A long time ago a man was hunting. He was in a very wild place where nobody lived. His luck wasn’t so good, and he was becoming very hungry. Eventually, he saw a footprint in the snow. This footprint was huge – twice the size of a man’s foot. He decided to follow the tracks and he travelled for a long time until he finally came to a clearing. In the clearing he saw a large bark lodge. He figured he would ask the owner for hospitality.
So the man went and rapped at the door. A woman came out and said to the hunter, “Why are you here? You shouldn’t have come here, for this is where the Windigo lives?” The hunter replied, “Good woman, I am very hungry. Will you give me some food?” The woman felt badly for the hunter and took him inside. She told him that he must hurry before the Windigo came home. The man, curious, asked the woman “What do you usually do for the Windigo when he comes home?” She told him that the Windigo forced her to rub his back, which was often sore after he went hunting for humans. "Well,” the man said, “I will hide behind his chair so he won’t see me.”
Soon, the Windigo arrived home. When the Windigo sat down, he said to the woman, “I smell some fresh Ojibwe meat.” The woman said, “It must be the smell of the people you just killed lingering on the air.” After sitting by the fire for a while, the Windigo said to the woman, “Come. Scratch my back and rub my shoulders.” She asked him, “Where is the sorest spot?” The Windigo said, “Here. Between my shoulders.” Hearing this, the hunter jumped up and buried his knife up to the handle in that spot. The Windigo screamed and died.
The Windigo's wife was very glad that the Windigo was killed. She thanked the man for saving her from him. She was a pretty woman, so the hunter took her home and kept her as his wife. They lived happily together for many years.
One time long ago a big Windigo stole a boy from a village, but the boy was very skinny - too thin for the Windigo to eat right away. So the Windigo decided to keep the boy, waiting for him to fatten up.
Every day the Windigo would feed the boy deer and moose that he would kill, giving him the best parts of the animals in hopes of making him fat and delicious. Every day the Windigo took a knife and would cut the boy on the hand to see if he was fat enough to eat, but the boy didn't seem to be getting fatter, no matter how much the Windigo fed him.
One day during the winter, the Windigo was having a hard time finding enough food for himself and to fatten up the boy. They came to a village and the Windigo sent the boy to the village to beg for some food. He gave the boy only so much time to go there and back. The boy told the people of the village that the Windigo was near them, and showed them his hand where the Windigo cut him to see if he was fat enough to eat. The people told the boy to stay there. Soon, they heard the Windigo calling the boy. He said to the boy " Hurry up so that I may fatten you up more!''
The warriors from the village went out and attacked the Windigo. They figured he was dead, but after thinking about it the warriors went back to check if he was truly dead. When they got back to where they had attacked him, they found that the Windigo wasn't dead. He was eating part of his own hand!! The warriors asked the Windigo if he tasted good, and he said "You bet I do. I have eaten many Ojibwe and they have made me tasty"
The warriors then attacked him again and this time they cut him to pieces so that he was truly dead. The boy lived with the people who saved him and he eventually grew up to be a fine, fat man.
Told by Jonas George (Wah-sa-ghe-zik)
A windigo was around away up north to Hudson Bay looking for people to eat. Whenever he would come across a lone hunter or a small family camp, he would kill the people and boil them in hot water. After a few people went missing, they became suspicious and watchful because they knew that a windigo was stalking the area.
One day, a man named Misaabe came to that country and was told of the windigo’s activities. He decided that he would confront the windigo and stop it from killing more people. Misaabe made his camp by the Bay and sat down to rest himself. After a while he could hear something a long ways off coming through the trees. In a little while he sees windigo come towards him! The windigo was huge – almost 20 feet tall. Misaabe grabbed a large tree limb to use as a club and the windigo, seeing Misaabe standing with his weapon, grabbed a large tree limb of his own and let out a roar.
Misaabe and the windigo began to fight a great fight, using their big trees limbs for clubs. They fought for a long time and soon the windigo was beaten quite badly and was wounded. He ran away as fast as he could through the trees and lived for another day.
A while later, windigo decided that he wanted revenge on Misaabe, so he came back to fight him again. This time Misaabe grabbed a great stone and threw it at windigo as soon as he entered the clearing. The stone struck him in the head and he was killed.
Makwa (the bear) had a beautiful bushy tail. He was so proud of it and would wave it around in the faces of all the other animals. Waagosh (the fox) was jealous of Makwa, because he too had a lovely tail, but it was nowhere near as nice as Makwa’s tail was.
One day, Waagosh decided that he was sick of Makwa and his tail. He went ice fishing and soon has a very large catch. Soon, Makwa came walking by, swishing his tail proudly. Makwa was hungry and noticed that Waagosh had a very nice string of nice fish. Makwa asked him, “Friend Waagosh. How did you catch so many fish?” Waagosh told him that he used his tail. He simply put his tail in the ice hole and wagged it around until a fish bit it, then he would take it out and catch the fish. Makwa was impressed and figured that since his tail was so much nicer than Waagosh’s tail, he would be able to catch so many more.
Waagosh helped Makwa cut a hole in the ice and Makwa dropped his tail in the cold water. Waagosh told Makwa, “It might take a while for the fish to bite. Even though your tail might get cold, you must keep it in the water. Once you feel a big fish bite it you must pull quickly!”
