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Kanienkeh - How the Eagle first came to the People

A Mohawk Legend

In the time of the beginning, it was the way of my people, to rejoice in the birth of a
child. The Old Ones, the Elders said that a child was the most precious gift given to the
people by the Creator.

So, in this time, was born a male child. As was the way of the people, this child was
given no name until he had been in the physical world for three moons.

When three moons had passed, his family held a Naming Feast, to share and celebrate
this gift. The Old One's whose responsibility it was to find the Spirit Name for each new
soul, was given tobacco. He would fast and pray and search the Spirit World until the
name was found.

On the fourth day, his name was announced to all who were present. The Old One held
the child high, close to Father Sky. Then he touched the child's body to Mother Earth.
Next he faced the child to all Four Sacred Directions: the East, the direction of
springtime and childhood. Then the South, home to summer and adolescence. Thirdly
he faced him to the West where Autumn and maturity reside. Finally, he faced North,
home to Winter and the Elders.

As he spoke the child's name, all who heard it were surprised. No child ever had
received such a Name: He Who Walks a Different Path: Ka-Bay-she-go-e-sayd.

As this child grew, it became apparent that He Who Walks a Different Path was very
different than the other children.

It was the way of the People that everyone within the village contributed in some way
to the well-being of all. "It must be so" the Elders said. "We live in a delicate balance
with all our relatives. We must take only what we need to survive. We must respect our
Mother the Earth, Grandfather Sun, Father Sky, and Grandmother Moon."

"We must respect all Kingdoms, all things, all our relations. All must work together."

So, in this place, each one worked. Some were Hunters, Guardians and Warriors who
learned from the Spirit of the Bear or Wolf. Others carried the knowledge and history of
the peoples, and often traded goods, as Storytellers, learning from the Turtle. Still
others were Dreamers, planners, War-chiefs who learned from Hawk, or coyote. Some
others were builders making lodges, canoes, tools and weapons needed to survive,
learning from the Beaver. A few were Holy People, Healers and Medicine People who
learned from all things that existed and helped the ill.

"Children are closer to our Creator and will know their own path", so the Elders taught.
So the People allowed the children to learn and experience many things around them.
"Children are not owned but belong to the community and the future." All around cared
for the children and kept them safe.

So Ka-Bay-she-go-e-sayd was allowed to investigate many ways of learning. He often

spent many hours in the woods, talking to the four-leggeds, (animals) and the winged,
(birds). He felt it was wrong to hunt and kill his friends for food.

An Elder once reported seeing the child surrounded by animals with a Falcon and a
Hawk on each shoulder. People shook their heads and wondered.

Each time the boy was questioned about his choice of lives work, he answered: "It is
not for me".

As he grew towards adulthood, he was asked more frequently. Always he replied: "It is
not for me."

It was the Way of the People to deal with problems or conflicts by "Taking it to the
Fire'. All the Elders sat in the Sacred Circle around the Fire. Everyone who wished to
speak was given time. One could talk as long as one wished. Respect must be shown in
manner and speech. There was no interruption of the speaker. Then the Elders would
confer and pray and talk until a consensus or agreement was reached. All the People
would abide by the decision.

So, Ka-Bay-she-go-e-sayd was called to this place. When he was given time to speak,
he said: "The Creator has given me a different Vision. These ways are not for me."

The Elders spent many hours trying to reach a decision. Finally, the Elder whose
responsibility it was to speak for the People, rose to his feet. His voice was filled with
sadness. "If you will not work or help in any way, you must leave this place. There can
be no room for those who do not contribute to the well-being of our People."

There was great sadness. This had never happened before in the memory of anyone.
There was much sadness in the village, as the boy packed a blanket, some dried berries
along with his few clothes and left the village.

The boy felt sad to leave his family, but he also felt happiness for now he could spend
all his time in the forest with the birds and animals who were his friends.

The days passed slowly and pleasantly for the youth. He learned many things from his
Animal-kind brothers and sisters.

The hunters of his village came to find food for the villagers. Some of his animal-kind
friends chose to offer themselves so that the village people could continue to have food
and clothing. The hunters left Tobacco and said prayers of appreciation and thanks for
their gifts.

Wa Bay she go e sayd was saddened when his animal-kind friends died. So he began to
go ahead of the hunters to warn and frighten away the animals. Game became scarce,
there was little food in the pots of the villagers. People’s stomachs were hungry and
they became angry at the youth.

The hunters began to hunt for He Who Walks a Different Path. He was forced higher
and higher into the hills, and then into the mountains. Finally, he was so high up that
only the birds remained to keep him company.

It is the way of Human-Kind that young boys bodies begin to change as they grow into
young men. They grow hair on their bodies, their voices deepen, their muscles
strengthen and they grow tall.

Ka-Bay-she-go-e-sayd's body began to change. But in a way he had never seen before.
On morning he awoke and found talons in place of his fingernails. Next, he noticed
feathers were growing out of the backs of his hands and in the skin on his arms and
shoulders. He became very afraid.

He dug a hole in the ground, to fast and pray, asking the Creator for understanding and
guidance. On the fourth day, the Creator appeared before him in the form of a huge
bird, such as had never before been seen in the Physical World.

He spoke to He Who Walks A Different Path: "My child, you have remained true to the
Vision and Wisdom I placed within you when you entered this World of Physical Things.
You have endured much.

"From this day on a new creature will enter the World: Kinew, the Golden Eagle. In
return for your loyalty, you and all your descendants shall have the Honor of carrying
the prayers of Human-Kind between the Worlds of Earth and Spirit. All who see an
Eagle shall be reminded of Freedom and Truth. All who hold your feathers must speak
only the Truth in a good and kind way.

"As my view of what happens in this World is different from where I live in the Spirit
World, you will spend most of your time in the realm of Father Sky, and view the world
below in a different way. As My Vision is unique and different, your eyesight will be
keener than any other bird that inhabits the skies. All who see you flying higher than all
other winged ones will be reminded of the World of Spirit which is unseen yet so close-
by to those in the World of Physical Things."

And so it is told, this way, of How the Eagle First Came to the People.

Author :KiiskeeN'tum - She Who Remembers.

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