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must put your hand in his mouth,” replied the first voice, “and draw it out that way.” Masswäwëinini still kept quiet, and did not stir. He soon felt the hand of a person thrust in his mouth. When sufficiently far in, he bit off the fingers, and thus escaped the danger. The voices then retired, and he was no further molested. On examining the fingers in the morning, what was his surprise to find them long wampum beads, which are held in such high estimation by all the Indian tribes. He had slept, as was his custom, in the thick woods. On going out to the open shore, at a very early hour, he saw a canoe at a small distance, temporarily drawn up on the beach ; on coming closer, he found a man in the bows and another in the stern, with their arms and hands extended in a fixed position. One of them had lost its fingers: it was evidently the man who had attempted to thrust his arm down his throat. They were two Pukwudjininees, or fairies. But on looking closer, they were found to be transformed into statues of stone. He took these stone images on shore, and set them up in the woods.
Their canoe was one of the most beautiful structures which it is possible to imagine, four fathoms in length, and filled with bags of treasures of every description and of the most exquisite workmanship. These bags were of different weight, according to their contents. He busied himself in quickly carrying them into the woods, together with the canoe, which he concealed in a cave. One of the fairy images Men spoke to him and said: “In this manner, the Ottowa canoes will hereafter be loaded, when they pass along this coast, although your nation are driven away by their cruel enemies the Iroquois.” The day now began to dawn fully, when he returned to his two young companions, who were still asleep. He awoke them, and exultingly bid them cook, for he had brought abundance of meat and fish, and other viands, the gifts of the fairies.
After this display of good fortune, he bethought him of his aged father and mother, who were in exile at the Ottowa lake. To wish, and to accomplish his wish, were but the work of an instant with Masswäweinini.
One night as he lay awake, reflecting on their condition, far away from their native fields, and in exile, he resolved to visit them, and bring them back to behold and to participate in his abundance.
To a common traveller, it would be a journey of twenty or thirty days, but Masswäwëinini was at their lodge before daylight. He found them asleep, and took them up softly in his arms and flew away with them through the air, and brought them to his camp on the Manatolines, or Spirit's Islands. When they awoke, their astonishment was at its highest pitch; and was only equalled by their delight in finding themselves in their son's lodge, in their native country, and surrounded with abundance.
Masswäwëinini went and built them a lodge, near the corn and wrestling plain. He then plucked some ears of the corn, and taking some of the pumpkins, brought them to his father and mother. He then told them how he had obtained the precious gift, by wrestling with a spirit in red plumes, and that there was a great abundance of it in his fields. He also told them of the precious canoe of the fairies, loaded with sacks of the most costly and valuable articles. But one thing seemed necessary to complete the happiness of his father, which he observed by seeing him repeatedly at night looking into his smoking pouch. He
comprehended his meaning in a moment. “It is tobacco, my father, that you want. You shall also have this comfort in two days."
“ But where,” replied the old man, “can you get it-away from all supplies, and sure rounded by your enemies ?” “My enemies," he answered,“ shall supply it-I will go over to the Nadowas of the Bear totem, living at Penetanguishine.”
The old man endeavored to dissuade him from the journey, knowing their blood-thirsty character, but in vain. Masswäwëinini determined immediately to go. It was now winter weather, the lake was frozen over, but he set out on the ice, and although it is forty leagues, he reached Penetanguishine the same evening. The Nadowas discerned him coming—they were amazed at the swiftness of his motions, and thinking him somewhat supernatural, feared him, and invited him to rest in their lodges, but he thanked them, saying that he preferred making a fire near the shore.
In the evening they visited him, and were anxious to know the object of his journey, at so inclement a season. He said it was merely to get some tobacco for his father. They immediately made a contribution of the article and gave it to him. During the night they however laid a plot to kill him. Some of the old men rushed into his lodge, their leader crying out to him, “ You are a dead man.” “No, I am not," said Masswäwëinini," but you are,” accompanying his words with a blow of his tomahawk, which laid the Nadowa dead at his feet. Another and another came, to supply the place of their fallen comrade, but he despatched them in like manner, as quickly as they came, until he had killed six. He then took all the tobacco from their smoking pouches. By this time, the day began to dawn, when he set out for his father's lodge, which he reached with incredible speed, and before twilight, spread out his trophies before the old man.
When spring returned, his cornfield grew up, without planting, or any care on his part, and thus the maize was introduced among his people and their descendants, who have ever been noted, and are at this day, for their fine crops of this grain, and their industry in its cultivation. It is from their custom of trading in this article, that this tribe are called Ottowas.
CORN-PLANTING, AND ITS INCIDENTS.
The zea, mais, originally furnished the principal article of subsistence among all the tribes of this race, north and south. [t laid at the foundation of the Mexican and Peruvian types of civilization, as well as the incipient gleamings of it, among the more warlike tribes of the Iroquois, Natchez, Lenapees, and others, of northern latitudes. They esteem it so important and divine a grain, that their story-tellers invented various tales, in which this idea is symbolized under the form of a special gift from the Great Spirit. The Odjibwa-Algonquins, who call it Mon-dá-min, that is, the Spirit's grain or berry, have a pretty story of this kind, in which the stalk in full tassel, is represented as descending from the sky, under the guise of a handsome youth, in answer to the prayers of a young man at his fast of virility, or coming to manhood.
