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King Philip

King Philip

The next day Massasoit and sixty of his warriors visited the English. They did not go into the English village, but stopped on the top of the hill nearby.

Philip was not with them, for at this time he was too young to go so far away from home. We can imagine his feelings, however, when he saw his father and the warriors start out on their journey.

 

They were dressed in costumes that would look very strange if seen on our streets to-day. Their clothing was made of the raw skin of wild animals. Their feet were protected by moccasins made of thin deerskin. Each one was tall, erect, and active, with long, coarse, black hair falling down his back.

 

None of them had any physical deformities, for it was the custom of the tribe to kill any child that was born deaf, dumb, blind, or lame.

 

Each one was decked with his personal ornaments. These did not consist of gold, silver, diamonds, or any other precious stones so familiar to us. The Indians knew nothing about these. Their ornaments consisted of ear-rings, nose-rings, bracelets, and necklaces made out of shells or fish-bones or shining stones, which were very common in that neighborhood.

 

Their faces were smeared with heavy daubs of paint. Each one had a cloak thrown over his shoulders, and he also wore a head-dress made of feathers or quills. To Philip it seemed as if he had never seen anything so imposing.

 

We can imagine how eagerly Philip listened to the story that his father told when he came back home: how the settlers came out to meet him on the hill, and made him a present of three knives, a copper chain, and an ear-ring, besides several good things to eat, very different from anything he had ever tasted before.

 

Then Massasoit described the treaty that he had made with the palefaces in which the settlers and the Wampanoags had agreed to remain friends and to help each other in every way they could. To make the treaty as strong as possible, the palefaces had written it down on paper and had signed their names to it. The Indians did not know how to read or write. That was something that they had never heard of before. But they drew rude pictures at the end of the writing and called these pictures their names.

 

Philip never tired listening to the stories about the palefaces. He was still too young to be taken to their settlement, but he longed for a chance to see them.

 

Suddenly, one day in the middle of the summer of 1621AD, about four months after the Indians had made their treaty with the whites, six warriors came into the little Indian village at Mount Hope with two men, who Philip saw were palefaces. They were not so tall as the Indians. They were thicker set, and their faces were covered with beards.

 

Massasoit recognized them immediately, for they were some of the party that he had met at Plymouth. They had come on a friendly visit to him, and had brought him a red cotton coat and a copper chain. Philip was greatly pleased to see the palefaces, of whom he had heard so much. He listened to their stories, answered their inquiries in regard to Indian life, and learned what he could about their homes and customs.

 

After this, the settlers called on the Indians many times, and Philip soon became very well acquainted with them.

 

During the next few months several white men came from England and settled at Weymouth, a few miles north of Plymouth. These new settlers were not so honest as those that had settled at Plymouth. They stole from the Indians and otherwise injured them, and caused them to plot against all the whites in the country. But before their plans were carried out Massasoit was taken sick. The medicine man was called in.

 

The medicine man was the physician. He had learned the medicinal virtues of a few simple herbs. He knew how to bind up wounds in bark with certain preparations of leaves, and he could also cure a few fevers. He went through many magical ceremonies with howls, roars, and antics of various kinds. If the sick man became well, the medicine man took all the credit; if the patient died, then the medicine man said that the bad spirit had too strong a hold on him.

 

But the medicine man did not help Massasoit. Philip watched by his father’s side and saw him grow worse day by day. He remembered how, only a few years before, the smallpox had carried away large numbers of the Indians, and now he began to think that the days of his father, too, were numbered.

 

But one day a paleface, one of the leaders of the colony at Plymouth, came into the Indian village. He sent the medicine man away and tenderly nursed Massasoit himself. He gave him medicine, nourished him with several little delicacies, and brought him slowly back to health.

Massasoit was so grateful for the kindness shown him that he told the palefaces of the Indian plot against them.

The whites at Weymouth were driven away and the palefaces at Plymouth continued to live on most excellent terms of friendship with the Wampanoags.

 

In the years that followed, Philip became better acquainted with the whites, and while he never loved them, he had great respect for their wisdom.

———

From a soon to be published book titled “Stories and Legends from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Rhode Island”

During the following summer young Philip heard many an interesting story about the English. Squanto himself came to see Massasoit several times, and from him Philip heard the story of his adventures across the sea.

