Ojibwa Tale: Skunk Woman

The term Ojibwe comes from Utchibou, name given to the XVIIe century to a group that lived north of what is now Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Here is one of their stories: Skunk woman.

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.

Ojibway Skunk woman

Contenus

skunk woman

Once there was an Ojibwe man who was a good hunter, but he had a very bad temper. He would always yell at his brothers or the other men whenever they made a mistake. Soon nobody wanted to go hunting with him anymore.

Eventually the hunter got married, so he and his wife went off on their own. She was a hard-working woman, and he was a good provider, so they were happy together by themselves. But one day he lost his temper with her too. She made a lot of noise while he was trying to trap beaver and spoiled his trapping, so he really yelled at her a lot. His wife ran back to the wigwam and took their son. She sang a song, but I don’t know how it goes. It had the same idea as « Your father doesn’t want us anymore, your father doesn’t want us anymore. » And she went away.

That night when the hunter came back, he saw that they were gone. And he felt bad, because he knew he shouldn't have lost his temper. So he decided to follow them. He found their tracks in the mud and hurried after his wife and son. He was good at tracking and he thought he could catch up to them soon. So he hurried along, but as he went, he started to see that something was happening to their footprints. They didn't look like moccasin prints anymore. They were starting to look like skunk footprints.

Suddenly the hunter arrived in a marsh. The footprints ended, and he was surrounded by skunks. There was nothing there but skunks. He couldn't tell which ones were his wife and child. So he had to go back home.

After a while the hunter remarried, and he always told his children, “Don't eat skunks. You must never eat skunks, because your brother is a skunk now. You might be eating your brother. And they never did. That family never ate skunks again. And as for the hunter, he changed his attitude, and he didn't yell at his family members any more.