Charles M. (Charles Montgomery) Skinner.

Myths & legends beyond our borders online

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BEYOND OUR BORDERS



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Myths and Legends
Beyond Our Borders



BY CHARLES M. SKINNER
¥

Myths and Legends of Our Own Land
Illustrated. Two volumes. i2mo. Buck-
ram, $3.00; half calf or half morocco, $6.00

Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders
Illustrated. nmo. Buckram, $1.50; half
calf or half morocco, $3.00

Myths and Legends of North America
The above three volumes in a box. Buckram,
$4.50; half calf or half morocco, $9.00

¥

With Feet to the Earth

New Edition, Enlarged
Illustrated, nmo. Cloth, ornamental, $1.50

Do-Nothing Days
Illustrated. i2mo. Cloth, ornamental, $1.50

Do-Nothing Days Library. The above two
volumes in a box. Cloth, ornamental, $3.00 ;
half calf or half morocco, 56.00



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4^ Charles M.Skinner ^

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Copyright, 1898



J. B. Lippincott Company



.



SHE TO WHOM I OFFER THESE LEGENDS
IS IN HER ART SO CONVINCING, SO
POETIC, IN HER LIFE SO KIND, THAT I
HESITATE TO PRESENT A WORK THAT
MIGHT VEX HER BY ITS FAULTS. YET
IN HER CHARITY I KNOW SHE WILL
NOT LOOK FOR THEM. HENCE, I

DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO MAUD



$)ttfa«



THE kind reception given to the author's book
of legends pertaining to the United States
has been an incentive to continue the work in the
same field, and herewith is offered a volume of tra-
dition from Canada and Mexico, thus covering
the North American continent. A need of brevity-
has made it advisable to keep to the method fol-
lowed in " Myths and Legends of Our Own Land,"
of assembling traditions that attach to places, rather
than attempting to set forth the almost exhaustless,
always verbose, and sometimes childish folk-lore
of the aborigines. Simple people, red people, and
habitants, not readers, not logicians, not examiners,
accept these tales from their old men and treasure
them. Others may find amusement in them, and
perhaps profit ; for, ingenuous as they are, they
sometimes symbolize high truths.



Cafile of Contents!

