MI'KMAW CULTURE
- ORAL TRADITION

THE LEGEND OF THE HAND OF THE MEDICINE MAN

There was a time, long ago, when people lived around Kejimkujik Lake. For a long time all was well, and the people lived off the land, hunting and fishing, and gathering plants, roots, berries and nuts, each in their season. The Elders took care of the children, telling them the old stories and passing on their wisdom and knowledge of the land and of their way of life. A child was considered a precious gift to any village, for they would grow up to one day nurture and protect the people of that village.

Unfortunately, there came a time when a mysterious sickness came to the village. The young were the ones who suffered the most, and the plague claimed the lives of many of the village's children. The villagers looked to the their medicine people, and to those in the surrounding area, but none of them were able to find the medicines that would cure the sickness.

It was said that a powerful medicine man lived in a village that lay far off in the direction of the setting sun. The chief of the village sent runners to the west, hoping this medicine man would be able to help the children of the village. The runners ran for days until they reached the next village, and then new runners would take their place, carrying their message further and further west, until they finally arrived at the village where this medicine man lived. He listened to their request, and agreed to help them.

When this medicine man finally reached the village at Kejimkujik Lake, there was much sadness, for many children had been lost. The medicine man immediately went into ceremony, sending his spirit journeying into the Spirit World. He was accompanied by the powerful Mi'kmaw Spirit Guide Muin, the black bear, the traditional keeper of medicine knowledge, and together they sought the cure they needed. At last, after seven long days, a spirit came forward with the knowledge they needed.

The medicine man immediately went into the woods, seeking the plants that were needed to make the medicine. Following the instructions he had been given, he made the medicine and took it back to the village, where it was given to the children. Within a few days, the medicine began to take effect, and the children began to recover.

After waiting another seven days to see that all went well, it was time for the medicine man to return to his village in the west. Before he left, he went down to the shores of Kejimkujik Lake, where he went down on one knee to give thanks to Creator for giving him the ability to help the young Mi'kmaq children. As he stood, he placed his hand on the slate outcrop to steady himself, and when he removed his hand they found the imprint of a child's hand impressed into the slate.

To this day, that image remains on the slate on the shores of Kejimkujik Lake, as a reminder of how precious the life of a child truly is. 

 
- story as given to Jean Augustine-McIsaac

 

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Updated: 25 Mar 2016 Print Page