Saturday, April 30, 2011

Princess Raven

An Aleut Legend
Princess Raven The Chief did not like Raven because he could transform himself into various things. He thought about turning himself into a human, but Raven wanted the Chief to be able to notice his presence when he saw the princess.

"I will fly into the air above the river and turn myself into a hemlock needle. When it floats down to you. pick it up and swallow it." Princess nodded and wondered what was going to happen as Raven flew into the air.

In an instant he was gone. A small hemlock needle slowly fell towards the water. When it floated down to her, princess picked it up and swallowed it. She waited, but nothing happened. Then she felt a jerk in her back. The princess reached back to see what the pain was and to her surprise, she felt feathers, a wing grew out of her back and wrapped around her. It was so warm. The princess felt a love like never before.

Raven and the princess felt a Love like never before. Raven and the princess were joined together throughout all time. All creatures that saw them could feel the love drifting from the face of the princess and the wing of Raven.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How the Turtle out hunting duped the Coyote

In the times of the ancients, long, long ago, near the High flowing River on the Zuni Mountains, there lived an old Turtle. He went out hunting, one day, and by means of his ingenuity killed a large, fine deer. When he had thrown the deer to the ground, he had no means of skinning it. He sat down and reflected, scratching the lid of his eye with the nail of his hind foot. He concluded he would have to go hunting for a flint-knife; therefore he set forth. He came after a while to a place where old buildings had stood. Then he began to hum an old magic song, such as, it is said, the ancients sung when they hunted for the flint of which to make knives. He sang in this way:

"Apatsinan tse wash,
Apatsinan tse wash,
Tsepa! Tsepa!"

which may be translated, not perhaps correctly, but well enough:

Fire-striking flint-stone, oh, make yourself known!
Fire-striking flint-stone, oh, make yourself known!
Magically! Magically!

As he was thus crawling about and singing, a Coyote running through the woods overheard him.

He exclaimed: "Uh! I wonder who is singing and what he is saying. Ah, he is hunting for a flint-knife, is he?--evidently somebody who has killed a deer!" He turned back, and ran over to where the old Turtle was. As he neared him, he cried out: "Halloo, friend! Didn't I hear you singing?"

"Yes," was the reply of the Turtle.

"What were you singing?"

"Nothing in particular."

"Yes, you were, too. What were you saying?"

"Nothing in particular, I tell you; at least, nothing that concerns you."

"Yes, you were saying something, and this is what you said." And so the Coyote, who could not sing the song, deliberately repeated the words he had heard.

"Well, suppose I did say so; what of that?" said the Turtle.

"Why, you were hunting for a flint-knife; that is why you said what you did," replied the Coyote.

"Well, what of that?"

"What did you want the flint-knife for?"

"Nothing in particular," replied the Turtle.

"Yes, you did; you wanted it for something. What was it?"

"Nothing in particular, I say," replied the Turtle. "At least, nothing that concerns you."

"Yes, you did want it for something," said the Coyote, "and I know what it was, too."

"Well, what?" asked the Turtle, who was waxing rather angry.

"You wanted it to skin a deer with; that's what you wanted it for. Where is the deer now, come? You have killed a deer and I know it. Tell, where is it."

"Well, it lies over yonder," replied the Turtle.

"Where? Come, let us go; I'll help you skin it."

"I can get along very well without you," replied the Turtle.

"What if I do help you a little? I am very hungry this morning, and would like to lap up the blood."

"Well, then, come along, torment!" replied the Turtle. So, finding a knife, they proceeded to where the deer was lying.

"Let me hold him for you," cried the Coyote. Whereupon he jumped over the deer, spread out its hind legs, and placed a paw on each of them, holding the body open; and thus they began to skin the deer. When they had finished this work, the Coyote turned to the Turtle and asked: "How much of him are you going to give me?"

"The usual parts that fall to anyone who comes along when the hunter is skinning a deer," replied the Turtle.

"What parts?" eagerly asked the Coyote.

"Stomach and liver," replied the Turtle, briefly.

"I won't take that," whined the Coyote. "I want you to give me half of the deer."

"I'll do no such thing," replied the Turtle. "I killed the deer; you only helped to skin him, and you ought to be satisfied with my liberality in giving you the stomach and liver alone. I'll throw in a little fat, to be sure, and some of the intestines; but I'll give you no more."

"Yes, you will, too," snarled the Coyote, showing his teeth.

"Oh, will I?" replied the Turtle, deliberately, hauling in one or two of his flippers.

"Yes, you will; or I'll simply murder you, that's all."

The Turtle immediately pulled his feet, head, and tail in, and cried: "I tell you, I'll give you nothing but the stomach and liver and some of the intestines of this deer!"

"Well, then, I will forthwith kill you!" snapped the Coyote, and he made a grab for the Turtle. Kopo! sounded his teeth as they struck on the hard shell of the Turtle; and, bite as he would, the Turtle simply slipped out of his mouth every time he grabbed him. He rolled the Turtle over and over to find a good place for biting, and held him between his paws as if he were a bone, and gnawed at him; but, do his best, kopo, kopo! his teeth kept slipping off the Turtle's hard shell. At last he exclaimed, rather hotly: "There's more than one way of killing a beast like you!" So he set the Turtle up on end, and, catching up a quantity of sand, stuffed it into the hole where the Turtle's head had disappeared and tapped it well down with a stick until he had completely filled the crevice. "There, now," he exclaimed, with a snicker of delight. "I think I have fixed you now, old Hard shell, and served you right, too, you old stingy-box!"--whereupon he whisked away to the meat.

The Turtle considered it best to die, as it were; but he listened intently to what was going on. The Coyote cut up the deer and made a package of him in his own skin. Then he washed the stomach in a neighboring brook and filled it with choppings of the liver and kidneys, and fat stripped from the intestines, and clots of blood, dashing in a few sprigs of herbs here and there. Then, according to the custom of hunters in all times, he dug an oven in the ground and buried the stomach, in order to make a baked blood-pudding of it while he was summoning his family and friends to help him take the meat home.

The Turtle clawed a little of the sand away from his neck and peered out just a trifle. He heard the Coyote grunting as he tried to lift the meat in order to hang it on a branch of a neighboring pine tree. He was just exclaiming: "What a lucky fellow I am to come on that lame, helpless old wretch and get all this meat from him without the trouble of hunting for it, to be sure! Ah, my dear children, my fine old wife, what a feast we will have this day!"--for you know the Coyote had a large family over the way,--he was just exclaiming this, I say, when the Turtle cried out, faintly: "Natipa!"

"You hard-coated old scoundrel! You ugly, crooked-legged beast! You stingy-box!" snarled the Coyote. "So you are alive, are you?" Dropping the meat, he leaped back to where the Turtle was lying, his head hauled in again, and, jamming every crevice full of sand, made it hard and firm. Then, hitting the Turtle a clip with the tip of his nose, he sent him rolling over and over like a flat, round stone down the slope.

"This is fine treatment to receive from the hands of such a sneaking cur as that," thought the Turtle. "I think I will keep quiet this time and let him do as he pleases. But through my ingenuity I killed the deer, and it may be that through ingenuity I can keep the deer." So the Turtle kept perfectly dead, to all appearances, and the Coyote, leaving the meat hanging on a low branch of a tree and building a fire over the oven he had excavated, whisked away with his tail in the air to his house just the other side of the mountain.

When he arrived there he cried out: "Wife, wife! Children, children! Come, quick! Great news! Killed an enormous deer today. I have made a blood-pudding in his stomach and buried it. Let us go and have a feast; then you must help me bring the meat home."

Those Coyotes were perfectly wild. The cubs, half-grown, with their tails more like sticks than brushes, trembled from the ends of their toe-nails to the tips of their stick-like tails; and they all set off--the old ones ahead, the young ones following single file-as fast as they could toward the place where the blood-pudding was buried.

Now, as soon as the old Turtle was satisfied that the Coyote had left, he dug the sand out of his collar with his tough claws, and, proceeding to the place where the meat hung, first hauled it up, piece by piece, to the very top of the tree; for Turtles have claws, you know, and can climb, especially if the trunk of the tree leans over, as that one did. Having hauled the meat to the very topmost branches of the tree, and tied it there securely, he descended and went over to where the blood-pudding was buried. He raked the embers away from it and pulled it out; then he dragged it off to a neighboring ant-hill where the red fire-ants were congregated in great numbers. Immediately they began to rush out, smelling the cooked meat, and the Turtle, untying the end of the stomach, chucked as many of the ants as he could into it. Then he dragged the pudding back to the fire and replaced it in the oven, taking care that the coals should not get near it.

He had barely climbed the tree again and nestled himself on his bundle of meat, when along came those eager Coyotes. Everything stuck up all over them with anxiety for the feast--their hair, the tips of their ears, and the points of their tails; and as they neared the place and smelt the blood and the cooked meat, they began to sing and dance as they came along, and this was what they sang:

"Na-ti tsa, na-ti tsa!
Tui-ya si-si na-ti tsa!
Tui-ya si-si na-li tsa!
Tui-ya si-si! Tui-ya si-si!"

We will have to translate this--which is so old that who can remember exactly what it means?--thus:

Meat of the deer, meat of the deer!
Luscious fruit-like meat of the deer!
Luscious fruit-like meat of the deer!
Luscious fruit-like! Luscious fruit-like

No sooner had they neared the spot where they smelt the meat than, without looking around at all, they made a bound for it. But the old Coyote grabbed the hindmost of the young ones by the car until he yelped, shook him, and called out to all the rest: "Look you here! Eat in a decent manner or you will burn your chops off! I stuffed the pudding full of grease, and the moment you puncture it, the grease, being hot, will fly out and burn you. Be careful and dignified, children. There is plenty of time, and you shall be satisfied. Don't gorge at the first helping!"

But the moment the little Coyotes were freed, they made a grand bounce for the tempting stomach, tearing it open, and grabbing huge mouthfuls. It may be surmised that the fire-ants were not comfortable. They ran all over the lips and cheeks of the voracious little gourmands and bit them until they cried out, shaking their heads and rubbing them in the sand: "Atu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu!"

"There, now, didn't I tell you, little fools, to be careful? It was the grease that burnt you. Now I hope you know enough to eat a little more moderately. There's plenty of time to satisfy yourselves, I say," cried the old Coyote, sitting down on his haunches.

Then the little cubs and the old woman attacked the delicacy again. "Atu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu!" they exclaimed, shaking their heads and flapping their cars; and presently they all went away and sat down, observing this wonderful hot pudding.

Then the Coyote looked around and observed that the meat was gone, and, following the grease and blood spots up the tree with his eye, saw in the top the pack of meat with the Turtle calmly reclining upon it and resting, his head stretched far out on his hand. The Turtle lifted his head and exclaimed: "Pe-sa-las-ta-i-i-i-i!"

"You tough-hided old beast!" yelled the Coyote, in an ecstasy of rage and disappointment. "Throw down some of that meat, now, will you? I killed that deer; you only helped me skin him; and here you have stolen all the meat. Wife! Children! Didn't I kill the deer?" he cried, turning to the rest.

"Certainly you did, and he's a sneaking old wretch to steal it from you!" they exclaimed in chorus, looking longingly at the pack of meat in the top of the tree.

"Who said I stole the meat from you?" cried out the Turtle. "I only hauled it up here to keep it from being stolen, you villain! Scatter yourselves out to catch some of it. I will throw as fine a pair of ribs down to you as ever you saw. There, now, spread yourselves out and get close together. Ready?" he called, as the Coyotes lay down on their backs side by side and stretched their paws as high as they could eagerly and tremblingly toward the meat.

"Yes, yes!" cried the Coyotes, in one voice. "We are all ready! Now, then!"

The old Turtle took up the pair of ribs, and, catching them in his beak, crawled out to the end of the branch immediately over the Coyotes, and, giving them a good fling, dropped them as hard as he could. Over and over they fell, and then came down like a pair of stones across the bodies of the Coyotes, crushing the wind out of them, so that they had no breath left with which to cry out, and most of them were instantly killed. But the two little cubs at either side escaped with only a hurt or two, and, after yelling fearfully, one of them took his tail between his legs and ran away. The other one, still very hungry, ran off with his tail lowered and his nose to the ground, side-wise, until he had got to a safe distance, and then he sat down and looked up. Presently he thought he would return and eat some of the meat from the ribs.

"Wait!" cried the old Turtle, "don't go near that meat; leave it alone for your parents and brothers and sisters. Really, I am so old and stiff that it took me a long time to get out to the end of that limb, and I am afraid they went to sleep while I was getting there, for see how still they lie."

"By my ancestors!" exclaimed the Coyote, looking at them; "that is so."

"Why don't you come up here and have a feast with me," said the Turtle, "and leave that meat alone for your brothers and sisters and your old ones?"

"How can I get up there?" whined the Coyote, crawling nearer to the tree.

"Simply reach up until you get your paw over one of the branches, and then haul yourself up," replied the Turtle.

The little Coyote stretched and jumped, and, though he sometimes succeeded in getting his paw over the branch, he fell back, flop! every time. And then he would yelp and sing out as though every bone in his body was broken.

"Never mind! never mind cried the Turtle. "I'll come down and help you." So he crawled down the tree, and, reaching over, grabbed the little Coyote by the topknot, and by much struggling he was able to climb up. When they got to the top of the tree the Turtle said, "There, now, help yourself."

The little Coyote fell to and filled himself so full that he was as round as a plum and elastic as a cranberry. Then he looked about and licked his chops and tried to breathe, but couldn't more than half, and said: "Oh, my! if I don't get some water I'll choke!"

"My friend," said the Turtle, "do you see that drop of water gleaming in the sun at the end of that branch of this pine tree?" (It was really pitch.) "Now, I have lived in the tops of trees so much that I know where to go. Trees have springs. Look at that."

The Coyote looked and was convinced.

"Walk out, now, to the end of the branch, or until you come to one of those drops of water, then take it in your mouth and suck, and all the water you want will flow out."

The little Coyote started. He trembled and was unsteady on his legs, but managed to get half way. "Is it here?" he called, turning round and looking back.

"No, a little farther," said the Turtle.

So he cautiously stepped a little farther. The branch was swaying dreadfully. He turned his head, and just as he was saying, "Is it here?" he lost his balance and fell plump to the ground, striking so hard on the tough earth that he was instantly killed.

"There, you wretched beast!" said the old Turtle with a sigh of relief and satisfaction. "Ingenuity enabled me to kill a deer. Ingenuity enabled me to retain the deer."

It must not be forgotten that one of the little Coyotes ran away. He had numerous descendants, and ever since that time they have been characterized by pimples all over their faces where the mustaches grow out, and little blotches inside of their lips, such as you see inside the lips of dogs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blue Corn Maiden and the coming of Winter

Blue Corn Maiden was the prettiest of the corn maiden sisters. The Pueblo People loved her very much, and loved the delicious blue corn that she gave them all year long. Not only was Blue Corn Maiden beautiful, but she also had a kind and gentle spirit. She brought peace and happiness to the People of the Pueblos.

One cold winter day, Blue Corn Maiden went out to gather firewood. This was something she would not normally do. While she was out of her adobe house, she saw Winter Katsina. Winter Katsina is the spirit who brings the winter to the Earth. He wore his blueand-white mask and blew cold wind with his breath. But when Winter Katsina saw Blue Corn Maiden, he loved her at once.

He invited her to come to his house, and she had to go with him. Inside his house, he blocked the windows with ice and the doorway with snow and made Blue Corn Maiden his prisoner. Although Winter Katsina was very kind to Blue Corn Maiden and loved her very much, she was sad living with him. She wanted to go back to her own house and make the blue corn grow for the People of the Pueblos.

Winter Katsina went out one day to do his duties, and blow cold wind upon the Earth and scatter snow over the mesas and valleys. While he was gone, Blue Corn Maiden pushed the snow away from the doorway, and went out of the house to look for the plants and foods she loved to find in summer. Under all the ice and snow, all she found was four blades of yucca.

She took the yucca back to Winter Katsina's house and started a fire. Winter Katsina would not allow her to start a fire when he was in the house.

When the fire was started, the snow in the doorway fell away and in walked Summer Katsina. Summer Katsina carried in one hand fresh corn and in the other many blades of yucca. He came toward his friend Blue Corn Maiden.

Just then, Winter Katsina stormed through the doorway followed by a roar of winter wind. Winter Katsina carried an icicle in his right hand, which he held like a flint knife, and a ball of ice in his left hand, which he wielded like a hand- axe. It looked like Winter Katsina intended to fight with Summer Katsina.

As Winter Katsina blew a blast of cold air, Summer Katsina blew a warm breeze. When Winter Katsina raised his icicle-knife, Summer Katsina raised his bundle of yucca leaves, and they caught fire. The fire melted the icicle.

Winter Katsina saw that he needed to make peace with Summer Katsina, not war. The two sat and talked.

They agreed that Blue Corn Maiden would live among the People of the Pueblos and give them her blue corn for half of the year, in the time of Summer Katsina. The other half of the year, Blue Corn Maiden would live with Winter Katsina and the People would have no corn.

Blue Corn Maiden went away with Summer Katsina, and he was kind to her. She became the sign of springtime, eagerly awaited by the People.

Sometimes, when spring has come already, Winter Katsina will blow cold wind suddenly, or scatter snow when it is not the snow time. He does this just to show how displeased he is to have to give up Blue Corn Maiden for half of the year.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fish-Hawk and his Daughter

An Achomawi Legend

Fish-Hawk lived down at Pit River. When Sun traveled in winter, he left his daughter at home, but he carried her about with him in summer. Sun did not want his daughter to marry any poor person, but a great man, like Pine-Marten, Wolf, or Coyote. Fish-Hawk got angry at Sun because he talked in this way of poor people, so he started and went down to the ocean, to Sun's place, and slipped into the sweat-house. It was winter now, and Sun's daughter was put away inside the house in a basket. Fish-Hawk stole her, carried her on his back to Coyote's house, and hid her away. He made the journey in one night.

Next morning Sun could not find his daughter, and did not know where she had gone. That morning Fish-Hawk took the basket with the woman in it, and put it away under the rocks in muddy water, to hide it so that Sun could not see and could not find his daughter.

Sun searched everywhere in the air and on the ground, but could not find her. Then he hired all men who were good divers or swimmers to hunt in the water, for he thought she was hidden in the water. All searched until they came to Pit River. One would search part of the way, then another. Kingfisher was the last man to go in search of her. He went along slowly to look where the water was muddy. At last he thought he saw just a bit of something under the water. Then he went over the place carefully again and again.

Many people were going along the river, watching these men looking for Sun's daughter. Kingfisher filled his pipe, smoked, and blew on the water to make it clear, for he was a great shaman. Then he went up in the air and came down over the place. The people were all excited, and thought surely he would find something. He came along slowly, and sat and smoked again, and blew the smoke over the water. Then he rose, rolled up his pipe and tobacco, and put them away. Then he took a long pole, stood over the water, pushed his pole down deep, and speared with it until he got hold of the basket and pulled it out. Old Sun came, untied the basket, took his daughter out, washed her, then put her back. He paid each of the men he had hired. Part of their pay was in shells.

Kingfisher said that it was Fish-Hawk who had hidden the basket. Sun put the basket on his back and started home. He was so happy to get his daughter back that he did no harm to Fish-Hawk for stealing her.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Achomawi Myth

An Achomawi Legend

Sixty little spider children shivered as they slept. Snow had fallen every day for months. All the animals were cold, hungry, and frightened. Food supplies were almost gone. No one knew what to do. Blue jay and Redheaded Woodpecker sang and danced for Silver Gray Fox, who floats above the clouds. Since Silver Gray Fox, the creator, had made the whole world with a song and a dance, Blue jay and Woodpecker hoped to be answered with blue skies. But the snow kept falling.

Finally the animals decided to ask Coyote. "Coyote's been around a long time, almost since the beginning. He might know how to reach Silver Gray Fox." They went to the cave where Coyote was sleeping, told him their troubles, and asked for help. "Grrrrowwwlll...go away," grumbled Coyote, "and let me think." Coyote stuck his head into the cold air outside and thought till he caught an idea. He tried singing in little yelps and loud yowls to Silver Gray Fox. Coyote sang and sang, but Silver Gray Fox didn't listen, or didn't want to. After all, it was Coyote's mischief-making when the world was new that had caused Silver Gray Fox to go away beyond the clouds in the first place.

Coyote thought he'd better think some more. Suddenly he saw Spider Woman swinging down on a silky thread from the top of the tallest tree in the forest. "Spider Woman's been on Earth a long, long time," Coyote thought. "She's very wise. I'll ask her what to do." Coyote loped over to the tree and lifted his ears to Spider Woman. "Spider Woman, O wise weaver, O clever one," called Coyote in his sweetest voice, "we're all cold and hungry. Everyone's afraid this winter will never end. Silver Gray Fox doesn't see m to notice. Can you help?" Spider Woman swayed her shining black body back and forth, back and forth, thinking and thinking, thinking and thinking.

Her eight black eyes sparkled when she spoke, "I know how to reach Silver Gray Fox, Coyote, but I'm not the one for the work. Everyone will have to help. You'll need my two youngest children, too. They're little and light as dandelion fluff, and the fastest spinners in my web." Spider Woman called up to her two littlest ones. Spinnnnnn! Spinnnnnn! They came down fast, each spinning on eight little legs, fine, black twin Spider Boys, full of curiosity and fun. Spider Woman said, "My dear little quick ones, are you ready for a great adventure?" "Yes! Yes!" they cried. "We're ready!"

Spider Woman told them her plan, and the Spider Boys set off with Coyote in the snow. They hadn't gone far when they met two White-Footed Mouse Brothers rooting around for seeds to eat. Coyote told them Spider Woman's plan. "Will you help?" he asked. "Yes! Yes! We'll help!" they squeaked, and they all traveled the trail towards Mount Shasta until they met Weasel Man looking hungry and even thinner than usual.

Coyote told Weasel Man his plan. "Will you help?" asked Coyote. "Of course," rasped Weasel Man, joining them on the trail. Before long they came across Red Fox Woman swishing her big fluffy tail through the bushes. "Will you help?" asked "Of course, I'll come," crooned Red Fox Woman. Then Rabbit Woman poked her head out of her hole. "I'll come too," she sneezed, shivering despite her thick fur.

Meadowlark wrapped a winter shawl around her wings, and trudged after the others along the trail to the top of Mount Shasta. The snow had stopped, but the sky was still cloudy. On top of Mount Shasta, Coyote barked, "Will our two best archers step forward?" The two White Footed Mouse Brothers proudly lifted their bows.

"Everyone listen," barked Coyote. "If any one of us is only half-hearted, Spider Woman’s plan will fail. To get through the clouds to Silver Gray Fox, we must each share our powers whole-heartedly, our thoughts, our dreams, our strength, and our songs. Now, you White-Footed Mouse Brothers, I want you to shoot arrows at exactly the same spot in the sky."

Turning to the others, Coyote said, "Spider Boys, start spinning spider silk as fast as you can. Weasel Man, White- Footed Mouse Brothers, Red Fox Woman, Rabbit Woman, and I will sing and make music. We must sing with all our might or the Spider Boys won't make it." "One!" called Coyote. Everyone got ready. "Two!" The animals drew in deep breaths. The Mouse Brothers pulled back their bowstrings. "Three!" Two arrows shot straight up and stuck at the same spot in the clouds.

"Whiff wiff! Wiff wiff!" sang the White Footed Mouse Brothers. "Yiyipyipla!" sang Red Fox Woman. "Wowooooolll!" sang Coyote. Rabbit Woman shook her magic rattle. Weasel Man beat his very old and worn elk-hide drum. The Spider Boys hurled out long lines of spider silk, weaving swiftly with all their legs. The animals sang up a whirlwind of sound to lift the spider silk until it caught on the arrows in the clouds. Then the Spider Twins scurried up the lines of silk and scrambled through the opening.

All the while, down below, the animals continued singing, rattling and drumming. The little Spiders sank, breathless, onto the clouds. Silver Gray Fox spied them and called out, "What are you two doing here?" The Spider Boys bent low on their little legs and answered, "O Silver Gray Fox, we bring greetings from our mother, Spider Woman, and all the creatures of the world below. We've come to ask if you'd please let the sun shine again. The whole world is cold. Everyone is hungry. Everyone is afraid spring will not return, ever."

They were so sincere and polite that Silver Gray Fox became gentler, and asked, "How did you two get up here?" The Spider Boys said "Listen, can you hear the people singing? Can you hear the drum and rattle?" Silver Gray Fox heard the drum and rattle and the people singing. When the Spider Boys finished telling their story, Silver Gray Fox was pleased. "I'm happy when creatures use their powers together. I'm especially glad to hear Coyote's been helping too. Your mother, Spider Woman, made a good plan. To reward all your hard work, I'll create a sign to show that the skies will clear. And you two may help.

"First picture the sun shining bright," called Silver Gray Fox. The Spider Boys thought hard and saw the sun sending out fiery rays in all directions. "Now, where sun-rays meet the damp air," sang Silver Gray Fox, Picture a stripe of red, Red as Woodpecker's head, Add a stripe nearby of bluest Blue Jay blue. The Spider Boys thought hard, and great stripes appeared of red and blue. Silver Gray Fox chanted, Now in between, Add stripes of orange, yellow and green! The Spider Boys thought hard. Then, dazzling their eyes, a beautiful bright arc of colors curved across the whole sky above the clouds. It was the very first rainbow.

Meanwhile, down below, beneath the clouds, the animals and people were so cold, hungry, and tired that they had stopped singing and drumming. Spider Woman missed her two youngest children. Each day she missed them more. She blamed Coyote for the trouble. So did the other animals. Coyote slipped away silent, lonely and sad. Above, on the clouds, the Twins rested. Their legs ached and their minds were tired.

Silver Gray Fox said, "You did what I asked and kept it secret. That's very difficult, so I'm giving you a special reward. On wet mornings, when the sun starts to shine, you'll see what I mean." Then the Spider Boys spun down to Earth, and ran back to their mother as fast as they could. Spider Woman cried for joy and wrapped all her legs around her two littlest children. Their fifty-eight sisters and brothers jumped up and down with happiness. All the animals gathered around to hear the Spiders story. When they finished, the Spider Boys cried, "Look up!" Everyone looked up. The clouds had drifted apart. There, bridging sky to earth in a radiant arch, was the very first rainbow.

Sun began to warm the earth. Shoots of grass pushed up through the melting snow. Meadowlark blew her silver whistle of spring across the valley, calling streams and rivers awake. Coyote came out of hiding, raced to a distant hilltop, and gave a long, long howl of joy. The animals held a great feast to honor the rainbow, Silver Gray Fox, Spider Woman, the Spider Twins, Coyote, and the hard work everyone had done together.

To this day, after the rain, when the sun comes out, dewdrops on spider webs shine with tiny rainbows. This is the spiders' special reward. You can see for yourself.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Achomawi Creation Myth

Native American Legends
Achomawi Creation Myth
An Achomawi Legend

In the beginning all was water. In all directions the sky was clear and unobstructed. A cloud formed in the sky, grew lumpy, and turned into Coyote. Then a fog arose, grew lumpy, and became Silver-Fox. They became persons. Then they thought. They thought a canoe, and they said, "Let us stay here, let us make it our home." Then they floated about, for many years they floated; and the canoe became old and mossy, and they grew weary of it.

"Do you go and lie down," said Silver-Fox to Coyote, and he did so. While he slept, Silver-Fox combed his hair, and the combings he saved. When there was much of them, he rolled them in his hands, stretched them out, and flattened them between his hands. When he had done this, he laid them upon the water and spread them out, till they covered all the surface of the water. Then he thought, "There should be a tree," and it was there. And he did the same way with shrubs and with rocks, and weighted the film down with stones, so that the film did not wave and rise in ripples as it floated in the wind. And thus he made it, that it was just right, this that was to be the world. And then the canoe floated gently up to the edge, and it was the world.

Then he cried to Coyote, "Wake up! We are going to sink!"

And Coyote woke, and looked up; and over his head, as he lay, hung cherries and plums; and from the surface of the world he heard crickets chirping. And at once Coyote began to cat the cherries and the plums, and the crickets also.

