Ojibwa Tale: Sleeping Giant

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: The Sleeping Giant.

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.

Ojibwa The Sleeping Giant

The Sleeping Giant

Standing on the shores of the City of Thunder Bay, one can look
across the waters and see a great formation of land known as the
Sleeping Giant. Mystery and legend surround this strange phenomenon
of nature. A great tribe of Ojibways lived outside Thunder Bay on
Isle Royale. Because of loyalty to their gods and their industrial
and peaceful mode of living, Nanna Bijou, the Spirit of the Deep
Sea Water, decided to reward the tribe.

The Great Spirit told the chief about the tunnel that led to the
center of a rich silver mine. He warned that if the Ojibway tribe
were ever to tell the White Man of this mine he, Nanna Bijou, would
be turned to stone. The Ojibways soon became famous for their beautiful
silver ornaments. Tea Sioux warriors, upon seeing the silver on
their wounded enemies, strove to wrest the secret from the Ojibways.

Torture and death failed to make the gallant Ojibway tribesmen
divulge their secret. Sioux chieftains summoned their most cunning
scout and ordered him to enter the Ojibway camp disguised as one
of them. The scout soon learned the whereabouts of the mine.

One night he made his way to it and took several large pieces of
the precious metal. During his return to the Sioux camp, the scout
stopped at a White Trader's post for food. There, without furs to
trade, he used a piece of the stolen silver. Two White Men, intent
upon finding the source of the silver, filled the scout with firewater
and persuaded him to lead them to the mine. Just as they were in
sight of “Silver Islet”, a terrific storm broke over the
Cloak. The White Men were drowned and the Sioux scout was found drifting
in his canoe in a crazed condition.

A most extraordinary thing happened during the storm. Where once
was a wide opening to the bay, now lay what appeared to be a great
sleeping figure of a man. The Great Spirit's warning had come true
and he had been turned to stone.

Today, partly submerged shaft to what was once the richest silver
mine in the northwest, can still be seen. White Men have repeatedly
attempted to pump out the water that floods in from Lake Superior,
but their efforts have been in vain. Is it still under the curse
of Nanna Bijou, Spirit of the Deep Sea Water? Perhaps…who can tell?