Monday, December 8, 2014

Maid of the Mist: A False Legend , Part ll

In Part l of this post, an overview is given of the controversy that surrounds the tale of  “Maid of the Mist” better known as Legend of Lelawala.

This controversy started in the 17th century when this tale was used to falsely represent the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois culture.

The natives took offense for this tale stated they practice human sacrifice to appease one of their Gods. It also misrepresented the actual positive role woman take in their culture.

The first tale below-- Legend of Lelawala was told for years to tourists as they rode on the  “Maid of the Mist” boat tours around Niagara Falls. It was represented as being a true reflection of the Haudenosaunee culture.

The second tale below-- The True Maid of the Mist is a legend that actually represents the Native Haudenosaunee people, their culture and what is important to them.

Legend of Lelawala

Long ago, the peaceful tribe of the Origiaras lived beside the Niagara River.

Members of this tribe began to die for some unknown reason. It was believed to stop these deaths they must appease the Thunder God Hinum, who lived with his two sons below Niagara Falls.

At first, the Indians sent canoes laden with fruit, flowers, and game over the Falls but members of the tribe continued to die.

The Indians then began to sacrifice one beautiful maiden of the tribe each year that was selected during a ceremony.

One year, the chief’s daughter Lelawala was chosen. On an appointed day, Lelawala appeared on the riverbank above the Falls. She wore a white deerskin robe and a wreath of woodland flowers in her hair.

She stepped into a birch canoe and plunged over the Falls to her death. Her father, heartbroken, leaped into his boat and followed her.

Hinum’s two sons caught Lelawala in their arms. They both desired her, so she promised to accept the brother who told her the reason why her people were dying.

The younger brother told her it was a giant water snake that lay at the bottom of the river. Once a year this monster snake grew hungry, and at night it entered the village and poisoned the water. This snake then devoured the dead.

Lelawala appeared as a spirit before her people and told them they must kill this serpent. Indian braves then mortally wounded the snake on his next yearly visit to the village.

As he returned to his lair on the river, the snake caught his head on the side of the river and his tail on the other, forming a semi-circle that became, Horseshoe Falls.

Horseshoe Falls
Lelawala later returned to the cave of the God Hinum, where she reigns as the Maid of the Mist.

The True Maid of the Mist

The elders tell this story to the next generation.

At one time the Six Nations were one with the world. They talked with the earth, the sky, the moon, and the stars. They knew the plants and animals were their brothers.

Because of this, they knew themselves.

The Thunder God taught them about what is and what will be. Because the people knew these things, they were at peace, filled with love and understood the wholeness of the world.

But as time passed the people forgot. They did not listen anymore when the stars and animals talked to them. As they forgot, their oneness with the world and each other was lost.

The people no longer heard the words of the Thunder God.

Now the people were selfish, mistrustful and jealous of each other. They felt resentment and hate.

The Maid

A young girl who lived among the people near the Niagara River one afternoon lay under a tree in the hot summer sun. She fell asleep.

As she slept an old woman passed by. This woman saw a snake-like creature crawl underneath the young girl’s dress.

Sadly, the woman not caring did not wake the young girl to tell her what she had seen.

The girl became a young woman still not knowing what had happened that summer afternoon.

She fell in love and married, but it didn’t last long for her husband died. She then met another man and married, but he too died before they could start a family.

The young woman found happiness again and married for the 3rd time but alas this husband died as well.

She was confused and afraid. She felt there must be something wrong with her.

But there was no one she could confide in for the people were disconnected from each other--they were further down the path of selfishness and mistrust.

Embarrassed and with no one to turn to for help the young woman decided to kill herself.

One night she put a canoe in the river above Niagara. She climbed in and pushed out into the rushing current. Her boat followed the rapids over the edge of the Falls.

Base of Falls
But she did not fall to her death. Instead, she felt her canoe gently lowered to the base of the Falls. Here she heard voices and whispers in the darkness.

She felt hands drawing her out of the canoe. She was taken behind the Falls where she saw many people. They were the Thunder Beings. They told her what had happened to her as a young girl.

They brought medicine and they built a small fire and as the smoke arose around her a tiny slithering creature dropped out of her dress and crawled away.

Now made too powerful, she could not return home immediately.

The Thunder God adopted her, and she lived with them for four years. They taught her the teachings of the Creator.

She was then told she could return home. She married again and was able to have children.

She shared the Creator’s teachings with her people. They now remembered and listened. They were again able to live in peace and “became one” once more.

In Part l of Maid of theMist: A Lie I share the origin of the false tale.

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