O'siyo, Welcome to my Lodge, come, come in and have a seat and we will pass the pipe as friends and then I will tell you a story of our Ancestors and thru this story you may learn of our ways and our culture. These Legends are of our life and tell us how to live with all life in this our world, and Id like to share these with you.
This month I will tell you three different piece's of lore for lovers, from three different Tribes about love. After all this is the month for lovers. The first will be a Brule Sioux "Legend of the Flute", then I will tell you a Cherokee piece of lore called "Why Mole lives Underground", and finally one from the Multnomah called " The legend of Multnomah Falls". They come from one of my legend books call "American Indian Myths and Legends,(ISBN 0-394-74018-1). I hope you will enjoy hearing these stories as much as I enjoy telling them to you.
This Brule Sioux Lore, was told by Henry Crow Dog in New York City in 1967, and now I bring it to you to hear. As you read, you will see the word "song" underlined three times. Each of these is a link to a different .wav sound file for the flute, click them while you read to hear samples of this beautiful music
Well, you know our flutes, you've heard their sounds and seen how beautifully they are made. That flute of ours, the siyotanka, is for only one kind of music, love music. In the old days the men would sit by themselves, maybe lean hidden, unseen, against a tree in the dark of night. They would make up their own special tunes, their courting songs.
We Indians are shy. Even if he was a warrior who had already counted coup on a enemy, a young man might hardly srcew up courage enough to talk to a nice-looking winchinchala- a girl he was in love with. Also, there was no place where a young man and a girl could be alone inside the village. The family tipi was always crowded with people. And naturally, you couldnt just walk out of the village hand in hand with your girl, even if hand holding had been one of our customs, which it wasnt. Out there in the tall grass and sagebrush you could be gored by a buffalo, clawed by a grizzly, or tomahawked by a Pawnee, or you could run into the Mila Hanska, the Long Knives, namely the U.S. Cavalry.
The only chance you had to met your winchinchala was to wait for her at daybreak when the women went to the river or brook with their skin bags to get water. When that girl you had your eye on finally came down to the water trail, you popped up from behind some bush and stood so she could see you. And that was about all you could do to show her that you were interested, Standing there grinning, looking at your moccasins, scrathing your ear, maybe.
The winchinchala didn't do much either, except get red in the face, giggle, maybe throw a wild turnip at you. If she liked you, the only way she would let you know was to take her time filling her water bag and peek at you a few times over her shoulder.
So the flutes did all the talking. At night, lying on her buffalo robe in her parents tipi, the girl would hear that moaning, crying sound of the siyotanka. By the way it was played, she would know that it was her lover who was out there someplace. And if the Elk Medicine was very strong in him and her, maybe she would sneak out to follow that sound and meet him without anybody noticing it.
The flute is always made of cederwood. In the shape it describes the long neck and head of a bird with a open beak. The sound comes out of the beak, and thats where the legend comes in, the legend of how the Lakota people acquired the flute.
Once many generations ago, the people had drums, gourd rattles, and bull-roarers, but no flutes. At that long-ago time a young man went out to hunt. Meat was scarce, and the people in his camp were hungry. He found the tracks of an Elk and followed them for a long time. The Elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can't help sleeping with him. He will also be a lucky hunter. This young man Im talking about had no Elk Medicine.
After many hours he finally sighted his game. He was skilled with bow and arrows, and had a fine new bow and a quiver full of straight, well-feathered, flint-tipped arrows. Yet the Elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him on and on. The young man was so intent on following his prey that he hardly noticed where he went.
When night came, he found himself deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the Elk, and there was no moon. He realized that he was lost and that it was too dark to find his way out. Luckily he came upon a stream with cool, clear water. And he had been careful enough to bring a hide bag of wasna, dried meat pounded with berries and kidney fat, strong food that will keep a man going for a few days. After he had drunk and eaten, he rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back againest a tree, and tried to rest. But he couldnt sleep, the forest was full of strange noises, and the cries of night animals, the hooting owls, the groaning of trees in the wind. It was as if he heard these sounds for the first time.
Suddenly there was a entirely new sound, of a kind neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before. It was mournful and ghost like. It made him afraid, so that he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow to make sure that it was properly strung. On the other hand, the sound was like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope, and yearning. Then before he knew it, he was asleep. He dreamed that the bird called wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker, appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, "Follow me and I will teach you."
When the hunter awoke, the sun was already high. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecker. The bird flew away to another tree, and another, but never very far, looking back all the time at the young man as if to say, "Come on!" Then once more he heard that wonderful song, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made easy to follow. At last it lighted on a ceder tree and began hammering on a branch, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. Suddenly there was a gust of wind, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.