After a time Coyote said, "Where are we? What place is this that we have come to?"

And Silver-Fox replied, "I do not know. We are just here. We floated up to the shore."

Still all the time he knew; but he denied that he had made the world. He did not want Coyote to know that the world was his creation. Then Silver-Fox said, "What shall we do? Here is solid ground. I am going ashore, and am going to live here."

So they landed, and built a sweat-house and lived in it. They thought about making people; and after a time, they made little sticks of service-berry, and they thrust them all about into the roof of the house on the inside. And by and by all became people of different sorts, birds and animals and fish, all but the deer, and he was as the deer are today. And Pine-Marten was the chief of the people; and Eagle was the woman chief, for she was Pine- Marten's sister. And this happened at 'texcag-wa [the word will not translate].

And people went out to hunt from the sweat-house. And they killed deer, and brought them home, and had plenty to eat. Arrows with pine-bark points were what they used then, it is said, for there was no obsidian. And Ground-Squirrel, of all the people, he only knew where obsidian could be found. So he went to steal it.

To Medicine Lake he went, for there Obsidian-Old-Man lived, in a big sweat- house. And Ground-Squirrel went in, taking with him roots in a basket of tules. And he gave the old man some to eat; and he liked them so much, that he sent Ground-Squirrel out to get more. But while he was digging them Grizzly-Bear came, and said, "Sit down! Let me sit in your lap. Feed me those roots by handfuls."

So Ground-Squirrel sat down, and fed Grizzly-Bear as he had asked, for he was afraid. Then Grizzly-Bear said, "Obsidian-Old-Man's mother cleaned roots for some one," and went away.

Ground-Squirrel went back to the sweat- house, but had few roots, for Grizzly-Bear had eaten so many. Then he gave them to the old man, and told him what the bear had said about him, and how he had robbed him of the roots. Then Obsidian-Old-Man was angry. "Tomorrow we will go," he said, Then they slept.

In the morning they ate breakfast early and went off, and the old man said that Ground-Squirrel should go and dig more roots, and that he would wait, and watch for Grizzly-Bear.

So Ground-Squirrel went and dug; and when the basket was filled, Grizzly-Bear came, and said, "You have dug all these for me. Sit down!"

So Ground-Squirrel sat down, and fed Grizzly-Bear roots by the handful. But Obsidian-Old-Man had come near. And Grizzly-Bear got up to fight, and he struck at the old man; but he turned his side to the blow, and Grizzly-Bear merely cut off a great slice of his own flesh. And he kept on fighting, till he was all cut to pieces, and fell dead. Then Ground-Squirrel and Obsidian-Old-Man went home to the sweat-house, and built a fire, and ate the roots, and were happy. Then the old man went to sleep.

In the morning Obsidian-Old-Man woke up, and heard Ground-Squirrel groaning. He said, "I am sick. I am bruised because that great fellow sat upon me. Really, I am sick."

Then Obsidian-Old-Man was sorry, but Ground-Squirrel was fooling the old man. After a while the old man said, "I will go and get wood. I'll watch him, for perhaps he is fooling me. These people are very clever."

Then he went for wood; and he thought as he went, "I had better go back and look."

So he went back softly, and peeped in; but Ground-Squirrel lay there quiet, and groaned, and now and then he vomited up green substances. Then Obsidian-Old -Man thought, "He is really sick," and he went off to get more wood; but Ground-Squirrel was really fooling, for he wanted to steal obsidian.

When the old man had gotten far away, Ground-Squirrel got up, poured out the finished obsidian points, and pulled out a knife from the wall, did them up in a bundle, and ran off with them.

When the old man came back, he carried a heavy load of wood; and as soon as he entered the sweat-house, he missed Ground-Squirrel. So he dropped the wood and ran after him. He almost caught him, when Ground-Squirrel ran into a hole, and, as he went, kicked the earth into the eyes of the old man, who dug fast, trying to catch him.

Soon Ground-Squirrel ran out of the other end of the hole; and then the old man gave chase again, but again Ground-Squirrel darted into a hole; and after missing him again, Obsidian-Old-Man gave up, and went home.

Ground-Squirrel crossed the river and left his load of arrow-points, and came back to the house and sat down in his seat. He and Cocoon slept together. Then his friend said, "Where have you been?"

And Ground-Squirrel replied, "I went to get a knife and to get good arrow-points. We had none."

Then the people began to come back with deer. And when they cooked their meat, they put it on the fire in lumps; but Ground-Squirrel and Cocoon cut theirs in thin slices, and so cooked it nicely.

And Weasel saw this, and they told him about how the knife had been secured. In the morning Ground-Squirrel went and brought back the bundle of points he had hidden, and handed it down through the smoke-hole to Wolf. Then he poured out the points on the ground, and distributed them to every one, and all day long people worked, tying them onto arrows. So they threw away all the old arrows with bark points; and when they went hunting, they killed many deer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Strange Origin of Corn

A long time ago, when the Indians were first made, one man lived alone, far from any others. He did not know fire, and so he lived on roots, bark, and nuts. This man became very lonely for companionship.

He grew tired of digging roots, lost his appetite, and for several days lay dreaming in the sunshine. When he awoke, he saw someone standing near and, at first, was very frightened.

But when he heard the stranger's voice, his heart was glad, and he looked up. He saw a beautiful woman with long light hair! "Come to me," he whispered. But she did not, and when he tried to approach her, she moved farther away. He sang to her about his loneliness, and begged her not to leave him.

At last she replied, "If you will do exactly what I tell you to do, I will also be with you."

He promised that he would try his very best. So she led him to a place where there was some very dry grass. "Now get two dry sticks," she told him, "and rub them together fast while you hold them in the grass."

Soon a spark flew out. The grass caught fire, and as swiftly as an arrow takes flight, the ground was burned over. Then the beautiful woman spoke again: "When the sun sets, take me by the hair and drag me over the burned ground."

"Oh, I don't want to do that!" the man exclaimed.

"You must do what I tell you to do," said she. "Wherever you drag me, something like grass will spring up, and you will see something like hair coming from between the leaves. Soon seeds will be ready for your use."

The man followed the beautiful woman's orders. And when the Indians see silk on the cornstalk, they know that the beautiful woman has not forgotten them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Story of the Drum

An Abenaki Legend

It is said that when Creator was giving a place for all the spirits to dwell who would be taking part in the inhabitance of Mother Earth, there came a sound, a loud BOOM, from off in the distance.

As Creator listened, the sound kept coming closer and closer until it finally it was right in front of Creator. "Who are you?" asked Creator. "I am the spirit of the drum" was the reply. I have come here to ask you to allow me to take part in this wonderful thing." "How will you take part?" Creator questioned." I would like to accompany the singing of the people. When they sing from their hearts, I will to sing as though I was the heartbeat of Mother Earth. In that way, all creation will sing in harmony. "Creator granted the request, and from then on, the drum accompanied the people's voices.

Throughout all of the indigenous peoples of the world, the drum is the center of all songs. It is the catalyst for the spirit of the songs to rise up to the Creator so that the prayers in those songs reach where they were meant to go. At all times, the sound of the drum brings completeness, awe, excitement, solemnity, strength, courage, and the fulfillment to the songs. It is Mother's heartbeat giving her approval to those living upon her. It draws the eagle to it, who carries the message to Creator.

