Song of Hiawatha Summary
The poem starts by telling us how the Master of Life, Gitche Manito, came down from the skies and told all the people of the Earth to stop fighting and get along. To seal the deal, he had these people make peace pipes, which they take out and smoke together whenever a conflict arises. Then Gitche Manito throws in an added bonus: he tells the people that he will soon send a prophet who will suffer on their behalf so that they will all live better lives.
Some time after Gitche Manito's appearance, a boy named Hiawatha is born to a woman named Wenonah. Hiawatha's father is a demigod who controls the west wind, but as a dad he's a deadbeat. He deserts Hiawatha's mother, who ends up dying from heartbreak. In the meantime, Hiawatha grows up to be a strong and wise young man whose great reputation travels all across the land.
The book goes on to tell us about all the great stuff Hiawatha does, like making the corn grow better and killing a giant fish-god named Mishe-Nahma. Eventually, Hiawatha gets lonely and decides to ask a woman named Minnehaha to marry him. She says yes and they live happily together. Along the way, Hiawatha finds the time to invent reading and writing and to teach these things to his people.
In the second half of the poem, Hiawatha loses his two best friends. Then he has to chase down a troublemaker named Pau-Puk-Keewis who has been destroying everything in his path. Finally, a terrible winter kills Hiawatha's wife Minnehaha with a fever. Hiawatha feels as though there's nothing left in his life to keep him in his village. One night, he has visions of white men arriving in a giant boat and teaching his people a new religion. Sure enough, this vision comes true and Hiawatha trusts that his people will be safe with the whites (um, he might be mistaken on that one).
At the end of the poem, Hiawatha gets in his canoe and paddles away from his village. He doesn't know when or if he'll ever come back. And that's that.
- Longfellow introduces this poem by saying that, if you asked him where his story comes from, he'd answer by saying that the story comes from the forest and the rivers and from nature itself. In other words, he's suggesting that he's about to tell us a legend that comes from nature just as much as it comes from the mouth of any one person.
- More specifically, Longfellow says that the story he's about to tell comes from a singer named Nawadaha, who himself found them in the forests and brooks, etc. This dude starts singing a song about a guy named Hiawatha.
- And, if the title of Longfellow's poem is any indication, we can guess that this musician is about to sing about the main character of this story.
- You might notice that this story talks about how Hiawatha went through great suffering in order to "advance his people!" (I.78). Sounds a lot like the story of Christ, eh? Well, you'll want to watch out for stuff like this, since Longfellow is pretty blatant about applying his own Christian faith to the faith of Native Americans.
Part I: The Peace-Pipe
- One day, a god named Gitche Manito descends from the sky to deliver a message to his people. He melts a bunch of rock in a nearby quarry and uses the rock to form a pipe. He fills it with bark from some willow trees and smokes it for a while, blowing the smoke all over the land.
- The smoke rises so high into the air that warriors and leaders from many different Native American tribes see it and travel toward it (kind of like the North Star in the Bible?).
- Once the men from different tribes have gathered, Gitche Manito tells them to stop with all their constant fighting and to create peace among themselves. GM (as we like to call him) asks them why they fight so much when he has clearly given them all the fish, deer, and corn they'll ever need. Why fight when there's more than enough bounty in the land for everyone?
- Finally, Gitche Manito claims that he'll soon send a prophet to bring peace to all the nations (a prophet like… Jesus?).
- After hearing all this, the warriors throw down their weapons and jump into a nearby river to wash the war paint from their bodies. Then they all go to the red stone quarry and break rock from it to make their own peace pipes.
Part II: The Four Winds
- We look in on a Native American village, where a guy named Mudjekeewis has come home after fighting and killing a giant bear that's been terrorizing the villagers for a long time. As proof of his feat, Mudjekeewis brings back a belt of wampum that he stole from the bear's dead body.
- The speaker flashes back to when Mudjekeewis first found the bear sleeping in his horrible cave. It's a bit anticlimactic, because all Mudjekeewis does is walk up to the sleeping bear and bash his skull in with a club. Oh yeah, and he makes sure to taunt and torture the bear a little bit first, calling him a coward and such. All in all, it seems pretty mean.
