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By F. H. Cheley

The American Indian is very popular with the boy, and very much more should be made of the splendid and heroic side of Indian life in order to balance the boy's idea of the bad Indian which he gathers pretty largely from his reading.

One way that this may be accomplished is to gather in loose-leaf or outline form as many accurate Indian legends arid true stories as possible and familiarize yourself with them.   If it is not easy for you to tell stories, then make an evening of reading these little stories and legends and let the boys discuss them.

Many camps have an Indian Chief on their staff whose job is to bring to the camp fire a true interpretation of the fine side of the Indian.  If he has costume so much the better.

If such a plan for any reason cannot be worked, let one of your regular leaders specialize in the Indian lore for the special benefit of the camp fire programs.  He can gather together many bits of costume and a peace pipe, and do surprisingly well.

On such nights have various groups learn and demonstrate the various Indian dances in crude costume.  Let the music be Indian music (Numerous special Indian recordings may be found) and let the camp fire story be any one of Shultz's many excellent Indian stories (Houghton, Mifflin Co., Publishers.)

The following brief stories are suggestive of the type of material that should be sought:

A TYPICAL INDIAN LEGEND

Did  you ever hear how the little chippie came to be so small and to have such a small voice?  You know he says, Chip! Chip!  This is the way the Chippewa Indians told it to the white men years ago.

In the far West long ago, there lived among the animals and fish and feathered folk, a monstrous bird.  He was what you boys would call a big bully.  He ruled over all the hills pd valleys in the West.  When the other birds and animals heard him, they would flee for safety. If he became displeased, he would roar, WOOF--so loud it was that the hills would shake. He was called Owantancha, the Mighty.

One day Okapeechy, the Blue-jay, thought he would call Owantancha's bluff. Now you all know the Blue-jay; he is a pretty sassy and slick bird. He flew up near Owantancha's ear and said, "Owantancha" in his loudest tones. Owantancha looked about a minute to see who had dared to address him, and finally saw Okapeechy.

"What do you want?" he said in his gruffest voice. But, Okapeechy stuck to it and said, "You think you have the loudest voice in the world, Owantancha." "Well, I have," roared Owantancha. "I know where there is a louder voice than yours," said Okapeechy.

Owantancha roared with laughter, and said, "Where is this voice?" Okapeechy said, "It is a long journey from here.  Three moons to the East and one moon to the North."

Owantancha said "Well, I want to hear this voice."

So Okapeechy and Owantancha went on the long journey.  After many days they began to hear the rumble of the voice which became louder and louder.  Now, Okapeechy had very craftily taken Owantancha to Niagara Falls.  When they got near enough, Okapeechy flew up to Owantancha's ear and said he would like to hear his voice. Owantancha roared, "WOOF!" and looked around at Okapeechy-Okapeechy said "I can't hear you." So ' Owantancha roared louder, "WOOF!" Okapeechy said, "I can't hear you." Then Owantancha took a deep breath and roared, "W-0-0-Fl" Okapeechy said, "I can't hear you."

Then Owantancha really knew that this voice was greater and louder than his and felt so ashamed for having been so pompous and overbearing that he shrank up smaller and smaller with shame and tried to hide in a little hole. As he was almost in, Okapeechy saw his chance and pulled out his tail feathers. Owantancha cried out in pain, "Chip, Chip," and ever after was called the chippie.

THE STORY OF THE LAST GREAT COUNCIL

0n a spring day in the year 1909, Chief Plenty Coups, head of the Crow nation, called his chief men together and addressed them: "A few more passing suns will see us here no more, and our dust and bones will mingle with these prairies.  I see as in a vision the dying spark of our council fires, the ashes cold and white.  I see no longer the curling smoke rising from our lodge poles.  I hear no longer the songs of the women as they prepare the meal.  The antelope is gone. The buffalo wallows are empty.  Only the wail of the coyote is heard. The white man's medicine is stronger than ours.  My heart is cold within me.  My eyes are growing dim.  I am old.  Before our red brothers pass on to the happy hunting ground, let us bury the tomahawk.  Let us break our arrows.  Let us wash off our war paint in the river.   And I will instruct our medicine men to tell the women to prepare a great council lodge."

The reservation awoke to instant activity.  Hunting parties were sent into the hills for game.  Runners were dispatched to every tribe, from the Blackfeet in the far North to the Apaches in the southern deserts; from the Sioux in the East to the Cayuses and the Umatillas on the coast of the Pacific; and from the conspicuous mountain peaks there went up smoke signals.

In September came the answer: twenty-one of the great chiefs, clad in all the beauty of their native dress and with the pomp and dignity of war bonnet and coupstick, decorated with the eagle feathers every one of which means a deed of personal valor or sagacity reported to the tribe and by them approved a native croix de guerre or Victoria Cross.

The great council lodge was waiting to receive them, set up within a stone's throw of the unobtrusive monument that marks the place of Custer's last fight and the spot where he still lies; and within it sat Chief Plenty Coups with his chief men about him. There is not space here to tell of the greetings, the speeches that were made or even who made them; but all the speakers were the head chiefs of their tribes, and all were men well advanced in years and distinguished among the whites as well as among their own people for deeds that are now history.

Four had been faithful scouts for Custer and had seen him die; two or more had led the forces against him that last great battle. All had fought at one time or another with tribes, the leaders of which sat in the circle of that council fire.  But the talk, led by Chief Plenty Coups, was all of peace, and one after another the chiefs arose and spoke briefly of the pleasure he had in greeting his former enemies as brothers and pledged himself to war no more against either red man or white.

BOOKS ON INDIAN STORY AND TRADITION

The Indian Book, by NATALIE CURTIS, Harper and Bros.

Indian Story and Song from North America,  by ALICE C. FLETCHER, Small, Maynard & Co.

Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs, by ALICE C. FLETCHER, Small, Maynard & Co.

Around an Iroquois Story Fire, by MABEL POWERS, Stokes & Co.

Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children, by MABEL POUTRs-American Book Co.

Indian Days of the Long Ago, by EDWARD S. CURTIS, World Book Co.

With the Indians in the Rockies, by JAMES W. SCHULTZ, Houghton Mifflin Co.

Rolf In the Woods, by ERNEST THOMPSON SETON, Grossett and Dunlap.

The Boys' Book of Indian Warriors, by EDWIN L. SABiN, Geo. W. Jacobs & Co.

The Boy With the U. S. Indian, by FRANCIS ROLT-WHEELER.

Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, by CHAS. A. EASTMAN, Little Brown & Co.

Wigwam Evenings, C. A. and ELAINE GOODALE EASTMAN, Little Brown & Co.

Indian Legends Retold, C. A. and ELAINE GOODALE EASTMAN, Little Brown & Co.

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Peer- Level Topic Links:
5 Camp Fires ] Bibliography ] Firelight ] Council Fire ] Week Program ] Heart of the Camp ] Ceremony from India ] Invocation ] Mowgli Story ] Oath Ceremony ] Pantomime ] Pointers ] [ Evening Pow Wows ] Accounted For! ] Scout Law ] Story of Fire ] Good Story Telling ] Timber Wolf Ceremonies ] Traditions ] Scout Yells ] What To Do? ] The Gray Areas ] Philmont Song Book ] Campfire Skits & Stunts ] Scout War Songs ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.