The Native Peoples...
And They Always Will!!
MAHEENGUN BUFFALO MOUNTAIN
The background sketch was made by me Dakotasnow..
Long before the white man came,
some of the Anishinabe Ojibway had gone on
a long hunting trip.
They had been away for many suns.
At night, before carrying on to new hunting areas,
the hunters would dry and smoke the butchered meat
from the animals they had killed.
It was the moon when the leaves fall,
and there had been a snow on the day I want to tell you about.
They were paddling their canoes across the lake at sunset.
The long shadows cast by the Fir, Poplar and Birch trees
on the shoreline where filling the waters
with inky black reflections of themselves
interspersed with bright red streaks of dazzling sun light.
The smooth lake mirrored the suns last bright red rays.
The brillance of the suns reflection
and the glare from the pure white snow
made it difficult to see the bank.
Squinting toward the shoreline, one of the hunters said,
"It is time we sit camp". The others agreed
and turned their vessels toward the shore.
He couldn't be sure, but the hunter in the lead canoe
thought he saw a wisp of smoke.
He quickly signed to the others to be on guard,
for the war like Lakota Sioux were often in these lands
and had no love for the Anishinabe! The feeling was mutual.
Pulling their canoes silently onto the shore,
downwind from the aspied smoke,
the hunters took their bows and fitted arrows to them.
They crept stealthly along to find out who had started the fire.
To their delight it turned out not to be an ememy,
but just a young boy.
He appeared to be from a band other than theirs.
He was definitely Ojibway and no threat to grown men.
The hunters walked into the young boy's camp and introduced themselves.
They meant the boy no harm.
On reaching his fire they were amazed to see the boy half starved.
He was in rags and grunted his responses as he cowered under a filthy tattered robe.
The men set about making something to eat.
The days hunt had been sucessful and they had deer and moose meat.
They also had many small game birds and animals.
"You will feast tonight", said one of the hunters, smiling at the still terrified boy.
Shortly afterward the boy, realizing that the man meant him no harm, sat up
from his blanket and began gnawing on a bone. The bone had no flesh on it,
yet the boy crunched down his teeth on it as if it were ashoe wildcat.
After a few moments, water was bubbling in the birchbark kettle.
Meat was cut and put into the water and more red hot stones were added
to keep the water boiling. Wild sage
and onions were added to the broth.
To the half starved boy the aroma of the soup cooking was overwhelming
and he passed out.
One of the hunters noticed what had happened to the boy and picked up
his limp feather-weight body and rocked him gently back and forth.
I fear this boy is too close to death to save
he said sadly to his companions.
The youngster was no more then skin and bones, after a few moments the boy
regained consciousness, the hunter asked,"What happened here boy"?
In a very hoarse, soft voice,
The young lad replied; while grunting like a animal
I was hunting with my father - he was attacked and killed by a bear.
It was a huge and ferocious monster the likes of which I never seen.
I managed to escape after my fathers death.
I found the other hunters from our party
and told them what had happened.
One of the warriors in the party who was
also our medicine man had always coveted my mother
and hated my father for marrying her.
With my father dead he saw an oppertunity to have her for
himself. He also saw his chance to get me out of the way at the same time
Under his guidence the hunters held council to find out what had happened to
my father. The outcome was that they said that I should had been able to
chase the bear from my father and that it was my fault he had died in the
wilderness. My punishment was that i was to be banished from my clan.
I was left here to fend for myself or die.
They left me here with only a robe and
bones to eat.
One of the hunters stood and said, "I know this boy tells the truth".
The medicine man has already married the widowed mother.
I was at their wedding some moons ago.
He is from a band of Anishinabe that lived to the south of where we live.
The boy tells the truth.
I heard that the medicine man is so powerful that
all his people are frightened of him and that is why they went along
with his scheme to leave the boy.
It was a bad thing to leave a small one like this to die.
The hunters tried to feed the boy some nourishing broth
but he was so weak and had lost so much weight
that he could not keep the liquid down.
As soon as the hot soup hit his stomach it was vomited back up
but he did fall asleep, albeit a restless one.
Later that night still craddled in the hunters arms
the small frail boy's breath started to come in short hard bursts almost like panting.
He opened his eyes. They were a strange yellow.
He spoke softly in a growling manner,
and he still grasped the bone he had been crunching on.
"I have had a strange dream", he said
and then continued.
In it, just as they did in realty my people left me here to die
with only bones for me to eat. But in my dream
all was well because the bones they left me gave me nurishment.
I was not in the form I am now.
I had become a four legged and
in the dream there were many of my kind.
We were brave, cunning and
much admired by the people and feared by other animals
whose flesh and bones we fed upon.
Then the most startling thing happened.
The boy disappeared from the hunters arms and
the men were very frightened
and looked around for the lad
after the boy dissapeared.
From a nearby hilltop a loud howl was heard.
In the bright moonlight a beautiful animal could be seen
sitting in the snow howling at the moon.
It was a creature none of the hunters had seen before.
Legend has it that
The Great Spirit had made the poor mistreated and
half starved boy into one of his greatest creations..
