Koluskap Frees the Water

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told by Roseanne Clark (.wav, 950k)


Koluskap and Mikumwesu traveled along the Wolastoq and came to a camp. The two brothers went ashore and were met by an old woman whom they called Groundhog. After she invited the visitors to sit, Koluskap asked for some water because he was very thirsty. Approaching the camp Koluskap and Mikumwesu noticed that the water was very dirty and full of bugs, making it unfit to drink. Groundhog answered, “I have no water. Akwulabemu (1) has it all.” Koluskap instructed her to go and tell him the Chief wants a drink.

“We can get no water unless we give Akwulabemu a young girl,” explained Groundhog. “He already has two girls and I have only one left. Besides, he tortures them. They must obey his commands and he pokes their faces with a hot poker before speaking to them. I would not recognize my own daughter, who is there, scarred and all of her hair burnt off.”


But Koluskap still insisted, so Groundhog sent her last daughter to Akwulabemu and stated that the Chief insisted absolutely on having water. Akwulabemu replied, “The great man at your camp thinks he is going to have good water to drink.” Passing Groundhog’s daughter a dish, he said, “Take this to him. I’ve been washing my hands and feet in it.”

Dugout Canoe

This greatly angered Koluskap, who refused to drink the filthy water. Armed with a club, he went to break Akwulabemu’s head and free the water. His first act was to destroy Akwulabemu’s stone canoe. Passing many scarred girls too frightened to speak, he approached Akwulabemu saying, “Are you trying to destroy all the people? You should have known I was coming. I am Koluskap, chief of everyone.”

Akwulabemu answered, “You may be chief of the animals and men, but you will have to fight first.” An insulted Koluskap took his club, struck Akwulabemu and broke his skull. An animal sprang out of his head and rushed toward the canoe but when it saw the canoe in pieces, it became a serpent. Koluskap clubbed it dead and immediately the springs and brooks filled with clean and pure water. Koluskap then called out all of the bugs and worms and they made a great feast of the snake.


Koluskap returned to Groundhog’s camp and told the old woman to go out and proclaim, “The great chief has freed the water. Akwulabemu is dead and the Wolastoq will soon fill with clear, fresh water.” Groundhog did just as Koluskap ordered.

1. the giant frog