 

Late in the fall, long before Philip had lost his interest in the stories of Squanto, another English vessel arrived on the coast of the Indian country.

 

On the eleventh day of November, 1620AD, the vessel anchored near Cape Cod. Sixteen palefaces came ashore. They did not act like the others who had preceded them. They made no effort to become acquainted with the Indians, but spent their time in looking around and in examining the country.

 

They found four or five bushels of corn, which had been stored for the winter by an Indian, and carried it away to their vessel.

 

This angered the Indians, and we can well imagine the thoughts that passed through the mind of the boy Philip when he heard that the English had stolen the corn that belonged to a poor Indian, one of his father’s friends.

The Indians talked the matter over by their camp fire, and little Philip listened to the story as eagerly as he had listened to the story of Squanto six months before.

 

A week or so later, more news came to Mount Hope. The palefaces had visited the shore a second time, and on this occasion had stolen a bag of beans and some more corn. How Philip’s anger increased as he heard his father talk the matter over with the other Indians!

 

A few days afterwards Philip heard still other news of the English. They had come ashore a third time. The Indians had watched them from a distance. Finally, when a good opportunity offered itself, thirty or forty Indians quietly surrounded the palefaces, and at a given signal every one of them yelled at the top of his voice and began to shoot arrows at the hated visitors.

 

For a time it looked as if the palefaces would be driven into the water. But soon they fired their guns, and the Indians ran away frightened at the noise.

Philip was greatly interested in the description that was given of a gun. He had never so much as heard of one before, and he thought it very strange that any one should be afraid of little pieces of lead. He could not see why it was not as easy to dodge bullets as it was to dodge arrows.

 

A week or two later still further news was brought to Massasoit’s village. The palefaces had left Cape Cod and had sailed across the bay to Patuxet (to which the English gave the name of Plymouth). There they had gone ashore and had built some log cabins, evidently with the intention of staying for some time.

 

This was something that the Indians could not understand. Every day some of them went to the top of the hill which overlooked the little settlement to see what the English were doing. Then they returned to Mount Hope with something new to tell about the palefaces, and Philip eagerly listened to every story that was related.

 

Several meetings of the Indians were held during the winter, at which Philip was always present, and finally one of their number, whose name was Samoset, was sent to Plymouth to ask the English why they had settled in this land which belonged, of right, to the red men.

 

Samoset returned a few days later. He told his story to the Indians around the camp fire, little Philip, as usual, paying great attention to what was said.

 

Samoset said that the palefaces had been very kind to him, and had told him that they had come to this country to settle, that they wanted to live on the most friendly terms with the red men, and that they desired to pay not only for the corn and beans which they had taken, but also for the land on which they had built their village.

 

At the close of his story the Indians expressed themselves as satisfied with the palefaces, and Philip felt that perhaps the English were not so bad as he had thought them to be.

Samoset was then sent to the settlers to tell them that Massasoit and some of his friends would like to meet them for a friendly talk about many things that might otherwise become a cause of disagreement between them. He brought back word that the English eagerly welcomed the opportunity to meet the Indians, and had offered to see them on the following day.

—————–

From a soon to be published book entitled “Stories from Marthas Vineyard (Nantucket and Rhode Island)”

Massaouit and his two SonsIn the early evening, during his boyhood days, Philip delighted to sit near the camp fire where the members of his tribe were wont to gather. There he eagerly listened to the stories of adventure told by his elders, and wished that he was old enough to enter into the sports that they so interestingly described.

Although children were not expected to talk in the presence of their elders, Philip frequently showed his interest in their stories by asking many questions in regard to the places visited by the older Indians.

 

In those days news traveled slowly from one little village to another, for there were neither telegraphs nor telephones; no, not even railroads. In fact, there were no roads, and even the paths through the woods were so little used that it was difficult to find one’s way from one place to another. The Indians kept no animals of any kind, and always traveled from place to place on foot.

 

One pleasant evening in June, in the year 1620, little Philip noticed that there was less general story-telling than usual, and that the Indians seemed greatly interested in a long story which one of their number was telling. He could not understand the story, but he frequently caught the words, “Squanto” and “English.” These were new words to him.

