"By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them; Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water. There the wrinkled old Nokomis, Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes."
[Hiawatha & Minnehaha]
Many of the names in Longfellow's epic poem (over 200 pages), Nokomis, Wynona, Pipestone, Minnehaha, Escanaba and others are familiar in the north central states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Gitchee Gumee means something like "shining big water" but is plain old Lake Superior nowadays. I liked Gitchee Gumee better. My two sons, as young teenagers, knew these words well. I often recited them as we traveled along the "North Shore" on our way to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in the Arrowhead Country of Northeastern Minnesota. Yes, they looked at me with more than a little bemusement, when I carried on.... but the education of our youth takes a special effort.... [Taken on a very cold winter morning during out recent trip along the North Shore]