The Legend Behind Spirit Rock

The following is a story featuring Manabus, a God of the Menominee featured in many Menominee legends.

One night long ago, a young Menominee man was approached by Manabus.  Manabus asked the young man if he would bring some friends and visit him. He told the man that he would give each of them something.

So the young man set off with his friends on their quest to visit Manabus. When the men arrived after their long journey, Manabus fed them and let them rest. After the men were rested, Manabus asked each man what he wished for.

Each man took a turn asking Manabus what he wished for. One asked to be a great warrior, another asked to be a great hunter, and another asked for a medicine bag to cure the sick.

When the last man came with his request, he asked to last as long as the earth, to live forever. Manabus granted the request by picking up the young man and telling him "You shall have your wish." As he placed him on the ground, the young man transformed into a rock, where he would remain for all time just as he requested.

The rock is known today as "Spirit Rock," and legend says that when the rock finally crumbles away the Menominee will be extinct.

Over the past 150 years, the Menominee have faced numerous threats to their very existence.

In 1849, the federal Government attempted to remove them from their homeland in northern Wisconsin to the plains of western Minnesota. They refused to go and settled on a small portion of their territory, which had previously extended throughout most of state of Wisconsin. They continue to live on the lands where they settled in 1849 today.

In 1954, the Federal Government determined they were no longer in need of Federal protection and terminated their relationship with them. The termination could easily have destroyed them, but the threat of losing their homeland spurred them to action. They fought to regain their recognition and were the first terminated Tribe to regain federal recognition in 1973. As a result of their efforts, the Menominee retain over 98% of the lands that were reserved to them in 1849.

Spirit Rock is a sacred place to the Menominee people, who still visit it to pray and make offerings. It continues to stand, a symbol to the Menominee of their perseverance, their ability to overcome adversity and their ability to continue to exist as native people in the modern world.