It changes people's lives!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rabbit Calls A Truce

An Abenaki Legend

In the long ago when Glooscap ruled over the Wabanaki, there lived two lively animals, Keoonik the Otter, and Ableegumooch the Rabbit, who were forever playing tricks on each other.

One day, when Keoonik was in swimming, Ableegumooch ran off with a string of eels he had left on the shore. Keoonik rushed out of the water and went in angry pursuit. He had no difficulty in tracking the rabbit, for the mark of the fish, touching the ground between jumps, clearly showed the way. He was astonished, however, when the trail ended at a clearing in the woods where a withered old woman sat by a small fire.

"Kwah-ee, Noogumee," said Keoonik, using the formal address for an elderly female. "Did you see a rabbit hopping this way, dragging a string of eels?"

"Rabbit? Rabbit?" muttered the old woman. "What kind of animal is that?"

The otter explained that it was a small brown jumping creature with long ears and a short tail.

"I saw no such animal," the old squaw grumbled, "but I'm glad you came along, for I'm cold and sick. Do please gather a little wood for my fire."

Obligingly, Keoonik went off to do so. Returning with the wood, he stared around in surprise. The old woman was gone. On the spot where she had sat, he saw the mark of a rabbit's haunches, and familiar paw-prints leading away in to the woods. Then he remembered that Ableegumooch was very clever at changing his appearance and fooling people.

"Oh, that miserable rabbit!" cried Keoonik and set off again on the trail. This time the tracks led straight to a village of the Penobscot Indians, where Keoonik could see the rabbit in conversation with a thin sad man wearing the feather of a Chief in his hair string. The wily otter cut himself a stout stick and waited behind a tree. Presently, Ableegumooch came strolling down the path, his face creased in an absent-minded frown.

Keoonik was ready for him. He brought the stick down on the rabbit's head with a thud, and Ableegumooch collapsed on the grass.

"That should teach him," thought Keoonik, with satisfaction, and he sat down to wait for the rabbit to recover.

Presently Ableegumooch came to his senses and staggered to his feet with a dazed expression.

"What did you do with my eels?" demanded Keoonik.

"I gave them to the Indians," muttered the rabbit, exploring the bump on his head with a groan. "What did you do that for, you silly creature?"

"Those Penobscots are starving, Keoonik," said the rabbit. "For many moons someone has been stealing their food."

"Just the same," grumbled Keoonik, "those were my eels."

The rabbit thumped his hind legs on the ground with an air of great determination.

"Keoonik, we must find the robbers and punish them!"

"We?" asked Keoonik in astonishment.

"Yes, you and I," said his companion firmly. "Let there be a truce between us until we discover the thieves."

Keoonik thought to himself that Ableegumooch was a fine one to complain of people stealing other people's food! However, he too felt sorry for the Penobscots.

"All right," he agreed. "We'll have a truce," and they shook hands solemnly. Then they started back to the village to ask the Chief what they might do to help, but when they were still some way off they saw two other animals talking to him. These were Uskoos the Weasel and Abukcheech the Mouse, two animals so troublesome even their own families would have nothing to do with them.

"Let's listen," whispered Ableegumooch, drawing Keoonik behind a tree.

"We will find those robbers for you, Chief," they heard Uskoos say. "Don't you worry about a thing."

"You can depend on us," chimed in Abukcheech.

Ableegumooch nudged the otter.

"Did you hear that?"

"I heard," said Keoonik. "So the Indians don't need our help after all."

"I wonder," said the rabbit thoughtfully.

"What do you wonder? And why are we whispering?"

"Shhh! Let's think about it a little, Keoonik. Have you any idea how those two get their living? They sleep all day and go hunting only after dark."

"Some of us like to hunt after dark," Keoonik said fairly.

"Well, but listen," said the rabbit. "All the fur robes in the camp have been chewed and scratched and spoiled. What animals chew and scratch wherever they go?"

"Weasels and mice," answered Keoonik promptly. "Very well. Let's follow them and see what happens."

So Keoonik and Ableegumooch, keeping out of sight themselves, followed the weasel and the mouse a very long way, to a large burrow in the side of a hill where a number of other weasels and mice of bad reputation were gathered. All greeted Uskoos and Abukcheech and listened to what they had to say, while the rabbit and otter, hidden behind a blueberry bush, listened too.

"We were very sympathetic," smirked Uskoos, "and said we would help them."

"So now they won't suspect us," said Abukcheech, and all the mice and weasels chortled gleefully.

"It is time now," said Uskoos, "to call all the animals together and plan the conquest of the Penobscots. For we are smarter than the Indians and deserve to have all the food for ourselves."

"Very true!" all shouted.

"How will we get the rest to join us?" asked Abukcheech.

"The smaller ones will be afraid to say no to us," declared Uskoos. "We will use trickery on the others. We will tell them the Penobscots plan to destroy all the animals in the land, and we must unite in order to defend ourselves."

"Then, with Wolf and Bear and Moose to help us," cried Abukcheech, "we'll soon have all the Indians at our mercy!"

The otter and the rabbit could hardly believe their ears. Someone must warn the Indians.

"Come on," whispered Keoonik, but the rabbit only crouched where he was, tense and unmoving. The fact is, he wanted to sneeze! Ableegumooch wanted to sneeze more than he ever wanted to sneeze in his life before, but he mustn't sneeze--the sound would give them away. So he tried and he tried to hold that sneeze back. He pressed his upper lip, he grew red in the face, and his eyes watered-- but nothing was any good.


Instantly, the weasels and mice pounced on Keoonik and Ableegumooch and dragged them out of hiding.

"Spies!" growled Uskoos.

"Kill them, kill them!" screamed Abukcheech.

"I have a better plan," said Uskoos. "These two will be our first recruits." Then he told the prisoners they must become members of his band, or be killed.

Poor Ableegumooch. Poor Keoonik. They did not wish to die, yet they could never do as the thieves wished, for the Penobscots were their friends. Ableegumooch opened his mouth, meaning to defy the villains no matter what the consequences, and then his mouth snapped shut. He had heard a strange sound, the sound of a flute piping far away, and he knew what it was. It was the magic flute of Glooscap, and the Great Chief was sending him a message.

Into the rabbit's head popped the memory of something Glooscap had said to him once long ago, half in fun, half in earnest. "Ableegumooch," he seemed to hear the words again, "the best way to catch a snake is to think like a snake!" At once the rabbit understood. He set himself to think like the mice and the weasels, feeling the greed and selfishness that was in them. Then he had a plan.

"Very well," he said, "we will join you. Those Indians are certainly very cruel and dishonest. They deserve the worst that can happen to them. Why, only yesterday"--and here he gave Keoonik a secret nudge--"my friend and I saw them hide away a great store of food in a secret place. Didn't we, Keoonik?"

"Oh, yes, certainly," stammered Keoonik, wondering what trick the rabbit was up to now.

The weasels and mice jumped about in mad excitement. "Where? Where? Where is this place?"

"Take us there at once!" cried Uskoos, licking his lips.

"Certainly," said Ableegumooch, starting old towards the woods. "Just follow us."

