Native American Technology and Art

The Gift


In the mountains and on the prairie
In the forests and in the open
We roam to see the land before us
And how the People live beside us.

We watch their lives slowly unfolding
Watch their children slowly growing
Reaching manhood, becoming women
In the land they call their own.

Weíre the mightiest of the Elk Tribe
With antlers as trees growing
With powers from our fathers
With magic coursing through our blood.

On the prairie there is a young man
We have often seen him hunt there
Draw his bow and send his arrows
Bringing down the mighty buffalo.

We have watched him on his pony
Ride into the running herd of thunder
Strong and bravely does his killing
Providing for his honored parents.

As we stand hidden, behind the bull pines
Blending with the brush around us
We have seen him stalk the brown bear
Take itís life with knife and arrow.

He is brave and he is noble
He shows no fear when in a battle
Rushing towards advancing enemy
Wielding shield and lance, surviving.

All of his bravery we have witnessed
All the man-strength, he has plenty
All of his power he shows daily
In this young man we have seen this.

Among his people there is a woman
Soft and pretty as a new leaf
Wanted by many of the young men
Who in their robes desire to wrap her.

In robes of buffalo they have taken
Quilled and painted, telling stories
With picture writing they speak of conquests
On their robes of warmth and courting.

Wanting to whisper words of needing
Hidden beneath the darkened shelter
Close together, arms around her
They feel the need to be close to her.

With their painted faces, greet her
Show their strong young bodies to her
Tell her all that they could give her
Laughing, joking with young Calf Woman.

As we watched the young men courting
We saw the bravest from among them
Standing hidden, silently watching
Wishing the words he thought, could reach her.

Among the trees along the river
Through the red of willows standing
Comes the beauty of Calf Woman
With her gourd she comes for water.

Day after day we see him stand there
Among the willows surely hidden
He watches the beauty of the woman
Longs to touch her and to hold her.

He tried to call his heart words to her
They left his lips in only whispers
Falling soon they floated downward
And on the ground lay gasping, dying.

On the breeze they never floated
To her ears, they did not reach them
In her heart she could not feel them
Feel his words of love, and warm her.

As she left the waterís lapping
And the young manís love and wanting
Unknowingly trod upon his words that lay there
Dying on the damp and rocky ground.

On the pathway to the village
Many young braves there awaited
With their smiles upon their faces
With their robes to wrap around her.

As he hid, he wept there watching
His frustration brought him sorrow
Life without her had no meaning
Broken hearted he left to wander.

As he journeyed from his homeland
Walked into ascending coolies traveling
Towards the steep and forested mountains
Hid from his sight we carefully followed.

Upon a mountain top he prayed there
For peace of heart and calm of spirit
Wondering why his bravery failed him
When of his love he tried to tell her.

He strung his bow and placed his arrow
Bent the bow and stretched the sinew
Sent the arrow flying skyward
With no target but the heavens.

Toward the clouds soared his arrow
Reached itís time to change direction
Turned and slowly headed westward
At a speed that he could follow.

He saw the arrow as a sign then
A sign of magic, unseen powers
Four long days he followed westward
For three nights it waited while he rested.

In the evening of the forth day
Tired and weary he lay himself down
Amidst the smell of yellow aspen
To the song of the forestís singing.

As we stood among the quaking aspen
Watching the young man laying, sleeping
The time came in which we should greet him
We then walked and stood above him.

We, the Elk Men with branching antlers
We with paint of black and yellow
We who know the heart ache in him
As he woke we said "Weíll help you"

As we spoke to him in beauty
All the leaves quaked songs of gladness
All that was, so softly listened
As we told him "We shall show you"

With our presence there he fully wakened
Sat in awe of paint and antlers
Saw our hoops with quills and otter
Saw the mirror hanging from it.

In our hands we held out to him
The thing of magic we had for him
With his hands he reached out for it
Took the flute with wondrous powers.

"This is cedar wood" we told him
"Fashioned by our friend woodpecker
Five holes in it he has made there
And put his likeness on one end for you.

All the animals helped to make it
We have put our voices in it
When you blow it love will insue
Play it for your needed woman.

Unlike your words itís voice will reach her
It will not lay upon the ground dying, gasping
She will hear you and will love you
Together have children and together live long."

We could see the young man feared us
We could read his thoughts so clearly
With our mirrors and the moonlight
We caused the beam to close his eyes.

In the moment he was blinded
Our human form from us we banished
As he blinked and saw us leaving
We were two bull elk , grand and mighty.

The night brought dreams of young Calf Woman
Of her beauty and his needing
With the morning sun came new strength
On the rays of sun came new hope.

As he journeyed homeward, walking
Songs from the flute he sent so sweetly
That the cranes all gathered Ďround him
Singing songs and dancing gaily.

He listened to the animals of the forest
Learned their sacred songs of beauty
And the animals of the prairies taught him
Their love songs from long ago.

When he reached his peoples camp
There on a hill above the lodges
Beneath the moon and stars he played songs
For the young woman he loved so dearly.

On the breeze notes softly floated
To the ears of all the women
All beheld the magic music
All knew it was for young Calf Woman.

As she heard the floating melodies
In her heart she knew who played them
Remembered the young man in the willows
Remembered the young man who had watched her.

He knew he was finally able
To send his heart thoughts into her heart
And under the moon and stars he stood there
Playing the words I love and need you.

We the strongest of the Elk Tribe
We who gave him songs of magic
Walked away with hooves a clicking
In our hearts we felt contented.

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© 1996 Victoria Orchard. E-mail:

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© 1996 Tara Prindle.