Thursday, June 17, 2010

Native American Story

So I was looking through some of my old writing and I found a story I wrote for a college course in Native American Religion. I am posting it today to share with those willing to read it. The story is called Dyami. Enjoy!

In the beginning there was only darkness…

And then a mighty firebird rose from the depths of the Underworld. Its fiery wings sprawled across the blackness and created light. The flames fell down on the Earth, scorching it and creating huge ravines in the landscape. These chasms filled with water and became the rivers and oceans of the world. The smoke from the flames rose and caused enormous thunderclouds to fill the sky. The rain came down, the dry and cracked earth drank it up, singing praises to the Rain Gods above. The phoenix heard the cries and was so overjoyed that it plucked one of its tail feathers out. The feather floated down to the Earth and settled there. From that spot all the grasses, trees, and mountains of the world sprang up and moved with an inner spirit. The Earth raised its voice in joy and sang to honor the great firebird. The phoenix heard the Earth’s song and was so moved that it cried out in delight. When that crystal tear splashed against the Earth’s surface, all the Animal People of the world sprang up and were filled with the breathe of life. The firebird looked down upon the land and saw the wind blowing through the trees and the grasses, it saw the Animal People running, jumping, and swimming, and it saw the wind move through everything, filling every being with the spirit of life. The phoenix saw that the world was complete and soared into the sky, it flew so high that it was frozen in the air and became the sun and the moon, the main source of light in this new world.
There were all sorts of Animal People in this world. The Horse People were swift runners, strong but kind hearted. They were gentle beings would grazed on grasses and drank from the streams. There were Wolf People, fiercely loyal to each other, fast hunters, and silent stalkers. They were predators but they never killed more than they could eat and prowled the forests and tundra’s of the world. There were Insect People, Whale People, and Beaver People. All the animals of the world were also people, they all had their own unique qualities and all roamed a certain part of the land. The Eagle People were the most respected of all the animals. They had the keenest eyes that could see for miles and flew high in the sky, closest to the Sun God and the Great Spirits of the Sky. All of the Eagle People were brave, all except for Dyami.
Dyami was a young Eagle brave who was the son of Tala, the Wolf Eagle, and Len, the Lion-Hearted Eagle. When Dyami was just a baby, there had been a terrible fire in his village. The young eaglet was playing in his hut when the bright ball of fire soared into the air and through the hut’s smoke hole. The flame burnt Dyami’s left wing, scarring him for life and making him afraid of fire. Since his fear was so deep, Dyami refused to fly, for fear of getting too close to the Sun God and being burnt alive. All the other Eagle braves teased and tormented Dyami, making fun of his burnt wing with its ugly, matted together feathers, calling down their taunts as they flew high above his head. Lost his is isolated world, Dyami despaired and grew lonely.
“I will never be able to hunt for myself or find a wife. My fear is too strong and no woman would love a man with such an ugly wing. I must pray to Father Eagle above and see what I must do to overcome this fear.”
So Dyami went out and gathered many cedar branches and stripped them of their needles. Then he gathered branches from the ash tree, the strongest wood known to the People. After his tasks were completed, Dyami sent out one hundred paces to the East, towards the home of the Gods. It was here that he drew a sacred circle in the earth and set his branches and needles down in the centre of the circle. Dyami took out his flint and started a small fire before sitting with his back to the West, facing the East. Softly he began to chant, praying to the Father Eagle above, asking for guidance, and breathing in the sweet, cleansing smell of cedar.
Four days and four nights passed. At the end of each night, Dyami threw dirt on his fire to put it out, lay down from north to south, his eyes staring towards the home of the Gods. Every morning, Dyami rose with the sun, started his fire, and began to chant again. Late evening on the fourth night, a voice spoke to him.
“You must travel east, my child,” said the voice. “First, you must gather plenty of cornmeal and a canteen of water, for your journey will be long and dangerous. Then you must build a medicine lodge and cleanse your body. After you have completed these tasks, you must walk to the home of Chenoa, the White Dove. Once you reach her home, I will appear to you again and help you on your quest.” A loud peel of thunder filled the air, snapping Dyami from his trace. With his instructions floating around his mind, Dyami put out his fire and hurried back to his home. There he found his mother, Tala waiting for him. Dyami told his mother what he heard and she agreed to help him build his medicine lodge.
