Manabozho and His Toe … and his waterfall
August 26, 2013
The stories of the people native to Michigan are among my favorite. One reason is for the pervasive humor that enriches them. Manabozho was definitely a trickster, one of four divine brothers in Algonquin tales. Via the Literature Network, here’s Manabozho and His Toe:
Manabozho was so powerful that he began to think there was nothing he could not do. Very wonderful were many of his feats, and he grew more conceited day by day. Now it chanced that one day he was walking about amusing himself by exercising his extraordinary powers, and at length he came to an encampment where one of the first things he noticed was a child lying in the sunshine, curled up with its toe in its mouth.
Manabozho looked at the child for some time, and wondered at its extraordinary posture.
“I have never seen a child before lie like that,” said he to himself, “but I could lie like it.”
So saying, he put himself down beside the child, and, taking his right foot in his hand, drew it towards his mouth. When he had brought it as near as he could it was yet a considerable distance away from his lips.
“I will try the left foot,” said Manabozho. He did so and found that he was no better off, neither of his feet could he get to his mouth. He curled and twisted, and bent his large limbs, and gnashed his teeth in rage to find that he could not get his toe to his mouth. All, however, was vain.
At length he rose, worn out with his exertions and passion, and walked slowly away in a very ill humour, which was not lessened by the sound of the child’s laughter, for Manabozho’s efforts had awakened it.
“Ah, ah!” said Manabozho, “shall I be mocked by a child?”
He did not, however, revenge himself on his victor, but on his way homeward, meeting a boy who did not treat him with proper respect, he transformed him into a cedar-tree.
“At least,” said Manabozho, “I can do something.”
If you’d like more of Manabohzo, check out Manabohzo and the Ultimate Fish Story which might make you a bit more kindly disposed to seagulls.
More about Manabezho Falls on Michigan in Pictures.