Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
March 3, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
VII WABANAKI LEGENDS-Continued.
[By Mrs. W. Wallace Brown.]
One of the Passamaquoddy traditions tells that near the present site of the village at Pleasant Point there once dwelt a tribe of Konsoosuk. The place was called Wa-beig-en-uk; and the following story accounts for the origin of the name:-
The Story of We-beig-an.
Wa-beig-an was a young hunter, whom the Catamount wished to marry.
In those days hunters were not allowed to marry; as it destroyed their power of endurance and made them lazy. Therefore the young man avoided Catamount.
Catamount had two brothers, Lox and Sable, who were envious of Wa-beig-ans success as a hunter; and they planned to entrap him into a marriage with their sister. The Blue-jay was the poohegan (good genius) of the hunter; and it told him of their intention.
He at once decided to leave the vicinity.
Catamount was watching him, however, and started to follow; her brothers, also, joining in the pursuit.
Wa-beig-an ran till he came to the salt water. Then he followed the shore for a short distance; and, finding no other way of escape, turned himself into stone.
Catamount, in her wrath, destroyed most of the body; but the legs remained, and gave to that locality the name of Wa-beig-en-uk.
It would be interesting to find the site of this ancient village. There can be little doubt of its existence; for it may be accepted as certain that all Indian traditions have some foundation in fact.
Many of the stories in Wabanaki folklore are of great length, and full of minute details, and yet are told with but little variation by different individuals.
Often the leading ideas of these folk-tales reappear in the legends of distant tribes. Mr. Wallace Brown, while travelling over the C. P. R. a few years ago, met with a Cree Indian in the Northwest, who, to his surprise, told in broken English the familiar Passamaquoddy story of how the bear lost his tail.
The substance of the story is this: The bear saw the fox catching fish. This he did by dropping his tail through a hole in the ice, holding it there till a fish had taken hold, then jumping up quickly and bringing up the fish before it had time to let go. The bear tried to do the same. By the foxs advice, he kept his tail in the water a long time, and it froze fast, and when he jumped up quickly it was broken off.
There is much in their folk-lore to show that the Indians were not without a sense of humor. In this connection we may give the following, which is part of a long story told to Mr. Edward Jack by one of the Wabanaki of St. John river:
How the Toad and the Porcupine lost their Noses.
Glooskap told his uncle, the Turtle, to make a feast; and the Turtle did so.
After this the Turtle commenced plotting against Glooskap. The latter determined to know just what was taking place in the councils which the Turtle was holding with the other animals; and, in order to defeat their tricks, turned himself into an old squaw, and made his way to the council house.
At the door he found another squaw, the Porcupine, who was sitting at one side, while the Toad, also in the shape of a squaw, was at the other.
Glooskap said to the Porcupine, What does all of this mean?
It is none of your business, was the reply.
So Glooskap, seizing the Porcupines nose between his fingers, pinched it off.
Turning, in a rage, to the Toad, and asking the same question, he received the same reply, and treated the reptile in the same manner.
As soon as the old squaw was gone, the Porcupine said to the Toad, Where is your nose! At this the Toad, looking at the Porcupine, said Where is yours?
Then they both knew that the old squaw was Glooskap.
Referring to the Micmac writings mentioned in a former article, Mr. W. F. Ganong writes:-
Rev. Christian LeClercq, a Recollet missionary, improved,
before 1690, the rude system of hieroglyphics he found among the
Micmacs. How old the system was is not known, but it is
probable that in its original form it was invented and used by
the Micmacs themselves. It was still further improved by
later priests, including lAbbe Sigogne.