- Now that Mudjekeewis has returned as a hero, the people rename him the "West-Wind" and he gains total control over the four winds that blow from the south, north, east, and west. Mudjekeewis ends up keeping the West Wind for himself. The other three he divides among his three sons.
- The East-Wind goes to a son named Wabun who seems nice enough. He's the dude who brings the morning sun to the people of the Earth. Unfortunately, Wabun quickly grows lonely as a demigod because there's no one for him to hang out with.
- One day, Wabun sees a woman walking by a meadow and gathering grass. He realizes that she comes to this place often, so he starts watching (stalking) her there every morning. It turns out that the woman is into it though, and she even starts waiting for him at the same place.
- Wabun whispers all kinds of nice things to the woman and eventually wins her heart. Then he finally hugs her and turns her into a star. Now you can see them walking together in the night sky.
- Next we get a look at Kabibonokka, the son who inherited the North-Wind from his dad, Mudjekeewis. This guy is really mean (like winter) and he takes a lot of pleasure in freezing the earth and hissing through the trees with his wind.
- Kabibonokka drives away all the people from the land except one dude named "The Diver." Kabi is really cheesed that this dude refuses to leave, so he visits the guy's wigwam and hits it with all the snow and ice he's got. The Diver just laughs at him, so the two wrestle until Kabi is defeated and retreats in humiliation.
- The final son is named Shawondasee, and he's the one who inherited the South-Wind. He's pretty fat and lazy. But, like his brother Wabun, he's lonely. One day he sees a beautiful woman with golden hair standing in a field. But then the woman's hair turns white and Shawondasee suspects that his brother Kabibonokka has ruined her. It turns out that the woman was only a dandelion—hence the golden hair that turned white and puffed away on the wind.
Part III: Hiawatha's Childhood
- The speaker tells us that, back in the old days, a woman named Nokomis fell from the full moon down to Earth. She gives birth to a daughter not long after and names her Wenonah.
- Wenonah grows up to be a beautiful young woman. Her mother Nokomis warns her not to be wooed by a womanizer like Mudjekeewis, but Wenonah doesn't listen.
- Wenonah gives birth to a son named Hiawatha. But then Mudjekeewis decides he wants nothing to do with her or the boy and he takes off. Wenonah dies of heartbreak and leaves her mother Nokomis to raise Hiawatha.
- Nokomis tells Hiawatha all the great legends and raises him to be an impressive and generous young man.
- Hiawatha learns the languages of the birds and forest. He even refers to the birds as "Hiawatha's chickens" and to the rest of the forest animals as "Hiawatha's brothers."
- One day, an old traveller and bragger named Iagoo makes a bow for Hiawatha out of an ash tree. He tells Hiawatha to go into the forest with the bow and kill a great deer for everyone in the village to feast upon.
- When Hiawatha enters the forest, the animals scatter and beg him not to shoot them. He ignores them and looks for his deer. He kills the thing with no problem, even though the buildup is dramatic.
- Hiawatha returns a hero and his grandmother Nokomis makes him a cloak out of the deer's skin.
Part IV: Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis
- Now we get to see Hiawatha grow from childhood into adulthood. Apparently, he grows so strong that he can shoot and arrow and then outrun it.
- Hiawatha asks Nokomis what happened to his mother, and she tells him all about his jerk of a father. Hiawatha is so angry that he vows to track down and kill his father. Nokomis tells him to forget about it because she thinks his dad will totally own him in a fight.
- Eventually, Hiawatha arrives into the kingdom of the West-Wind and finds his father. His father is pumped to see him and proud of what an impressive young man he's grown into. They sit down together and chat for days about how their lives have been going. Mudjekeewis adds insult to injury by bragging about what a great ladies man he used to be. Finally, Hiawatha asks his dad if he has any weaknesses—because, you know, that's the sort of thing that would make anyone curious. Mudjekeewis says nothing can hurt him except a particular black rock on the horizon. Mudjekeewis then asks Hiawatha man to man if he has any particular weaknesses. Hiawatha lies and says that his is a particular bulrush. When Mudjekeewis reaches out to grab the bulrush, Hiawatha pretends to be scared.
