Cherokee Morning Song

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Native Stories 1

| & customs.

It's a great place to sit back, relax & learn about native ways, our teachings & stories.

We hope you enjoy your time here.


Algonquin word for  "thank you." 

A Cherokee Legend

In the long ago time, there was a Cherokee Clan called the Ani-Tsa-gu-hi 
(Ahnee-Jah-goo-hee), and in one family of this clan was a boy who used to leave home and be gone all day in the mountains.

After awhile he went more often and stayed longer, until at last he would not 
eat in the house at all,starting off at daybreak and not coming back until night.

His parents scolded, but that did no good, and the boy still went every day 
until they noticed that long brown hair was beginning to grow out all over his body. Then they wondered and asked him why it was that he wanted to be so much in the woods that he would not even eat at home.

Said the boy, "I find plenty to eat there, and it is better than the corn 
and beans we have in the settlements, and pretty soon I am going into the woods to say all the time."

His parents were worried and begged him not leave them, but he said, "It is 
better there than here, and you see I am beginning to be different already, so that I can not live here any longer. If you will come with me, there is plenty for all of us and you will never have to work for it; but if you want to come, you must first fast seven days."

The father and mother talked it over and then told the headmen of the clan. 

They held a council about the matter and after everything had been said they decided: "Here we must work hard and have not always enough. There he says is always plenty without work. We will go with him."

So they fasted seven days, and on the seventh morning al the Ani-Tsa-gu-hi 
left the settlement and started for the mountains as the boy led the way.

When the people of the other towns heard of it they were very sorry and sent 
their headmen to persuade the Ani-Tsa-gu-hi to stay at home and not go into the woods to live. The messengers found them already on the way, and were surprised to notice that their bodies were beginning to be covered with hair like that of animals, because for seven days they had not taken human food and their nature was changing.

The Ani-Tsa-gu-hi would not come back, but said, "We are going where there 
is always plenty to eat. 

From now on, we shall be called Yonva (bears), and when you yourselves are hungry come into the woods and call us and we shall come to give you our own flesh. You need not be afraid to kill us, for we shall live always."

Then they taught the messengers the songs with which to call them and bear 
hunters have these songs still. When they had finished the songs, the Ani-Tsa-gu-hi started on again and the messengers turned back to the settlements, but after going a little way they looked back and saw a drove of bears going into the woods.

A ga-n becomes Raven Old Man's Son-In-Law: The ga-n Disappear from 

A White Mountain Apache Legend

Long ago people, all kinds of birds and animals were people then were living 
up to the north of here somewhere. Hawk people were humans then. They did not know that ga-n people were living down m the earth, below. Then Raven Old Man was there with the Raven people. He had children and one of these was a beautiful daughter. The ga-n people below knew about her. The old man and his family were in their wickiup.

 Soon they heard something drop outside. 

Raven Old Man heard it. "What is that, cibi'lsis (a buck-skin pouch hung over one shoulder and resting on the hip on opposite side) maybe ?" the old man said. The girl went out and found two pack rats. She brought them in and they ate them.

Four days after this the old man heard something drop outside. "Go and see 
if cibi-Isis is there," he said, though all the time he knew his own was in the wickiup. So the daughter went outside and found two rabbits. She brought them in and they ate them up.

Four days after that they heard something drop again. "Go out and see if 
cibi'lsis is there," the old man told his daughter. She went out and found two jack rabbits. "Here are two jack rabbits," she said. "Well, bring them in and we will eat them," the old man told her.

Then four days later something dropped outside. The old man sent his daughter 
out to see if it was his pouch. When she got outside she found a black-tailed deer fawn. "Here is a black tail deer fawn" she said. "Well, bring it in," the old man told her. So they did and ate it up.

Four days after that something dropped once more outside. The old man sent 
his daughter out to see if it was his pouch. She went out and this time it was a black-tailed deer with two points on his horns. They butchered and ate him.

Then four days later something dropped outside again. "What's that, 
cibi-lsis ?" the old man said. He sent out his daughter and she found a big black-tailed deer. They butchered and ate him. Raven Old Man was very thankful for that.

Four days after that the old man heard something drop outside. He sent his 
daughter out. "See if this is cibi-lsis that has dropped there," he told her. 

