Tales from Temagami - Land of Deep Water

The Magic Birth of Nenebuc and His Four Brothers

Hills over O-bawb-ika

There were two people living, a man and his wife, who had an only daughter. When she was twelve years old, the age of puberty, she was taken over a hill and was kept there in a camp alone for twelve days, neither eating nor drinking, in order that she might have a dream [the old custom of seclusion during puberty]. If she should eat or drink, she would have no dream. If, while she was dreaming, a panther came alone, she would be very strong. So her parents kept her there. The girl dreamed of the sun, so she could not look at the sun anymore, for if she did so, she would have to go away from her parents and live with the sun. When the girll had had this dream, she went back to her parents and her father asked her, "What have you been dreaming ?" "I am very sorry, but I have dreamed of the sun, so I cannot ever look at the sun again," replied his daughter. "Wel,, now it is too bad, but you mustn't look at the sun," said her father. "You stay here all the time. Don't look at the sun, that's all."

sunrise over O-bawb-ika

The girl used to get water at the shore and stay there a long time. One day in March she went to the water hole, broke the ice and looked into the water. In so doing, she made a mistake, for there was no could in the sky and the sun was shining brightly near the horizon, so that, early in the morning, she looked at the sun. [By doing so she became pregnant by magickal conception.] She brought the water back in a birch bark pail and placed it inside the wigwam, but she could not sit down. "What's the matter?" said her father. "Why, I looked at the sun," answered his daughter. "Wel, good-bye, you've got to live with the sun now ," said her father.. Then the girl and her parents shook hands and she went away to live with the sun, and is there yet. Before she went away she said to her father, "You will see your grandchildren before long." The she told him to put his wooden dish upside down before the fire and to leave it there four days and four nights and to look under every morning. The she went to live with the sun.

So the old man put the dish upside down before the fire. The first morning he lifted the edge of the dish, looked under, and there he saw Nenebuc, the child of the sun, sitting. The next morning he did the same thing and he saww Nenebuc's brother sitting with him. He kept doing this the third, fourth, and fifth mornings, until there were Nenebuc and his four brothers all sitting under the dish. Then the old man picked up the dish. One of the brothers, the second brother, had horns on his head and the old man said to him, "You won't stay here. You go to the west." The he sent one brother to the east, one to the south, and one to the north. So Nenebuc, the eldest of the five, was left. The old man told him to attend to the world and to keep the winds going just right lest the water get stagnant and bad. Then Nenebuc stayed, and his four brothers started to the four parts of the earth.

One day Nenebuc asked his grandfather, "Where have I been born? Had I a mother like other people?" His grandfather would not tell him, but his grandmother told him that had been found. This appeared queer to Nenebuc and he thought to himself, "The other people have mothers, but I have none. I must find out." So he took a whetstone and, scraping it on a rock, he asked it. "Have I any mother?" "Yes, you have a mother," replied the whetstone and then it told him his story. Then Nenebuc told his grandfather, "I have a mother and four brothers besides. The whetstone told me so."

Soon Nenebuc began growing larger and he thought it strange that he had not been sent out into the world like his brothers, so he asked his grandfather for what reason he had kept him. His grandfather told him that when he became old and feeble Nenebuc would be able to help him, cut wood for him, and hunt for him. This satisfied Nenebuc and he used to help his grandfather in many ways, spearing fish for him in calm days, hunting for him, and doing many other things. He never got into any mischief and he grew very fast.

the End
Related by Aleck Paul, second Chief of Timagami band, to Frank Speck