Music: New Spirit by Red Tail Chasing Hawks
In the time of the beginning, it was the way of my people, to rejoice in the birth of a child. The Old Ones, the Elders said that a child was the most
precious gift given to the people by the Creator.
So, in this time, was born a male child. As was the way of the people, this child was given no name until he had been in the physical world for three
When three moons had passed, his family held a Naming Feast, to share and celebrate this gift. The Old One's who's responsibility it was to find the
Spirit Name for each new soul, was given tobacco. He would fast and pray and search the spirit World until the name was found.
On the fourth day, his name was announced to all who were present. The Old One held the child high, close to Father Sky. Then he touched the
child's body to Mother Earth. Next he faced the child to all Four Sacred Directions: the East, the direction of springtime and childhood. Then the
South, home to summer and adolescence. Thirdly he faced him to the West where Autumn and maturity reside. Finally, he faced North, home to
Winter and the Elders.
As he spoke the child's name, all who heard it were surprised. No child ever had received such a Name: He Who Walks a Different Path: Ka Bay she
go e sayd.
As this child grew, it became apparent that He Who Walks a Different Path was very different than the other children.
It was the way of the People that everyone within the village contributed in some way to the well-being of all. "It must be so," the Elders said. "We
live in a delicate balance with all our relatives. We must take only what we need to survive. We must respect our Mother the Earth, Grandfather
Sun, Father Sky, and Grandmother Moon.
"We must respect all Kingdoms, all things, all our relations. All must work together."
So, in this place, each one worked. Some were Hunters, Guardians and Warriors who learned from the Spirit of the Bear or wolf. Others carried the
knowledge and history of the peoples, and often traded goods, as Storytellers, learning from the Turtle. Still others were Dreamers, planners,
War-chiefs who learned from Hawk or coyote. Some others were builders making lodges, canoes, tools and weapons needed to survive, learning
from the Beaver. A few were Holy People, Healers and Medicine People who learned from all things that existed and helped the ill.
"Children are closer to our Creator and will know their own path," so the Elders taught. So the People allowed the children to learn and experience
many things around them. "Children are not owned but belong to the community and the future." All around cared for the children and kept them
So Ka Bay she go e sayd was allowed to investigate many ways of learning. He often spent y hours in the woods, talking to the four-leggeds,
(animals) and the winged, (birds). He felt it was wrong to hunt and kill his friends for food.
An Elder once reported seeing the child surrounded by animals with a Falcon and a Hawk on each shoulder. People shook their heads and
Each time the boy was questioned about his choice of lives work, he answered: "It is not for me."
As he grew towards adulthood, he was asked more frequently. Always he replied: "It is not for me."
It was the Way of the People to deal with problems or conflicts by 'Taking it to the Fire'. All the elders sat in the Sacred Circle around the Fire.
Everyone who wished to speak was given time. One could talk as long as one wished. Respect must be shown in manner and speech. There was no
interruption of the speaker. Then the Elders would confer and pray and talk until a consensus or agreement was reached. All the People would
abide by the decision.
So, Ka Bay she go e sayd was called to this place. When he was given time to speak, he said: "The Creator has given me a different Vision. These
ways are not for me."
The Elders spent many hours trying to reach a decision. Finally, the Elder whose responsibility it was to speak for the People, rose to his feet. His
voice was filled with sadness. "If you will not work or help in any way, you must leave this place. There can be no room for those who do not
contribute to the well-being of our People."
There was great sadness. This had never happened before in the memory of anyone. There was much sadness in the village, as the boy packed a
blanket, some dried berries along with his few clothes and left the village.
The boy felt sad to leave his family, but he also felt happiness for now he could spend all his time in the forest with the birds and animals who were
The days passed slowly and pleasantly for the youth. He learned many things from his Animal-kind brothers and sister.
The hunters of his village came to find food for the villagers. Some of his animal-kind friends chose to offer themselves so that the village people
could continue to have food and clothing. The hunters left Tobacco and said prayers of appreciation and thanks for their gifts.
Ka Bay she go e sayd was saddened when his animal-kind friends died. So he began to go ahead of the hunters to warn and frighten away the
animals. Game became scarce, there was little food in the pots of the villagers. Peoples stomachs were hungry and they became angry at the youth.
The hunters began to hunt for He Who Walks a Different Path. He was forced higher and higher into the hills, and then into the mountains. Finally,
he was so high up that only the birds remained to keep him company.
It is the way of Human-Kind that young boys bodies begin to change as they grow into young men. They grow hair on their bodies, their voices
deepen, their muscles strengthen and they grow tall.
