The beginnings of Detroit’s Nain Rouge are thought by some to originate from the Algonquin creation myths which concern Glooskap who, after creating the Earth and men continued by forming beings, such as fairies and dwarfs. These nature spirits were to act a protectors of certain regions of the country and to ensure that Glooskap’s evil brother Malsum would cause no harm to man, man’s community, or the natural environment. When European missionaries spread throughout Michigan the tribal Gods, and supernatural creatures, were turned into demons and evil spirits in an attempt to vanquish them from memory. Some historians and researchers have also made the case that the telling of tales of a “red devil” may in fact not be supernatural at all but are even more problematic than understood at first glance. The “original” stories told may be cultural folk-tales of the Original inhabitants of North America as described through the lens of European settlers. When seen in this light we can understand just how horrible the idea of blaming problems on the “red devil” actually are.
Things have changed
Detroit now has a yearly “Nain Rouge” festival, the “tricky” little devil has been written about in numerous books and almost everyone around the metro Detroit area has now, at a minimum, “heard about it”. Most commonly brought up, when people discuss The Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf), is a collection of local legends that was printed in 1884. Although this tome contains dozens of different stories three mention The Nain Rouge. In the 1896 book Myths And Legends of Our Own Land by Charles M. Skinner the original tales are retold and a few new ones added to make for more shocking reading. Yet even in Skinner’s imaginings The Nain Rouge is still only a character reacting to situations brought about by others and NOT the creator of the problems people experience. Not surprisingly, most people have never read these original stories by which so much of the modern legend has taken shape. Hopefully by posting these tales people will have a deeper understanding of the legend and perhaps a more informed view of the supernatural history of Detroit.
People all around and in Detroit now believe, incorrectly, that this alleged supernatural creature is one that actually manifests fear and mischief. In reality, the creature is a herald to all upcoming “terrible” events; the original Algonquin legends see it as a protector and guardian who stands ever vigilant over the city of Detroit and it’s residents making sure that all are aware of any future calamity.