5 How Glooskap went to England and France (Passamaquoddy)

Charles Leland

The Algonquin Legends of New England, by Charles G. Leland, [1884]

How Glooskap went to England and France, and was the first to make America known to the Europeans.

There was an Indian woman: she was a Woodchuck (Mon-in-kwess, R). She had lost a boy; she always thought of him. Once there came to her a strange boy; he called her mother.

He had a pipe with which he could call all the animals. He said, “Mother, if you let any one have this pipe we shall starve.”

“Where did you get it?”

“A stranger gave it to me.””

One day the boy was making a canoe. The woman took the pipe and blew it. There came a deer and a qwah-beet,–a beaver. They came running; the deer came first, the beaver next. The beaver had a stick in his mouth; he gave it to her, and said, “Whenever you wish to kill anything, though it were half a mile off, point this stick at it.” She pointed it at the deer; it fell dead.

The boy was Glooskap. He was building a stone canoe. Every morning he went forth, and was gone all day. He worked a year at it. The mother had killed many animals. When the great canoe was finished he took his (adopted) mother to see it. He said that he would make sails for it. She asked him, “Of what will you make them?” He answered, “Of leaves.” She replied, “Let the leaves alone. I have something better.” She had many buffalo skins alreadytanned, and said, “Take as many as you need.”

He took his pipe. He piped for moose; he piped for elk and for bear: they came. He pointed his stick at them: they were slain. He dried their meat, and so provisioned his great canoe. To carry water he killed many seals; he filled their bladders with water.

So they sailed across the sea. This was before the white people had ever heard of America. The white men did not discover this country first at all. Glooskap discovered England, and told them about it. He got to London. The people had never seen a canoe before. They came flocking down to look at it.

The Woodchuck had lost her boy. This boy it was who first discovered America (England?). This boy could walk on the water and fly up to the sky. 1 He took his mother to England. They offered him a large ship for his stone canoe. He refused it. He feared lest the ship should burn. They offered him servants. He refused them. They gave him presents which almost overloaded the canoe. They gave him an anchor and an English flag.

He and his mother went to France. The French people fired cannon at him till the afternoon. They could not hurt the stone canoe. In the night Glooskap drew all their men-of-war ashore. Next morning the French saw this. They said, “Who did this?

He answered, “I did it.”

They took him prisoner. They put him into a great cannon and fired it off. They looked into the cannon, and there he sat smoking his stone pipe, knocking the ashes out.

The king heard how they had treated him. He said. it was wrong. He who could do such deeds must be a great man. He sent for Glooskap, who replied, “I do not want to see your king. I came to this country to have my mother baptized as a Catholic.” They sent boats, they sent a coach; he was taken to the king, who put many questions to him.

He wished to have his mother christened. It was done. They called her Molly. 1 Therefore to this day all woodchucks are called Molly. They went down to the shore; to please the king Glooskap drew all the ships into the sea again. So the king gave him what he wanted, and he returned home. Since that time white men have come to America.

This is an old Eskimo tale, greatly modernized and altered. The Eskimo believe in a kind of sorcerers or spirits, who have instruments which they merely point at people or animals, to kill them. I think that the Indian who told me this story (P.) was aware of its feebleness, and was ashamed to attribute such nonsense to Glooskap, and therefore made the hero an Indian named Woodchuck. But among Mr. Rand’s Micmac tales it figures as a later tribute to the memory of the great hero.

One version of this story was given to me by Tomah Josephs, another by Mrs. W. Wallace Brown. In the latter Glooskap’s canoe is a great ship, with all kinds of birds for sailors. In the Shawnee legend of the Celestial Sisters (Hiawatha Legends), a youth who goes to the sky must take with him one of every kind of bird. This indicates that the Glooskap voyage meant a trip to heaven.