Popular Science Monthly/Volume 44/December 1893/The Creation

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THE CREATION.

PENOBSCOT INDIAN MYTH TOLD BY ONE OF THE TRIBE TO ABBY L. ALGER.

IN the beginning God made Adam out of the earth, but he did not make Glūs-kābé (the Indian God). Glūs-kābé made himself out of the dirt that was kicked up in the creation of Adam. He rose and walked about, but he could not speak until the Lord opened his lips.

God made the earth and the sea, and then he took counsel with Glūs-kābé concerning them. He asked him if it would be better to have the rivers run up on one side of the earth and down on the other, but Glus-kabé said, "No, they must all run down one way."

Then the Lord asked him about the ocean, whether it would do to have it always lie still. Glus-kabé told him, "No!" It must rise and fall, or else it would grow thick and stagnant.

"How about fire?" asked the Lord; "can it burn all the time and nobody put it out?"

Glūs-kābé said: "That would not do, for if anybody got burned and fire could not be put out, they would die; but if it could be put out, then the burn would get well."

So he answered all the Lord's questions.

After this Glūs-kābé was out on the ocean one day and the wind blew so hard he could not manage his canoe. He had to go back to land, and he asked his old grandmother (among Indians this title is often only a mark of respect and does not always indicate any blood relationship), Māhli Moninkwess (the woodchuck), what he could do. She told him to follow a certain road up a mountain. There he found an old man sitting on a rock flapping his wings (arms) violently. This was Wūchowsen, the great wind-blower. He begged Glūs-kābé to take him up higher where he would have space to flap his wings still harder. So Glūs-kābé lifted him up and carried him a long way. When they were over a great lake he let Wūchowsen drop into the water. In falling he broke his wings and lay there helpless.

Glūs-kābé went back to sea and found the ocean as smooth as glass. He enjoyed himself greatly for many days, paddling about, but finally the water grew stagnant and thick, and a great smell arose. The fish died and Glūs-kābé could bear it no longer.

Again he consulted his grandmother and she told him that he must set Wūchowsen free. So he once more bore Wūchowsen back to his mountain, first making him promise not to flap his wings so constantly, but only now and then, so that the Indians might go out in their canoes. Upon his consent to do this, Glūs-kābé mended his broken wings, but they were never quite so strong as at first, and thus we do not now have such terrible winds as in the olden days.

This story was told to me by an old man whom I had always thought dull and almost in his dotage; but one day, after I had told him some Indian legends, his whole face changed, he threw back his head, closed his eyes, and without the slightest warning or preliminary began to relate, almost to chant, this myth in a most extraordinary way, which so startled me that I could not at the time take any notes of it, and was obliged to have it repeated later. The account of Wūchowsen was added to show the wisdom of Glūs-kābé's advice in the earlier part of the tale, and is found among many tribes.


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