Once when people lived in lodges, a Native leader wanted to help his people. They were having a hard time. They didn't yet know how to live a good life. The leader looked to the animals that lived in the forest. They lived without wars or hunger or illness. This leader thought that if he could talk to one of the mighty animals of the forest, he (or she) could teach the people how to live a good life.
Early one morning he set off into the woods alone to find an animal spirit that could guide him. Soon he came across the tracks of a mighty deer. The tracks sunk deep in the forest loam telling the man that this was an old and mighty buck who had survived many harsh winters. As the man tracked the deer he became oblivious to where he was going, and he walked right through a spider web.
The leader flung his arms and brushed his face to rid himself of the webbing. He said some words in anger.
"Why are you angry?" asked the Spider. "I am the one with the ruined home."
The man tried to hide his blunder in a bluff of importance, "I am tracking a Grandfather deer. The people are struggling. They need a spirit animal to show them a good way to live."
"What about me?" said the spider. "I can show the people a good way to live." The man wanted to laugh, but the spider stopped him. "Look at how I live. I plan. I build. And I wait. and good things come to me."
I was surprised when I heard this spider story. I was used to farm animals being the heroes in stories. This spider story helped me rethink some of the fairytales I tell my children and reinterpret them to more closely align with their Native values.
Culture is passed on through stories. It is our stories and our actions that teach our children the values we want them to hold. Through the eyes of culture the same event has many different interpretations.
Once lightning struck my backyard. That is an event. To make sense of the events of our lives, we spin them into stories.
Here's a short story from the State of North Dakota.
"Forty below keeps the riff raff out."
It seems the state forgot that the Standing Rock Sioux have always been there. The first winter storm hit and instead of running, the Oceti Sakowin camp played.
There is a Gathering near Standing Rock. That is an event. The stories of Standing Rock will be told for generations to come. The odds are stacked against us, but we are determined to join those at Standing Rock with more than just words and money. We will travel to Standing Rock where we too can stand as stone.