am
not comfortable here at all."
"Ah, Grandfath...er, Uncle, I will get you out."
Then Gluscabi climbed down into the crevice. He pulled the Wind Eagle free and placed him back on the mountain and untied his wings.
"Uncle," Gluscabi said, "it is good that the wind should blow sometimes and other times it is good that it should be still."
The Wind Eagle looked at Gluscabi and then nodded his head. "Grandson." he said, "I hear what you say."
So it is that sometimes there is wind and sometimes it is very still to this very day.
And so the story goes.
|Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle
An Abenaki Legend
Music: Song of the River by AH-NEE-MAH
|Gluskabe Changes Maple Syrup
An Abenaki Legend
Long ago, the Creator made and gave many gifts to man to help him during his life. The Creator made the lives of the Abenaki People very good,
with plenty of food to gather, grow, and hunt. The Maple tree at that time was one of these very wonderful and special gifts from the Creator. The
sap was as thick and sweet as honey. All you had to do was to break the end off of a branch and the syrup would flow out.
In these days Gluskabe would go from native village to village to keep an eye on the People for the Creator. One day Gluskabe came to an
abandoned village. The village was in disrepair, the fields were over-grown, and the fires had gone cold. He wondered what had happened to the
He looked around and around, until he heard a strange sound. As he went towards the sound he could tell that it was the sound of many people
moaning. The moaning did not sound like people in pain but more like the sound of contentment. As he got closer he saw a large stand of beautiful
maple trees. As he got closer still he saw that all the people were lying on their backs under the trees with the end of a branch broken off and
dripping maple syrup into their mouths.
The maple syrup had fattened them up so much and made them so lazy that they could barely move. Gluskabe told them to get up and go back to
their village to re-kindle the fires and to repair the village. But the people did not listen. They told him that they were content to lie there and to enjoy
the maple syrup.
When Gluskabe reported this to the Creator, it was decided that it was again time that man needed another lesson to understand the Creator's ways.
The Creator instructed Gluskabe to fill the maple trees with water. So Gluskabe made a large bucket from birch bark and went to the river to get
water. He added water, and added more water until the sap was that like water. Some say he added a measure of water for each day between
moons, or nearly 30 times what it was as thick as syrup. After a while the People began to get up because the sap was no longer so thick and sweet.
They asked Gluskabe "where has our sweet drink gone?" He told them that this is the way it will be from now on. Gluskabe told them that if they
wanted the syrup again that they would have to work hard to get it. The sap would flow sweet only once a year before the new year of spring.
The People were shown that making syrup would take much work. Birch bark buckets would need to be made to collect the sap. Wood would be
needed to be gathered to make fires to heat rocks, and the rocks would be needed to be put into the sap to boil the water out to make the thick sweet
syrup that they once were so fond of. He also told them that they could get the sap for only a short time each year so that they would remember the
error of their ways.
And so it is still to this day, each spring the Abenaki people remember Gluskabe's lesson in honoring Creator's gifts and work hard to gather the
maple syrup they love so much. Nialach
|How Glooscap Created Sugarloaf Mountain
An Abenaki Legend
A long time ago, the people used to live near the riverbanks in the summer time, and they could watch all the salmon going up the river to spawn.
One day, they noticed the salmon could not get up the river anymore.
Remember, in those days the beaver were very, very big. And they had built a dam across the Restigouche River. That is why the salmon could not
get up the river to spawn.
The people were very upset indeed! Because they knew if the salmon could not get up the river to have their babies, there would be no more salmon
and they would have none for food in the winter.
So they held a council with all the people. They said that they didn't want to rely on Glooscap. They decided they would go out in their canoes to fight
The men got in their canoes but when they close to the beavers, they splashed the water with their huge tails. The canoes and the men went flying up
into the air and fell into the water. They could not get past the beavers in order to destroy the dam. The beavers were just too big.
So they swam ashore and they reconsidered calling Glooscap. At the time, Loon was Glooscap's messenger. They asked Loon to call him.
Loon made his wailing sound and called Glooscap. It was carried across the water to Glooscap, and our friend soon came riding on the back of his
Glooscap asked them, "Why did you call me?"
