One day, when the season had commenced for fish to be plentiful near the shore of the lake, Miskogwan’s grandfather said to him—“My son, the fat fish are running right now and I want you to get me some fish to make for our supper. You should ask your cousin Anangokaa to help you.” Miskogwan loved his cousin Anangokaa, so he didn’t have to be asked twice. He ran across the field to where Anangokaa lived and said, “Cousin. Let’s go fishing for grandfather.” Anangokaa agreed and they set out. Soon they arrived at the place where the creek entered the lake, and Anangokaa started to get their nets ready, as he was older and knew how to do this much better than Miskogwan. Soon, they had the nets untangled and patched a few holes. Then they put their nets in the water, and built a small fire on the shore and waited.
Anangokaa started to build them a small shelter because he figured that it would take until morning to get a good supply of fish. Miskogwan helped gather branches and tied the cordage the way that Anangokaa told him to. In due time they had a nice little place to sleep for the night. They sat by the fire and talked about all sorts of things. Miskogwan listened as Anangokaa told him about hunting bears with his father, and he wove a nice tale about the time he had to run from a Dakota who had surprised him in the woods one time—barely escaping because he was such a swift runner.
The moon arose. The wind was very calm and not a cloud was in the dark sky above. It was a very bright night, and Miskogwan looked out at their nets. He was surprised to see that almost all the floats had disappeared. “Cousin!” he said, “The nets are full. Let’s get them out.” Anangokaa waded out and to his rejoice, they were brimmed full of fish. Anangokaa asked Miskogwan to help him land the nets, and in no time at all they counted about twenty nice fish. Anangokaa told Miskogwan, “Little cousin, take two fish and cook them for us. The rest we should smoke slowly so we can bring them back to grandfather.” Miskogwan set about it immediately, and cleaned all of the fish. They roasted their meal and smoked the others. Anangokaa lazily lounged on the opposite side of the fire. Miskogwan and Anangokaa ate their fish and were happy.
A little later, Miskogwan asked Anangokaa, “Cousin, could you tell me more stories, or sing me some songs?” Anangokaa sat up and began to sing a love song. He stopped for a while and told Miskogwan another story or two, then he started singing again. Miskogwan soon fell asleep and Anangokaa followed.
Suddenly, Miskogwan was awakened by a small laugh. Startled, he whispered, “Cousin! Someone is here with us. Wake up! Let’s see who it is.” Anangokaa continued to sleep, and Miskogwan heard the laughter coming closer. Looking into the darkness, he noticed two strange and beautiful girls. He whispered louder, “Anangokaa! Wake up!” But Miskogwan didn’t receive an answer and Anangokaa continued his slumber. A bit frightened, Miskogwan grabbed a large stick from the fire to serve as both torch and weapon (if needed) and started to walk towards the two girls. No sooner than he got close enough to see them better, he fainted. When Miskogwan woke up again, he looked around and called for Anangokaa, but he was nowhere to be seen. He cried out, “Niitaawis! (cousin!)”, but there was no answer. He searched the woods and all around the shore. He looked everywhere, but could not find Anangokaa. He soon started to panic. He couldn’t return home without Anangokaa, and he was still quite young and very frightened by his disappearance.
Meanwhile, Anangokaa woke up in a strange lodge. He looked around and saw a strong looking man smiling at him. The stranger said, “Aniin young man. Welcome to my home. Can I offer you something to eat?” Anangokaa was confused and was not entirely sure he could trust this man, despite his warm smile. He politely refused the offer of food, and asked the man, “Where am I?” The man replied, “My name is Mishibizhii. My daughters saw you fishing and brought you here. I want you to be comfortable because I want you to marry one of my daughters.” Anangokaa wasn’t sure he wanted to marry anyone—especially a girl he had never seen (he was asleep and hadn’t seen them yet). He told Mishibizhii, “Bring them in so that I can meet them. I have not met them as I was asleep when brought here.” Mishibizhii called to his daughters and they stepped into the lodge. Both were very beautiful indeed. Their names were Waabigwan and Binesi. Anangokaa spoke to them both at length and he was very smitten with the older of the sisters. He told Mishibizhii, “I would like to marry Binesi”. This pleased Mishibizhii. He told Anangokaa that he would have to live with him and his family if he married Binesi. This was okay with Anangokaa, but he told Mishibizhii, “Father, I must return to my camp and speak to my poor little cousin Miskogwan, and I must return to my village to let me mother and father know what has happened to me.” “This is fine,” said Mishibizhii, “but, you must return here in one year’s time.” Agreeing, Anangokaa left with his new wife and returned to the campsite where he found young Miskogwan crying at his loss.
“Miskogwan! Do not cry. I have returned with a wife!” Seeing his cousin in the company of one of the girls he had seen the previous night shocked him, but soon he was happily chatting with his cousin’s new wife. They returned to their village and all the village was soon in a bustle. Anangokaa and his wife were celebrated with a feast, and young Miskogwan happily sang love songs with Anangokaa and the other men.A year passed. Anangokaa knew that it was time to return to his wife’s village, so he and Binesi stopped by Miskogwan’s wigwam to say their goodbyes. Miskogwan and his grandfather were happy to see them, but sad to see them go. “Cousin,” called Miskogwan, “When will you return?” Anangokaa said, “Niitaawis, I will come see you again soon. You are still a growing boy, and in a few years you will be a strong hunter and a great fisherman. Maybe the next time I return, I will bring you back to Binesi’s village and find you a wife.” Anangokaa winked at Miskogwan and soon they were walking away hand in hand.
The day was calm and the sky clear; the most perfect silence overtook Miskogwan and he looked at his grandfather. They both turned and watched as Anangokaa and his wife walked up a small hill together. Anangokaa turned back for a moment and waved. As they crossed the top of the hill, the sun broke over the top and for a second Anangokaa and Binesi looked as if they were shrouded in red flame. Miskogwan said to his grandfather, “I don’t want one of those, no matter how pretty they might be.” Grandfather gave a wheezy laugh and said, “Young child, one day you might want two of those.”
Dibaajimowin was created as a way to share interesting and unique stories and other information about the Metis and Ojibwe people (and others) so that these can be used by our guests to educate themselves and others about the history, culture, and language of the people.