Winjidan is a story based loosely on Chippewa myth
Sleeping Otter walked quickly to the lake. She was in a hurry for she was to meet her friend Raven there and she was running late. Arriving at the lake out of breath from hurrying and with an apology all ready to give to Raven for being late, she gave a sigh of relief when she discovered Raven wasn’t there yet.
Sitting down to rest and to wait for Raven, Sleeping Otter wondered if she had missed her friend. She didn’t think it possible for she had passed no one on the trail leading to the lake, and Raven wasn’t the type to take the shortcut back to the village. For though it was shorter it was also the rougher way back to the village. Deciding that Raven too was just late Sleeping Otter stretched out by the lake to rest. Drifting off to sleep she was startled awake by a noise from behind her. Standing up quickly she turned around expecting to see Raven or someone else from the village. Seeing no one she shrugged and turned back around to look out over the lake. “I must have been hearing things,” she muttered. Sitting back down she just had made herself comfortable when again came a noise from behind her. Turning around again thinking this time it had to be Raven she was surprised when she saw no one again. Thinking Raven was playing some kind of game she moved towards the bushes to see if her friend was hiding there. After searching the bushes away from the lake and finding nothing, she moved to search the bushes nearest the lake. As she started to search she heard something splash into the water. Looking quickly at the lake she wondered what was going on. As she looked at the lake thoughtfully she was surprised when a stone splashed into the water in front of her. Quickly turning to see who had thrown it for it had been thrown from behind her; she grew nervous when she discovered no one there. Looking around carefully she was ready to run at the first sign of trouble. Seeing nothing she slowly started to walk away from the area. She hadn’t taken very many steps when she heard a soft laugh come from behind her. Freezing immediately she debated on turning around or running away from there and back to the village as fast as she could. With her heart pounding she gathered up her courage and slowly turned around. Not sure what to expect she was surprised to see nothing behind her. Shaking her head in disbelief she wondered if she was losing her mind. She turned to leave once more anxious to get away from there when she heard the laugh once more. Now she was getting angry! She had had enough of this game and when she found out who was behind it they would be sorry! Hearing a noise come from the bushes beside her she glanced over that way expecting not to see anything like before. To her dismay and shock she did see someone or something standing there. Closing her eyes in disbelief she kept telling herself that she wasn’t going crazy. That when she opened her eyes back up that there would be nothing there and she could get out of there and forget this ever happened and no one would be the wiser. Taking a big calming breath Sleeping Otter slowly opened her eyes. Hearing a laugh she looked down towards the sound and saw the little man still standing there. As her mind registered the fact that she hadn’t been seeing things before she quickly stepped back in fear. “Wait don’t go! I won’t hurt you, I promise,” he said. Staring at him Sleeping Otter hesitated torn between running away and her curiosity over who he was. Cautiously she knelt down watching him warily. “Who or what are you?” she asked hesitantly. Miffed he drew himself up to his full height. “I am not a what! I am a Winjidan!” he replied proudly. Staring at him in disbelief she thought about everything she had ever heard of the Winjidan. He was about 6 inches tall and dressed all in one color as Winjidan’s were said to be. Then there was the tricks which they were said to love pulling on humans. That would explain the strange things that had happened since she arrived at the lake she thought. Not to mention that he seemed to be a very happy and friendly person? If Winjidan’s were considered people, that she wasn’t so sure about. As she stared at him he walked closer to where she knelt with a smile on his face, holding out his hand to her in greeting. “My name is Koogan. What’s yours?” he cheerfully asked. Slowly holding out her hand she replied softly. “Sleeping Otter.” Grabbing her finger he enthusiastically shook it all the while smiling. “Let’s play Otter!” Tapping her on the leg he yelled to her. “Catch me if you can, your it!” Then took off running into the bushes laughing happily. Smiling, she thought about how easy it would be to catch him and leapt to her feet to follow. Reaching the bushes she discovered that he had disappeared. Figuring he couldn’t have gone far she wasn’t too concerned and started to search the bushes for him. Not finding him anywhere in the bushes she headed to the lake and started following the shoreline to look for him.
After searching for him for awhile and not being able to find him she decided to give up and go back to the village. She assumed he must have decided not to play and had went home or wherever it was Winjidan’s lived. She turned to head back when she heard someone shouting from further down the lake. Curious as to who would be shouting she walked swiftly towards the noise to learn what it was about.