They tell him about the beavers and how they had made a dam all the way across the river, and how the salmon could no longer get up the river to
They say that they will not have any more salmon to eat if they can't get up the river and have their babies.
So Glooscap walked to the middle of the dam and hit it with his club. When he hit the dam, parts of it flew away. One of these parts became an
island. It is now called Heron Island. Another part that flew away is now called Bantry Point.
Glooscap caught the leader of the beavers and swung him around and around by his tail. When Glooscap let go, the beaver landed many miles away
and turned into rock. Today, that rock is called Sugarloaf Mountain.
Glooscap then turned to the other beavers. They were afraid, so instead, he stroked their heads. And with each stroke, they became smaller and
smaller, until they reached the size they are today.
Glooscap promised the people that the beavers in New Brunswick would never grow that big again. The beavers will not build a dam so big that it
stops the salmon from getting through. The people will never have to worry about that problem again.
|Oochigeas and the Invisible Boy
An Abenaki Legend
There was once a Malicete Indian village on the edge of a lake in the land of the Wabanaki, and in this village lived three sisters. The two older girls,
Oona and Abit, were handsome and proud, but the youngest, whom they called Oochigeas, was timid and plain. She suffered much from the
selfishness of her sisters, but bore all their ill-treatment without complaint.
Because these girls had no parents, they were given meat by the tribe's hunters in return for making pottery. Through much practice, they had
become the best makers of pots in the village. And this is how they made them. First Oona, the eldest, wove a basket from ash splints, then Abit lined
it with wet clay. Finally, it was given to the youngest girl to harden in the fire. As the clay slowly baked, the wind blew the fire into Oochigeas' face,
and in time her hair was singed close to her head and her face covered with burns. And that is why her sisters mocked her with the name of
Oochigeas, which means "little scarred one."
Now Glooscap the Great Chief knew all his People. He saw the misery of Oochigeas and pitied her, and he scowled at the cruelty of her sisters, yet he
did nothing. And this was something that Marten, his servant, could not understand.
"My elder brother," said Marten, "though she is plain, her heart is kind. Can you not help her?"
"We will see," said the Great Chief with a wise nod. "Oochigeas must help herself first. Kindness is a great virtue, but courage is the first rule of my
Now on the far side of the lake, remote from the village, there lived an Indian youth called Team, who had the wonderful power of making himself
invisible. To all save his sister he was as the rustle of a leaf in the forest, a sigh of wind in the treetops, or a breath of air in the heavens. His name
meant "moose" and the moose was his totem, or charm, that gave him his power. Having this magical power, Team needed no bow and arrow. He
could walk straight up to game, without being seen or heard, and slay it with his bare hands. One day, Team's sister appeared in the village.
"my brother is tired of living alone," she said to the people. "Team will marry the first girl who is able to see him."
Now, though no person had seen Team, or knew if he was tall or short, fat or thin, plain or handsome, yet they knew of his magic power and his
great success in hunting. To the Indians, who live by hunting, a brave who can keep meat in his lodge all the time is admired above all others. He is a
kind of prince. It is no wonder that every maiden in the village yearned to become the bride of the Invisible Boy. All the unmarried maidens were
very eager to try their fortune and, one after another, each made a visit to the lodge across the lake. And, one after another, each came back
disappointed. At last, all had made the attempt except the three Sisters.
"Now it is my turn," said Oona. "I'm sure I shall be able to see him."
"You indeed!" sniffed Abit. "I'm as likely to see him as you are. Why should you go first?" "I am the eldest!" "Team is sure to want a younger
The two sisters glared at each other.
"You needn't think I shall let you go alone," declared Oona angrily. "Then we'll go together," said Abit. And so they did. Dressing themselves in their
finest robes, they set off for the lodge across the lake. Team's sister received them kindly and took them to the wigwam to rest after their journey.
Then, when it was time for her brother's return, she led them to the shore.
"Do you see my brother?" she asked. The two girls gazed eagerly out over the lake. They saw a canoe approaching, but though it moved swiftly
through the water, it appeared to be empty! No paddle could be seen, for whatever Team held or wore became also invisible.
