Inspired by Rip Van Winkle: Chogan, an Alogian Tale

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http://www.native-languages.org/algonquian-legends.htm

Chogan was his name he was known for being part of the Tribe’s watchmen. Everyone did their part in unison as part of the gifts that mother nature had bestowed on them. Women and children equal to the men of the tribe because they depended on each other. Most men would go hunt for the days’ time or talk among other tribes for goods. Life was serene and peaceful. Nadie and Pules were the wives of chief elder Eluwilussit. During the gathering time, the children, men, women, and Chogan would listen to the tales of wise wives. They told of times where Nanabosho, a man friend to the rabbits, bravely fought off the evil water spirits and saved our tribes. Sometimes they would tell legends of the Pukudgies who in their mischief play tricks around the mountains.

 

The land was abundant and generous in its spirits. Birds chirped and the land was filled with trees, lakes, and animals. Sometimes Chogan would take the children with their small spears and teach them how to hunt. He would remind them of the paths to mark if should anyone get lost. All the kids were smiling and cheerful. Treading softly and cautiously sometimes they would come home will many fishes. All the kids would run back into their huts showing their parents their prize. Smiling Chogan would tread carefully into his own hut where his best friend lay, his animosh (dog), wolf. Wagging his tail wolf licked his face removing all sweat from his cheeks. Petting he set aside his satchel and breathed in. That day he had seen a herd of deer and wanted to hunt one for the whole tribe. However, the deer herd was by the Haunted Mountain where Pukwudgies, little forest people, tricksters who have misplaced some tribesmen.

 

Unable to contain his curiosity and excitement he set out to hunt them. Wolf followed him and he began to walk towards the familiar marked trees.

“Chogan where are you headed?” the voice said to him. Turning around he saw Wematin, child of Biwilka. The little child grinned with a one-toothed smile. His long black hair nearly covered his whole bare back. He had large round black eyes that were currently sparkling with curiosity. The most noticeable feature of Wematin was a scar on his left eyebrow he had gotten it from hunting a squirrel. Shaking his head from the memory. He addressed the following.

 

“First of all, you cannot come with me,” Chogan replied with a stern voice.

“Aww come on Cho—” his whining voice was cut off right before it woke up anyone else.

“Second of all, I will be going to the forbidden mountains.” He whispered. Wematin’s eye’s widened.

“But they are forbidden, why are you going over there?” He asked.

“I found a herd of deer,” he replied.

“Wow! That could feed everyone in the village!” he shouted happily.

“Shh!” retorted Chogan placing his hand on Wematin’s mouth.

“Okay I will wait right here okay?” whispered Wematin.

“Don’t tell anyone I want it to be a surprise.” Winked Chogan. He began treading up the mountain towards the place where he last saw the herd of deer. Soon enough he saw a bent figure.

“Who is there?” Chogan questioned as Wolf barked. The figure appeared before his eyes. It was an old man naked with warrior marked paint across his chest and cheeks.

“Come along boy,” the old man responded. Chogan stood up Wolf hiding behind him.

“Sorry I cannot you see I am—”

“Waiting for the herd of deer to pass by?” the old man cut him off.

“Yes,” Chogan replied surprised at the man’s intuition.

“They will come soon enough I just need to get back to my men but have trouble with my old bones,” The man responded. Nodding Chogan helped the old man to deeper into the mountains Meanwhile, Wolf treaded behind them whining under his breath.

Around a circle of rocks were other men wearing the same clothes and warrior pain across their chests and cheeks. They were signing and drinking from a small bottle.

“Come sit down, this young man helped me, so let’s celebrate,” the old man said addressing his fellow men. They all nodded and one of them passed Chogan the bottle. In this odd situation, Chogan decided to accommodate to the old man’s wises and drank.

 

A loud sound ripped through the skies. Chogan awoke in an instant. Alarmed and disoriented he looked around and the old men were gone. Whistling he called to Wolf, but he never came. Standing up his satchel fell stiff and old. Brushing it off and putting it back on he walked back to the huts. Wolf and his spears were gone surely it must have been the old men playing tricks on him.

 

Black slithers of smoke lightened the skies. All the tribesmen were gathered in a large crowd with spears in their hands and red painted cheeks.

“Men what is going on?” question Chogan.

“Who are you?” questioned another man who Chogan had never seen in his life. He thought he knew everyone.

“I am Chogan,” he replied.

“Chogan is that really you?” a man stepped out from the crowd. Others mounting their horses.

“Wematin hurry there is not enough time, they are closing in fast and killing everyone,” said the leader.

Wematin was now a full-grown man. His height was greater than that of Chogan. His scar was barely visible, and his long black hair was cut short.

 

“Chogan by spirits you have aged! I thought you lost forever it’s been twenty years.” Wematin embraced him.

“Wait twenty years for was only gone a night!” he replied.

“No, look at you, your hair is long with streaks of silver and lines cover your face. You have aged,” said Wematin somberly.

 

Touching his hair he saw the long silver streaks dominating its once black color. Unable to stand Chogan fell on his knees. This can’t be he thought. It must be a dream.

“Chogan you must leave with the women and children. War is about to befall into our lands. Many have already died.” Wematin said.

“War with who,” that must be crazy he thought.

“White folks have broken many promises. They plan to take our lands next. We must fight to take back what is rightfully ours. Go on you are an elder and others need your help,” Wematin said as he mounted his horse. Chogan looked around. Birds fleeing away their cheerful chirps were gone. It was quiet and desolate. The sky was tainted with billowing streaks of smoke. He could see it all the way from where he stood. This was not his home. Cries and loud sounds were heard from a distance. He ran towards the group of huddled tribes’ women, children, and elderly men. He was greeted with shaking frames and tired eyes.

 

The story I have tried to imitate was inspired by Rip Van Winkle, through an Alogian native American character, Chogan. I know that the history of these two subjects is very apart, but I was drawn to the previously discussed natives that were mostly erased from the colonization of the United States. The story is set around an Alogian tribe who haven’t yet encountered the start of colonization. So, in a sense, everything is good just like Van Winkle and his daily life. I followed along and kept some of the original story parts like the dog Wolf, setting, and the shift of time. However, the change occurred within the original Algonquian folklore like the Pukudgies, who are mischievous little people. In the story, these little forest people are the ones that lead Chogan astray and get him drunk. When he wakes up, he is not met with political change and othering. He is the othered that is in the middle of a war within the native Algonquian and the American colonizers. Morphing the stories is similar to both themes of displacement and loss of identity that continued within the native American people. For the Dutch, they lost their freedom and their language as the New settlers overtook.

— Karla Garcia Barrera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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