Conte Ojibwé : How the Birch Tree got It’s Burn

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 : How the birch tree got it’s burn (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 How the birch tree got it's burn

How the birch tree got it's burn

The Ojibwe people always had stories to tell that had a moral. A main character who was always used was Waynaboozhoo. But it is told that you cannot tell a Waynaboozhoo story in the spring, summer, or fall, only when there is snow on the ground or it is said that a frog will be in your bed. You can put down cedar and ask to tell the story and nothing will happen to you or your bed. This is what I am told. Now this is the story about how the birch bark got its burns. Often stories have different morals or different explanations so this one may be somewhat different from others that you have heard.

It was wintertime and Waynaboozhoo’s grandmother called him to her. « Waynaboozhoo, omaa bi izhaan! » she called. « Come here. It is cold and we have no fire for warmth or to cook and prepare our food. I ask of you to go to find the fire, ishkodence, that Thunderbird has in the west. »

« Grandmother, » Waynaboozhoo replied. « I will go and look for the great ishkodence for you. » He disguised himself as a waboos, a little rabbit, and headed off to the west looking for the fire.

When Waynaboozhoo finally reached Thunderbird’s home, he asked, « Please share the warmth inside your home. I am cold and lost. I will only stay a little while, for I must be on my way. »

The Thunderbird agreed and allowed Waynaboozhoo to enter his home. Inside, Waynaboozhoo saw the fire and waited until Thunderbird looked away. Then, Waynaboozhoo quickly rolled in the fire and took off running toward his home with the fire on his back!

Thunderbird flew behind Waynaboozhoo throwing lightning flashes at him! Waynaboozhoo grew tired and yelled for someone to help him. « Widoka! Widoka washin! Help me! » he cried.

Then omaaî mitig, the birch tree, spoke. « Come, hide beside me my brother. I will protect you. » The little waboos hid beneath the tree while Thunderbird flashed and thundered, angry that Waynaboozhoo had stolen the fire. The lightning bolts missed Waynaboozhoo every time but they hit omaaî mitig. Dark burn marks scarred the white bark of the tree. That is why the birch tree now has burn marks on its bark.