So the girl went out and found an enormous black-tailed deer, the kind that is all fat and in good shape, like you get in the fall. They butchered and ate it Raven Old Man was thankful for this.

Then Raven Old Man said to this daughter. "Well, daughter, this is what I 
have raised you for. We have eaten a lot of meat from someone. Build a new wickiup over to one side here and we will find out who it is what is doing. 
No one was in it. The old man stayed with his family in their dwelling. 

Soon they saw someone in the new wickiup. The girl went over there. She stayed there with that man. He was her man now.

After they had stayed together for quite a while, the man and woman went out 
for a walk together. Then the man told his wife, "I belong to the ga-n people." Soon they came to a sulphur wheat bush. He started to kick it from the east side, then from the south side, then from the west and last from the north. The plant came up by its roots. In the hole that it left, the top of a spruce tree stuck up through. The man told his wife, "Step on this. 

Don't be afraid." But the woman shut her eyes and stepped on it. Then they found themselves way down below, where the ga-n people lived.

After they reached the bottom, they started to walk to the place the man's 
people were living. The woman had never seen people like this before. There were many of those people there. There were houses also, good ones. All kinds of farm crops were growing. There were corn drying racks. The crops were in 
all stages of growth; some were up just a little, some were half way up, some high and some harvested already.

 The woman's husband had many sisters and so she had a lot of sisters-in-law. The man's mother was there. She tested her daughter-in-law. She gave her a metate and mano and some corn to grind. "Let's see you grind some corn," she told her. But this woman could not grind corn well. She ground it but could not break the kernels up. For this reason the man's family did not like her. She was not strong enough and could not grind corn.

One day after they had arrived there, a ga-n came to them. He caught hold of 
the woman's hair and held her head back. "I want to see my relative-in-law's face. If she is pleasing I will go hunting for her," he said. Several of the ga-n did the same way. The last one was Gray ga-n (the clown) and he said, 
"Well, she is all right. I will go hunting for her like the others." 

The men who went hunting just brought in sinew. There was no meat, only a big pile of sinew there. Then one of the man's sisters was sent with the woman to bring in a horse, so they could ride back to Raven Old Man's place.

In a short distance they came to some bears. The woman saw them and was 
frightened. She started to run away, but her sister-in-law called to her, "Come back here. They won't harm you. They are good 'horses'. They are gentle." 

But the woman would not listen and ran back to the camp. Her sister-in-law got the 'horse' and led it back. They saddled it up for the man and his wife. The woman's mother-in-law told her, "Don't look back on your way out. Don't look back till you get on top. Don't think why this is. 
I don't want you to look back. Don't do it!"

The woman got on the bear, but her husband did not go along with her. She 
rode to the top almost. Then she thought to herself, "I wonder why she didn't want me to look back. I will try it." So she looked back; just a lance. As soon as she did that the bear started to roll down the hill. Clear to the bottom they tumbled. 

The old woman saw it and ran to her. "I told you not to do that. Now why did you do it ?" she said. When she was going up she had had just a load of sinew, but now after the fall, it had all turned to meat and meat was scattered along the trail where they had fallen. The old woman carried the meat up to the top for her daughter-in-law.

They packed the bear up again so that she could take it to her father. She 
went on alone from there, without her husband. When the woman came close to her home, her mother, an old woman, saw her riding the bear. Raven Old Man and all his children became frightened and ran off from camp. "Don't ride down this way," they said. 

She unpacked the bear all alone, put the meat up and turned the bear back. But her husband got mad because he heard that his horse had been struck by someone up there. [Though mounts were sometimes beaten, this was infrequent and people spoke harshly of those who did it.] 

On this account he did not return for two days and nights.

Then in two days someone was seen walking to the wickiup where this man had 
lived with his wife. Raven Old Man sent his daughter. "You better go over and build a fire," he told her. She went over to her wickiup. The man, she found lying on the bed. He was very thin and bony, not like her husband. 
His legs and arms had white stripes about them, like those on a bob-cat's tail.

The woman went back to her father and told him, "That man is not my husband. 

He is too thin for that and besides he has white stripes about his legs and arms." But her parents told her, "Maybe it is the same man and he has grown thin." "Why should he have white stripes about his arms and legs ? I know it's not he," the woman said. Raven Old Man said, "Well, I believe he must have gone stalking antelope and has painted his legs and arms to look like an antelope." "No, I know my husband better than you two. It is not he," the woman said. She did not like this man, but her father sent her over to him and so she went, staying there all that night.

