Cherokee Morning Song

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Native Stories 2

A time to cry

(Lakota) as told to me by JJ. Kent

Many years ago, when the people walked the prairies in freedom, there was a 
village with many good and strong people. Among those was a young man who was very handsome and was known for his skill as a hunter. 

Also in the village was a young woman, known as beautiful and respectful of her elders, so it was no surprise that the two would get together and marry. Their love 
was so beautiful and strong they were the envy of all the people. One time the young man left for a hunt with the other men. While he was gone the enemy attacked the peaceful village and many were killed. The young man came home to his horror, seeing the village destroyed and the people sick with grief. 

He was overwhelmed when he found his beautiful wife was among the 
dead, and he cried uncontrollably for many days. A change came over him. He became dirty, his hair uncombed. His clothes became tattered, and he smelled horrible. His skin became covered with many sores. 

Months later, as he walked through the forest, he heard a woman’s voice in 
the distance. He followed and soon found the in spirit form. 

She was horrified to see him in such a state and he was in turn horrified 
when she turned her face to him. She was in tattered clothes, her hair matted and dirty and her skin carried many sores. 

He asked her “What has happened to you? Why do you look this way?” She 
replied “I look this way because of you. You honor me by holding my spirit back, and you have stopped living your life. 

As long as you remember nothing but sadness, I will stay as you see me.” They say this turned the young man around, and he washed himself. He wore fresh clothes and eventually became 
a great leader for his people, but when he too passed, he was rejoined with his wife, now as beautiful as she once was………………

Ableegumooch, The Lazy Rabbit

An Algonquin Legend

In the Old Time, Ableegumooch the rabbit was Glooscap's forest guide, and 
helped wayfarers lost in the woods. However, as time went on, the people and animals learned to find their own way in the forest and didn't need the rabbit's services as much.

Ableegumooch grew fat and lazy. If there was something easy and fun to do, 
he did it. If a thing were difficult or tiring, he did not. But that is no way to keep a wigwam stocked with food.

Often, poor old Noogumee (a term of respect amongst Indians for any elderly 
female), his grandmother, with whom he lived, had to hunt for food herself, or they would have gone hungry. And no matter how much she scolded him, Ableegumooch refused to change his ways.

Glooscap, far away in his lodge on Blomidon, saw that the rabbit was 
becoming a thoroughly useless creature. He must be warned against the dangers of laziness. So, wasting no time, Glooscap descended from his lodge to the beach in three huge strides, launched his canoe, and paddled across the Bay of Fundy to the shore near the rabbit's home.

It was a fine bright morning, the air cool and tasting of salt, as it always 
does in the Maritime Provinces. And presently along hopped the rabbit, singing with fine spirit:

"It's a lovely day to do nothing, nothing, all the day through!"

He paid no attention to the tasty leaves and berries he might have been 
gathering for dinner. He was much more interested in watching other people work. There was Miko the squirrel scampering up the big maple tree, his cheeks bulged out with nuts, pausing only long enough to scold Ableegumooch for coming too near his storehouse.

There was Mechipchamooech the bumble bee, busy at the goldenrod, gathering 
honey for his hive. And there was Teetees the blue jay, flying worms to his family in the big pine. It was all so interesting that Ableegumooch stopped beside a stately fir tree to enjoy the scene. Suddenly behind him, he heard 
a voice.

"Ableegumooch, be careful!"

The rabbit jumped and whirled about, but there was nobody there. The voice 
spoke again, from somewhere over his head.

"Take care, Ableegumooch, or your lazy ways will bring you pain and sorrow."

The rabbit looked up and saw the fir tree shake like a leaf in a storm, yet 
not a breath of wind stirred. Frightened out of his wits, he ran--and he never stopped running until he was safe at home, where he told his grandmother what had happened.

"Glooscap has given you a warning," said his grand mother. "Be sure to obey 
him, grandson, or you will be sorry."

The rabbit's legs were still trembling from fright and exertion, and he 
promised at once that he would take care to mend his lazy ways in future. 

And indeed, for a while, he went busily about his hunting and kept the wigwam well stocked with food. But, when autumn came, he grew lazy again and went back to his old careless ways.

"It's a lovely day to do nothing, nothing, all the day through!"

So sang Ableegumooch as he sauntered through the glory of autumn trees. 

Noogumee begged and scolded and pleaded, but he continued to spend more time visiting his neighbors than gathering food. One day, when winter had come to the land, he came to the wigwam of Keoonik the otter. Keoonik politely asked him to dine, and the rabbit promptly accepted. Keoonik turned to his elderly 
house keeper and addressed her in the usual native's fashion:

"Noogumee, prepare the meal."