Abit thought to herself that she would pretend to see him, and Team's sister would never know the difference. "I see him!" she cried. And Oona, not to
be outdone, echoed, "Yes! I see him too!" Team's sister knew that at least one of the girls lied, for only one maiden would be allowed to see her
brother and that would be his future bride.
"Of what is his shoulder strap made?" she asked. The two girls thought for a moment. They knew that, generally, Indians used rawhide or withe for
their shoulder straps. "A strip of rawhide," guessed Abit. "No --withe!" cried Oona.
Then team's sister knew that neither had seen her brother and she resolved to punish them for their dishonesty. "Very well," she said quietly. "Come
to the wigwam and help me prepare my brother's supper."
The two girls were anxious to know which of them had given the correct answer, so they followed Team's sister and helped her prepare the meal.
Each hoped that she alone would see Team when he came. When all was ready, the sister of Team warned the girls not to sit in her brother's place but
to remain on her side of the fire. Then, looking up, she greeted her brother, but the girls could see no one.
"Take my brother's load of meat," she told Abit, who looked around her in dismay. As long as the meat was on Team's shoulders, it could not be seen.
Suddenly, a great load of venison dropped from nowhere on Abit's toes. Abit screamed and ran from the lodge in pain and fright. Now Team's sister
told Oona to remove her brother's wet moccasins and put them to dry. Of course Oona could not do so. A pair of wet moccasins came suddenly
sailing through the air and slapped her across the face. Then Oona too ran away, crying with mortification.
"My bride is a long time coming," sighed Team. "And those were very fine looking girls." "Patience, my brother. You must have one who is brave
and truthful, as well as lovely, and such a one has not come yet." Abit and Oona returned home to vent their rage and spite on poor Oochigeas. To
escape their cruelty, she fled to the woods and there, in a secluded spot, relieved her heart with tears. But when there were no tears left, and her spirit
had been calmed by the peace of the forest, Oochigeas began to think. Now that her sisters had failed, she was the only maid left in the village who
had not tried to see the Invisible Boy. Yet, if her fine sisters had failed, what chance had she, poor and plain as she was? A great hunter like Team
would not wish a scar-faced girl like Oochigeas for a bride. All the same, hope stirred in her breast. Her heart began to beat fast at the thought of
going to Team's lodge. She had no fine clothes to wear. Her sisters might try to stop her. The people would laugh. It would take courage. Her mind
was made up!
Oochigeas gathered sheets of birch bark and cut out a gown and cap and leggings, and sewed them together with grass. The clothing was stiff and
awkward, and it crackled when she walked, but it covered her. Then she went home and found a pair of Oona's discarded moccasins. They were
huge on her small feet and she had to tie them on by winding strings around her ankles. She was truly an odd-looking sight, and her two sisters
stared at her in amazement. "Where are you going in that ridiculous outfit?" Oona asked. "I am going to Team's lodge," answered Oochigeas.
"What! You foolish girl! Come back!" "Oh, let her go," said Abit. "Let the people see her and she'll come back soon enough, in tears."
Oochigeas' way lay through the village, and the men and boys shouted and jeered at her. "Shame, shame!" "Ugly creature!" "See how her burned
hair sticks out from her cap!" "Why does she wear birch bark instead of skins?" "Come back, Oochigeas. Where do you think you're going? To see
Team?" And they laughed so hard they rolled on the ground. But, though her heart burned with shame, Oochigeas pretended not to hear, and walked
on with her head high, until she was out of their sight. Then she hurried through the woods and around the edge of the lake, trying no to think of the
ordeal ahead. Doubtless Team's sister would laugh at her too. Still she went on, and came at last to the lodge and saw Team's sister at the door.
"I have come," gasped Oochigeas before the other could speak, "I have come --to see Team-- if I can." And she looked pleadingly at Team's sister.
"Come in and rest," said the sister of Team gently, and Oochigeas nearly wept at the unexpected kindness, but she managed to retain her dignity as
they waited in silence for the sun to go down. Then Team's sister led her to the lake.
"Do you see my brother?" she asked. Oochigeas looked and saw a canoe, empty. She heard the dip of a paddle and the swish of the water at the bow,
but though she gazed with all her might, she saw no one. She whispered with a sinking heart, "No, I cannot see him."
