Native American Legends
A new bow for Tani
A Cherokee Legend
In those far-off days, before Glooscap, the mighty Magician, set
sail in his stone canoe for the Land of the Red Sunrise, there were
Fairies and Elves living in the green forests of the Wabanaki. Very
wonderful was the music they made on magic flutes of reed, and with
their melody they could charm men and beasts.
When these Fairies were pleased with an Indian brave they gave
him a magic flute. And if they grew to love him, they made him a
Fairy like themselves, and called him a Mikumwess.
Now, in those far-off days there dwelt two youths in a village
of the Wabanaki. One, whose name was Little Thunder, was full of
laughter and song, and wished greatly to meet the Fairies and be
made a Mikumwess.
The other youth, who was called the Badger, loved Brown Fawn, the
beautiful daughter of a great Chief. The Badger wished to have her
for his wife, but he heard that her father was a cruel man, and
set such difficult tasks for his daughter's suitors, that they all
perished in attempting them.
One day a Loon came to the village of the Wabanaki where dwelt
these two young men. It was Glooscap messenger, and it said that
the mighty Magician had promised to grant one wish to each Indian
youth who would seek his magic lodge.
When Little Thunder and the Badger heard this, they decked themselves
with their choicest feathers, and, armed with strong bows and arrows,
they set out along the trail that led to Glooscap lodge. Dangerous
was this trail, and filled with terrors, but the two hastened bravely
on, overcoming all in their way.
For seven years they traveled, until at last they reached the lodge.
Glooscap, smiling, welcomed them, and Martin the Fairy set food
and drink before them. Then Glooscap asked what they most desired.
"Make me a Mikumwess," said Little Thunder, "then
I may help my brother the Badger to win his bride."
"All I desire is to win Brown Fawn for my wife," replied
the Badger, "for I am lonely in my lodge."
Then Glooscap smiled again, and he wove a magic hair-string in
Little Thunder's locks, and the young man became a Mikumwess endowed
with Fairy power. After this Glooscap gave him a magic flute of
reed so that he might charm all living things.
But to the Badger, Glooscap, said: "The maiden is yours to
win with the aid of this Mikumwess. Enter my stone canoe, and sail
over the seas, to the lodge of her father. Only return the canoe
to me when your adventure is over, for never before did I lend it
to any man."
Then Glooscap took the two youths to the seashore, and pointed
to a small island of granite against which the foaming waves were
beating. It was covered with high Pines around whose tops flew many
white Gulls. "There is my canoe," said he. "Swim
thither and enter it."
So the two young men threw themselves into the water, and swam
out to the island. As soon as they stepped on its rocks, the island
turned into a large stone canoe, and the Pine Trees became high
Rejoicing, the Mikumwess and the Badger sailed away across the
seas. They sailed for many days until at last they reached the land
where was the village of the cruel Chief.
They drew the stone canoe up on the beach, and hid it under some
bushes. Then they entered the village and sought the lodge of the
Chief. He welcomed them gravely, and placed them in the seat of
honor. After which he asked them what was their errand.
The Mikumwess answered: "This, my brother the Badger, is tired
of living alone. Give him Brown Fawn to follow him to his lodge."
"Brown Fawn may go with him," answered the Chief courteously,
"if tomorrow he brings me the head of the Yellow Horned Serpent
that dwells in the great cave by the sea."
To this the young men agreed, and were given a lodge to sleep in.
When the night was very dark, the Mikumwess arose, and, leaving
the Badger asleep, went alone to the great cave by the sea. Across
its entrance he laid a log, and then began to dance a magic dance
before it, playing on his Fairy flute.
When the Yellow Horned Serpent heard the strange music, he was
charmed, and came creeping out, waving his head from side to side.
Then he rested his head on the log, and the Mikumwess quickly cut
it off with his hatchet.
Taking the head by one of its shiny yellow horns, he carried it
to the Badger. And when morning was come, the two bore the head
and laid it before the Chief.
And when the old man saw it, he was astonished and thought to himself,
"I fear I shall lose my child!"
But he said to the Badger, "Young man, if you wish to win
your wife, you must coast down yonder hill with two of my bravest
Now, the hill was really a very high mountain, its sides jagged
with broken rocks and terrible with tree-roots and ice. Two sleds
were brought and taken to the top of the mountain; and the Mikumwess
and the Badger were placed upon one, and on the other were seated
two powerful Magicians. At a word from the Chief the two sleds were
sent flying down the mountain-side. Faster and faster they flew
as if to death.
Soon the Badger went whirling from his sled and fell on the ice,
and the Magicians shouted with delight; but they did not know that
the Mikumwess had done this so that he might get the Magicians'
sled in front of him.
The Mikumwess turned aside, and, putting out his hand, drew the
Badger on the sled, and as he did so, the Magicians shot by, mocking
loudly. Then the Mikumwess's sled suddenly bounded into the air
and flew over the heads of the Magicians, nor did it stop at the
foot of the mountain, but sped up the hill opposite and struck the
side of the Chief's lodge, ripping it from end to end.
And when the old man saw this, he thought to himself, "This
time I feel sure I shall lose my child!"
But he said to the Badger: "There is a man in this village
who has never been beaten at running. You must overcome him, if
you wish to win your wife."
To this the young men agreed, and went to the place where the race
was to start. And the Mikumwess lent his magic flute to the Badger
to give him Fairy power.
And when the racer from the village came, the Badger asked him,
"Who are you?"
And the racer answered, "I am the Northern Lights."
"And I," said the Badger, "am the Chain Lightning."
And they ran.
In an instant they were no longer to be seen, but were beyond the
distant hills. And the Chief, with the Mikumwess and all the people,
sat and waited till noon, when Chain Lightning, who was the Badger,
returned. He was not out of breath, nor weary, though he had run
all around the world.
But Northern Lights came not. When evening drew near they saw him
come quivering and panting with fatigue, yet for all that he had
not been around the world, but had been forced to turn back.
And when the old man saw that Chain Lightning had won, he thought
to himself, "Alas! This time I have surely lost my child!"
But he said to the Badger, "To win your wife, young man, you
must overcome a great warrior who swims and dives so excellently
that no one has ever equaled him."
To this the young men agreed, and the next morning they went to
the seashore, where the test was to be. The Mikumwess again lent
the Badger his fairy flute.
And when the diver from the village came, the Badger asked him,
"Who are you?"
And the diver replied, "I am the Sea Duck."
"And I," said the Badger, "am the Loon."
So they dived.
And after a short time the Sea Duck rose for breath; but the people
who sat there, with the Chief and the Mikumwess, had long to wait
for the Loon. Hour after hour passed, but he came not. At last he
rose to the surface, and was not out of breath.
And when the old man saw this he groaned and said, "Oh, Badger,
I have lost my child!"
Then the wedding-feast was prepared, and the Chief brought Brown
Fawn from the lodge and gave her to the Badger. And in the evening
the feast was held and a great dance; and the Mikumwess astonished
all who saw him, for he danced a deep trench in the ground around
And when the morning was come the Mikumwess, together with the
Badger and Brown Fawn, entered the stone canoe, and set sail for
the country of the Wabanaki. And when they reached the shore they
found Glooscap, the mighty Magician, waiting for them.
And, smiling, he said to the Mikumwess, "Go your way in the
forest and join the band of Fairies, and be always happy with your
Then to the Badger he said: "Welcome once more to the Land
of the Children of Light. Take your wife, Brown Fawn, and return
to your lodge. Plenty of game shall always be yours, and peace and
Then the Mikumwess disappeared in the forest; and the Badger, leading
Brown Fawn, returned to his lodge in the village of the Wabanaki.
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