Sandy Point Legends
Legends were used extensively by our Metis Elders to keep us youngsters under some control. For instance there were stories of Muntsoos (an underwater monster) who like to eat little kids when they ventured too far out into the lake when swimming. Years later when we were much older Muntsoos was given a new name "Puff". The main reason for this mythical creation of Muntsoos was to keep us from venturing too far out into the lake.
It was sort of an unfenced barrier created by our grandmothers to prevent swimming accidents and ultimately drowning. Muntsoos supposedly lived under Big Island and had paths at the bottom of the lake to various points on the lake where we had homesteads. I remember once grandpa shot at Muntsoos as it showed itself at the tip of Sandy Point. There is a long sand bar that constantly changed shape created by the flowing Churchill River as it moved slowly towards the north and into the Canadian Shield.
Sandy Point was located on the inside elbow of Isle-a-la-Crosse the South side of the point was shallow and the north side had a sudden deep drop. What my grandpa shot at now I assume was a large old sturgeon who ran aground as it went over the shallow portion of the long point. My grandfather was always scared of this monster as he called it in Cree because Sturgeon were not common to our lake and because he never killed it, he never did find out what it really was.
I know when we used commercial fish every now and then our gill nets would be discovered all ripped open sometimes twenty to thirty feet of the netting was ripped apart. All the netting would be ripped and all that would be left was the lines holding the floats and leads. It is quite conceivable that there was a large old sturgeon in the lake but because of its size our 210/4 netting was not strong enough to hold the fish hence the legend of Muntsoos lived on.
Other legends that kept us at bay included Whehtigo which was half man and half wolf that lurked in the forest surrounding our little island. This legend was meant to keep us youngsters again from venturing too deep into the woods and getting lost. Another legend was these great big bull frogs we always saw in grandma's strawberry garden. We were taught that these big frogs would suck our blood and we would die but really what they actually were good for was that they protected our granny's strawberry patch from us kids eating up all her berries.
The northern lights were also another source of legend in that we were not allowed to whistle at the lights lest they come down and take the whistler away forever. In general though these legends were used as control mechanisms to keep us kids in a safety net and it allowed the mothers, our dads, aunties and grandparents from having to babysit us continuously.
Today, youngsters are not taught these sort of legends and maybe that is why there is so little respect for other people and especially the Elders. Today television, cell phones, and now the internet occuppy a kid's time instead of being outside and learning about nature. TV now acts as a babysitter for most parents; children are subjected to TV and world news and daily horrors that have hardened our kids. It is interesting though that even today, I still remember vividly these legends and enjoy passing this information to my children and others.
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Don't Whistle at The Northern Lights; They will come down and take you away.
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