Saturday, July 01, 2006

Shingebiss and the North Wind

Shingebiss and the North Wind
From a 19th century literary tale attributed to Chippewa sources
retold by Fran Stallings

Long ago, the People could not stay in their northern homes all year round. It was pleasant in the summer, cool and breezy. But in the fall they knew they would have to go south like the birds, like the buffalo. Because of Old Man North Wind.

Old Man North Wind's headdress was not made of feathers, but of icicles. His clothes were made of ice and snow. And the features of his face were fierce, twisted with hate for other living things.

When he came down from the far north country and blew his frosty breath -- Pah! -- everything froze. There was no more food. The animals who could not sleep through the winter had to go south. The People went, too.

But one year a young woman of the tribe, whose name was Shingebiss, said "It's not fair that we have to leave our homes because of Old Man North Wind! He's just a creature like the rest of us. I'm not afraid of him." And she sang,


(North Wind, North Wind, fierce of feature,
you are still my fellow creature.
Blow your worst. You can't scare me.
I'm not afraid, and so I'm free.)
Click to play the Shingebiss Chant (188kb MP3 format)

The other People said, "No, Shingebiss, you must not stay. You will freeze. You will starve! Come south with us."


But Shingebiss refused. "I have ideas for ways to stay warm and find food. I want to try them. I'm not afraid." And she sang,


(North Wind, North Wind, fierce of feature,
you are still my fellow creature.
Blow your worst. You can't scare me.
I'm not afraid, and so I'm free.)
Click to play the Shingebiss Chant (188kb MP3 format)

The other people pleaded with her, but she was stubborn. So they said goodbye. They were sure that they would never see her alive again.

When they had gone south, Shingebiss began to work. She built a new kind of lodge, not open and breezy like the summer lodges of the People, but with double walls -- which she stuffed with dry grass and moss, to keep out the cold and wind. Then she collected great piles of dry wood, so that she could keep her fire going at all times.

She waited. And she sang:
(North Wind, North Wind, fierce of feature,
you are still my fellow creature.
Blow your worst. You can't scare me.
I'm not afraid, and so I'm free.)
Click to play the Shingebiss Chant (188kb MP3 format)

Then Old Man North Wind came down from the far north country. He blew his frosty breath -- Pah! -- and everything died. Everything was still... except for the smoke rising from Shingebiss' lodge.

"What is this?" he asked. "Who is this, who dares to defy me? They can't live without food." He blew his frosty breath -- Pah! -- on the lakes and streams. Thick ice covered them.

But Shingebiss just walked out onto the ice and chopped holes. She went ice fishing! She took her fish home to her lodge, cooked them and ate them. She was warm and comfortable, and she sang:

(North Wind, North Wind, fierce of feature,
you are still my fellow creature.
Blow your worst. You can't scare me.
I'm not afraid, and so I'm free.)
Click to play the Shingebiss Chant (188kb MP3 format)

Old Man North Wind blew around and around Shingebiss' lodge, but she just built up her fire and was warm and comfortable.

"So," said Old Man North Wind, "I will come inside." And he stepped in the door.

Shingebiss was sitting by her fire, with her back to the door, but she felt the chill when Old Man North Wind came in. She added more wood to the fire and sang:

(North Wind, North Wind, fierce of feature,
you are still my fellow creature.
Blow your worst. You can't scare me.
I'm not afraid, and so I'm free.)
Click to play the Shingebiss Chant (188kb MP3 format)

Old Man North Wind came closer. He sat down next to her!
But she just added more wood.

The flames rose higher, and higher ...

Old Man North Wind began to notice that his headdress of icicles was drooping ...

His clothes of ice and snow were becoming soggy, and full of holes ...

Drops of water ran down his face.

"What is this? It can't be tears, because I never cry. This can only mean that I'm -- melting!!!"


Old Man North Wind ran out of Shingebiss' lodge and rolled in the snow until he was cold again.


"This Shingebiss," he said, " she is too strong for me."

In the spring, when the People returned, they were amazed to find Shingebiss alive and well. "We thought you would freeze and starve! We thought we would find nothing but your bones!"


Shingebiss said, "I have learned ways to keep warm, and ways to find food. I can teach them to you. But you can't stay here if you're afraid."

So she also taught them her song:

(North Wind, North Wind, fierce of feature,
you are still my fellow creature.
Blow your worst. You can't scare me.
I'm not afraid, and so I'm free.)
Click to play the Shingebiss Chant (188kb MP3 format)



3 Comments:

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Betty S said...

Shingebiss

 
At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful

 
At 9:09 PM, Blogger Anthony D said...

I used this story for a Forensics competition. It's such a great story and I'm glad I found it again!

 

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