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A story I was told as a child, I would like to share with you.
But like most stories from an oral tradition the story is a bit broken in it’s narrative form. It is also assumed that you have heard the other stories so you will know who the main characters are such as Nanabush and Wiininwaa. But if you wish to know more about those characters you can look them up on line easy enough. Also like many of the stories from and oral tradition there is a moral to be learned. But it is also away to share history if you look close enough at the story line. Because like all oral traditions, somethings are lost and some things are changed but there is truth to the words if you listen closely.
So let the story begin.
Many, many years ago, before the Seven Fire spirits came to visit the Anishinaabee people and set us on the path to the land where food grows on water. Even before the Great Flood came and wiped away the old ones. There was a time when there were more Anishinaabee than there are leaves on the trees. They covered the land from water edge to water edge. There were great villages that covered the land as far as the eye could see.
The people began to forget Gitchi Manidoo (Great Spirit) and all of the Creator’s teachings. They soon lost their purpose in life and became separated from the harmony of being. They were a greedy people; they took from the land more than they would ever need. They killed off all the game and over planted their gardens and in time there was nothing left to take.
A great famine came to the great villages because there was no gardens left to harvest, there was no game or even a forest for the game to live in, because the people had cut them down to build great wigwams with more space than they could heat with ten fires.
The people soon started to die from hunger. Many people died because of the famine. But the people did not learn their lesson, they continued to take without giving back, and they did not return to the teachings of the Creator. A group of the people became so hungry that they did the unspeakable and killed their brothers and used them for food.
Mother Earth wept at what the people were doing and Father Sun seen her tears and he became even hotter and soon the world became so hot that the ice began to melt and the great waters began to flood the land. There were no seasons on the world any longer.
One of the people began to remember the teachings of the Creator her name was Wiininwaa. She was favored by Mother Earth who named her at her naming ceremony. Mother Earth told Wiininwaa in a vision to pray to the spirit of the west to bring relief from the famine. Wiininwaa did was she was told and soon a spirit named E-bangishimog heard her prayers. Her voice was so beautiful that he came to see who could sing such a beautiful prayer. He fell instantly in love with Wiininwaa and they were married. They had four sons together, and among them was Nanabush. Who knew as everything the spirits knew but could walk on the world like a human if he chose to. In her love for E-banishimog , Wiininwaa forgot about the troubles of the flood and soon all the ice melted and the whole world became flooded, wiping almost all of the old ones. Because at the last moment Nanabush called to his mother Wiininwaa and she saved a few of the people that were trying to return to the teachings of the Creator. These were the people that Nanabush put on Turtle Inland after he rebuilt the land after the flood.
But there was one among them who was like the old ones, he was a greedy person, his name was Wendigo and when winter came and everyone had to only eat what they needed to live, he did as the old ones and killed his brother to eat him. Nanabush seen that this happened and curses Wendigo that he would become a spirit and wonder alone in the forest and he could only eat human flesh, but no matter how much he ate he would always be hungry and if any human every killed his brother for food he too would become as Wendigo to wonder alone in the forest and always be hungry.
The story of Wendigo is to remind us not to be greedy and to only take as much as we need and to always give back to Mother Earth for her gifts.