Ganafca page

Explorers and Aborigines 17

Myths of Creation, Heaven, and Hell 22

Glooslcap at Menagwes 34

The Dogs of Clote Scaurp 35

The Missions 37

— A Few Monsters 44

Some Names 49

Troubles on the St. Lawrence 55

American Elephants 63

Hidden Gold 66

How one Bear lost his Life 72

^J- The Isle of Demons 74

The Figure in Smoky Hut 77

The Shadow of Holland Cove 81

The Friar of Campobello 83

Two Melicite Victories 85

The Flame Sloop of Caraquette 88

The Acadians and Evangeline 91

The Tolling off Gaspe 94

The Ride to Death 96

The General with an Ear 100

The Defence of St. John 101

Brother and Sister in Battle 105

The Golden Dog 107

The Grave in the Cellar no

The Mountain and the See 113

The Sin of Father St. Bernard 114

Larouche had his Wish 118

The Heart of Frontenac 120

The Devil Dance on Orleans 122

9



Contents

PAGE

The Defiance at Elora 126

The Miracles of Sainte Anne 129

Tadousac Bell at Midnight 134

The Bell of Caughnawaga 137

The Massacre at Bic 1 39

The Doom of Mamelons 141

The Revenge of Hudson 143

Kenen's Sacrifice 146

The Calling of Zoe de Mersac 149

The Headless Deserters 153

The Devil's Head 155

Father Jacques's Vengeance 157

The Bonnechere Affair 161

He went back for his Gun 165

Kwasind, the Strong 166

The Curse of Success 168

The Death of Wahwun 172

The Devil's Half-Acre 174

Medicine Hat 176

Ghost Woman at the Blood Camp 178

The Blackfoot Eden 180

The Wicked Wife 183

Fourth of July at Yale 185

Death of the Great Beaver 187

Why the Mountains were made 189

The Place of Dead Men 191

How the Indians became Red 193

The Pool of Destruction 194

Yehl, the Light-Maker 196

The Shelter of Edgecumbe 198

How Selfishness was punished 199

The Ghost of Sitka Castle 202

A Fatal Rivalry 204

Bad Boys of Na-as River 207

The Baffled Ice God 208

10



Contents

tKlCXtCO PAGE

White Visitors before Columbus 213

— The White God 217

Spiritual Guidance 225

Eagle, Snake, and Cactus 231

Told in Yucatan 233

Our Lady of Guadalupe 239

Our Lady of the Remedies 242

Some other Miracles 244

The Picture and the Storm 246

The Mischievous Cocktail 247

The Councillors of Lagos 250

The Humpback of Colima 253

Why Cholula Pyramid was built 255

The Ark on Colhuacan 257

Making the Sun 259

The Popul Vuh 261

Fathers of the Miztecs 264

The Willing Captive 266

The Death-Dance of Tezcatlipoca 268

Other Wiles of the Evil God 272

The Aztec Tannh9user 274

Huitzilopochtli 276

The War-God takes a Bride 279

El Dorado 280

The Dwarf's House 283

Why Valdez bought Prayers 285

Father Jose's Love 288

The Devil in Prison 292

The Alligator-Tree 294

Evil Spirits in the Springs 296

Devils and Doubloons 299

Incidents of War 301

Gambling Away the Sun 304

Huascar's Prophecy 305

11



Contents

PAGB

The Medal and the Orchid 3°7

The Honest Muleteers 3 IQ

Aiguerre's Fire 3 X 3

The Amazons 3 X 5

Bolivar at Caracas 3 l6



12



Illustrations

Chapultepec Frontispiece

The Church at Tadousac Page 134

Medicine Hat, Assiniboia " 176

Popocatepetl " 229



Canatra



Myths and Legends Beyond
Our Borders

EXPLORERS AND ABORIGINES

CANADA, from its earliest settlement, has been
to most white Americans a dark, cool land
of mystery. Only since its railroads joined East
and West together, since the frontier settlements of
the last generation developed into cities, since the
farming districts of the prairie began to draw their
hardy populace from older lands, has it become
known to our southern millions that it is a coun-
try differing in little from their own, the same in
speech and spirit, akin in laws and faith and man-
ners. The history of the republic and that of the
colony were the same down to the time of the Revo-
lution, yet Canada's northern position, its settle-
ment by the French, the individuality of its native
tribes, its exploration by missionaries, its imagined
remoteness, gave rise to tales that, while not veri-
fied, had reason for being. The history of the
province is full of romance. The legends that
have grown from it compel the attention no more
than the tales of conquest, diplomacy, daring, and
difficulty, and those new reports of wealth on the
2 17



Myths and Legends

Yukon. Many of the unwritten tales run counter
to record, others so merge in it that it is impossible
to separate them, but, as they have character, ro-
mance, humor, or quaintness, they deserve to be
saved from the assaults of commercialism and com-
monplace.

Long before the time of Cabot, Cartier, Roberval,
Champlain, and Hudson, Canada was known, in
Norse tradition, and it is claimed that Basque and
Breton fishermen caught cod on the Grand Banks
a century before Columbus's day. Canada was the
first part of America to be discovered, and Bjarne
Herjulfsson, son of an Icelander who had moved to
Greenland, reached Cape Breton in the year 986,
while trying to join his father in his new home.
Fourteen years later Leif Ericsson, son of the Ice-
landic jarl, Eric the Red, tried to find this new land.
It is not known exactly where he went ashore, but
Labrador was first sighted : Helluland, he called
it; " a country of no advantages." Next he passed
Markland, with its flat beaches and its woods : Nova
Scotia ? And Vinland, which is any place you
please, was last explored. Somewhere, possibly on
the Penobscot, was the city of crystal and silver,
Norumbega, Norombega, Norumbeque, and may-
be Aranbega, Arambek, and Lorembek. New-
foundland, oldest of the British colonies, was one
of the first regions that seemed to promise wealth,
for it did not take the explorers long to find
that its waters swarmed with fish. Indeed, the

18



Beyond Our Borders

Portuguese name of Bacalhaos, long borne by New-
foundland, means codfish. Nor was Labrador
without its promise in the eyes of those same Por-
tuguese, for the name, which is in their tongue,
means laborer. (It is not Le Bras d'Or, the arm
of gold, for Cape Breton has its Bras d'Or.) " King
Emanuel, having heard of the high trees growing
in the northern countries, and having seen the abo-
rigines, who appeared so well qualified for labor,
thought he had found a new slave-coast like that
which he owned in Africa, and dreamed of the tall
masts he would cut and the men-of-war he would
build from the forests." Mistaken man ! The
power of the Latin races in North America was
brief, and it left few marks in comparison with that
of the Anglo Saxons who so soon possessed the
land and who almost alone have made it what it
is. Though racked by frequent wars in those dark
times, the country advanced a little after every
struggle, and the builders of air-castles, the founders
of visionary empires, were jostled aside if they
loitered in the way of progress.

