The Legend of the Maid of the Mist

The most famous legend of Niagara Falls is that of the Maid of the Mist. As far as can be determined, this legend dates back to when the tribes of the Neuter Indian Nation were living along the banks of the Niagara river and was later relayed to the Priests of the French settlers who came upon the tribes as they traveled to teach Christianity throughout the new frontier.

As the legend of the Maid of the Mist goes, The tribes living along the Niagara River would often send canoes filled with gifts such as fruits, flowers and game over the Falls in order to please the Thunder God Hinum and his two sons that live behind the Falls. This was a practice carried on for a very long time.

There was a period of time however when many of the Indians in several villages began dying for no apparent reason, and after burial, their graves would be desecrated and the bodies devoured. This concerned the tribe and they began to question if they were possibly being punished for not giving enough to the gods.

It was then decided that once a year, the tribes would choose one of their most beautiful Maidens to be sent along with the other offerings to be sacrificed in order to appease the thunder gods.

One year, the chosen maiden to be sacrificed was that of the tribe’s chief himself. Not one to interfere with the decisions of the tribe, the chief allowed the ceremony to go on, holding back any emotion he may have had about the choice for the entire time until the canoe that his daughter was on was finally pushed away from the banks of the Niagara river and headed down toward the falls. It was at this moment where the chief could no longer bare the thought of losing his daughter to the Gods and took matters into his own hands, jumping into another canoe chasing after the maiden in an attempt to reach her before it was to late. Unfortunately his efforts were in vane and both canoes carrying the chief and his daughter went over the mighty falls.

The legend goes on to say that as the maiden fell from the falls she was caught in the arms of the sons of the god Hinum, both of whom desired her greatly. They took her to the safety behind the falls and asked her to stay with them.

She considered their request for a bit but remembered that she was sent over the falls to help save her people. The maiden told the two sons that she would stay with them on one condition, that they tell her how her tribe can rid itself of the evil that plagues it.

The two sons pondered and fought over giving her the answer but their desire for the maiden finally prevailed and they tell her how to stop the great evil and allowed her to go back in spirit form and tell the tribe what to do.

The maiden appeared to her villagers as if out of the mist of the falls and told the tribe that there was a giant evil water snake that lived at the bottom of the river. And once a year this snake would become hungry and need to feed, so it would wait until all the Indians were asleep and then poison the drinking water. And then, when the Indians died from the poison and were buried, the snake would then return to eat their remains.

To resolve their problem, the maiden told here tribe that they should drink only spring water and wait every night for the serpent to come up the river to feed and then kill it with their spears.

The tribe listen to their maiden in the mist and waited for the serpent to come looking for its food. When the giant water snake arrived to the village to feed the Indians attacked it, stabbing it with their spears mortally wounding the snake.As the serpent bleed to death, it slithered itself up toward the waterfall and finally died at the crest of the waterfall with its body withered into the curved shape of the falls as it still remains to this day as a reminder to the people that the Maid in the mist is watching over them and will protect them from harm.

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