Mishipesu: Myth or Monster?

            Many regions around the world have folklore consisting of monsters and dragons. Loch Ness has Nessie, the Himalayas have the Yeti, North America have Sasquatch, and Central America have the chupacabra. What many people do not know, however, is that the Great Lakes region have their own legend of a monster. The residents call the beast “Mishipeshu.”
            According to the native Objibwe tribe, Mishipeshu, the “Great Lynx of Lake Superior”, embodies the might and wonder of Lake Superior. Many native American groups surrounding the area had legends of the Mishpeshu, as all native groups stemmed from the Anishinaabe; but none of their legends stand out as well as the Objibwe tribe’s. 
            According the Ojibwe legend, the Mishipeshu was the guardian of all copper located around Lake Superior. The beast was so feared that offerings were made often to keep it away. Many giant serpents, called Chignebikoog in Ojibwe legend, supposedly followed the Mishipeshu around. They were said to be made of pure copper. Chief Norma Fox of the Cockburn Island Ojibwe recounts a tale of the serpents:  “There is a legend that an Indian was canoeing on Lake Superior, and suddenly the water became very turbulent. The Indian man was sure he would drown. A big snake was pulling at his canoe, so he stuck a fish spear into the giant serpent’s back. When he pulled the spear up a piece of snake’s flesh was stuck onto the end of the spear. The flesh turned out to be pure copper. “ 
            Both the Mishipeshu and the Chignebikoog can be seen painted on Agawa Rock in Canada. The rock, being a massive cliff face on the edge of Lake Superior, holds many ancient pictographs of Mishipeshu and the serpents, many of them being faded or washed away. However, we can still view the most famous pictograph of Mishipeshu on the rock (pictured below). 

            Although the Ojibwe tale of Mishipeshu seems to depict a legendary creature, there may still be a chance that they were eyewitnesses to one of the last dinosaurs alive. Let’s take a look at the evidence. 
            Fred Pine, a direct descendant from an Ojibwe shaman, says, “The animals that live at the bottom of Lake Superior were not created by the holy spirit. They don’t have hair. Their bodies are covered with fingernail-like scales; and spines run down their backs. A long time ago, gold, silver, and copper minerals were found on the surface of the earth. These scaly animals hoarded the minerals and buried the metal deep beneath the earth.  The holy spirit told the medicine men to get rid of the spiny creatures. Those animals ate trees and destroyed the forest That’s when flint was discovered by the Indians. Only flint is sharp enough to pierce their scaly skin. So the Indians, with the help of the spirits and medicine men, killed off those giant creatures. Only the ones that lived deep under the sea survived.”
            We can see that the creatures were hairless and were covered with scales. In the story by Chief Norma Fox that was stated earlier, we can see that the skin of the creatures appear to be that of copper. The tale may be describing the creature’s color, not it’s actual flesh. Many dinosaurs are depicted to have a reddish-brown tint, similar to the color of copper. It is worth noting that many scientists depict dinosaur’s skin as being a reddish-brown tint. 
            The creatures were also noted to have spiny scales running down the entirety of their back. This description of Mishipeshu brings resemblance of a few extinct dinosaurs namely the Kentrosaurus, the Amarga, and the Lambeosaurus. The most possible description would the Kentrosaurus (pictured below). 
            As interesting and fascinating it would have been to discover that the Mishipeshu is a dinosaur, we may never find out what the creature exactly was as the legend of Mishipeshu died centuries ago, leaving only the rock paintings to tell the tale. If the beast turned out to be a descendant of a dinosaur, it would provide major evidence that the Biblical record in Genesis is correct and that dinosaurs and man once lived alongside each other (as mentioned in the Bible). However, as of now, we may never truly know what the Mishipeshu was. 

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