The Legend of Masewein
The story of the Odawa magician Maswein and Bridal Veil Falls, as it was passed on to us by the late Ernie Debassige of M’Chigeeng.
Kagawong is a beautiful spot known by all who have dwelt here from the earliest of times as a mystical abode of spirits.
As the story goes, it came to happen that the Odawas (sometimes called the Ottawas) were driven from their home on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron by their relentless enemies the Iroquois and forced to settle with their relations far to the west by the Mississippi. But the magician Maswein remained behind at the falls of Kagawong (now called Bridal Veil Falls) to act as sentinel for his people and to keep watch on the Iroquois that he might give timely information of their movements; and incidentally, commune with and learn from the Manitou of the place.
Rising early one morning, leaving his two boys asleep, Maswein went hunting through the deepest of woods behind Kagawong. He came upon the border of an open plain and as he was making his way across the meadow, a man of small stature rose from the earth. The man wore a red feather upon his head. He greeted Maswein with great cordiality, invited him to smoke and proposed a wrestling match.
Maswein, nothing loath, agreed; they began to wrestle and Maswein threw his opponent, but to his astonishment, the tiny man disappeared. Looking closely at the place where his opponent had vanished and the magician discovered an unhusked ear of corn topped with a red tassel.
As he drew close to the mysterious object, a voice arose from within it. “Take off my covering,” instructed the ear. “Pull off my body from the spine on which I grow, scatter the grains along the edge of the plain and return to this place after one moon.”
Being a man of great wisdom, Maswein did as he was instructed and when Grandmother Moon had completed a full cycle of her changes in the night sky, he returned to the wrestling ground where he discovered the entire plain blanketed with the tiny shoots and blades of new-grown corn. Where he had tossed the cob itself, broad luxurious leaves and vines of pumpkins now completely covered that place.
Maswein carefully attended and nurtured the plants through the summer and in the fall he gathered up some of the pumpkins. As he moved about his harvest, Maswein heard once again the mysterious voice of the Manitou. “Maswein, had you not conquered me in wrestling, these gifts would not have been yours. Henceforth you shall never never be in want of my body and it will be nourishment for the human race. Thus did the Anishinabe receive the boon of corn.
Maswein had many other adventures and underwent many trials before the magician was able to travel to the lands by the Mississippi to bring his people back to their homeland and the mystical falls at Kagawong, but that is another story.