A Cherokee Story of Blue Heron

When learning the medicine of Native American Totems it sometimes helps to relate a story about the animal, plant,Great Blue Heron Poster print or mineral that the lesson is coming from.  The First People of Turtle Island (North America) have left us with wonderful stories that help us understand more about a messenger who has come to us on our journey.  Yesterday, I blogged about the Blue Heron and how it teaches us about self-reflection.  Here is a story about Blue Heron from the Cherokee tradition.

I have heard that a very long time ago there was a race of Little People.  These people were very small, perhaps only  5 or 6 inches tall.  The Little People enjoyed a good life for the most part. They did suffer from the occasional attacks from visiting birds, though.  You see, my friend, these birds were larger than the Little People and it caused them much worry that they might be mistaken for food.  One day a Cherokee hunter, whose name has long been forgotten,  gave the Little People a gift.  He showed them how they could make little bows and arrows to defend themselves against the birds. They were very grateful to this friendly hunter.

For the next hundred years the Little People lived by the marsh in harmony with the world around them.  One day a flock of Blue Herons came.  The long legs of the Heron caused the arrows to fall  short and they did not scare the Blue Herons away.

The long beaks of the Great Blue Heron frightened the women and children and they fled, screaming into their homes at the sides of the marsh.

The tiny warriors stood their ground  and faced their fears of these enormous foes.  The Great Spirit saw that these Little Men had faced the challenge bravely and were using the skills they had.  So, a punishment was given to Blue Heron for terrorizing these Little People. It is why the Blue Heron has to feed alone and is never seen in flocks to this day. This is why Blue Heron brings us the message of self-reflection as it has to feed alone.  Alone we have to face our fears, look at our gifts, and be in harmony with our world.

I love to find these tribal stories and see how they relate to the Native American Totems that work with us in our journey on Mother Earth.

~ Mitakuye Oyasin ~ We are all related

Coyote And The Ducks From Native American Lore

Coyote cardThis is an Ojibwa story of Coyote. In many Native American traditions Coyote is known as a trickster. He usually makes us look at ourselves and our shortcomings and gives us a lesson in his tricks. This story was passed on by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.

Coyote was walking along a lake and saw a flock of ducks, which put him in the mood for a good duck dinner. So he stuffed a bag full of grass and walked past the ducks, stepping lively and singing a catchy tune. “Where are you going?” asked one of the ducks.

“I am going to a circle,” replied Coyote. “What’s in the bag?” asked the duck.

“Songs that I am bringing to the circle,” replied Coyote.

“Oh, please sing your songs for us,” the ducks all said.

“I’m very busy”

“Please please, please, please ….” “I’m running late ,” “Please, please, please,  please….”.

“Oh, alright.  I’ll sing a song for you, but I need your help. All of you stand in three lines. The fattest ones in the front, those in the middle who are neither fat nor thin, and the thin ones in back. ”

“All of you close your eyes and dance and sing as loud as you can. Don’t anyone open your eyes or stop singing, because my songs are very powerful and if you do that you may go blind! Is everyone ready?”

“We are!” replied the ducks, and they fell into lines and began dancing and singing along with Coyote’s tune.

Coyote moved up and down the line, thumping the ducks on the head and stuffing them into his bag. The ducks were singing and dancing so hard that no one could hear the thumps or know what was happening.

This would have gone on till none were left, if not for one scraggly duck in the back who opened his eyes and saw what was going on. “Hey, he’s going to get us all!” cried the scraggly one.

At this, the other surviving ducks opened their eyes and made their getaway.  Coyote wasn’t too upset; he already had a lot of ducks in his bag. He went home  and ate good for a good while.

The ducks went home and mourned their dead, and gave thanks to The Great Duck that one of them had been  wise enough to open his eyes, and that the rest of them had been  wise enough to listen to the one who gave warning.

I’d say the moral of this story is that we should never blindly follow anyone and keep our eyes open for what is really happening around us. Wouldn’t you?

~ Mitakuye Oyasin ~ We are all related

Biauswah – A Father’s Love

I wanted to share with you, today, a story that I came across in my journey.  It is a remarkable story of a Father’s love for his child and his people.  This story is about Biauswah, sometimes written as Bayaaswaa, who was an Anishinabe Chief in the 1600’s. Anishinabe is the preferred name of the Ojibwe (Chippewa) Nation of Native Americans.

Biauswah was the Chief of a village on the south shore of Lake Superior in the late 1600’s. This village was approximately 40 miles west of what is now known as La Pointe, Wisconsin.

According to oral history Biauswah was a man known for his wise council and his exceptional valor and bravery.

It is said that Biauswah returned one day from a hunting trip to find that his people had been massacred by the Fox Indians.  He scouted the Fox and found they had taken two captives.  An old man who they had tortured to death and a young boy – his own son.

Biauswah stepped out from his hiding place as the Fox were about to set his son on fire. He walked up to where the boy was and said to his enemies, “My little son, who you are about to burn with fire, has seen but only a few winters;  his tender feet have never trodden the warpath, he has never injured you. But the hairs of my head are white with many winters and over the graves of my relatives I have hung many scalps, which I have taken from your people. My death is worth something to you, my son’s is not. Let me take the place of my child that he may return to his people.”

His enemies listened and were astonished at his proposal. They had long wished this man dead and decided to accept his offer to give his own life to save his son’s.

The boy was also known as Biauswah, often referred to as Biauswah II.  The young boy went back to his people and told of his father’s act of bravery and of his death. Biauswah II became Chief of his people too.

There is no stronger medicine than the medicine of love and this story of a Father’s love for his son and the ultimate sacrifice he was willing to make really touches my heart. I hope it touched yours today, too.

~ Mitakuye Oyasin ~ We are all related