 

The next evening, as Philip and his brother were sitting by the fire, they asked their father what had caused the Indians to be so serious in their talk, and what the long story was about.

“Squanto has come home,” his father replied.

 

“And who is Squanto?” asked Philip.

 

Then his father told him a story, which was too long to be repeated here. But in brief it was as follows:

Several years before—long, in fact, before Philip was born—a ship had come from across the sea. It was larger than any other vessel the Indians had ever seen.

 

The only boats that Philip knew anything about were quite small, and were called canoes. They were made either of birch bark fastened over a light wooden frame, or of logs that had been hollowed by burning and charring.

 

But the boat from across the sea was many times larger than any of theirs—so Massasoit explained to the boys—and had accommodations for a great many men. Instead of being pushed along by paddles, it was driven by the wind by means of large pieces of cloth stretched across long, strong sticks of wood.

 

The Indians did not go down to the shore, but watched this boat from the highlands some distance inland. Finally the vessel stopped and some of the men came ashore. The Indians looked at the strangers in astonishment. Their skin was of a pale, whitish color, very different from that of the Indians, which was of a copper or reddish clay color.

 

King Philip Paddling his canoeThe white men, or the pale-faced men, as Massasoit called them, made signs of friendship to the Indians, and after a few minutes persuaded them to go down to the shore. There the two peoples traded with each other. The Indians gave furs and skins, and received in return beads and trinkets of various kinds.

 

When the vessel sailed away it carried off five Indians who had been lured on board and had not been allowed to return to shore. These Indians had not been heard from since, and that was fifteen years before.

 

Little Philip’s eyes increased in size, and instinctively he clenched his fists at the thought of the wrong that had been done his people by the palefaces.

 

His father went on with the story, and told him how the Indians then vowed vengeance on the white man; for it was a custom of the Indians to punish any person who committed a wrong act towards one of their number.

 

From time to time, other vessels visited their shores, but no Indian could ever be induced to go on board any of them.

 

Nine years later, another outrage was committed. The palefaces while trading with the Indians suddenly seized upon twenty-seven of the latter, took them to their vessel, and sailed away with them before they could be rescued. Is it any wonder that Philip felt that the whites were his natural enemies?

 

After that time, Massasoit said, the Indians had refused to have any dealings with the whites. Whenever a white man’s vessel came in sight, the Indians prepared to shoot anyone that came ashore. And now another white man’s vessel had arrived on the coast, and several of its crew had landed in spite of all that could be done to prevent them.

 

To the great surprise of Massasoit’s men, there was an Indian with these palefaces. And that Indian proved to be Squanto, one of the five who had been taken away fifteen years before.

 

This is but a bare outline of what Massasoit told his sons. It seemed to the lads like a fairy tale, and for days they talked of nothing but this strange story.

——-

From a soon to be published volume – “Legends and Stories from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Rhode Island”.

WigwamsMassasoit had several children. The eldest son was named Wamsutta, and the second Metacomet. In later years, the English gave them the names of Alexander and Philip, which are much easier names for us to pronounce.

We do not know the exact date of Philip’s birth, for the Indians kept no account of time as we do, nor did they trouble to ask anyone his age. It is probable, however, that Philip was born before 1620, the year in which the Pilgrims settled near the Wampanoags.

Philip spent his boyhood days playing with his brothers and sisters, and with the neighbors’ children; for although he was the son of a grand sachem, he had no special privileges above those of the other children around him.

We are apt to think of a prince as a man that does very little work. We expect him to attend banquets, to be dressed in military uniform, with a beautiful sword at his side and many medals on his breast, to be surrounded by servants, and to have everybody bow down to him and stand ready to do his bidding.

It was very different with Philip. He lived in no better way than did the other members of his tribe. His home was neither better nor worse than theirs. His food was of the same quality. His daily life was the same. He wore no uniform. He never heard of medals or badges. He had no servants. His father differed from the other Indians only in being their leader in time of war and in being looked up to whenever the chiefs of the tribe held a meeting, or council.
Philip’s home was not such as American boys and girls are brought up in. There were no toys, no baby carriages, no candy. There were no romps with the parents, for the Indians were a quiet, sober people, and rarely showed any affection for their children.

