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Before the White Man came
Indian Legends and Stories by Mabel Burkholder


THE Indian has had his home in all parts of Canada. On the shores of both oceans, through the mountains, across the prairies, along all the rivers and lakes of this broad land, he has left his mark.

For every mysterious manifestation of nature he has invented a story. Whenever he was impressed by a curiously shaped rock, by a lonely lake, by a crashing terfall, he tried to explain the wonder according to his religious belief. He had his own idea of the creation of the world, the origin of the different tribes, the coming of the white man, and the power of Good and Evil in the world.

If we sought to gather all the Indian legends there are in existence, we should never be done. The reading of them would be wearisome. Each tribe cherishes scores of them, perhaps hundreds. Many are fragmentary, and meaningless. Some are foolish and unimportant, merely relating the pranks of animals. Not a few are repulsive, bestial, hideous. In this book an effort has been made to collect the most attractive and important legends cherished among the Indians, especially those told in connection with well-known places. The traveller, visiting for the first time a new part of the country, will find his interest quickened and his pleasure increased by reading the ancient stories the Red Man wove about lake, forest, or mountain, and which have been handed down from generation to generation since the world was young.

The fact that these stories have been handed down through so many generations by word of mouth, rather than by writing, accounts for the confused state in which they are found to-day. In many instances it is almost impossible to get at the pure legend in its original form. Each Indian narrator has added his impressions, and the story has lost nothing at the hands of the whites. In cases where more than one version of a legend was available, the popular and most widely accepted one has been followed.

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