Tales from Temagami - Land of Deep Water

The Giant Pike

At that time there were two people living who got married and had some daughters and sons. These grew up and married. One of the sons married and had children, two sons. The grandfather of these died. Then the father and mother died and left the children with only their grandmother to look after them. At this time there were big enough to shoot bows and arrows and to go in a canoe with thier grandmother to set the night lines for fish. they lived only by fishing , because the grandmother was too old to do anything else.

So these two boys used to play around, shooting bows and arrows for fun, just as the Ojibwa boys do now. They used to play near a lake. Then their grandmother would say to them, "Don't swim in that lake. There is a big pike in there and he might swallow you." The older believed his grandmother , but the younger did not. So one day, while there were playing, the younger boy by mistake shot his arrow out in the lake. He could see it floating on the surface,so he took off his clothes to swim in it. But his brother said, "You know what grandmother told you. The big pike might swallow you."

Swimming boy - guess who?
But the boy started to swim nevertheless, saying, "Koga'miko" ("swallowed in the water") with each stroke that his arms took. When he called this out, the big pike came and swallowed him.
Giant Pike by Ivan Bilibin

His brother began crying and ran back to his grandmother in the wigwam, saying, "My little brother is koga'miko, "swallowed in the water". Then his grandmother began crying and the two were crying together. Soon after this they again set their night lines.

night fishing line
When they looked toward the lake, three days later, they saw the float sticks together and the boy said, "We have a fish". But the grandmother cried and would not lok loward the lake where her grandson had died. But soon she went along inthe canoe, crying, and pulled in the line. At the end was a very large fish, and they could see that his stomach was full of something. He was so large that they could scarcely oull him into the canoe. However, they managed to get him in and then they paddled to the shore and dragged the fish to a place where they could conveniently clean it. They cut his belly, which was distended , and out jumped the younger brother. "I'm scaldded with the intestines! (Ninbabe'nes)" he cried. "I'm scalded. I 've been here three days." He was already beginning to be digested. The grandmother was very glad to get her grandson back again. That is the end.

the End
recordered by Frank Speck in 1913

Giant Pike was drawn by russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin.
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