Indian has had his home in all parts of Canada. On
the shores of both oceans, through the mountains,
across the prairies, along all the rivers and lakes
of this broad land, he has left his mark.
For every mysterious manifestation of nature he has
invented a story. Whenever he was impressed by a
curiously shaped rock, by a lonely lake, by a
crashing terfall, he tried to explain the wonder
according to his religious belief. He had his own
idea of the creation of the world, the origin of the
different tribes, the coming of the white man, and
the power of Good and Evil in the world.
If we sought to gather all the Indian legends there
are in existence, we should never be done. The
reading of them would be wearisome. Each tribe
cherishes scores of them, perhaps hundreds. Many are
fragmentary, and meaningless. Some are foolish and
unimportant, merely relating the pranks of animals.
Not a few are repulsive, bestial, hideous. In this
book an effort has been made to collect the most
attractive and important legends cherished among the
Indians, especially those told in connection with
well-known places. The traveller, visiting for the
first time a new part of the country, will find his
interest quickened and his pleasure increased by
reading the ancient stories the Red Man wove about
lake, forest, or mountain, and which have been
handed down from generation to generation since the
world was young.
The fact that these stories have been handed down
through so many generations by word of mouth, rather
than by writing, accounts for the confused state in
which they are found to-day. In many instances it is
almost impossible to get at the pure legend in its
original form. Each Indian narrator has added his
impressions, and the story has lost nothing at the
hands of the whites. In cases where more than one
version of a legend was available, the popular and
most widely accepted one has been followed.
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