Conte Ojibwé : Cloud Catcher

Le terme Ojibwé vient de Outchibou, nom donné au 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 : Cloud Catcher and the Moon Woman (en anglais).

Les Ojibwés faisaient partie d’une série de groupes très proches, mais distincts, occupant un territoire situé entre le nord-est de la baie Géorgienne et l’est du lac Supérieur. Ces peuplades qui se rassemblent près de la ville actuelle de Sault Ste. Marie sont aussi appelées Saulteaux, un terme qui désigne aujourd’hui principalement les peuples ojibwés du nord-ouest de l’Ontario et du sud-est du Manitoba.

Ojibwé Cloud Catcher and the Moon Woman

Cloud Catcher and the Moon Woman

Here is the myth of Endymion and Diana, as told on the shores of
Saginaw Bay, in Michigan, by Indians who never heard of Greeks.
Cloud Catcher, a handsome youth of the Ojibways, offended his family
by refusing to fast during the ceremony of his coming of age, and
was put out of the paternal wigwam. It was so fine a night that
the sky served him as well as a roof, and he had a boy’s confidence
in his ability to make a living, and something of fame and fortune,

He dropped upon a tuft of moss to plan for his future, and
drowsily noted the rising of the moon in which he seemed to see
a face. On awakening he found that it was not day, yet the darkness
was half dispelled by light that rayed from a figure near him–the
form of a lovely woman.

« Cloud Catcher, I have come for you, » she said. And as
she turned away he felt impelled to rise and follow. But, instead
of walking, she began to move into the air with the flight of an
eagle, and, endowed with a new power, he too ascended beside her.
The earth was dim and vast below, stars blazed as they drew near
them, yet the radiance of the woman seemed to dull their glory.
Presently they passed through a gate of clouds and stood on a beautiful
plain, with crystal ponds and brooks watering noble trees and leagues
of flowery meadow; birds of brightest colors darted here and there,
singing like flutes; the very stones were agate, jasper and chalcedony.

An immense lodge stood on the plain, and within were embroideries
and ornaments, couches of rich furs, pipes and arms cut from jasper
and tipped with silver. While the young man was gazing around him
with delight, the brother of his guide appeared and reproved her,
advising her to send the young man back to earth at once, but, she
flatly refused to do so, he gave a pipe and bow and arrows to Cloud
Catcher, as a token of his consent to their marriage, and wished
them happiness, which, in fact, they had.

This brother, who was commanding, tall, and so dazzling in his
gold and silver ornaments that one could hardly look upon him, was
abroad all day, while his sister was absent for a part of the night.
He permitted Cloud Catcher to go with him on one of his daily walks,
and as they crossed the lovely Sky Land they glanced down through
open valley bottoms on the green earth below. The rapid pace they
struck gave to Cloud Catcher an appetite and he asked if there were
no game. « Patience, » counseled his companion.

On arriving at a spot where a large hole had been broken through the sky they
reclined on mats, and the tall man loosing one of his silver ornaments
flung it into a group of children playing before a lodge. On of
the little ones fell and was carried within, amid lamentations.
Then the villagers left their sports and labors and looked up at
the sky. The tall man cried, in a voice of thunder, « Offer
a sacrifice and the child shall be well again. » A white dog
was killed, roasted, and in a twinkling it shot up the feet of Cloud
Catcher, who, being empty, attacked it voraciously.

Many such walks and feasts came after, and the sights of earth
and taste of meat filled the mortal with longing to see his people
again. He told his wife that he wanted to go back. She consented,
after a time, saying, « Since you are better pleased with the
cares, the ills, the labor, and the poverty of the world than with
the comfort and abundance of Sky Land, you may return; but remember
you are still my husband, and beware how you venture to take an
earthly maiden for a wife. »

She arose lightly, clasped Cloud Catcher by the wrist, and began
to move with him through the air. The motion lulled him and he fell
asleep, waking at the door of his father’s lodge.

His relatives gathered and gave him welcome, and he learned that
he had been in the sky for a year. He took the privatations of a
hunter’s and warrior’s life less kindly than he though to, and after
a time he enlivened its monotony by taking to wife a bright-eyed
girl of his tribe. In four days she was dead. The lesson was unheeded
and he married again. Shortly after, he stepped from his lodge one
evening and never came back. The woods were filled with a strange
radiance on that night, and it is asserted that Cloud Catcher was
taken back to the lodge of the Sun and Moon, and is now content
to live in heaven.