~ Jerry Pope
A long, long time ago, when the world was
young, the man and the animals - they could talk
to each other. In the principles of the Tsalagi they
lived in peace. Humans hunted animals only when
they needed food or skins to make clothes.
Then the man discovered the bow and arrow. This weapon could kill many animals quickly and with great ease. They began to kill the animals even when they were not needed for food or clothes. It seemed as if all the animals in the world would soon be exterminated.
So the different animals gathered in the council. When the bears were gathered and spoke of what the human beings were doing, they decided they would have to fight. “How can we do that? said one of the warrior bears. "Human beings will squash us with their arrows before we approach them". Old Bear Chief said "That's true.
We must learn how to use the same weapons they
use.” So the bears made some very strong bows
and arrows from the trees, asking them in a sacred
way. They were the best done until then. But when
the Bear tried to use a bow, his long claws stood in
the way of the arrow and did not allow to throw the
arrow. "I'm going to cut my claws,” he said to one of
the warrior bears. So he did and then was able
to use the bow and arrow.
His goal was met and hit the target every time."That's good,” said the old bear. "Now you can climb this tree?" The Bear without claws tried to climb the tree, but failed. Old Bear shook his head. “This isn't gonna do anything then. Without our claws we can't climb trees. Without our claws, we won't be able to hunt or dig for food. We must abandon this idea of using the same weapons that humans use.” Therefore, the bears gave up their idea of not fighting against human beings with the same weapons. One by one each of the groups of animals met. One by one didn't each group didn’t come to any conclusion. It seemed like there was no way to fight.
But the last group to meet was the deer. The awi miib, little deer, was their leader. When they were all gathered together, he spoke. "I see what we have to do,” he said. "' We can't stop the human beings on the basis of their needs such as food in this fight. That's the way it's supposed to be. However, human beings are not doing things in the right way. If they don't respect us and hunt only when there isn't even a real need, they can kill us all. I'm going now to the hunters and I'll tell what to do. Whenever they like to kill a deer, they must be prepared in a ceremonial way, need to ask permission to kill one of us. So, after killing a deer, must show respect to his spirit and ask for forgiveness. I am going to keep track of what happens. If the hunters don't do this, with my magic I will paralyze disease in their limbs. Below, you won't be able to walk or shoot a bow and arrow."
.Then the awi miib, little deer, did what he said. “It was in the night and I whispered into the ears of the hunters, telling them what they have to do.” The next morning, when they woke up, some of the hunters, thought that they had been dreaming and were not sure that the dream was a truth. Most of the people realized quickly the deer, the awi miib, had truly spoken with them. They tried to do as he told them. They hunted deer and other animals only when food or clothes were in of great need. It was agreed to prepare in a ceremonial way, asking for permission before the killing of an animal, and to apologize when an animal was killed. Some of the hunters, however, had not paid any attention. They continued killing animals for no reason.
But awi miib, little deer, came up to them and, using his magic, weakened the hunters with rheumatism. So over these days, all the hunters began to treat the animals with respect and follow the teachings of the little deer.
To this day many of the names of the individual Tsalagi People are named Little Deer.
It's so that the animals have survived to this day. Due to awi, miib, little deer, it is fact that the Native American people showed respect. Until the day of today, despite the fact that the animals and the people don't think they can talk to each other, but like in the old days, people still should show respect and give thanks to the animals to be hunting.
A Cherokee story translated by: Eagle Feathers
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