MICHIGAN LEGEND: The Snake Goddess of Belle Isle
WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.
(The majority of Belle Isle is open to the public, but the old zoo is not. Therefore the above disclaimer.)
I enjoy hearing about "Haunted Michigan" stories. I love writing about them, researching them, and hearing tales from people who have experienced something paranormal. The following is an old Michigan legend.....a fantasy/fable, if you will, that doesn't expect you to believe its contents, but to be entertained. But you can believe this if you wanna.
The Chippewa & Ottawa Native Americans referred to Belle Isle as the 'Island of Swans', or 'Wah-na-be-zee'. Legend says a chief from the Ottawa tribe, Chief Sleeping Bear, was having a tough time keeping amorous male tribe members away from his beautiful daughter. He decided to simply sneak her out of the grounds by sending her up the Detroit River. He placed her in a canoe, threw a blanket over her to keep her unseen, and pushed the canoe into the river. However, the god who controlled the wind was envious of her beauty and commanded the wind to blow the blanket away and re-direct the canoe to float DOWNriver.
Once downstream, she was discovered and captured by a native, who took her to his wigwam. The wind god, remorseful & angry for what happened, intervened, beat the male to death, and returned the girl to Chief Sleeping Bear. Disappointed but nonplussed, Sleeping Bear sequestered her to Belle Isle and begged the spirits to keep her safe.
To add to her safe-keeping, the spirits made her immortal and gave her the ability to change herself into a white doe at will, as a means to escape being captured. Further, they surrounded the entire island with all types of snakes to keep any love-struck males from searching for her. Ever since, she has been known as the Snake Goddess
In the present day, visitors and picnickers to Belle Isle occasionally see a white doe. This deer will watch the humans, then disappear into the woods when approached. As soon as she's out of sight, she returns to her human shape.
If you care to visit the isle for a picnic, biking, or a walk through the woods, you just might spot that particular white deer scampering off, disappearing into the woods.
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