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- The Algonquin Legends of New England - 5/54 -

the only way in which he himself could be slain was by the stroke of an owl's feather, [Footnote: There are different readings of this incident. In Mr. Band's manuscript the alleged means of Glooskap's death is described as being a cat-tail flag (_haw-kwee-usqu'_, Passamaquoddy), while a handful of bird's down is the bane of Malsum the Wolf. The termination _sis_ is a diminutive, here meaning the younger.] though this was not true. And Malsumsis said, "I can only die by a blow from a fern-root."

It came to pass in after-days that Kwah-beet-a-sis, the son of the Great Beaver, or, as others say, Miko the Squirrel, or else the evil which was in himself, tempted Malsumsis to kill Glooskap; for in those days all men were wicked. So taking his bow he shot Ko-ko-khas the Owl, and with one of his feathers he struck Glooskap while sleeping. Then he awoke in anger, yet craftily said that it was not by an owl's feather, but by a blow from a pine-root, that his life would end.

[Illustration: Glooskap killing his brother the wolf]

Then the false man led his brother another day far into the forest to hunt, and, while he again slept, smote him on the head with a pine-root. But Glooskap arose unharmed, drove Malsumsis away into the woods, sat down by the brook-side, and thinking aver all that had happened, said, "Nothing but a flowering rush can kill me." But the Beaver, who was hidden among the reeds, heard this, and hastening to Malsumsis told him the secret of his brother's life. For this Malsumsis promised to bestow on Beaver whatever he should ask; but when the latter wished for wings like a pigeon, the warrior laughed, and scornfully said, "Get thee hence; thou with a tail like a file, what need hast thou of wings?"

Then the Beaver was angry, and went forth to the camp of Glooskap, to whom he told what he had done. Therefore Glooskap arose in sorrow and in anger, took a fern-root, sought Malsumsis in the deep, dark forest, and smote him so that he fell down dead. And Glooskap sang a song over him and lamented.

The Beaver and the Owl and the Squirrel, for what they did and as they did it, all come again into these stories; but Malsumsis, being dead, was turned into the Shick-shoe mountains in the Gaspe peninsula.

For this chapter and parts of others I am indebted to the narrative of a Micmac Indian, taken down by Mr. Edward Jock; also to another version in the Rand MS. The story is, in the main-points, similar to that given by David Cusick in his History of the Six Nations, of Enigorio the Good Mind, and Enigonhahetgea, Bad Mind, to which I shall refer anon.

It is very evident that in this tradition Glooskap represents the Good principle, and Malsumsis, the little wolf,--that is the Wolf who is the Younger, rather than little or small,--the Evil one. Malsum typifies destruction and sin in several of these tales. He will arise at the last day, when Glooskap is to do battle with all the giants and evil beasts of olden time, and will be the great destroyer. Malsum is the Wolf Fenris of this the true Indian Edda.

For a further comment on this birth of the twins and its resemblance to a passage in the Edda, the reader is referred to the notes on the next chapter.

_How Glooskap made the Elves and Fairies, and then Man of an Ash Tree, and last of all, Beasts, and of his Coming at the Last Day._


Glooskap came first of all into this country, into Nova Scotia, Maine, Canada, into the land of the Wabanaki, next to sunrise. There were no Indians here then (only wild Indians very far to the west).

First born were the Mikumwess, the Oonabgemessuk, the small Elves, little men, dwellers in rocks.

And in this way he made Man: He took his bow and arrows and shot at trees, the basket-trees, the Ash. Then Indians came out of the bark of the Ash-trees. And then the Mikumwees said ... called tree-man.... [Footnote: The relater, an old woman, was quite unintelligible at this point.]

Glooskap made all the animals. He made them at first very large. Then he said to Moose, the great Moose who was as tall as Ketawkqu's, [Footnote: A giant, high as the tallest pines, or as the clouds.] "What would you do should you see an Indian coming?" Moose replied, "I would tear down the trees on him." Then Glooskap saw that the Moose was too strong, and made him smaller, so that Indians could kill him.

Then he said to the Squirrel, who was of the size of a Wolf, "What would you do if you should meet an Indian?" And the Squirrel answered, "I would scratch down trees on him." Then Glooskap said, "You also are too strong," and he made him little. [Footnote: Another account states that Glooskap took the Squirrel in his hands and smoothed him down.]

