Home > Anishinaabe Constellation, Mythology > The story of the Fisher Star

The story of the Fisher Star

October 11, 2012

The Anishinaabe peoples have lived in the Great Lakes area since way before the coming of the Europeans. They are comprised of the Ojibwe, Ottawa, Chippewa and even Algonquin tribes. While some did see a bear in the stars and around the Big Dipper sans tail. Most of the stories concern the Fisher or Fisher Star.

The Fisher Star in Autumn painting the leaves with his tail.  Created using Stellarium and other sources/

The Fisher Star in Autumn painting the leaves with his tail. Created using Stellarium and other sources.

By the way, the thee stars of the handle of the Big Dipper were hunters that were following the bear. The hunter denoted by the star Mizar at the bend in the handle of the dipper had a dog with him, the star we call Alcor, that make it an intriguing double for folks with good eyesight.

Fisher is supposed to be a weasel-like animal, intelligent, and a great hunter. He lived in a world that was snow covered and cold year round, where food was scarce. Perhaps this story is a cultural remembrance of the last glaciation period. Contrary to his name Fisher didn’t fish.

One day his son came to him with a request to bring summer, for he was cold and hungry. Fisher decided to somehow get to Skyland and tap into its warmth. He brought together his three bravest friends for the journey: Otter, Lynx, and Wolverine. They set out to seek the tallest mountains so they could reach Skyland.

When they had climbed the tallest mountain they found that Skyland was just out of reach. If they could only crack through. Otter tried first. He jumped first and bounced off. He fell back and slid completely down the mountain on his belly. It was so much fun that this is what otters do to this day. The lynx tried. He jumped up and hit his head and was knocked unconscious.

The wolverine was persistent. He jumped time after time and was finally able to chew a hole in the base of Skyland. When it was large enough he scampered through. Fisher was sure the hole wasn’t large enough, and that the inhabitants of Skyland would soon cover it up. So he chewed and chewed, enlarging the hole so the Skyland people couldn’t cover it for more than half the year.

As he was finishing up the hole the Skyland people discovered him. He boasted to them; “I am Fisher, the great hunter, you cannot catch me.” he jumped to the nearest tree and climbed to the top. The sky people shot arrows at him, but he had a special power making him impervious to arrows except for a particular spot on his tail. Kind of an Achilles tail, to mix my legends. Well, after some time the sky people got wise to Fisher’s protections and an arrow found the vulnerable spot in his tail and he fell out of the tree. Before Fisher’s body could fall to the ground the Great Spirit, Gitchee Manitou, caught him and placed him in the night sky to herald the seasons Fisher had created for the earth. In the sky Fisher’s tail is the handle of the Big Dipper. Tiny Alcor signifies the spot where the arrow hit. Every fall as Fisher’s tail passes over the northern horizon the blood in his wound paints the autumn leaves red. In late winter as he rises again in the northeast it is time to begin tapping the maple trees.


Sources: Keepers of the Earth, by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac, and Anishinaabe Star Knowledge by Michael Wassegijig Price. Thanks also to Nodwese Red Bear.

  1. November 22, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this site needs much more
    attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!

  1. November 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm
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