The next morning this man went hunting. When he came back he brought some 
dried meat. It had been roasted already. The following morning he went hunting again. Raven Old Man told his son, "Follow this man and see where he gets this dried meat. Don't let him see you." So the son did this.

After the man had gone a way, his follower saw him stop and set fire to an 
old pitch-pine stump. On the side that the smoke blew, the man went. The snot started to run out of his nose and it was this he was taking and making into dried meat. The son came home and told his father about it.

After that Raven Old Man would not eat any more of this dried meat. "That is 
why it was salty," the old man said This man was from the Mosquito people. 
That is why he was so thin. All things were people in those days. 

The man went to sleep with the woman that night. Her real husband from the ga-n, knew who it was that had his wife. On account of this he shot them with an arrow of red stone that night. The arrow went right through both of them.

The woman used to get up early, but she had not yet appeared at her father's 
camp When the sun had risen high up, Raven Old Man sent one of his small daughters over to see what was the matter. She just looked inside the wickiup and thought that they were still asleep inside so she went back again. She told her father, "Well, they are still in bed.

About noon, the little girl went over there again. She came back and told 
her father, "They are still in bed." "Well go over there and uncover them," he said. So the little girl went inside and took the covers off. When she did she saw that both of them had bled at the nose. When she came back and said that they were dead. Raven Old Man and his wife started to quarrel. 

"You know I told you he was not her husband. You sent her over to him all the same. Now she is gone," they accused each other.

Then the Raven people were no longer there where they had been living. But 
ga-n people were still living down below in the earth Many ga-n died down there. Though it is just as if they travel together with lightning, yet they died there. On account of this, ga-n people began to search for a place where they would not die; where there was life without end. From here on for a bit the story is dangerous to recount, but I have to tell it to you 
just the same.

[It contains power and so is dangerous. Through the misuse of such power 
misfortune might befall those involved in the story telling.]

They moved to a place halfway between the earth and the sky There Mirage 
made an earth for them and they lived on this. But still they died there. 

They went through the sky to its other side but still they died there. From there they came down on earth to ntca'na-sk'id (a place somewhere about 35 miles east of Macnary Arizona). Wherever they had lived above, they had always had their agricultural crops with them. These were their food - corn, 
beans, and squash.

Then there were a poor people living near that place (ntca'na-sk'id) the 
Hawk people. They were of the 'iya''aiye clan. They were called Hawk people because the relatives of this clan are hawks. There were people of the na-dots'usn, bisza-ha, ndi'nde-zn and destcrdn clans there also. They were all a very poor people.

At dusk one day, they saw a light far off. They asked each other, Who is up 
there ? Who has made that fire ?" because everyone was at home and they could not think of who might be out there. They tried to mark the fire, so that they might go there in the morning and see what it was.

 This is dangerous, this story that I am telling you, but I tell it to you just as I heard it. It is very holy this part of the story, and if you or anyone should laugh at it, there ^danger of you or that person's mouth and eyes going crooked. There is danger of this happening to me on account of telling this tale.

One time there were two men, one blind, the other lame. The blind one carried 
the lame one on his back. They came this way to a group of people. When the people saw them coming, they laughed at them. The blind man clapped his hands together and part of the people became blind. The lame man drew up his leg 
to his body and then part of them became lame. That is the way with this story. We must not laugh at it. It is the same way with the songs of the ga-n curing ceremony which have to do with this part of the story.

The next morning these people sent one man over to where they thought they 
had seen the fire, but he could find nothing. Again that evening, after sunset, they could see the same fire. But the man who had been sent to investigate insisted that there was nothing over there. This time they cut a crotched stick and set it up in the ground. They laid an arrow in the crotch, pointing directly at the fire, so they would know just where it was 
in the morning. When morning came they looked to see where the arrow pointed.

A man went over there to try and find something, but he could not find even 
a blade of grass that had been stepped on and bent, or a broken twig. It was two times that they had made trips to find this fire without results, but that evening they could see the fire again in the same place. 

They had left the arrow there from the night before, and it still pointed right to the 
fire. So in the morning they sent a man over to try and find something. He went and looked about for a long time, but found no ashes nor any blades of broken grass. Halfway to ntca'na-sk'id he went. "I have found nothing," he told the people when he got home.