The Indians themselves throw little light on their
own history, and if facts were originally embodied
in their fantastic myths, the forms of these parables
have in almost every case concealed the meanings.
That in the days of unwritten history there were
great political and military movements there is no
doubt, — movements that to the red dwellers in this
land were as momentous as the wars and changes

19



Myths and Legends

in Europe were to the Greeks and Romans. We
have reason to believe that men existed here long
before the last of the North American glaciers, and
that they were driven toward the warm belt by
its advance ; that there are relations between the
Alaskans and the Aztecs ; that the Canadian Indians
drove the mound-builders southward six hundred
years ago. The " great horned snake" of Ontario,
against which they battled, may have been the snake-
shaped forts of these mound-makers, like those
remaining in the Ohio Valley. Their man-god,
Michabo, or Hiawatha, " drives the serpents to
the south." On Moose Mountain, Assiniboia, are
cairns with lines of stones radiating from them, the
early work of mound-builders, or imitations of it by
their conquerors, who relate that the stones were
placed there by the spirit of the winds.

Various theories as to the origin of the Indians
account for them (i) as autochthonous, or self-cre-
ated : a legitimate theory, since the geologic age of
this country qualifies it to have been not merely the
original land of the Indians, but the cradle of the
human race ; (2) as members of the lost tribes of
Israel ; (3) as survivors of the sunken continent of
Atlantis ; (4) as Phoenicians ; (5) as Carthaginians ;
(6) as Greeks ; (7) as Chinese, who reached these
shores in 458 a.d. ; and (8) as Mongols, who ar-
rived in the thirteenth century. The latter theory,
which would have assumed the peopling of a vast
continent in a couple of hundred years, is of course

20



Beyond Our Borders

absurd, but an identity of certain Canadian and cer-
tain Asiatic tribes is at least suggested by likeness in
their beliefs and customs, such as their tribal work
and government, traditions, religious faiths, supersti-
tions, way of regarding women, treatment of guests,
sacrifices, burials, funerals, the wearing of feathers,
use of bark utensils, form of weapons, dog feasts,
games, emblems, pipe-smoking, serpent-worship,
serpent-charming, sacred animals, dances, figures of
oratory, and monosyllabic speech. In their free,
sane life the physical adequacy of the Indians should
have been maintained, and there is no reason to sup-
pose that as a family they have deteriorated, in spite
of the allegation that in the Ontario government
park, at Rondeau, Lake Erie, the skeletons of well-
proportioned men seven and one-half feet high have
been unearthed. The later history of the red race is
too familiar to recount, and it is most sad. When
some royal commissioners in eastern Canada had the
audacity to ask a native chief what claim his people
had to the country, he replied only, " There lie
our grandfathers ; there lie our fathers ; there lie
our children.'* To the first settlers the idea that
the savage could be a creature of sentiment was
preposterous, and that he should wish to hold his
ancestral woods and fields no less so. Bitter has
been the strife that has driven him from his old
estate. He is an outcast in his own land, a victim
of wrongs uncounted and cruelties as dire as those
with which he has retaliated on the aggressors.

21



Myths and Legends

But he is not what so many have painted him. In
many of his traditions it will be seen that he has
a moral sense as keen as any one's, and courage to
live to it; that he is a man.



MYTHS OF CREATION, HEAVEN, AND
HELL

BELIEFS touching death, the spirit-world, and
the hereafter vary with the different tribes
of Canada, and some of them have undergone
change from contact with missionaries. Often the
merging-point of the old and the new belief is
impossible to descry, while in the case of the
teacher who came across the Pacific in a copper
canoe, preached morality to the shore tribes, was
crucified, arose, resumed preaching, and was after-
ward obeyed, we find a blendingc^_t^_Cjhmst his-
tory and the Hiawatha legend.

The Nootkas in their version of this tale do
not include either crucifixion or resurrection. On
the contrary, they assume that the killing of the
teacher was a good thing, because they secured his
copper canoe and paddles, and the use of copper
they learned at that time. Some of the great
wooden images in their houses represent this
teacher who promised a future life. Sheets of
copper with eyes painted on them have been seen
at Fort Rupert, and are thought to symbolize the
sun. They are regarded with peculiar reverence.

22



Beyond Our Borders

In a Chippewayan legend the first country was
that through which the Copper-Mine River flows,
and the ground was strewn with copper. A bird
created this country, — avast bird whose glance was
lightning, and thunder the shaking of his wings.
He created the earth by touching the primal ocean.
The first men wore out their feet with walking and
their throats with eating.

