Manataka® American Indian Council


Proudly Presents







How High Do Eagles Fly?

By Manataka Elder, The Rev. Dr. Fred D. Wilcoxson PhD



“…Being chosen expresses a special relationship, being known and loved in a unique way, being singled out. In our society our being chosen always implies that others are not chosen. But this is not true for God… In the Kingdom of God each person is precious and unique, and each person has been given eyes to see the chosenness of others and rejoice in it.” ~Henri J. M. Nouwen



*  Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four years old, and did not learn to read until he was seven.

*  Beethoven’s music teacher said that, “As a composer he is hopeless.”

*  When Thomas Edison was a young boy, his teachers said he was so stupid that he could never learn anything.

*  When F. W. Woolworth was 21, he got a job in a store, but was not allowed to wait on customers because he “didn’t have enough sense.”

*  Walt Disney was once fired by a newspaper editor because he was thought to have “no good ideas.”


Sometimes we have to look very hard to see potential in others or ourselves. Each of us is uniquely gifted, though. We all have something to contribute to the world.


Luetta C. Milledge, Head, Department of English, Savannah State College, delivered a commencement address some years ago and began with this classic illustration:

“I wish to speak today of eagles. May I begin by relating the parable of the eagle as told by James Aggrey of West Africa. A certain man went through a forest seeking any bird of interest he might find. He caught a young eagle, brought it home and put it among his fowls and ducks and turkeys, and gave it chicken’s food to eat even though it was an eagle, the king of birds.

“Five years later, a naturalist came to see him and, after passing through his garden said: “That bird is an eagle, not a chicken.’ ‘Yes,’ said the owner, ‘but I have trained it to be a chicken. It is no longer an eagle, it is a chicken, even though it measures fifteen feet from tip to tip of its wings.’

‘“No,’ said the naturalist, ‘it is an eagle still; it has the heart of an eagle, and I will make it soar high up to the heavens.’

‘“No,’ said the owner, ‘it is a chicken, and it will never fly.’

“They agreed to test it. The naturalist picked up the eagle, held it up and said with great intensity: ‘Eagle, Thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to this earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly.’

“The eagle turned this way and that, and then looking down, saw the chickens eating their food, and down he jumped.
“The owner said: ‘I told you it was a chicken.’

‘”No,’ said the naturalist, ‘it is an eagle. Give it another chance tomorrow.’

“So the next day, he took it to the top of the house and said: ‘Eagle, thou art an eagle; stretch forth thy wings and fly.’ But again the eagle, seeing the chickens feeding, jumped down and fed with them.

“Then the owner said: ‘I told you it was a chicken.’ ‘No,’ asserted the naturalist, ‘it is an eagle, and it has the heart of an eagle; only give it one more chance, and I will make it fly tomorrow.’

“The next morning he rose early and took the eagle outside the city away from the house, to the foot of a high mountain. The sun was just rising, gilding the top of the mountain with gold, and every crag was glistening in the joy of the beautiful morning.

“He picked up the eagle and said to it: ‘Eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly.’

“The eagle looked around and trembled as if new life were coming to it. Yet it did not fly. The naturalist then made it look straight at the sun. Suddenly it stretched out its wings and, with the screech of an eagle, it mounted higher and higher and never returned. It was an eagle, though it had been kept and tamed as a chicken.’

“My people of Africa, we have been created in the image of God, but men have made us think that we are chickens, and so we think we are: But we are eagles, stretch forth your wings and fly. Don’t be content with food of chickens!!”

James Aggrey’s words could be applied to all of us. Many of us have been content to feed with the chickens and have forgotten that God has called us to be eagles.



“He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31