Then he took some fishhooks and went off, the rabbit hopping along behind, 
curious to see what he was going to do. Keoonik sat on the snowy bank of the river and slid down an icy path into the water. In a moment, he reappeared with a string of eels which he carried to his grandmother, and she promptly cooked them for dinner.

"Gracious!" thought Ableegumooch. "If that isn't an easy way to get a living. 

I can do that as well as Keoonik," and he invited the otter to be his guest at dinner on the following day. Then he hurried home.

"Come," he said to his grandmother, "we are going to move our lodge down to 
the river." And in spite of all she could say, he insisted on moving it. 

Noogumee reminded him that the wigwam was empty of food, and he ought to be out hunting, but Ableegumooch paid no attention. He was busy making a slide like Keoonik's. The weather was cold, so all he had to do was pour water down the snowy bank, where it soon froze, and there was his fishing slide. 

Early next day, the guest arrived. When it was time for dinner,Ableegumooch said to his grandmother:

"Noogumee, prepare the meal."

"There is nothing to prepare," said she, sadly.

"Oh, I will see to that," said the rabbit with a confident laugh, and he 
took his place at the top of the slide to go fishing. When he tried to push off, however, he found it was not so easy. His coat was rough and bulky and dry, not smooth and slippery like the otter's. He had to wriggle and push with his heels until at last he slid down and plunged into the water. The cold took his breath quite away, and he suddenly remembered he was unable to 
swim. Struggling and squealing, he thought no more of fishing, for he was in great danger of drowning.

"What on earth is the matter with him?" Keoonik asked the grandmother.

"I suppose he has seen someone else do that," sighed Noogumee, "and he 
thinks he can do it too."

Keoonik helped the freezing, half-drowned rabbit out of the water and, since 
there was nothing to eat, went home hungry and disgusted.

But do you think that cold bath cured Ableegumooch? Not at all. The very next 
day, as he ran idly through the forest, he came to the lodge of some female woodpeckers. He was delighted when these woodpeckers invited him to dinner.

He watched eagerly to see how they found food.

One of the woodpeckers took a dish, went up the side of an old beech tree 
and quickly dug out a plentiful supply of food, which was cooked and placed before the rabbit.

"My, oh my!" thought Ableegumooch. "How easily some people get a living. 

What is to prevent me from getting mine in that fashion?" And he told the woodpeckers they must come and dine with him.

On the day following, they appeared at the rabbit's lodge and Ableegumooch 
said to his grandmother importantly:

"Noogumee, prepare the meal."

"You foolish rabbit," said she, "there is nothing to prepare."

"Make the fire," said the rabbit grandly, "and I shall see to the rest."

He took the stone point from an eel spear and fastened it on his head in 
imitation of a woodpecker's bill, then climbed a tree and began knocking his head against it. Soon his head was bruised and bleeding, and he lost his hold and fell to the earth with a tremendous crash. The woodpeckers could not keep from laughing.

"Pray what was he doing up there?"

"I suppose he has seen someone else do that," said Noogumee, shaking her 
head, "and thinks he can do it too." And she advised them to go home, as there would be no food for them there that day.

Now, sore as he was, you would certainly think the rabbit had learned his 
lesson. Yet, a day or two later, he was idling in the woods as usual when he came upon Mooin the Bear, who invited him to dinner. He was greatly impressed at the way in which the bear got his meal. Mooin merely took a sharp knife and cut small pieces off the soles of his feet. These he placed in a kettle on the fire, and in a short while they enjoyed a delicious meal.

"This must be the easiest way of all to get a dinner," marveled Ableegumooch,
and he invited Mooin to dine with him next day. Now what the rabbit did not know was that the bears preserve food on their feet. They press ripe blueberries with their paws and, after the cakes have dried upon them, cut bits off to eat. The silly rabbit thought Mooin had actually cut pieces off his paws!

At the appointed time, Ableegumooch ordered his grand mother to prepare the 
meal, and when she said there was nothing to prepare, he told her to put the kettle on and he would do the rest. 

Then he took a stone knife and began to cut at his feet as he had seen Mooin do. But oh dear me, it hurt. It hurt dreadfully! With tears streaming down his cheeks, he hacked and hacked, first at one foot and then at the other. Mooin the Bear was greatly astonished.

"What on earth is the fellow trying to do?" he asked.

Noogumee shook her head dismally.

