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The Wematekan's are Earth Spirits

To we Lenape', the Wematekan's are Earth Spirits (some call them Wood Dwarfs), who live in the forest, often appearing in the form of little people. They help Misinkhalikan, the Guardian Spirit of the forests, to take care of the trees, plants and animals. Wematekan'is is said to look like a small boy, but he is strong and powerful. Only certain people are able to see him and they usually become noted for their physical strength. Sometimes you may get a glimpse of him in the deep forest as a shadowy something moving out of the corner of your eye, then when you look directly at it to see if something is there, you will see nothing. Wematekan'is is kind, always helping people, and guides lost hunters out of the woods. If offended, he might ruin a hunter's luck, keep the game away or play practical jokes. Sometimes he causes illness or takes a person's mind away. We always leave some tobacco for the Wematekan'is, as this pleases him.

It is said that one day Wematekan'is was discovered by a little boy who went alone to play in the woods. The little boy came to know him well and liked him very much, going to play with him often. When the other children of the village asked the little boy where he had been, he would say, "I have been to play with my little friend who lives in the woods." Sometimes he could see Wematekan'is near where the other children were playing and would point to him, but no one could see him.

Very few people see him any more, because of our modern way of living, distant from the Earth and the wildlife. As a result we have lost our connection to the Earth, and the people are no longer pure enough to be visited by such supernatural beings.

Taken from "The Grandfathers Speak",
by H?takonanu'laxk Interlink Books, New York, 1994

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The Making of the Earth

During the Flood, Old Man was sitting on the highest mountain with all the animals. It was the above-people that had caused the flood, because the baby of the woman who married a star was torn in pieces by an Indian child. Old Man sent Otter down to get some earth. Old Man waited for a long time, & then the Otter came up dead. Old man examined Otter's feet, but found nothing on them. Next Old Man sent Beaver down, but after a long time Beaver also came up drowned. Again, there was nothing on Beaver's feet. Old Man sent Muskrat next, & Muskrat was also drowned. Finally Old Man sent Duck. Duck was drowned, but in its paw was some earth. Old Man saw the earth, & placing it in his hand, he feigned putting it on the water three times, then at last dropped it. The above-people then sent rain, & everything grew on the earth.

This is only one of a few original stories that differ very little in content. They all have the same premise of Napi forming the earth from mud placed upon water.

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Fish Dog Skin

Some Indians from the West, over the mountains, (Rocky Mountains of Northern Montana and Southern Alberta Canada) came to trade with this Blackfoot band. They were called "Snake Indians" as their designs were jagged and looked like a snake. Among their trading goods were some skins that looked like a dog, but had feet like a beaver and a kind of fish tail. When asked where these came from, they were told they lived in the Big Water where the Sun sets and some came up the Big River where they lived.

The fur was finer than a beaver or martin and one skin traded for 5 buffalo robes or a horse or equivalent. One warrior asked to go back with the Traders to see these "Devil Fish" and maybe get some for himself. He gave the leader one of his finest horses for the privilege and was invited. He took horses and robes and other trade goods to trade for these "Devil Fish" with whatever tribe in the West or at the Big Water that had them.

When he returned he had two "Fish Dog" skins, some shells (sea shells) and related this story:

The "Snakes" took him back to their Camp. Since the "Devil Fish" hadn't been seen for a long time they sent one of their tribe to go with him to another tribe to the West of them along the Big River. Most of these people lived on fish, catching them by spearing them and dried them just like the Blackfoot did with Buffalo. He traded and moved West until he came to the Big Water where the Sun sunk. There he traded the last of his trade goods, even his moccasins and clothes for their clothes, shells from the edge of the Big Water, and as many "Devil Fish" Fish Dog Skins as his last horse could carry. He saw the Devil Fish swimming at a distance. They came out on the shore and barked like a dog and were in herds like the buffalo.

Some said they could be eaten, but he didn't taste any, as the Blackfoot don't eat dog. On his way back he traded some and had some stolen. He was only able to make it home with two, one of which was offered to the Sun for his safe journey and protection. The other one was used to wrap his Medicine Bundle which was been handed down through his family.

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[ Introduction | Deeds and Prophecies of Old Man ]
[ How the Blackfoot got the Buffalo Jump ]
[ How a Piegan Warrior Found the First Horses ]
[ The Creation | The Story of the Buffalo Dance ]
[ The Piqued Buffalo-Wife | The Wise Man of Chief Mountain ]
[ The Wematekan's are Earth Spirits ]
[ Water Spirit's Gift of Horses | A Hunting Trip ]
[ Coyote and the Rolling Rock | Sacred Otter ]
[ Origin of the Sweat Lodge | The Story of Two Brothers ]
[ Women Who Married Star Husbands ]
[ How the Worm Pipe Came to the Blackfoot ]

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