Click here to visit our FAQ about America's Historic Lakes Click here to return to the home page Click here to see our site map with links to historic sites on the lakes Click here to visit the Table of Contents for the 300+ pages on the site Click here to search the site Click here to learn about the use of images on the site Click here to contact us

The Online Resource for Historians, Educators, Students and Visitors since 1997
This is a graphics-intensive publication, to fully experience the site we recommend you have JavaScript enabled.

By James P. Millard

Identified on modern maps as "Rock Dunder", this small outcropping in Burlington Bay is more properly identified by its original name

Long before the arrival of French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1609, the waters of Lake Champlain were traversed by native peoples, inhabitants who had been here for countless generations. The region was known as ndakinna, Our Land. The Iroquois resided mostly to the west of the great lake toward the mountainous region we now know as the Adirondacks, while the Abenaki people lived to the north and east of bitawbágw, our Lake Champlain. The Abenaki traveled through the formidable mountains to the east by following the rivers that flowed west into the lake. Tribal legends tell of the supernatural being who formed this great lake and these rivers- Odzihozo, the Transformer...

Odzihozo created the great lake, the rivers, the mountains and valleys that comprised the Abenaki homeland. This being wasn't "God", he wasn't the Creator himself; he was one of a number of supernatural beings who inhabited the same forests, fields and waterways of the People of the Dawn. Odzihozo did create himself. According to the myths, however, Odzihozo had some trouble completing the task. William A. Haviland and Marjory W. Power, in their excellent The Original Vermonters: Native Inhabitants, Past and Present, tell us that "...he managed only his head, body and arms; the legs came later, growing slowly as do the legs on a tadpole." 1 Yet Odzihozo was impatient, even before he was fully formed, he set out to change the earth. He did so by dragging himself about with his hands, creating the river channels, mountains and valleys in the process. His last great act was the creation of bitawbágw, Lake Champlain.

Odzihozo was pleased with himself and his handiwork. The noted Abenaki ethnographer Gordon M. Day explained just how happy he was with the fruits of his labors— "The last work he made was Lake Champlain. It was his masterpiece. He liked it so much that he climbed onto a rock in Burlington Bay and changed himself into stone so that he could better sit there and enjoy the spectacle through the ages." Day also tells us that the Abenaki would bring offerings of tobacco to Odzihozo right up until the 1940's.2

USGS topographical map of Burlington Bay [1956] showing "Rock Dunder"Sources/notes:
Author note: The following sources are excellent for information about the Abenaki. I highly recommend each as sources of further study.

Odzihozo photo by the author. Map detail from USGS topogrpahical survey, 1956.
Haviland, William A. and Power, Marjory W. 1994.The Original Vermonters- Native Inhabitants, Past and Present. Revised and expanded edition. University of Vermont. Published by University Press of New England.
2 Day, Gordon, M. 1998. IN SEARCH OF NEW ENGLAND'S NATIVE PAST- Selected Essays by Gordon M. Day. Edited by Michael K. Foster and William Cowen. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

   Last revised 01/09/2016

*America's Historic Lakes is a favorite of educators around the world. You can feel confident that the material
on this site is accurate, well-researched, properly cited and presented.

Creative Commons License
America's Historic Lakes by James P. Millard and Guest Contributors is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 Privacy Policy

James P. Millard
Post Office Box 262
South Hero, Vermont 05486-0262

Terms of Service and Disclaimer of Liability

The historical information on this web site is provided as a public service by James P. Millard. I  have attempted to be as accurate as possible in my presentation of this historical material. However, I make no claims, guarantees or promises about the accuracy, currency, or completeness of the information provided. In no event shall the publisher; James P. Millard, be liable for any errors or omissions with respect to any information on this site. Material submitted by guest contributors and published on the site is the property of the contributor and may be removed at any time at my discretion or upon request of the contributor. This website occasionally provides links to sites of other organizations maintained by third parties. These links do not constitute an endorsement of the content, viewpoint, accuracy, opinions, policies, products, services, or accessibility of that website. Links to third-party websites are provided as a public service and convenience to users of our site; James P. Millard/America’s Historic Lakes does not control, endorse or recommend the content on sites we may link to. Once connected to another website, you are subject to the terms and conditions of that website.