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Native American Legends

The Little Chapel on Mt. McKay

An Ojibwa Legend

A small stone chapel stands atop Mt. McKay. It is this chapel that gives us a legend perhaps far more factual than all those of more ancient origin. A flourishing encampment of Ojibway near Thunder Bay had learned something of agriculture. Small but bountiful wheat fields filled clearings which dotted the spruce and birch forests. The tribe, jubilant at the prospects of a great harvest, found their joy short-lived one fall. A plague of black birds swooped from the sky and in spite of the men's arrows, soon devoured all the grain.

A plan for a greater hunting effort during the months that followed failed as heavy snows came. Those that ventured out in search of food soon perished in the deep drifts of snow. Fishing, through the ice was impossible as not even a morsel of food was left for bait.

Starved, crazed men set upon one another and children cried pitifully from hunger. Just as it seemed the tribe would perish, a young princess, daughter of the Chief, took her father's hunting.knife and cut strips of flesh from her legs. This she gave to the men to use as bait for fishing.

Soon, sufficient fish were caught and the tribe was saved from starvation. The heroic deed, however, was too much of a shock to the princess and slowly she wasted away. A visiting priest arrived just in time to bless her before her death. Hearing of her brave deed, he had the men build the small chapel in her memory and bade them give thanks to God for their survival and pray for future crops. Each year at Thanksgiving, the Indians go to the chapel and it is more than a coincidence that since the first thanks offering, the crops of Thunder Bay have neither failed nor been destroyed by plague.

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