Native American Legends
Kanienkeh - How the Eagle first came to the People
A Mohawk Legend
In the time of the beginning, it was the way of my people, to rejoice
in the birth of a child. The Old Ones, the Elders said that a child
was the most precious gift given to the people by the Creator.
So, in this time, was born a male child. As was the way of the
people, this child was given no name until he had been in the physical
world for three moons.
When three moons had passed, his family held a Naming Feast, to
share and celebrate this gift. The Old One's who's responsibility
it was to find the Spirit Name for each new soul, was given tobacco.
He would fast and pray and search the Spirit World until the name
On the fourth day, his name was announced to all who were present.
The Old One held the child high, close to Father Sky. Then he touched
the child's body to Mother Earth. Next he faced the child to all
Four Sacred Directions: the East, the direction of springtime and
childhood. Then the South, home to summer and adolescence. Thirdly
he faced him to the West where Autumn and maturity reside. Finally,
he faced North, home to Winter and the Elders.
As he spoke the child's name, all who heard it were surprised.
No child ever had received such a Name: He Who Walks a Different
Path: Ka Bay she go e sayd.
As this child grew, it became apparent that He Who Walks a Different
Path was very different than the other children.
It was the way of the People that everyone within the village contributed
in some way to the well-being of all. "It must be so"
the Elders said. "We live in a delicate balance with all our
relatives. We must take only what we need to survive. We must respect
our Mother the Earth, Grandfather Sun, Father Sky, and Grandmother
"We must respect all Kingdoms, all things, all our relations.
All must work together."
So, in this place, each one worked. Some were Hunters, Guardians
and Warriors who learned from the Spirit of the Bear or Wolf. Others
carried the knowledge and history of the peoples, and often traded
goods, as Storytellers, learning from the Turtle. Still others were
Dreamers, planners, War-chiefs who learned from Hawk, or coyote.
Some others were builders making lodges, canoes, tools and weapons
needed to survive, learning from the Beaver. A few were Holy People,
Healers and Medicine People who learned from all things that existed
and helped the ill.
"Children are closer to our Creator and will know their own
path", so the Elders taught. So the People allowed the children
to learn and experience many things around them. "Children
are not owned but belong to the community and the future."
All around cared for the children and kept them safe.
So Ka Bay she go e sayd was allowed to investigate many ways of
learning. He often spent many hours in the woods, talking to the
four-leggeds, (animals) and the winged, (birds). He felt it was
wrong to hunt and kill his friends for food.
An Elder once reported seeing the child surrounded by animals with
a Falcon and a Hawk on each shoulder. People shook their heads and
Each time the boy was questioned about his choice of lives work,
he answered: "It is not for me".
As he grew towards adulthood, he was asked more frequently. Always
he replied: "It is not for me."
It was the Way of the People to deal with problems or conflicts
by "Taking it to the Fire'. All the Elders sat in the Sacred
Circle around the Fire. Everyone who wished to speak was given time.
One could talk as long as one wished. Respect must be shown in manner
and speech. There was no interruption of the speaker. Then the Elders
would confer and pray and talk until a consensus or agreement was
reached. All the People would abide by the decision.
So, Ka Bay she go e sayd was called to this place. When he was
given time to speak, he said: "The Creator has given me a different
Vision. These ways are not for me."
The Elders spent many hours trying to reach a decision. Finally,
the Elder whose responsibility it was to speak for the People, rose
to his feet. His voice was filled with sadness. "If you will
not work or help in any way, you must leave this place. There can
be no room for those who do not contribute to the well-being of
There was great sadness. This had never happened before in the
memory of anyone. There was much sadness in the village, as the
boy packed a blanket, some dried berries along with his few clothes
and left the village.
The boy felt sad to leave his family, but he also felt happiness
for now he could spend all his time in the forest with the birds
and animals who were his friends.
The days passed slowly and pleasantly for the youth. He learned
many things from his Animal-kind brothers and sisters.
The hunters of his village came to find food for the villagers.
Some of his animal-kind friends chose to offer themselves so that
the village people could continue to have food and clothing. The
hunters left Tobacco and said prayers of appreciation and thanks
for their gifts.
Wa Bay she go e sayd was saddened when his animal-kind friends
died. So he began to go ahead of the hunters to warn and frighten
away the animals. Game became scarce, there was little food in the
pots of the villagers. Peoples stomachs were hungry and they became
angry at the youth.
The hunters began to hunt for He Who Walks a Different Path. He
was forced higher and higher into the hills, and then into the mountains.
Finally, he was so high up that only the birds remained to keep
It is the way of Human-Kind that young boys bodies begin to change
as they grow into young men. They grow hair on their bodies, their
voices deepen, their muscles strengthen and they grow tall.
Ka Bay she go e sayd's body began to change. But in a way he had
never seen before. On morning he awoke and found talons in place
of his fingernails. Next, he noticed feathers were growing out of
the backs of his hands and in the skin on his arms and shoulders.
He became very afraid.
He dug a hole in the ground, to fast and pray, asking the Creator
for understanding and guidance. On the fourth day, the Creator appeared
before him in the form of a huge bird, such as had never before
been seen in the Physical World.
He spoke to He Who Walks A Different Path: "My child, you
have remained true to the Vision and Wisdom I placed within you
when you entered this World of Physical Things. You have endured
"From this day on a new creature will enter the World: Kinew,
the Golden Eagle. In return for your loyalty, you and all your descendants
shall have the Honor of carrying the prayers of Human-Kind between
the Worlds of Earth and Spirit. All who see an Eagle shall be reminded
of Freedom and Truth. All who hold your feathers must speak only
the Truth in a good and kind way.
"As my view of what happens in this World is different from
where I live in the Spirit World, you will spend most of your time
in the realm of Father Sky, and view the world below in a different
way. As My Vision is unique and different, your eyesight will be
keener than any other bird that inhabits the skies. All who see
you flying higher than all other winged ones will be reminded of
the World of Spirit which is unseen yet so close-by to those in
the World of Physical Things."
And so it is told, this way, of How the Eagle First Came to the
Author : KiiskeeN'tum - She Who Remembers.
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