The Untold Ojibwe Story of The Alleged Michigan-Based Paul Bunyan
Sometimes you hear about a myth that's super basic and think, "Okay, why is this character so huge?" In this sense, it's both literal and figurative. Paul Bunyan is one of those mythical characters that's embedded into our brains at a young age and I've always wondered why being a massive French-Canadian lumberjack was such a huge deal.
It turns out, there's a different origin story for Paul Bunyan that isn't as well-known but it's by far the best and the one I'm personally gonna start believing in. This amazing story was shared by someone a few years ago, but I'm so glad I finally learned it.
He came to the area known as Red Lake and tried his de-forestation BS, but Nanaboozhoo - The Greatest Ojibwe who ever lived - obviously wasn't having any of that. They got into a fight that lasted 3 days, and finally, our hero picked up a giant walleye and slapped the outlander silly with it. Paul got knocked on his ass in a mud puddle, so hard it left an imprint of his buttcheeks there in the wet ground... that's why the lake is shaped the way it is and why we were able to keep our forest.
Little Known Facts
You'll never hear this story in a book, but that's basically how the story was passed down from his father when he was young after coming home from kindergarten in Bemidji, Minnesota, which was supposed to be Paul's favorite town. That's apparently the story behind the Paul/Babe & Nanaboozhoo statues in that town, according to the OP:
It used to be a sign at the rez line, I remember the Chinooks didn't like it and kept cutting it down. But the story lives on, and now you know.
It's said that Paul Bunyon was based on an actual person who worked in Michigan:
Several authors have come forward to propose that the legend of Paul Bunyan was based on a real person. D. Laurence Rogers and others have suggested a possible connection between Paul Bunyan tales and the exploits of French-Canadian lumberjack Fabian "Saginaw Joe" Fournier (1845–1875). From 1865 to 1875, Fournier worked for the H. M. Loud Company in the Grayling, Michigan area.
The native peoples of this land have always had my respect, but now they also have my utmost appreciation for this incredible tale.