- The two go back to talking about Hiawatha's brothers (the Wind guys), and Hiawatha finally bursts out and accuses his father of causing his mother's death. Mudjekeewis admits this is true and seems like he's actually really ashamed of it.
- Hiawatha grabs the black rock that Mudjekeewis listed as a weakness and throws it at the guy. But Mudjekeewis was lying just like Hiawatha was. Obviously, the bulrush doesn't work on Hiawatha either, so the two fall into some good ol' fashioned fist-fighting.
- Eventually, Mudjekeewis turns and retreats, but Hiawatha is hot on his trail. They run for three days.
- Finally, Mudjekeewis turns and tells Hiawatha that he (Muddy) can't be killed because he's immortal. This has all been a big test to see how great Hiawatha is. He tells Hiawatha to return to his village and slay all the monsters, just like Mudjekeewis killed the mean old bear. Then, when it's all over and Hiawatha is about to die, Mudjekeewis promises to share his kingdom with his son.
- Hiawatha seems satisfied with this promise, so he heads home feeling good about what he's accomplished.
- On his way home, Hiawatha stops to buy some arrowheads from an old craftsman. He spies the man's daughter (whose name is Minnehaha) and falls in love with her. He tells his grandmother he's in love as soon as he arrives home.
Part V: Hiawatha's Fasting
- One day, Hiawatha goes into the forest and starts fasting so that better fortune will come to the people of his village.
- He builds a special wigwam and goes for seven days and nights without eating anything. While fasting, he walks around nature and develops a deeper appreciation for it. He asks the Master of Life whether or not human life truly depends so much on the world of food. The resounding answer is… "Yup."
- Finally, the Master of Life's ambassador (called Mondamin) descends from the sky and tells Hiawatha that good things will come from his commitment to fasting. He instructs Hiawatha to get up from bed and wrestle with him. And even though Hiawatha is weak with hunger, he gets up and beats Mondamin at wrestling. Mondamin says he'll come back the next day when Hiawatha is even weaker.
- Sure enough, Mondamin comes back and Hiawatha beats him again. Mondamin comes back a third time and loses yet again.
- Mondamin says that the next day will be the final day of Hiawatha's fasting. At that time, Hiawatha will conquer and overcome Mondamin, killing him and laying him in a special grave. Mondamin promises he'll return afterward in a new form.
- On the next day, Nokomis comes with food for Hiawatha, but Hiawatha turns it down. Nokomis begs him to eat, but nothing doing.
- Mondamin shows up and Hiawatha kills him just like it was foretold. Then he buries the young dude and stands watch by his grave day after day until corn grows out of the land. From that point on, the people never go hungry because there's so much corn. To commemorate this event, all the people of the land have an annual "Feast of Mondamin."
Part VI: Hiawatha's Friends
- The narrator uses this section to talk about Hiawatha's two best buddies. The first one is named Chibiabos and he's a great musician and singer. The second is named Kwasind and he's the strongest man in the land. People are envious of the bond between the three, but no amount of gossip or double-dealing can break up the young men's friendship.
- Even the songbirds in the woods are jealous of Chibiabos' music.
- Kwasind, on the other hand, is always accused of being lazy by his parents and neighbors. It's clear that, with his strength, he could do a full day's work in ten minutes. But he likes to lie around and do nothing all day. Still, if you need a big rock moved, Kwasind is the guy to call.
- One day, Kwasind even catches and kills the King of the Beavers just because people ask him to.
- At this point, everything sounds hunky dory. So you just know something bad is going to happen…
Part VII: Hiawatha's Sailing
- Hiawatha realizes that he needs a canoe, so he travels into the forest and takes the bark and sap from the trees to make himself one.
- Apparently, Hiawatha doesn't need paddles for his canoe because the thing will just go in whatever direction he wants it to.
- At one point, Hiawatha hits a sandbar and asks his buddy Kwasind to get rid of it. Kwasind wastes no time in clearing the waterway.