"Look again," urged Team's sister, out of pity, and because the girl had so far been truthful. Oochigeas gazed once more at the canoe, and suddenly
gave a gasp.
"Oh! Yes! Now I see him!" "If you see him," said Team's sister quickly, "of what is his shoulder strap made?" "Why it is made of a rainbow,"
marveled Oochigeas, and Team's sister knew her brother had found his bride. She led the girl back to the wigwam and stripped off her ugly clothes,
bathed her, and dressed her in doeskin, then gave her a comb to tidy her hair.
"Alas," thought Oochigeas, "I have so little hair to comb," but as she drew the comb against her head, she found to her amazement that her hair had
grown suddenly long and thick. Moreover, the scars had gone from her face. She was beautiful!
Then the handsome Team came, laughing, and crying out, "At last I've found you, my lovely bride." And he led her to the wife's place in the wigwam.
And from that day on, Oochigeas and Team, and Team's sister, lived out their days in peace and happiness. Far away on Blomidon, Glooscap looked
at Marten with a wise smile. He had known all along, you see, that Oochigeas had courage under her gentleness, and a brave spirit makes all things
possible. And so it happened.
|Rabbit Calls A Truce
An Abenaki Legend
In the long ago when Glooscap ruled over the Wabanaki, there lived two lively animals, Keoonik the Otter, and Ableegumooch the Rabbit, who were
forever playing tricks on each other.
One day, when Keoonik was in swimming, Ableegumooch ran off with a string of eels he had left on the shore. Keoonik rushed out of the water and
went in angry pursuit. He had no difficulty in tracking the rabbit, for the mark of the fish, touching the ground between jumps, clearly showed the
way. He was astonished, however, when the trail ended at a clearing in the woods where a withered old woman sat by a small fire.
"Kwah-ee, Noogumee," said Keoonik, using the formal address for an elderly female. "Did you see a rabbit hopping this way, dragging a string of
"Rabbit? Rabbit?" muttered the old woman. "What kind of animal is that?"
The otter explained that it was a small brown jumping creature with long ears and a short tail.
"I saw no such animal," the old squaw grumbled, "but I'm glad you came along, for I am cold and sick. Do please gather a little wood for my fire."
Obligingly, Keoonik went off to do so. Returning with the wood, he stared around in surprise. The old woman was gone. On the spot where she had
sat, he saw the mark of a rabbit's haunches, and familiar paw-prints leading away in to the woods. Then he remembered that Ableegumooch was
very clever at changing his appearance and fooling people.
"Oh, that miserable rabbit!" cried Keoonik and set off again on the trail. This time the tracks led straight to a village of the Penobscot Indians, where
Keoonik could see the rabbit in conversation with a thin sad man wearing the feather of a Chief in his hair string. The wily otter cut himself a stout
stick and waited behind a tree. Presently, Ableegumooch came strolling down the path, his face creased in an absent-minded frown.
Keoonik was ready for him. He brought the stick down on the rabbit's head with a thud, and Ableegumooch collapsed on the grass.
"That should teach him," thought Keoonik with satisfaction, and he sat down to wait for the rabbit to recover.
Presently Ableegumooch came to his senses and staggered to his feet with a dazed expression.
"What did you do with my eels?" demanded Keoonik.
"I gave them to the Indians," muttered the rabbit, exploring the bump on his head with a groan. "What did you do that for, you silly creature?"
"Those Penobscots are starving, Keoonik," said the rabbit. "For many moons someone has been stealing their food."
"Just the same," grumbled Keoonik, "those were my eels."
The rabbit thumped his hind legs on the ground with an air of great determination.
"Keoonik, we must find the robbers and punish them!"
"We?" asked Keoonik in astonishment.
"Yes, you and I," said his companion firmly. "Let there be a truce between us until we discover the thieves."
Keoonik thought to himself that Ableegumooch was a fine one to complain of people stealing other people's food! However, he too felt sorry for the
"All right," he agreed. "we'll have a truce," and they shook hands solemnly. Then they started back to the village to ask the Chief what they might do
to help, but when they were still some way off they saw two other animals talking to him. These were Uskoos the Weasel and Abukcheech the Mouse,
two animals so troublesome even their own families would have nothing to do with them.
