In a village near a large lake lived a small boy called Miskogwan (Red feather). He lived in a small lodge with his great-grandfather. They were very poor because Miskogwan’s parents had been killed during a Dakota raid on his village when he was just a baby, and his great-grandfather had to raise him all by himself. Even so, the old man taught him to how to shoot with his bow and they were able to get by pretty well.
Miskogwan’s great grandfather was an amazing storyteller. He would tell Miskogwan all about the old ways and different stories about how each creature in the forest had its own different personality. Miskogwan used the knowledge that his great grandfather taught him to understand how each animal thought. This helped him to hunt them better, and he soon became a precocious young man who was known for his keen hunting prowess.
Springtime came, and little Miskogwan hunted frogs in the area around the large lake. Miskogwan would take his little bow and arrows and kill all the frogs he could get. He rarely left any for any of the other animals, and he and his great grandfather enjoyed lots of frog leg soup.
One day a crane walked over to where Miskogwan was sneaking up on a few fat frogs. The crane spoke to Miskogwan, “Hey. Miskogwan! Can’t you leave some for me and my brothers to eat?” The crane continued, “If you leave some for me, I’ll give you my nicest feather.” Miskogwan said, “Ha! Why would I want your old dirty feathers? Leave me alone. I can do what I want. Just be glad I’m not hunting cranes.”
The crane went back to his brothers and they talked about what they should do about Miskogwan. After much discussion it was decided that they should seek the help of a particularly old and wise owl who lived near Miskogwan's village on an island with some large trees on it. The cranes told the old owl that Miskogwan must be punished. The cranes said that they were starving because Miskogwan killed the frogs and the birds. No one could live in peace. The old owl agreed to do what he could.
One evening, the old owl perched himself on a tree close to Miskogwan's wigwam, and said, “Koo Koo!” Miskogwan's great grandfather called to Miskogwan, “Boy, come in now. The owl is calling for you.” Miskogwan said, “Never mind. I’ll get my straightest arrow and shoot him.” Great grandfather said, “You must watch yourself. The owl has large claws. Hemight catch you too. You should come in and go to sleep.” But Miskogwan disobeyed and went out and shot at the owl. He missed the mark! The old owl was angry and he swooped down and picked up Miskogwan. He then flew off with him across the lake to his island.
The old owl flew to his nest and dropped Miskogwan into it. The owl told his chicks, “Here is a naughty little boy. He’s too big for you now, but when you grow a bit you can eat him up.” Then the owl flew away.
The next day, the owl called to the cranes. He said, “I have caught naughty Miskogwan. When your babies are old enough we’ll let them join my chicks in eating him.” Miskogwan cried for help, but he couldn't get down.
Back in the village Miskogwan’s great grandfather knew that he was lost. He prayed to the Manitou to help find Miskogwan. The Manitou took pity on his and looked for Miskogwan. He found him and returned to the great grandfather and told him that Miskogwan was a prisoner in the owl’s tree. The Manitou told the great grandfather to give a great feast and ask the owl to return Miskogwan. The old man gathered every frog, fish, squirrel, and rabbit he could find and gave a huge feast. He called to the cranes and the owl to come eat and to forgive Miskogwan. They came and ate. Then the owl told the great grandfather he would be released, but only if Miskogwan promised not to overhunt any more. Miskogwan promised, and he was returned. From that day forward he listened to the animals.
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.