Part VIII: Hiawatha's Fishing
- Now that he's got a canoe, Hiawatha decides that he wants to catch the King of All Fishes, which is a sturgeon named Mishe-Nahma.
- Hiawatha finds the sturgeon hanging out at the bottom of the river. Hiawatha taunts the fish to a test of strength. But Mishe-Nahma is annoyed and sends a pike to challenge Hiawatha instead. Hiawatha makes short work of the pike, so Mishe-Nahma then sends a sunfish. Again, Hiawatha gets the better of him.
- Finally, Mishe-Nahma accepts the challenge and takes Hiawatha's line. There is a fierce battle and Mishe-Nahma swallows Hiawatha and his canoe. Hiawatha travels down into Mishe-Nahma's belly and punches the fish right in the heart.
- A squirrel helps Hiawatha save his canoe from being destroyed inside Mishe-Nahma. Then Hiawatha can tell that Mishe-Nahma has died from the punch to the heart that Hiawatha gave him. (Internal heart punches tend to have that effect.)
- The next thing you know, Hiawatha can hear a bunch of seagulls gathering around the body of Mishe-Nahma. He asks them to eat quickly so that he and his canoe can get out of the fish. The seagulls are happy to oblige since they planned on gorging themselves either way.
- Hiawatha escapes and heads home to tell his grandmother about the body of Mishe-Nahma. But he tells her to let the seagulls have their fill before she, or any other villagers, goes to get meat from Mishe-Nahma.
- For three days afterward, the seagulls return to feast on Mishe-Nahma until there's nothing left but the fish's bones.
Part IX: Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather
- One day, Nokomis looks toward the western sky and tells Hiawatha that a magician named Pearl-Feather lives in that direction. Pearl-Feather is bad because he hoards all kinds of food and wealth, and keeping a bunch of stuff for yourself isn't encouraged in a tight-knit village. Oh yeah, and Pearl-Feather has been sending famine and disease to Hiawatha's people. Oh yeah, and this magician apparently killed Nokomis' father. That's strike three, pal.
- Nokomis would like Hiawatha to go defeat Pearl-Feather, but the dude is guarded by fire serpents that swim in black water.
- When he comes near Pearl-Feather's hideout, Hiawatha runs into the fiery serpents. They tell him to head home and call it a day, but he responds by killing them all with arrows.
- All the animals that live in the area cheer Hiawatha on because they're sick of the evil Pearl-Feather making their lives horrible.
- Hiawatha fires a single arrow at Pearl-Feather's wigwam and calls him to come outside. The dude comes outside and happily engages in battle with Hiawatha.
- Hiawatha does everything he can, but he can't find any way to hurt Pearl-Feather because the baddy is wearing some magical shirt.
- By the first evening, Hiawatha is wounded and getting more tired by the minute. He leans against a tree and a woodpecker tells him about Pearl-Feather's weakness. Apparently, you can kill him by hitting him right on the crown of his head.
- Hiawatha says, "Thanks woodpecker" and fires three arrows directly at the crown of Pearl-Feather's head. The trick works and Hiawatha kills the evil magician.
- Hiawatha stains the top of the woodpecker's head with Pearl-Feather's blood as a token of thanks, and that's why woodpeckers have that little tuft of red feathers on their heads today (the more you know...).
- Hiawatha goes home and divides Pearl-Feather's riches evenly among his people.
Part X: Hiawatha's Wooing
- While he's been having his great adventures, Hiawatha has been dreaming of Minnehaha, the daughter of the arrowhead maker he met earlier in the story.
- Nokomis knows of her grandson's love and she advises him to marry someone from his own people. She doesn't want Hiawatha marrying some lazy and cruel woman just because she's physically beautiful.
- Hiawatha says he'll bring Minnehaha home and then Nokomis will see what a great woman Minnehaha is. Plus he thinks that marrying someone from the Dacotah tribe will help repair the relations between their peoples.
- With that, Hiawatha sets off for Minnehaha's place. He meets her father and asks him for permission to marry Minnehaha. The arrowhead maker hesitates before agreeing, so long as Minnehaha wants the marriage too.
- Minnehaha acts shyly at first, but accepts Hiawatha's proposal and travels home with him as his wife.