"It is the same old thing. He has seen someone else do this."

"Well!" said Mooin crossly, "It is most insulting to be asked to dinner and 
get nothing to eat. The trouble with that fellow is-- he's lazy!" and he went home in a huff.

Then at last, Ableegumooch, nursing his sore feet, remembered what Glooscap 

had said. All at once, he saw how silly he had been.

"Oh dear!" he said. "My own ways of getting food are hard, but others' are 
harder. I shall stick to my own in the future," and he did.

From then on, the wigwam of Ableegumooch and his grandmother was always well 
stored with food, winter and summer, and though he still sings, his song has changed:

"It's a wiser thing to be busy, busy, Constantly!

And far away on Blomidon, Glooscap, seeing his foolish rabbit mend his ways at last, set a light to his pipe and smoked contentedly.


A Cree Legend

I don't know how the other communities call it but here in Whapmagoostui, we 
call this legend Achaanwaapush (Cannibal Rabbit). He was a cannibalistic creature. He was a person with the features of a rabbit and he habitually slaughtered people.

There was a family of Lynx people camped out on the land. One day, the Lynx 
adults were getting ready to set off for a Beaver hunt. As they left, they said to their young Lynx children, "Achaanwaapush will reach our camp today.

" The young Lynx were forewarned what would happen. The adult Lynx said, 

"When Achaanwaapush enters our tepee, he'll want the place warm and he'll want to be scratched and soothed. But make sure that you don't use your claws so Achaanwaapush will become frustrated and will want to be scratched more vigorously. After he tells you to scratch him more forcefully, rip him open along his ribs." The Lynx men left with their wives to hunt for Beaver. 
Only the children were left at the camp.

During the day, the old Cannibal Rabbit reached the camp of the Lynx and 
entered the tepee. As he opened the door flap and saw the young Lynx children sitting around inside the tepee, he said, "Grandchildren, put some wood in the fire and I'll warm up and you'll scratch my back." The Lynx children agreed. They fed the fire and the place was nice and toasty. 

Achaanwaapush got undressed and told the Lynx children to scratch his back. 

The children began rubbing Achaanwaapush's back using only their paws. The old Cannibal Rabbit stopped them and asked, "What's going on? How come you're not scratching me? Let me check your claws. I told you to scratch my back. Do it with more force." The Lynx children agreed.

The old Cannibal Rabbit laid down again. The young Lynx children put their 
paws along his spine and stuck out their claws and pulled down along his ribs. They ripped the Cannibal Rabbit's skin and teared him open. The Lynx children killed Achaanwaapush. As they joyfully butchered him, they said, 
"Our parents will eat the abdomen meat."

After hunting Beaver, the Lynx adults said, "Let's go home. Achaanwaapush 
must have reached our children." On their way back, they saw the Cannibal Rabbit's trail leading to their camp. Just seeing his trail frightened them. 

The Lynx men told their wives to walk far behind. The Lynx men snuck up to their tepee as they got near. One Lynx man jumped in the entrance and the other pounced for the smoke hole of their tepee to attack Achaanwaapush. 

They believed that the Cannibal Rabbit had slaughtered their children but the startled Lynx children said, "What are you doing? We've killed Achaanwaapush." The Lynx men were glad and said, "It's a good thing you did that." When the wives of the Lynx arrived, the rest of the camp was already rejoicing and happily cooking a feast of the Cannibal Rabbit. This is the 
legend that I heard.

Algon and the Sky Girl

An Algonquin Legend

Algon was a great hunter who found a strange circle cut in the prairie grass. 

Hiding in the bushes nearby, he watched to see what might have caused it. 
Finally, a great willow basket descended from the sky bearing twelve beautiful maidens.

The maidens got out of the basket and began singing celestial songs and 
doing circle dances. All of the girls were beautiful, but the most beautiful of all was the youngest, with whom Algon was immediately smitten.

He ran toward the circle in the hope of stealing her away, but just as he 
arrived, the girls were alarmed and left in the basket, which flew high into the sky. This happened again three more times, but Algon's resolve only grew. 
Then he devised a strategy.

He placed a hollow tree trunk near the circle. Inside the tree trunk lived a 
family of mice. He took some charms out of his medicine bag and transformed himself into a mouse. When the girls in the basket next arrived, he and the other mice ran among the girls. The girls stomped on the mice killing all of them but Algon, who then resumed his human form and carried off his beloved.

