White Hawk [archive]
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There was a Shawnee warrior named Waupee, or White Hawk, who lived in the forest alone. This was long, long ago. He liked animals and birds. He was tall, strong, and one of the most well-known hunters of his tribe. He liked the forest, for to him it held all the spirit that lived within man.
Waupee traveled through the forest finding new animals. One day, Waupee traveled farther than he had before. There, beyond the forest, he saw a clearing; and when he walked out into it, he found a perfect circle. He studied the circle and noticed that it had been made by footprints. The prints, however, did not leave the circle: there were none coming into the circle and none going out. Waupee thought this was strange.
That night Waupee slept in the forest near the clearing. He heard music in the night. He looked up, and descending from the sky was a basket filled with twelve beautiful sisters. They were the daughters of the Star Chief, and the basket was their way of coming down and going up to the sky. Waupee watched the basket. It touched the ground and the sisters got out and began to dance. They had a round magic ring which one of them hit with a stick, making the sound of a drum. Waupee admired these women.
One especially caught his attention. It was the youngest daughter of the Star Chief. She had a round face that shone in happiness. Her smile, her eyes, her round cheeks reflected the joy she felt in her heart as she danced. Waupee could not watch any longer. He ran out of the forest to the women. They saw him.
The women jumped back into the basket and were lifted out of his reach by the time he got to the circle. Waupee watched them. He felt great remorse for scaring them away. He decided to wait until the next night.
The music woke him as he lay waiting. He looked up and the basket came down to the circle. The women were cautious. Waupee did not move. The women danced, laughing and beating the ring. Waupee thought of how he could get close to the youngest sister. He changed into an opossum.
He scurried near to the edge of the forest, then turned with his tail towards the sisters and backed to them. The sisters laughed. "Look at the opossum. He has come to show us a new game."
The youngest sister called out, "No, let's get out of here. It is a trick!" The sisters climbed into the basket and disappeared. Waupee returned to his own shape and walked back home.
The next night he returned to his hiding place in the forest. On the way he came across an old stump. He kicked it and out came a handful of mice. Waupee called them. Then he carried the mice filled stump to the sisters' dancing circle and turned into a mouse himself.
The sisters descended and saw the stump. "Look," said one, "I don't remember that stump. What is it doing there?" Another went to the stump and started hitting it as the mice ran for their lives. The sisters grabbed sticks and killed all the mice except for one. The youngest sister chased it, and as she was ready to hit the mouse with the stick, it changed into Waupee. He grabbed her and did not let her go. The other sisters jumped into the basket and rose up into the sky, leaving their youngest sister behind.
Waupee took his woman home. He tried to make her happy. He missed that glow of joy that she had on her face when she danced. Now she did not dance at all.
In time, his woman gave birth to a boy. She asked if she could return to her father and show him the son. Waupee felt for his woman, for sadness was constantly in her. He took her to the place of the circle in the clearing, let her get into the basket with his son, and watched as she ascended into the sky.
Waupee went back to the circle every night. His woman did not return. He felt a sadness enter into his spirit. He missed his woman and hurt with the pain of not seeing his son. As time went by, Waupee stopped going to the circle. He stayed home and sang of his son and of his woman.
Waupee's woman played with her sisters up in the sky. She taught the boy her own father's ways. But when the son grew to resemble Waupee, she remembered her man. She went to her father and asked him if there was a way she could bring Waupee up to live with them. The Star Chief told her that if her man could bring a piece of every animal that lived in the forest with him, he could live in the sky.
Waupee's woman left her son with her sisters and came down in the basket. She went to Waupee and told him of his testing. Waupee spent four days gathering bits and pieces of the mammals, birds, and snakes that lived in the forest. On the night of the fourth day, he went to the circle.
The basket was lowered. He was lifted up to the Stae Chief's home. There he saw his son. The Star Chief told all the people to pick a part of an animal, bird, or snake from the basket. Some choose a foot, some a wing, some a tail, and some a paw. Those who choose tails or paws were changed into animals or snakes and ran away. The others turned into birds and flew away.
Waupee chose a white hawk's feather. His woman and son did the same. They spread their wings and descended with the other birds to the earth. Their families are still living in the forest today.
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