the Snow Man A Menominee Story as told by bear Medicinewalker

snow man

In the early spring a young hunter who lived in a lodge with his wife and little ones far apart from his village left his home to go hunt the woods for food. Father Sun was high in the sky sending his rays to warm the earth and melt the white blankets of snow that remained. The piles of snow disappeared into the ground as he walked through the trees. Laughing the young hunter began to laugh and talk to the snow, “You are not afraid of Father Sun are you Snow?”
A strong booming voice startled him as it replied back, “Do not speak to me in that tone! I am here because the Ancestors of the North sent me, but I must only stay a season as I am instructed. Father Sun helps me to disappear. But since you have dishonored me in this way, by making light of my worth, you will be tested when next I return! Be Prepared!”

The young hunter looked around him hearing the voice but seeing no one he turned to leave wondering if someone was playing tricks on him. As he did he heard the voice once again as it spoke out loud, “Who is scared now? Remember next winter, be prepared.”

The young hunter felt chills and headed home at a run. Reaching his lodge he shared with his wife and children what had happened. His wife looked at home and encouraged him to seek guidance from the Elders in the village so gathering his courage to speak of it again he went to them telling them all that had happened.

“If you heard the Snow Man speak,” said the Elders, “you must prepare for what he said he will do, he will do!” The Elders all agreed and shook their heads, “It is no wonder that the Snow Man was angry with you, you made fun of him telling him he was scared, however he said when he returned you would be tested so you must prepare to meet him next winter.”

“And how am I to prepare for his return?” asked the young hunter.

“You must begin now to hunt the Deer, Bear, Buffalo, and any other large creatures that you can find. You must press out their fat and oil, and put it all in skin bags. You must also fill some bags with pitch. Then you must cut and lay aside a great deal of wood full of knots. After that you must build yourself a lodge apart from every one, with a door to the south. Take Pine pitch and fill up all the cracks in the walls, and hang a closely braided mat before the door, so that nothing can get through. Inside you must build a fireplace with a small smoke-hole. Then carry into the lodge your supply of wood and the skins full of fat, oil, and pitch. You will need all you can get, for the test will be long and difficult.”

Agreeing and understanding what must be done, the young hunter left to begin to prepare for the test.. Spending the entire summer and autumn seasons he hunted by night and cut wood and prepared the other things by day. He made grease and tallow cakes and bars of all sizes, and filled skin bags with oil and pitch. Last but not least he built his lodge as he had been instructed to do. Winter was fast approaching and the young hunter began to tremble, bidding his family good-bye he entered the lodge he had built and locked himself in. In the beginning his fire was small, but as the days progressed and the winter’s breath grew colder, he began adding more and more wood in order to stay warm.

One cold evening there came a fierce wind that whipped and swept around outside the lodge howling as if it was in pain. Louder and louder the sound grew until the young hunter thought the snow had returned for him, but no one came.
The next evening the sound came back, louder tan before and the winds stirred and whipped around the lodge. Soon the young hunter became very cold as he felt the temperature drop some more, so he made a large fire. The trees and bushes outside snapped and cracked louder and louder, as the wind tore through them. Snow has finally come for me he thought, but no one came. The next night the young hunter stirred the fire as the cold grew worse and worse, and the wind howled and shrieked damaging trees and brush outside. I wonder if tonight he will come for me thought the hunter, but still no one came.

Time passed and soon mid winter arrived but the young hunter had no concept of time, so he was unaware. Then at last he saw him through the tightly pitched and chinked lodge and its closely woven mat over the door, a Manlike-Object-of-Snow walked about. It passed close to the young hunter and as its icy breath filled the lodge, the fire began to dim. The young hunter rose to his feet and threw on more wood but saving the better wood for later. The Manlike-Object-of-Snow sat down opposite him staring at him with its icy eyes. The lodge grew colder and colder chilling the young hunter down to the bone. Again the fire was beginning to die almost going out until the young hunter remembered what the Elder had said, and he added more wood to the fire. Soon the winter was almost over yet the young hunter did not know.

As the young hunter felt his limbs getting numb he began to use the best wood for the fire and the flames encircled him with their warmth. The Snow Man groaned as the young hunter began to throw the grease and tallow on the flames to make them shoot up sputtering and sizzling with heat. Then the Snow Man groaned again, but still he sat there with his icy stare, and his breath numbed the young hunter’s body. Soon winter was over, but the young hunter did not know it! Soon the young hunter began to throw on the pitch and piled up his largest logs into the fireplace. The Snow Man groaned horribly growing smaller and smaller gasping and groaning again. Then the young hunter poured on the oil, and soon only a little lump of ice lay where the Snow Man had sat. Soon a voice cried out, “Aho young hunter! You have won! You are greater than I and I give up to you!” But the young hunter did not stop continuing to pour oil, pitch and wood into the fireplace.

Soon the Snow Man cried out, “Stop young hunter! I have spoken the truth. I will return to the North where I have power. You shall live in this lodge becoming a great hunter. Your wife and children may always go barefooted in the snow, and I will not hurt them. Your name from now on shall be ‘The-Man-who-Mastered-the-Winter.’ ” With those words, the Snow Man disappeared. The young hunter lifted the mat at the door looking out through the doorway he felt Father Sun’s warmth, saw the grass was green, the flowers were blooming, the birds were singing, for winter was gone and it was once again spring!

 

“I am Dedicated to Educating and sharing the Native culture with the World. It is not enough merely to teach the ways of our Elders. We must honor those traditions by sharing and educating the World. Inspiring others …Inspiring our Youth. Through the Music… the Arts…the stories…”
Mitakuye O’yasin
~bear Medicinewalker

bear dec 2015

 

The Gift Jim Brickman piano version available on I tunes and used as Creative Commons

 

 

 

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