God's Kettle


- Ottawa -

About two hundred and fifty years ago Weme-gen-debay, a noted chief and a great hunter, discovered, while hunting in the wilderness east of Traverse Bay, Michigan, a great kettle made of pure copper. It was nearly covered with earth; and the roots of large trees had grown over and around it. When taken out of the ground it had the appearance of never having been used. The kettle was so large that a full-grown bear could be cooked whole in it. It was regarded as Manito aukick (God's kettle). Hence it was considered a sacred relic, was treated with a sort of reverential awe, and was kept securely hidden in a wild retreat unfrequented by man; never being used except when Tchi-bekan-kewin (the feast for the dead) was celebrated.

When the Indians in the Grand Traverse region became civilized this magic kettle lost its sacred influence, and was used to boil maple sap to sugar, instead of for cooking bear at feasts. Blackbird, a noted Indian now living at Harbor Springs, Michigan, as late as 1840, made a bail for this kettle while he was at work in the Government blacksmith-shop at the old Mission on Grand Traverse Bay. When I asked him, a short time since, what had become of that magic kettle, he replied, "I do not know, but must believe Manito has taken it home; for it disappeared as mysteriously as it came."

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