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 was found.
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 Moon."
"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 wondered.
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 our People."
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 him company.
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 much.
"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 People.
Author : KiiskeeN'tum - She Who Remembers.
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