Many, many years ago, there lived a People who were at one with the land. A People who treated the earth as their mother and all things of the earth as their brothers and sisters. All things were sacred to them and they were sacred to each other.
The People, as they called themselves, lived in tipis made from the skins of the Buffalo that they hunted. Their brother the Buffalo also provided food, clothing, and many other necessities. The streams and springs provided the water that they drank and their heat came from firewood gathered from the trees along the creeks or on the Mountains. Nature provided all things for the People and the People's days were filled with wonder.
I will tell you about one of those days, and of a little boy and his gift.
It was a warm summer morning and the sun had not yet risen. The morning star shone brightly in the East and the moon was yet above the Black Mountains. There were 14 tipis in the grassy meadow along the creek. No smoke came from any of the tipis because the night had been warm, so no fires were needed.
Little Beaver was wrapped snuggly in his Buffalo robe and his mother and father were still asleep on the other side of the tipi. His spirit wanted to get up and gather firewood for the morning cook fire, but his body did not want to get out of his warm robe.
As he lay there trying to convince himself to get up, he could hear the horses making noises to each other, and a dog softly growling at something nearby. Then he heard the coyotes calling back and forth, their song echoing off the hills. His robe was so warm and comfortable, and he loved listening to all the sounds of the world around him; but he still wanted to get up. He wanted to bring in the wood for the morning cook fire before anyone told him to do so.
He had seen eight summers, and the firewood was one of his many responsibilities; but he felt so much better about doing it when he could do it without being reminded.
He was still trying to win the battle with his somewhat lazy body when his father got up and walked across the tipi. Little Beaver jumped up and followed him out the door.
They walked barefoot through the grass to the edge of the creek. Here they both stood and gazed upon the many stars yet in the morning sky. They both noticed the first rays of light beginning to appear in the East beneath the morning star.
Neither said a word as they stood there and their spirits drank in all that was about them.
Little Beaver's father then bent down upon one knee, cupped his hands into the cool stream, and took a drink. As Little Beaver put his face down near the surface to get his drink, he noticed the reflection of the moon upon the water. Just then his father splashed cold water on the back of his neck and said, "Let us go welcome the day."
Little Beaver put his lips on the surface of the creek and took in enough water to satisfy his thirst. Then he followed his father to the edge of a grassy meadow and up a slight rise.
There he and his father faced the rising sun and spread their arms wide to the heavens. Together they said, "Good morning Father. Thank You for this day, and thank You for my life and my good health and the life and good health of my family. I offer to You all my words, thoughts, and actions of this day."
With their arms still wide apart to the heavens, they turned to face the North, then the South, and then the West. Neither said a word, but each felt as though he was watching his good friend, the night, slowly depart.
When they were through, they walked back to the tipi. When they got there, Little Beaver's father grabbed an armful of firewood as he walked inside. His father had said nothing, but he had helped him nonetheless.
Little Beaver carried in the rest of the wood, but he still wanted to do something special without being helped or told. His mother was still asleep, so he had an idea. When his father went to see about the horses, Little Beaver went out to see if he could find a worm.
Sometimes he seemed to think better when he climbed a tree, so he ran down to the creek and climbed a big cottonwood. Little Beaver was trying to think of where the best place to find a worm might be when a squirrel dropped a twig on his head. When he looked up to see were the twig had come from, he saw a Robin fly by.
"That's it", he thought, and he completely forgot about the twig that bounced off his noggen.
"That's it!" Birds eat worms and he knew where there was a bird's nest.
Little Beaver climbed down the tree and ran along the creek until he came to a big cedar tree. He got there just in time to see a mother Robin feeding her babies a fat worm. His noisy approach scared her away, but he knew what to do.
He sat down against a nearby cottonwood tree and never moved a muscle.
His nose itched but he didn't scratch it.
A fly buzzed around his head, but he never moved.
He felt like he had to cough, but fought it back.