Philip’s father never played any games with him. In fact, in his younger days the boy never received very much attention from his father. He was taken care of by his mother. He was never rocked in a cradle, but was strapped in a kind of bag made of broad pieces of bark and covered with soft fur. Sometimes he was carried in this on his mother’s back, as she went about her work. Sometimes he was hung up on the branch of a tree.

The little house in which he lived was called a wigwam. It was circular, or oval, in shape, and made of barks or mats laid over a framework of small poles. These poles were fixed at one end in the ground, and were fastened together at the top, forming a framework shaped somewhat like a tent.
Two low openings on opposite sides of the wigwam served as doors. These were closed with mats when necessary, thus making the place tight and warm.
The wigwam had but one room. In the middle of it were a few stones which served as a fireplace. There was no chimney, but the smoke passed out through an opening at the top of the wigwam.

On one side of the fireplace was a large couch made of rough boards raised perhaps a foot above the ground and covered with mats or skins. The couch was very wide, so that Philip and the rest of the children could lie on it side by side at night.

On one side of the fireplace was a large couch made of rough boards raised perhaps a foot above the ground and covered with mats or skins. The couch was very wide, so that Philip and the rest of the children could lie on it side by side at night.

There was no other furniture in the room. A few baskets were hung on the walls ready for use. A few mats were placed here and there as ornaments. The dishes that held Philip’s food were rude vessels made of baked clay, of pieces of bark, of bits of hollowed stone, or of wood.
There was very little desire to keep the wigwam neat and tidy. It was used for only a few months, and then given up for a new one that was built nearby. In the summer it was customary to pitch the wigwam in an open place. In the winter it was pitched in the thick woods for protection from the winds and storms.

Such was the home in which Philip was brought up. It differed but little from those of his playmates, for there was no aristocracy among the Indians. The place where Massasoit and his family generally lived was near the present site of Bristol, on a narrow neck of land projecting into Narragansett Bay. It is now called Mount Hope, and is twelve or fifteen miles southeast of Providence, Rhode Island.

Mount Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Hope

——————

From a soon to be published book -Legends and Stories from Martha’s Vineyard.

This is the start of a 12 part story about King Philip of the Wampanoags

 

NOTE: This story has been truthfully reproduced. Many of the terms used would not be acceptable by 21st C. standards, but for the next 12 Chapters we beg your indulgence.

I. PHILIP’S PEOPLE

Philip, ruler of the Wampanoags, was the only Indian in our country to whom the English colonists gave the title of king. Why no other Indian ever received this title I cannot tell, neither is it known how it happened to be given to Philip.

The Wampanoags were a tribe of Indians whose homes were in what is now southeastern Massachusetts and in Rhode Island east of Narragansett Bay. A few of them, also, lived on the large islands farther south, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Three centuries ago Massasoit, Philip’s father, was the grand sachem, or ruler, of the Wampanoags. His people did not form one united tribe. They had no states, cities, and villages, with governors, mayors, and aldermen, as we have. Nor did they live in close relations with one another and vote for common officers.

On the other hand, they lived in very small villages. A few families pitched their wigwams together and lived in much the same way as people do now when they camp out in the summer.

Generally, among the Wampanoags, only one family lived in a wigwam. The fathers, or heads of the families in the different wigwams, came together occasionally and consulted about such matters as seemed important to them.

Every one present at the meeting had a right to express his opinion on the question under consideration, and as often as he wished. All spoke calmly, without eloquence, and without set speeches. They talked upon any subject they pleased, as long as they pleased, and when they pleased.
The most prominent person in a village was called the sagamore. His advice and opinion were generally followed, and he governed the people in a very slight manner.

The Indians of several villages were sometimes united together in a petty tribe and were ruled by a sachem, or chief.
The chief did not rule over a very large tract of country. Generally none of his subjects lived more than eight or ten miles away from him.

He ruled as he pleased, and was not subject to any constitution or court of any kind. In fact, he was a leader rather than a ruler. Nevertheless, a wise chief never did anything of great importance without first consulting the different Sagamores of his tribe.

The chief held a little higher position in the tribe than the sagamore did in his village. He settled disputes. He held a very rude form of court, where justice was given in each case according to its merits. He sent and received messengers to and from other tribes.

As several villages were united in a single petty tribe, so also several petty tribes were loosely joined together and ruled over by a grand sachem.

