The Montagnais Tribe Summary and Analysis: a. The myth comes from the the Montagnais tribe (also known as the Naskapi Indians), who are now called Innus (they have a lot of names) b. The location of the tribe during the pre-columbian era was in eastern Canada, in what is now Quebec. When the Europeans began dominating the Montagnais’ tribal lands, the Montagnais recognized that the Europeans could be of some use to them. They became quick allies with the french, and made a compromise with them to handle all of the tribe’s fur trade in turn for protecting them against their enemy tribe, the Mohawks. c. Main characters: – Atachecam – creator of the earth, the Montagnais don’t know much about him – Messou – flooded the entire earth and rebuilt it, loves his lynxes – Muskrat – Brought back the piece of land that Messou uses to rebuild the earth – The Lynxes – Messou’s beloved pets, dumb enough to get stuck in a lake d. The Montagnais tribe believed that the world was created by a powerful god named Atachecam. However, they don’t know how he created the earth, nor do they know much about him.
One day, Messou was hunting with his lynxes when the lynxes got trapped in a lake. Messou looked all over for them, but could not find them, until a bird came by and said that he had seen the lynxes going into the lake and that they were stuck there. Messou tried to go into the lake to save the lynxes, but he overflowed the lake and flooded the entire earth. Messou tried to send a raven to retrieve a piece of ground that he could use to rebuild the earth, but the raven was unsuccessful. Then he sent an otter to retrieve some ground, with the same results. Finally, Messou sent a muskrat to get land, and the muskrat returned successfully with a piece of ground. Messou rebuilt the earth, exacted revenge on whatever had been holding his lynxes, and married the muskrat to repopulate the earth.
e. The Montagnais believed that the earth, or their land as they knew it, was an island that had been created by Messou when he flooded the earth, and that all of the offspring between the muskrat and Messou became ancestors of all of the current creatures of the earth (including humans.) In other words, the Montagnais believe that they were the original people on this land. f. The myth sounds vaguely familiar to the story of Noah’s Ark; in fact, in an altered version of the Innus creation myth, the Montagnais God commanded a man to build a large canoe, and then flooded the earth. In comparison (with the first story), Messou can be connected to Noah, although Noah was not the cause of the flood that God created.
The fact that Messou married the muskrat to repopulate the earth could be connected to how, in saving all of the animals, Noah was able to repopulate the earth after the flood. In this myth, there is nothing that would necessarily support the theory of the crossing of the Bering Strait, aside from the fact that there was a flood, which very well may have occurred after the Ice Age in the Younger Dryas era, but the myth can definitely support the idea that the Montagnais were an original people. It certainly can be inferred that the creation myth could hold to some level of truth, (symbolically, of course.) g. What we can learn from oral history, especially this myth in particular, is whether or not certain tribes are an original people or sub-cultures of other tribes. We may also be able to tentatively trace the immigration of these tribes back as far as the Ice Age or possibly even before. h. Bibliography “Indians and Colonists Relations.”
123helpme.com. 123helpme.com, Inc. 2012. Web.
“Montagnais.” Atlantapedia.com. Atlantapedia, Inc. 2012. Web. “Montgnais Religion.” bigorrin.com. Article Archives. 2012. Web.
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