Conte Ojibwé : Lady’s Slippers

The term Ojibwe comes from Utchibou, name given to the XVIIe siècle à un groupe qui vivait au nord de ce qui est aujourd’hui Sault Ste. Marie, en Ontario.Voici un de leur conte : Lady’s Slippers (en anglais).

The Ojibway were part of a series of very close, but distinct groups, occupying a territory located between the northeast of the bay Georgian and eastern Lake Superior. These peoples who gathered near present-day Sault Ste. Mary are also called Saulteaux, a term that today refers primarily to the Ojibway peoples of northwestern Ontario and southeastern Manitoba.

Ojibwé Lady's Slippers

Lady's Slippers

A certain village was visited by a dreaded disease. Even the medicine
man died; and with his death all hope vanished.

Although the delivery of messages in winter was unheard of and
had never before been attempted the chief asked his mizhinihway
(messenger) to go to the next village for some medicines.

In those days each chief had a messenger who delivered notices
and messages to distant places. Journeys even in summer were difficult;
unheard of during the winter when there were no moccasins.

Nevertheless Koo-Koo-Lee prepared to go. But like the rest, he
too fell ill. His wife, anxious for his life, left the lodge and
slipped out into the cold. Oblivious to the cold, almost indifferent
to the snow crusts, and anxious only to get medicines for her husband
and the people of her village, Koo-Koo-Lee’s wife ran swiftly over the drifts.

The next morning the people of the village were startled to hear
her cries coming from the forest. « Koo-Koo-Lee; come and get me. »

Men and women recognizing her voice ran out into the forest where
they found her lying in the snow, her feet swollen and bleeding
from frost bite, but the medicines in her bundle for her husband
and the rest of the sick people in the village. The men carried
her back to her lodge and wrapped her feet in thick warm deer skins.

For her sacrifice to her husband and devotion to her people, she
was named thereafter Wah-on-nay. On her death her foot wrappings
became little flowers of yellow, called by some Wah-on-nay moccasinun;
by others Koo-Koo-Lee moccasinun. They are also known as Lady’s Slippers.