Making Friends with the memegwesi
Once, a long time ago, a young man lived with his wife and children in a remote area near a large lake. He would go hunting every day and would return with all sorts of game.
During one of his hunting trips, he saw a fat squirrel and shot it with his arrow. As he was going to pick it up, he noticed a small man about two feet tall coming from around a tree. The small man – a memegwesi – said to the hunter, “Beshwaji! I was stalking that squirrel for my prey. You stole it from me, but I do not hold a grudge for that. Nonetheless, could you give it to me so that I might feed my family?” The young hunter agreed, and he and the memegwesi decided to camp together, and they both had a great time sharing stories and boasting about their hunting prowess.
After a successful time hunting, the young man asked the memegwesi if he would like to bring his family and live with him in his lodge. They could be brothers and always hunt together. The memegwesi agreed. The memegwesi had a wife and two young children: one was no bigger than six inches high, the other about one foot high. They came to the lodge of the young hunter and took up house in a corner of it.
Every day the young man and the memegwesi would go out hunting. The young man might kill a deer or a moose, and the memegwesi would kill squirrels and rabbits. They had good luck every day, and when they would go home the memegwesi’s wife would help him bring his squirrel or rabbit inside and would cook it up for him, and the young man’s wife would cook his deer. The memegwesi’s wife would scrape the hides of his small animals and made him wonderful clothing.
This little memegwesi had powers to do certain tricks, and he would entertain his family and the family of his young friend through the long winter nights and he would bring luck to his friend. They were all very happy in their friendship.
One day during a particularly warm spring, just after they had made maple sugar together, the memegwesi told his young friend, “We are leaving now. We have had a good time living with you and thank you for always being my friend. I wish you good luck every day and to be happy all your life.” The memegwesi family gathered up their things and disappeared. Until his dying day, the young hunter and his family always had good luck thanks to his memegwesi friend’s blessings.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities