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The Nain Rouge (French for "red dwarf"), also called the "Demon of the Strait", is a legendary creature of the Detroit, Michigan area whose appearance is said to presage misfortune. Its origins in the early French settlement of Detroit are proposed as deriving from Norman French tales of the lutin, a type of hobgoblin, along with Native American legends of an "impish offspring of the Stone God".

History[]

There used to be a native venerated Idol in the area of Detroit that was destroyed by the first French Christian Missionaries in 1670. It was reputed to have been called the 'Manitou' Idol by the Natives. The Idol was reputed to have been in humanoid shape and was said to have been painted red and decorated by the local Erie Native Band. It was reputed to have been broken up by an axe that had been first blessed and consecrated by the missionary priests Francois Dollier de Casson and Rene de Brehant de Galinee. The region was said to be cursed by the Natives following the priests' disrespect for their culture.

Marie Caroline Watson Hamlin's 1883 Legends of Le Détroit described the Nain Rouge as a dwarf, "very red in the face, with a bright, glistening eye; instead of burning, it froze, instead of possessing depth emitted a cold gleam like the reflection from a polished surface, bewildering and dazzling all who came within its focus," and "a grinning mouth displaying sharp, pointed teeth, completed this strange face." Other accounts describe the Nain Rouge as a small creature with red or black fur covering an animal's body but with the face of an old man with "blazing red eyes and rotten teeth."

According to some scholars, the legend of the Nain Rouge has its origins in local Native American beliefs of spirit creatures that inhabited the region, which were subsequently retold by European colonists.

Legend holds that the Nain Rouge's appearance would presage terrible events for the city. The creature is said to have appeared on July 30, 1763 before the Battle of Bloody Run, where 58 British soldiers were killed by Native Americans from Chief Pontiac's Ottawa tribe. Supposedly, the Nain Rouge "danced among the corpses" on the banks of the Detroit River after the battle, and the river "turned red with blood" for days after. According to the tale, all the misfortunes of Governor and General William Hull leading to the surrender of Detroit in the War of 1812 are blamed on the Nain Rouge.

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