Sleeping Otter soon came upon a hunting camp that was in an uproar. She walked into the camp and grabbed one of the warriors as he passed by. “What is wrong?” she asked cautiously. He gave her a distracted look and moved away without answering. Not giving up Sleeping Otter stopped another warrior and repeated her question. “What is going on?” He gave her a harried look but paused long enough to answer her. “We set up base camp to ready for our hunt. Everything started to go wrong. Robes found with dirt and sticks in them. Water containers have been emptied. Meat racks knocked over and meat taken. Weapons and moccasins damaged.” As she listened Sleeping Otter grimaced quietly. She had a strong suspicion that she knew who was behind all the trouble that had occurred in the camp, Koogan. Her suspicion was soon confirmed when a shout went up from the other side of the camp. As she looked over a warrior stepped from the bushes holding Koogan. The warrior held him gingerly as though he was afraid of Koogan. He walked quickly to the center of the camp as the others gathered around them curiously staring at Koogan in awe and disbelief. The warriors looked at one another waiting for someone to decide what to do. Finally an older warrior stepped forward and took Koogan from his captor. Holding him carefully he looked at the others and stiffened his shoulders. “Bring some extra bowstring, we will tie him with that.” A warrior hurried off to do as requested, returning with the extra bowstring quickly. Hurriedly they tied Koogan looping a leash around him as well and tying it to a sturdy bush. With that done the warriors went about the business of fixing up their camp.
As they settled in for the night they gathered together to decide what to do about Koogan. After speaking for a time they were all agreed to put off the final decision until the morning. With that decided they each drifted off to their resting-places for the night. During all this Sleeping Otter had been virtually forgotten and had drifted away to the edge of the camp unnoticed. Hearing that the warriors were not going to hurt Koogan immediately she waited patiently for the warriors to fall asleep. Easing over carefully to where Koogan was tied she kept one eye on the camp as she quickly cut him loose. Picking him up she slipped out of the camp and started walking quickly to put some distance between them and the sleeping camp. She hoped that when the warriors awoke and found Koogan gone that they would believe he had disappeared on his own as Winjidan’s were known to do.
Hurrying swiftly through the woods Sleeping Otter soon grew tired and started to look for a place for them to bed down for the night. Seeing a cave she cautiously approached it and stepped inside carefully praying she wouldn’t find it occupied by any animals. Finding it deserted she set Koogan down and sat down beside him. “That was fun was it not Otter?” grinning happily he waited for her reply to his question. “Fun?” she sputtered. “You call what happened fun? They could have killed you!” Thoroughly annoyed with him she jumped to her feet to pace back and forth. Surprised at her anger Koogan pursed his lips in thought watching her. “You giants have no fun spirit!” he declared grandly. “No fun spirit?! Oh you have got to be kidding me! No I don’t consider it fun to destroy other people’s property!” she yelled angrily. He looked at her thoughtfully. “Did I really do anything that caused harm?” he asked quietly. “Everything I did can easily be changed back and no harm was done to anyone.” Sleeping Otter stared out of the cave with her back to him. She knew what he said was true. That he had really did no harm but after the scare she had just went through because of him she didn’t want to admit that he was right just yet.
A short time later she felt a tug at her moccasin and looked down. Koogan looked up at her with a slight smile and his eyes brimming with hope. “Are we friends?” he asked hopefully. She bent down and picked him up holding him gently in the palm of her hand. “Yes, were friends.” Sighing she set him back down and looked around the cave. “We’ll have to stay here tonight, and hopefully those hunters will forget all about you in the morning. I’m afraid we will have to go without supper tonight so we might as well get some sleep.” They cleared a spot on the cave floor to lay down to sleep for the rest of the evening. Sleeping Otter thought about all that had happened that day and wondered what the next day would bring. If the warriors didn’t follow them Koogan could go back to his home and she could go back to her village with no harm done. If the warriors followed however then she would have to find some way to talk them out of wanting to hurt Koogan, and she had no idea how that could be accomplished. With a sigh she rolled over onto her side pushing her troubled thoughts to the back of her mind so she could sleep.
