It was spring when the young Anishnibe Warrior came to Community. There was something different about him that many did not understand.
With his well spoken ways and the confidence in which he held was something foreign to these people that were of the "Traditional Circle". After
several months of being in the community many were afraid to speak with him or considered there to be something wrong with him yet no one could
find fault with the way he did things not even the work that he did. This young man knew very little of the ways of the Circle and so he thought that he
would go and learn their ways. Much talk and teachings came from this and he learned very well what was expected of him as a Warrior in the
After many months of teachings he came back to the Elders to question them concerning the state of the community and why it was that so many
things were denied the others in the circle. He saw old people, disabled people, mothers that were relying on the Government to care for their families
as there men sleeping in someone else's bed, and many more things that bothered him. He was told that he was meddling in the affairs of the
community and that this was not acceptable to the community. It did not seem right to him that only the people that could pick the scared medicines
were allowed to have them and it did not seem right to him that the Elders did not have Eagle Feathers for being elders, yet those that could dance and
were young and strong did. He again was told that it was how it had become to be in this community and unless he could think of a better way then
that was the way of things.
This Young Warrior did not like it at all and became very irritable over this as it seemed that the ways of the dominant culture were creeping in and
that no one understood that the teachings of community are for all and not just the few who can fend for themselves. So he went to his place to ask the
Grandmothers and the Grandfathers for help in this matter. He knew this was a life or death situation for the community so he placed his gifts down
first and then entered the lodge, this was a fasting lodge a lodge of need, not like the teaching lodge or the prayer lodge, but one of a different type
constructed differently than the others. So he prayed and fasted for many days and so it was that the Grandmother from the Northeast came to him
and spoke not a word to him but drew a circle in the center of the lodge and put 4 points on it and told him to go and travel the four directions and you
will have the answer that you seek.
The young warrior thanked her for the sacred teaching and left the lodge and offered many more gifts to the Grandmothers and Grandfathers. He left
the lodge and traveled East first. In the East along a small brook in a clearing sat the Crane and he watched the Crane for a time. When the Crane left
he offered again his gifts to the Grandmothers and Grandfathers. When he approached the spot where the Crane was he could smell a very familiar
pungent aroma and found that there was a 10 acre field of sweetgrass there nested in the heart of his trap line. He began to pick and harvest the
sweetgrass and harvested with care not to pull the roots but to allow it to regrow again next year. He filled up his sled 4 foot high with sweetgrass
He returned back to the people that he saw were in need and passed out all of the sweetgrass to the community. He held nothing back not one blade
but gave it all away. He then went to the South and found wild tobacco growing and did the same with the tobacco ties giving it all away saving not
one piece for himself to keep. He then went to the West and found Sage and did the same and passed it all out to the community saving not one piece
for himself. Then he went North and came upon the great Cedar Grandfather and did the same and passed them out once again to community for
those that were in need and saved not one piece for himself.
When the Elders questioned why he had done it, he said, "Because everyone is equal and everyone deserves to have what everyone else has. I have
nothing but know where to get it because I walked the path of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers. And you may believe that if there is need again in
this community that I will come again and do the same. You that make yourself great at the woes of others are not great and your Sacred Lodge is an
abomination to the Grandmothers and Grandfathers. Put your own house in order and then help others to do the same. When all houses in
community are in order, then there will be peace in the lodge and many good prayers will be sent out. I will give one more gift to show this as it was
told of me to give." So he again left and went many days to the West to seek the great gifts of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers. He found a valley
with Eagle Feathers in it and again he offered his gifts to the Grandmothers and Grandfathers and came to community and gave the Golden Eagle
Feathers to community for healing. He gave them all away saving not one for himself. He gave one to every person that was in need and could not
get them for themselves. This last act of defiance against the Elders outraged them to the point of openly speaking out against his gifts.
Then the community powwow came and by chance a young dancer, the son of an Elder, lost his Eagle Feather in the Circle of dancers, and the cry
went out for Veterans to come to return the Spirit of the Eagle to the People with honor. In full Regalia, as he was told to wear, he stepped forward
and took his place in the East with the other Veterans. When it came time to be questioned as to who would pick up the feather and give it away again,
it was found that he was the only Veteran that was also wounded in battle, so the honor was his and his alone. When he did pick up the feather, he
asked a question of the Elders, who was it that he was required to give the Eagle Feather to?
