gitche gumee

The Song of Hiawatha. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Illustrated by Harrison Fisher. Decorations by E. Stetson Crawford. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1906.

"On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O’er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.”

The Mystery of Gitche Gumee


               Image Credit: Brandy Green “The Rocky Shores of Gitche Gumee”

The maximum depth of Loch Ness in Scotland is less than 800 feet and its average temperature is around 40 degrees. Lake Superior’s maximum depth is over 1,300 feet and its average temperature is just under 40 degrees…


                       Image Credit: Brandy Green “Roots: Gooseberry Falls”

Minnesota contains rock formations just shy of 3 billion years old and was once covered by tropical seas containing gigantic prehistoric crocodiles and sharks, as well as other creatures like duck billed dinosaurs.

The Sudan Mine in Minnesota contains ancient waters that are like no other place on earth and the origins of the water source are still a mystery. Scientists believe that it is seeping in from an ancient sea. This water contains microbes not previously discovered.


                                            Image Credit: WCCO

For centuries, natives performed rituals in an attempt to appease the water god(s) known as Mishepishu or the “Water Panther”. It was believed that these creatures ruled over their aquatic domain in opposition to the Thunderbirds of the skies. For some natives, Mishepishu were evil water spirits that destroyed anyone crossing their domains. For others, Mishepishu were guardians who could be protectors and coerced into allowing land dwellers safe passage if the proper prayers and offerings were practiced prior to the journey.


                                      Image Credit:

Ancient stories of the lynx describe it as a being of great proportions; part panther, a back covered in scaled spine, and razor sharp teeth vibrating from its horrendous roaring hiss. It is believed by some tribes, including the Ojibwe that the great water panther was the most powerful of all underwater creatures and the one controlling force of the underworld.

Today, fishermen are catching Lake Sturgeons in this area that are weighing in at more than a thousand pounds, taking nearly a dozen people just to lift the fish from the great waters…


                                       Image Credit:

Do you believe in Mishepishu, the great and powerful ruler of the waters?

The first time I remember hearing this song I was a little boy. I’m fairly confident that it was ON or shortly after the 10 year anniversary of the sinking of the ship, so late 1985. I know for a fact that the night I first heard the song Richmond suffered a violent fall storm and the power was out for awhile and my dad had to go outside in the middle of the storm because our house was taking on water and that night after he cleaned up he played this song for me and told me all about it. Yanno, he broke it down so a 4 year old could understand.

So this song has always been epic to me. 

!Gitche Gumee!

Forth upon the Gitche Gumee, On the shining Big-Sea-Water, With his fishing-line of cedar, Of the twisted bark of cedar, Forth to catch the sturgeon Nahma, Mishe-Nahma, King of Fishes, In his birch canoe exulting All alone went Hiawatha. Through the clear, transparent water He could see the fishes swimming Far down in the depths below him;

The Complete Poems of Longfellow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: