Submitted by Laurie Leclair
In 1916, Jonas Waisegizhig, a 62-year old man from Rama First Nation, supplied George E. Laidlaw with several stories that would form part of the latter’s third collection of Ojibwa Myths and Tales. Laidlaw, a semi-professional archaeologist and anthropologist, published these stories in late December in Ontario’s Ministry of Education’s 28th Annual Archaeological Report (King’s Printer, 1916). Jonas grew up with his grandparents, George and Esther Waisegizhig, and much like his grandfather; he too was a hunter and fisherman. Sometimes Mr. Waisegizhig’s memory failed him, but when it came to this particular story, the gentleman recalled it with much clarity. It is a tale about an Extraterrestrial who came down to earth for three days at Pine Plains, a village south of Barrie, Ontario, near the town of Minesing. Like all of the accounts shared by the Rama Elders in Laidlaw’s collections, this story hold a much deeper meaning, but is also entertaining in its most simplest rendition. Waisegizhig’s words appear below just as he told them to Laidlaw.
The Man From the Sky:
“Two Indians walked up and looked around those plains” Waisegizhig began:
They went a little ways (about 200 yards) and saw somebody sitting on the grass. This was a man so they went to see. The man put up his hand to keep them back, so they stopped and looked. After a while the man spoke and said, “I don’t belong to this land, I dropped down from above, yesterday, so I am here now.”
Those two men wanted him to go with them down home.
“Yes” he said “you go home and clean the place where I will stay, and come back again, then I will go with you in a few days.”
The two men went home and told the people about it. They began to clean the place where they were to keep the Skyman for two days, then they went to get him. Skyman was a nice looking man, clean and shining bright. Just at sundown he looked up just like he was watching. He spoke sometimes in a clear voice. Just after dark he spoke. He said, “Stay in two days. I’ll go up, something will come down and get me to go up.”
This wise man said that he was running from where he came. There was an open place and he couldn’t stop running, so he got in and dropped.
The next day he said, “It’s a nice country where we live, everything good. Tomorrow noon I am going up. I will leave you and you people all be good. Every Indian must be home tomorrow to see me go up.”
Just after noon the next day he looked up and said, “It’s coming”. Every body looked up but could see nothing for a long time. The man that kept Skyman at his home could see good, and saw something like a bright star shining away up. The other people didn’t see anything till it came near the ground. This thing was the nicest thing ever seen in this world. Two men got hold of it and pulled down heavy, then Skyman got in and said “All right” and away he went up happy. I guess he’s living there yet.
In 1996, Mr. Waisegizhig’s story was reprinted in John Robert Colombo’s UFO’s over Canada, (Dundurn, 1996). The author remarked that at the time that Waisegizhig was recounting his story, the skies “were full of airships. There were balloons and dirigibles aplenty.” However, stories of extraterrestrial sightings are so common among the Anishinabek that it is probable the roots of this story easily predate the twentieth century.