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Native American Legends

Algon and the Sky Girl

An Algonquin Legend

Algon was a great hunter who found a strange circle cut in the prairie grass. Hiding in the bushes nearby, he watched to see what might have caused it. Finally, a great willow basket descended from the sky bearing twelve beautiful maidens.

The maidens got out of the basket and began singing celestial songs and doing circle dances. All of the girls were beautiful, but the most beautiful of all was the youngest, with whom Algon was immediately smitten.

He ran toward the circle in the hope of stealing her away, but just as he arrived, the girls were alarmed and left in the basket, which flew high into the sky. This happened again three more times, but Algon's resolve only grew. Then he devised a strategy.

He placed a hollow tree trunk near the circle. Inside the tree trunk lived a family of mice. He took some charms out of his medicine bag and transformed himself into a mouse. When the girls in the basket next arrived, he and the other mice ran among the girls. The girls stomped on the mice killing all of them but Algon, who then resumed his human form and carried off his beloved.

He took her to his village and in time she fell in love with him. They had a son and the three lived very happily for a time. But as the years passed, the sky- girl grew very homesick. She spent the entire day gazing up at the sky, thinking of her sisters and parents. This homesickness continued until she could no longer bear it. So she built a magic willow basket, placed her son and some gifts for her people in it, climbed in, and headed for the sky. She remained there for years.

In her absence, Algon pined for his wife and son. Every day he went to sit in the magic circle, in the hope that they would return. He was now growing old.

Meanwhile, in the far-off sky-country, his son was growing into manhood. The lad asked questions about his father, which made the sky-girl miss Algon. She and her son spoke to her father, the chief of the sky-people. He told them to go back to the Earth, but ordered them to return with Algon and the identifying feature of each of the Earth animals.

Then the sky-girl and the son returned to Earth. Algon was overjoyed to see them and was eager to gather the gifts the sky-chief wanted. From the bear, he took a claw; from the eagle, hawk, and falcon, a feather; from the raccoon, its teeth; and from the deer, its horns and hide. He placed all of these gifts in a special medicine bag, and ascended with his wife and son to the sky- country in their willow basket. His father-in-law divided the tokens among his people, offering tokens to Algon and the sky-girl; and they chose the falcon feather. The chief said that they should always be free to travel between the sky-country and the Earth, and so Algon and his wife became falcons. Their descendants still fly high and swoop down over the forests and prairies.

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