HOW INDIAN CORN CAME INTO THE WORLD
AN OJIBBEWAY LEGEND
BY HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT (ADAPTED)
LONG, long ago, in a beautiful part of this country, there
lived an Indian with his wife and children. He was poor and
found it hard to provide food enough for his family. But
though needy he was kind and contented, and always gave
thanks to the Great Spirit for everything that he received.
 His eldest son, Wunzh, was likewise kind and gentle and
thankful of heart, and he longed greatly to do something for
The time came that Wunzh reached the age when every Indian
boy fasts so that he may see in a vision the Spirit that is
to be his guide through life. Wunph's father built him a
little lodge apart, so that the boy might rest there
undisturbed during his days of fasting. Then Wunzh withdrew
to begin the solemn rite.
On the first day he walked alone in the woods looking at the
flowers and plants, and filling his mind with the beautiful
images of growing things so that he might see them in his
night-dreams. He saw how the flowers and herbs and berries
grew, and he knew that some were good for food, and that
others healed wounds and cured sickness. And his heart was
filled with even a greater longing to do something for his
family and his tribe.
"Truly," thought he, "the Great Spirit made all things. To
Him we owe our lives. But could He not make it easier for us
to get our food than by hunting and catching fish? I must
try to find this out in my vision."
So Wunzh returned to his lodge and fasted and slept. On the
third day he became weak and faint. Soon he saw in a vision
a young brave coming down from the sky and approaching the
 lodge. He was clad in rich garments of green and yellow
colors. On his head was a tuft of nodding green plumes, and
all his motions were graceful and swaying.
"I am sent to you, O Wunzh," said the sky-stranger, "by
that Great Spirit who made all things in sky and earth. He
has seen your fasting, and knows how you wish to do good to
your people, and that you do not seek for strength in war
nor for the praise of warriors. I am sent to tell you how
you may do good to your kindred. Arise and wrestle with me,
for only by overcoming me may you learn the secret."
Wunzh, though he was weak from fasting, felt courage grow in
his heart, and he arose and wrestled with the stranger. But
soon he became weaker and exhausted, and the stranger,
seeing this, smiled gently on him and said: "My friend, this
is enough for once, I will come again to-morrow." And he
vanished as suddenly as he had appeared.
The next day the stranger came, and Wunzh felt himself
weaker than before; nevertheless he rose and wrestled
bravely. Then the stranger spoke a second time. "My friend,"
he said, "have courage! To-morrow will be your last trial."
And he disappeared from Wunzh's sight.
On the third day the stranger came as before, and the
struggle was renewed. And Wunzh,
 though fainter in body, grew strong in mind and will, and he
determined to win or perish in the attempt. He exerted all
his powers, and, lo! in a while, he prevailed and overcame
"O Wunzh, my friend," said the conquered one, "you have
wrestled manfully. You have met your trial well. To-morrow I
shall come again and you must wrestle with me for the last
time. You will prevail. Do you then strip off my garments,
throw me down, clean the earth of roots and weeds, and bury
me in that spot. When you have done so, leave my body in the
ground. Come often to the place and see whether I have come
to life, but be careful not to let weeds or grass grow on my
grave. If you do all this well, you will soon discover how
to benefit your fellow creatures." Having said this the
In the morning Wunzh's father came to him with food. "My
son," he said, "you have fasted long. It is seven days since
you have tasted food, and you must not sacrifice your life.
The Master of Life does not require that."
"My father," replied the boy, "wait until the sun goes down
to-morrow. For a certain reason I wish to fast until that
"Very well," said the old man, "I shall wait until the time
arrives when you feel inclined to eat." And he went away.
The next day, at the usual hour, the
sky-  stranger came again. And, though Wunzh had fasted seven
days, he felt a new power arise within him. He grasped the
stranger with superhuman strength, and threw him down. He
took from him his beautiful garments, and, finding him dead,
buried him in the softened earth, and did all else as he had
He then returned to his father's lodge, and partook
sparingly of food. There he abode for some time. But he
never forgot the grave of his friend. Daily he visited it,
and pulled up the weeds and grass, and kept the earth soft
and moist. Very soon, to his great wonder, he saw the tops
of green plumes coming through the ground.
Weeks passed by, the summer was drawing to a close. One day
Wunzh asked his father to follow him. He led him to a
distant meadow. There, in the place where the stranger had
been buried, stood a tall and graceful plant, with bright-
colored, silken hair, and crowned by nodding green plumes.
Its stalk was covered with waving leaves, and there grew
from its sides clusters of milk-filled ears of corn, golden
and sweet, each ear closely wrapped in its green husks.
"It is my friend!" shouted the boy joyously; "it is
Mondawmin, the Indian Corn! We need no longer depend on
hunting, so long as this gift is planted and cared for. The
Great Spirit has heard my voice and has sent us this food."
 Then the whole family feasted on the ears of corn and
thanked the Great Spirit who gave it. So Indian Corn came
into the world.
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