The boys of the Hoffman Estates Boys Club witnessed a marvelous wonder on a night where the Northern Lights shimmered over Big Bass Lake for they saw the image of The White Loon. This mystical bird makes its appearance only every decade or so over his ancestral home. I remember an old man by the name of Mose who told me about this loon and how the legend of it began way back in the 1800’s. Some say it is the reincarnated spirit of an old Indian who frequented the area at that time. Think about it. Manistee means “spirit of the woods” so is it so inconceivable to think of The White Loon as a disembodied Indian?
So on the night after the 4th of July the boys were feasted to a light display of the Northern Lights and all sorts of images appeared in that night sky. However that White Loon appeared at least three times which caught the boy’s attention. And at campfire that night they wanted to know more about that White Loon and so I gave them the legend. Of course the boys knew of the Indian burial grounds on Haunted Island so that is where the story began.
Long ago there was an Indian by the name of Salinetro. Many in his tribe thought he was a little over the edge as he always did strange things. While others hunted for game, he searched for his squaw who was always walking out on him. After a time his tribe sent Salinetro away on a spirit quest to determine just who he might be. He spent his time deep in the Manistee National Forest and had visions but all of them were of rather silly things.
Upon returning from his spirit quest and speaking of all his unusual visions, his tribe banished him to the wilderness. There he continued a relentless search for his squaw who all the time was safely back at the Indian village. Salinetro could not seen to distinguish fantasy from reality and went half crazy. He was dubbed The White Loon by his tribe and never again saw his people.
Legend has that he stumbled upon Big Bass Lake in the late 1800’s. He found out that Lake Natahki (the original name of BBL) was not named after him. Why it should have been is another mystery but since all this was in his crazed head, Salinetro could have named that lake anything. With his dying breath he swore that he would never abandon that lake and appear from time to time in the night sky.
Our kids witnessed one of those appearances as the White Loon distinctly was found in those Northern Lights. Some of the boys even imagined a cry from that loon as if in agony. In truth Salinetro’s whole life was one devoted to agony and disgrace. Yet there he was in the heavens as clear as a bell. What the boys couldn’t figure out is why Salinetro was so bent on presiding over Big Bass Lake when Loon Lake was just down the hill? Then again, perhaps he never had searched for his squaw at Loon Lake?