The different Wampanoag tribes which owed allegiance to Philip and his father, Massasoit, were five in number besides the small bands on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The village where the grand sachem lived was called by them Pokanoket.

Grand Sachem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a soon to be published book: STORIES FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD (Nantucket, Block Island And The Palantine)

 

Table of Contents
I. THE CELESTIAL SISTERS
II. THE BOY WHO SET A SNARE FOR THE SUN
III. STRONG DESIRE, AND THE RED SORCERER
IV. THE WONDERFUL EXPLOITS OF GRASSHOPPER
V. THE TWO JEEBI
VI. OSSEO, THE SON OF THE EVENING STAR
VII. GRAY EAGLE AND HIS FIVE BROTHERS
VIII. THE TOAD-WOMAN
IX. THE ORIGIN OF THE ROBIN
X. WHITE FEATHER AND THE SIX GIANTS
XI. SHEEM, THE FORSAKEN BOY
XII. THE MAGIC BUNDLE
XIII. THE RED SWAN
XIV. THE MAN WITH HIS LEG TIED UP
XV. THE LITTLE SPIRIT, OR BOY-MAN
XVI. THE ENCHANTED MOCCASINS
XVII. HE OF THE LITTLE SHELL
XVIII. MANABOZHO, THE MISCHIEF-MAKER
XIX. LEELINAU, THE LOST DAUGHTER
XX. THE WINTER-SPIRIT AND HIS VISITOR
XXI. THE FIRE-PLUME
XXII. WEENDIGOES AND THE BONE-DWARF
XXIII. THE BIRD LOVER
XXIV. BOKWEWA, THE HUMPBACK
XXV. THE CRANE THAT CROSSED THE RIVER
XXVI. WUNZH. THE FATHER OF INDIAN CORN

 

ISBN: 978-1-909302-65-5

Pages: 362

Illustrated by John McLenan

American Indian Fairy Book Cover JPG

Once upon a time, the Ojibways were a great nation whom the fairies loved. Their land was the home of many spirits, and as long as they lived on the shores of the great lakes the woods in that country were full of fairies. Some of them dwelt in the moss at the roots or on the trunks of trees. Others hid beneath the mushrooms and toadstools. Some changed themselves into bright-winged butterflies or tinier insects with shining wings. This they did that they might be near the children they loved and play with them where they could see and be seen.

But there were also evil spirits in the land. These burrowed in the ground, gnawed at the roots of the loveliest flowers and destroyed them. They breathed upon the corn and blighted it. They listened whenever they heard men talking, and carried the news to those with whom it would make most mischief. It is because of these wicked fairies that the Indian must be silent in the woods and must not whisper confidences in the camp unless he is sure the spirits are fast asleep under the white blanket of the snow.

The Ojibways looked well after the interests of the good spirits. They shielded the flowers and stepped carefully aside when moss or flower was in their path. They brushed no moss from the trees, and they never snared the sunbeams, for on them thousands of fairies came down from the sky. When the chase was over they sat in the doorways of their wigwams smoking, and as they watched the blue circles drift and fade into the darkness of the evening, they listened to the voices of the fairies and the insects’ hum and the thousand tiny noises that night always brings.

One night as they were listening they saw a bright light shining in the top of the tallest trees. It was a star brighter than all the others, and it seemed very near the earth. When they went close to the tree they found that it was really caught in the topmost branches.

The wise men of the tribe were summoned and for three nights they sat about the council fire, but they came to no conclusion about the beautiful star. At last one of the young warriors went to them and told them that the truth had come to him in a dream.

While asleep the west wind had lifted the curtains of his wigwam and the light of the star fell full upon him. Suddenly a beautiful maiden stood at his side. She smiled upon him, and as he gazed speechless she told him that her home was in the star and that in wandering over all the earth she had seen no land so fair as the land of the Ojibways. Its flowers, its sweet-voiced birds, its rivers, its beautiful lakes, the mountains clothed in green, these had charmed her, and she wished to be no more a wanderer. If they would welcome her she would make her home among them, and she asked them to choose a place in which she might dwell.

