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Story of the Mesinkw and Big House

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Story of the Mesinkw and Big House

Post  MISPLACEDBUCKEYE on Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:07 am

Long ago, when the Munsee and other Delaware people lived in the East, there were three boys who were often badly treated. Their relatives did not take care of them, and seemed not to care whether they lived or died. One day, when the boys were out in the woods thinking about the way the other people treated them, they saw a face, a Living Solid Face with no body. The Face spoke to them, and gave them strength so they could no longer be hurt. He took one boy up to the place where he was from, high up in the air and stretching far to the south and north. The face promised the boy that he would grow large and strong enough to have anything he wanted. Then he brought the boy back. The three boys alone knew that there was a Living Solid Face because they had seen it with their own eyes.

At that time, the Delawares had a Big House to worship in, but at that time it was built of bark and posts and was undecorated. There they would sing about their dreams and visions of power. Some time after the three boys met the Face, the people gave up the Big House and had no form of worship.

Because they had abandoned their traditional religion, a great earthquake came and lasted twelve months, causing great hardship for the people. In one of the Delaware towns, a chief still had a bark big house, and the people met there to worship and to try and stop the earthquake by bringing back their religion. To stop the earthquake, they built a new Big House. When it was finished, they met there and sang and prayed all winter. In the spring, while they were holding a meeting, the Face appeared to the east, making a great noise. The chief did not know what was making the noise and asked for a volunteer to go outside to investigate. The three boys, now grown to manhood, went out. Having seen the Face before, they knew they could speak with him and find out how to stop the earthquake.

The Face instructed the three men to stop their meetings for now and attend to their crops. After the harvest in the fall, the Face would come live among them and instruct them in the ways of the Big House. He told them to carve a face just like his, and to paint it half red and half black as his was. The mask was invested with power by the Living Solid Face, and he instructed them in how to use it, along with a stick and a turtle rattle. The face also instructed them to carve twelve faces on the posts of the Big House, to carve these faces on their drumsticks, and how to hold the Big House ceremony. In return, he asked that they offer him hominy in the spring, and additionally he promised to keep the deer close by wherever they built the Big House so they would have enough to eat. He told them never to give up the Big House or else there would be another earthquake or other disasters. The earthquake stopped, and since that time, the Delaware have had the Big House and its ceremonies as dictated by the Solid Living Face.

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