In the morning they were awoken by voices outside of the cave. Leaping to her feet Sleeping Otter hurried over to the entrance of the cave and peered out. What she seen sent a chill down her back. The warriors had followed them and were searching the area outside the cave at that moment. If they seen the cave and decided to search it as they probably would she and Koogan would be in big trouble. She turned to tell Koogan what she had seen and to tell him they needed to come up with some kind of a plan in case the warriors came to the cave, only to discover that Koogan was nowhere in sight. Anxious Sleeping Otter quickly searched the cave for him. Not finding him anywhere in the cave she disappointedly came to the conclusion that he must have run out leaving her to face the warriors alone. “That’s just great!” she muttered moving back to the entrance of the cave. “I risk my life for him, and he runs out without even saying goodbye!” Dejectedly she looked out checking on the warriors before turning to look around the cave once more. There was only one way in and out of the cave so she was trapped until the warriors either found the cave and investigated or moved on. Hearing a shout from outside the cave Sleeping Otter quickly turned her attention back to the warriors outside. Fearing that they had noticed the cave she cautiously looked out to see if they were headed her way. Seeing a warrior rubbing his backside in apparent pain she watched puzzled as another warrior yelped in pain and then he too grabbed at his butt. As she watched warrior after warrior yelped in pain before reaching behind them to grab their butt. Confused Sleeping Otter searched the woods behind the warriors wondering what was causing them pain. Seeing no one she realized that it must be Koogan that was inflicting the pain on the warriors. Realizing that he hadn’t run off as she had thought, she felt a twinge of guilt for judging him unfairly. She couldn’t help but laugh silently as she stood watching the warriors as Koogan continued his assault on them. Seeing those brave men dance around rubbing their butts was just too funny for Sleeping Otter to ignore and not laugh over.
The warriors not being able to see their attacker grew increasingly nervous over having an enemy that they could not see to fight. Fearing that there were spirits at work the warriors exchanged uneasy looks at one another before taking off at a dead run never once looking back as they lost all the discipline that they had been taught since birth.
Laughing delightedly Sleeping Otter watched the warriors running away. Anxious to leave the cave and find Koogan she forced herself to patiently wait to make sure the warriors did not return. After waiting a few minutes she left the cave confident that the warriors were not going to return, and started to look for Koogan. She was surprised that he hadn’t come out in to the open after the warriors had run away and wondered if he had been hurt somehow. She checked the bushes surrounding the cave before walking back up to check the cave in case he had returned there. Finding nothing she sighed in frustration. He must have left after the warriors did, she thought. Or it wasn’t him that had caused them to leave in the first place. Shaking her head in disgust she gave up looking for him and started back to the village, determined to put the events of the day before and this morning behind her.
Walking along the trail towards the village Sleeping Otter jumped back in fright when Koogan appeared in front of her. Laughing happily at having startled her Koogan looked up at her with a happy gleam in his eyes. Realizing that it was Koogan standing before her and that he was safe Sleeping Otter returned his smile before starting to laugh in relief that he was safe and that she had the chance to see him again. Bending she picked him up as their laughter slowly faded away. He bounced up and down lightly on the palm of her hand in excitement. “I have to go home now Otter. I have been gone a long time and my family will start to worry if I don’t return.” He laughed gleefully as a look of surprise crossed her face at his words. “Ah you giants. You always think you are only ones with villages and families. We too have villages and families. There are Winjidan villages spread across the land.” Sleeping Otter nodded her head in understanding as she lowered him back down to the ground. She wondered if she would ever see him again and knew that she would miss him dearly. Reading her thoughts Koogan grinned up at her. “You will see me again Otter. We are friends now and it will always be so. If you need to see me just chant my name three times and I will come to you.” “I will remember my friend, and I will miss you Koogan. Have a safe journey home to your village.” Smiling broadly he winked once and turned to go. He looked back over his shoulder one last time at her before winking at her once more before disappearing. She stood still for a few minutes hoping that he may come back before giving up and started back to the village. I wonder if it was all a dream she thought sadly. Suddenly she heard his laughter once more as a blue feather floated down gently in front of her. As she reached out to catch the feather she heard his voice. “This is to remind you of me until we meet again my friend! We will meet Otter you can count on it! Until then be safe and have fun!” With a smile on her face Sleeping Otter made her way back towards the village knowing in her heart that someday she and Koogan would meet again.