The council were greatly pleased; but they could not agree upon what was best to offer the Star Maiden, so they decided to ask her to choose for herself. She searched first among the flowers of the prairie. There she found the fairies’ ring, where the little spirits danced on moonlight nights. “Here,” thought she, “I will rest.” But as she swung herself backwards and forwards on the stem of a lovely blossom, she heard a terrible noise and fled in great fear. A vast herd of buffaloes came and took possession of the fairies’ ring, where they rolled over one another, and bellowed so they could be heard far on the trail. No gentle star maiden could choose such a resting-place.

She next sought the mountain rose. It was cool and pleasant, the moss was soft to her dainty feet, and she could talk to the spirits she loved, whose homes were in the stars. But the mountain was steep, and huge rocks hid from her view the nation that she loved.

She was almost in despair, when one day as she looked down from the edge of the wild rose leaf she saw a white flower with a heart of gold shining on the waters of the lake below her. As she looked a canoe steered by the young warrior who had told her wishes to his people, shot past, and his strong, brown hand brushed the edge of the flower.

“That is the home for me,” she cried, and half-skipping, half flying down the side of the mountain, she quickly made her way to the flower and hid herself in its bosom. There she could watch the stars as well as when she looked upward from the cup of the mountain rose; there she could talk to the star spirits, for they bathed in the clear lake; and best of all, there she could watch the people whom she loved, for their canoes were always upon the water.

ISBN: 978-1-907256-15-8

http://abelapublishing.com/american-indian-fairy-tales_p23332602.htm

Here is a tale from Yaqui Myths and Legends which I have yet to replublish as a book. The Yaqui are an American Indian people.

It is titled THE KU BIRD.

AMONG the Yaquis there was once a bird who, from birth, was very poor. So poor was this little one that he had not one single feather on his whole body. Often he sighed, especially in the winter time, because of his lack of protecting feathers. Many years passed, until one day he spoke to the Owl, saying,
“My brother, do me a favor and I will help you as long as I live. Help me to dress myself by lending me just a few of your feathers, even if they should cover only a part of my body. With the cold weather, I suffer.”
And the Owl answered him. “Have no worry about my helping you. I am going to ask all the birds to lend you one feather. In that way, you may clothe your whole body.”
“You speak well,” said the Ku Bird to the Owl. “When I have many feathers, I shall return a feather to each who lent me one.”
“Good,” said the Owl, “I shall send messengers to all the birds both large and small, to every single bird, in order that not one shall fail to attend the council. By early tomorrow morning we shall all be gathered to consider the matter of your clothes.”
“Many, many thanks,” answered the Ku Bird.
“Good-by for a while,” said the Owl. And he went away to make arrangements with the other birds.

Immediately they all wanted to see Ku Bird. At their petition, although with great shame, he presented himself.
Everyone was very sorry for him. And each bird presented him with one feather. Everyone contributed until Ku’s costume, was complete.
After thanking them all, Ku said, “To brother Owl I shall return all of the loaned feathers. He will return them to each of you in one year.”
A few days later the Ku Bird visited a spring filled with crystal-clear water. Here, many birds with beautiful plumes often came to visit. When the Ku Bird arrived all the birds surrounded him and looked at him in admiration and joy. They believed that he was a prince, and all rendered him homage. They did not recognize him beneath his beautiful, unusual plumage. He looked like a garden of flowers. Some called him the bird of a thousand colors, for he was wonderfully colorful with all his many feathers.

But within a year Ku was lost completely. He was never again seen, although all the birds searched for him, even in distant regions. Never again did he appear.
To this day, the Owl is still hunting for him. He searches and he calls. That is why Owl sings: “Ku, Ku, Ku, Ku,” nothing more. He is not able to say Ku Bird, but he can sing “Ku Ku Ku.”

Many centuries have passed and no one has ever heard anything about Ku. It is said that he is enchanted, that he now dwells in a waterhole which lies west of Potam near the sea. Yaquis say they have been there and heard him singing.
Ku never paid for his shirt, the Ku Bird, the bird of a thousand colors.

So ends the tale.

THE Ojibways were a great nation whom the fairies loved. Their land was the home of many spirits, and as long as they lived on the shores of the great lakes the woods in that country were full of fairies. Some of them dwelt in the moss at the roots or on the trunks of trees. Others hid beneath the mushrooms and toadstools. Some changed themselves into bright-winged butterflies or tinier insects with shining wings. This they did that they might be near the children they loved and play with them where they could see and be seen.