Then he discovered that the song came from the dead branch that the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized also that it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.
"Kola, friend," said the hunter, "let me take this branch home. You can make yourself another."
He took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy all the same.
In his tipi the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waves it around, no sound came. It made him sad, he wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing. In the middle of the fourth night, wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying,"Watch me," turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing, saying again and again,"Watch this, now." And in his dream the young man watched and observed very carefully.
When he awoke, he found a ceder tree. He broke off a branch and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, ceder, and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once there was the song, ghost like and beautiful beyond words drifting all the way to the village, where the people were astounded and joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.
In the village lived an itanchan, a big chief. This itanchan had a daughter who was beautiful but also very proud, and convinced that there was no young man good enough for her. Many had come courting, but she had sent them all away. Now, the hunter who had made the flute decided that she was just the woman for him. Thinking of her he composed a special song, and one night, standing behind a tall tree, he played it on his siyotanka in hopes that it might have a charm to make her love him.
All at once the winchinchala heard it. She was sitting in her fathers tipi, eating buffalo hump meat and tongue, feeling good. She wanted to stay there, in the tipi by the fire, but her feet wanted to go outside. She pulled back, but her feet pulled forward, and the feet won. Her head said,"Go slow, go slow!" but the feet said,"Faster, faster!" She saw the young man standing in the moonlight, she heard the flute. Her head said,"Dont go to him, he's poor." Her feet said,"Go, run!" and again the feet prevailed.
So they stood face to face. The girls head told her to be silent, but the feet told her to speak, and speak she did, saying,"Koshkalaka, young man, I am yours altogether." So they lay down together, the young man and the winchinchala, under one blanket.
Later she told him,"Koshkalaka, warrior, I like you. Let your parents send a gift to my father, the chief. No matter how small, it will be accepted. Let your father speak for you to my father. Do it soon! Do it now!"
And so the two fathers quickly agreed to the wishes of their children. The proud winchinchala became the hunters wife, and he himself became a great chief. All the other young men had heard and seen. Soon they too began to whittle ceder branches into the shape of birds heads with long necks and open beaks. The beautiful love music traveled from tribe to tribe, and made young girls feet go where they shouldnt. And thats how the flute was brought to the people, thanks to the ceder, the woodpecker, and this young man, who shot no Elk, but knew how to listen.
This next piece of lore comes from the Cherokee, as it was recorded by James Mooney in the 1890's while staying with the Cherokee, writing all he could learn from them about their ways and teachings for the Smithsionian. This legend is called "Why Mole Lives Underground" and is a short story.
Many ages ago there was a man who was in love with a young woman who disliked him and wanted nothing to do with this young man. He tried in every way to win her favor, but with no success. At last he grew discouraged and made himself sick thinking about it.
Then one day as the man sat alone in his dispare, Mole came along, and finding the man so low in his mind, asked what the trouble was. The man told him the whole story of the woman he loved, and her dislike of him, and when he had finished, Mole said,"I can help you. Not only will she like you, but she will come to you of her own free will."
That night, while the village slept, burrowing underground to the place where the girl was in bed asleep, Mole took out her Spirit Heart. He came back by the same way and gave her heart to the discouraged lover, who couldnt see it even when it was in his hands. "There," said Mole. "Swallow it, and she will be so drawn to you that she has to come to you."
The man swallowed her heart and felt a warmth in his soul as it went down, and in the morning when the girl woke up she somehow thought of him at once. She felt a strange desire to be with him, to go to him that minute. She couldnt understand it, because she had always disliked him, but the feeling grew so strong that she was compelled to find the man and tell him that she loved him and wanted to be his wife. And so they were married.
All the magicians who knew them both were surprised and wondered how it had come about. When they found that it was the work of Mole, whom they had always thought too insignificant to notice, they were jealous and threatened to kill him. Thats why Mole hide under the ground and still doesnt dare to come up.
My last piece of lore comes from the Mulitnomah Tribe, about a young woman who gives herself so that those she loves may continue on. It is the final story for the Lovers month of Febuary and I hope that these tales of love, spark a love in your life of un-selfesness, un-conditional Love. The title of this Lore is " 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.
For this Year I ask everyone to make prayers for World Peace and Kindness for all Living things on our Mother, The Earth. I ask all Pipe Carriers to make smoke with me in prayer also for Leonard Pletier and others like him who have been im-prisoned unjustly. And here is the story of how I got my Pipe
I will try to post a new feature artist and a new legend each month, If you have any feedback you can E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I welcome all feed back.
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