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The Legend of Wildgoose Island
by Greg Lessard

Wildgoose Island
Wildgoose Island
The Legend of Wildgoose Island

This legend was told to me by an acquaintance, who worked in Glacier National Park. He claimed that this story is an ancient Indian legend. I have not been able to verify from which tribe this legend originates.

“Many years ago, there were two warring Indian tribes. One tribe resided on the east side of St. Mary’s Lake, the other on the west. For many generations, the two tribes had fought each other. They had battled for so long that no one knew why they hated each other so much, just that they did.

Then, two teenagers from the warring tribes met and fell in love. Knowing that they needed to keep their affections for each other secret, they would swim to Wildgoose Island to meet. The island was a perfect spot for them. It was isolated and nearly half way between the two tribes. Many months went by before the two young lovers were discovered by their parents. Appalled by their actions, the parents forbade them to meet again.


St. Mary's Lake
St. Mary's Lake
As teenagers are wont to do, they disobeyed their parents and continued to spend time together; swimming to the island late at night. After a time, they were caught again. This time the chiefs of both tribes held a council. They agreed that they could not let the young lovers continue their affair. If a child were to be born, the tribes would be bound to each other. This was unthinkable to the two tribes who hated each other so much.

After some deliberation, the chiefs agreed to be personally responsible for the actions of their respective tribe member. The young lovers would be forbidden to see each other ever again. However, the chiefs allowed the teenagers to meet one last time to say goodbye. As the two swam for the island, they vanished. They did not drown. They did not escape. They simply disappeared…

Later that year in the fall, the Indians noticed two wild geese fly to the island where they stayed for the winter and raised a gaggle of young geese. This was the first time that geese had ever wintered on the island. Both tribes recognized this as a sign that their children’s love for each other was so great, that they were transformed into geese to be able to spend their lives together. To this day, the two young lovers fly to the island every fall with their children to spend the winter.”