But there were also evil spirits in the land. These burrowed in the ground, gnawed at the roots of the loveliest flowers and destroyed them. They breathed upon the corn and blighted it. They listened whenever they heard men talking, and carried the news to those with whom it would make most mischief.

It is because of these wicked fairies that the Indian must be silent in the woods and must not whisper confidences in the camp unless he is sure the spirits are fast asleep under the white blanket of the snow.

The Ojibways looked well after the interests of the good spirits. They shielded the flowers and stepped carefully aside when moss or flower was in their path. They brushed no moss from the trees, and they never snared the sunbeams, for on them thousands of fairies came down from the sky. When the chase was over they sat in the doorways of their wigwams smoking, and as they watched the blue circles drift and fade into the darkness of the evening, they listened to the voices of the fairies and the insects’ hum and the thousand tiny noises that night always brings.

One night as they were listening they saw a bright light shining in the top of the tallest trees. It was a star brighter than all the others, and it seemed very near the earth. When they went close to the tree they found that it was really caught in the topmost branches.

The wise men of the tribe were summoned and for three nights they sat about the council fire, but they came to no conclusion about the beautiful star. At last one of the young warriors went to them and told them that the truth had come to him in a dream.

While asleep the west wind had lifted the curtains of his wigwam and the light of the star fell full upon him. Suddenly a beautiful maiden stood at his side. She smiled upon him, and as he gazed speechless she told him that her home was in the star and that in wandering over all the earth she had seen no land so fair as the land of the Ojibways. Its flowers, its sweet-voiced birds, its rivers, its beautiful lakes, the mountains clothed in green, these had charmed her, and she wished to be no more a wanderer. If they would welcome her she would make her home among them, and she asked them to choose a place in which she might dwell.

The council were greatly pleased; but they could not agree upon what was best to offer the Star Maiden, so they decided to ask her to choose for herself.

She searched first among the flowers of the prairie. There she found the fairies’ ring, where the little spirits danced on moonlight nights. “Here,” thought she, “I will rest.” But as she swung herself backwards and forwards on the stem of a lovely blossom, she heard a terrible noise and fled in great fear. A vast herd of buffaloes came and took possession of the fairies’ ring, where they rolled over one another, and bellowed so they could be heard far on the trail. No gentle star maiden could choose such a resting-place.

She next sought the mountain rose. It was cool and pleasant, the moss was soft to her dainty feet, and she could talk to the spirits she loved, whose homes were in the stars. But the mountain was steep, and huge rocks hid from her view the nation that she loved.

She was almost in despair, when one day as she looked down from the edge of the wild rose leaf she saw a white flower with a heart of gold shining on the waters of the lake below her. As she looked a canoe steered by the young warrior who had told her wishes to his people, shot past, and his strong, brown hand brushed the edge of the flower.

“That is the home for me,” she cried, and half-skipping, half-flying down the side of the mountain, she quickly made her way to the flower and hid herself in its bosom. There she could watch the stars as well as when she looked upward from the cup of the mountain rose; there she could talk to the star spirits, for they bathed in the clear lake; and best of all, there she could watch the people whom she loved, for their canoes were always upon the water.

 

From American Indian Fairy Tales

ISBN: 978-1-907256-15-8

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_aift.html

 

 

AUTUMN nights on the upper Missouri river in Montana are indescribably beautiful, and under their spell imagination is a constant companion to him who lives in wilderness, lending strange, weird echoes to the voice of man or wolf, and unnatural shapes in shadow to commonplace forms.

 

The moon had not yet climbed the distant mountain range to look down on the humbler lands when I started for War Eagle’s lodge; and dimming the stars in its course, the milky-way stretched across the jewelled sky. “The wolf’s trail,” the Indians call this filmy streak that foretells fair weather, and to-night it promised much, for it seemed plainer and brighter than ever before.

 

“How — how!” greeted War Eagle, making the sign for me to be seated near him, as I entered his lodge. Then he passed me his pipe and together we smoked until the children came.