Ka Bay she go e sayd's body began to change. But in a way he had never seen before. One morning he awoke and found talons in place of his
fingernails. Next, he noticed feathers were growing out of the backs of his hands and in the skin on his arms and shoulders. He became very afraid.
He dug a hole in the ground, to fast and pray, asking the Creator for understanding and guidance. On the fourth day, the Creator appeared before
him in the form of a huge bird, such as had never before been seen in the Physical World.
He spoke to He Who Walks A Different Path: "My child, you have remained true to the Vision and Wisdom I placed within you when you entered
this World of Physical Things. You have endured much.
"From this day on a new creature will enter the World: Kinew, the Golden Eagle. In return for your loyalty, you and all your descendants shall
have the Honor of carrying the prayers of Human-Kind between the Worlds of Earth and Spirit. All who see an Eagle shall be reminded of Freedom
and Truth. All who hold your feathers must speak only the Truth in a good and kind way.
"as my view of what happens in this World is different from where I live in the Spirit World, you will spend most of your time in the realm of Father
Sky, and view the world below in a different way. As my Vision is unique and different, your eyesight will be keener than any other bird that
inhabits the skies. All who see you flying higher than all other winged ones will be reminded of the World of Spirit which is unseen yet so close-by to
those on the world of Physical things."
And so it is told, this way, of How the Eagle First Came to the People.
Author: KiiskeeN'tum -- She Who Remembers.
|Kanienkeh-- How the Eagle First Came To the People
A Mohawk Legend
|How Fire Came to the Six Nations
A Mohawk Legend
Often, around the fire in the long house of the Iroquois, during the Moon of the Long Nights, this tale is told.
Three Arrows was a boy of the Mohawk tribe. Although he had not yet seen fourteen winters he was already known among the Iroquois for his skill
and daring. His arrows sped true to their mark. His name was given him when with three bone-tipped arrows he brought down three flying wild
geese from the same flock.
He could travel in the forest as softly as the south wind and he was a skillful hunter, but he never killed a bird or animal unless his clan needed food.
He was well-versed in woodcraft, fleet of foot, and a clever wrestler. His people said, "Soon he will be a chief like his father."
The sun shone strong in the heart of Three Arrows, because soon he would have to meet the test of strength and endurance through which the boys
of his clan attained manhood. He had no fear of the outcome of the dream fast which was so soon to take.
His father was a great chief and a good man, and the boy's life had been patterned after that of his father. When the grass was knee-high, Three
Arrows left the village with his father.
They climbed to a sacred place in the mountains. They found a narrow cave at the back of a little plateau. Here Three Arrows decided to live for his
few days of prayer and vigil/ He was not permitted to eat anything during the days and nights of his dream fast.
He had no weapons, and his only clothing was a breechclout and moccasins. His father left the boy with the promise that he would visit him each
day that the ceremony lasted, at dawn.
Three Arrows prayed to the Great Spirit. He begged that soon his clan spirit would appear in a dream and tell him what his guardian animal or bird
was to be. When he knew this, he would adopt that bird or animal as his special guardian for the rest of his life.
When the dream came he would be free to return to his people, his dream fast successfully achieved. For five suns Three Arrows spent his days and
nights on the rocky plateau, only climbing down to the little spring for water after each sunset. His heart was filled with a dark cloud because that
morning his father had sadly warned him that the next day, the sixth sun, he must return to his village even if no dream had come to him in the night.
This meant returning to his people in disgrace without the chance of taking another dream fast. That night Three Arrows, weak from hunger and
weary from ceaseless watch, cried out to the Great Mystery.
"O Great Spirit, have pity on him who stands humbly before thee. Let his clan spirit or sign from beyond the Thunderbird come to him before
tomorrow's sunrise, if it by Thy will."
As he prayed, the wind suddenly veered from east to north. This cheered Three Arrows because the wind was now the wind of the great bear, and
the bear was the totem of his clan. When he entered the cavern he smelled for the first time the unmistakable odor of a bear. This was strong
He crouched at the opening of the cave, too excited to lie down although his tired body craved rest. As he gazed out into the night he heard the rumble
of thunder, saw the lightning flash, and felt the fierce breath of the wind from the north.
Suddenly a vision came to him, and a gigantic bear stood beside him in the cave. Then Three Arrows heard it say, "Listen well, Mohawk. Your clan
spirit has heard your prayer. Tonight you will learn a great mystery which will bring help and gladness to all your people."
A terrible clash of thunder brought the dazed boy to his feet as the bear disappeared. He looked from the cave just a streak of lightning flashed
across the sky in the form of a blazing arrow. Was this the sign from the Thunderbird? Suddenly the air was filled with a fearful sound. A shrill
shrieking came from the ledge just above the cave. It sounded as though mountain lions fought in the storm; yet, Three Arrows felt no fear as he
climbed toward the ledge.
