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Brooks, Dudley; Commons, Rachel; Dummer, Frances (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XX, Number 2 (November 1920)

Commons, Rachel
Legends of Wisconsin,   pp. 54-iii


Page 54

WISCONSIN LITERARY MAGAZINE
Legends of Wisconsin
TALES OF MANABUSH
(From the Menomini)
"Manabush" is the trickster of all Indian legends,
appearing in tales of all tribes as the great adventurer,
the daring one of the Indians. With the Ojibwa of
-the Great Lakes and the Menomini of Wisconsin and
Illinois, Manabush (or "Manabozho", Ojibwa) is an
Indian who changes at will into tree or beast and in
disguise plays some trick upon his enemies. His fav-
orite disguise is that of a white rabbit.
So Manabush moves on through the tribes, chang-
mg name but never character, until we find him in the
legends of the Southern Indians, the Biloxi and Chero-
kee, the impish Rabbit, who was later taken over by
the negroes and transformed to the "Brer Rabbit" of
-Uncle Remus.
"Manabush" of the Menomini is primarily a man-
-ido, spirit. The grandson of Nokomis, the Earth, he
appears first as a white rabbit from beneath a wooden
bowl. When the white rabbit hops across the wig-
swarn floor, the earth shakes, and the evil spirits under-
ground, the Ana maqkiu tremble at the birth of a new
and great manido, who is destined to be their mortal
enemy. The following legends of the Menomini tell
of the adventures of Manabush after he has reached
young manhood.
Tobacco
The brothers of Manabush were always without to-
bacco, for high upon a great mountain, there lived a
Giant, who kept- all the tobacco in the world.  This
Giant was ugly and wicked. He loved to keep to-
bacco from the Indians, who feared him.
One day Manabush, wandering in the mountains,
found the cave where the Giant lived.  From its
mouth came the sweet odor of dried tobacco, dear to
the nostrils of the Red Man.  Manabush was young
and lithe, he feared no one.  He strolled into the
cave, and faced the Giant, who sat, glowering, among
many sacks of the fragrant plant. Manabush, stand-
ing straight as a stalk of arrow wood, demanded of
the Giant
"Tobacco".
But the Giant, grinning sourly, replied that the man-
adoes had just come for their yearly supply.  No
more tobacco would he give until another year had
passed.
Like a flash, young Manabush seized a sack of to-
bacco and glided from the cave, the Giant at his heels.
Over the mountain tops they leaped, swift Manabush
and the madly roaring Giant. On the top of the high-
est mountain, above a deep precipice, Manabush flat-
tened out suddenly upon the ground and the Giant
fell from the precipice. When he had slowly rulled
himself up almost to the top of the cliff, gnashing his
teeth in rage, Manabush pushed him back and put up-
on him the curse of the manido. When he reached
the bottom of the cavern, he became Kakiune, the'
jumper,-and for many moons has the Giant been the
pest of tobacco growers, the grasshopper, while the
Indian brothers of Manabush have never lacked to-
bacco.
The Great Flood
The evil manidoes, the Ana maqkiu, were enemies
of Manabush and to anger him drowned Wolf, his
brother.  To have revenge, Manabush enticed the
Ana maqkiu to come from below the earth to play a
game with the good spirits, the Thunderers.  The
evil manidoes came forth as Bears, to play the ball
game with the Thunderers. Manabush, disguised as
a tree, watched them, and at last wounded with his
arrow the two chiefs of the Ana maqkiu, the White
Bear and the Grey Bear.
The Ana maqkiu, in fury, called a great flood to
drown Manabush, and the waters came surging over
the earth so that Manabush was almost lost. But the
Badger came a manido of truth and strength, and
hiding Manabush in the earth, he burrowed steadily,
and held the waters back a little while until the Ana
maqkiu had gone, thinking Manabush was dead.
Manabush came from beneath the ground, and finding
the cave of the Ana maqkiu, killed the White Bear
and the Grey Bear, and fled with. their skins.  The
raging Ana maqkiu, once more called the flood.
This was a flood that covered all the earth, threaten-
ing Manabush.   Over high hills and tall trees the
waters pursued him, until at last it covered the top of
the highest mountain, and Manabush, clinging to a
great pine tree, four times made magic that doubled
the height of the tree, but all in vain-the waters rose
above his armpits and the magic of his own power was
gone.   Then, with his body almost covered by the
flood, Manabush stretched his arms to the sky and in-
voked the Great Spirit, the Good Mystery of the In
dians, whose powers are above all others:
"O, Kisha Manido! Behold-I, Manabush, Thy
Manido, the grandson of Nokomis, Earth-mother,-
am in danger!  The evil waters of the Ana maqkiu
devour me.  Send thy Mystery that Manabush may
live !
, I ;1
;  I
iI
November, 1920            1
54


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