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 An Abenaki Legend

It is said that when Creator was giving a place for all the spirits to dwell who would be taking part in the inhabitance of Mother Earth, there came a sound, a loud BOOM, from off in the distance.

As Creator listened, the sound kept coming closer and closer until it finally it was right in front of Creator. "Who are you?" asked Creator. "I am the spirit of the drum" was the reply. I have come here to ask you to allow me to take part in this wonderful thing." "How will you take part?" Creator questioned." I would like to accompany the singing of the people. When they sing from their hearts, I will to sing as though I was the heartbeat of Mother Earth. In that way, all creation will sing in harmony. "Creator granted the request, and from then on, the drum accompanied the people's voices.

Throughout all of the indigenous peoples of the world, the drum is the center of all songs. It is the catalyst for the spirit of the songs to rise up to the Creator so that the prayers in those songs reach where they were meant to go. At all times, the sound of the drum brings completeness, awe, excitement, solemnity, strength, courage, and the fulfillment to the songs. It is Mother's heartbeat giving her approval to those living upon her. It draws the eagle to it, who carries the message to Creator.

An Aleut Legend

Long ago, when the world was still quite new, there were no winds at all, neither the gentle breeze of summer nor the fierce winter gale. Everything was perfectly still. Nothing disturbed the marsh grass on the shore and, when snow fell, it fell straight to earth instead of blowing and swirling into drifts as it does now.

At that time, in a village near the mouth of the Yukon River, there lived a couple who had no children. This made them very sad. Often the woman would sigh and say, 'How happy we would be if only we had a child!'

Her husband would sigh too and answer, 'Yes, if we had a son, I would teach him to stalk bears and seals over the ice-floes, and to make traps and snares. What will become of us in our old age with no one to provide for us ? Who will give festivals for our souls when we are dead ?'

These thoughts troubled them deeply and on many a long winter evening they sat in the flickering firelight, imagining how different life might be if they had a child.

One night the woman had a strange dream, in which she saw a sled pulled by three dogs, one brown, one white and one black, draw up outside her door. The driver leaned from his seat and beckoned her. 'Come,' he said. 'Sit here by me. I will take you on a journey.'

Wondering and fearful, the woman did as she was told. No sooner had she seated herself than the driver cracked his whip and the sled rose high into the air. Through the night-black sky they flew, faster and faster, past stars sparkling like hoar-frost. The woman was no longer afraid for she knew that this must be Igaluk, the Moon Spirit, who often comes to comfort those in distress.

Suddenly the sled stopped and the panting dogs lay down to rest. On all sides, as far as the eye could see, lay a great plain of smooth ice, the glittering expanse broken only by one small stunted tree.

Igaluk pointed and said, 'You who so desire a child, look at that tree over there. Make a doll from its trunk and you will find happiness.'

Before she could learn more, the woman awoke. So vivid was her dream that she at once roused her husband. She told him what she had seen and begged him to find the tree.

The man rubbed the sleep from his eyes. 'What would be the point?' he grumbled. 'It would only be a doll, not a real child.' But the woman persisted and finally, for the sake of peace, the man shouldered his axe and set out to look for the tree.

At the edge of the village where the snow lay thick and untrodden, he saw a bright path stretching far into the distance. It was now full day, yet the path shone like moonlight and the man knew that this was the direction which he must take.

For many hours he journeyed along the path of light until at last, on the horizon, he saw something shining very brightly. As he came nearer he saw that it was the tree of which his wife had spoken. The man cut it down with his axe and carried it home.

That evening, while he carved the figure of a small boy from some of the wood, his wife made a little suit of sealskin and, when the doll was finished, she dressed it and set it in the place of honor on the bench opposite the door. From the remaining wood the man carved a set of toy dishes and some tiny weapons, a spear and a knife, tipped with bone. His wife filled the dishes with food and water and set them before the doll.

Before going to bed, the couple sat and gazed at the doll. Although it was no more than six inches high, it was very lifelike, with eyes made from tiny chips of ivory.