Abukcheech the Mouse was right at their heels, but Uskoos soon shouldered him aside. Then each animal fought to be in front, and in this way all rushed through the forest, across the meadows, down into the valleys and over the hills, until at last--pushing and panting and grunting--they all reached the bottom of a grassy hill. Ableegumooch pointed to a pile of rocks at the top.

"You will find the wealth you seek up there," he cried. "Hurry, hurry! The best will go to those who get there first."

Away they all went, each struggling to be first. The rabit and the otter stood aside and watched as the wild mob scrambled up the hill--up and up until suddenly, too late to stop, they found themselves teetering on the edge of a cliff, with nothing in front of them but space, and the sea far below. Those who were first tried to stop but were pushed over by those crowding behind-- and so, screaming with terror, down they all went, headlong into the sea.

"Well," said Keoonik, peering over the edge of the cliff with a shiver, "their tribes are well rid of them."

"So are the Penobscots," said the rabbit. "And now that together we have saved our friends from the mice and the weasels, Keoonik, let us go home together in peace as good neighbors should."

"I'm willing," said the otter, but he had no sooner taken a step than he sprawled on the ground. Ableegumooch had tripped him.

"That's for the knock on the head!" the rabbit laughed, and made for the woods. Picking himself up furiously, Keoonik was after him, shouting, "Just wait till I catch you, I'll teach you to play tricks!" Their truce was over.

And Glooscap, looking down from Blomidon, laughed at their antics, for he knew that with all their mischief there was no greed or spite in the hearts of Keoonik and Ableegumooch, against the Indians or against each other.

Once more, kespeadooksit, the story ends.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oochigeas and the Invisible Boy

An Abenaki Legend

There was once a Malicete Indian village on the edge of a lake in the land of the Wabanaki, and in this village lived three sisters. The two older girls, Oona and Abit, were handsome and proud, but the youngest, whom they called Oochigeas, was timid and plain. She suffered much from the selfishness of her sisters, but bore all their ill-treatment without complaint.

Because these girls had no parents, they were given meat by the tribe's hunters in return for making pottery. Through much practice, they had become the best makers of pots in the village. And this is how they made them. First Oona, the eldest, wove a basket from ash splints, then Abit lined it with wet clay. Finally, it was given to the youngest girl to harden in the fire. As the clay slowly baked, the wind blew the fire into Oochigeas' face, and in time her hair was singed close to her head and her face covered with burns. And that is why her sisters mocked her with the name of Oochigeas, which means "little scarred one."

Now Glooscap the Great Chief knew all his People. He saw the misery of Oochigeas and pitied her, and he scowled at the cruelty of her sisters, yet he did nothing. And this was something that Marten, his servant, could not understand.

"My elder brother," said Marten, "though she is plain, her heart is kind. Can you not help her?"

"We will see," said the Great Chief with a wise nod. "Oochigeas must help herself first. Kindness is a great virtue, but courage is the first rule of my People."

Now on the far side of the lake, remote from the village, there lived an Indian youth called Team, who had the wonderful power of making himself invisible. To all save his sister he was as the rustle of a leaf in the forest, a sigh of wind in the treetops, or a breath of air in the heavens. His name meant "moose" and the moose was his totem, or charm, that gave him his power. Having this magical power, Team needed no bow and arrow. He could walk straight up to game, without being seen or heard, and slay it with his bare hands. One day, Team's sister appeared in the village.

"My brother is tired of living alone," she said to the people. "Team will marry the first girl who is able to see him."

Now, though no person had seen Team, or knew if he was tall or short, fat or thin, plain or handsome, yet they knew of his magic power and his great success in hunting. To the Indians, who live by hunting, a brave who can keep meat in his lodge all the time is admired above all others. He is a kind of prince. It is no wonder that every maiden in the village yearned to become the bride of the Invisible Boy. All the unmarried maidens were eager to try their fortune and, one after another, each made a visit to the lodge across the lake. And, one after another, each came back disappointed. At last, all had made the attempt except the three Sisters.

"Now it is my turn," said Oona. "I'm sure I shall be able to see him."

"You indeed!" sniffed Abit. "I'm as likely to see him as you are. Why should you go first?" "I am the eldest!" "Team is sure to want a younger woman!"

The two sisters glared at each other.

"You needn't think I shall let you go alone," declared Oona angrily. "Then we'll go together," said Abit. And so they did. Dressing themselves in their finest robes, they set off for the lodge across the lake. Team's sister received them kindly and took them to the wigwam to rest after their journey. Then, when it was time for her brother's return, she led them to the shore.

"Do you see my brother?" she asked. The two girls gazed eagerly out over the lake. They saw a canoe approaching, but though it moved swiftly through the water, it appeared to be empty! No paddle could be seen, for whatever Team held or wore became also invisible.

Abit thought to herself that she would pretend to see him, and Team's sister would never know the difference. "I see him!" she cried. And Oona, not to be outdone, echoed, "Yes! I see him too!" Team's sister knew that at least one of the girls lied, for only one maiden would be allowed to see her brother and that would be his future bride.

"Of what is his shoulder strap made?" she asked. The two girls thought for a moment. They knew that, generally, Indians used rawhide or withe for their shoulder straps. "A strip of rawhide," guessed Abit. "No--withe!" cried Oona.

Then Team's sister knew that neither had seen her brother and she resolved to punish them for their dishonesty. "Very well," she said quietly. "Come to the wigwam and help me prepare my brother's supper."

The two girls were anxious to know which of them had given the correct answer, so they followed Team's sister and helped her prepare the meal. Each hoped that she alone would see Team when he came. When all was ready, the sister of Team warned the girls not to sit in her brother's place but to remain on her side of the fire. Then, looking up, she greeted her brother, but the girls could see no one.

"Take my brother's load of meat," she told Abit, who looked around her in dismay. As long as the meat was on Team's shoulder, it could not be seen. Suddenly, a great load of venison dropped from nowhere on Abit's toes. Abit screamed and ran from the lodge in pain and fright. Now Team's sister told Oona to remove her brother's wet moccasins and put them to dry. Of course Oona could not do so. A pair of wet moccasins came suddenly sailing through the air and slapped her across the face. Then Oona too ran away, crying with mortification.

"My bride is a long time coming," sighed Team. "And those were very fine looking girls." "Patience, my brother. You must have one who is brave and truthful, as well as lovely, and such a one has not come yet." Abit and Oona returned home to vent their rage and spite on poor Oochigeas. To escape their cruelty, she fled to the woods and there, in a secluded spot, relieved her heart with tears. But when there were no tears left, and her spirit had been calmed by the peace of the forest, Oochigeas began to think. Now that her sisters had failed, she was the only maid left in the village who had not tried to see the Invisible Boy. Yet, if her fine sisters had failed, what chance had she, poor and plain as she was? A great hunter like Team would not wish a scar-faced girl like Oochigeas for a bride. All the same, hope stirred in her breast. Her heart began to beat fast at the thought of going to Team's lodge. She had no fine clothes to wear. Her sisters might try to stop her. The people would laugh. It would take courage. Her mind was made up!

