Tales from Temagami - Land of Deep Water

Nenebuc Gets Caught in the Bear's Skull

bear skull with 2 ceremonial markings made to show respect for life taken

Then he became an ant and entered the skull. When he had enough he turned back into a man, but he had his head inside the skull; this allowed him to walk but not to see. On account of this he had no idea where he was. Then he felt the trees. He said to one, "What are you?" It answered, "Cedar". He kept doing this with all the trees in order to keep his course. When he got too near the shore, he knew it by the kind of trees he met. So he kept on walking and the only tree that did not answer promptly was the black spruce, and that said, "I am Se'se'ga'ndak" (black spruce). Then Nenebuc knew he was on low ground. He came to a lake , but he did not know how large it was , as he couldn't see. He started to swim across.
indian family in a canoe

An Ojibwa was padling on the lake with his family and he heard someone calling, "Hey! There is a bear swimming across the lake". Nenebuc became frightened at this and the Ojibwa then said, "He's geting near the shore now." So Nenebuc swam faster, and as he could understand the Ojibwa language, he guided himself by the cries. He landed on a smooth rock, slipped and broke the bear's skull, which fell off his head. Then the Ojibwa cried out. "That's no bear! That's Nenebuc!"
Nenebuc was all right , now that he could see, so he ran off, as he didn't want to stay with these people.

the End
Related by Aleck Paul, second chief of Timagami band, to Dr. Frank Speck
drawings by : Joe Okorn and Alejandro Rabazo