On the other side of the river are six strange beings with rocks in their hands. These rocks are magic stones which can injure only those who have done evil, but can never touch nor harm the good.
When the one who follows the death trail reaches the middle of the log, he sees the stones come flying toward him.
If his life has been evil, he tries to dodge; therefore, he slips off the log and falls into the black, swirling water.
Sometimes he crawls out of the stream and climbs to the top of the rocks. But he can never reach the country of the good spirits.
There is only one trail to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and that is over the narrow, slippery log. But if the one who is crossing has brought good to his kinsmen and his tribe, he does not fear.
He knows that no harm can come from the stones that fly around him, and so he keeps his footing and walks safely over.
The trail winds on over high rocks to the beautiful land. No storms and no winter enter the Happy Hunting Grounds. The sky is always blue, and the grass never grows dry with heat nor brown with frost.
The trees are full of birds, the bushes of fruit, and the forests are alive with game. Feasting and dancing fill the day, and the war cry is heard no more.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The facts and stories which have made this little book possible are found in the works of Schoolcraft and in the Government reports of Ethnology. Especial credit is due to Albert E. Jenks, author of "The Wild-Rice Indians of the Upper Lakes," and to James Mooney, who reported for the Government the tribal myths told by famous Cherokee story-tellers.
There is evidence that the Indians of early times had regular trade routes across the continent, north and south, and east and west. It was the custom of their story-tellers to exchange stories, and it is therefore possible that some of the myths told in the south found their way in northern wigwams. The story of the birds welcoming a papoose, for example, is obtained in part from the Cherokee collection, and in part from Schoolcraft, who lived among the Ojibways, or Chippewas as they are often called.
That certain tales are similar to fables of aesop is explained by the theory that a primitive people, observing nature, would originate similar myths.
The forests where rice grew wild in the shallow water of lakes and streams, were coveted lands and the cause of many Indian wars. Here game was abundant, and maple sugar, berries, and nuts could be obtained in season.
After years of conflict for the rice lands, peace was made between the Ojibways of the Great Lakes and the Sioux, or Dakotahs, farther west. Trade with the whites had begun, but there were many villages which the white men had never entered, and where the primitive customs were still unchanged.
As Hiawatha was not the only Indian who married a Dakotah, it follows that there were homes where the family life was influenced by the customs of both tribes.
The author has endeavored to describe child life in the Wild-Rice region west of the Great Lakes at this period, and to retell some of the most interesting stories enjoyed by Indian children.
The aim of the book is to gratify the American child's natural interest in primitive life by stories of our own land and to increase his respect for all that is original and worthy in the lives of the First Americans.