Some pretty traditions have grown from the im-
planting of a new faith in imaginative soil. The
loose quartz crystals found near Quebec are said to
be Christ's tears, wept upon the earth for the sins
of its people. The northern lights, which among
ungospelled tribes are the spirits of dead friends
dancing, the brighter the merrier, have turned to
angels, throwing down snow to cool the parched
in hell. An Indian who was discovered on all-
fours in a wood near Wardsville, moving softly
over the snow, was at first suspected of mischief;
but he was only waiting to see the deer fall on their
knees before the Great Spirit, as he had heard they
did on Christmas night.

Biblical teaching and native myth are queerly
mixed in the Ojibway tale of the beginning of the
race, which they say occurred at Torch Lake, or
Lac du Flambeau. The Great Spirit had made
the vegetation about this water, and was surprised
when he saw a creature wallowing through the
reeds in the form since taken by men, but covered
with shining scales like a fish. This object went

23



Myths and Legends

mooning about in such a mournful fashion that
the Manitou, taking pity on him, made a woman,
also covered with scales, and breathed life into
her. He told her to wander by the shore, and
presently she would find something she would be
sure to like. The man found her while she slept,
and, rousing her, took her to walk, showing where
roots and herbs grew that were good for food.
Her name, she told him, was Mani (Mary ?).
He took her to his spacious lodge and went with
her through his garden, warning her not to eat
fruit from a certain tree that grew there. When
she was alone, a handsome young Indian emerged
mysteriously from the tree and urged her to pick
and eat the fruit, adding that it made fine pre-
serves. She ate, and persuaded her husband to
do the same. The scales fell from their bodies,
and they drew back among the bushes in shame.
Then Gitche Manitou drove them away, so that
they could no longer eat fruits, but had to live
on meat. In his wandering the first man found
a great book that began speaking to him. It told
him to do so many things that he could not remem-
ber half of them, and he threw it away, where-
upon he found on the earth a book in sign lan-
guage that covered only two squares of bark. This
sign-book gave no laws, but told much about foods
and remedies, so that in a few years his children be-
came not only hunters but medicine-men. Manitou
repented his anger and restored the people to his

24



Beyond Our Borders

love again, ordering his own son, or agent, Mani-
bozho, to make a paradise for them in the west,
where the world ended. It is a beautiful country,
and there, when they die, they battle and hunt no
more, but live on sweet, shining mushrooms, play
on the flute and drum, and dance all day. To
reach this land they travel the Milky Way, the
path of souls. They need bows or guns on the
journey, but none after they reach paradise. If on
the way they stop to eat a strawberry that a tempter
oiFers to them, they fall from the bright bridge and
become frogs as they touch the earth.

Among the Blackfeet the sand-hills of the plains,
near the United States boundary, were the shadow-
land, the ghost-place, the limbo of recently de-
parted souls. Our shadows are held to be actual
souls. Dead persons sometimes live again as ani-
mals, and owls are the ghosts of medicine-men.
In the Red River country the dead hover about in
the form of eagles, but some of the Siwash believe
they take the forms of birds more foul of habit,
that lurk over the place of their demise for four
days. In order to keep them at a distance the sur-
vivors burn old moccasins that make a fetid smoke.
Some of the far northwestern Indians believed that
hell was in the ice, for it is natural that the cold of
the Arctic winter should, to them, stand for the
extremest suffering, but some of the Eskimos put
the place of future punishment beneath the sea,
and heaven above, with plenty of walrus. Their

25



Myths and Legends

hell is like Dante's : of successive cellars, and the
deeper go the damned the colder it grows. The
wickedest go to the bottom. The Eskimos, by the
way, are advanced beyond certain primitive beliefs,
and the new woman is no stranger to them. The
Sun was a youth to whom the Great Spirit gave
wings that he might chase the Moon, — a winged
girl. Aoguta and her daughter Sedna are among
their chief deities. The Hudson Bay Eskimos tell
us that the first man sprang to being in a beautiful
valley, and married the only girl on earth, after he
had picked her as a flower. They were the parents
of all mankind. The Assiniboins believed that
hell was in the Great Selkirk glacier. The un-
speakable majesty of this ice mass and its moun-
tain setting to them was merely dreadful. The
Chippewas held that the wicked were immersed to
their chins in water, and that they could not leave
it, although, to add to their discomfiture, the happy
hunting-grounds were in their view.

