Stories pg.4

These stories are gathered from different tribes. I do not always have what tribe a story comes from so if any story that doesn't have what tribe it comes from listed with it, please contact me either through the guest book or our email addy. Spiritwalker

The Sacred Tree
A Dakota Story

For all the people of the earth, the Creator has planted a Sacred Tree under
which they may gather, and there find healing, power, wisdom, and security.
The roots of this tree spread deep into the body of Mother Earth. Its
branches reach upward like hands praying to Father Sky. The fruits of this
tree are the good things the Creator has given to the people: teachings that
show the path to love, compassion, generosity, patience, wisdom, justice,
courage, respect, humility and many other wonderful gifts.

The ancient ones taught us that the life of the Tree is the life of the
people. If the people wander far away from the protective shadow of the
Tree, if they forget to seek the nourishment of its fruit, or if they should
turn against the Tree and attempt to destroy it, great sorrow will fall upon
the people. Many will become sick at heart. The people will lose their
power. They will cease to dream dreams and see visions. They will begin to
quarrel among themselves over worthless trifles. They will become unable to
tell the truth and to deal with each other honestly. They will forget how to
survive in their own land. Their lives will become filled with anger and
gloom. Little by little they will poison themselves and all they touch.

It was foretold that these things would come to pass, but that the Tree
would never die. And as long as the Tree lives, the people live. It was also
foretold that the day would come when the people would awaken, as if from a
long, drugged sleep; that they would search again for the Sacred Tree.

The knowledge of its whereabouts, and of the fruits that adorn its branches
have always been carefully guarded and preserved within the minds and hearts
of our wise elders and leaders. These humble, loving and dedicated souls
will guide anyone who is honestly and sincerely seeking along the path
leading to the protecting shadow of the Sacred Tree.

Legend Ojibwe Dream Catcher

Long ago in the ancient world of the Ojibwe Nation, the Clans were all located in one general area of that place known as Turtle Island. This is the way that the old Ojibwe storytellers say how Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) helped Wanabozhoo bring giizis (sun) back to the people. To this day, Asibikaashi will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn, as you should be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.
Asibikaasi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day. When the Ojibwe Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, to fill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, & Nokomis (grandmothers) took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. It is in the shape of a circle to represent how giizis travels each day across the sky. The dream catcher will filter out all the bad bawedjigewin (dreams) & allow only good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are just abinooji. You will see a small hole in the center of each dream catcher where those good bawadjige may come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish. When we see little asibikaashi, we should not fear her, but instead respect and protect her. In honor of their origin, the number of points where the web connected to the hoop numbered 8 for Spider Woman's eight legs or 7 for the Seven Prophecies.
It was traditional to put a feather in the center of the dream catcher; it means breath, or air. It is essential for life. A baby watching the air playing with the feather on her cradleboard was entertained while also being given a lesson on the importance of good air. This lesson comes forward in the way that the feather of the owl is kept for wisdom (a woman's feather) & the eagle feather is kept for courage (a man's feather). This is not to say that the use of each is restricted by gender, but that to use the feather each is aware of the gender properties she/he is invoking. (Indian people, in general, are very specific about gender roles and identity.) The use of gem stones, as we do in the ones we make for sale, is not something that was done by the old ones. Government laws have forbidden the sale of feathers from our sacred birds, so using four gem stones, to represent the four directions, and the stones used by western nations were substituted by us. The woven dream catchers of adults do not use feathers.
Dream catchers made of willow and sinew are for children, and they are not meant to last. Eventually the willow dries out and the tension of the sinew collapses the dream catcher. That's supposed to happen. It belies the temporary-ness of youth. Adults should use dream catchers of woven fiber which is made up to reflect their adult "dreams." It is also customary in many parts of Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to have the dream catchers be a tear-drop/snow shoe shape.


THE FIRST KINAALDÁ - White Shell Woman becomes Changing Woman

July 3, 2005

The kinaaldá ceremony, tradition says, was given to the Navajo by the Holy
People — the spiritual beings who created the universe — so that the tribe
could multiply and prosper. When First Man and First Woman heard a baby girl
crying on a mistshrouded plateau, the tribe’s creation story says, they brought
the child home and raised her under the direction of the Holy People.

