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Native American Legends

Mashenomak, The Fish Monster

A Menomini Legend

A fish water-monster frequently caught Indian fishermen. He dragged them down into the lake and there devoured them. The people were in great fear and distress. They appealed to Manabush to help them. This he promised to do. He asked his grandmother to hand him his singing sticks. He told her he was going to allow himself to be swallowed by the giant fish. He was going to destroy him. He built a raft and floated out into the lake. As he floated he sang, "Mashenomak, come and eat me; you will feel good." The monster saw Manabush and told his children to swallow him. One of the young Mashenomak darted to swallow the demi'god who said, "I want Mashenomak to swallow me." This made Mashenomak angry, and he swallowed Manabush. He became unconscious. When he recovered he found that his brothers, Bear, Dear, Porcupine, Raven, Pine Squirrel and others were also prisoners in the water monster's belly.

Manabush then sang his war song. He asked them to sing and dance with him. As the dancers passed around the belly of the Mashenomak it made him reel. As Manabush passed he thrust his knife into his heart. This caused the monster to have convulsions. Manabush thrust his knife three times into his heart. After this he said, "Mashenomak, swim toward my wigwam." The monster's body quaked and rolled so violently that all again became unconscious. When Manabush returned to consciousness all was motionless and quiet. The monster was dead. He was lying on shore. Manabush cut a hole in the body and saw daylight. Then he took his singing sticks and began to sing. As he continued to sing his brothers recovered. He cut a larger hole and all emerged from the body. All thanked Manabush and went to their wigwams. Thus the fish monster Mashenomak was destroyed.

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