Topic: Folklore

Micmac Customs And Traditions

My information about the customs and traditions of the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia has been derived almost entirely from Abram and Newell Glode, the first a man of seventy-three years, the latter somewhat younger and of exceptionally pure blood for a time when none are wholly so. These two Indians have justly achieved a reputation among their tribe for intelligence and knowledge of their native lore. During the many days I have spent with them at Digby and elsewhere I have invariably found them as eager and interested in being questioned as I was in catechizing them. However,...

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A Passamaquoddy Story of Leux

A story of the old time. In winter, while traveling, Leux met a number of wolves, which were going in the same direction that he was. At nightfall the old wolf built a fire and gave Leux supper. He gave him skins to cover himself while he slept, but Leux said that the fire was so warm that he did not need or wish a covering. At midnight Leux awoke and was almost frozen with cold. The next morning Leux was obliged to part with the wolves. 1It would seem, from Leland’s account, that the wolf admired Leux greatly because he cared so little for the cold or their care. The old wolf said, “How far are you going?” Leux answered, “Three days’ journey.” The wolf said then, “I will do for you the very best thing I can. I will give you three fires, one for each night.” The wolf told him to gather some dry wood, put it in a pile, jump over it, and it would burn. 2It was possible that the wolf gave him some charm or medicine with which to accomplish this. Leux parted from the wolf, and as soon as he was out of sight he thought he would try to make a fire as directed by the wolf, remarking that he did not think it would burn. So he gathered some dry...

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Passamaquoddy Trade Dance and More

Trade Dance – I have been told that there is an old custom among the Micmacs, still remembered by many now alive, which is probably a remnant of a ceremony with which was connected an old dance. To this custom is given the name of the “Trade Dance,” for reasons which will appear. The account of the custom was given by Peter Selmore, who witnessed it not many years ago. It is said to be more common among the Micmacs than among the Passamaquoddies. The participants, one or more in number, go to the wigwam of another person, and when near the entrance sing a song. The leader then enters, and, dancing about, sings at the same time a continuation of the song he sang at the door of the hut. He then points out some object in the room which he wants to buy, and offers a price for it. The owner is obliged to sell the object pointed out, or to barter something of equal value. The narrator remembers that the dress of the participants was similar to that of the Indians of olden times. He remembers, in the case of women, that they wore the variegated, pointed cap covered with beads, the loose robe, and leggings. The face of the participant was painted, or daubed black with paint or powder. This song is recorded on cylinder...

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The Passamaquoddy Snake Dance

The Passamaquoddies, no doubt, in old times, had many dances, sacred and secular. Some of these were very different from what they now are, and in consequence it is not easy to recognize their meaning. Indians declare that in their youth dances were much more common. Possibly some of these will never be danced again. That the Micmacs, neighbors of the Passamaquoddies, had dances in which elaborate masks were worn, seems to be indicated by pictographs found on the rocks in Nova Scotia. Mrs. Brown has in her possession a head-band made of silver, similar to those worn in...

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Passamaquoddy Mythological Characters

The following are a few of the mythological characters which play a part in many of the stories of the Passamaquoddies. They are all given on one of the cylinders of the phonograph: Leux. Mischief-maker. In certain stories, simple fellow. Kewok. A formless being with icy heart, and when mentioned regarded as a terrible one. Pedogiic. Thunder. Pesok que tuk. Lightning. Ooargamess. Small beings who live about rocks and chatter in unknown tongue. Have been seen in late times. Lumpagonosis. Water beings. Kelphit. A shapeless (medicine) being who is turned over twice each year. Under him are found flowers. Pogumpt. Black Cat, Fisher. k’Chebollock. The Spirit of the Air. This being is said to be without body, but to have a heart, wings, head, and legs. Cadoux. Spirit of Night. Said to have been seen lately. An evil spirit which tears bark from the wigwam, and in many ways frightens the Indians. Pook-jin-squess. The Jug. Called also the toad woman. In some Indian stories spoken of as governor. Noosagess. A being associated with the wind. Squaw-oc-t’moos. Swamp woman. Mousham. Grandfather. Glooscap. The beneficent being whose deeds are generally superhuman, and who figures in many heroic tales of the Passamaquoddies. The term as applied to a man is one of contempt. To call a man glooscap, or a woman glooscapess, is to call them liars. Chematiquess. The big rabbit. There...

