How Little Girl Saved her People: The Legend of the Bluebonnet retold

1+~+~ Antique Photograph ~+~+  Native American Indian girl ~ Katie Roubideaux, Rosebud Sioux, (1890-1991)

       LITTLE GIRL had not yet finished her seventh year when the East Wind refused to blow over the land of her people. The life-giving rains did not fall. The great herds of buffalo did not graze. All went hungry for there was little food for man or beast.

As the days grew long and the sun scorched the land, South Wind also punished the people. He did not summon the cooling breezes to refresh the people or rain clouds to quench their thirst.

Then West Wind, angry at the people because of their greed and selfishness, breathed a black sickness so powerful that every family among the tribe witnessed death before the North Wind came blasting snow and ice, covering the barren land.

Next year, even though winter had spent her days and spring had returned to the land of the people, the rains and the buffalo did not come. In great distress, the people cried out. Their Shaman climbed the hill where the Great Spirit speaks. Day after day, rain dancers danced and drummers drummed. Day after day, the Shaman called out to the Great Spirit. Day after day, the people watched and waited.

When the Shaman finally came down from the hill, he told the people a sacrifice of a most-valued possession must be offered to the Great Spirit. The ashes of the prized offering must be scattered to the Four Winds. Then the rains and the buffalo will return to the land. Then the people’s suffering will end.

The tribes people talked among themselves. “Surely the Great Spirit does not want my bow,” said the warrior White Wolf, “for the Great Spirit has bows of magical powers far surpassing mine.”

“The Great Spirit does not want my new blanket woven in the colors of sunset,” said the young maiden Butterfly, “for the Great Spirit paints his own each evening.”

Little Girl who had lost all of her family in the powerful black death sent by the West Wind, lovingly gazed down at her warrior doll. He was made from soft buckskin, sewn by her mother, beaded by her grandmother. Around his warrior neck was a small, polished claw, an amulet from her grandfather’s necklace. The dark, coarse, horse hair that covered the doll’s head was adorned with feathers from the bird that cries “Jay–Jay–Jay,” gift of her father. Little Girl carried the warrior doll everywhere. He was all she had left of her family. “This is the most-valued possession the Great Spirit demands,” thought Little Girl.

After all the people had entered their teepees and had settled down to sleep, Little Girl silently stepped out into the night. Holding the warrior doll close to her heart, she took the last burning branch from the council fire. Using the fire stick to light her way, Little Girl climbed the hill where the Great Spirit had spoken to the Shaman.

Gathering twigs and fallen leaves, Little Girl started a small fire. Turning her face to the night sky she said, “O, Great Spirit, I give you my warrior doll, made by my mother and grandmother. Dressed with gifts from my father and grandfather. He is all I have left. He is the most-valued possession.” Little Girl threw her doll into the hungry flames. Streams of tears ran down her cheeks. She was all alone in the world.

After the fire died and the embers cooled, Little Girl scooped up the ashes that had been her beloved warrior doll. Taking a deep breath, Little Girl blew the ashes to the East, to the South, to the West, to the North. “Accept this offering,” she whispered to the Four Winds. Little Girl fell into a deep sleep under the night sky.  She dreamed of her warrior doll with her family in the Happy Hunting Grounds.

The people awoke to a miracle. All the land –from the hillside where the Great Spirit spoke to the grounds where the people set their teepees – was covered in blue flowers. A great herd of buffalo appeared on the horizon, under a sky thick with clouds. They knew at once that they had been forgiven. Their hearts swelled with love and joy. They named the little girl who had made the great sacrifice “She-Who-Dearly-Loves-Her-People.”

Ever since, the Great Spirit sends bluebonnets in the springtime to cover the land called Texas. He remembers the little girl and the sacrifice of the most-valued possession, a warrior doll with feathers from the bird who cries “Jay–Jay–Jay.”

Blue bells

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