He went to a young girl that was in a wheelchair and gave her the Eagle Feather. "I came for community. The one that dances has many, she has
none. Care for what you have or the Grandfathers and Grandmothers will lessen your burden."
This is a true story of the People.
|A Sacred Story
An Anishnabe (Anishinabe) Legend
Music: Rhythm of the Heart by AH-NEE-MAH
|How the Fly Saved the River
An Anishnabe (Anishinabe) Legend
Many, many years ago when the world was new, there was a beautiful river. Fish in great numbers lived in this river, and its water was so pure and
sweet that all the animals came there to drink.
A giant moose heard about the river and he too came there to drink. But he was so big, and he drank so much, that soon the water began to sink
lower and lower.
The beavers were worried. The water around their lodges was disappearing. Soon their homes would be destroyed.
The muskrats were worried, too. What would they do if the water vanished? How could they live?
The fish were worried. The other animals could live on land if the water dried up, but they couldn't.
All the animals tried to think of a way to drive the moose from the river, but he was so big that they were too afraid to try. Even the bear was afraid of
At last the fly said he would try to drive the moose away. All the animals laughed and jeered. How could a tiny fly frighten a giant moose? The fly
said nothing, but that day, as soon as the moose appeared, he went into action.
He landed on the moose's foreleg and bit sharply. The moose stamped his foot hard, and each time he stamped, the ground sank and the water rushed
in to fill it up. Then the fly jumped about all over the moose, biting and biting and biting until the moose was in a frenzy. He dashed madly about the
banks of the river, shaking his head, stamping his feet, snorting and blowing, but he couldn't get rid of that pesky fly. At last the moose fled from the
river, and didn't come back.
The fly was very proud of his achievement, and boasted to the other animals.
"Even the small can fight the strong if they use their brains to think."
|Turtle Gets a Shell
An Anishnabe (Anishinabe) Legend
It was one of those days when Nanaboozhoo was in a strange mood. He had just awakened from a deep sleep that was disturbed by the noisy
quarreling and scolding of the blue jays. He was a bit cranky; his sleep was disturbed and besides that, he was hungry. His first thought was to go
down to the village and find something to eat.
Entering the village, he came across some men cooking fish. They had their camp located close to the water and Nanaboozhoo spied many fish
cooking over a fire. Now, being very hungry, he asked for something to eat. The men were happy to give him some, but cautioned him that it was hot.
Not heeding their warning, he quickly grabbed the fish and burned his hand. He ran to the lake to cool it off in the water. Still unsteady from his deep
sleep, he tripped on a stone and fell on Mi-she-kae (turtle) who was sunning on the beach. At that time, Mishekae was not as we know her today. She
had no shell and was comprised of soft skin and bone.
Turtle complained loudly to Nanaboozhoo to watch where he was going. Now, Nanaboozhoo felt ashamed of his clumsiness and apologized to
Mishekae. He wondered, "What can I do to make it up to her?" He wanted to do something to help his friend. "I'll have to sit and think it over," he
thought, as he followed the path back to his wigwam.
Sometime later, he returned to the beach and called for Mishekae. Turtle poked her head through the soft beach mud. Nanaboozhoo picked up two
large shells from the shore and placed one on top of the other. He scooped up Mishekae and put her right in the middle, between he shells.
Nanaboozhoo took a deep breath and began. "You will never be injured like that again," he said slowly. "Whenever danger threatens," he continued,
"you can pull your legs and head into the shell for protection."
Nanaboozhoo sat beside his friend on the beach and told Mishekae his thoughts. "The shell itself is round like Mother Earth. It has a round hump
which resembles her hills and mountains. It is divided into segments, like martyrizes that are a part of her; each different and yet connected by her."
Mishekae seemed very pleased with and listened intently. "You have four legs, each representing the points of direction. North, South, East and
West," he said. "When the legs are all drawn in, all directions are lost. Your tail will show the many lands where the Anishnabe have been and your
head will point in the direction to follow. You will have advantages over the Anishnabe," he went on. "You will be able to live in the water as well as
on land and you will be in your own house at all times."
Mishekae approved of her new self and thanked Nanaboozhoo for his wisdom. Moving now in a thick shell, she pushed herself along the shore and
disappeared into the water.
So, ever since that accident long ago, Turtle has been special to the Anishnabe. To this day, she continues to grace Mother Earth, still proudly wearing
those two shells.