First People :: American Indian Legends : M-O

The Legend of Rainbow Path

An Ojibwa Legend

As we pause to think of today's space achievements and the deeds of astronauts, it is interesting to learn what the Iroquois Indians thought of the heavenly bodies 2,000 years ago.

They believed the blue sky was a rich, fertile land where everything for man and animal grew in abundance. The Sun and Moon were man and wife had come down through a hole in the sky each morning and returned back through another hole to better land at night.

Heng, the Thunder God, grew angry at the Sun as he watched the Moon grow thinner and fade away. Believing the Sun was mistreating- his wife, the-God cast a great black cloud across the Sun's shining face, not realizing the heat would melt the cloud and drops of rain would result in a magnificent rainbow.

Upon seeing, the vari-coloured rainbow, the animals were anxious to travel via the path to the beautiful land above. They went to Old Turtle. king of the animals, and begged to ascend the path. Ignoring warning of possible danger, they ran up the rainbow. The animals did not realize that once the"rain stopped the rainbow would disappear, and when that happened, they were all left in the sky. The Iroquois claimed the gods outlined the animals' bodies in stars and some of our constellations are still known for the animal shapes they represent.

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