Little Beaver had seen many of his animal friends sit motionless, and he had watched his father hunt, not moving a muscle for many hours. It didn't matter that he was in the open. He knew that if he could stay perfectly still, the mother Robin would return.
He did not have to wait long before she came back. It was a good thing too, because at his young age he needed a lot more practice at staying perfectly still.
When the Robin left her nest, Little Beaver followed her as far as he could. When he lost sight of her, he froze once again.
Soon she returned on her flight back to the nest; and when she came back his way, he followed her once more. Little Beaver saw where she seemed to land; and when he arrived there he found that the wet grass, eaten short by the horses, was full of fat worms.
He grabbed a handful of worms and went to get the stick that his father had made for him. On the stick was attached a long line made from buffalo sinew, and on the end of the line was a hook made from the bone of a bird.
Little Beaver walked down to the creek and below a big rock he took his worm and put it on the hook. Here, below the rock, was a deep hole that the children often swam in, and early this morning he had hoped that there might be a different swimmer there.
Little Beaver dropped his line in the water, and in a matter of just a few moments, he felt a pull on his stick. When he pulled back, the stick was yanked out of his hands and into the creek. Without even thinking, he jumped in after it and fell on his face in the water. When he stood up, the stick was going upstream. Soon he caught up to the stick only to have it pulled from his hands once again. The next time, he grabbed it with both hands and held on so tight that he was almost pulled over.
By now a few boys had noticed the commotion and were standing on the bank cheering for him. Soon there were several people from the village watching, and Little Beaver noticed his father standing nearby. He wanted his help, but he also wanted to do this alone.
His father just watched.
The fish pulled! Little Beaver pulled, and then the fish jumped, splashing water on a couple of the boys that were watching.
Little Beaver held on! The fish went upstream and down! It went from one side of the creek to the other side of the creek. The fish jumped and jumped and pulled and pulled. Little Beaver pulled back until his arms hurt.
By now almost everyone in the village was at the water's edge, and one of the grandfathers told him to drag the fish downstream to the sandbar.
Little Beaver managed to get the fish downstream near the sandbar. Then he pulled with all his might, and got the fish onto the sand and almost out of the creek. He gave one more mighty pull and jerked the fish completely out of the water. As the fish flopped upon the shore, one of the dogs jumped on it and Little Beaver had to chase him away.
Little Beaver found it very difficult to hold up his catch because it was so big and heavy, but as he held the fish, the entire village cheered, and his father looked very proud. His mother was there now, and he brought the fish to her and said, "This is for the best mother in the whole world."
Now he had done something special for his family without being asked, and without being helped. He felt so good that he even forgave himself for not being able to get up that morning.
His father put his hand upon Little Beaver's head, ruffled his hair, and then walked off to continue caring for the horses. The village slowly went about their business and his mother took the fish to prepare breakfast. Little Beaver walked to his favorite spot on the hill where he and his father had welcomed the day. There, he lay down in the tall grass and gazed into the sky.
Little Beaver listened to the wind rustling the leaves of the trees along the creek.
He heard crickets and frogs and the trickle of running water.
His eyes looked upon the now bright blue sky and watched the clouds make their way towards the mountains.
It felt so good to breathe the air and to be caressed by the earth.
Little Beaver thought about how happy he was and how very lucky he was to have so many wonderful things.
He had his mother and his father and all the People.
He had the morning dew, the soft grass, and the cool air that he breathed.
He had the heavens, so full of stars that he could study them forever and still find new shapes and new friends.
He had a moon that filled him with wonder and the morning star that seem to brighten all who gazed upon it.
He had the sunrises that would often paint him a brilliant picture, and the sun itself that warmed him through and through.
He had the trees that he could climb and that gave him shade.
He had the creek that quenched his thirst and cooled his body.
He had the birds and animals to teach him many things and the fish to bring him food.
Little Beaver had all the gifts and wonders of nature, and he was truly happy.
He had the things that all children of Mother Earth have.