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Passamaquoddy Aboriginal Folklore

The study of aboriginal folk-lore cannot reach its highest scientific value until some method is adopted by means of which an accurate record of the stories can be obtained and preserved. In observations on the traditions of the Indian tribes, the tendency of the listener to add his own thoughts or interpretations is very great. Moreover, no two Indians tell the same story alike. These are sources of error which cannot be eliminated, but by giving the exact words of the speaker it is possible to do away with the errors of the translator. I believe that the memory of Indians for the details of a story is often better than that of white men. There may be a reason for this, in their custom of memorizing their rituals, stories, and legends. The Kaklan, a Zuñi ritual, for instance, which is recited by the priest once in four years, takes several hours to repeat. What white man can repeat from memory a history of equal length after so long an interval Phonetic methods of recording Indian languages are not wholly satisfactory. It is very unlikely that two persons will adopt the same spelling of a word never heard before. Many inflections, accents, and gutturals of Indian languages are difficult to reduce to writing. Conventional signs and additional letters have been employed for this purpose, the use of which is...

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How a Medicine Man Was Born, and how He Turned Man into a Tree

A story of old times. There was once a woman who traveled constantly through the woods. Every bush she saw she bit off, and from one of these she came to be with child. She grew bigger and bigger until at last she could travel no longer, but built a wigwam near the mouth of a stream. The woman gave birth to a child in the night. She thought it best to kill the child, but did not wish to murder her offspring. 1By combining this story with some given by Leland it would seem that the child was...

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A Visit to Spirit Land or The Strange Experience of a Woman in Kona, Hawaii

By: Mrs. E. N. Haley Kalima had been sick for many weeks, and at last died. Her friends gathered around her with loud cries of grief, and with many expressions of affection and sorrow at their loss they prepared her body for its burial. The grave was dug, and when everything was ready for the last rites and sad act, husband and friends came to take a final look at the rigid form and ashen face before it was laid away forever in the ground. The old mother sat on the mat-covered ground beside her child, brushing away the intrusive flies with a piece of cocoanut-leaf, and wiping away the tears that slowly rolled down her cheeks. Now and then she would break into a low, heart-rending wail, and tell in a sob-choked, broken voice, how good this her child had always been to her, how her husband loved her, and how her children would never have any one to take her place. “Oh, why,” she cried, “did the gods leave me? I am old and heavy with years; my back is bent and my eyes are getting dark. I cannot work, and am too old and weak to enjoy fishing in the sea, or dancing and feasting under the trees. But this my child loved all these things, and was so happy. Why is she taken and I,...

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The Tomb of Puupehe

A Legend of Lanai From “The Hawaiian Gazette” One of the interesting localities of tradition, famed in Hawaiian song and story of ancient days, is situate at the southwestern point of the island of Lanai, and known as the Kupapau o Puupehe, or Tomb of Puupehe. At the point indicated, on the leeward coast of the island, may be seen a huge block of red lava about eighty feet high and some sixty feet in diameter, standing out in the sea, and detached from the mainland some fifty fathoms, around which centers the following legend. Observed from the overhanging bluff that overlooks Puupehe, upon the summit of this block or elevated islet, would be noticed a small inclosure formed by a low stone wall. This is said to be the last resting-place of a Hawaiian girl whose body was buried there by her lover Makakehau, a warrior of Lanai. Puupehe was the daughter of Uaua, a petty chief, one of the dependents of the king of Maui, and she was won by young Makakehau as the joint prize of love and war. These two are described in the Kanikau, or Lamentation, of Puupehe, as mutually captive, the one to the other. The maiden was a sweet flower of Hawaiian beauty. Her glossy brown, spotless body “shone like the clear sun rising out of Haleakala.” Her flowing, curly hair, bound...

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Snaring the Sun

Maui was the son of Hina-lau-ae and Hina, and they dwelt at a place called Makalia, above Kahakuloa, on West Maui. Now, his mother Hina made kapas. And as she spread them out to dry, the days were so short that she was put to great trouble and labor in hanging them out and taking them in day after day until they were dry. Maui, seeing this, was filled with pity for her, for the days were so short that, no sooner had she got her kapas all spread out to dry, than the Sun went down, and she had to take them in again. So he determined to make the Sun go slower. He first went to Wailohi, in Hamakua, on East Maui, to observe the motions of the Sun. There he saw that it rose toward Hana. He then went up on Haleakala, and saw that the Sun in its course came directly over that mountain. He then went home again, and after a few days went to a place called Paeloko, at Waihee. There he cut down all the cocoanut-trees, and gathered the fibre of the cocoanut husks in great quantity. This he manufactured into strong cord. One Moemoe, seeing this, said tauntingly to him: “Thou wilt never catch the Sun. Thou art an idle nobody.” Maui answered: “When I conquer my enemy, and my desire...