- Minnehaha's dad muses about how sad it is for his daughter to leave home. But he accepts that life must go on.
- Hiawatha carries Minnehaha the whole way home. All the animals sing with joy like they would in some Disney movie.
Part XI: Hiawatha's Wedding-Feast
- Nokomis makes a huge feast for Hiawatha's wedding celebration. People from all over show up in their best clothes because they respect Hiawatha and because everyone loves a good feast.
- After they've eaten, the people smoke and ask a dude named Pau-Puk-Keewis to dance for them.
- Pau-Puk-Keewis is a dude that men hate and women love. The men think he's too girly and cowardly, since he never does men's work or fights in wars. Pau-Puk-Keewis couldn't care less about their opinions, though.
- When Pau-Puk-Keewis is done, the people call on Chibiabos to sing some nice songs. So the guy does just that and everyone swoons.
- The village bragger (Iagoo) gets jealous of all the attention Chibiabos gets from the crowd. So when everyone turns to hear him tell a story, he makes sure to tell a real whopper. Little does he know that his exaggerations have made him a bit of a joke among the villagers.
- It turns out that the people love to hear Iagoo's stories because they find them funny in their exaggeration. But Iagoo musters all the sincerity he can to tell them a story about a great magician named Osseo.
Part XII: The Sun of the Evening Star
- Iagoo begins telling his story at Hiawatha's wedding. He starts by asking whether the setting sun in the west is actually the sun or a red swan that's been wounded and is bleeding purplish light onto the horizon. Don't worry. This'll make sense in a second...
- Once there was a beautiful young girl named Oweenee who refused to marry any of the young men who tried to woo her. She eventually married a broken down old man named Osseo. People made fun of her for it, but she didn't care because Osseo had a beautiful spirit.
- One evening, people see Osseo and Oweenee walking together. Osseo looks toward the sky and asks his father to pity him. No one knows what this means, so they assume it's just the rambling of a senile old man.
- Osseo and Oweenee come to an old log and walk through it. When they come out, Osseo has been transformed into a handsome young man and Oweenee has become a haggard old woman.
- Osseo returns to a feast at the village with Oweenee beside him. During the feast, he hears a voice tell him that he will be transformed into a spirit if he wants to be. Plus the people of his village can be turned into birds and freed from a life of work and torment.
- Then everyone suddenly changes into bids except Oweenee, who remains a wrinkled old woman. Osseo lets out a cry and Oweenee is suddenly transformed her into a young woman covered with fine furs. She and Osseo go to the wigwam of Osseo's father and hang a cage filled with the people who've turned to birds. The father tells Osseo he's done this to punish the people who made fun of Osseo.
- Osseo and Oweenee return home and later have a son together. Osseo makes little bows and arrows for him to teach him to hunt.
- One day, the little boy shoots a bird with his arrow. But then the bird turns into a woman and falls dead at his feet. This event breaks some sort of spell and the boy feels himself falling as though he's travelling through different dimensions.
- The boy lands on some sort of island. A bunch of birds follow him downward and they all change back into the people they once were. Osseo and Oweenee appear too, and now everyone is together again. But the people who've transformed from birds are all very small. They're basically a tribe of Little People called the Puk-Wudjies. Apparently, these little people still exist (who knew?).
- When he's finished, Iagoo looks around the room and tells people that they shouldn't make fun of him because this story has shown what happens to people who make fun.
- Chibiabos resumes singing and the party continues.
Part XIII: Blessing the Cornfields
- This part of the story highlights how peaceful things became after Hiawatha and Minnehaha get married. All of the bad blood between their peoples seems to evaporate.
- Hiawatha asks Minnehaha to bless the cornfields by drawing special circles around them and protecting them from the ravens (who like to dig up the young corn saplings).
- Meanwhile, the King of the Ravens hears Hiawatha's plan and mocks it. No magic circle is going to stop him from gobbling up all that delicious young corn.
- That night, The King of the Ravens gathers all his troops and flies to dig up the grave of Mondamin, the dude who sacrificed himself earlier in the story so that the corn would grow well.
