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The story of Mondawmin.
Long ago, before the light people came across the great water, there lived a family of the first people. They were good people and honored the Great Spirit for all gifts that were given them. They treaded lightly on the Mother, lived in harmony with all beings. The father of this family, though a good man, he was not the best of hunters or good with fishing spear, or net. So his wife and children often went with less food than was healthy. His oldest son, whose name was Wunzh came to the age of ke-ig-uish-im-o-win, which is a time of fasting of seven days, to see what kind of spirit would be his guide and guardian through his life. So on the brightening moon he entered his little wigwam to start his fast.
On the first two days he would walk through the woods and meadows and look at all the different plants, wondering how they grew and how each of them were different, with different uses, such as food, medicine, and even poisons. On the third day he felt weak from his lack of food so decided to stay in his wigwam and rest on his mat. He thought about the plants he had seen on his walks and thought maybe the Great Spirit would show him how to help his family and his people with plants, with that thought he fell to sleep.
When he woke the next morning he was even weaker from the lack of food and as he set and wondered why the Great Spirit had not visited in his dreams to help him learn of plants, he noticed a bright light outside his wigwam blanket and went to see what it was. As he pushed the blanket back he saw a good looking young man float down from the clouds, he was dressed in bright regalia of yellow and green with a plum of light color feathers for a head dress. As the young man’s feet touched the ground he gave a greeting to Wunzh, he said my name is Mondawmin, Great Spirit has sent me to place three trials before you to see if you are worthy of the lessons I know. With that he challenged Wunzh to wrestle. Wunzh knew he was weak from fasting but his courage was strong and he also knew that the lessons would help his family and his people so he stood and wrestled this one called Mondawmin. After a time Mondawmin stood and said, “Enough for this day, I will return tomorrow at the same time with your second challenge.” Then he floated back up toward the clouds. Wunzh was exhausted from wrestling and he crawled back into his wigwam and fell onto his mat and slept.
The next day he was awakened by the bright light streaming through his blanket door once again. Wunzh felt even weaker than the day before but as he pulled himself outside, his courage seemed to grow as large as his weakness, again he wrestled Mondawmin, and again, after a time he stood and said he would return tomorrow with his final trial for it was the last day of his fast and his family would be bringing him food. “Be strong, my friend, for this is the only way you can overcome me, and obtain the boon you seek." With these parting words, again he floated toward the clouds. Wuhnz again dragged himself back into his wigwam and fell to his mat. He was not sure if he could face his final trial he was so weak with hunger, but he knew he had to find the courage somewhere because the lesson would help all who he loved, with this thought he slept.
The next day he was waken to the sound of his father’s voice calling him, he heard his father say, today is the last day of your fast, here is a little food for you, it is not good to go any longer, or your life may be in danger. Wuhnz told his father to come back later and then he would eat his food, because his quest was not yet over. His father agreed with some concern, to return later. As Wuhnz slipped back into sleep he heard the voice of Mondawmiin call to him. Wuhnz was so weak he could not even raise himself to sit, so he crawled toward the door to answer his final challenge. With each inch toward the door his courage grew and as he reached the door he stood to meet his challenger. He was determine to win or die in the attempt. After a time Mondawmin declared Wuhnz the winner and for the first time he entered Wuhnz’s wigwam. As he set he said, “You have won your desires of the Great Spirit, you have wrestled manfully. Tomorrow will be the seventh day of your fasting. Your father will give you food to strengthen you, and as it is the last day of trial, you will prevail. I know this, and now tell you what you must do to benefit your family and your tribe. Tomorrow," he repeated, "I shall meet you and wrestle with you for the last time; and, as soon as you have prevailed against me, you will strip off my garments and throw me down, clean the earth of roots and weeds, make it soft, and bury me in the spot. When you have done this, leave my body in the earth, and do not disturb it, but come occasionally to visit the place, to see whether I have come to life, and be careful never to let the grass or weeds grow on my grave. Once a month cover me with fresh earth. If you follow my instructions, you will accomplish your object of doing good to your fellow-creatures by teaching them the knowledge I now teach you." He then shook him by the hand and disappeared.”
In the morning the youth's father came with some slight refreshments, saying, "My son, you have fasted long enough. If the Great Spirit will favor you, he will do it now. It is seven days since you have tasted food, and you must not sacrifice your life.” Wuhnz replied, “Father, please wait until the sun goes down this day and return with your food. I have a very good reason to ask this of you.” His father agreed even though he was greatly worried for his oldest son, he trusted his judgment.
At the usual time Wuhnz seen the light shine through his wigwam blanket, he stood even though he was very weak, and strode out the door, grabbing Mondawmin and wrestled him to the ground, stripping off his cloths as he did so. He realized that Mondawmin was dead and he did as he was instructed and buried him in the soft earth.
As the sun set, Wahnz father returned with food and his fast was over, he then returned to his family. As the spring wore on and summer came, Wahnz did visit his friend’s grave and kept all the weeds and grass clear of it and softened the ground from time to time.
It was time to move to the berry camp and they were gone from the summer camp for one moon and when they returned Wahnz first act was to visit his friend’s grave. What he saw there were tall stalks with ears of golden grain and white plumes coming from the top of each of them. He hurried back to camp and brought his whole family to the grave and showed them and told them it is as gift from the Great Spirit and my friend Mondawmin and he show them how to pull the ears from the stalks and remove there cloths of husks and fine silk and how to roast them over the fire. The whole tribe celebrated with a feast and a powwow of dancing and drumming to honor this new gift from the Great Spirit.
This is as my Granny told me.