After about an hour, Makwa finally felt a fish bite on his tail. He gave a great tug and felt a great pain. His tail had become frozen in the ice and had broken off when he pulled. He lost his beautiful tail, and now all the bears have short stubby tails, while the fox alone has a beautiful, bushy tail to swish around.
Once there was a beautiful girl. She was of the age to be married, but she refused to accept any man as her husband no matter how many horses they would bring, or how many furs they offered to her family. Her father beseeched her to accept one of the suitors, but she steadfastly refused.
One thing did puzzle her father though. Every night, she would dress herself in her finest clothes and would comb her hair and redden her cheeks. Then, she would leave her lodge and walk away towards the sloughs. Her mother and father didn’t know what she was up to, and they suspected that she had a secret lover who was the reason that she would not marry.
The next night that she made herself up all pretty, her father told her older brother to follow her to spy what she was up to. As she walked towards the sloughs, her brother kept his distance, but followed her as she walked. Eventually, she walked up to a particularly large slough and entered a big patch of cattails. She sat down there in an opening and then her brother witnessed a huge snake emerge from a large hole near where she was sitting. The snake came close to the girl and she lay down on the ground. The snake then started to wind around her body and she moaned as if laying with a lover.
The brother left and reported what he saw to his father. The father was disturbed. He told the brother that the next night he should dress as a woman and go to the slough to where he saw this happen. So the next night the father refused to allow his daughter to leave. Instead, the brother went in the girl’s place and when the snake emerged from its hole, the brother took his axe and cut the snake’s head from its body. He then cast the snake’s body and head into the slough where it sank into the mud.
The next evening the girl dressed herself and went to the slough, but this time her snake lover did not come to her because it was dead. She sadly went home and soon took a human man for her husband.
An old woman lived alone in the woods. One night she was at home and the wind whistled and the trees shook. She had a bad feeling that someone (or something) was coming to her cabin.
She went to her bed around midnight and soon she heard the sound of loud footsteps and heavy breathing circling her cabin. She heard banging on the sides of the cabin and the door was jiggled and pulled on, as if someone was trying to open it.
The person went around the cabin three or four times doing the same thing. The old woman, terribly frightened, grabbed her small axe that she used to split wood into kindling and opened her window. The next time that the intruder circled the cabin, she reached out and hit it on the head and knocked him down. Instead of a man, she saw a creature that had a man’s body but the fierce head of a wolf. The creature lay there for a while; then it staggered up and ran off.
The next morning the old woman saw blood on the ground where the creature had fallen.
That day she left her cabin and went to her son’s home a few miles away. She told her son that what happened and she refused to return to her home. She lived for another few years, but all the while that she stayed with her son she was troubled by the narrow escape she had at the hands of a rugaroo.
There was once an old woman who was a witch. She was well known for her evil magic and she used the fear that she created to make herself wealthy. At her lonely wigwam in the woods, she had a small graveyard of people who she had killed. Whenever she went to the village, people would give her things like food, clothing, and other items if she would promise not to use her magic on them or their family.
One day when she was visiting the village and collecting things from people, she saw a very handsome stranger. He had a beautiful black dog with him. The woman wanted the dog for herself, so she went up to the man and said, “You! Give me your dog or I shall curse the village and five children will die before the month is up!” The man looked at her and stood up. He said to her, “Know you that I am Gaagaagi (the raven). I am no stranger to magic woman. I will not give you my dog and you will not kill any children here.”
The old woman became angry at this. She shook her rattle and said some words to create her curse. She said, “You have sealed their fate young man!” At this she jumped into her canoe to leave. The man calmly took out his pipe, lit it, and offered the smoke to the manitous. He told the old woman, “Before you make it to the next shore, you will rot and be covered in bugs.” Scoffing, the woman left in her canoe.
When the old witch got half-way across the lake, she heard a sound like the humming of a bee. She yelled, “Whoo, whoo, whoo!” and blood ran out of her ears, nose, and mouth.
A few days later her canoe was found floating in the middle of the lake. She was covered in bugs and had met her end. None of the children died and the village was free of her evil magic.
A healing dance of the Plains Ojibwe
Among the Plains Ojibwe, the Buffalo Dance was held to heal the sick and to bring the buffalo in times of scarcity. It was also a dance that was done to prepare for poundmaking.
Certain men who had dreamed of the buffalo had the right to hold the Buffalo Dance.
In preparation of the dance, a feast was prepared. Afterwards, four men wearing buffalo head-dresses or buffalo masks danced while four others sang the songs for the dance with various breaks to smoke the pipes of the singers and dancers. Eight women also took part in the ceremony.
During the dance, a small buffalo bull skin cap, made in representation of a spike horned calf, was brought out by the buffalo dreamer and used on the sick person (to be healed) and the buffalo spirit was prayed to so that it might cure the person.
The dance was an important group healing ceremony. (A Buffalo Dance song is provided below)
POLITICAL ORGANIZATION, CULTS, AND CEREMONIES OF THE PLAINS-OJIBWAY AND PLAINS-CREE INDIANS. BY ALANSON SKINNER, NEW YORK. 1914.