Legend of the Maid of the Mist




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Maid of The Mist

The most famous Indian legend surrounding  Niagara is that of the Maid of the Mist, the  Thunder God Hinum and the origin of the  Horseshoe Falls. This saga of the "Maid of the  Mist" was originated, or at least was perpetuated by the Neuter Indian Nation which occupied the Niagara Frontier when the first French  priests came to their villages to preach Christianity.

As the story goes, many of the Indian tribes  were dying from an unknown cause. After  burial, graves were being desecrated and bodies  devoured. Since the Indians each year were  sending a canoe filled with fruits and game over  the Falls to appease the Thunder God Hinum  and his two sons, who lived in caves behind the  Falls, they felt that continuation of their ill  fortune was because the God was not satisfied.  Consequently, they tried to satisfy the spirits by  sacrificing also their most beautiful maiden each  year. The attempt was to no avail.

One year, it fell to the daughter of the chief  of the tribe to be sacrificed to the spirit of the  Falls. Without emotion her father watched the  preparations, but after she had been sent on her  way in the canoe filled with food, he set out  after her. Both canoes passed over the brink of  the Falls never to be seen again.

The legend continues by saying that the  maiden was caught in the arms of Hinum's sons,  both of whom had known she was coming and  both of whom desired her. Recalling that she  had been sent to her death to save her people,  the Indian girl offered to accept one with a  condition.

If she were told how her people might rid  themselves of the evil which visited them and if  she were permitted to inform them, she would  agree to live forever in the caves behind the  Falls.

Both sons fought with their consciences, it is  said"since both were sworn to secrecy. Finally,  the younger one told her of the giant watersnake  which lay at the bottom of the river and which  would grow hungry once each year.While the Indians slept, the snake would visit  their villages and poison their water. After those  who died were buried, he would again visit and  devour the bodies.

In spirit form the maiden was allowed to  return to her people and inform them how they  might destroy the monster. They were to drink  only from the springs and when the night of the  . serpent's visit arrived, they were to destroy the  watersnake with spears, tomahawks, bows and  arrows and any other weapons they might have.Following the maiden's instructions, the  Indians assaulted the monster, which they mortally wounded. It was successful in reaching the  river but was carried to the brink of the Falls.

The serpent did not go over the Falls, however, the legend relates. The Indian Gods  arranged that the monster's head be caught in  the rocks on one side and its tail in those of the  . other. In its dying contortions, the body writhed  into the form of a horseshoe.

There, it is said, it remains to this day, showing that the Gods are present to protect the  Indians against evil spirits.