"Let's listen," whispered Ableegumooch, drawing Keoonik behind a tree.
"We will find those robbers for you, Chief," they heard Uskoos say. "Don't you worry about a thing."
"You can depend on us," chimed in Abukcheech.
Ableegumooch nudged the otter.
"Did you hear that?"
"I heard," said Keoonik. "So the Indians don't need our help after all."
"I wonder," said the rabbit thoughtfully.
"What do you wonder? And why are we whispering?"
"Shhh! Let's think about it a little, Keoonik. Have you any idea how those two get their living? They sleep all day and go hunting only after dark."
"some of us like to hunt after dark," Keoonik said fairly.
"Well, but listen," said the rabbit. "All the fur robes in the camp have been chewed and scratched and spoiled. What animals chew and scratch
wherever they go?"
"Weasels and mice," answered Keoonik promptly. "Very well. Let's follow them and see what happens."
So Keoonik and Ableegumooch, keeping out of sight themselves, followed the weasel and the mouse a very long way, to a large burrow in the side of a
hill where a number of other weasels and mice of bad reputation were gathered. All greeted Uskoos and Abukcheech and listened to what they had to
say, while the rabbit and otter, hidden behind a blueberry bush, listened too.
"We were very sympathetic," smirked Uskoos, "and said we would help them."
"So now they won't suspect us," said Abukcheech, and all the mice and weasels chortled gleefully.
"It is time now," said Uskoos, "to call all the animals together and plan the conquest of the Penobscots. For we are smarter than the Indians and
deserve to have all the food for ourselves."
"Very true!" all shouted.
"How will we get the rest to join us?" asked Abukcheech.
"The smaller ones will be afraid to say no to us," declared Uskoos. "We will use trickery on the others. We will tell them the Penobscots plan to
destroy all the animals in the land, and we must unite in order to defend ourselves."
"Then, with Wolf and Bear and Moose to help us," cried Abukcheech, "we'll soon have all the Indians at our mercy!"
The otter and the rabbit could hardly believe their ears. Someone must warn the Indians.
"Come on," whispered Keoonik, but the rabbit only crouched where he was, tense and unmoving. The fact is, he wanted to sneeze! Ableegumooch
wanted to sneeze more than he ever wanted to sneeze in his life before, but he mustn't sneeze --the sound would give them away. So he tried and he
tried to hold that sneeze back. He pressed his upper lip, he grew red in the face, and his eyes watered --but nothing was any good.
Instantly, the weasels and mice pounced on Keoonik and Ableegumooch and dragged them out of hiding.
"Spies!" growled Uskoos.
"Kill them, kill them!" screamed Abukcheech.
"I have a better plan," said Uskoos. "These two will be our first recruits." Then he told the prisoners they must become members of his band, or be
Poor Ableegumooch. Poor Keoonik. They did not wish to die, yet they could never do as the thieves wished, for the Penobscots were their friends.
Ableegumooch opened his mouth, meaning to defy the villains no matter what the consequences, and then his mouth snapped shut. He had heard a
strange sound, the sound of a flute piping far away, and he knew what it was. It was the magic flute of Glooscap, and the Great Chief was sending
him a message.
Into the rabbit's head popped the memory of something Glooscap had said to him once long ago, half in fun, half in earnest. "Ableegumooch," he
seemed to hear the words again, "the best way to catch a snake is to think like a snake!" At once the rabbit understood. He set himself to think like the
mice and the weasels, feeling the greed and selfishness that was in them. Then he had a plan.
"Very well," he said, "we will join you. Those Indians are certainly very cruel and dishonest. They deserve the worst that can happen to them. Why,
only yesterday" --and here he gave Keoonik a secret nudge-- "my friend and I saw them hide away a great store of food in a secret place. Didn't we,
"Oh, yes, certainly," stammered Keoonik, wondering what trick the rabbit was up to now.
The weasels and mice jumped about in mad excitement. "Where? Where?" Where is this place?"
"Take us there at once!" cried Uskoos, licking his lips.
"Certainly," said Ableegumooch, starting off towards the woods. "Just follow us."
