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Indian legend surrounds island in Blanchard

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

Since this was Indian country at one time, it is not surprising that there should be Indian legends hereabouts. However, few of them have come down to the present day, it seems.

With the Blanchard River flowing through our area, it is regarded as likely that there were more Indians in this general region than in areas without waterways. Indian villages are known to have existed along the banks of the river. Evidences of their existence have been uncovered.

Willis H. Whiteley, whose family was a prominent one in the legal history of Hancock County, wrote a great deal of historical matter for the Findlay newspapers a half-century or so ago. Much of this dealt with the Indian legends of early days. He obtained much information on this subject from the late Harlan F. Burket, a Findlay attorney and banker who was an authority on the Indians.

Here is one of Mr. Whiteley’s articles which appeared in the old Morning Republican in August 1901, dealing with a beautiful Indian legend centered around the Blanchard River in Hancock County:

“There is a very great difference in the legendary lore of the Indian tribes. All of the legends of the Iroquois related to what they believed to be real persons.

“On the other hand, the legends of the Algonquin were connected with the elements, as the wind, the rain or the sunshine. The Algonquins believed that the forces of nature communicated directly with the people of the tribes. Many of the Algonquin legends deal with natural phenomena. Of this class is the legend of Wah-ne-ka.

“Down the Blanchard River a few miles below the city there is a little island. It is a mere dimple in the mid-stream, but around it clings a bright legend of the Algonquin Indians which is yet related by the few of the Huron-Ottawa tribe who still survive, and which tells of the origin of the little island.

“Long before the coming of the winged canoes of the white man, there lived on the banks of the river which is now called the Blanchard a tribe of the Huron-Ottawa, a branch of the great Algonquin family. The chief of the tribe was very old. He had seen the coming and going of many summers and winters, and many moons he had seen. The old chief had a beautiful daughter. Her form was as lithe as the young fawn; her eyes were like the stars at night and her feet were as swift as the wings of the swallow.

“The chief loved his daughter and was in fear lest someone would come and carry her away, so he made a deep canoe where she might rest and he could watch over her. He draped the canoe with furs and feathers and sweet grasses so that his daughter might sleep on their softness. He placed the canoe on the shore and watched day by day, but the South Wind passed one day. He saw the maiden and loved her. He wooed her with soft caresses and she loved him in return. This aroused the jealousy of the North Wind and the West Wind, and the two made a storm. The waters rose and the canoe in which the maiden lay was swept from the shore. Swiftly it was floating down the stream when the East Wind came and saw the maiden in the canoe.

“The East Wind was angry with the West Wind, and there was a struggle. Each tried to drive the other away, but neither could prevail. But the waters began to subside and the canoe stood still. Then the South Wind came back and caressed the maiden and she slept. Then where the canoe rested there rose up a little island and the South Wind touched it and grasses and ferns covered it.

“Then the South Wind awoke the maiden and she saw the beauty which the South Wind had wrought, and for years afterward she made her home upon the little island and loved only the South Wind, for the South Wind was warm and brought her loveliness and beauty. So all the loves of the Huron-Ottawa love the South Wind for they know the legend of Wah-ne-ka.”

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