Legends of Mackinac

            The movements of Legends of Mackinac are musical interpretations of three noteworthy locations on the Island, according to Chippewa mythology. Lover’s Leap recounts the anxious period of a young maiden waiting for her chosen warrior to reappear after battle. She looks down from her perch on high, scanning the faces in the returning canoes, but her lover is not among them. Suddenly a great bird appears, the likes of which are unknown to her people; she takes it to be the spirit of her departed warrior, and, seeking to be reunited with him, allows it to lead her off the cliff.

            Some legends say that Sugarloaf Rock is actually the tepee dwelling of the Island Spirit himself, but a lesser-known myth details the journey 10 young braves undertook to meet the old trickster Nanabouzhou. The story says that each brave had a wish, and that Nanabouzhou would be required to grant each one. Each in turn presents his deepest desire: to be the fastest runner, the bravest warrior, the wisest sage, the most powerful shaman. The final brave wishes to live forever, at which point the angry spirit turns him to stone.

            Skull Cave exists as two sections: the first describes how an 18th Century fur trader spent the night in the cave, believing his discomfort was caused by rocks, only to awaken in the morning and find that he had slept on a pile of skulls and bones. The second section is a reverent song of the dead, for the Chippewa had used this cave as a sacred repository for their lost tribesmen.

©  Scott R. Harding 2020