'I cannot think why we have gone to all this trouble,' said the man gloomily. 'We are no better off than before.'

'Perhaps not,' replied his wife, 'but at least it will give us some amusement and something to talk about.'

During the night the woman awoke suddenly. Close at hand she heard several low whistles. She shook her husband and said, 'Did you hear that? It was the doll!'

They jumped up and, by the glow of their hastily lit lamp, they saw that the doll had eaten the food and drunk the water. They saw it breathe and its eyes move. The woman picked it up in her arms and hugged it.

They played with the doll for some time until it grew sleepy. Then they carefully returned it to the bench and went back to bed, delighted with their new toy.

In the morning, however, when they awoke, the doll had gone. Rushing outside, they saw its footprints leading away through the village. They followed as fast as they could, but at the edge of the village the tracks stopped and there was no trace of the doll. Sadly the couple returned home.

Although they did not know it, the doll was traveling along the path of light which the man had taken the day before. On and on he went until he came to the eastern edge of day where the sky comes down to meet the earth and walls in the light.

Looking up, the doll saw a hole in the sky wall, covered over with a piece of skin. The cover was bulging inwards, as if there was some powerful force on the other side. The doll was curious and, drawing his knife, he slashed the cords holding the cover in place and pulled it aside.

At once a great wind rushed in, carrying birds and animals with it. The doll peered through the hole and saw the Sky Land on the other side, looking just like earth, with mountains, trees and rivers.

When he felt that the wind had blown long enough, the doll drew the skin cover back over the hole, saying sternly, 'Wind, sometimes blow hard, sometimes soft, and sometimes not at all.' Then he went on his way.

When he came to the south, he saw another piece of skin covering an opening in the sky wall and bulging as before. Again the doll drew his knife and this time a warmer wind blew in, bringing more animals, trees and bushes. After a time the doll closed up the opening with the same words as before and passed on towards the west.

There he found yet another opening like the others, but this time, as soon as the cords were cut, the wind blew in a heavy rainstorm with waves and spray from the great ocean on the other side. The doll hastened to cover up the hole and instructed this wind as he had one the others.

When he came to the North, the cold was so intense that he hesitated for some time before he dared to open the hole in the sky there. When he finally did so, a fierce blast whistled in, with great masses of snow and ice, so that the doll was at once frozen to the marrow and he closed that opening very quickly indeed.

Admonishing the wind as before, the doll now turned his steps inwards, away from the sky wall and traveled on until he came to the very center of the Earth's plain. There he saw the sky arching overhead like a huge tent, supported on a framework of tall slender poles. Satisfied that he had now traveled the whole world over, the doll decided to return to the village from which he started.

His foster-parents greeted him with great joy, for they feared that he had gone forever. The doll told them and all the people of the village about his travels and how he had let the winds into the world. Everyone was pleased for with the wind came good hunting. The winds brought the birds of the air and the land animals, and they stirred up the sea currents so that seals and walrus could be found all along the coast.

Because he had brought good fortune as the Moon Spirit had predicted, the doll was honored in special festivals afterwards. Shamans made dolls like him to help them in their magic and parents also made dolls for their children, knowing that they bring happiness to those who care for them.

Native Prayer

 We have forgotten who we are.

 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.

 

Great Spirit,
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

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,
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

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.

TEARS

Each rain drop that falls reminds me of a tear,
Shed by my ancestors of a long ago yester year.

Tears of sorrow as the buffalo were killed for their hide,
Knowing it was a waste the reason for which they died.

Tears of anger as the white man invaded our land,
Because it changed our lives we were forced to take a stand.

Tears of understanding for they were merely searching for a home,
But it caused my people much hardship for no longer could they roam.

And also tears of defeat as whites engulfed us all,
But in our hearts and minds our heritage will always stand
straight and tall.

~unkown~

WE MUST LISTEN

When we were young we listened to the one who gave us birth,
Yet all through our life we must listen to Mother Earth.

