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Indian Stories by Great Grandma

Wampum

Great Grandma heard this story when she was in school. One of her classmates named Rainwater told this story about her tribe who long ago traveled long distances to traded firs for salt and tools.


Blue Men and The First Horse

Long ago people from now Illinois traveled for thirteen days north and east with skins to trade for salt and tools. They started through forest lands which turned to lowland swamps lay between two great lakes (too far to see across). The trail ended at a place where water didn't flow. Other people there took them across the water to a stick village where white men lived.

On the other side they climbed to higher wooded land. In a large clearing was a village the Indians called ( place with stick houses). Other Indians and bearded white men lived in the village.

The Indians set up camp near the woods and built a fire. Bearded white men came with salt and other goods to trade for pelts. They called the men ( men with hair on face ). 

Then the Indians witnessed a terrifying event. A blue man with a long sharp stick rode on a horse into their camp. (they had no name for horse).

Two of the braves thought the blue man was attacking them. They picked up firebrands from the fire and threw them at the horse. The horse bolted and almost threw the rider. Then the braves ran to get their weapons which were under a tree. 

The Blue Man chased after them and pinned one brave to a tree, leaving him there to die, then he rode a short distance, wheeled his horse and stopped.

The remaining braves helped the women and children safely to the woods, picked up their weapons and turned to face their new enemy. The children and women ran deeper into the woods to hide.

Indians and a holy man from the village walked carefully into the woods and told people who were hiding there that it was all a mistake and they were in no danger. 

The Blue Man was their protector and he attacked Indians because he thought they were enemies of the people in the village. 

The Indians later named the horse (elk with no antlers), but I forget grandma's Indian word for horse. 

The story clearly stated that the Indians who came to trade were from (now) Wisconsin, and Illinois had never seen a horse before, nor had they ever seen a man dressed in blue. 

NOTES: Like a lot of Indian stories, this one too was a mystery. Indians from Wisconsin and Illinois called the horse Elk without horns, yet the Sioux in Iowa rode horses and they were known to range on parts of west since the Spanish brought them in the 1400s. 

The Sioux and other Indians near Iowa, and the so called plains Indians, not to speak of  the Comanche and  Apache of Arizona and New Mexico rode painted horses when white man came, and wild horses roamed most of the west.

It is seems possible that the woodland Indians of the great lakes area didn't have horses and perhaps saw their first horse being ridden by a Frenchman.

Again it is fun time, time to interpret the Indian story:

Following the trail the Indians described in their story, the two great lakes described could have been Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. That trail ends at flat water where the two lakes are connected by a short river. If elevation of both lakes are about the same, water between them would not have moved very fast, and could have been as the Indians said, a boggy area where water did not flow. 

The village on high ground across the water was probably Sault St. Marie, an old French Town and trading center in Canadian territory now known as Ontario. We know in the late 1600s and 1700s, trading posts in Ontario were occupied by French traders and trappers, and they were likely protected by French lancers, or cavalrymen.

That would explain the long sharp stick, and the blue part could have been a uniform. Does anyone know if French soldiers wore blue uniforms in those days?

The traders who earlier crossed or skirted a lake to trade were probably French, and the lake was in all likelihood, Lake Superior.

They wouldn't have likely crossed or gone anywhere near Lake Huron to trade because the Huron were very fierce and considered enemies of other tribes....classified by Illini Indians.  Michigan was part of the hunting grounds of the Huron Indians, and they were classified by our ancestors Indians as eastern enemies, or enemies to the east.

The Indian allies in the stick village of Sault St. Marie were friendly with the Indians from the south and allies of the French.

History suggests that tribes of the Iroquois alliance ranged into Ontario, and Herons lived in nearby Michigan, neither particularly friendly with the French or friendly with Indians west of their hunting grounds. The friendly Indians were probably not Iroquois or Herons. 

At this point we don't know what friendly tribe lived at Sault St. Marie, Ontario, but they had a holy man, and that suggests a French Catholic community.

Copyright Don Kelly 1997 - 2002 

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GOTO: Story of The Green Men