When Hiwatha was small, he lived with his grandmother Nokomis. He always wanted to sing. Nokomis told him: “You must go into the forest and listen to the birds sing, and you must learn to imitate them.” Then, each morning at dawn, Hiwatha set off for the woods to listen to the birds, but he could not reproduce their songs. Once more, his grandmother told him: “You must try again.”

The next morning Hiwatha returned to the forest: he listened and listened to the birds, and tried to imitate their songs. Suddenly he heard extraordinary music coming from far-away. Walking slowly, he followed the echo and arrived at a large waterfall.  It was this waterfall that had produced the music. Soon, Hiwatha began to sing and he called the song: “Laughing Waters.”  He carved an alder flute and played his song.

Consequently each time Hiwatha returned to the woods, he always took with him his flute. He played and sang to the birds his song about the laughing waters.  “And that was how First Peoples obtained their music,” said White Caribou Woman (Wa Ba Die Kwe) (Clément/Martin 1993: 83).


Performance by Timothy Archambault

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