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Throws-his-words

January 12, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

(an autobiographical myth)

One morning, Throws-his-words woke up from a dream. The dream was hard to remember, but he knew it was a dream about a song. He kept dreaming about the song every night, but every morning he couldn’t remember it. He knew the song the wind made, but that was not the song from his dream. He knew the song of rain on the tall prairie grass too, and all the songs the People sang around their campfires, but none of them were the song from his dream.

Don’t breathe, don’t breathe!
Can’t you hear the grass singing?
The grass is singing to the clouds.

One morning very early, Throws-his-words went out walking and saw Raven sitting at the top of a maple tree on a high bluff. “Raven”, he called, “do you know the song in my dream? Where can I find it?” Raven replied, “Go to the sun”. Throws-his-words went back and told his father about his dream and what Raven had said. Then he said goodbye to his father and mother and the People, and started walking. Every night he dreamed of the song, and when he woke up he walked toward the morning sun.

In the mist
I see more clearly
The path before me.

He dreamed for many nights and walked for many days until the prairie became a deep deep forest. The songs of the wind and rain were different in the trees, and he listened to them for a long time to learn them, but they were not the song from his dream. In the forest he met a different People and stayed with them for a long time to learn their songs, but none of their songs were the song from his dream.

All the trees together
Sing more quietly
Than one tree alone.
They sing to me the same song:
“The whole world
Is just behind me — look!”

One of the People in the forest was a woman named Fierce Cat. Throws-his-words sang to her the songs of his People and the songs of the wind and rain in the prairie grass. Then he told her about his dream, and she said she had had the same dream. They decided to search for the song together.

Beautiful singer,
Let me learn your song.
Beautiful singer,
Let me learn your song.

One evening at sunset, Throws-his-words and Fierce Cat saw Raven sitting at the top of a maple tree on a high bluff. “Raven”, Fierce Cat called, “do you know the song in our dream? Where can we find it?” Raven replied “Go to the sun”. So Fierce Cat said goodbye to her father and mother and her People, and she and Throws-his-words started walking. Every day they walked toward the evening sun until they were too tired to walk any more, and every night they dreamed of the song.

The rabbit and the deer
On a bare hilltop
Listen to the sunset,
While Raven keeps watch
From his tall maple tree
For the coyote.
But today coyote is not hungry,
As she waits
For her pups to be born.

They walked for many days and dreamed for many nights as the deep deep forest turned to prairie, and for many many more until the prairie turned to high mountains. They learned the song of cold rivers falling down the mountainsides, and they learned the song of deep snows, and they made many songs of their own.

Moon over snow,
Ice in the river,
Let’s wait here a while my love,
And sing a cold-warm song.

Then one day they came to the top of a high bluff, and before them was the great ocean. The sun was sinking into the water, painting it in red and gold. Raven was sitting at the top of a maple tree there, and they called up, “Raven, do you know the song in our dream? Where can we find it?” Raven replied, “Go to the sun”. So Throws-his-words and Fierce Cat jumped together and fell down and down into the water, and Raven turned them into gray whales. Then they finally remembered the song from their dream, and it was their own spouting and deep breaths and whalesong. They leaped from the water for joy and crashed back down and leaped again. The rest of their lives they swam and sang together.

(Learn more about real native American songs here. Read Throws-his-words’ first story here.)

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