Music: Elk Meadow by R. Carlos Nakai
No one can remember any more exactly how it came about that the black bear Wakini overpowered the strong gray grizzly Wakinu. The black bears
say that Wakini was just feeding on the contents of an ant hill when Wakinu came up to him and quite rudely stuck his paw in as well.
A great fight ensued, with gray and black hairs flying on every side. Wakini was, of course, in the right, for no animal may ever touch another's prey.
Wakinu thus received a just punishment; but that was by no means all -- like a defeated warrior, he had to leave his tribe forever.
Wakinu wailed and lamented, but the Indian laws are inexorable. And so he had to go, wading through familiar streams, taking a last look at the
familiar pines, and saying farewell to the valley he had lived in all of his life.
He could not see for tears, and so he failed to notice that he was making straight for the Snow Country. Suddenly he fell into a deep snowdrift.
Clambering out with difficulty, he wiped his eyes and took a look round.
There was nothing but white, unblemished snow everywhere.
"I'm sure to find a trail soon," the bear said to himself, and set out on his way once more. His gray coat had turned completely white with the snow,
ice, and bitter wind.
But Wakinu took no notice of anything and walked on and on, until he reached a strange land in which a deep, frosty night reigned supreme.
Somewhere in the distance the gale could still be heard, yet here there was no but that made by his own footfalls on the frozen snow.
Above him glowed the night sky, while not far away, on the very fringe of the Snow Country and the heavens, a broad white trail could be seen
ascending the sky.
Wakinu ran, hardly touching the ground, mesmerized by that gleaming trail. Another leap, and he found himself in the air, shaking snow from his
coat; light as a feather, he soared up and up.
The animals who were awake that night saw, for the first time, a wide white trail in the sky, and on it -- a gray bear.
"Wakinu has found the Bridge of the Dead Souls and is on his way to the Eternal Hunting-grounds," said the wise black bear Wakini.
And the grizzly really did go to the Eternal Hunting-grounds. The only thing he left behind was the snow he had shaken from his coat. And that white
snow is there in the sky to this day. Just look and see!
The pale-faces speak about the Milky Way, but every Indian knows that is the way to the Eternal Hunting-grounds, the path taken by the gray grizzly
|The White Trail in the Sky
A Shoshone Legend
All Rights Reserved
|Wolf Tricks the Trickster
A Shoshone Legend
The Shoshone people saw the Wolf as a creator God and they respected him greatly. Long ago, Wold and many other animals, walked and talked like
Coyote could talk, too, but the Shoshone people kept far away from him because he was a Trickster, somebody who is always up to no good and out
to double-cross you.
Coyote resented Wolf because he was respected by the Shoshone people. Being a devious Trickster, Coyote decided it was time to teach Wolf a lesson.
He would make the Shoshone people dislike Wolf, and he had the perfect plan. Or so he thought.
One day, Wolf and Coyote were discussing the people of the land. Wolf claimed that if somebody were to die, he could bring them back to life by
shooting an arrow under them. Coyote had heard this boast before and decided to put his plan into action.
Wearing his most innocent smile he told Wolf that if he brought everyone back to life, there would soon be no room left on Earth. Once people die,
said Coyote, they should remain dead.
If Wolf takes my advice, thought Coyote, then the Shoshone people would hate Wolf, once and for all.
Wolf was getting tired of Coyote constantly questioning his wisdom and knew he was up to no good, but he didn't say anything. He just nodded
wisely and decided it was time to teach Coyote a lesson.
A few days after their conversation, Coyote came running to Wolf. Coyote's fur was ruffled and his eyes were wide with panic.
Wolf already knew what was wrong: Coyote's son had been bitten by Rattlesnake and no animal can survive the snake's powerful venom.
Coyote pleaded with Wolf to bring his son back to life by shooting an arrow under him, as he claimed he could do.
Wolf reminded Coyote of his own remark that people should remain dead. He was no longer going to bring people back to life, as Coyote had
The Shoshone people say that was the day Death came to the land and that, as a punishment for his mischievous ways, Coyote's son was the first to
No one else was ever raised from the dead by Wolf again, and the people came to know sadness when someone dies. Despite Coyote's efforts,
however, the Shoshone didn't hate Wolf. Instead, they admired his strength, wisdom and power, and they still do today.