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.