For that is how we will learn the secret she is willing to share,
All the responsibility Mother Earth expects us to bear.

Let us look through all creatures' eyes to be able to see their daily needs,To marvel at how Mother Earth all creatures each day she feeds.

Teach us to watch and learn the wonders that Nature has in store,
To realize the poisons of mankind, upon Mother Earth must cease to pour.

When we were young we listened to the one who gave us birth,
Yet all through our life we must listen to Mother Earth.

For that is how we will learn the secret she is willing to share,
All the responsibility Mother Earth expects us to bear.

Let us look through all creatures' eyes to be able to see their daily needs,To marvel at how Mother Earth all creatures each day she feeds.

Teach us to watch and learn the wonders that Nature has in store,
To realize the poisons of mankind, upon Mother Earth must cease to pour.

~unknown~


WE THE FIRST PEOPLE

I'm proud to belong to one of the original clans
Whose Ancestors occupied all of these lands
Before we were "found" by some wandering seaman
Who knew just where he was and we became "Indian"

Talk to me of our victories, and I will listen
Tell me about our history, a tear will glisten
Stories of how life use to be, bring a rueful smile
Drums and flutes will find me dreaming all the while

In order to "save" us, they killed us
Our peaceful cultures were "dangerous"
And they thought they could just ravage us
But by fighting back, we became "savages"

Call us lazy indeed - we're not driven by their greed
To gather "materials" about them
But my question is
How did we exist
For hundreds of centuries without them?

~unkown~

Untitled

Hear me, oh Red man, if you want to save your hide,
Because here you surely can't abide.
Take your pagan customs with you, please do,
Get off the planet, I would if I were you.
Don't cherish the land in which you were born,
We already have your tobacco and corn.
Without your help we couldn't have survived,
But now that civilization has been revived.
A payment is due, we'll pay you in lead,
We won't sleep a moment, until your all dead.
An enemy like you we can't understand,
We take and you give, and you hold out your hand.
A handshake with you makes my stomach turn,
How come your so stupid, how come you don't learn?
I believe in the saying that somebody said,
The only good Indian is one that is dead.
Our God hates a heathen, now this we all know,
If he doesn't change his ways to hell he must go.
So, we help out our God in all the ways we can,
We kill all the pagans and take over their land.
The deseases we've fed them are working too slow,
They don't hurt enough, not near enough woe.
We'll make them all starve, show them how low we can go,
So, we killed and we killed to the last Buffalo.
Bison don't fight back so we made a great show,
We cut out their tongues and we ripped off their skins.
But God will forgive us for all our sins.
If we pray every morning and also at night,
Our sins are forgiven, everything is alright.
So, the survivers were put on a reservation,
The last lost people of a proud nation.
People shouldn't go down with the setting sun,
America what in god's name have you done?
America the beautiful, America the free,
You've lost something essential as it could be.
From your highest mountain to your shinning sea,
There should be a part of what use to be.
Not the clutter of mankind everywhere you look,
Why not give back a little of what you took.
Native Americans are still here today,
But no body listens to what they have to say.
They said it before and they say it again,
You can't own the land, you don't own the rain.
So, why can't we learn from people who know,
They have only been here twenty thousand years or so.
Could it be that they know this immense and great land,
Like you know your children or the back of your hand.
Why haven't we learned from people so great,
We are here today, we leave what we create.
Be it jungles of garbage or polluted water,
The land still owns you, your only a
squatter... 
 

Poem by, Beckie Clymo & Dean Trudell

The Dream Catcher

An ancient Chippewa tradition
The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played.

Hung above the cradle board,
Or in the lodge up high,
The dream net catches bad dreams,
While good dreams slip on by.

Bad dreams become entangled
Among the sinew thread.
Good dreams slip through the center hole,
While you dream upon your bed.

This is an ancient legend,
Since dreams will never cease,
Hang this dream net above your bed,
Dream on, and be at peace.

~unkown~

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