There once lived a widow with two children; the elder a daughter and the younger a son. The widow went in mourning for her husband a long time. She cut off her hair, let her dress lie untidy on her body and kept her face unpainted and unwashed. There lived in the same village a great chief. He had one son just come old enough to marry. The chief had it known that he wished his son to take a wife, and all of the young women in the village were eager to marry the young man. However, he was pleased with none of them.
Now the widow thought, “I am tired of mourning for my husband and caring for my children. Perhaps if I lay aside my mourning and paint myself red, the chief’s son may marry me.”
So she slipped away from her two children, stole down to the river and made a bathing place thru the ice. When she had washed away all signs of mourning, she painted and decked herself and went to the chief’s teepee. When his son saw her, he loved her, and a feast was made in honor of her wedding.
When the widow’s daughter found herself forsaken, she wept bitterly. After a day or two she took her little brother in her arms and went to the teepee of an old woman who lived at one end of the village. The old woman’s tumble down teepee was of bark and her dress and clothing were of old smoke-dried tent cover. But she was kind to the two waifs and took them in willingly.
The little girl was eager to find her mother. The old woman said to her: “I suspect your mother has painted her face red. Do not try to find her. If the chief’s son marries her she will not want to be burdened with you.”
The old woman was right. The girl went down to the river, and sure enough found a hole cut in the ice and about it lay the filth that the mother had washed from her body. The girl gathered up the filth and went on. By and by she came to a second hole in the ice. Here too was filth, but not so much as at the previous place. At the third hole the ice was clean.
The girl knew now that her mother had painted her face red. She went at once to the chief’s teepee, raised the door flap and went in. There sat her mother with the chief’s son at their wedding feast.
The girl walked up to her mother and hurled the filth in her mother’s face. “There,” she cried, “you who forsake your helpless children and forget your husband, take that!”
And at once her mother became a hideous old woman.
The girl then went back to the lodge of the old woman, leaving the camp in an uproar. The chief soon sent some young warriors to seize the girl and her brother, and they were brought to his teepee. He was furious with anger.
“Let the children be bound with lariats wrapped about their bodies and let them be left to starve. Our camp will move on,” he said. The chief’s son did not put away his wife, hoping she might be cured in some way and grow young again.
Everybody in camp now got ready to move; but the old woman came close to the girl and said, “In my old teepee I have dug a hole and buried a pot with punk and steel and flint and packs of dried meat. They will tie you up like a corpse. But before we go I will come with a knife and pretend to stab you, but I will really cut the rope that binds you so that you can unwind it from your body as soon as the camp is out of sight and hearing.” And so, before the camp started, the old woman came to the place where the two children were bound. She had in her hand a knife bound to the end of a stick which she used as a lance. She stood over the children and cried aloud, “You wicked girl, who have shamed your own mother, you deserve all the punishment that is given you. But after all I do not want to let you lie and starve. Far better kill you at once and have done with it!” and with her stick she stabbed many times, as if to kill, but she was really cutting the rope.
The camp moved on; but the children lay on the ground until noon the next day. Then they began to squirm about. Soon the girl was free, and she then set loose her little brother. They went at once to the old woman’s hut where they found the flint and steel and the packs of dried meat.
The girl made her brother a bow and arrows and with these he killed birds and other small game.
The boy grew up a great hunter. They became rich. They built three great teepees, in one of which were stored rows upon rows of parfleche bags of dried meat.
One day as the brother went out to hunt, he met a handsome young stranger who greeted him and said to him, “I know you are a good hunter, for I have been watching you; your sister, too, is industrious. Let me have her for a wife. Then you and I will be brothers and hunt together.”
The girl’s brother went home and told her what the young stranger had said. “Brother, I do not care to marry,” she answered. “I am now happy with you.” “But you will be yet happier married,” he answered, “and the young stranger is of no mean family, as one can see by his dress and manners.”
“Very well, I will do as you wish,” she said. So the stranger came into the teepee and was the girl’s husband.
One day as they were in their tent, a crow flew overhead, calling out loudly, “Kaw, Kaw, They who forsook the children have no meat.”
The girl and her husband and brother looked up at one another.
“What can it mean?” they asked. “Let us send for Unktomi (the spider). He is a good judge and he will know.”
“And I will get ready a good dinner for him, for Unktomi is always hungry,” added the young wife.
When Unktomi came, his yellow mouth opened with delight at the fine feast spread for him. After he had eaten he was told what the crow had said.
“The crow means,” said Unktomi, “that the villagers and chief who bound and deserted you are in sad plight. They have hardly anything to eat and are starving.”
When the girl heard this she made a bundle of choicest meat and called the crow. “Take this to the starving villagers,” she bade him.
He took the bundle in his beak, flew away to the starving village and dropped the bundle before the chief’s teepee. The chief came out and the crow called loudly, “Kaw, Kaw! The children who were forsaken have much meat; those who forsook them have none.” “What can he mean?” cried the astonished villagers.
“Let us send for Unktomi,” said one, “he is a great judge; he will tell us.” They divided the bundle of meat among the starving people, saving the biggest piece for Unktomi.
When Unktomi had come and eaten, the villagers told him of the crow and asked what the bird’s words meant.
“He means,” said Unktomi, “that the two children whom you forsook have teepees full of dried meat enough for all the village.”
The villagers were filled with astonishment at this news. To find whether or not it was true, the chief called seven young men and sent them out to see. They came to the three teepees and there met the girl’s brother and husband just going out to hunt (which they did now only for sport).