As his keen eyes grew accustomed to the dim light he saw that the force of the wind was causing two young balsam trees to rub violently against
each other. The strange noise was caused by friction, and as he listened and watched fear filled his heart, for, from where the two trees rubbed
together a flash of lightning showed smoke. Fascinated, he watched until flickers of flames followed the smoke.
He had never seen fire of any kind at close range nor had any of his people. He scrambled down to the cave and covered his eyes in dread of this
strange magic. Then he smelt the bear again and he thought of his vision, his clan spirit, the bear, and its message. This was the mystery which he
was to reveal to his people. The blazing arrow in the sky was to be his totem, and his new name --Blazing Arrow.
At day break, Blazing Arrow climbed onto the ledge and broke two dried sticks from what remained of one of the balsams. He rubbed them
violently together, but nothing happened. "The magic is too powerful for me," he thought. Then a picture of his clan and village formed in his mind,
and he patiently rubbed the hot sticks together again.
His will power took the place of his tired muscles. Soon a little wisp of smoke greeted his renewed efforts, then came a bright spark on one of the
sticks. Blazing Arrow waved it as he had seen the fiery arrow wave in the night sky. A resinous blister on the stick glowed, then flamed -fire had
come to the Six Nations.
|The Prophecy of the Two Serpents
A Mohawk Legend
The story is told that a long time ago, before the time that Europeans arrived in the Americas, two hunters went out over the Great Water to look for
a new hunting territory. Game was scarce in Kanienkehaka, and they hoped to find more food beyond the horizon in the east.
These two hunters set out in their canoe for richer game. After they had gone out beyond the horizon's edge, they noticed a glowing in the distance.
They quickened their paddling and came upon a very strange sight. There in the water were two small serpents, one gold and one silver. These
serpents were glowing and turned the sky into wonderful colors.
The two hunters were amazed at the beauty of the serpents. They did not want to leave them in the water for fear they would drown or else be eaten
by a large fish. They knew if they brought these serpents back to their own nation, the people would admire the serpents and call the two hunters
men of great skill and daring. They paddled up close to the serpents and scooped them up into their canoe.
Before the two hunters returned to their village, the people could see them approaching from the great light that glowed from the serpents.
When the two hunters reached their homes with their prize, the people were impressed by the catch. Everybody crowded around the serpents to
watch the beautiful light that they gave off.
The people kept the serpents in an extra canoe. They were fed daily, and soon began to eat 24 hours a day. They grew too large for the canoe, and
had to be moved to a stockade especially built for that purpose.
At first the serpents were fed mosquitoes, flies and other insects. As they grew larger they ate small animals like rabbits, raccoons and muskrats.
Soon they grew so large that they needed to be fed deer and finally moose.
One day the serpents grew so large that they managed to escape from their stockade pen. They attacked the children and swallowed quite a few of
them whole. The people were in terrible circumstances. They could see the children squirming around in the bellies of the huge gold and silver
They attacked these serpents with clubs, with arrows and with spears, but to no avail. The serpents continued to ravage through the village, killing
more and more of the people and sallowing more of the children. Finally they left the village and headed for the woods.
The people fought among themselves as to what to do. They couldn't agree as to what was the best way to stop the serpents. They fought until it
became too late and the serpents disappeared. The gold serpent went south, and the silver one headed north.
These serpents left trails wherever they went. They cut through mountains and blocked up the rivers. They killed all of the animals wherever they
went, not always stopping to eat the meat. When the serpents approached a mountain, instead of going around it or over the top, they burrowed
through the middle. The serpents left trails of filth and destruction wherever they went. They poisoned the waters, killed the forests, and made the
earth an ugly and barren place.
One day a hunter from the land of the Kanienkehaka happened to see the golden serpent. It had grown to be the size of a mountain, and it had
turned around, and was heading for the Mohawk country once again. Similarly word came down from the north that the silver serpent had grown
and it too was heading for the land of the Kanienkehaka.
One day, the two serpents could be seen from the original village from whence they had come three hundred years earlier. Again the people argued
and argued. They could not agree as to the best way to kill the serpents off. The people remembered the legends of the serpents and how they had
eaten the children of their ancestors, and they fled to the mountains.
Once in the mountains the people were told by the Creator that the day would come when a small boy would show them the way to kill the two
serpents. The boy would make a bow from willow. He would string the bow with a string made from the hair of the clan mothers. An arrow
would be made of a straight sapling and tipped with the white flint of the Kanienkehaka.
With this arrow and this bow, the people were told, the Kanienkehaka would protect themselves from the two serpents of the United States and