Innu - How Anikunapeu Took A Wife
Some Innu myths are set in known geographical regions of Nitassinan. One example is the following myth, told by the late Sebastien Nuna of Sheshatshiu, concerning events at Michikamau Lake (Meshikamau) involving the Toad Master and a number of Innu. The Toad Master's name in the Innu language is Anikunapeu. He lives in a spectacular mountain on the west side of Michikamau Lake that looks a lot like a giant beaver lodge. Its name in Innu-aimun is Petshikapushkau (Kueshtakapishkau in the transcript of the myth). The shores of Meshikamau have been badly damaged by the flooding undertaken to make the Smallwood Reservoir but the Toad Master continues to keep a watchful eye over the region all the same.
Two girls went berry picking on the island and they went walking in the swampy place. One of the girls saw the other girl sinking into the mud, on the island Nitinuk on Meshikamau lake. The other girl went home to tell what happened and told the people what happened. The people went over to see what happened to the girl. The girl was sinking deeper and deeper. Then they tried to pull her out of the mud. She was going down and down. All they could see was the hand of the girl. Then they cut the hand of Anikapeu, the bad-man....And they cut the wrist of the toad-man. After they cut the wrist of the toad-man, the wrist went back in place again. Then they tried again; they cut the wrist of the toad-man, but the toad-man's wrist fastened on again. The story is true,what happened. Then the girl was no longer to be seen. They lost her under the swamp. Then they tried to find out what happened to her. They made what they called the shaking tent. When they finished the shaking tent, and they brought the toad-man in the shaking tent. The toad-man said: "It is I who took your daughter. It is I who took your daughter." The toad-man told the girl's father that she will always be happy where she stays. And she will never grow old "and you will always stay here...in lake Meshikamau. And the girl's father said: "I will always stay here," the toad-man told the girl's father where his [the toad-man's] home was, where he lived at Kueshtakapishkau
-Laboratoire d'anthropologie amérindienne, Montreal
translated by Mathieu Rich, 1967
From the Archives of Blue Panther