The girl’s brother invited the seven young men into the third or sacred lodge, and after they had smoked a pipe and knocked out the ashes on a buffalo bone the brother gave them meat to eat, which the seven devoured greedily. The next day he loaded all seven with packs of meat, saying, “Take this meat to the villagers and lead them hither.” While they awaited the return of the young men with the villagers, the girl made two bundles of meat, one of the best and choicest pieces, and the other of liver, very dry and hard to eat.
After a few days the camp arrived. The young woman’s mother opened the door and ran in crying: “Oh, my dear daughter, how glad I am to see you.” But the daughter received her coldly and gave her the bundle of dried liver to eat. But when the old woman who had saved the children’s lives came in, the young girl received her gladly, called her grandmother, and gave her the package of choice meat with marrow.
Then the whole village camped and ate of the stores of meat all the winter until spring came; and withal they were so many, there was such abundance of stores that there was still much left.
A Sioux Legend
Marie L. McLaughlin, 1913
My grandfather took me to the fishing pond
when I was about seven, and he told me
to throw a stone into the water.
He told me to watch the circles created by the stone.
Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.
“You may create lots of splashes in your life,
but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace
of all your fellow creatures,” he said.
“Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle
and that circle will also touch many other circles.”
“You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes
from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others.”
“The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send
those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both.”
That was the first time I realized each person creates the
inner peace or discord that flows out into the world.
We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with
inner conflict, hatred, doubt, or anger.
We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside,
whether we speak them or not.
Whatever is splashing around inside of us
is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord
with all other circles of life.
Remember the eternal wisdom:
WHATEVER YOU FOCUS ON EXPANDS …
… a Sioux Indian story
Great Spirit of Light,
come to me out of the East (red)
with the power of the rising sun.
Let there be light in my words,
let there be light on my path that I walk.
Let me remember always
that you give the gift of a new day.
And never let me be burdened with sorrow
by not starting over again.
Great Spirit of Love,
come to me with the power of the North (white).
Make me courageous when the cold wind falls upon me.
Give me strength and endurance
for everything that is harsh,
everything that hurts,
everything that makes me squint.
Let me move through life
ready to take what comes from the north.
Great Life-Giving Spirit,
I face the West (black),
the direction of sundown.
Let me remember everyday that the moment will come
when my sun will go down.
Never let me forget that I must fade into you.
Give me a beautiful color,
give me a great sky for setting,
so that when it is my time to meet you,
I can come with glory.
Great Spirit of Creation,
send me the warm and soothing winds from the South (yellow).
Comfort me and caress me when I am tired and cold.
Unfold me like the gentle breezes
that unfold the leaves on the trees.
As you give to all the earth your warm, moving wind,
give to me,
so that I may grow close to you in warmth.
“Great Spirit and all unseen, this day we pray and ask You for guidance, humbly we ask You to help us and fellow men to have recourse to peaceful ways of life, because of uncontrolled deceitfulness by human- kind. Help us all to love, not hate one another.
We ask you to be seen in an image of Love and Peace. Let us be seen in beauty, the colors of the rainbow. We respect our Mother, the planet, with our loving care, for from Her breast we receive our nourishment.
Let us not listen to the voices of the two-hearted, the destroyers of mind, the haters and self-made leaders, whose lusts for power and wealth will lead us into confusion and darkness.
Seek visions always of world beauty, not violence nor battlefields.
It is our duty to pray always for harmony between man and earth, so that the earth will bloom once more. Let us show our emblem of love and goodwill for all life and land.
Pray for the House of Glass, for within it are minds clear and pure as ice and mountain streams. Pray for the great leaders of nations in the House of Mica who in their own quiet ways help the earth in balance.
We pray the Great Spirit that one day our Mother Earth will be purified into a healthy peaceful one. Let us sing for strength of wisdom with all nations for the good of all people. Our hope is not yet lost, purification must be to restore the health of our Mother Earth for lasting peace and happiness.
Techqua Ikachi – for Land and Life!”
… offered by representatives the Hopi Nation
Keep your thoughts positive,
because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive,
because your words become your behaviors.
Keep your behaviors positive,
because your behaviors become your habits.
Keep your habits positive,
because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive,
because your values become your destiny.
Long ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision.
In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider.
Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language that only the spiritual leaders of the Lakota could understand.
As he spoke Iktomi, the spider, took the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horse hair, beads and offerings on it and began to spin a web.
He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life…and how we begin our lives as infants and we move on to childhood, and then to adulthood. Finally, we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle.
“But,” Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, “in each time of life there are many forces — some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But if you listen to the bad forces, they will hurt you and steer you in the wrong direction.”
He continued, “There are many forces and different directions that can help or interfere with the harmony of nature, and also with the great spirit and all of his wonderful teachings.”
All the while the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web starting from the outside and working towards the center.
When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the Lakota elder the web and said….”See, the web is a perfect circle but there is a hole in the center of the circle.”
He said, “Use the web to help yourself and you people to reach your goals and make use of your people’s ideas, dreams and visions.
“If you believe in the great spirit, the web will catch your good ideas — and the bad ones will go through the hole.”
The Lakota elder passed on his vision to his people and now the Sioux Indians use the dream catcher as the web of their life.
It is hung above their beds or in their home to sift their dreams and visions.
The good in their dreams are captured in the web of life and carried with them…but the evil in their dreams escapes through the hole in the center of the web and are no longer a part of them.
They believe that the dream catcher holds the destiny of their future.
give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation’s beauty more than we give;
Never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;
Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty;
Never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand
That to destroy earth’s music is to create confusion;
That to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;
That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench;
That as we care for her she will care for us.
We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst,
help us to find the way to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution,
help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.
Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with mis-use,
help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed,
help us to find a way to replenish them.
Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost
in selfishness and corruption,
help us to find the way to restore our humanity.