Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/69

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55
MICHABO.

dawn. It has already been seen that the wild North Pacific peoples recognise in their hero and demiurge animals of various species; dogs, ravens, muskrats, and coyotes have been found in this lofty estimation, and the Utes believe in "Cin-au-av, the ancient of wolves."[1] It would require some labour to derive all the ancient heroes and gods from misconceptions about the names of vast natural phenomena like light and dawn, and it is probable that Michabo or Manibozho, the Great Hare of the Algonkins, is only a successful apotheosised totem like the rest. His legend and his dominion are very widely spread. Dr. Brinton himself (p. 153) allows that the great hare is a totem. Perhaps our earliest authority about the mythical great hare in America is William Strachey's Travaile into Virginia.[2]

Among other information as to the gods of the natives, Strachey quotes the remarks of a certain Indian: "We have five gods in all; our chief god appears often unto us in the likeness of a mighty great hare; the other four have no visible shape, but are indeed the four wynds." An Indian, after hearing from the English the Biblical account of the creation, explained that "our god, who takes upon him the shape of a hare, . . . at length devised and made divers men and women." He also drove away the cannibal Manitous. "That godlike hare made the water, and the fish, and a great deare." The other four gods, in envy, killed the hare's deer. This is curiously like the Bushman myth of Cagn, the mantis insect, and his favourite

  1. Powell, in Bureau of Ethnology, 1879–80, p. 43.
  2. Circa 1610; reprinted by the Hakluyt Society.