Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
An Ojibwe Myth

When Earthmaker made man, he was the weakest and most defenseless of all his creations. In the beginning man was not the hunter, but the hunted: animals ate humans and hunted them down so successfully that before long there were but two survivors of the human race left, a girl and her younger brother. The boy was very unusual: although he was old enough to walk and talk, he was no bigger than a newborn baby, so his sister had to take care of him and do all the work. One day in winter, she gave him her bow and arrows and told him to shoot a snowbird [inset] when it came looking for grubs in an old dead tree nearby. Three times he shot at snowbirds, and three times he missed; but on the fourth try he finally hit one. In ten days he shot ten snowbirds and since he had saved their skins, he asked his sister to make a snowbird coat for him. It was a beautiful feathered coat and he was very grateful to his sister for having made it.

One day he asked his sister, "Are we the only humans left alive?" "There may be others somewhere," she replied, "but I have never seen a trace of them. Even if there are other survivors, we could not go looking for them, since we would be killed and eaten by the man-eating dormouse or some other dangerous animal." In those ancient times dormice were as big as a lodge, and ate humans whenever they could find one. However, Little Brother was undeterred: he put on his snowbird coat and went out looking for other human beings. After walking a long time he became tired, and lay down to sleep in a little patch where the sun had melted away the snow. However, while he slept, the sun had come out from behind the clouds, and its rays caused the snowbird coat to shrink so much that when Little Brother awoke, he had to tear himself out of it. That the sun had ruined his coat made Little Brother furious and he began to think of revenge. He felt so bad that he slept for a full ten days on his right side, and then turned over and slept for another ten days on his left side. All this time he fasted. Then he arose and said to his sister, "I shall need a strong rope to make a snare for the sun." She came back with an ordinary rope. "This will never be strong enough," he said, "we will have to find something that even a great spirit like the sun could not break." She then made a snare from deer sinew, but he rejected this as well. Then she made a rope out of her own braided hair, but this was also not equal to the task. Finally, she said, "I shall have to make a snare from secret things." Little Brother ran the secret things that his sister gave him through his mouth and twisted the moist strands into a rope like no other that had ever been seen. Then he went off in the middle of the night with his mysterious rope to snare the sun. He found the place where the path of the sun begins and set his snare right at the entrance. When the sun tried to rise, it was caught fast in the trap and for the whole day there was no sunlight, only darkness.

The chief animal spirits were alarmed and called a council. The most ferocious animal, the one with the biggest and sharpest teeth, was called upon to liberate the sun from its trap. This was Dormouse. "Indeed," said Dormouse, "it will be very difficult, for Little Brother's trap is strong; but I will not give up until it is done." So she went to the trap and began gnawing on the rope. The sun's heat was enormous, made all the worse by his anger at being trapped, but Dormouse kept gnawing. Finally, the sun burst free of its bonds, but by then Dormouse's fur had been singed brown, and she had shrunk down to a size no bigger than a human hand. Thus would be dormice ever after. The sun's light had made her half blind, so she was given the name Kugebinga, "Blind Woman." Although Kugebinga freed the sun, yet Little Brother, who had overcome this great spirit, was the holier. Little Brother decreed, "Since the animals have abused the humans and have eaten them, henceforth the humans will have power over all the animals and hunt them for food." Ever after the humans have been the hunters and the animals the hunted. [1]

Commentary. Little Brother seems to have a special connection to the snowbird, a bird noted for flying in front of winter weather fronts. This bird therefore serves as a sign of impending snow fall. Hunting snowbirds does not put Little Brother in opposition to them, since it is believed that such animals give themselves to the hunter. When he comes to be covered in the plumage of the snowbirds, he becomes, as it were, a kind of snowbird himself.

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000 - 2017 of Vicki Williams Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999 - 2017 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!