- Little do the ravens know that Hiawatha overheard them while they were making their plans to attack. All the ravens fly right into a series of snares that Hiawatha has set for them.
- Hiawatha comes strutting out from his hiding place and he brutally kills all the ravens except their king. He takes the king prisoner and ties him to the front of his wigwam as a warning to other ravens. It's a humiliating punishment for the King. Meanwhile, the corn grows to be big and delicious looking, and the King has to stare at it all day.
- When the people go out to harvest the corn, the younger people play games with each other and the crabby old men sigh at their silliness. The men's voices start to sound like the voices of the ravens in the trees who stare at the corn and mourn the imprisonment of their King.
Part XIV: Picture-Writing
- One day, Hiawatha mourns the fact that the wisdom of his elders never gets to pass directly to the children who aren't born yet. He decides that his people need some system of symbols to pass knowledge from one generation to another. Basically, he wants to invent writing.
- Hiawatha starts walking around and painting different symbols in different places, making up special symbols for all kinds of concepts and things.
- But it's not enough to make up symbols. Hiawatha also needs to teach his people how to read these symbols. So he does that too.
- Hiawatha thinks it's especially important for people to have things written on their graves to help people remember them.
- Hiawatha writes down all of his people's songs so that they will be remembered.
Part XV: Hiawatha's Lamentation
- Remember how we said earlier that lots of evil spirits were jealous of Hiawatha's friendships? Well, now we're going to talk about all the evil spirits that want to kill Hiawatha's closest friend, Chibiabos.
- Hiawatha seems aware that there are forces conspiring against his friend, because he asks Chibiabos not to go anywhere without him. Chibiabos replies by basically saying, "I got this," and then he takes off whenever he wants.
- One day, Chibiabos chases a deer onto Lake Superior and ends up falling through the ice. That's where the evil spirits are waiting for him. They drag him to the bottom and kill him.
- Hiawatha is aware of Chibiabos' death as soon as it happens, and he lets out a huge cry that shakes the whole forest. He paints his face black and spends the next seven weeks in mourning.
- All the greatest people in the land visit Hiawatha and try to cheer him up. They give him special potions to drive the sadness from his body and sing special chants for him.
- Over time, the rituals work and Hiawatha's heart heals.
- Next, the medicine men summon Chibiabos' spirit from beneath the water. He comes, but the medicine men won't let him inside the wigwam. Instead they hand him a burning coal through a hole in the wall. They ask him to use the coal to build a fire for anyone who dies in the future.
- After this, Hiawatha goes out to teach medicine to the world so that people won't die from treatable illnesses.
Part XVI: Pau-Puk-Keewis
- Remember the dude named Pau-Puk-Keewis who danced at Hiawatha's wedding feast earlier in this story? Well, it turns out that he's more of a problem than the narrator first let on.
- Pau-Puk-Keewis is an agitator. He's really bored all the time and his only true enjoyment in life comes from creating conflict.
- PPK goes to the home of Iagoo one day to find a bunch of people gathered around for story time. PPK interrupts Iagoo to say that he's sick of all these stories and sick of Hiawatha's wisdom. It's time to have some FUN! So he fishes in his pockets and brings out some dice so he can teach men how to gamble.
- He convinces one of the men in Iagoo's tent to wager his son on a bet. PPK wins the bet and takes possession of the boy as a sort of slave. Everyone is mad at him, but there's nothing they can do according to the rules of the game. PPK adds the additional insult of ordering the boy to carry away all the wampum and goods he's won.
- Next, PPK stops by Hiawatha's wigwam and finds the place empty. He makes sure to trash the joint and even kills the King of the Ravens, who was still tied to the wigwam.
- PPK travels to a nearby high place where he can watch Hiawatha's reaction when he gets home. While he waits he kills all the birds who fly near him. Finally, the King of the Seagulls notices this and sends a messenger to tell Hiawatha about all the havoc PPK is causing.
Part XVII: The Hunting of Pau-Puk-Keewis
- Hiawatha returns to his village to find the whole place turned upside down. Oh yeah, and his home has been totally trashed. He vows to track down Pau-Puk-Keewis and kill him no matter how far it takes him.
