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Fisher and the Origin of the Big Dipper - The August Sky Story
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The Big Dipper is just one of the many names for the most recognizable constellation in the August sky. The Native American Anishinabe tribe from the Great Lakes region tell this tale of Fisher - an animal like the weasel - and how he went to the Skyland.

Fisher was small, but he was a great hunter. He lived in a time when the land knew only the cold and snow of winter. One day Fisher saw his young son crying.

“Son, I see that you are crying and shivering from the cold. What can I do?” he asked.

“Our people are starving from the cold winter,” said the young Fisher.
“Can’t you use your great powers to bring us warm weather?”

Fisher knew his son was right. He would have to do something to end the cold weather that cursed his people. He knew it would be a difficult mission, so he called together his strongest friends, Otter, Lynx, and Wolverine.

The four friends traveled many days through deep snow and over high mountains until they came to the top of the tallest mountain. The sky was just within their reach. Otter jumped first, but he jumped through the sky and slid back down the mountain.

Lynx tried next, but when he jumped he knocked his head so hard he lost consciousness.

“Wolverine!” exclaimed Fisher. “You are the strongest among us. You’re our last hope!”

Wolverine jumped at the sky again and again, until he finally cracked open a hole. He jumped through the hole in the sky with Fisher close behind.

The Skyland was a warm paradise, where trees and flowers grew. The two friends worked at making the hole in the sky bigger. They wanted the warmth of the Skyland to flow down into their Earth world.

The Earth’s snow began to melt, and the grass began to grow green. Suddenly the sky people came out of hiding and shouted at Fisher and Wolverine. “Intruders!” they yelled. “Close that hole at once! That is our warm weather you are stealing!”

Frightened, Wolverine jumped through the hole back to Earth, but Fisher chewed at the hole to make it bigger. He chewed a hole large enough in the sky that the Earth would have warm weather for at least six months of the year.

The sky people chased Fisher. All the while he teased them: “You’ll never catch me. I am the great hunter, Fisher!” The sky people chased Fisher up a tree, and just as they were about to catch him he jumped up to the tree’s highest branch.

The sky people shot many arrows at Fisher, until one struck him and made him fall backwards out of the tree.

Fisher never hit the Earth. Instead, his great ancestor, Gitchee Manitou, placed Fisher in the stars. Gitchee Manitou honored Fisher for trying to help his people.

To this day, you can see Fisher’s image among the stars. Some people call the constellation the Big Dipper, but the Anishinabe people of the Great Lakes know it as Fisher the great hunter. Every winter Fisher is struck by the arrow and falls over on his back, but during the summer he rolls onto his feet to bring the warm weather back to his people.
 

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