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GITCHE MANITO (or Manitou) is the most common Indian designation for the Great Spirit, who is thus characterized in contradistinction to the inferior manitos, or spirits. (Manitoba, the name of a province in the Dominion of Canada, means “God speaks".)
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
-Longfellow's “ Song of Hiawatha.” MITCHE MANITO was a subordinate and malignant spirit, who caused the drought, the forest fires, etc.
And louder lamentations heard we rise :
-Campbell's “ Gertrude of Wyoming.”
Such a forest devil to run by his side, -
– Whittier's “ Mogg Megone." HIAWATHA, in a widespread tradition, was a person of miraculous birth and translation, who was sent by Gitche Manito to clear the forests and rivers, and especially to inculcate in the stern hearts of warlike men a love for peace and for the gentler virtues. Longfellow's exquisite description of his departure from the world has been applied to the leave-taking of the poet himself:
Thus departed Iliawatha,
walls of a temple. Yet these elevated ideas, so far beyond the ordinary range of the untutored intellect, do not seem to have led to the practical consequences that might have been expected; and few of the American nations have shown much solicitude for the maintenance of a religious worship, or found in their faith a powerful spring of action.— William H. Prescott.
In the purple mists of evening,
To the land of the Hereafter.
Most beloved by Hiawatha
-Longfellow's “ Song of Hiawatha.” KWASIND, a hero of marvelous strength, was another friend of Hiawatha.
" Lazy Kwasind!” said the young men,
- Longfellow's “ Song of Hiawatha." Iagoo was a proverbial boaster and story-teller.
Very boastful was Iagoo;
Never heard he an adventure
But himself had met a greater;
-Longfellow's “ Song of Hiawatha.” MINNEHAHA, the bride of Hiawatha, was the daughter of an old arrow-maker in the country of the Dacotahs (or Sioux), who resided near the cascade which bears her name. The account of her wooing and death are favorite passages in the Song of Hiawatha.
WENONAH, the mother of Hiawatha, was a daughter of NOKOMIS, who fell from the moon. Wenonah was betrayed by Mudjekeewis, the Westwind.
OWEENEE was the heroine of a weird story related by Iagoo. She was wedded in youth to
Old Osséo, poor and ugly,
to whom she proved ever faithful. The aged husband became miraculously transformed into a handsome youth, while Oweenee became
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly,
but was restored to her youth and beauty, while her undutiful sisters and their husbands were transformed into birds.
The KINGDOM OF PONEMAH was the “ Land of the Hereafter,” the “Happy Hunting Ground” of the brave and true.
O mighty Sowanna !1
Thy gateways unfold,
Lift curtains of gold !
- Whittier's “ Bridal of Pennacook."
1 Great Spirit.
Maguon is the hero of an Indian legend which relates the abduction of a young bride and the devoted quest through which she was restored to her lover. It is the subject of a short poem by Bryant.
ST. TAMMANY is the name by which a noted Indian chief of the Delaware tribe is remembered. Tammany, or Tammenund, is believed to have lived in the middle of the seventeenth century. Removing when young from the seacoast to the valley of the Ohio, he became eminent as a sachem, or chief. His rule was beneficent. He was a firm friend of the Whites, and he sought in every way to cultivate among his people the arts of peace. When and in what manner he acquired the title of saint does not appear. It was doubtless a tribute to his piety and worth. The first day of May is sometimes known as St. Tammany's day. A parish in Louisiana and a political society in New York are named in his honor.
Among the Aztecs of Mexico there was a well-developed system of idolatrous worship, with a priesthood and sacrificial rites. At the same time there seems to have been, among the higher classes at least, a recognition of a Supreme Deity, Tloquenalmaque, or Ipaluemoan (“ He by whom we live”), who was not represented by images or propitiated with sacrifices other than offerings of incense and flowers.
There were more than a dozen gods (teotls) prominent in the Aztec system. Among these were HUITZILOPOCHTLI, the god of war; TEZCATLIPOCA, the god of justice; QUETZALCOATL, the god of the air; TONATIUH and METZTLI, the sun and moon; CENTEOTL, the goddess of the earth; TLAZOLTEOTL, the goddess of pleasure.
Huitzilopochtli was the real head of the Aztec Pantheon. The great temple, or group of temples and altars, in the ancient city of Mexico was built in his honor, and human sacrifices were offered to him.
The great pyramid at Cholula was surmounted by a temple of Quetzalcoatl. Seats were provided in Mexico for
Tezcatlipoca, who was, in popular belief, the highest of the image-gods.
The Mexican altars were built upon“ teocallis,” or truncated pyramids, some of which were of immense proportions.
I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
-Longfellow's " Armory at Springfield."
NOTES OF LITERATURE RELATING TO AMERICAN FOLK-LORE.
The most noted poem based upon the myths of the American Indians is The Song of Hiawatha, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which was designed to be an American Edda, a repository for the more pleasing and curious legends found among the various tribes. The scene of action is the south shore of Lake Superior. This poem was published in 1855, and was remarkable for the peculiarity of its meter, as well as for the novelty and charm of its subject.
Among the minor productions of the German poet Schiller is one entitled Nadowessiers Totenslied, a dirge to a chieftain who was buried near Carver's Cave, on the site of St. Paul, Minn., considerably more than a century ago. The poem has been translated by more than one British author. It expresses the Indian's faith in the Great Spirit and in a future life.
Gertrude of Wyoming, by the British poet Thomas Campbell, and Mogg Megone and The Bridal of Pennacook, by John Greenleaf Whittier, are among the earlier poems of the present century relating to the pioneer days of American settlements, and portray scenes of Indian life, though their allusions to the mythology of the aborigines are not numerous. (Evidently Campbell was in error in placing the accent of Wyoming upon the first syllable.)
The witchery of soft moonlight on the Hudson engaged the teeming fancies of the American poet Joseph Rodman Drake to people the romantic banks of that beautiful river with elfin spirits of the night, brought thither from the fairyland of Old World folk-lore. His poem The Culprit Fay enjoyed unbounded popularity in the earlier years of