Fire Tail Story
by Kya Hamilton
Very long ago, a band of Indians was drying deer meat in the sun. They thought how wonderful it would be to have a small sun to dry the meat better and keep them warm when the big sun set in the evening and it got cold.
Of course, they were only dreaming because such a thing would take power and magic, more than their most powerful magicman possessed.
But, as the People talked, a tiny bird chirped loudly in a tree above them. The People saw the bird had a very bright red tail that flickered even while it was sitting still.
An elder who could speak to animals asked, "What do you want, little bird?"
"Wise One, I do not want, but I bring what you wish for. My tail has a thing called Fire. It is hot like the sun and will comfort you when the winter wind blows, cook your meat, and give you light when the sun is gone."
The elder said, "Thank you, little bird. Bring me your fire so I can share it with the People."
"It is not that easy," replied the bird. "Have the People gather here in the morning to receive fire. Tell each one to bring a dry branch with pine pitch on it."
Then, the bird quickly flew away.
The elder told the People what the bird had said. He also said, "We should do what the bird says, for it will bring us much good fortune."
So, when the sun rose again, all the People were gathered, each holding a pine pitch branch. A loud chirping in the tree above told them the bird had appeared.
The bird talked to them in a voice that all could understand, "The first to catch up to me will be given my fire. But, only if that person does what is right, has patience, and does not lose courage. Follow me!"
The bird flew off quickly with the People chasing behind. It flew over rough ground and thick forest, across streams and marshes. Many people could not keep the pace and gave up. They said, "It is too hard! Too fast! Too difficult! Too dangerous!" as they stopped their chase.
Finally, a young brave got close to the bird and called, "Give me your fire, little bird, so I can get back to more important matters."
"No," replied the bird, "You have no patience. You shall have no fire."
Then, a second brave got close to the bird and called, "Give me your fire, little bird, so I will be the most powerful of the People. I have followed you far and have done no wrong."
"No," replied the bird, "You think only of yourself and that is bad. You shall have no fire."
The bird looked back and saw that it was no longer being followed so it settled to a branch in a tree to rest. It saw a woman on the ground nursing an old man that appeared very sick and cold.
The bird said, "Bring a pine branch and I will give you Fire to keep that man warm and cook your food."
The woman said, "Thank you, little bird, but I must stay with my friend. I do not deserve a magic gift. I am only doing what is right, what my inner voice tells me needs to be done. And, I must stay with this sick man to help him for as long as needed."
"You think first of others, so you deserve this gift which you can share with the People," explained the bird. "Bring a stick so you can help this man."
So, the woman quickly brought a branch and the bird lit it from its flickering tail. The woman built a fire and kept her friend warm through the night. In the morning, he was better so they returned to the village and brought Fire with them. Since that time, the People have had Fire.