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Native American Legends

Nukumi and Fire

A Micmac Legend

One cold, autumn morning in a low valley a great, gray stone sat covered with dew. The rock was very old and had sat there for many, many moons. It had seen the passing of many animals and many seasons but this day as Niskam heated the rock and the dew rose as a mist from it Niskam decided to give life to this rock. So as the rock grew hotter and the steam from the dew hovered over it this one old rock was given the body of an old, old woman. This was Nukumi.

Kluskap had been watching the birds and the plants and the animals and learning all he could. Now there came a day as he traveled that he wandered into this valley and there he met Nukumi. As Kluskap talked to Nukumi he realized how much widow she had and he wanted to learn all that he could from her. Nukumi explained that she would be happy to be his grandmother and share her wisdom but as an old woman meat was necessary for her. She could not live only on plants and berries.

Kluskap was so happy to have a grandmother that he called to Marten swimming in the river. He asked Marten if he would give his life so that Kluskap's grandmother could live. All of the animals were friend to Kluskap and Marten said he would do this for his friend. Now Kluskap told Marten that for this sacrifice he would make Marten his brother. So Nukumi snapped Marten's neck and placed him on the ground but Kluskap felt so bad that he called to Kisúlkw to return Marten to life.

Now Nukumi used her wisdom to speak with Kisúlkw and Kluskap and Marten was brought back to life so he could return to his river but where he lay on the ground was the body of another marten. Nukumi told Kluskap that from this point the animals would be brother and friend to Kluskap. They would be there willing to provide food and clothing, shelter and tools but always they must be treated with the respect given a brother and friend because they would only be there to provide what is necessary for life. Marten will always be the first of Kluskap's friends.

Kluskap asked Robin to fly to the place where the lightning had hit the ground to give Kluskap life, and bring the sparks that were there to him. Robin flew to the place but he had to use two dry sticks to carry the sparks because they were so hot. As he flew the wind caused the sticks to burn and robin's breast turned red. Still he brought the fire to Kluskap and Nukumi put more wood on this fire and Niskam breathed on the sparks so that they burned the wood and created Great Spirit Fire. But all robins after this had red breasts and when two dry sticks are rubbed together they make fire.

So the first meat was cooked over fire and Kluskap and his grandmother started their time together. Kluskap would help his grandmother survive and she would share her wisdom and knowledge with him.

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