Manataka American Indian Council

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

How the First White Man

Came to the Cheyenne 

By Glenn Welker

 

 

Several versions of this story have been told by the grandfathers for many generations.  It is a simple, straightforward story revealing the kind, giving, open and free spirited character of the people prior to the invasion of vast hordes of greedy white men.   

      

 

Many generations ago during the hot summer, the  Cheyenne camped along the cool flowing tributaries of the upper Missouri River. Awakening from their sleep one morning, Gray Wolf and his wife saw a strange creature lying in their tipi. The woman was frightened and was about to cry out, but Gray Wolf quieted her and went closer to the strange being which was slowly rising to a sitting position. Gray Wolf saw that this creature was a man who looked something like a Cheyenne, but he had a white skin and hair on his face and spoke in a strange language.

 

The man was so thin that he had scarcely any flesh on his bones, and for clothing he wore were in shreds. He near death. Gray Wolf gave him something to eat, but at first the man was so weak and exhausted that his stomach would not hold it, yet after a little while he got stronger.

 

Gray Wolf told his wife to keep the presence of the stranger a secret. He feared that some of his tribesmen would kill the man, believing that he might bring them bad luck. A few days later, the chiefs sent a crier through the camp, announcing that the Cheyenne would be moving camp the next day.

Knowing that the stranger could no longer be concealed, Gray Wolf revealed his presence. "I have taken him for my brother," he said. "If anyone harms him I will punish them. The Great Spirit must have sent this man to us for a good reason."

And so Gray Wolf clothed him, fed him, and led him back to life. After a time the man learned to speak a few words of Cheyenne. He also learned the sign language of the tribe. In this way he was able to tell Gray Wolf that he came from the East, the land of the rising sun. "With five other men I started out to trap the beaver. We were on a lake in a boat when the wind came up suddenly, overturned the boat, and drowned all the others. After I struggled ashore, I wandered about, living on roots and berries until all my clothes were worn and scratched off. Half blind, and nearly dead with hunger, I wandered into your camp and fell into your tipi."

For the hundredth time the man thanked Gray Wolf for saving his life, and then he continued: "For many days I have watched how hard you and your wife work. To make a fire you must use two sticks. Your wife uses porcupine quills for needles in sewing. She uses stone vessels to cook in, and you use stone knives and stone points for your spears and arrows. You must work hard and long to make these things. My people, who are powerful and numerous, have many wonderful things that the Cheyenne do not have."

"What are these wonderful things?" Gray Wolf asked.

"Needles that keep their points forever for your wife to sew with. Sharp knives of metal to cut with, steel to make a fire with, and a weapon that uses a black powder and sends hard pieces of metal straight at any wild game you need to kill. I can bring you these things if you and your people will help me get beaver skins. My people are fond of beaver fur, and they will give me these wonderful things for you in exchange."

Gray Wolf told his tribesmen what the stranger had said, and they collected many beaver skins for him. The skins were loaded on several travois drawn by dogs, and one day the stranger went off toward the rising sun with his dog-train of furs.

Several moons passed, and Gray Wolf began to wonder if the stranger would ever return. Then on a bright sun shiny morning, the Cheyenne heard a noise like a clap of thunder near their camp. On a bluff to the east, they saw a man wearing a red cap and red coat. Above his head he lifted a strange weapon that resembled a black stick, and then he shouted a greeting to them in their own language.

As he approached, they recognized him as the stranger who had taken away the beaver skins. He had brought the Cheyenne all the wonderful things he had told about--knives, needles and steel -- and he showed the people how to use them. Then he showed them the black powder and hollow iron with which he had made the noise like thunder. And that is how the first white man came to the Cheyenne.  --- Indigenous Peoples' Literature

 

 


 

LEGEND OF THUNDER MOON

By Max Brand

The Legend of Thunder Moon is an intriguing and successful re-creation of the spirit of Cheyenne life during its golden age of nomadic hunting and superb horsemanship on the Great Plains. A Cheyenne brave, Big Hard Face, lacking a son to reaffirm his status, journeys east and kidnaps a white boy. The boy, raised as Thunder Moon, becomes immersed in Cheyenne culture and seeks honor through warfare and hunting to overcome the stigma of his lighter skin. Yet Thunder Moon refuses the self-torture of the Sun Dance, the major passage to adult status for males. Forced to prove himself through other means, Thunder Moon leads an audacious and successful raid against the fearsome Comanche. In this inaugural volume of the Thunder Moon tetralogy, we find Brand at his best, uniting a gripping tale of action with a shift from seeing the Native American as an implacably hostile menace to a more nuanced and sympathetic figure. Leisure Books, August 1999. Soft Cover, 256pp. $19.95

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.


 

HER SEVEN BROTHERS

By Paul Goble

A classic Story.  Retells the Cheyenne legend in which a girl and her seven chosen brothers become the Big Dipper. When an Indian girl begins to make clothes beautifully decorated with porcupine quills for seven brothers she has not yet met, her parents believe that unseen powers have spoken to her.  The girl knows she must travel to the north country to find the seven brothers. She comforts her mother by saying, "Soon you will see me again with my brothers; everyone will know and love us!"  Simon & Schuster Children's, August 1993, Soft Cover. 32pp.  $9.95

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.


 

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