Published on December 16, 2012 by Casey
One winter a newly married couple went hunting with the other people. When they moved to the hunting grounds a child was born to them. One day, as they were gazing at him in his cradleboard and talking to him, the child spoke to them. They were very surprised because he was too young to talk. “Where is that manidogisik (Sky Spirit)?” asked the baby. “They say he is very powerful and some day I am going to visit him.”
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His mother grabbed him and said, “You should not talk about that manido that way.”
A few nights later, they fell asleep again with the baby in his cradleboard between them. In the middle of the night the mother awoke and discovered that her baby was gone. She woke her husband and he got up, started a fire and looked all over the wigwam for the baby. They searched the neighbor’s wigwam but could not find it. They lit birchbark torches and searched the community looking for tracks. At last they found some tiny tracks leading down to the lake. Halfway down to the lake, they found the cradleboard and they knew then the baby himself had made the tracks, had crawled out of his cradleboard and was headed for the manido. The tracks leading from the cradle down to the lake were large, far bigger than human feet, and the parents realized that their child had turned into a windigo, the terrible ice monster who could eat people. They could see his tracks where he had walked across the lake.
The manidogisik had fifty smaller manidog or little people to protect him. When one of these manidog threw a rock, it was a bolt of lightning. As the windigo approached, the manidog heard him coming and ran out to meet him and began to fight. Finally they knocked him down with a bolt of lightning. The windigo fell dead with a noise like a big tree falling. As he lay there he looked like a big Indian, but when the people started to chop him up, he was a huge block of ice. They melted down the pieces and found, in the middle of the body, a tiny infant about six inches long with a hole in his head where the manidog had hit him. This was the baby who had turned into a windigo. If the manidog had not killed it, the windigo would have eaten up the whole village.
(Adapted from Robert E. Ritzenthaler and Pat Ritzenthaler, 1983, The Woodland Indians of the Western Great Lakes, Prospect Heights IL: Waveland Press.)