Friday, October 25, 2013

The Little People

The Little People
Sitting close to the old wood stone on a winter evening, my grandfather would regale us with his tales. He and grandma lived in a one room house. The bedrooms on the second floor in what was little more than an attic. 
A lumberjack, grandfather was gone for months at a time, so these evenings of storytelling, listening to him play his violin, or listening to Wheeling West Virginia on the old battery operated radio were very previous.
My favourite stories were of the Little People. They were a people dressed in red, who lived in caves, or burrowed in the ground close to rivers.
Tales of seeing Little People are prevalent in the Acadian and Mi'kmaw community. Most of the stories are of the tricksters, the ones who would do mischief and then disappear. 
My mother also tells of her grandmother seeing a procession of little people going to a wedding. There are still tales of sighting, but these are fewer than in yesteryear.
They say if you walk in the forest you might hear their footsteps, but you most likely won't see them.
There is a Mi'kmaw legend that if you get close to them you will become small like them. Mysteriously, when you become small, they will appear to be normal size.
Here is one of the Mi'kmaw legends...
A young girl captured one of the Little People. She played with him for a while and then took him home.
Her parents were alarmed when they saw him, and said, "Take him back where you found him. Let him  go or misfortune will befall us."
The girl was not very happy. She reluctantly took him back to the river where she had found him, and after playing with him for a while, and then she put him back in his canoe.
The girl watched the canoe as it made its way downstream. At the rapids it seemed to flounder and she ran towards it, but it righted itself. The Little Man waved, and promised he'd come back one day.
She waited and watched for many days and didn't see him.
One day she made her way to the river with a few of her friends. While they were picking berries, she saw a dozen small canoes come up the river. 
As they approached she recognized the Little Man she had set free. He was the chief of the Little People.
The canoes came ashore, and the Little Men made a fire, cooked and ate a meal. When they were finished smoking their pipes, they said, "We will take you in our canoes across the river if you would like to go." There were some very good berry patches across the river.
The girls laughed and said, "How can we go in your canoes? They are so small, we could pick them up in our hands."
"Come, you will see." the Little People coaxed. The girls laughed.
At last the girl who had captured the Little Man agreed to try. She was astonished to find that as soon as she began to step in, both the canoe and the chief became as large as any canoe or chief of the Mi'kmaq.
The girls who watched from shore now saw her as small as any of the Little People.
At last, the other girls who watched from shore agreed to go.
They had the same experience. 
After their ride in the canoe, they became big again and the canoes and the Little People became small. Later that afternoon, they watched as the twelve little canoes 
made their way down the river and disappeared from view.

In my book, Mi'kmaq Song, I explore a different aspect of the relationship between the Little People and the Mi'kmaq. Check it out at. ..

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