Six days to go before the Nishiyuu Walkers arrive in Ottawa, and I know everyone’s so excited about this. I will be on the road with my family in the next couple of days and I want to share with you one of our Cree legends, the Legend of Che-Cheojans (This is a condensed version. The original is long and has many details). Among others, this particular Legend has relevance to the Journey of Nishiyuu (It is said that this legend is also about the end of the Ice Age).
The Legend of Cheh-Cheojans
Once there was a young boy who couldn’t stop crying after his grandfather had left for a new journey in the Spirit World. It was winter. He cried day in and day out until, one day, the Elders advised that he’d be asked what would make him stop crying.
“If I could only hunt summer birds with my bow and arrow, I would stop crying then.” The young boy said.
So the people talked among themselves. Elders and tribal leaders gathered in council. Through the ceremonies they were told that the only way to make the young boy stop crying was to bring back from the south the Summer Spirit. The people were warned that this wouldn’t be easy because it was kept in a Bundle and guarded by a fierce tribe in the south. For ages they had kept the summer Spirit only for themselves so that winter would never come. They would destroy anyone who attempted to take it away from them. They were feared far and wide.
After many councils of tribal leaders and Elders, it was decided that the best runners among the tribes’ warriors would be sent to the far south to fetch the Summer Spirit. The Elders warned that there would be many challenges on the way and several gates to pass through with life-threatening situations the warriors had to face and overcome, before they the reached the village in which the Bundle was kept.
So then the warriors were carefully selected by the Elders. With weapons in hand, they left their village and headed south. Through the many gates of trials and tribulations placed in their way, they courageously faced each one and safely went through each gate.
They walked day after day for what it seemed to be an endless journey. Then it started to get warm and the snow melted as they walked; they knew they were close to their destination.
From a high mountain they saw a village down below. In the center was a huge Teepee heavily guarded by warriors of the enemy. They knew that this was were they would find the Bundle where the Summer Spirit was kept. So they made a plan and decided to create a diversion, and once most of the warriors got out of the village, the best runners and fighters would go down to the village and fetch the Bundle. The plan worked. The fastest runners among them went to the lodge in the village’s center, fought with the guards, took the Bundle and headed northward. The other warriors placed themselves on the trail, slowing down the pursuing enemy. After a while they noticed the enemy was no longer following them. They had given up the pursuit to get their Bundle back.
And so it is said that everywhere they were on the way back home, the summer birds sang their honour songs of Life, and the Earth Mother again put on her beautiful summer dress, and a birth of new life took place in the natural Kingdom.
Upon the warriors getting home with the Bundle, the boy is said to have stopped crying and was hunting summer birds as he had wanted.
The warriors were then honoured for their bravery, determination and courage!
– End of Legend –
In our culture, it is said that when you read between the line, our Legends will teach you life lessons and how to face life’s challenges. Among many Teachings, they also talk about our past, our present and our future. Each Legend carries a prophecy. In this case, on March 25th, our Nishiyuu Walkers will have fulfilled the prophecy of how the warriors (Nishiiyuu Warriors) would bring back the Summer Spirit back home again. H
Now, here’s a question for all of us to answer: What does the Summer Spirit represent for each one of us, for our families, for our communities, for our nations, for all humanity?
For me, it represents universal balance and harmony.