- Pau-Puk-Keewis notices that Hiawatha is gaining on him fast, so he talks the King of the Beavers into turning him into a beaver—but not just any beaver. He wants to be ten times bigger than the other beavers. Once this is accomplished, Hiawatha finds him anyway because he can see PPK's spirit through his animal disguise. He kills him in his beaver body, but the spirit of PPK escapes and vanishes into the forest. Hiawatha realizes this and keeps chasing him.
- Next PPK transforms himself into a brant and flies away. The other birds just warn him never to look down while he's flying. PPK gets away and Hiawatha chases him over the land. Eventually, PPK's curiosity gets the better of him and he looks down. A gust of wind catches him and knocks him to the earth, where Hiawatha is waiting for him.
- Again, Hiawatha kills PPK. But the dude's spirit flies away again. He turns himself into a snake and hides in a tree. But Hiawatha smashes the tree to bits and PPK along with it.
- PPK makes one last effort to hide by asking the god of the mountains to open his caves and hide him. PPK encloses himself in the mountains where even Hiawatha can't break through the rocks. But Hiawatha has friends too. He calls on the gods of thunder and lightning to attack the mountain. They show up and pulverize the stone until they kill PPK once and for all.
- When Hiawatha finally has hold of PPK's spirit, he turns him into an eagle for some reason. It even seems like a bit of an honor to PPK. Hiawatha wants to make sure PPK never does harm to anyone in human form again. So now the dude is a bird, and if you ask us he got off a little easy on this one.
Part XVIII: The Draft of Kwasind
- As you can tell by the title, it looks like Hiawatha is about to lose his other best friend. Do you remember the mischievous group of little people called the Puk-Wudjies? Iagoo told a story about them back at Hiawatha's wedding feast. But, oh well, these people decide that they don't like Kwasind one bit and they want to get rid of him.
- Somehow, the Puk-Wudjies have figured out that Kwasind has a weak spot on the crown of his head, and the only thing that can hurt him there is… a pinecone. Yup, that's what the poem says. So, you know, it must be true.
- The Puk-Wudjies gather a bunch of pinecones and wait on some high rocks to ambush Kwasind as he passes by in his canoe. And, silly as it sounds, they throw pinecones at the dude's head and manage to kill him.
- Kwasind dies and falls over the edge of his canoe into the river.
- People in the village never forget how strong Kwasind was. Whenever the wind shakes the branches on the trees, they all say that it is Kwasind gathering his firewood.
Part XIX: The Ghosts
- The narrator reminds us that bad news tends to come in clusters. So we join Minnehaha and Old Nokomis in Hiawatha's wigwam. They're waiting for him to come back from hunting. But when the wigwam opens, two strange women come inside without saying a word.
- Hiawatha comes home and lays a deer at the feet of his wife. He notices the two strangers in the corner and wonders what's up.
- Once Hiawatha has divided up the deer, the women spring from the corner and devour all the best parts that were reserved for Minnehaha. They retreat back to their dark corner when they're done.
- Days go by and the women stay. During the day, they hang out in the corner. But at night they go into the forest and bring back firewood.
- Every night at supper, the women take the best parts of Hiawatha's food. No one questions them and they retreat to their corner.
- One night, Hiawatha wakes up to find the women crying in the firelight. He asks them why they're so sad. They answer that they are ghosts of dead women and they have come to warn him on behalf of his dead friend Chibiabos.
- The women tell Hiawatha that the people in the realm of the dead are tired of being burdened with all of people's mourning. They just want to get on with their afterlives and be left alone. The women want Hiawatha to tell people not to be so over-the-top with their mourning for dead loved ones. They also ask that Hiawatha's people stop burying their loved ones with a bunch of stuff like kettles, arrows, and all sorts of other stuff (which is a custom among some tribes). They say that these things just weigh people down in the next life.
- Once they're satisfied that Hiawatha will follow their advice, the women leave.
Part XX: The Famine
- Just when things couldn't get harder, Hiawatha's village is hit by one of the most brutal winters they can remember. People can hardly dig themselves out of their wigwams to go hunt.