The next morning they sent someone over to search for the fourth time. He 
went to the same place the others had been. Then after a short distance he stopped and sat down, for he saw many people there, and many crops of all kinds and in all stages of growth; some just up, some ready to harvest and 
so on.

The ga-n people saw this man, where he had dropped down in the grass. They 
talked among themselves: "Someone has been sitting over there for a long time. Let one go over there and see him." So one went over towards him. He came as close as from here to the wickiup over there (20 yards). He did not say anything; just stood and looked at him.

The man from the poor people had two eagle tail feathers sticking up in his 
hair. His privates were covered with the shredded inner bark of juniper. 

The ga-n went back and told his people, "That man has some inner bark from juniper to cover his privates." "You better take back two buckskins with you,one for him to cover his shoulders with and one to wear about his waist," they told him.

So he took two buckskins over to the man and told him to wear them, one about 
his waist and one about the shoulders. The inner bark he had covering his privates he threw away. "Lets go back to my, people," the ga-n said. They went. They gave this man some food: corn and squash. He had eaten of ga-n 
food now.

After he had eaten, they talked to him. "Where did you come from?" they 
asked. The man pointed to where he lived. It was a long way back there. 

"Well, you are poor people. It's not right that you stay there. You better come here and live with us. We have lots of crops just going to waste," they told him. 

They gave him some corn and he started home with it. When he 

arrived, he had the corn with him and the people there ate it. This man told his people what he had seen. "I saw lots of people there. 

They were good. I have my belly full now. I ate all I wanted there and the chief of these people told me; 'You better come and live with us, because you people are 
poor.' He told me to tell this to you."

 The man could not sleep that night for thinking of all the ripe crops he had seen and the food he had eaten. 

The people were very hungry where he lived. 

They got up in the morning and moved away from tse-gots'uk (a place) where they had been living. When they arrived at the new place, the crops were all given to them. "Let them eat all they want," the ga-n said. They did eat all they wanted and now they had big bellies.

Thus these two peoples had lived for a long time together. Their children 
had become acquainted. The men went hunting together. The children played. 

They let them eat all they could from the farms, for the crops on them grew the year around, in all four stages, from just sprouting to ripeness. These people were the ga-n and Hawk peoples. I know the place they lived. I passed through there when I was a soldier in the U. S. army, on the way to Ft. 

The children played together and some ga-n children became sick 
from the hawk illness. Their eyes became swollen and closed, they scratched like hawks and their faces were white like that of hawks.

Then the Hawk children became sick from the ga-n. They became unable to walk, 
as if paralyzed. [These are the symptoms of hawk and ga-n sickness.] The two kinds of children were able to cure each other by one touching the other where it hurt. When they did this they became well immediately. But the ga-n 
chief heard about it and did not like it. The ga-n had found the place where there was life without end.

That is why they had spread these sicknesses among the people, because they 
had found a good place. Then Talking ga-n was chief. He went up on top of ntca'na-sk'id every morning and talked to the people from there. "We have done nothing here for a long time. It is better that we go to tse-nodo-z 
surrounded by fire and tse-na-sbas surrounded by fire (places). Here it is as if we were herded together in a pasture. We would like to have some meat. 

We want to move to a place where people never die." That night they all 
collected together to talk it over. They gathered this way every night from there on.

All the ga-n people were divided into different kinds, just as we are 
divided into various clans. There were Black ga-n, ga-no-wan (meaning unknown), He Carries Pitch, Yellow ga-n. Weak ga-n, Hairy On One Side Of His Face, Big ga-n. Red ga-n, Hump Backed ga-n, and Gray ga-n. All these had daughters. 

They wanted to know who would leave his daughter behind. They 

asked each one if he would let his daughter stay behind with the Hawk People,but all liked their daughters too well for this. So it came back to Black ga-n, who was like the chief of these people, "Well, I guess I will have to leave my daughter." But he never told his daughter or anyone else that he was going to leave her. He made a doll of turquoise and one of white shell. 
He hid these before they were going to move.

The ga-n people spoke to the Hawk people. "We are going to leave you now. 

Look after our crops for us. We will be gone for sixty days. Then we will be back." Now they left. When they had gone about half a mile, the mother of the daughter of Black ga-n said to the girl: "Did you put your doll in the burden basket ? Is it there?" "No, no doll here," said the daughter. "Well, you better go back for it. We will go slow for you," the mother said. 