Like the Greeks, many of the Indians peopled
the woods, hills, and waters with gods and spirits,
who were amiable or devilish according to their
environment and according to the nature of the
imagination that evoked them. They personified
many of the stars and mountains ; a comet was a
winged creature breathing fire ; the morning star
was the Early Riser ; the Dipper was the Seven
Persons ; the moon was the Night Red Light ; the
Milky Way was the Wolf Road. Spirits of places

26



Beyond Our Borders

sometimes spoke to those who asked advice of
them, and while La Salle's boat, the Griffin, was in
process of building at Cayuga Creek, he went to
Niagara to consult the oracle at Devil's Hole. A
voice spoke from it warning him to abandon his
voyage on pain of death by treachery. He met
that fate. The Nipissings were stigmatized by the
Jesuits as " the sorcerers," and Lake Nipissing was
beset by devils and magicians.

The mountain in British Columbia, or Washing-
ton, on which life was preserved during the great
flood is impossible of identification, but deluge le-
gends pertain to several of the peaks. The Takul-
lies say that the earth-builder was a muskrat, which,
diving here and there in the universal ocean, brought
up mud, and spat it out in one place until an island
was formed, which grew to be the earth. After it
had been peopled a lire swept over it, destroying
all the surface save one mountain that held a deep
cave, and in this hid one man and one woman until
the earth was cool again, when they emerged and
repeopled it. This myth is oddly repeated in
Paraguay and Bolivia. Alaskan Kaiganees say that
the big canoe in which a good man was saved in
the time of a great flood rested on a mountain just
back of Howkan, and one old fellow claimed, a
dozen or two of years ago, that he had a piece of
its bark anchor-rope. The crow that flew out of
the ark still nests in the crater of Mount Edgecumbe,
near Sitka, and catches whales. On Forester Island

27



Myths and Legends

they say that towns were destroyed by pest and fire
for their wickedness, and that a woman who looked
back in the act of flight was turned to stone, her
lodge and that of her brother being also changed
to rock at the same moment, and you see them in
the river to-day, — warnings to obey the Great Spirit
when he speaks. A legend of a collision of the
earth with a fiery dragon (a comet ?) is found among
many of the Algonquins.

Among the Dog-Rib Indians of the Barren
Grounds there is a belief in one Chapawee, a mis-
chief-maker who plunged the earth into a long
period of darkness by catching the sun in a noose
and tying it fast, so that it could not rise above
the horizon. Does this typify the Arctic winter?
After a time he sent animals to gnaw the snare
asunder, and they were burned to ashes. Does this
clothe in parable the outbreak of a volcano, or the
dissipation of the ice in the Arctic summer ? Be-
like it is neither, for many of the traditions are but
old wives' tales, without a meaning. Men, meas-
urably civilized, lived in North America twenty
thousand years ago ; and some of the myths like the
foregoing are thought to preserve the memory of
the last great glacier, that covered the continent
down to the fortieth parallel, burying beneath it
the cities of this ancient people.

One of the traditionary characters among the
western tribes, from the Blackfeet to the Aleuts of
Alaska, was Old Man. He varies in power and

28



Beyond Our Borders

importance in different parts of the country, but
among the Aleuts he has many of the attributes
of the Great Spirit, and is a secondary god. He
played a Cadmus part, dropping stones on the earth,
that presently sprang up in human form. Some
that he flung into the air became birds, those that
he cast to a distance were quadrupeds and serpents,
and those that he tossed into the sea turned to
fish. Thus was the world peopled. The Black-
feet say that Old Man acquired a wife, a daughter,
and a son-in-law. The latter was not worth much.
There arrived in the lodge a young man who had
sprung from the blood of some game they were
preparing for the pot, and this young one and Old
Man attempted to stop the thieving and abuse of
the son-in-law. They could not, and as this ob-
jectionable person had an especially violent tantrum
on a certain occasion, the good ones shot him dead,
and there were peace and plenty afterward. All
of which has been construed as a day and night
myth, a summer and winter myth, a sunshine and
storm myth, a famine and plenty myth. Maybe.
While some ethnologists claim that the Micmacs
are the Skraelings of the Northmen, the first known
explorers of our eastern coast, others relate the
western tribes to the Asiatics. There are Greek
words in Central American tongues, likenesses to
Greek, Indian, Assyrian, and Egyptian architecture
in Mexico, Central America, and Peru, pictures
there of animals more common to Asia than to this

29



Myths and Legends

continent, round towers in the West like those of
Ireland, and faiths and myths among the aborigines


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Online LibraryCharles M. (Charles Montgomery) SkinnerMyths & legends beyond our borders → online text (page 1 of 18)