The North Spirit Curse
The North Spirit Curse
This story occurred before the coming of the missionaries and the fur traders. Our People lived from the natural resources of the land and from the beliefs which they practised. In those days, for a man to be respected, he had to have knowledge of sorcery for protection. A dispute began when a medicine man named Jeeb-wasin came from North Spirit Lake to Sandy Lake and asked an elderly couple for the hand of their lovely daughter, who was called Nowi-geesick. The medicine man wanted this girl for his son but was refused by the parents. the angered Jeeb-wasin, the medicine man, to have to return to North Spirit Lake with his rejected son, Wasay-quan.
A scheme for revenge formed in Jeeb-wasin's mind. Upon reaching his village he gathered all the great medicine men for a conference. However the mother of Nowi-geesick was a well-known, feared sorceress and medicine men concluded that the preparation for her destruction would take time in order for it to work. Thoughout the winter the medicine men learned most of the power of their victim and what to be careful of. Finally in the spring season they gathered to execute the final act of thier plan. The war ceremony was held in the sacred longhouse of the village where a wood carving, in the likeness of the old woman, was erected in the centre of the room. The medicine men were seated on both sides of the longhouse, beating on the drums and singing to the spirit gods, while other people danced around the wooden figure. Thoughout the evening they danced until the leader rose and called halt. Then he took his old flintlock rifle and fired at the wooden statue, embedding a slug into the leg. The ceremony was over and the old woman was going to pay for her insult.
In Sandy Lake everyone was asleep when this woman screamed. bringing her family to her side. In her leg they saw a huge slug which somehow appeared under her skin without a wound. The husband quickly took his knife to remove the slug but she stopped him, saying she had been attacked by surprise and the her fate was sealed and there was no way to save her. As she lay there gasping for breath, they noticed the slug was making its way upward. She forbid an effort to save her life and said "I have been wronged, my life has been taken for no reason. Therefore, I curse the North Spirit Lake people. Before this summer is over, over half of their population will perish."
She was dying and she asked her family to leave her outside for a while to meet someone. They were ordered to leave her alone; to wait inside, Then they heard a great howl from a wolf. A howl that shook the whole wigwam. The wolf, who was the spirit guardian of the old woman, was mourning over her death. They could hear the beast circle the wigwam several times and then the howling faded off into the distance towards North Spirit Lake. When the Sandy Lake people went to investigate the old woman was dead.
From the few old people in North Spirit Lake that still recall the incident, they say that one evening that terrible howl of a great wolf was heard in the forest. It brought fear into the hearts of all who heard it. Then came a strange plague that destroyed most inhabitants of that great village. Everywhere people were dropping dead, attacked by an unknown force. A person would suddenly buckle, gasing and coughing up blood mixed with insects of all kinds. All these creeping things were spreading through the entire village. Moving the camp didn't solve the problem for very long. The great medicine men's attempts to hold back the plague were useless; they were dying inside their once mighty shaking tents.
Finally, the few remaining leaders decided to take the people to Sandy Lake to beg for mercy, On their journey down the river, every time they broke camp, they left behind more graves. All during the trip they could hear the howling of the spirit wolf behind them, digging up graves, devouring the corpses. Wasay-quan had survived the plague but he announced that he too was going to die, Before he died he asked not to be covered too deeply in his grave because he intended to rise after death and go into the beyond in both body and soul, His request was carried out when he was laid to rest with the others.
When the now small band of fleeing people approached their destination they noticed the wolf had turned back and death had stopped coming, In Sandy Lake they were welcomed and stayed there for the entire summer. In the fall they were concerned for their hunting grounds and they left to go back to North Spirit Lake, On the journey they thought about the words of Wasay-quan.
On their way they found Wasay-quan's grave empty and they didn't find his canoe until a few miles upstream. There, high up on a cliff it rested where he had left the world body and soul. Our people say the population at North Spirit Lake was larger than Sandy Lake before this plague. Today there are only a few families there, the survivors of the old woman's curse.
From the book of "Sacred Legends" by CARL RAY & JAMES R. STEVENS