After Nanahboozhoo had give the Wild Roses their thorns, he wandered about the world playing pranks on the Little People of Darkness, so that they
determined to be revenged on him and kill his old Grandmother Nokomis. Nanahboozhoo loved his grandmother dearly, and when he knew that the
Little People wished to hurt her, he took Nokomis upon his strong back and flew away with her to a forest.
Wonderful was the forest, for it was in the Autumn of the year, and the Maple Trees were all yellow, green, and crimson. From a distance they
looked like a great fire. It happened that the Little People followed after Nanahboozhoo, and when they saw the bright colors of the Maples, through
the haze of Indian Summer, they thought the whole world was in flames, and turned back and hid in their holes.
Nanahboozhoo was so pleased with the beautiful Maples for having saved his grandmother from the Little People that he decided to live among the
trees, and he made old Nokomis a wigwam of their brightest branches.
One day, some Indians came seeking Nanahboozhoo to ask for help. They found him in his grandmother's wigwam among the yellow, green, and
crimson Maples, where he received them kindly.
"O Nanahboozhoo," said they, "the Indians of the Far South have a delicious sweet thing they call sugar, and we have nothing of the kind. We sent
runners with gifts to the South to get an abundance of Sugar for our people; but some of the runners were killed and other wounded. Tell us,
therefore, O Nanahboozhoo, how we may make Sugar for ourselves."
At first Nanahboozhoo was greatly puzzled, for he had been in the South land and knew how hard it was to make Sugar. But old Nokomis, when she
hears what the Indians asked, added her pleadings to theirs, for she too had tasted Sugar and longed for more. Of course Nanahboozhoo could refuse
to help, so he thought a while, and said:-
"Since the beautiful Maples were so good to Nokomis, henceforth in the Spring of the year they shall give the Indians sweet sap. And when the sap is
boiled down thick and delicious, it will cool and harden into Sugar."
Then Nanahboozhoo gave the Indians a bucket made of Birch bark, and a stone tapping-gouge with which to make holes in the tree-trunks; and he
shaped for them some Cedar spiles or little spouts, to put in the holes, and through which the sap might run from the trees into buckets. He told them,
too, that they must build great fireplaces in the woods near the Maple groves, and when the buckets were full of sap, they must pour it into their
kettles, and boil it down. And the amount of Sugar they might boil each Spring would depend on the number of Cedar spiles and Birch bark buckets
they made during the Winter.
And every Springtime since, when the Frost is going out of the ground and the Arbutus blossoms under the snow, the sweet sap mounts through the
trunks of the Maple Trees, and the Northern Indians gather the sap, and say, "This is the way Nanahboozhoo taught us to make Maple Sugar!"
Music: Coyote Moon by R. Carlos Nakai
|How Maple Sugar Came
A Salteaux Legend
All Rights Reserved
|Why Wild Roses Have Thorns
A Salteaux Legend
Long, long ago, Wild Roses had no thorns. They grew on bushes the stems of which were smooth and fragrant, and the leaves a delicate green. The
sweet-smelling pink blossoms covered the bushes. Oh, they were beautiful to see!
But they made such delicious eating, that the Rabbits and other creatures who loved grass and herbs, nibbled the pink petals and green leaves, and
sometimes ate up the bushes. By and by there were only a few Rose-Bushes left in the whole world.
Well, the Rose-Bushes that were left met together to see what they could do about it, and they decided to go and find Nanahboozhoo, and ask him for
Now this Nanahboozhoo was a strange fellow. He had magic power and could make himself as tall as a tree or as small as a Turtle. He could not be
drowned or burned or killed, and he had a very bad temper when he was displeased. He was hard to find, for sometimes he was an animal and at
other times a man.
But the Rose-Bushes decided to look for him, and they hurried away on the back of a wind that they hired to carry them. And as they went along,
they asked every tree and animal they met, "Have you seen Nanahboozhoo?" And all answered, "No."
The Rose-Bushes flew on and on, the wind blowing them along, and by and by they met a little animal that said, "Nanahboozhoo is in a valley
among the mountains, where he is planting and taking care of a flower-garden."
The Rose-Bushes were delighted to hear this, and told the wind to blow them to that valley, and it did. As they drew near the flower-garden, they
heard Nanahboozhoo shouting, for he was in a great rage. At this the Rose-Bushes were dreadfully frightened, and hid among some Balsam Trees.
But they soon learned why Nanahboozhoo was angry.
Some weeks before he had planted a hedge of Wild Roses around his garden, and when they were covered with spicy pink blossoms, he had gone
away for a few days. Just before the Rose-Bushes had arrived and hidden among the Balsams, he had returned to his garden. What was his anger
to find that the Rabbits and other creatures had eaten up his hedge of Wild Roses, and trampled down all his flowers.
Now, when the Rose-Bushes knew why Nanahboozhoo was shouting with rage, they left their hiding-place, and a puff of wind blew them straight to
Nanahboozhoo's feet. He was surprised to see them, for he thought that all Rose=Bushes had been eaten up; but before he could say a word, they told
him their troubles.
Nanahboozhoo listened, and, after talking things over with the Rose-bushes, he gave them a lot of small, thorn like prickles to cover their branches
and stems close up to the flowers, so that the animals would not be able to eat them. After that Nanahboozhoo sent the Rose-Bushes to their home,
on the back of the wind.
And ever since that day all Wild Roses have had many thorns.