Published on December 22, 2012 by Casey
Long ago, there was a time when the animals disappeared from Lenape’hokink, Land of the Lenapé. No one could figure out where they had gone. So, finally, the Chiefs sent out the very best of their hunters to see if they could find any animals, but they came back with disturbing news. Not one track had they found! It seemed as if the animals had completely vanished from their lands!
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So, the main source of our food being gone, something had to be done, for winter was approaching and we would surely starve with no meat. So, once again the Chiefs sent out groups of the best hunters to travel over the Turtle Island to look for the animals. Owl assisted them in this search too, for he needed the mice for food. Owl went far to the north to a place of spruce trees, and he saw many animals apparently imprisoned in an enclosure of trees; but they looked content and not the least bit ill at ease.
Seeing that something was strange here, Owl flew down to a low branch and talked to the animals. No sooner had Owl sat on the branch than he was attacked by fierce Giants and their friends, the Crows. Luckily, night was falling and Owl was able to escape, and he left as fast as he could fly.
Flying back to Lenape’hokink he reported to the people on what he had seen. So, the Lenapé Chiefs gathered together a large body of warriors to rescue the imprisoned animals, and Owl guided them.
When the warriors arrived at the place where the animals were imprisoned, they were immediately attacked by large numbers of fierce crows. Never had the warriors seen so many! Then they were set upon by the Giants, who came after them with small trees and threw large rocks upon them! The battle that followed lasted for days, with neither side gaining victory. To the warriors something did not seem right, because at no time did the animals try to escape, but just looked curiously upon the battle raging all around them.
Finally, the Lenapé warriors being discouraged, they asked the Giants for a truce. Their adversaries granted the request, welcoming the rest themselves. The Lenapé War Chief asked the animals, “Why is it that you seem unconcerned with our attempts to release you from your imprisonment? We have undergone much hardship and even death for you, but you don’t seem to care!”
The Chief of the animals, a large elk, came forward, saying, “You think we are here against our wishes, but this is not so! We wish to remain here and we are content. The Giants have treated us better than you ever did when we lived in your lands!”
Amazed, the War Chief asked, “How is it that we have offended you?”
The Chief Elk replied, “You have wasted our flesh; desecrated our forest homes, and our bones; you have dishonored us and yourselves. We can live without you, but you cannot live without us!”
“How can we make right our wrongs to you? How shall we atone for your grief? Tell us!” cried the War Chief.
The Chief Elk spoke again. “Honor and respect our lives, our beings, in life and death. Do what you have failed to do before. Stop doing that which offends our Spirits.”
The War Chief promised, and so the Giants released the animals and they followed the Lenapé back to their homeland. Ever since that time we Lenapé have always offered tobacco and shown the utmost respect when hunting or upon killing an animal for food. We never took more than we needed, and we used as much of the animals remains as we could.