Four Legends of Arch Rock: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Anyone who has been to Mackinac Island a few times has probably seen Arch Rock, a limestone formation that was carved out naturally over thousands of years by the gales of Lake Huron.
But do you know its legends?
1) When the island was inhabited by the Ojibwe tribe, they believed it was an ethereal bridge on which the dead could cross over to another world where their souls could find eternal rest in the island caves.
2) Another tales states there was a native girl who waited for her lover to come home after he left for war, but when the tribe came back without him, she realized he was killed in battle. Distraught, she jumped off the rock, killing herself in an attempt to join him in death.
3) Still another legend tells of a “Master of Life” who was angered by the actions of one of the Ottawa chiefs; so in retaliation, he sent a blazing red sun toward the island that burned a hole in a rock formation, which became the gap, forming an arch.
But my favorite of the legends concerns the chief of an Ojibwe tribe and his daughter, She-who-walks-like-the-mist, or ‘Mist Woman’.
4) Each day when Misty did her daily chores - like making moccasins, carrying water, etc. - the young tribe bucks would pass by her and stare at her incredible beauty. She paid them no heed as her daily work load kept her too busy for admirers. Weekly gifts were heaped upon her by her would-be suitors but she just smiled and gave them food in return.
Then all of a sudden, her demeanor changed. She no longer smiled or seemed to care about her chores. She would sit with her head down and a look of incredible sorrow. Hopeful that his daughter would marry someday soon, the chief became angry that his daughter didn’t seem to care about marriage or any of the male tribe members. He asked her, “Why, my daughter, do you who once smiled on the strong young men who brought you gifts, now treat them with a cold heart?”
After an extended silence she finally answered, “Two moons ago…..a handsome brave appeared to me…..‘Oh, lovely one,’ he said. ‘Long have I watched you in the village wishing that you might be mine for all time. In my home, high above you, I am the son of a chief, Evening Star, and therefore, a Sky Person…..(I descended) to earth that I might ask you to join me in my sky home.’”
Misty then told her farther that she would marry no other but the Sky Person. Answering, her father exclaimed “You should marry no one at all then!” He grabbed her, put her in his canoe and paddled out to the Island of Turtle Spirits (Mackinac Island).
Once there, he took her to the top of a rock formation and told her to stay there, remarking “you shall not see your love again. Here you shall stay until you decide to be a faithful daughter once more.” She did not move, she did not yell. Her continuous tears for a man she believed she would never have flowed down the rock until it eventually formed an arch. One night, an evening star shone bright, its rays shining through the arch. Down the rays came the one she was waiting for all this time. He picked her up in his arms and carried her up the rays to the stars where the two lived eternally with the Sky People.
Arch Rock, Mackinac Island: 1880-2000s