- People who go hunting end up dying in the woods from hunger and weakness.
- Two new guests show up at Hiawatha's house while Hiawatha is away. But they aren't the ghostly women. Instead, two dudes who call themselves Fever and Famine arrive.
- Minnehaha hides in bed to get away from them, but her burning body tells us she's gotten a fever.
- Hiawatha seems to know what's up. He's out in the forest with his bow and he screams at Gitche-Manito, the Master of Life, to give him food to feed his sick wife.
- Back at the wigwam, Minnehaha has visions of her dead father and of a beautiful grassy place that he's calling her to. Nokomis warns her not to move toward the visions.
- Then Minnehaha can feel Death's icy hands on her wrist. Miles away, Hiawatha can hear her cries of anguish. He rushes home as quickly as he can, but he doesn't make it in time. Minnehaha has died.
- Hiawatha buries Minnehaha and lights a fire on her grave, just like the two ghostly women instructed him to do. Now that his wife and two best friends are gone, Hiawatha doesn't have a whole lot left to live for.
Part XXI: The White Man's Foot
- We look in on an old man with white hair who's sitting in a lodge beside a river. He's sad and lonely and we aren't sure right away what he has to do with the rest of this story. There's a pretty bad storm happening outside.
- A young man enters the wigwam and the old man welcomes him. The old man wants to hear all about the boy's adventures, so he lights a peace-pipe and hands it to the young man.
- The old man tells the boy about how the whole world goes hard and cold whenever he (the old man) blows on it. The young man just smiles and talks about how life and beauty come to the world whenever he blows on it.
- The old man frowns at the boy's sauciness and insists that he has greater power, since it is his job to kill all life during winter.
- But the young man responds by blowing all around him and surrounding the cabin with singing birds and flowing brooks.
- It turns out that the old man is none other than Old Man Winter himself. He ends up crying and shriveling up into the air when he sees how much more powerful the young man is.
- The young man looks down at where the fire was burning and sees a small flower growing out of the dirt. Then the springtime washes over the entire countryside.
- Meanwhile, Hiawatha can hear the birds singing and he comes out of his wigwam for the first time since Minnehaha died.
- At this same time, the great storyteller Iagoo arrives home after a long journey. People gather around to hear his exaggerations and laugh at him.
- Iagoo tells them how he came to a huge body of water and saw a giant canoe with feathers floating toward him. It was filled with men who had white faces and hair growing on their chins. The people all laugh and say that this sort of thing is impossible. But Hiawatha sticks up for Iagoo and claims he saw all of this same stuff in a vision. He also orders his people to be nice to the white people when they arrive—which he knows they will be.
- Hiawatha says he had a vision of the whites and his people getting along and prospering together. But then this vision was replaced by another, much darker vision of his people fighting amongst each other and being scattered. He also sees them being driven farther and farther westward. In other words, he sees everything that the white people are going to do to the Native Americans.
Part XXII: Hiawatha's Departure
- We find Hiawatha standing at the door of his wigwam looking out at the world and thinking. All of the sadness is gone from his face. He even has a look of triumph.
- It turns out that the giant floating canoe (i.e., the ship) of the white people is coming toward him on the water.
- A man called the "Black-Robe chief" gets off the boat, and we can probably tell from his black robes that he is some sort of priest.
- Hiawatha greets the men kindly and offers them everything they need. The men have trouble understanding him, although one or two can half-guess what he's saying.
- The white men bring news of Jesus Christ, which Hiawatha almost immediately accepts as the true faith. (You can thank Longfellow for indulging his Christian bias a bit with that one. )
- Hiawatha brings out his peace-pipe and sits smoking with the white visitors.
- While the white men have a nap, Hiawatha sneaks away and tells his grandmother that he's going on a long journey. He asks Nokomis to make sure that no harm ever comes to the white people. He also makes sure to call together all his friends and warriors to tell them about his long trip. He plans on heading west.
- With all that said, Hiawatha gets into his birch canoe and paddles away from his people, not knowing when, or if, he'll ever return.
- The people of Hiawatha's village watch him until he's gone.