Long ago as the clouds met the sunlight and the grass grew blue green a small village along the GreatRiver ( now known as the Mississippi ) was a busy place for a young Indian boy named Small-Bear.

Small-Bear was only ten years old at the time this tale is told of his courage and foolishness which came upon him straight as the arrow flies. And, it is told from generation to generation as a tale over the fire.

The child was born during the blue moon which in filled the village one Winter’s eve, and as the child cried it’s first breath his Warrior Father  White Eagle was standing at the door of the teepee when he  heard the growl of a Great Bear and saw in the blue moon light a wee bear cub rolling in the grasses and knew then his boy was to be called: Small-Bear from the sign of Mother Earth.

Over the next ten years Small-Bear grew strong as Indian children do from hard play and learning the skills of living, hunting and sharing within the tribe traditions. His bronze red skin shined and his muscles grew as fast as the 10 years allowed over time. Like all children he had curiosity about all the wonders around him from Creator and Mother Earth: For this was still the time that animals spoke with the people!One night Small-Bear awoke hearing the Drums and calls from the Warriors. He got up and looked out the teepee from curiosity for he had never heard such before from the warriors. His eyes watched them dancing and bows held on high. He felt the call of the drum inside!

He sat at the door and watched, listened and with his eyes wide and his heart beginning to feel aflame as he saw his Father White Eagle whose face and arms, chest and back now had colored stripes and his bow was strung.  He was mesmerized by the view!

That next  morning, his father White Eagle called for his first son Small-Bear who ran quickly to his Father’s Call.

Small-Bear I must join the War Party formed to stop our enemies hands that are invading our lands and you must protect the village with the other boys as best you all can. Every Warrior is leaving because our enemy is great and strong and every bow must be at hand.  

Small-Bear stood watching as all the Warriors left the village amid the sounds of whoops and hollers as they ran eastward into the morning light.

He knew from stories of the elders which told that war between tribes happened now and then: but, in all of his ten years this was the first he had witnessed. He felt strange and yet excited and he felt a new feeling for the first time: Fear!

Carrying his bow Small-Bear walked into the edges of the encampment and saw Fox nibbling on a berry. He asked, Fox do you know of War between the people and can you tell me of this? Fox smiled!

Yes!  I know of these things Small-Bear and will share what I know.

Then explain to me how to protect my village while my father White Eagle is off to War?

Fox who is a cleaver little animal smiled and started speaking:

The first thing you need to do Small-Bear is gather in food and dig a great hole while watching the Wing of the Eagle on high. Do this and then bring me a red berry and we shall talk more.

Small-Bear did as told, in gathering food and watched the Wing of the Eagle soar above as he dug a great wide and deep hole all of which consumed allot of time as the sun started dipping into the blue sky.

Fox!  I have done as you spoke and here is a red berry. Fox smiled wide and spoke: Well done young child of White Eagle and now you need to place a willow branch in the hole. Bring me another red berry and we shall talk again after that.

Small-Bear did as requested and placed a willow branch in the great hole he had dug and watched the Wing of the Eagle on high.

Once more Small-Bear returned to Fox with another red berry in hand:

Fox smiled even greater, and ate the berry. Then said, now young one of White Eagle you need to call all the other boys and tell them to watch the Wing of the Eagle on high. And, then bring me another red berry and we shall talk some more about War. This went on all the rest of the day…berry after red berry. Nevertheless!

Small-Bear did as told and shared with all the young boys of the tribe the message of the Fox. Most of them whom were older smiled and walked away? The younger ones sat and listened to the older Small-Bear who was the First Son of White Eagle.

This night was very dark as no moon arose with the night. Many sounds broke the silence as all in the village gathered around a great fire in the center of the camp and the air was cold.

Small-Bear wondered how was his Father as he looked upon the People?

Then his eye caught a glimpse of Turtle warming around the fire.

He asked, Turtle do you know of War between the people and can you tell me of this?  Turtle lifted his head and said: Yes! I understand these things and will share what I know Small-Bear for you are the First of your Father White Eagle and he has always been my friend.

Turtle listened as Small-Bear shared what he had done as Fox had requested. Turtle shook his head and spoke: Foolish boy! Fox has had you feeding him for he was hungry and to lazy to gather a red berry. All that you have done as told by Fox has nothing to do with War between the tribes. The Fox is sly and led you down a path of wasted time.

Small-Bear was awed and felt saddened and used by sly Fox. He felt he had disappointed his Father White Eagle and even the people of the village because his foolishness of following the words of Fox.

It was a very chilly and cold night of no sleep for Small-Bear as he kept going over and over in his thoughts of what he had done as a fool by listening and doing exactly what Fox had told him to do all day long.

During the rest of the night right to dawn arising: Turtle told to all including Small-Bear about War.

War he said was a very sad thing brought upon Mother Earth by the Snake who ………

Read the entire story in: NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITIONS 2014

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