He took her to his village and in time she fell in love with him. They had a 
son and the three lived very happily for a time. But as the years passed, the sky- girl grew very homesick. She spent the entire day gazing up at the sky, thinking of her sisters and parents. This homesickness continued until 
she could no longer bear it. So she built a magic willow basket, placed her son and some gifts for her people in it, climbed in, and headed for the sky. 
She remained there for years.

In her absence, Algon pined for his wife and son. Every day he went to sit 
in the magic circle, in the hope that they would return. He was now growing old.

Meanwhile, in the far-off sky-country, his son was growing into manhood. 

The lad asked questions about his father, which made the sky-girl miss Algon.
She and her son spoke to her father, the chief of the sky-people. He told them to go back to the Earth, but ordered them to return with Algon and the identifying feature of each of the Earth animals.

Then the sky-girl and the son returned to Earth. Algon was overjoyed to see 
them and was eager to gather the gifts the sky-chief wanted. From the bear, he took a claw; from the eagle, hawk, and falcon, a feather; from the raccoon, its teeth; and from the deer, its horns and hide. He placed all of these gifts in a special medicine bag, and ascended with his wife and son to 
the sky- country in their willow basket. His father-in-law divided the tokens among his people, offering tokens to Algon and the sky-girl; and they chose the falcon feather. The chief said that they should always be free to travel between the sky-country and the Earth, and so Algon and his wife became falcons. Their descendants still fly high and swoop down over the forests and prairies.

Algonquin Creation Myth

An Algonquin Legend

The Great Earth Mother had two sons, Glooskap and Malsum. Glooskap was good, 

wise, and creative; Malsum was evil, selfish, and destructive.

When their mother died, Glooskap went to work creating plants, animals, and 
humans from her body. Malsum, in contrast, made poisonous plants and snakes.

As Glooskap continued to create wonderful things, Malsum grew tired of his 
good brother and plotted to kill him.

In jest, Malsum bragged that he was invincible, although there was one thing 
that could kill him: the roots of the fern plant.

He badgered Glooskap for days to find the good brother's vulnerability. 

Finally, as Glooskap could tell no lies, he confided that he could be killed only by an owl feather. Knowing this, Malsum made a dart from an owl feather and killed Glooskap.

The power of good is so strong, however; that Glooskap rose from the dead, 
ready to avenge himself. Alive again, Glooskap also knew that Malsum would continue to plot against him.

Glooskap realized that he had no choice but to destroy Malsum in order that 
good would survive and his creatures would continue to live. So he went to a stream and attracted his evil brother by loudly saying that a certain flowering reed could also kill him.

Glooskap then pulled a fern plant out by the roots and flung it at Malsum, 
who fell to the ground dead. Malsum's spirit went underground and be-came a wicked wolf-spirit that still occasionally torments humans and animals, but fears the light of day.

Algonquin Flood Myth

An Algonquin Legend

The god Michabo was hunting with his pack of trained wolves one day when he 
saw the strangest sight, the wolves entered a lake and disappeared. He followed them into the water to fetch them and as he did so, the entire world flooded.

Michabo then sent forth a raven to find some soil with which to make a new 
earth, but the bird returned unsuccessful in its quest.

Then Michabo sent an otter to do the same thing, but again to no avail.

Finally he sent the muskrat and she brought him back enough earth to begin 
the reconstruction of the world. The trees had lost their branches in the flood, so Michabo shot magic arrows at them that immediately became new branches covered with leaves.

Then Michabo married the muskrat and they became the parents of the human 

An Abenaki Legend 2

When Glooscap came in from the sea, he was riding his canoe, which was made 
of stone. He ran aground near what we now call St. John. He had been chasing two giant beavers. 
He was trying to stop them from raising any trouble.

He tried to stop them right there, where the Reversing Falls is today. He 
built a dam so they couldn't go up the river. But still, the beavers managed to get past Glooscap, and traveled up the "Beautiful River", which is now called the St. John River.

Glooscap took two stones and threw them at these beavers. One stone landed a 
long way up the river and became Grand Falls.

The other stone hit the beaver. It landed in a rocky area, which is now 
called Plaster Rock. To this day, you can still see the red clay on the river bank. They say that this comes from the blood of the beaver.

Glooscap often used animals who were bad to make something good. He paddled 
up and down this Beautiful River (St. John) many times.

Even near Kingsclear where Glooscap came up, long before the Mactaquac Dam 
was built, he used the ledges to hold on to when he fell. Glooscap even left his image on those rocks.
And where he left his snowshoes is where they were transformed and turned into The Snowshoe Islands.

These are all sacred places. Even the little people lived near the village 
of Kingsclear.

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!

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