Maheengun. The much
There was a time not that long ago when the buffalo were so plentiful that
some area of the plains appeared black with them.. A hunter could ride for
days on the edge of one herd. In those days ..to the people of the plains
buffalo was a life giver they used everything from the beast..the meat was
used for food..the hide for clothes.blankets and coverings for their
teepees..the sinew for bow strings and ties..the bladders as water
containers..the hoofs for glue ..the bone for ladies pins and needles..the
toughest part of the hide at the neck was used to make the small round war
shields that the plains warriors carried. Buffalo wool was gathered and used
for pillows..even the excrement was used as fuel for fires..Following a
buffalo hunt the best hide was kept as an offering. It was painted by the
finest artist to record the event..and then carried back to the site of the
hunt..and left at the highest point to honor the spirit of the buffalo that
had given their lives so that the people could live. This show of respect
was also meant to give thanks to the Creator and to honor the souls of the
buffalo and to help in the passing of their souls to the spirit world..They
believed that if the buffalo were hunted in the scared manner they would
return to be hunted again and again, and in this way the circle of life
would last forever,,The skulls of the buffalo were used in the scared
sunrise ceremony and the others left on the praries were always turned to
face the east..where the sun rises..The people lived as one with their life
giver the buffalo..When the white men first came to the plains..it seemed to
the people that they just wanted to trade, and for awhile all was calm, on
the huge praries..but soon the whites began to want the lands where the
people lived, they tried to take it from them by force but the people
fought back, and they fought hard..The white man could not take the land as
easily as first thought so the government changed its tactics..it sent
its army into the praries to kill the people and the food supply ..the
buffalo..they slaughtered whole herds of them. The United States government, then
mercenary white hunters killed the animals the army had missed until there
was almost no buffalo left alive. During this time a young Kiowa warrior
and his family had been running from the soldiers They were camped in a
valley beside a beautiful mountain and they chose a very rugged area
hoping that it would stop the soldiers from following them, One morning the
young warrior's wife had risen early and had gone down to draw water from
the stream when she heard the sound of hoofs ringing against the stony
ground. Afraid that her husbands thoughts about the white soldiers not
being able to follow them were wrong, she hid in the thick bushes fearing
for her life..and expecting the worst. It had been a very cold night and the night before and the warmth of the
morning sun caused a thickness to form which carpeted the valley floor. and
Through the mist emerged a huge white female buffalo leading some badly
scarred buffalo warriors and their wives and children, The small buffalo
party stopped and looked sadly at the young women in her hiding place as if
to say good-bye. They then lumbered on to the foot of the mountain. when
They got to its base - the side of the mountain opened and inside was a magical
place where the sun always shined, and the waters were clear and cool..where
the birds sang and the grass was the greenest green. There were no
disrespectful hunters. They had respect for everything which was their only way of life.
The white buffalo women led the party inside and the mountain closed behind
them. The white man had won..the buffalo were gone..
A BRAND NEW LITTLE PERSON
I wish my husband were here or my mother
moaned the young women.
She was relieved that the terrible pain
that she had just recieved had finallyly recided
but she was still sweating profusly and feeling
as tho she would throw up
at any moment
she lay still a watched the raw droop slowly spin
all the shouting and screaming she had done had been to no advail
for everyone from her village had gone to set up the new one
for some time now the soil around
the old one had produced very little
it was thought that by next year
it would be unable to substain crops of any kind
the new location was about one days walk from where she lay
it had been decided that it would not be good for her to travel that far
in her condition..but what they were calling her condition.. had gravely deteriated.
her pregancey had been quit normal up to now
so she had been left to fend for herself
no one thought that the baby would come this early
or that there would be complacations
The young maiden was alone and in need
her first baby was comming and there were big problems and
no one was around to assist her
Although she had never experienced childbirth she
knew..there was something very wrong
another painful spasm racked her body
Oh Great Spirit help me I fear I may not live thru this ordeal she cried
she closed her eyes tightly and grented her teeth
to help make the pain go away
but nothing helped
Suddenly the women felt something cool and soothing on her brow
she opened her eyes and there
before her stood a group of small people
one of them a middle aged tiny man
was smiling at her as he adminatered the cooling compress to her brow
the others busied themsleves with preparing to deliver the baby
her pain subsided once more
There my brave one
said the smiling little man
that is the last pain you will endure
we are here to help, your baby is being born as i speak to you
I assure you, you will feel no more pain
As you can imagine the young women was quit frightened
but somehow she felt reasured
by the kind man that was comforting her
not only with his words but also his actions
Who are you?..where did you come from she asked
We are the little people
we live among the rocks and in caves near by
as I stated we are here to help
I am the leader of this band and when I heard your crys of agoney
i asked my people if they would asist you in your time of need..
and here we are
I do feel much better thank you.
so there are little people. I have heard the stories
about you but i thought them to be untrue said the young women
The small person that was attending to her just
smiled and said Oh so you though us a midth did you?
It seems most people do
we do our best to stay hidden from view
but we also do our best to keep your people out of danger
especially in the forrest and on the trails
He mopped her brow again with the compress
and then in a very gentle voice continued
we are also the dream makers
the givers of vision and now you must rest my pretty one
She felt a great sense of relief come over her
I feel nothing at all, not even a tinge of pain
Is my baby alright? she asked
The leader smiled and nodded but she noticed
oneof the little people was wrapping her child in some rabbit fur
and shaking his head sadly at the leader
My baby is dead isn't it the young women sobbed
not to us the leader explained
sometimes we take babies of this sort to live with us
your daughter will now become one of our kind
one of the little people. however she will remain a part of you
you will see her often in dreams
she will dance under the midnight sky
wearing clothes spun from rainbows and trimed with silver from the moon
she will be forever happy
and will always be near you
Please do not take it!!
Thank you..Dakotasnow '99
The background sketch was made by me Dakotasnow..