in gentle showers, to refresh the land.
Among the beautiful creation myths, is that of the Earth-Maiden, who, through being looked upon by the sun, became a mother, giving birth to a wonderful being, a great benefactor. By reason of his benign influence, mankind lives and prospers. This benefactor is really the warm, wavering light, to be seen between the virgin earth, his mother, and the sun.
There are numerous narratives in which heat, cold, light and darkness appear as leading actors. A powerful god of the Algonquins was the maker of the earth, Michabou (light), toward whom the Spirit of Waters was ever unfriendly.
In Mexico, the worship of the sun and other heavenly bodies was practiced, sacrifices of men and women with white faces and hair being particularly acceptable.
Almost all aboriginal people believed that dogs occupied a peculiar position with regard to the moon, possibly because of the canine habit of baying at that planet.
The bird and the serpent were especially honored. The former, no doubt, because of its power of floating through the air and the latter for its subtlety. The Hurons told the early Jesuits of a serpent with a horn capable of penetrating rocks, trees and hills—everything it encountered. The person fortunate enough to obtain a portion for his medicine bag was sure of good luck. The Hurons informed the missionaries that none of their own people had ever seen the monster; but the Algonquins occasionally sold them small portions of its horn for a very high consideration. The Shawnees, who had unquestionably practiced on the credulity of their neighbors, led roving lives and had become familiar with the myths of many nations. It is not unlikely that the serpent fable originated with the Creeks and Cherokees, who thought the immense snake dwelt in the waters. Tradition says that old people stood on the shores and sang sacred songs. The creature came to the surface, showing its horns. The magicians cut one off and continued to chant. The serpent again appeared, and the other horn was secured and borne away in triumph.
These tribes asserted that in the fastnesses of their mountains was the carefully guarded palace of the Prince of Rattlesnakes. On the royal head shone a marvelous jewel. Warriors and priests endeavored in vain to get possession of the glittering trophy. Finally, one more thoughtful than the rest encased himself in leather, passed through the writhing, hissing court, unharmed by poisoned fangs; tore the coveted charm from the head of the prince, and carried it home. The gem was ever preserved with great care and brought forth only on state occasions.
The story of Hiawatha (Hi-a-wat-ha), which Schoolcraft gives as an Iroquois legend, is found among the traditions of many tribes, the leading character being called by different names. In the East he was known as Glooskap, about the lakes as Manabozho, in other localities as Chiabo; but, as in certain Aryan myths—of which this may be one—the principal features of the story are the same in all nations. Their hero came to them as did Buddha to the East Indian, and Christ to those prepared to receive the gospel, bearing messages of peace, good will to men; teaching justice, patience, conformity to truth, and to the laws of the red man; instructing them in various manual arts, and destroying hideous monsters that lurked in the woods and hills, or lay concealed amid the tall prairie grass. He lived as a warrior, hunted, fished and battled for right, changing when necessary, to any animal or plant. While seated in his white stone canoe on one of the Great Lakes, he was swallowed by the King of Fishes. Undaunted, he beat its heart with a stone club until it was dead, and when birds of prey had eaten the flesh, and light shone through, climbed out with the magic boat.
The struggle with fire-serpents, in order to reach the wicked Pearl Feather, whom he fought the livelong day, has been recounted again and again. How a woodpecker flew overhead, screaming "Shoot at his scalp-lock!" How, obeying this admonition, Hiawatha saw the enemy fall in the throes of death, and dipping his finger in the blood, touched the bird, and to this day a red mark is found on the head of the woodpecker. He slew the Prince of Serpents, traveled from village to village performing good works, and having wedded a beautiful Dakota woman, presented a perfect example of faithfulness and devotion. A league of thirteen nations was formed through the influence of this remarkable man; and as he stood among the assembled chiefs, addressing them with supernatural eloquence, encouraging them in a voice of sweetness and power to lives of rectitude, the summons came. Promising to return at some future time, Hiawatha stepped into his white stone canoe and was lifted heavenward, the air trembling with soft music as he floated from sight. To this final pledge are attributable many ghost dances and outbreaks against the whites, notably that at Pine Ridge Agency, when the coming of the Messiah was expected with full confidence.
The well-known legend of the Red Swan was a satisfactory explanation of the crimson glow that spread over the water at sunset. Three brothers set out in different directions, upon a hunting expedition, to see who would procure the first game. They decided to kill no animal except the kind that each was in the habit of shooting. Odjibwa, the youngest, caught sight of a bear, which was exempt according to agreement. Nevertheless, in his eagerness, the hunter pursued and shot it with an arrow, taking the skin. In a moment, the air became tinged with red and a wild piercing cry was audible, like and yet unlike a human voice. Odjibwa followed the sound and came to the shore of a beautiful lake, upon which rested a graceful red swan. Its plumage glittered in the last bright rays of the sinking sun. Possessed with a desire to try his skill again, the young man used every available arrow in the vain endeavor to hit the wonderful object; then remembering that in the medicine sack of his deceased father were three magic arrows, he ran home, opened the sacred pouch and secured them. The third one struck the mark; and the injured bird, rising slowly from the lake, floated away toward the western horizon. From that time forth, just at sunset, the blood of the wounded swan cast a blush, like the rich color of a maiden's cheek, over the surface of the waters.
The song of "The Peace Pipe," by Longfellow, was founded upon the belief of the Northern Indians that when the earth was still in her childhood, the Master of Life assembled the nations upon the crags of the famous Red Pipestone Quarry, and breaking a fragment from the rock, moulded a huge calumet—the emblem of peace. He smoked over the people to the east, the west, the north and the south; and the great white cloud ascended until it touched heaven. Then, having told the warriors that the stone was red, like their flesh, and should be used for their pipes of peace, the spirit became enveloped in smoke and was seen no more. The rock was glazed with heat and two large ovens or caverns opened underneath. In a blaze of fire, two women entered, as guardians of the place, where, to this day, they answer the prayers of the medicine men who make pilgrimages to that locality.
The phenomena of thunder and lightning were variously explained by different tribes. Some believed every storm to be a struggle between the God of Waters and the Thunderbird. Others affirmed that thunder was the voice of the Great Spirit reminding them of the approach of corn-planting season; that lightning kindled sacred fires, and, striking,