It is well known that corn-planting, and corn-gathering, at least among all the still uncolonized tribes, are left entirely to the females and children, and a few superannuated old men It is not generally known, perhaps, that this labour is not compulsory, and that it is assumed by the females as a just equivalent, in their view, for the onerous and continuous labour of the other sex, in providing meats, and skins for clothing, by the chase, and in defending their villages against their enemies, and keeping intruders off their territories. A good Indian housewife deems this a part of her prerogative, and prides herself to have a store of corn to exercise her hospitality, or duly honour her husband's hospitality, in the entertainment of the lodge guests.
The area of ground planted is not. comparitively, large. This matter is essentially regulated by the number of the family, and other circum. stances. Spring is a leisure season with them, and by its genial and reviving influence, invites to labour. An Indian female has no cows to milk, no flax to spin, no yarn to reel. Even those labours, which, at other seasons fall to her share, are now intermitted. She has apukwas to gather to make mats. Sugar-making has ended. She has no skins to dress, for the hunt has ended, the animals being out of season. It is at this time that the pelt grows bad, the hair becomes loose and falls off, and nature itself teaches the hunter, that the species must have repose, and be allowed a sistle time to replenish. Under these circumstances the mistress of the lodge and her train, sally out of the lodge into the corn-field, and with the light pemidge-ag akwut, or small hoe, open up the soft ground and deposit their treasured mondamin.
The Indian is emphatically a superstitious being, believing in all sorts of magical, and secret, and wonderful influences. Woman, herself, comes in for no small share of these supposed influences. I shrewdly suspect that one half of the credit we have been in the habit of giving the warrior, on the score of virtue, in his treatment of captives, is due alone to his superstitions. He is afraid, at all times, to spoil his luck, cross his fate, and do some untoward act, by which he might, perchance, fall under a bad spiritual influence.
To the wéwun, or wife—the equá, or woman, to the guh or mother, to the equazas, or girl, and to the dánis, or daughter, and shéma, or sister, he looks, as wielding, in their several capacities, whether kindred or not, these mystic influences over his luck. In consequence of this, the female never walks in the path before him. It is an unpropitious sign. If she cross his track, when he is about to set out on a hunting, or war excursion, his luck is gone. If she is ill, from natural causes, she cannot even stay in the same wigwam. She cannot use a cup or a bowl without rendering it, in his view, unclean.
A singular proof of this belief, in both sexes, of the mysterious influence of the steps of a woman on the vegetable and insect creation, is found in an ancient custom, which was related to me, respecting corn-planting. It was the practice of the hunter's wife, when the field of corn had been planted, to choose the first dark or overclouded evening, to perform a secret circuit, sans habilement, around the field. For this purpose she slipt out of the lodge in the evening, unobserved, to some obscure nook, where she completely disrobed. Then taking her matchecota, or principal garment in one hand, she dragged it around the field. This was thought to ensure a prolific crop, and to prevent the assaults of insects and worms upon the grain. It was supposed they could not creep over the charmed line.
But if corn-planting be done in a lively and satisfied, and not a slavish spirit, corn-gathering and husking is a season of decided thankfulness and merriment. At these gatherings, the chiefs and old men are mere spectators, although they are pleased spectators, the young only sharing in the sport. Who has not seen, the sedate ogema in such a vicinage, smoking a dignified pipe with senatorial ease. On the other hand, turning to the group of nature's red daughters and their young cohorts, it may be safely affirmed that laughter and garrulity constitute no part of the character. istics of civilization. Whatever else custom has bound fast, in the domestic female circle of forest life, the tongue is left loose. Nor does it require, our observation leads us to think, one tenth part of the wit or drollery of ancient Athens, to set their risible faculties in motion.
If one of the young female huskers finds a red ear of corn, it is typica, of a brave admirer, and is regarded as a fitting present to some young warrior. But if the ear be crooked, and tapering to a point, no matter what colour, the whole circle is set in a roar, and wa ge min is the word shouted aloud. It is the symbol of a thief in the cornfield. It is considered as the image of an old man stooping as he enters the lot. Had the chisel of Praxitiles been employed to produce this image, it could not more vividly bring to the minds of the merry group, the idea of a pilferer of their favourite mondámin. Nor is there any doubt on these occasions, that the occurrence truly reveals the fact that the cornfield has actually been thus depredated on
The term wagemin, which unfolds all these ideas, and reveals, as by a talisman, all this information, is derived in part, from the tri-literal term Waweau, that which is bent or crooked. The termination in g, is the animate plural, and denotes not only that there is more than one object, but that the subject is noble or invested with the importance of animated beings. The last member of the compound, min, is a shortened sound of the generic meen, a grain, or berry. To make these coalesce, agreeably to the native laws of euphony, the short vowel i, is thrown in, between the verbal root and substantive, as a connective. The literal meaning of the term is, a mass, or crooked ear of grain ; but the ear of corn so called, is a conventional type of a little old man pilfering ears of corn in a cornfield. It is in this manner, that a single word or term, in these curious languages, becomes the fruitful parent of many ideas. And we can thus perceive why it is that the word wagemin is alone competent to excite merriment in the husking circle.
This term is taken as the basis of the cereal chorus or corn song, as sung by the northern Algonquin tribes. It is coupled with the phrase Paimosaid,-a permutative form of the Indian substantive made from the verb, pim-o-sa, to walk. Its literal meaning is, he who walks, or the walker ; but the ideas conveyed by it, are, he who walks at night to pilfer corn. It offers, therefore, a kind of parallelism in expression, to the preceding term. The chorus is entirely composed of these two terms, vari. ously repeated, and may be set down as follows: