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How Glooskap Is Making Arrows, And preparing For A Great Battle. The Twilight Of The Indian Gods

Categories : Passamaquoddy , Passamaquoddy Stories

"Is Glooskap living yet?" "Yes, far away; no one knows where. Some say he sailed away in his stone canoe beyond the sea, to the east, but he will return in it one day; others, that he went to the west. One story tells that while he was alive those who went to him and found him could have their wishes given to them. But there is a story that if one travels long and is not afraid, he may still find the great sagamore (sogmo). Yes. He lives in a very great, a very long wigwam. He always making arrows. One side of the lodge is full of arrows now. They so thick as that. When it is all quite full, he will come forth and make war. He never allows any one to enter the wigwam while he is making these arrows."

"And on whom will he make war?" "He will make war on all, kill all; there will be no more world, --world all gone. Dunno how quick,--mebbe long time; all be dead then, mebbe,--guess it will be long time."

"Are any to be saved by any one?" "Dunno. Me hear how some say world all burn up some day, water all boil all fire; some good ones be taken up in good heavens, but me dunno,--me just hear that. Only hear so."

It was owing to a mere chance question that this account of the Last Day was obtained from an Indian. It was related to Mrs. W. Wallace Brown, of Calais, Maine, by Mrs. Le Cool, an old Passamaquoddy Indian. It casts a great light on the myth of Glooskap, since it appears that a day is to come when, like Arthur, Barbarossa, and other heroes in retreat, he is to come forth at a new twilight of the gods, exterminate the Iglesmani, and establish an eternal happy hunting-ground. This preparing for a great final battle is more suggestive of Norse or Scandinavian influence than of aught else. It is certainly not of a late date, or Christian, but it is very much like the Edda and Ragnarok. Heine does not observe, in the Twilight of the Gods, that Jupiter or Mars intend to return and conquer the world. But the Norsemen expected such a fight, when arrows would fly like hail, and Glooskap is supposed to be deliberately preparing for it.

A very curious point remains to be noted in this narration. When the Indians speak of Christian, or white, or civilized teachings, they say, "I heard," or, "I have been told." This they never do is regards their own ancient traditions. When Mrs. Le Cool said that she "had heard" that some were to be taken up into good heavens, she declared, in her way, that this was what Christians said, but that she was not so sure of it. The Northeastern Algonquin always distinguish very accurately between their ancient lore and that derived from the whites. I have often heard French fairy tales and Æsop's fables Indianized to perfection, but the narrator always knew that they were not N'Karnayoo, "of the old time."

Glooskap is now living in a Norse-like Asa-heim; but there is to come a day when the arrows will be ready, and he will go forth and slay all the wicked. Malsum the Wolf, his twin brother, the typical colossal type of all Evil, will come to life, with all the giant cannibals, witches, and wild devils slain of old; but the champion will gird on his magic belt, and the arrows will fly in a rain as at Ragnarok: the hero will come sailing in his wonderful canoe, which expands to hold an army. Thus it will be on

"That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,"

with all things, in blood and death and fire. Then there will come the eternal happy hunting-grounds.

If this was derived from Christian priests, it must be admitted that it has changed wonderfully on the way. It is to me very heathen, grimly archaic, and with the strong stamp of an original. Its resemblance to the Norse is striking,. Either the Norsemen told it to the Eskimo and the Indians, or the latter to the Norsemen. None know, after all, what was going on for ages in the early time, up about Jotunheim, in the North Atlantic! Vessels came to Newfoundland to fish for cod since unknown antiquity, and, returning, reported that they had been to Tartary.

It may be assumed at once that this Indian Last Battle of the Giants, or of the good hero giants against the Evil, led by the Malsum-Fenris Wolf, was not derived from the Canadian French. The influence of the latter is to be found even among the Chippewas, but they never dealt in myths like this.

It is very remarkable indeed that the one great principle of the Norse mythology is identical with that of the Indian. So long as man shall make war and heroism his standard, just so long his hero god exists. But there will come a day when mankind can war no more, when higher civilization must prevail. Then there will be a great final war, and death of the heroes, and death of their foes, and after all a new world.

"Then shall another come
yet mightier,
although I dare not
his name declare.
Few may see
further forth
than when Odin
meets the wolf."
(Hindluliod, 42.)

The Norsemen may have drawn this from a Christian source; but the Indian, to judge by form, spirit, and expression, would seem to have taken it from the Norse.

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