So the little girl started to run to the camp. She found the doll right away and 
ran back to join her mother. There was a large lake ahead. She followed the trail of her people. In a little way the tracks came to the edge of the lake and all went into the water. A lot of grass had been trodden down by the 
people passing over it. 

The little girl went around to the other side, but could not find where they had come out of the lake. So she went back to the old camp. The Hawk people saw her and said, "What is that little girl doing over there ?" They went with her to the lake, but they could not find where tracks came out of the water. They took her home with them. Every day she went to try and find her mother.

The Hawk people raised this little girl among them. After quite a while all 
the crops were gone and the people lived as before. They fed the little girl on wild seeds. The ga-n had made the crops grow and ripen by their wish alone. The little girl stayed at a ndi'nde-zn camp (clan). They raised her. 
She was big now, old enough to marry. So the man who brought her up said, 
"I didn't raise her for anyone else. It will be well for her to marry my son.
"That is the way it happened. 

After they had been married about a year, she bore a baby boy. The day he was born ga-n people came down from above and filled the wickiup. It was overcrowded, but ga-n said, "He never stops eating (even though full)," and this way more kept crowding in and shoving over to make room for others. The baby was the grandson of Black ga-n, who was lying outside, on his back. The ga-n picked the baby up and passed him from one to the other. Last of all they took him out to his grandfather. 

There he danced the baby up and down on his chest and sang; "cawa cawa ca."

Then he said to his daughter, "Well, daughter, here is deer medicine. Put it 
inside the hood of the cradle, by the baby." But the baby's mother said, 
"No, I don't want it. You threw this baby away long ago" (meaning herself). 
So she gave the deer medicine to her husband's mother. 

Black ga-n had brought the deer medicine so that when the baby grew up he could kill many deer. But instead of this the deer medicine was given to the ndi'nde-zn 
(the clan of the woman's mother-in-law). On account of this ndi'nde-zn clan 
always used to kill big deer, very big ones, whenever they went hunting. 

This still was true up till about 1880, but there are hardly any of this clan left now. [Deer is also the 'relative' of this clan] Black ga-n gave his grandson a name; naba-dzisnda-he (captive taken in war), because the ga-n had left his mother behind among these other people who had raised her.

They lived on there. Then in a year more another baby was born to the woman. 

The ga-n people came there again, just as they had before. Black ga-n came there to see his grandson. He gave this second boy a name also, but I have forgotten it. Then the boys started to grow up. They were so high and about ten years old, big enough to hunt birds. In the morning they went hunting. 
At sundown they returned home. After spending the night there, they went hunting again. 

Sometimes they would be gone for two days, sometimes for 

three or four. Then one man among the Hawk people became sick. They came to the mother of the boys about it. "My female relative-in-law, I wonder if you have anything to say that will cure this sick man. You might have something," they said. "I don't know anything. 

You people have known me since I was a 
little girl, left here and raised by you. If I knew something I could go ahead and say it over that sick man now, but I don't," she told them. 

Finally she said, "Well, ask those two boys. They are gone for a day or sometimes three or four days at a time. I believe they go to the ga-n, because they are relatives to them. You people better go after a deer. Run the deer down, don't shoot him. Bring the hide home and make buckskin of it.

Then get some downy eagle feathers and turquoise. Tie these to the forehead 
of the buckskin and put it on the boy's foot. See what they will say." So they went hunting and got a big deer by running it down. When the deer was all in, they caught it without shooting, as there must be no arrow holes in the buckskin. 

They killed it, cut it down the belly and by the next day they 

had made it into a buckskin. Then they put turquoise and a downy eagle feather on its forehead and placed it on the foot of the eldest of the two brothers. But he threw it to his younger brother, "Here is the one," he said.
The younger brother threw it back to the other, saying, "You can do it." 

They did this several times and finally one said, "All right." When they had 
agreed to what the people asked of them, the boys told them, "Fix up a place; level it up so that there are no uneven places on the ground. We want a spruce tree put on each of the four sides and a pile of wood on each side also. Don't be afraid of anything you see, or run away." They knew that the 
people might fear the ga-n. "For the sick man, spread a buck-skin and let him sit on it. Tie him all over with strips of yucca leaves and let him sit there."

