THE STAR AND THE LILY

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

THE STAR AND THE LILY

An old chieftain sat in his wigwam quietly smoking his favorite pipe, when a crowd of Indian boys and girls suddenly entered, and with numerous offerings of tobacco, begged him to tell them a story. Then the old man began:

“There was once a time when this world was filled with happy people, when all nations were as one, and the crimson tide of war had not begun to roll. Plenty of game was in the forest and on the plains. None were in want, for a full supply was at hand. Sickness was unknown. The beasts of the field were tame, they came and went at the bidding of man. One unending spring gave no place for winter for its cold blasts or its unhealthy chills. Every tree and bush yielded fruit

Flowers carpeted the earth; the air was laden with their fragrance, and redolent with the songs of married warblers, that flew from branch to branch, fearing none, for there were none to harm them. There were birds then of more beautiful song and plumage than now. It was at such a time, when earth was a paradise and man worthily its possessor, that the Indians were the one inhabitants of the American wilderness.

They numbered millions, and living as Nature designed them to live, enjoyed its many blessings. Instead of amusements in close rooms, the sports of the fields were theirs. At night they met on the wide green fields. They watched the stars; they loved to gaze at them, for they believed them to be the residences of the good who had been taken home by the Great Spirit.

One night they saw one star that shone brighter than all others. Its location was far away in the South near a mountain peak. For many nights it was seen, till at length it was doubted by many that the star was as far distant in the Southern skies as it seemed to be. This doubt led to an examination, which proved the star to be only a short distance, and near the tops of some trees.

A number of warriors were deputed to go and seewhat it was. They went and on their return said it appeared strange and somewhat like a bird. A committee of the wise men were called to inquire into, and if possible ascertain the meaning of the strange phenomena.

They feared that it might be the omen of some disaster. Some thought it precursor of good, others of evil, and some supposed it to be the star spoken of by their forefathers, as the forerunner of a dreadful war.

One moon had nearly gone by, and yet the mystery remained unsolved.

One night a young warrior had a dream, in which a beautiful maiden came and stood at his side, and thus addressed him:

‘Young brave! charmed with the land of thy forefathers, its flowers, its birds, its rivers, its beautiful lakes, and its mountains clothed with green, I have left my sisters in yonder world to dwell among you. Young brave! ask your wise and your great men where I can live and see the happy face continually; ask them what form I shall assume in order to beloved.’

Thus discoursed the bright stranger. The young man awoke. On stepping out of his lodge he saw the star yet blazing in its accustomed place.

At early dawn the Chief’s crier was sent round the camp to call every warrior to the Council Lodge. When they had met, the young warrior related his dream. They concluded that the star that had been seen in the South had fallen in love with mankind, and that it was desirous to dwell with them.

The next night five tall, noble-looking, adventurous braves were sent to welcome the stranger to earth.-,, They went and presented to it a pipe of peace, filled with sweet scented herbs, and were rejoiced to find that it took it from them. As they returned to the village, the star with expanded wing followed, and hovered over their homes till the dawn of day.

Again it came to the young man in a dream, and desired to know where it should live, and what form it should take.

Places were named. On the top of giant trees, or in flowers. At length it was told to choose a place itself, and it did so.

At first, it dwelt in the white rose of the mountain, but there it was so buried that it could not be seen. It went to the prairie, but it feared the hoof of the buffalo. It next sought the rocky cliff, but there it was so high, that the children whom it loved most could not see it.

Morning Star and the Lilies

“I know where I shall live,” said the bright fugitive, “Where I can see the gliding canoe of the race I most admire. Children! Yes, they shall be my playmates, and I will kiss their brows when they slumber by the side of cool lakes. The nations shall love me wherever I am.”

These words having been said, she alighted on the waters where she saw herself reflected. The next morning, thousands of white flowers were seen on the surface of the lakes, and the Indians gave them this name – “Wah-be-gwon-nee” (White Lily.) Now, continued the old man, “this star lived in, the Southernskies. Its brethren can be seen far off in the cold North, hunting the great bear, whilst its sisters watch her in the East and West.

“Children! When you see the lily on the waters, take it in your hands, and hold it to the skies, that it may be happy on earth as its two sisters, the morning and evening stars, are happy in heaven.”

While tears fell fast from the eyes of all, the old man, laid down and was soon silent in sleep.

Since that, I have often plucked the white lily, and garlanded it around my head-have dipped it in its watery bed, but never have I seen it without remembering the legend of the descending star.

The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation
By G. Copway
Oh, Kah-Ge-Ga-Ga-Bown, Chief of the Ojibway Nation

http://www.kouroo.info/kouroo/transclusions/18/50/1850_CopwaysOjibways.pdf

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