Four days later, the lodge was complete. Dyami gather a large about of dead brush, twigs, and logs to build a large fire with. He prayed for guidance and sang a sacred song of cleansing as he prepared the lodge. Once his fire was going, Dyami shut the smoke hole of the lodge and sat facing the east wall. Soon acrid smoke filled the hut, stinging Dyami’s eyes and making his nose itch, yet he sat as still as a stone. Sweat began to drip down his face and body, glistening in the firelight. He closed his eyes and began to sing. He sang about clear rivers and the morning sky. Dyami sang about the sun, the moon, and the stars, which were the eyes of the Spirits. He sang and sweated his heart filling with joy. Hours passed quickly and suddenly a warm glow filled Dyami’s whole being, lighting up his spirit and he knew he was cleansed. Quickly he washed away the sweat with cedar water, put out the fire, and sang a prayer of thanks. Dyami exited the medicine lodge and walked to his house. Tala greeted him there and gave him a large pouch full of corn meal. His father, Len, handed Dyami a canteen filled with sweet water from the streams. Since the sun was setting, Dyami decided to stay the night before setting off at sunrise to start his journey. He slept peacefully and for the first time did not dream of the night the fire burned him.
With the sunrise, Dyami stood outside his parent’s hut and hugged them goodbye. They whispered words of love and advice before watching their son set off on his long journey. Dyami walked briskly, his pouch of corn meal around his waist, his canteen slung over one shoulder, and a strong stick of cedar slung across his back. He walked East, under the morning sky, feeling at peace with nature and the world. For many days and nights he walked, each night he tried to find a safe place to sleep under the stars. On the first night Dyami slept under a cedar tree near a brook but after that the landscape grew sparse and he could hear other animals, predators prowling during the night. Dyami was not afraid, he knew that Father Eagle was guiding him and protecting him. Still he traveled weary and running low on food when at last he reached a large white ash tree in the middle of the desert. Dyami knew in his heart that this must be the home of Chenoa, the White Dove. There he sat, sipping his water and waited for Father Eagle to guide him once more.
“Who are you, young one?” called a strange voice. Dyami looked up and saw a small white dove seating on a branch above him.
“My name is Dyami, of the Eagle People. I prayed to Father Eagle to guide me and help me find the courage to fly. He told me to find the home of Chenoa, the white dove, and then he would speak to me again.”
“I am Chenoa…tell me, my child, why are you afraid to fly?” the dove fluttered down and perched on a branch closer to Dyami. She was beautiful with pure white feathers and soft, soulful eyes. Dyami felt his heart lighten just from the sight of this small white dove. He told her the story of the village fire and when she asked, shamefully showed her his burnt wing. Dyami told Chenoa about how the other Eagles teased and tormented him and how he wished for the courage to fly, to be brave and face his deepest fear. After he was finished with his story, Dyami noticed that the sun had set. Chenoa told him to rest, that all would be clear in the morning. Exhausted from his long journey, Dyami fell into a dreamless sleep.
“Awake Dyami, awake and be free,” a soft voice whispered. Startled Dyami opened his eyes to find Chenoa staring at him with her jet black eyes. Dyami stretched and yawned. His eyes drank in the landscape, the bare desert, the white ash tree, the small dove hovering above his head. He gave Chenoa a curious look, she was pointing at his left wing. Slowly Dyami looked at his wing and gasped with surprise. His scar was gone and the feather looked shiny and handsome.
“How did this happen?” Dyami asked.
“Last night while you slept, Father Eagle came and healed your wing. Dyami, you are very brave. You crossed many miles to find my tree and were surrounded often by predators. Yet, you never gave in to your fear because you knew that Father Eagle was protecting you. Dyami, you overcame your fears and because of your courage, Father Eagle healed you. You will be able to fly now and you will be the highest, swiftest Eagle in your tribe. First, I will gather food and water for you, to help you on your return journey.”
Dyami was shocked; he could not believe that he was finally healed or that he could fly. While Chenoa was gathering food and water, Dyami tried to test his wings. At first he was afraid but then he remembered the journey he took and started to flap up and down. After four tries, Dyami finally got off the ground. Within moments he was soaring above the earth, laughing and singing with joy. Chenoa heard his laughter from the river and looked up. When she saw Dyami flying high in the sky, she fell in love with him and knew she would be his wife. After Dyami landed, Chenoa ran to him and embraced him. He knew what she had seen and how she felt, so he sang a song of great joy. Together, they rested beneath the ash tree and with a peal of thunder, the Father Eagle appeared.
“My children, I see the love you have for one another and I bless you as man and wife. You must fly back to the Eagle tribe. There you will live with my blessing and protection for the rest of your days.” Dyami sang a song of praise to Father Eagle and kissed his wife. Together they flew up to the sky and started on the journey back to the Eagle tribe.
Tala was watching the eastern sky when she saw two shadows headed towards the valley of the Eagle tribe. She knew in her heart that it was her son returning from his quest. Tala shouted to her husband, Len and together they flew to greet the exhausted Dyami. The family called to each other, flying in circles around each other, happy to see their son safe. They greeted their daughter-in-law, Chenoa with joy and love. Together the family lived out their days under the loving protection of Father Eagle, until they passed on and joined the ancestors in the sky.

THE END