Then it was sundown and now it was dark. All the people came to the dance 
ground. Lots of fires were all about it. Then the boy who had consented, started to sing.

"Holy power, here sounding (making a noise)."

As he sang they saw lightning appear over ntca'na-sk'id on the east side, 
then on the south side, then west and then on the north side. Then from the four directions the bull roarer sounded. It shook the earth and the earth rumbled back in response. 

The people saw the flashes of lightning and thought 
they were far off, but soon the ga-n came down, upside down they were, feet 
up and head down. They picked up the sick man who sat there, and tossed him from one to the other. [The idea of the sick man being ignominiously tossed about greatly amused the listeners] 

Before, no man was sick, but this man became sick and from then on there were sicknesses. That night the sick man was cured. The ga-n left at dawn. One of the two brothers went with them. I don't known which of them it was.

Only one of the boys remained among the people.

When the ga-n arrived back at their home, they came together and talked 
about the youths and maidens. "We have many girls and boys here. Those people whom we left have many boys and girls also. It is not right for us to marry among ourselves. 

We better go there and get some of their boys and 

girls," they said. Then Black ga-n's grandson (the brother remaining among the people) was going to make another dance at ntca'na-sk'id. This time it was to be only a social dance. 

The ga-n people came to this dance. It was 
just for pleasure and was not dangerous as it had been before. Then as the dawn came, the dancers were raised up off the ground. Many youths and 
maidens from among the ga-n and Hawk peoples were dancing. 

The old people ran under them and said to their sons and daughters, "Come down, come back," but they kept moving upwards. Soon they were so high they could not hear the singing any longer, only the sound of the drum. Then they could not hear the drum any more. The people below lay on their backs in order to look upwards.

They could see the dancers there like specks in the sky. They saw them a little while, then saw them no more.

This is how the good people were taken up above, to the place where life has 
no end. Both the brothers were gone now. The woman who was their mother went off for something and never returned. This is the end of the story. This is the way that the ga-n curing ceremony started.


A Lakota Legend

There was another world before this one. But the people of that world did 
not behave themselves. 

Displeased, the Creating Power set out to make a new world. He sang several songs to bring rain, which poured stronger with each song.

As he sang the fourth song, the earth split apart and water gushed up 
through the many cracks, causing a flood. By the time the rain stopped, all of the people and nearly all of the animals had drowned. Only Kangi the crow survived.

Kangi pleaded with the Creating Power to make him a new place to rest. So 
the Creating Power decided the time had come to make his new world. From his huge pipe bag, which contained all types of animals and birds, the Creating Power selected four animals known for their ability to remain under water for a long time. 

He sent each in turn to retrieve a lump of mud from 
beneath the flood waters. First the loon dove deep into the dark waters, but it was unable to reach the bottom. 

The otter, even with its strong webbed feet, also failed. Next, the beaver 
used its large flat tail to propel itself deep under the water, but it too brought nothing back. Finally, the Creating Power took the turtle from his pipe bag and urged it to bring back some mud.

Turtle stayed under the water for so long that everyone was sure it had 
drowned. Then, with a splash, the turtle broke the water's surface! Mud filled its feet and claws and the cracks between its upper and lower shells. 

Singing, the Creating Power shaped the mud in his hands and spread it on the 
water, where it was just big enough for himself and the crow. He then shook two long eagle wing feathers over the mud until earth spread wide and varied, overcoming the waters. Feeling sadness for the dry land, the CreatingPower cried tears that became oceans, streams, and lakes.

 He named the new land Turtle Continent in honor of the turtle who provided the mud from which it was formed.

The Creating Power then took many animals and birds from his great pipe bag 
and spread them across the earth. From red, white, black, and yellow earth, he made men and women. 

The Creating Power gave the people his sacred pipe and told them to live by 
it. He warned them about the fate of the people who came before them. He promised all would be well if all living things learned to live in harmony. 

But the world would be destroyed again if they made it bad and ugly.

A Legend of Multnomah Falls 
Many years ago the head chief of the Multnomah people had a beautiful young daughter. She was especially dear to her father because he had lost all his sons in fighting, and he was now a old man. He chose her husband with great care, a young chief from his neighbors, the Clatsop people. To the wedding feast came many people from tribes along the lower Columbia and south of it.

