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
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
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.