Sleeping Bear’s Sleeping Beauty

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Sleeping Bear’s Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Michigan, part of the Great Lakes of the United States is the famed seat of the auto industry and the headquarters of the Motown record company.  It is also the home of some great nations of Native American tribes that roamed the lands in its earlier history.  One of those great tribes was the Ottawa tribe, which provided some great depth to the states’ rich history.

Sleeping Beauty

(images:colorlessgreenideas/flickr)

The Ottawa tribe settled on the Detroit River in Michigan.  The Ottawa chief, Sleeping Bear, was a great chief and had one incredibly special gift.  That gift was his daughter, known as the Snake Goddess.  The chief’s daughter was so beautiful that he had to take great measures to keep her away from prying eyes and unworthy suitors.  He went to great lengths to protect his daughter and his tribe.  His daughter was sentenced to live in a covered boat, tethered to a tree on the shore of the Detroit River.

Each day, as the chief secretly snuck out to bring his captive daughter some food, the curious tribe members would eagerly watch him leave the camp, wondering where he was going, and wondering what he was hiding.  Little did the chief know that on one fateful day, as the chief went on his daily journey, the wind picked up.  The trees and waters roared violently, and the lives of the chief and his daughter would change forever.

In a fit of rage, the rope that tethered the captive princess to the shore snapped.  Her boat floated down the river, being crashed by the waves and winds.  It finally landed on the shore and was discovered by the keeper of the water gates.  As he was working, he noticed the boat and curiously peeked inside.  When he saw the girl, he instantly fell in love.

Unfortunately, it was right about the same time that the chief stumbled upon the missing boat and the loose end of the tethering rope, flapping in the wind.  He immediately assembled his warriors and raced down the shore.  They stumbled across the gatekeeper pulling the boat into the lodge.

Sleeping Beauty

(images:bluesnorm/flickr)

The poor, love stricken gatekeeper was overcome, attacked and killed.  He was buried on Peach Island.  His spirit was so restless upon his death that he became a spirit oracle.  He was often consulted by the Native American people before war, usually fasting and meditating to show their honor and dedication before approaching him.

Deciding the boat was no longer enough, chief Sleeping Bear isolated his daughter on an island, surrounded by snakes, in the middle of the Detroit River.  It was there she, and her spirit, were cursed to spend the rest of their days.

Visitors to Belle Isle still claim to see her wandering the island.  Others say she transforms from the beautiful maiden into a lovely white doe.  She is seen observing people from behind a bush or tree.  Anyone who gets too close sees the doe disappear, and commonly reappears in the shape of the maiden.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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