Native American Legends
How Win-pe the Sorcerer, having stolen Glooskap's family, was
by him pursued, and how Glooskap for a merry Jest cheated the Whale. Of the song of the Clams, and how the Whale smoked a Pipe.
A Micmac Legend
N'kah-ne-oo. In old times, in the beginning of things, men
were as animals and animals as men; how this was, no one knows.
But it is told that all were at first men, and as they gave themselves
up to this and that desire, and to naught else, they became beasts.
But before this came to pass, they could change to one or the other
form; yet even as men there was always something which showed what
Now Glooskap lived on an island named Aja-ligun-mechk, and with
him were many Indians with the names and natures of animals and
These men, but most of all Pulowéch, the Partridge, having
acquired power themselves, became jealous of Glooskap, and made
up their minds to depart when he was away, taking with them Martin
and the grandmother. For they had great hope that Glooskap, being
left alone on the island, would perish, because they knew not his
power. There is another story which says that he was living at the
mouth of the Oolostook, at a place called Menogwes (St. John, N.
B.), and went away into the forest as far as Goolwahgik (Juan),
and had been gone six weeks, when he returned home and found the
old woman, whose name was Mooinarkw, and Martin had been taken away.
Following their tracks to the shore he saw one of his greatest enemies,
a terrible sorcerer named Win-pe, just pushing off in his canoe.
And with him were his wife and child and Dame Bear and Martin. They
were still within call, and Glooskap cried from the shore to the
grandmother to send back his dogs, which were not larger than mice,
and, as some stories tell us, were squirrels. So she took a woltes-takun,
which is a small wooden platter, and on such Indian dice are tossed.
This she put in the water, and placed the dogs on it, and it floated
to the shore, and Glooskap took it up. Win-pe with his family and
prisoners pushed on to Passamoogwaddy, and thence to Grand Manán;
and after remaining there a while he crossed over to Kes-poog-itk
(Yarmouth), and so went slowly along the southern coast through
Oona-mah-gik (Cape Breton), and over to Uktukkamkw (Newfoundland),
where he was slain.
Now whether it was to gain magical power, or to weaken that of
Win-pe, or to chasten the others by suffering, who knows? But Glooskap
rested seven years alone before he pursued the enemy, though some
say it was seven months. And when the time had come, he took his
dogs and went to the shore, and looked far out to sea over the waves,
and sang the magic song which the whales obey. Soon there rose in
the distance a small whale, who had heard the call, and came to
Glooskap; but he was then very great, and he put one foot on the
whale to test his weight, and the fish sank under him. So he sent
Then the lord of men and beasts sang the song again, and there
came the largest, a mighty female, and she bore him well and easily
over to Kes-poog-itk. But she was greatly afraid of getting into
shoal water, or of running ashore, and this was what Glooskap wished
her to do that he might not wet his feet. So as she approached she
asked him if land were in sight. But he lied, and said "No."
So she went on rapidly.
However, she saw shells below, and soon the water grew so shoal
that she said in fear, "Moon-as-tabá-kán-kwi-jéan-nook?
Does not the land show itself like a bow-string?" And he said,
"We are still far from land."
Then the water grew so shoal that she heard the song of the Clams
as they lay under the sand, singing to her that she should throw
him off and drown him. For these Clams were his deadly enemies.
But Bootup the Whale did not understand their language, so she asked
her rider--for he knew Clam--what they were chanting to her. And
he replied in a song:--
"They tell you to hurry (cussal),
To hurry, to hurry him along,
Over the water,
Away as fast as you can!"
Then the Whale went like lightning, and suddenly found herself
high on the shore. Then she lamented and sang:--
"Alas, my grandchild (noojeech),
Ah, you have been my death;
I can never leave the land,
I shall swim in the sea no more."
But Glooskap sang:--
"Have no fear, noogumee,
You shall not suffer,
You shall swim in the sea once more."
Their with a push of his bow against her head he sent her off into
deep water. And the Whale rejoiced greatly. But ere she went she
said, "Oh, my grandson," "K'teen penabskwass n'aga
"Hast thou not such a thing as an old pipe and some tobacco?"
You want tobacco,
I behold you."
So he gave her a short pipe and some tobacco, and thereunto a light.
And the Whale, being of good cheer, sailed away, smoking as she
went, while Glooskap, standing silent on the shore, and ever leaning
on his maple bow, beheld the long low cloud which followed her until
she vanished in the far away. And to this day the Indians, when
they see a whale blow, say she is smoking the pipe of Glooskap.
In a Passamaquoddy tale of Pook-jin-skwess the Witch, the Clams
sing a song deriding the hero. The words are:--
"Mow chow nut-pess sell
Peri marm-hole wett."
These words are not Indian, but they are said to mean,--
You look very funny with your long hair streaming in the wind,
And sailing on a snail's horn.
The large Clams sing this in a bass voice, the small ones in falsetto.
The gypsies say that a Snail, when put on a fire, utters four cries,
or squeaks; hence in Germany the Romany call it Stargoli: that is,
shtor-godli, four cries.
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