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A Manitoba Indian Legend

Manitoba Pageant, January 1962, Volume 7, Number 2

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

Based on a story from The Manitoban newspaper August 31, 1872:

The Indian maiden was called Wah-ta-yap or Bright Eyes for her eyes were beaming stars. Makoose had looked into those eyes and looking had learned to love. Wah-ta-yap fully returned his love and had promised to be his wife as soon as Makoose returned from the hunt which was to provide them with the means of giving a feast to their friends as was usual when a marriage took place.

Makoose was gone nearly a month and had promised to return when the moon was at its full. The night of the full moon Wah-ta-yap must be the first to welcome him, and no hand but hers must help him unload his canoe or help carry its cargo.

On the night of Makoose's promised return Wah-ta-yap went to the place where the lake narrowed and where she knew Makoose would land. As she approached the narrows of the lake she heard a voice calling her name and certain it was Makoose she hurried forward calling back, "I am here."

Reaching the little promontory which jutted out into the lake Wah-ta-yap expected to see Makoose but instead, standing there, was the wicked spirit Mutche-Manitoo.

"You thought it was Makoose, did you?" said the wicked spirit. He is not here, nor will he arrive for hours, but come with me and live in the hut of the Manitoo. I shall give you all that your heart may wish and all in earth, air and water shall obey you."

Hating and detesting the wicked spirit, Wah-ta-yap jumped from the promontory across the water to a small mound raised there by the beaver. She thought she would be safe there for the Mutche-Manitoo may not cross running water but she soon realized she could not escape so easily. Mutche-Manitoo knelt down and blew on the water which separated him from the beaver mound and under his scorching breath the water began to dry up.

In her great need Wah-ta-yap called on her friend the beaver and just as Mutche-Manitoo was ready to step on the mound the beaver raised a second mound further from the shore to which she jumped with thankfulness and joy. Again Mutche-Manitoo dried up the intervening waters. Again and again the beaver raised another mound but Mutche-Manitoo blew harder and harder.

Then Wah-ta-yap remembred that there was one Mutche-Manitoo could not prevail against and whom he must obey. Clasping her hands she called on the Great Spirit, Keeche-Manitou, and scarcely had her cry been uttered when the Great Spirit came and by a word raised a chain of mounds which reached the opposite shore.

Wah-ta-yap was saved from the wicked spirit; but where was her loved-one, Makoose? As Wah-ta-yap jumped to safety Makoose, with swift, strong strides of his paddle was bringing his canoe to one of the mounds but before he could reach Wah-ta-yap Mutche-Manitoo Jumped into the canoe, seized the paddle from Makoose's hand and struck the young hunter a heavy blow on the head. Makoose fell bleeding and lifeless into the lake. Here the beaver found him and carried his body to the shore and gently laid him down among the tall rushes.

The Great Spirit, after bidding the wicked Mutche-Manitoo return to his home in the swamp, led Wah-ta-yap to the spot where the beaver had borne Makoose, and there she still weeps for her lost lover. Always when the south wind blows and the moon is full you may hear her cries from among the rushes at the side of the lake.

Page revised: 1 July 2009

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