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The Shark-Man, Nanaue

The Shark-Man, Nanaue Mrs. E. M. Nakuina Kamohoalii, the King-shark of Hawaii and Maui, has several deep sea caves that he uses in turn as his habitat. There are several of these at the bottom of the palisades, extending from Waipio toward Kohala, on the island of Hawaii. A favorite one was at Koamano, on the mainland, and another was at Maiaukiu, the small islet just abreast of the valley of Waipio. It was the belief of the ancient Hawaiians that several of these shark gods could assume any shape they chose, the human form even, when occasion demanded. In the reign of Umi, a beautiful girl, called Kalei, living in Waipio, was very fond of shellfish, and frequently went to Kuiopihi for her favorite article of diet. She generally went in the company of other women, but if the sea was a little rough, and her usual companion was afraid to venture out on the wild and dangerous beach, she very often went alone rather than go without her favorite sea-shells. In those days the Waipio River emptied over a low fall into a basin partly open to the sea; this basin is now completely filled up with rocks from some convulsion of nature, which has happened since then. In this was a deep pool, a favorite bathing-place for all Waipio. The King shark god, Kamohoalii, used to...

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The Punahou Spring

By: Mrs. E. M. Nakuina There formerly lived on the Kaala Mountains a chief by the name of Kahaakea. He had two children, a boy and a girl, twins, whose mother had died at their birth. The brother was called Kauawaahila (Waahila Rain), and the girl Kauakiowao (Mountain Mist). Kahaakea was very tenderly attached to his motherless children, and after a while took to himself a wife, thinking thus to provide his children with a mother’s care and love. This wife was called Hawea and had a boy by her former husband. This boy was deformed and ugly, while the twins were very beautiful. The stepmother was jealous of their beauty, and resented the universal admiration expressed for them, while no one noticed her boy except with looks of aversion. She was very considerate toward the twins when their father was present, but hated and detested them most violently. When they were about ten years old their father had occasion to go to Hawaii, and had to remain away a long time. He felt perfectly safe in leaving his children with his wife, as she had always feigned great love for them, and had successfully concealed from him her real feelings in regard to them. But as soon as he was fairly away she commenced a series of petty persecutions of the poor children. It seems the mother of...

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Stories of the Menehunes

Hawaii the Original Home of the Brownies By: Thos. G. Thrum Students of Hawaiian folk-lore find much of coincident interest with traditional or more historic beliefs of other and older lands. The same applies, in a measure, to some of the ancient customs of the people. This is difficult to account for, more especially since the Hawaiians possessed no written language by which such knowledge could be preserved or transmitted. Fornander and others discovered in the legends of this people traces of the story of the Flood, the standing still of the sun, and other narratives of Bible history, which some savants accept as evidence of their Aryan origin. This claim we are not disposed to dispute, but desire to present another line of tradition that has been neglected hitherto, yet has promise of much interest. It will doubtless interest some readers to learn that Hawaii is the real home of the Brownies, or was; and that this adventurous nomadic tribe were known to the Hawaiians long before Swift’s satirical mind conceived his Lilliputians. It would be unreasonable to expect so great a range of nationalities and peculiar characteristics among the pygmies of Hawaii as among the Brownies of story. Tradition naturally represents them as of one race, and all nimble workers; not a gentleman dude, or policeman in the whole lot. Unlike the inquisitive and mischievous athletes of...

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Moke Manu’s Account

The Menehunes were supposed to have been a wonderful people, small of stature and of great activity. They were always united in doing any service required of them. It was their rule that any work undertaken must be completed in one night, otherwise it would be left unfinished, as they did not labor twice on the same work; hence the origin of the saying: “He po hookahi, a ao ua pau,”—in one night, and by dawn it is finished. There is no reliable history of the Menehunes. No one knows whence they came, though tradition says they were the...

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