Abukcheech th Mouse was right at their heels, but Uskoos soon shouldered him aside. Then each animal fought to be in front, and in this way all
rushed through the forest, across the meadows, down into the valleys and over the hills, until at last --pushing and panting and grunting-- they all
reached the bottom of a grassy hill. Ableegumooch pointed to a pile of rocks at the top.
"You will find the wealth you seek up there," he cried. "Hurry, hurry! The best will go to those who get there first."
Away they all went, each struggling to be first. The rabbit and the otter stood aside and watched as the wild mob scrambled up the hill --up and up
until suddenly, too late to stop, they found themselves teetering on the edge of a cliff, with nothing in front of them but space, and the sea far below.
Those who were first tried to stop but were pushed over by those crowding behind --and so, screaming with terror, down they all went, headlong into
"Well," said Keoonik, peering over the edge of the cliff with a shiver, "their tribes are well rid of them."
"So are the Penobscots," said the rabbit. "And now that together we have saved our friends from the mice and weasels, Keoonik, let us go home
together in peace as good neighbors should."
"I'm willing," said the otter, but he had no sooner taken a step than he sprawled on the ground. Ableegumooch had tripped him.
"That's for the knock on the head!" the rabbit laughed, and made for the woods. Picking himself up furiously, Keoonik was after him, shouting, "Just
wait till I catch you, I'll teach you to play tricks!" Their truce was over.
And Glooscap, looking down from Blomidon, laughed at their antics, for he knew that with all their mischief there was no greed or spite in the hearts
of Keoonik and Ableegumooch, against the Indians or against each other.
Once more, kespeadooksit, the story ends.
|The Story of the Drum
An Abenaki Legend
It is said that when Creator was giving a place for all the spirits to dwell who would be taking part in the inhabitance of Mother Earth, there came a
sound, a loud BOOM, from off in the distance.
As Creator listened, the sound kept coming closer and closer until it finally was right in front of Creator. "Who are you?" asked Creator. "I am the
spirit of the drum," was the reply. "I have come here to ask you to allow me to take part in this wonderful thing." "How will you take part?" Creator
questioned. "I would like to accompany the singing of the people. When they sing from their hearts, I will sing as though I was the heartbeat of
Mother Earth. In that way, all creation will sing in harmony." Creator granted the request, and from then on, the drum accompanied the people's
Throughout all of the indigenous peoples of the world, the drum is the center of all songs. It is the catalyst for the spirit of the songs to rise up to the
Creator so that the prayers in those songs reach where they were meant to go. At all times, the sound of the drum brings completeness, awe,
excitement, solemnity, strength, courage, and the fulfillment to the songs. It is Mother's heartbeat giving her approval to those living upon her. It
draws the eagle to it, who carries the message to Creator.
It changes people's lives!
|The Strange Origin of Corn
An Abenaki Legend
A long time ago, when the Indians were first made, one man lived alone, far from any others. He did not know fire, and so he lived on roots, bark,
and nuts. This man became very lonely for companionship.
He grew tired of digging roots, lost his appetite, and for several days lay dreaming in the sunshine. When he awoke, he saw someone standing near
and, at first, was very frightened.
But when he heard the stranger's voice, his heart was glad, and he looked up. He saw a beautiful woman with long light hair! "Come to me," he
whispered. But she did not, and when he tried to approach her, she moved farther away. He sang to her about his loneliness, and begged her not to
At last she replied, "If you will do exactly what I tell you to do, I will also be with you."
He promised that he would try his very best. So she led him to a place where there was some very dry grass. "Now get two dry sticks," she told him,
"and rub them together fast while you hold them in the grass."
Soon a spark flew out. The grass caught fire, and as swiftly as an arrow takes flight, the ground was burned over. Then the beautiful woman spoke
again: "When the sun sets, take me by the hair and drag me over the burned ground."
"Oh, I don't want to do that!" the man exclaimed.
"You must do what I tell you to do," she said. "Wherever you drag me, something like grass will spring up, and you will see something like hair coming
from between the leaves. Soon seeds will be ready for your use."
The man followed the beautiful woman's orders. And when the Indians see silk on the cornstalk, they know that the beautiful woman has not