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Native American Legends

The Sleeping Giant

An Ojibwa Legend

Standing on the shores of the City of Thunder Bay, one can look across the waters and see a great formation of land known as the Sleeping Giant. Mystery and legend surround this strange phenomenon of nature. A great tribe of Ojibways lived outside Thunder Bay on Isle Royale. Because of loyalty to their gods and their industrious and peaceful mode of living, Nanna Bijou, the Spirit of the Deep Sea Water, decided to reward the tribe.

The Great Spirit told the chief about the tunnel that led to the center of a rich silver mine. He warned that if the Ojibway tribe were ever to tell the White Man of this mine he, Nanna Bijou, would be turned to stone. The Ojibways soon became famous for their beautiful silver ornaments. The Sioux warriors, upon seeing the silver on their wounded enemies, strove to wrest the secret from the Ojibways.

Torture and death failed to make the gallant Ojibway tribesmen divulge their secret. Sioux chieftains summoned their most cunning scout and ordered him to enter the Ojibway camp disguised as one of them. The scout soon learned the whereabouts of the mine.

One night he made his way to it and took several large pieces of the precious metal. During his return to the Sioux camp, the scout stopped at a White Trader's post for food. There, without furs to trade, he used a piece of the stolen silver. Two White Men, intent upon finding the source of the silver, filled the scout with firewater and persuaded him to lead them to the mine. Just as they were in sight of "Silver Islet", a terrific storm broke over the Cape. The White Men were drowned and the Sioux scout was found drifting in his canoe in a crazed condition.

A most extraordinary thing happened during the storm. Where once was a wide opening to the bay, now lay what appeared to be a great sleeping figure of a man. The Great Spirit's warning had come true and he had been turned to stone.

Today, partly submerged shaft to what was once the richest silver mine in the northwest, can still be seen. White Men have repeatedly attempted to pump out the water that floods in from Lake Superior, but their efforts have been in vain. Is it still under the curse of Nanna Bijou, Spirit of the Deep Sea Water? Perhaps...who can tell?

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