mackinaw island

mackinaw island, photo by amanda vanvels

One of my favorite books as a kid was Lore of the Great Turtle by Dirk Gringhuis. The book has some of the rich legends of Mackinac Island. One is the tale of the Red Geebis and Devils Kitchen, retold by Tehuti_88. It begins:

A long time ago an old man, Aikie-wai-sie, was left behind on Mackinac Island when the rest of the tribe departed for the winter hunting grounds on the mainland. Left behind with him was his young granddaughter, Willow Wand, and the old man was greatly upset that she too would have to remain with him since they had no canoe by which to escape the island. Still, Willow Wand had refused to leave the old man behind, since he was blind and couldn’t fend for himself; but her decision pained him.

“You should have returned with them to the mainland, because Keewenaw will seek you there,” he told her, referring to her beloved.

Willow Wand shook her head. “I’ve left a white deerskin with vermillion spots upon the cliff,” she said. “The fishermen will see it, and Keewenaw will come to rescue us.”

That having been done, they moved up onto a cliff projecting from the side of the bluff, to live upon until they should be rescued. This cliff, and the cave upon it, were just above a cave known as the Devil’s Kitchen, for in this cave lived the Red Geebis, who were cannibal giants. The Geebis were known to roast and eat humans inside this cave, and so Willow Wand and her grandfather had to remain upon their ledge and out of the Geebis’ sight in order to remain safe. Because of this, they could not even go down to the lake for water, even though the shore was just below. They had not been left with much food and so the old man knew that their time there would be rough…

And how. Read on for the rest of the story of Devil’s Kitchen on Mackinac Island.

See Amanda’s photo on black.

More from Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures.

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