Owjibwe Legend of the Sleeping Bear
Haiku for the Sleeping Bear

Listen to my tale
Let us speak of old ways now
Let us sing the songs.

Recall the legend
Hear a mother's magic song
for the Sleeping Bear.

Indian summer
The times of carefree splendor
When we lived at ease.

Lush grass and water
Low hanging fruit for taking
Salmon swimming close.

Cubs had their friends then
Deer and wolf and otter pups
Life was everywhere.

Filled with youthful joy
Swimming on the endless sea
Playing in the waves.

Campfires lit the night
Wo Zha Wa in the moonlight         [Festival]
of our Meskonsing.                             [Wisconsin]

Here it was revealed
A place of old time legend
Beyond the water.

Shores beyond seeing
The story tellers told it
Toward the morning sun.

Wrapped in fog and rain
A paradise awaiting
So the tales were told.

Singing sacred songs
The wisdom of the elders
Came to us this way.

Then came a great fire
Hot wind the air consuming
Trees raged and made smoke.

Suddenly awake
our slumber interrupted
we fled our lost world.

Times of plenty end
Companions fall before us
captives to the blaze.

“Kichikami lay                                  [Michigan]
Across the sacred waters
On the unknown sea.”

“My brave little cubs
We shall swim to unseen shores
Take our shelter there.”

“Moonlight shows the way 
Though dark night surrounds us
Stars will guide our path.”

“Winds will blow us there
Destiny is before us
Summon your courage!”

“Paddle for your lives
When waves crash all around us
Never leave my side.”

A tempest raged
Heavy limbs weighed down the cubs
Swimming in the night.

Just before morning
The blinding fog is dense
Night is coldest then.

“Please don't fall behind
I know that you are trying
Listen for my voice."

“Smell the scent of shore
Stay close by my little ones
Can you hear those gulls?”

They cried "Nimaamaa!"                     [Mother]            
“We are tired and can't go on!"              
Makwa called "Keep faith!"              [Bear]

She could scarcely breathe
with her life's work in ruins
Her cubs in peril.

First light broke the dark
Mother bear was near the shore.
The cubs had perished.

Bagamademo                     [She arrives crying]
She crawls ashore nearly dead.
No one heard her cries.

She climbed the perched dune
Bear stood and searched the water
Looking far and wide.

She lay down to sleep
And slept with one eye open
Wiipemaawasod.                  [A protective sleep]

Waiting there alone
Taking neither food no drink

Time took Sleeping Bear
so ended earthly troubles
so began the dream.

The Great Spirit paid
tribute to a mother's love
and raised the cubs high.

Manitou Islands
You can see the ghost cubs still
Resting on the lake.

From atop the dune
Noozhe-Makwa conjures them  [Mother bear]
She calls them sweetly.

"Come to me makoons                  [Bear cubs]
Even to eternity
I will wait for you."

-Dances with Words
Owjibwe Legend of the Sleeping Bear
Owjibwe Legend of the Sleeping Bear
Owjibwe Legend of the Sleeping Bear
Owjibwe Legend of the Sleeping Bear
In the old days a mother bear and her cubs lived in the place we now call Wisconsin. One night fire came to destroy the land and all they knew. To flee certain death they bravely swam across Lake Michigan, but cold and stormy waters claimed the bear cubs just a few miles from the Michigan shoreline. Mother bear climbed the dune and searched the horizon for those cubs until she fell to sleep forever. Only then did the spirit cubs rise to become what are known today as the Manitou Islands off Sleeping Bear Point in Leelanau County. Noozhe-Makwa waits perched on the dune even to this day, dreaming of her cubs.
Owjibwe Legend of the Sleeping Bear
Copyright 2015 Gregory Schmid Dances with Words
The Crossing
of Lake
Sleeping Bear Bay
Webcams facing West over Glen Lake from beach level view &
from a hill top view.
Webcam facing east view over Glen Lake from the Narrows
The Sleeping Bear