Myths and Legends of the Great Plains

Page: 24

When the people first hear the cry of the nighthawk in the spring, they begin to talk of hunting buffalo. This is because when the hawk returns, the buffaloes have become fat again and the birds bring the news.

[Pg 74]



All the birds were called together. To them was said, “Whichever one of you can fly farthest into the sky shall be chief.”

All the birds flew to a great height. But Wren got under the thick feathers of Eagle and sat there as Eagle flew. When all the birds became wing-tired, they flew down again; but Eagle flew still higher. When Eagle had gone as far as he could, Wren flew still higher.

When all the birds reached the ground, Eagle alone returned, after a great while. Behold! Wren only was absent. So they awaited him. At last he returned. Eagle had too highly been thinking of himself, being sure of being made chief; and behold! Wren was made chief.

[Pg 75]



All around the birds in flocks are flying.
Dipping, rising, circling, see them coming.
See, many birds are flocking here,
All about us now together coming.
Yonder see the birds in flocks, come flying;
Dipping, rising, circling, see them gather.
Loud is the sound their winging makes.
Rushing, come they on the trees alighting.
From the flock an eagle now comes flying;
Dipping, rising, circling, comes she hither.
Loud screams the eagle, flying swift,
As an eagle flies, her nestlings seeking.
It is Kawas coming, Kawas flying;
Dipping, rising, circling, she advances.
See! Nearer she comes, nearer comes.
Now, alighted, she her nest is making.
[Pg 76] Yonder people like the birds are flocking;
See them circling, this side, that side coming.
Loud is the sound their moving makes,
As together come they, onward come they.


[H] Rendition by Alice C. Fletcher.

[Pg 77]



O’er the prairie flits in ever widening circles the shadow of a bird about me as I walk;
Upward turn my eyes, Kawas looks upon me, she turns with flapping wings and far away she flies.
Round about a tree in ever widening circles an eagle flies, alert watching o’er his nest;
Loudly whistles he, a challenge sending far, o’er the country wide it echoes, there defying foes.


[I] Rendition by Alice C. Fletcher.

[Pg 78]



Once a hunter in the mountains heard a noise at night like a rushing wind. He went outside his tepee, and found an eagle was sitting on the drying pole, feasting at the deer he had shot. So he shot the eagle.

The next morning the hunter took the deer back to the village. He told how he had shot the deer and then the eagle. Therefore the chief sent out men to bring in the eagle, and have an Eagle dance.

That night when they were dancing, there was a whoop outside. A strange warrior walked into the circle. He was not of that village. They thought he had come from one of the other Cherokee villages.