Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lelawala - The Maid of the Mist

As you all know I love a good story and am a storyteller by nature.  I come from a long line of them.  I could sit and listen to anyone who spins a good yarn for hours and one of the things we did in Niagara Falls was go to the IMAX production about the history of the falls.  I was hooked from the beginning when the story was about an Indian maiden.  As a kid I read every book I could get my hands on about Indian maidens....I loved Sacajawea and Pocahontas.  Anyways, I am off task....it seems that once upon a time, the peaceful tribe of the Ongiaras lived beside the Niagara River. For an unknown reason, Indians were dying, and it was believed that the tribe must appease the Thunder God Hinum, who lived with his two sons in a cave behind the Falls.  A first, the Indians sent canoes laden with fruit, flowers and game over the Falls, but the dying continued. The Indians then began to sacrifice the most beautiful maiden of the tribe, who was selected once a year during a ceremonial feast. One year, Lelawala, daughter of Chief Eagle Eye was chosen. On the appointed day, Lelawala appeared on the river bank above the Falls, wearing a white doeskin robe with a wreath of wild flowers in her hair. She stepped into a white birch bark canoe and plunged over the Falls to her death. Her father, heartbroken, leaped into his canoe and followed her.  Hinum's two sons caught Lelawala in their arms, and each desired her. She promised to accept the one who told her what evil was killing her people. The younger brother told her of a giant water snake that lay at the bottom of the river. Once a year, the monster snake grew hungry, and at night entered the village and poisoned the water. The snake then devoured the dead. On spirit, Lelawala told her people to destroy the serpent. Indian braves mortally wounded the snake on his next yearly visit to the village. Returning to his lair on the river, the snake caught his head on one side of the river and his tail on the other, forming a semi-circle and the brink of the Horseshoe Falls. Lelawala returned to the cave of the God Hinum, where she reigns as the Maid of the Mist.  I know...this was a great story....right?  I loved it.  I especially loved it....when in the 1960's a family on a boating excursion had engine trouble and was pulled into the current of the falls.  They were all tossed overboard....the sister was saved by some men at the observation point of the American side of the falls, the father drowned, and the young boy, Roger Woodward, was swept over the falls.....the sister was heartbroken to see her brother die such a tragic death.  Unbeknowst to the people watching this scenario unfold, many feet below, the Maid of the Mist tour boat was headed towards the fall on one of their many daily runs...when a passenger saw the boy and yelled for the crew to something.  They threw out a life ring and pulled the very much alive young man in the boat.  At the end of the re-enactment...standing on the rocks above the falls....was the beautiful Maid of the Mist....Lelawala.  Ok...I know I am a sap...but it was a great story.....and who knows...was it a myth, legend, legend, fact, or fiction.