Native American Legends
The wish to marry a star
An Ojibwa Legend
At the time of which my story speaks people were camping just as
we are here. In the winter time they used birch bark wigwams. All
the animals could then. talk together.
Two girls, who were very foolish, talked foolishly and were in
no respect like the other girls of their tribe, made their bed out-of-doors,
and slept right out under the stars. The very fact that they slept
outside during the winter proves how foolish they were.
One of these girls asked the other, "With what star would
you like to sleep, the white one or the red one?" The other
girl answered, "I'd like to sleep with the red star."
"Oh, that's all right," said the first one, "I would
like to sleep with the white star. He's the younger; the red is
the older." Then the two girls fell asleep.
When they awoke, they found themselves in another world, the star
world. There were four of them there, the two girls and the two
stars who had become men. The white star was very, very old and
was gray-headed, while the younger was red-headed. He was the red
star. The girls stayed a long time in this star world, and the one
who had chosen the white star was very sorry, for he was so old.
There was an old woman up in this world who sat over a hole in
the sky, and, whenever she moved, she showed them the hole and said,
"That's where you came from." They looked down through
and saw their people playing down below, and then the girls grew
very sorry and very homesick. One evening, near sunset, the old
woman moved a little way from the hole.
The younger girl heard the noise of the mitewin down below. When
it was almost daylight, the old woman sat over the hole again and
the noise of mitewin stopped; it was her spirit that made the noise.
She was the guardian of the mitewin.
One morning the old woman told the girls, "If you want to
go down where you came from, we will let you down, but get to work
and gather roots to make a string-made rope, twisted. The two of
you make coils of rope as high as your heads when you are sitting.
Two coils will be enough." The girls worked for days until
they had accomplished this.
They made plenty of rope and tied it to a big basket. They then
got into the basket and the people of the star world lowered them
down. They descended right into an Eagle's nest, but the people
above thought the girls were on the ground and stopped lowering
them. They were obliged to stay in the nest, because they could
do nothing to help themselves.
Said one, "We'll have to stay here until some one comes to
get us." Bear passed by. The girls cried out, "Bear, come
and get us. You are going to get married sometime. Now is your chance!"
Bear thought, "They are not very good-looking women."
He pretended to climb up and then said, "I can't climb up any
And he went away, for the girls didn't suit him. Next came Lynx.
The girls cried out again, "Lynx, come up and get us. You will
go after women some day!" Lynx answered, "I can't, for
I have no claws," and he went away. Then an ugly-looking man,
Wolverine, passed and the girls spoke to him. "Hey, wolverine,
come and get us." Wolverine started to climb up, for he thought
it a very fortunate thing to have these women and was very glad.
When he reached them, they placed their hair ribbons in the nest.
Then Wolverine agreed to take one girl at a time, so he took the
first one down and went back for the next. Then Wolverine went away
with his two wives and enjoyed himself greatly, as he was ugly and
nobody else would have him. They went far into the woods, and then
they sat down and began to talk. "Oh!" cried one of the
girls, "I forgot my hair ribbon." Then Wolverine said,
"I will run back for it."
And he started off to get the hair ribbons. Then the girls hid
and told the trees, whenever Wolverine should come back and whistle
for them, to answer him by whistling. Wolverine soon returned and
began to whistle for his wives, and the trees all around him whistled
in answer. Wolverine, realizing that he had been tricked, gave up
the search and departed very angry.
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