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Tuesday, October 27, 2015


The Warrior and the Eagle

Long ago the Delawares believed if a brave could pluck a feather from the tail of a live eagle and wear that feather, he would not only always be brave and of great courage, but good fortune would always follow him. Therefore, young hunters used to try to catch eagles by putting pieces of wolf meat on high cliffs, eagles being very fond of wolf meat.
At one time, there was a young brave who was very reckless, ambitious and daring. He wanted to get eagle feathers for a headdress and desired to pluck the feathers himself from live eagles, so he found a high place where eagles often came and baited the place for a few days with wolf meat. Then he killed a large wolf, took it to this place and hung a large piece of the flesh near the edge of the cliff. He then hid behind a big tree, with a forked stick, ready to capture an eagle.
Presently an eagle came to get the tempting morsel, but the young brave considered this eagle too small and drove it away. Soon another came, but this one also did not seem to suit the brave. He drove away several others, not being satisfied with the plumage of any of them. All at once he heard the flapping of heavy wings and there alighted before him an eagle much larger than himself. This eagle instead of looking like the others had red feathers as if dyed in blood. This eagle did not take the wolf meat, but came straight to the brave, seized him in his talons and carried him away to a high cliff, from which it was impossible to escape, except by jumping down, which would have been certain destruction.
On this cliff was a large nest containing four young eagles. The large eagle left the brave in the nest and said to him: "You shall stay here and care for my young until they are large enough to carry you back to where I got you. I am the head chief of the eagles. Your greed and ambition have brought you to this. You were not satisfied with the plumage of the birds I sent you. Now you shall stay here and suffer for your greed, and perhaps when you return you will be glad to take such feathers as we give you." There was nothing else for the young brave to do but stay and guard the young eagles, and this he did so well as to win the friendship and love of the young eagles as well as the old eagle, who occasionally came to the nest, bringing in his talons a deer, rabbit or other game.
Finally, after many days the brave and the young eagles had learned to fly. They would sometimes be away nearly all day and leave him alone. He would get very lonely and wonder if they were going to leave him to die of starvation or eat him up, or whether they really meant to take him back where the old eagle found him. He was not kept long in suspense, however, for one day the large eagle came again and said: "Now, my young friend, my grandchildren here shall carry you back to where I found you. I will go along to see that they do not drop you until you reach the place in safety." Accordingly two of the young eagles seized the brave in their talons and flew toward the cliff where he had been tempting the eagles with wolf meat. It was not far from the nest and they soon reached the place in safety. There the brave found some eagle feathers which he was glad enough to take without plucking them from a live eagle, and he returned with them to his people.
The lesson he learned from his adventure is that opportunities will finally cease to come if you continue to brush them aside, hoping for a better one.
Taken from Adams, Richard C., Legends of the Delaware Indians and Picture Writing, Syracuse University Press, 1997
Original publication - 1905.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Author: Marie L. McLaughlin

The little rabbit lived with his old grandmother, who needed a new dress. "I will go out and trap a deer or an elk for you," he said. "Then you shall have a new dress."

When he went out hunting he laid down his bow in the path while he looked at his snares. An elk coming by saw the bow.

"I will play a joke on the rabbit," said the elk to himself. "I will make him think I have been caught in his bow string." He then put one foot on the string and lay down as if dead.

By and by the rabbit returned. When he saw the elk he was filled with joy and ran home crying: "Grandmother, I have trapped a fine elk. You shall have a new dress from his skin. Throw the old one in the fire!"

This the old grandmother did.

The elk now sprang to his feet laughing. "Ho, friend rabbit," he called, "You thought to trap me; now I have mocked you." And he ran away into the thicket.

The rabbit who had come back to skin the elk now ran home again. "Grandmother, don't throw your dress in the fire," he cried. But it was too late. The old dress was burned.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This next piece of lore comes from the Cherokee, as it was recorded by James Mooney in the 1890's while staying with the Cherokee, writing all he could learn from them about their ways and teachings for the Smithsonian. This legend is called,..

"Why Mole Lives Underground"

Many ages ago there was a man who was in love with a young woman who disliked him and wanted nothing to do with this young man. He tried in every way to win her favor, but with no success. At last he grew discouraged and made himself sick thinking about it. Then one day as the man sat alone in his despair, Mole came along, and finding the man so low in his mind, asked what the trouble was. The man told him the whole story of the woman he loved, and her dislike of him, and when he had finished, Mole said,"I can help you. Not only will she like you, but she will come to you of her own free will." That night, while the village slept, burrowing underground to the place where the girl was in bed asleep, Mole took out her Spirit Heart. He came back by the same way and gave her heart to the discouraged lover, who couldn't see it even when it was in his hands. "There," said Mole. "Swallow it, and she will be so drawn to you that she has to come to you." The man swallowed her heart and felt a warmth in his soul as it went down, and in the morning when the girl woke up she somehow thought of him at once. She felt a strange desire to be with him, to go to him that minute. She couldn't understand it, because she had always disliked him, but the feeling grew so strong that she was compelled to find the man and tell him that she loved him and wanted to be his wife. And so they were married. All the magicians who knew them both were surprised and wondered how it had come about. When they found that it was the work of Mole, whom they had always thought too insignificant to notice, they were jealous and threatened to kill him. That's why Mole hide under the ground and still doesn't dare to come up. Artist: Susan