The Waterspirit of Green Lake

retold by Richard L. Dieterle


There lives beneath Te Co ("Green [or Blue] Lake") a great Waterspirit who rules over the lake. All those who would cross this lake must first make appropriate offerings to her. Failure to do this will cause her wrath to arise, and she will come from the bottomless depths and swirl her arms around until a great whirlpool forms, dragging everything caught in its span down into the murky deep.

So powerful and famous is she, that all Hocągara feel the obligation at some time in their lives to come to Te Co and make an offering to the Waterspirit. Special ceremonies are organized in her honor. In 1878, one of these ceremonies lasted two weeks and boasted of 500 participants. Guests entered the ceremony through two columns of warriors who stood facing each other at attention. They were dressed in their war regalia and painted themselves with such effect that they occasioned not a little fear in the uninitiated.

Because the Hocągara have faithfully worshiped her, she has helped them overcome their enemies.1

Commentary. "Te Co" — a direct translation of the Hocąk name for the lake, Te Co, where co can range in hue from green to blue.

Links: Waterspirits.

Stories: in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Nannyberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Two Children, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Heną́ga and Star Girl, Peace of Mind Regained, The Story of the Medicine Rite, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spiritual Descent of John Rave's Grandmother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake.

Themes: a Waterspirit sucks under men in canoes: The Waterspirit of Rock River; a Waterspirit kills a human: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, Waruǧabᵉra, The Two Children, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Seer, The Twin Sisters, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Blanket.


1 Reverend Elmer C. Hamley, Monapacataca (Green Lake: 1933) 4-5.