The baby, whom they named White Shell Woman, grew quickly. When she reached
puberty, Christine Begaye says, the first four-night kinaaldá was performed
for her by Talking God so she could have children.

During the first kinaaldá, White Shell Woman ran four times in the direction
of the rising sun. First Woman washed her hair in the suds of the yucca
root, and tied it back with a narrow strip of buckskin.

First Woman dressed her in a special outfit decorated with turquoise, white
shell, jet black and yellow abalone beads — colors associated with the four
directions and the four sacred mountains. Then First Woman laid White Shell
Woman on the ground and used her hands to mold the girl into a woman like

The Holy People helped White Shell Woman make a large, round corn cake.
Later, the Sun fathered White Shell Woman’s twin boys, Monster Slayer and Child
Born for Water, who freed the Navajo from the creatures preying on them and
made it safe for The People to live on Earth. That was when White Shell Woman
became Changing Woman, Grandpa Navy says.

Changing Woman is at the heart of Navajo culture. It was she who created the
four original clans that became the Navajo people. And ever since that first
kinaaldá was performed, the Navajo say, it has been done in the same way it
was created for Changing Woman.

The kinaaldá was created for White Shell Woman, Christine says, so that
Navajo girls could be fertile and bear children. That the Navajo, who call
themselves the Diné, or The People, are now the largest tribe in the United States,
living on a reservation that covers almost 16 million acres and straddles
three states, may be testimony to the success of her teachings.

While the lives of The People have changed — often dramatically — over the
hundreds of years the ceremony has been conducted, it has remained
surprisingly intact — a way for older generations to pass on their living culture and
language to the young.

Two of the biggest barriers faced by families who want to hold a kinaaldá
are time and money. Hiring a medicine man is one cost. Buying the food for the
guests and the giveaway, buying and grinding the corn, preparing the hogan
and outfitting the girl are other expenses.

With many Navajo living off the reservation, the five-day, four-night
ceremony can also be a difficult time commitment. The Begayes are self-employed and
home-school their children, so they didn’t have that problem. For those that
do, some medicine men will hold a shorter, two-day ceremony that can be
completed over a weekend.

The view of women the kinaaldá encourages may seem old-fashioned to some.
But Christine believes the ceremony will help her daughter “get into the
feeling of what her role as a woman is all about.”

But, Christine said, “That’s not to say that she’s to be enslaved to the
opposite sex. It’s a role we were blessed with — it’s supposed to be a
blessing, not a chore.”

“Teenage girls who don’t have it done,” she observed, “can have poor
judgment, be careless with themselves, their dress, their thinking and their

While 11-year-old Tiara now says that she doesn’t want to marry or have
children — “it’s too much work” — she does agree that it’s important for a
Navajo girl to have a kinaaldá. Navajo girls, she says, are special, and “if they
’re special, they need one ... to become a lady ... or just to take care of

The primary danger facing the kinaaldá today is the loss of medicine men and
elders who know how to conduct the ceremony.

“It’s a blessing to have a medicine man in the family,” Christine said.

“Everything (in the kinaaldá) is, in a way, a re-enactment of what happened
(at the first kinaaldá performed for White Shell Woman),” said Danny Begay ,
one of the grandpas who came to share his song and his wisdom at Tiara’s
all-night sing. “All the songs and everything. It’s been going on since the
emergence (since the beginning).

“But the sad thing is that a lot of the religious significance that we’re
supposed to live by is fading; there are people holding on to as much as they
can and trying to learn as much as they can about it,” he said.

Christine said Grandpa Navy, the medicine man who oversaw Tiara’s ceremony,
asked her why she wanted to invite Anglos and her friends from Albu querque
to the ceremony. “I told him it’s because we’re losing our traditions,” she
said, “and our ceremonies and the way we conduct them. So he said OK.”

Recording the kinaaldá for future gen erations is one of the reasons some
people, such as the Begayes, invite outsiders to share in the ceremony — and
why other Navajos, normally more reserved, have documented the ritual in
scholarly books and popular magazines.