The wedding feast was to last for several days. There were swimming races 
and canoe races on the river. There would be bow-and-arrow contests, horse racing, dancing, and feasting. The whole crowd was merry, for both the maiden and the young warrior were loved by their people.

But without warning the happiness changed to sorrow. A sickness came over 
the village. Children and young people were the first victims, then strong men became ill and died in only one day. The wailing of the women was heard throughout the Multnomah village and the camps of the guests.

"The Great Spirit is angry with us," the people said to each other. The head 
chief called together his old men and his warriors for counsel and asked gravely," What can we do to soften the Great Spirits wrath?"

Only silence followed his question. 

At last one of the old medicine men arose." There is nothing we can do. If it is the will of the Great Spirit that we die, then we must meet our death like brave men. The Multnomah have ever been a brave people."

The other members of the council nodded in agreement, all except one, the 
oldest medicine man. He had not attended the wedding feast and games, but he had come in from the mountains when he was called by the chief. He rose and, leaning on his stick, spoke to the council. His voice was low and feeble.

"I am a very old man, my friends, I have lived a long, long time. Now you 
will know why. I will tell you a secret my father told me. He was a great medicine man of the Multnomah, many summers and many snows in the past.

When he was an old man, he told me that when I became old, the Great Spirit 
would send a sickness upon our people. All would die, he said, unless a sacrifice was made to the Great Spirit. 

Some pure and innocent maiden of the tribe, the daughter of a chief, must willingly give her life for her people. 

Alone, she must go to a high cliff above Big River and throw herself upon the rocks below. If she does this, the sickness will leave us at once."

Then the old man said,"I have finished, my fathers secret is told. Now I can 
die in peace."

Not a word was spoken as the medicine man sat down. At last the chief lifted 
his head. "Let us call in all the maidens whose fathers or grandfathers have been headmen."

Soon a dozen girls stood before him, among them his own loved daughter. The 
chief told them what the old medicine man had said. "I think his words are words of truth," he added.

Then he turned to his medicine men and his warriors, "Tell our people to 
meet death bravely. No maiden shall be asked to sacrifice herself. The meeting has ended."

The sickness stayed in the village, and many more people died. The daughter 
of the head chief sometimes wondered if she should be the one to give her life to the Great Spirit. But she loved the young warrior, she wanted to live.

A few days later she saw the sickness on the face of her lover. Now she knew 
what she must do. She cooled his hot face, cared for him tenderly, and left a bowl of water by his bedside. Then she slipped away alone, without a word to anyone.

All night and all the next day she followed the trail to the great river. At 
sunset she reached the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. She stood there in silence for a few moments, looking at the jagged rocks far below. 

Then she turned her face toward the sky and lifted up her arms. She spoke aloud to the Great Spirit.

"You are angry with my people. Will you make the sickness pass away if I 
give you my life? Only love and peace and purity are in my heart. If you will accept me as a sacrifice for my people, let some token hang in the sky. 

Let me know that my death will not be in vain and that the sickness will quickly pass."

Just then she saw the moon coming up over the trees across the river. It was 
the token. She closed her eyes and jumped from the cliff.

Next morning, all the people who had expected to die that day arose from 
their beds well and strong. They were full of joy. Once more there was laughter in the village and in the camps of the guest.

Suddenly someone asked, "What caused the sickness to pass away? Did one of 
the maidens---?"

Once more the chief called the daughters and granddaughters of the headmen 
to come before him. This time one was missing

The young Clatsop warrior hurried along the trail which leads to Big River. 

Other people followed. On the rocks below the high cliff they found the girl they all loved. There they buried her.

Then her father prayed to the Great Spirit, "Show us some token that my 
daughters spirit has been welcomed into the land of the spirits."

Almost at once they heard the sound of water above. All the people looked up 
to the cliff. A stream of water, silvery white, was coming over the edge of the rock. It broke into floating mist and then fell at their feet. The stream continued to float down in a high and beautiful waterfall.

 For many summers the white water has dropped from the cliff into the pool 
below. Sometimes in winter the spirit of the brave and beautiful maiden comes back to see the waterfall.

 Dressed in white, she stands among the trees at one side of Multnomah Falls. There she looks upon the place where she made her great sacrifice and thus saved her lover and her people from death.


No comments:

Post a Comment