Myths & Legends



Ojibwe: Shawondasee

Henry R. Schoolcraft, LL.D. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (March 28, 1793 – December 10, 1864) was an American geographer, geologist, and ethnologist, noted for his early studies of Native American cultures, as well as for his 1832 expedition to the source of the Mississippi River. He is also noted for his major six-volume study of American Indians in the 1850s.

The legend of Shawondasee is found in his work, The Myth of Hiawatha and Other Oral Legends, Mythological and Allegorical of the North American Indian.
— Orly

Mudjekewis and nine brothers conquered the Mammoth Bear, and obtained the Sacred Belt of Wampum, the great object of previous warlike enterprise, and the great means of happiness to men. The chief honor of this achievement was awarded to Mudjekewis, the youngest of the ten, who received the government of the West Winds. He is therefore called Kabeyun, the father of the winds. To his son, Wabun, he gave the East; to Shawondasee, the south, and to Kabibonokka, the north. Manabozho being an illegitimate son, was left unprovided. When he grew up, and obtained the secret of his birth, he went to war against his father, Kabeyun, and having brought the latter to terms, he received the government of the Northwest Winds, ruling jointly with his brother Kabibonokka the tempests from that quarter of the heavens.

Shawondasee is represented as an affluent, plethoric old man, who has grown unwieldy from repletion, and seldom moves. He keeps his eyes steadfastly fixed on the north. When he sighs, in autumn, we have those balmy southern airs, which communicate warmth and delight over the northern hemisphere, and make the Indian Summer.

One day, while gazing toward the north, he beheld a beautiful young woman of slender and majestic form, standing on the plains. She appeared in the same place for several days, but what most attracted his admiration, was her bright and flowing locks of yellow hair. Ever dilatory, however, he contented himself with gazing. At length he saw, or fancied he saw, her head enveloped in a pure white mass like snow. This excited his jealousy toward his brother Kabibonokka, and he threw out a succession of short and rapid sighs—when lo! the air was filled with light filaments of a silvery hue, but the object of his affections had for ever vanished. In reality, the southern airs had blown off the fine-winged seed-vessels of the prairie dandelion.

"My son," said the narrator, "it is not wise to differ in our tastes from other people; nor ought we to put off, through slothfulness, what is best done at once. Had Shawondasee conformed to the tastes of his countrymen, he would not have been an admirer of yellow hair; and if he had evinced a proper activity in his youth, his mind would not have run flower-gathering in his age."




Henry R. Schoolcraft, The Myth of Hiawatha and Other Oral Legends, Mythological and Allegorical of the North American Indian.

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