Ojibwe Tale: Mt. McKay

The term Ojibwe comes from Utchibou, name given to the XVIIe century to a group who lived north of what is now Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Here's one from their tale: The Little Chapel on Mt. McKay.

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 The Little Chapel on Mt. McKay

The Little Chapel on Mt. McKay

A small stone chapel stands atop Mt. McKay. It is this chapel that
gives us a legend perhaps far more factual than all those of more
ancient origin. A flourishing encampment of Ojibway near Thunder
Bay had learned something of agriculture. Small but bountiful wheat
fields filled clearings which dotted the spruce and birch forests.
The tribe, jubilant at the prospects of a great harvest, found their
joy short-lived one fall. A plague of black birds swooped from the
sky and in spite of the men's arrows, soon devoured all the grain.

A plan for a greater hunting effort during the months that followed
failed as heavy snows came. Those that ventured out in search of
food soon perished in the deep drifts of snow. Fishing, through
the ice was impossible as not even a morsel of food was left for bait.

Starved, crazed men set upon one another and children cried pitifully
from hunger. Just as it seemed the tribe would perish, a young princess,
daughter of the Chief, took her father's hunting.knife and cut strips
of flesh from her legs. This she gave to the men to use as bait for fishing.

Soon, sufficient fish were caught and the tribe was saved from
starvation. The heroic deed, however, was too much of a shock to
the princess and slowly she wasted away. A visiting priest arrived
just in time to bless her before her death. Hearing of her brave
deed, he had the men build the small chapel in her memory and bade
them give thanks to God for their survival and pray for future crops.
Each year at Thanksgiving, the Indians go to the chapel and it is
more than a coincidence that since the first thanks offering, the
crops of Thunder Bay have neither failed nor been destroyed by plague.