 

Entering quietly, they seated themselves in exactly the same positions they had occupied on the previous evenings, and patiently waited in silence. Finally War Eagle laid the pipe away and said: “Ho! Little Buffalo Calf, throw a big stick on the fire and I will tell you why the Kingfisher wears a war-bonnet.”

 

The boy did as he was bidden. The sparks jumped toward the smoke-hole and the blaze lighted up the lodge until it was bright as daytime, when War Eagle continued:

 

“You have often seen Kingfisher at his fishing along the rivers, I know; and you have heard him laugh in his queer way, for he laughs a good deal when he flies. That same laugh nearly cost him his life once, as you will see. I am sure none could see the Kingfisher without noticing his great head-dress, but not many know how he came by it because it happened so long ago that most men have forgotten.

 

“It was one day in the winter-time when Old-man and the Wolf were hunting. The snow covered the land and ice was on all of the rivers. It was so cold that Old-man wrapped his robe close about himself and his breath showed white in the air. Of course the Wolf was not cold; wolves never get cold as men do. Both Old-man and the Wolf were hungry for they had travelled far and had killed no meat. Old-man was complaining and grumbling, for his heart is not very good. It is never well to grumble when we are doing our best, because it will do no good and makes us weak in our hearts. When our hearts are weak our heads sicken and our strength goes away. Yes, it is bad to grumble.

 

“When the sun was getting low Old-man and the Wolf came to a great river. On the ice that covered the water, they saw four fat Otters playing.

 

“‘There is meat,’ said the Wolf; ‘wait here and I will try to catch one of those fellows.’

 

“‘No! — No!’ cried Old-man, ‘do not run after the Otter on the ice, because there are air-holes in all ice that covers rivers, and you may fall in the water and die.’ Old-man didn’t care much if the Wolf did drown. He was afraid to be left alone and hungry in the snow — that was all.

 

“‘Ho!’ said the Wolf, ‘I am swift of foot and my teeth are white and sharp. What chance has an Otter against me? Yes, I will go,’ and he did.

 

“Away ran the Otters with the Wolf after them, while Old-man stood on the bank and shivered with fright and cold. Of course the Wolf was faster than the Otter, but he was running on the ice, remember, and slipping a good deal. Nearer and nearer ran the Wolf. In fact he was just about to seize an Otter, when SPLASH! — into an air-hole all the Otters went. Ho ! the Wolf was going so fast he couldn’t stop, and SWOW! into the airhole he went like a badger after mice, and the current carried him under the ice. The Otters knew that hole was there. That was their country and they were running to reach that same hole all the time, but the Wolf didn’t know that.

 

“Old-man saw it all and began to cry and wail as women do. Ho! but he made a great fuss. He ran along the bank of the river, stumbling in the snowdrifts, and crying like a woman whose child is dead; but it was because he didn’t want to be left in that country alone that he cried — not because he loved his brother, the Wolf. On and on he ran until he came to a place where the water was too swift to freeze, and there he waited and watched for the Wolf to come out from under the ice, crying and wailing and making an awful noise, for a man.

 

“Well — right there is where the thing happened. You see, Kingfisher can’t fish through the ice and he knows it, too; so he always finds places like the one Old-man found. He was there that day, sitting on the limb of a birch-tree, watching for fishes, and when Old-man came near to Kingfisher’s tree, crying like an old woman, it tickled the Fisher so much that he laughed that queer, chattering laugh.

 

“Old-man heard him and — Ho! but he was angry. He looked about to see who was laughing at him and that made Kingfisher laugh again, longer and louder than before. This time Old-man saw him and SWOW! he threw his war-club at Kingfisher; tried to kill the bird for laughing. Kingfisher ducked so quickly that Old-man’s club just grazed the feathers on his head, making them stand up straight.

 

“‘There,’ said Old-man, ‘I’ll teach you to laugh at me when I’m sad. Your feathers are standing up on the top of your head now and they will stay that way, too. As long as you live you must wear a head-dress, to pay for your laughing, and all your children must do the same.

 

“This was long, long ago, but the Kingfishers have not forgotten, and they all wear war-bonnets, and always will as long as there are Kingfishers.

 

“Now I will say good night, and when the sun sleeps again I will tell you another story. Ho!”

 

From “Indian Why Stories”

ISBN: 978-1-907256-26-4

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_iws.html