Native American Legends
How Glooskap went to England and France, and was the first to make America known to the Europeans
A Passamaquoddy Legend
There was an Indian woman: she was a Woodchuck (Mon-in-kwess, R).
She had lost a boy; she always thought of him. Once there came to
her a strange boy; he called her mother.
He had a pipe with which he could call all the animals. He said,
"Mother, if you let any one have this pipe we shall starve."
"Where did you get it?"
"A stranger gave it to me.""
One day the boy was making a canoe. The woman took the pipe and
blew it. There came a deer and a qwah-beet,- a beaver. They
came running; the deer came first, the beaver next. The beaver had
a stick in his mouth; he gave it to her, and said, "Whenever you
wish to kill anything, though it were half a mile off, point this
stick at it." She pointed it at the deer; it fell dead.
The boy was Glooskap. He was building a stone canoe. Every morning
he went forth, and was gone all day. He worked a year at it. The
mother had killed many animals. When the great canoe was finished
he took his (adopted) mother to see it. He said that he would make
sails for it. She asked him, "Of what will you make them?" He answered,
"Of leaves." She replied, "Let the leaves alone. I have something
better." She had many buffalo skins already tanned, and said, "Take
as many as you need."
He took his pipe. He piped for moose; he piped for elk and for
bear: they came. He pointed his stick at them: they were slain.
He dried their meat, and so provisioned his great canoe. To carry
water he killed many seals; he filled their bladders with water.
So they sailed across the sea. This was before the white people
had ever heard of America. The white men did not discover this country
first at all. Glooskap discovered England, and told them about it.
He got to London. The people had never seen a canoe before. They
came flocking down to look at it.
The Woodchuck had lost her boy. This boy it was who first discovered
America (England?). This boy could walk on the water and fly up
to the sky. He took his mother to England. They offered him a large
ship for his stone canoe. He refused it. He feared lest the ship
should burn. They offered him servants. He refused them. They gave
him presents which almost overloaded the canoe. They gave him an
anchor and an English flag.
He and his mother went to France. The French people fired cannon
at him till the afternoon. They could not hurt the stone canoe.
In the night Glooskap drew all their men-of-war ashore. Next morning
the French saw this. They said, "Who did this?
He answered, "I did it."
They took him prisoner. They put him into a great cannon and fired
it off. They looked into the cannon, and there he sat smoking his
stone pipe, knocking the ashes out.
The king heard how they had treated him. He said. it was wrong.
He who could do such deeds must be a great man. He sent for Glooskap,
who replied, "I do not want to see your king. I came to this country
to have my mother baptized as a Catholic." They sent boats, they
sent a coach; he was taken to the king, who put many questions to
He wished to have his mother christened. It was done. They called
her Molly. Therefore to this day all woodchucks are called Molly.
They went down to the shore; to please the king Glooskap drew all
the ships into the sea again. So the king gave him what he wanted,
and he returned home. Since that time white men have come to America.
This is an old Eskimo tale, greatly modernized and altered. The
Eskimo believe in a kind of sorcerers or spirits, who have instruments
which they merely point at people or animals, to kill them. I think
that the Indian who told me this story was aware of its feebleness,
and was ashamed to attribute such nonsense to Glooskap, and therefore
made the hero an Indian named Woodchuck. But among Mr. Rand's Micmac
tales it figures as a later tribute to the memory of the great hero.
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