Oochigeas gathered sheets of birch bark and cut out a gown and cap and leggings, and sewed them together with grass. The clothing was stiff and awkward, and it crackled when she walked, but it covered her. Then she went home and found a pair of Oona's discarded moccasins. They were huge on her small feet and she had to tie them on by winding the strings around her ankles. She was truly an odd-looking sight, and her two sisters stared at her in amazement. "Where are you going in that ridiculous outfit?" Oona asked. "I am going to Team's lodge," answered Oochigeas. "What! You foolish girl! Come back!" "Oh, let her go," said Abit. "Let the people see her and she'll come back soon enough, in tears."

Oochigeas' way lay through the village, and the men and boys shouted and jeered at her. "Shame, shame!" "Ugly creature!" "See how her burned hair sticks out from her cap!" "Why does she wear birch bark instead of skins?" "Come back, Oochigeas. Where do you think you're going? To see Team?" And they laughed so hard they rolled on the ground. But, though her heart burned with shame, Oochigeas pretended not to hear, and walked on with her head high, until she was out of their sight. Then she hurried through the woods and around the edge of the lake, trying not to think of the ordeal ahead. Doubtless Team's sister would laugh at her too. Still she went on, and came at last to the lodge and saw Team's sister at the door.

"I have come," gasped Oochigeas before the other could speak, "I have come--to see Team--if I can." And she looked pleadingly at Team's sister. "Come in and rest," said the sister of Team gently, and Oochigeas nearly wept at the unexpected kindness, but she managed to retain her dignity as they waited in silence for the sun to go down. Then Team's sister led her to the lake.

"Do you see my brother?" she asked. Oochigeas looked and saw a canoe, empty. She heard the dip of a paddle and the swish of the water at the bow, but though she gazed with all her might, she saw no one. She whispered with a sinking heart, "No, I cannot see him."

"Look again," urged Team's sister, out of pity, and be cause the girl had so far been truthful. Oochigeas gazed once more at the canoe, and suddenly gave a gasp.

"Oh! Yes! Now I see him!" "If you see him," said Team's sister quickly, "of what is his shoulder strap made?" "Why it is made of a rainbow," marveled Oochigeas, and Team's sister knew her brother had found his bride. She led the girl back to the wigwam and stripped off her ugly clothes, bathed her, and dressed her in doeskin, then gave her a comb to tidy her hair.

"Alas," thought Oochigeas, "I have so little hair to comb," but as she drew the comb against her head, she found to her amazement that her hair had grown suddenly long and thick. Moreover, the scars had gone from her face. She was beautiful!

Then the handsome Team came, laughing, and crying out, "At last I've found you, my lovely bride." And he led her to the wife's place in the wigwam. And from that day on, Oochigeas and Team, and Team's sister, lived out their days in peace and happiness. Far away on Blomidon, Glooscap looked at Marten with a wise smile. He had known all along, you see, that Oochigeas had courage under her gentleness, and a brave spirit makes all things possible. And so it happened.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Glooscap Created Sugarloaf Mountain

An Abenaki Legend

A long time ago, the people used to live near the riverbanks in the summer time, and they could watch all the salmon going up the river to spawn. One day, they noticed the salmon could not get up the river anymore.

Remember, in those days the beaver were very, very big. And they had built a dam across the Restigouche River. That is why the salmon could not get up the river to spawn.

The people were very upset indeed! Because they knew if the salmon could not get up the river to have their babies, there would be no more salmon and they would have none for food in the winter.

So they held a council with all the people. They said that they didn't want to rely on Glooscap. They decided they would go out in their canoes to fight the beavers.

The men got in their canoes but when they got close to the beavers, they splashed the water with their huge tails. The canoes and the men went flying up into the air and fell into the water. They could not get past the beavers in order to destroy the dam. The beavers were just too big.

So they swam ashore and they reconsidered calling Glooscap. At the time, Loon was Glooscap's messenger. They asked Loon to call him.

Loon made his wailing sound and called Glooscap. It was carried across the water to Glooscap, and our friend soon came riding on the back of his whale.

Glooscap asked them, "Why did you call me?"

They tell him about the beavers and how they had made a dam all the way across the river, and how the salmon could no longer get up the river to spawn.

They say that they will not have any more salmon to eat if they can't get up the river and have their babies.

So Glooscap walked to the middle of the dam and hit it with his club. When he hit the dam, parts of it flew away. One of these parts became an island. It is now called Heron Island. Another part that flew away is now called Bantry Point.

Glooscap caught the leader of the beavers and swung him around and around by his tail. When Glooscap let go, the beaver landed many miles away and turned into rock. Today, that rock is called Sugarloaf Mountain.

Glooscap then turned to the other beavers. They were afraid, so instead, he stroked their heads. And with each stroke, they became smaller and smaller, until they reached the size they are today.

Glooscap promised the people that the beavers in New Brunswick would never grow that big again. The beavers will not build a dam so big that it stops the salmon from getting through. The people will never have to worry about that problem again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Native American Legends Everyday

Gluskabe Changes Maple Syrup

An Abenaki Legend

Long ago, the Creator made and gave many gifts to man to help him during his life. The Creator made the lives of the Abenaki People very good, with plenty of food to gather, grow, and hunt. The Maple tree at that time was one of these very wonderful and special gifts from the Creator. The sap was as thick and sweet as honey. All you had to do was to break the end off of a branch and the syrup would flow out.

In these days Gluskabe would go from native village to village to keep an eye on the People for the Creator. One day Gluskabe came to an abandoned village. The village was in disrepair, the fields were over-grown, and the fires had gone cold. He wondered what had happened to the People.

He looked around and around, until he heard a strange sound. As he went towards the sound he could tell that it was the sound of many people moaning. The moaning did not sound like people in pain but more like the sound of contentment. As he got closer he saw a large stand of beautiful maple trees. As he got closer still he saw that all the people were lying on their backs under the trees with the end of a branch broken off and dripping maple syrup into their mouths.

The maple syrup had fattened them up so much and made them so lazy that they could barely move. Gluskabe told them to get up and go back to their village to re-kindle the fires and to repair the village. But the people did not listen. They told him that they were content to lie there and to enjoy the maple syrup.

When Gluskabe reported this to the Creator, it was decided that it was again time that man needed another lesson to understand the Creator's ways. The Creator instructed Gluskabe to fill the maple trees with water. So Gluskabe made a large bucket from birch bark and went to the river to get water. He added water, and added more water until the sap was that like water. Some say he added a measure of water for each day between moons, or nearly 30 times what it was as thick syrup. After a while the People began to get up because the sap was no longer so thick and sweet.

They asked Gluskabe "where has our sweet drink gone?" He told them that this is the way it will be from now on. Gluskabe told them that if they wanted the syrup again that they would have to work hard to get it. The sap would flow sweet only once a year before the new year of spring.

The People were shown that making syrup would take much work. Birch bark buckets would need to be made to collect the sap. Wood would be needed to be gathered to make fires to heat rocks, and the rocks would be needed to be put into the sap to boil the water out to make the thick sweet syrup that they once were so fond of. He also told them that they could get the sap for only a short time each year so that they would remember the error of their ways.

And so it is still to this day, each spring the Abenaki people remember Gluskabe's lesson in honoring Creator's gifts and work hard to gather the maple syrup they love so much. Nialach!