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The Story Of The Great Chenoo
by [?]


What the Micmacs call a Chenoo is known to the Passamaquoddies as a Kewahqu’ or Kewoqu’. And this is their origin. When the k’tchi m’teoulin, or Great Big Witch, [Footnote: When legends from the Anglo-Indian manuscript collection of Mitchell are given, many of the phrases or words in the original are retained, without regard to style or correctness. Wizard is here placed for witch.] is conquered by the smaller witches, or M’teoulinssisk, they can kill him or turn him into a Kewahqu’. He still fights, however, with the other Kewaquiyck. When they get ready to fight, they suddenly become as tall as the highest trees; their weapons are the trees themselves, which they uproot with great strength. And this strength depends upon the quantity or size of the piece of ice which makes the heart of the Kewahqu’. This piece of ice is like distance. “There is a great female Kewahqu’ coming to fight me. In the struggle I may not know you, and may hurt you.” So they went away as fast and as far as they could, but they heard the fighting, the most frightful noises, howls, yells, thundering and crashing of wood and rocks. After a time the man determined to see the fight. When he got to the place he saw a horrible sight: big trees uprooted, the giants in a deadly struggle. Then the Indian, who was very brave, and who was afraid that his father-in-law would be killed, came up and helped as much as he could, and in fact so much that between them they killed the enemy. The old Kewahqu’ was badly but not fatally hurt, and the woman was very glad her father came off victorious. She had always heard that a Kewahqu’ had a piece of ice for a heart. If this can be taken out, the Kewahqu’ can be tamed and cured. So she made a preparation or medicine, and offered it to him. He did not know what it was, nor its strength, so he swallowed it, and it gave him a vomit. She saw something drop, so quietly picked it up: it was the figure of a man of ice; it was the Kewahqu’s heart. She, not being seen or noticed, put it in the fire, when he cried,” Daughter, you are killing me now; you destroy my strength.” Yet she made him take more of the medicine, and a second heart came out. This she also put on the fire. But when a third came he grabbed it from her hand, and swallowed it. However, he was almost entirely cured.

Another time an Indian village was visited by a Kewahqu’, but he was driven away by magic. The people marked crosses on the trees where they expected the Kewahqu’ to come. There was a great excitement among the Indians, expecting to hear their strange visitor with his frightful noises. It was the old people who gave the advice to mark crosses on the trees.

Another time an Indian of either the Passamaquoddy or Mareschite tribe was turned to a Kewahqu’. The last time he was seen was by a party of Indian hunters, who recognized him. He had only small strips of clothing. “This country,”‘ he said,” is too warm for me. I am going to a colder one.”

This story from the Passamaquoddy Anglo-Indian, manuscript of Mitchell supplies some very important deficiencies in the preceding Micmac version. We are told that the heart of the Chenoo is of ice in human figure. This human figure is that of the Kewahqu’ himself, or rather his very self, or microcosm. It is this, and not the liver, which is swallowed by the victor, who thus adds another frozen “soul” to his own. Of the three vomited by the Kewahqu’, two were the hearts of enemies whom he had conquered. He could not give up his own, however. It is much more according to common sense that the woman should have given the cannibal the magic medicine which made him yield his heart than that he should voluntarily have purged himself. In the Micmac tale he merely relieves his stomach; in the Passamaquoddy version he, by woman’s influence, loses his icy heart. It is interesting to observe that the use of the Christian cross is in the additional anecdote described as magic.