Tuesday, July 5, 2016

An Apsaalooke's Tale - 1

An Apsaalooke's Tale

I was born thousands of years ago.  The water that rushes through my veins turns red and vibrant as the life of my ancestors.  My earthen body rises like a great tree in the forest of men.  My hair, tied in a roach, gives me the look of a proud bird soaring and searching the skies, dancing on the silky air.
            For ages, I have roamed the earth.  I have become the mightiest of hunters, the bravest of warriors, and the greatest of the heroes.  My arrow can penetrate the heart of the darkest bear, the bear that dared tell Old Man Coyote that he had created himself.  As for me, I was created by the great Coyote.  It was he who gave me a companion for my enjoyment.  It was he who gave me fire to keep me warm.  It was he who gave me weapons and taught me how to hunt.  And it was he who gave me a tepee to shelter me from the storm’s fury.
But those many years ago, his brother, the wily Young Coyote, convinced him that something was missing.  He convinced him to change our languages so that I could no longer talk to my brother.  His fire grew cold towards me as our understanding ceased.  One day, long ago, he disappeared, taking his family far away with him.  Some time later we saw each other while out hunting.  Far off in the distance, I can still see his hand move across his throat.  We named him and his people the Cutthroats, or Lakota.  We no longer understood them or their ways.
It wasn’t much longer before famine struck the land, the beasts disappeared.  We could barely survive with what we had, and the Lakota came seeking our aid, but we couldn’t help them.  Unable to obtain help through peace, the Lakota decided to take what we had by force.  They attacked us; they stole what little dried meat we had left.  They took our second mothers as they took our buffalo skins from our tepees.
Then the bitter winter came.  It took what little we had left.  Many spirits returned to their ancestors before the winter released us from its icy talons.  The Lakota was no longer my brother, he was my enemy.
And I hated him.
Hate led to war, war led to blood, blood led to honor.  We fought with the Lakota until we washed the plains with our blood.  Many brave warriors rose and fell as we fought for our honor, for our families, for our lives, and for our hate.  Of course, we fought with other tribes as well.  The Great Coyote had given us war as a chance to prove ourselves, but we remembered the treachery of the Cutthroats the most.  They were the bitter enemy, and they fought well.  Honored was the man who received a wound while fighting the Lakota, and revered was the family whose father perished fighting the Lakota.
In our hate was respect, in our respect a brother, in our brother compassion, and a story from my youth.

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