The story of Little Thunder

You can watch Little Thunder here at the NFB website.

Little Thunder, a young man and only child, lives in the forest with his elderly parents. So isolated is the family that he thinks there are no other people in the world. His mother tells him that she is going blind. She tells Little Thunder that he must go out into the world to find a wife.

Little Thunder

 

Little Thunder, dressed in new clothes, leaves home on his quest. He meets the Mi’kmaq trickster figure Wolverine who offers to help Little Thunder. Wolverine and Little Thunder then proceed to find others to assist. They include a man who has to tie up one of his feet so as not to run away with himself; another man must plug his nostrils in order not to breathe out like a hurricane; a third man, named Pine Cutter, has immense strength but little brain and constantly does either too much or too little.

After a farcical adventure involving stealing a barrel of money from a white storekeeper, these five friends arrive at Kluskap’s camp. Kluskap encourages Little Thunder in his quest for a wife. Kluskap also gives Wolverine a new set of clothes after Wolverine has clownishly befouled himself, and from this point on the foolish, shrewd Wolverine really becomes the hero of the narrative. Kluskap lends the five friends his magical stone canoe, and he warns them that they will encounter and must placate a giant skunk and a giant beaver who will otherwise kill them. He advises Wolverine to chant a song to both the skunk and the beaver to distract and placate them. When the skunk and the beaver appear, Wolverine accordingly chants, and the stone canoe and its crew slip by.

The five friends arrive at the camp of a terrifying chief and shaman called Earthquake who has an eligible daughter. Earthquake does his best to kill the five friends in a series of competitive games which are really ordeals of magic. But the special talents of the five friends defeat Earthquake. With his tied-up foot untied, for example, one of the friends wins a running contest. With both nostrils unplugged, another of Little Thunder’s crew can oppose his hurricane to Earthquake’s hurricane, and bone-headed Pine-Cutter’s strength is sufficient to throw an opponent in wrestling over a cliff.

Therefore, Little Thunder wins Earthquake’s daughter for his wife. The five friends head homeward, getting past the murderous skunk and beaver once again by Wolverine chanting. They have a big party at Kluskap’s camp. One by one, the five friends drop out as they reach their individual camps, and Little Thunder and his new bride arrive home to be welcomed by Little Thunder’s old mother and father.

The words of the legend of 1847 were spoken by Susan Barss (maiden name, Paul), a Mi’kmaq originally from Cape Breton. She learned the legend from her father. The words of the legend of 1884 were spoken by a man whom we know only as Stevens, a Mi’kmaq who lived in the region of Springhill, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.