Manataka American Indian Council
Moon of the Popping Trees
By Waynonaha Two Worlds
Tonight as the wind blows around the house I am brought back to sitting with
my Father in Nevada listening to the same wind. I hear the voice of my
Father as he tells me of the wind singers.
"Where does the wind go"? I ask my Father one day. We were sitting on an out crop of stones resting our horses and listening as the wind howled down the valley. The whirlwinds of dust and sand danced in the sage brush whirling here and there in no particular pattern. As usual there was a long silence most people would not be able to endure.
Children these days are impatient, they want to get the answer immediately. I waited and watched, the swirling of the wind dancers, as my Father lit up his cigarette and took a few puffs. I always liked the smell of the smoke when it was first lit. the smell reminds me of the sweet grass burning in our home each day.
It all blends with the sweet pine needles I burned in an old iron fry pan,
to give thanks and prayer. My Father looked off into the distance and
I could see his eyes go into that strange trance like stare. I had grown to
know this stare and find myself many times lost in just such a trance like
state. Finally he spoke to me in a soft and deep voice that went right into
your very being. He said, "Frog": that was one of the little names I had
through the years, he was fond of giving us these names. "What do you hear
in the wind"? he ask. I waited because to give an answer right away was
not showing respect but arrogance, besides you could make a bad answer
unless you thought it all out. I listened very hard and I said, "I hear
music and singing." I felt very proud that I could see a little smile at
the corner of his lips, so I knew that I had at least gotten some of it
right. I kept my eyes down cast looking at the ants crawling around my boot
He then ask me. "where does this music and singing come from"? I was stumped so I said in a proper time frame, "I do not know". I had learned that if you did not know the answer don't ever guess. My Father's favorite saying was "a little knowledge in the hands of those who are not aware is dangerous." I never questioned this but in the years to come I realized what he was talking about. After a while he put his cigarette out on his boot heel, then stripped the paper off and offered the remaining tobacco to his horse. Peanut grabbed at it and munched away on the few threads of tobacco like it was candy. I knew also that the tobacco worked as medicine to rid our horses of parasites. My Father then told me this story about the wind.
In the time before the stone lodge there was no songs to be sung. People were new to this land and had not found their way or their voices. Coyote could sing and so could the Wolf, the birds sang songs and the grasses and trees too. The many legged and no legged had a song to sing that was their very own. But the two legged did not have a song to sing. There was no drums or flutes or rattles. Only the rattle snake had a rattle and the grouse would drum on the log as would the woodpeckers. Crickets made a see saw sound with their hind legs and other insects buzzed or hummed. My Father looked at me out of the corner of his eye and said, "even the frogs had a song and they only sang in the evening or at night. It is said that they could call the rain, or let us know when it was going to rain."
The fish and the other ones with fins that lived in the water listened to
the frog. Frog would tell them of the weather and let them know where the
best food was to be found.
The wind was quiet then when it came to sweep across the plains and slip
into the mountains nooks and crannies. All was peaceful and quiet on the
Earth. There was of course the noises that the animals, birds and insects
made, and of course the Frog.
One day a small child named Sweet Grass, was walking in the meadow and a
magpie came and sit on a branch of a cotton wood tree. The Magpie started
to sing to the little girl and she tried to make the same sounds of the
Magpie. Soon she was singing the Magpie's song and trying to sound like
Magpie. Magpie laughed and Sweet Grass laughed too. Sometimes Magpie talked
to her in a way that uses the mind and not the voice. He told her that he
was also a two legged and was captured and locked into a birds body. He
told her that there were many such birds that were his relatives and that
some lived here and some in lands far away. Raven, and Crow, he said were
his relation on this land where we now live.
Each day the little girl would come and listen to the Magpie as he told her about the land and why the two legged came to live here. He spoke of a land far away in the stars where the ones who she was related to came from. He said all the two legged came from that place beyond the stars in the sky world.
As there was no way to tell her parents about this wonderful bird she could not share what she had learned. Finally one day when she did not know her mother was near, she started to sing the song the Magpie taught her. Her mother ran from the lodge making a high pitched crying noise. This frightened the people and they thought maybe a bad spirit was in this child. Many stayed away from the fire if she was near it and did not eat of the food she had touched.
This did not stop Sweet Grass she sang the magpie song all day long. Finally many of the other children started to make the same sounds she made. The parents did not understand this and were very much afraid.
Where ever the children went the Magpie, Crow and Raven followed them and taught them more and more of the songs and ways to make wonderful sounds. Soon the land was full of sounds and from all of this came the way we speak today. This took many years so it was not done over night or in one generation.
The sounds you hear on the wind are the voices of our ancestors still telling us how to sing and make the music that was given to us by the bird nation. The songs of our people will never be lost as long as we sit and listen to the wind. When we need a medicine song we only have to offer tobacco and listen. Soon the wind will whisper the song we need for healing or for helping the people.
Later from the grouse and the wood pecker we learned to make the drum and from the woodpecker we also were given the flute. Rattle snake gave us the medicine of his rattle to scare away the bad Tokas (spirits). From many animals and creatures we were given all the things we now take for granted.
The standing Nation (trees) still are here to carry the voices in their branches of the ancient ones as they tell us their story and teach us their songs. We are told that all the earth that is ever going to be is here, on this what we call Mother Earth, all the water is here and just recycles in this bubble around the Earth Mother. All the air is here, and is recycled from oxygen to carbon dioxide in this bubble. Without these things there can be no life on this our Mother. As for the wind it is also here and circles around the Earth Mother cooling her and heating her in the seasons. In this wind there is all the sound that ever was and ever will be on this Earth Mother. The wind is carrying the voices of our ancestors so we will never forget who we are, and where we came from.
Some times now when I am an old woman I can go and stand on a hill when the wind is blowing and hear the sound or the ancient ones playing instruments that I do not know. The sound is so sweet that it fills me with wonder and peace. Bells and flutes, horns of birch bark, deer toe rattles, drums, all of these are in the wind that flows around this sweet Earth Mother. Ocean waves are in the sound as they crash on the shores. The voices of the animals and people and birds are here in the wind. All the music up until now is in the wind. The sound of people in laughter and in pain are in the wind. All the sounds of war and destruction are also in the wind.
All of my relations voices are carried in the sound of the wind from all the places of the Earth making one band singing and playing in harmony.
So I am never alone and I am always with my people. The wind sings the songs of our people all of our people in one voice in one song for peace.
"Listen to the wind and hear our elders as they speak. As long as the wind blows we are all one, connected under this blue
bowl of the sky". ~Chief Plenty Horses. Oglala Teton Black Hills.
Waynonaha Two Worlds. Copyright (c) 2006 by Waynonaha Two Worlds. All publication rights reserved.