Then he asked the great White Bear what he would do if he met an Indian; and the Bear said, "Eat him." And the Master bade him go and live among rocks and ice, where he would see no Indians.

So he questioned all the beasts, changing their size or allotting their lives according to their answers.

He took the Loon for his dog; but the Loon absented himself so much that he chose for this service two wolves,--one black and one white, [Footnote: Dogs are used for beasts of burden, to draw sledges, in the North.] But the Loons are always his tale-bearers. Many years ago a man very far to the North wished to cross a bay, a great distance, from one point to another. As he was stepping into his canoe he saw a man with two dogs,--one black and one white,--who asked to be set across. The Indian said, "You may go, but what will become of your dogs?" Then the stranger replied, "Let them go round by land." "Nay," replied the Indian, "that is much too far." But the stranger saying nothing, he put him across. And as they reached the landing place there stood the dogs. But when he turned his head to address the man, he was gone. So he said to himself, "I have seen Glooskap."

Yet again,--but this was not so many years ago,--far in the North there were at a certain place many Indians assembled. And there was a frightful commotion, caused by the ground heaving and rumbling; the rocks shook and fell, they were greatly alarmed, and lo! Glooskap stood before them, and said, "I go away now, but I shall return again; when you feel the ground tremble, then know it is I." So they will know when the last great war is to be, for then Glooskap will make the ground shake with an awful noise.

Glooskap was no friend of the Beavers; he slew many of them. Up on the Tobaic are two salt-water rocks (that is, rocks by the ocean-side, near a freshwater stream). The Great Beaver, standing there one day, was seen by Glooskap miles away, who had forbidden him that place. Then picking up a large rock where he stood by the shore, he threw it all that distance at the Beaver, who indeed dodged it; but when another came, the beast ran into a mountain, and has never come forth to this day. But the rocks which the master threw are yet to be seen.

This very interesting tradition was taken down by Mrs. W. Wallace Brown from a very old Passamaquoddy Indian woman named Molly Sepsis, who could not speak a word of English, with the aid of another younger woman named Sarah.

It will be observed that it is said in the beginning that Glooskap produced the first human beings from, the ash-tree. Ash and Elm in the Edda were the Adam and Eve of the human race. There were no intelligent men on earth--

"Until there came three mighty and benevolent Aesir to the world from their assembly nearly powerless, Ash and Embla (Ash and Elm), void of destiny.

"Spirit they possessed not, sense they had not, blood nor motive powers, nor goodly color. Spirit gave Odin, sense gave Hoenir, blood gave Lodur, and good color." [Footnote: _The Edda of Saemund_, translated by Benjamin Thorpe. London: Trubner & Co. 1866. Voluspa, v. 17, 18.]

It is certain, however, that the _ash_ was the typic tree of all life, since the next verse of the Voluspa is devoted to Yggdrasil, the tree of existence, or of the world itself. It may be observed that in the Finnish poem of Kalevala it is by the destruction of the great oak that Wainamoien, aided by the hero of the sea, causes all things to grow. The early clearing away of trees, as a first step towards culture, may be symbolized in the shooting of arrows at the ash.

The wolf, as a beast for the deity to ride, is strongly Eddaic.

"Magic songs they sung, rode on wolves, the god (Odin) and gods." [Footnote: _Rognnir og regin._ Odin and the Powers. Note by B. Thorpe to the _Hrafnagalar Odins_, in Edda, p.30.]

We have here within a few lines, accordingly, the elm as the parent of mankind, and wolves as the beasts of transport for the supreme deity, both in the Indian legend and in the Edda.

As Glooskap is directly declared in one tradition to keep by him as an attendant a being who is the course of the sun and of the seasons, it may be assumed that the black and white wolf represent day and night.

Again, great stress is laid in the Glooskap legend upon the fact that the last great day of battle with Malsum the Wolf and the frost-giants, stone-giants, and other powers of evil, shall be announced by an earthquake.

"Trembles Yggdrasil's Ash yet standing, groans that aged tree.... and the Wolf runs.... The monster's kin goes all with the Wolf.... The stony hills are dashed together, The giantesses totter. Then arises Hlin's second grief

The Algonquin Legends of New England - 5/54

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