by Albert GrayEagle
There was a young couple that had been wed for two
summers. They had
everything going well for them. Food was plentiful
and the young husband was
always fortunate in hunting. The young wife gathered
berries and roots.
They would sit in their lodge eating, even while all
the other people
counciled and prayed. They forgot about their Creator
and prayed no longer
or gave thanks for their good fortune.
The young man's father was troubled by this, for he
thought he had raised
his son in a better way than the way he was living.
He prepared for prayer,
then cleansed himself in a good sweat, then prepared
for a vision. He told
his wife he would be gone as long as it took, until
the Creator listened to himself, for strength that
his prayers and gave him a vision. He wanted to pray,
for his son and
He was gone two days before he came back. His body
was weak from hunger.
His wife asked him about his vision. He told her
they were going to be grandparents and the child will be great,
for a little
one, and will teach
all in the village, and especially himself, the value
of life. He saddened
and said no more about his vision. It showed a lot of
pain that he had a
hard time thinking about.
The vision of a child in pain and himself knowledge.
The center of
learning the last thing he
would learn. This child would be his connection to
the circle of life and he
would see the pureness and energy of innocence and
the medicine wheel will be where the child stands at
in his moment of truth.
He didn't quite understand what this meant. the
young couple came to
In the month of the hard faced moon (January),
his lodge and gave them the good news of them becoming
grandparents. The man
knew his vision was going to become true. It would be
a little girl conceived during the hard faced moon and born during
the time of the cool moon (September).
It came to pass that the cool moon came and the
storm that startled the woman enough to give
birth early. The new grandfather
paced outside the lodge with his son, while his son spoke of how a
great warrior his new son would be. He
told his son of his vision of the girl child
that would be great amongst her people and
her name will be Smiling Fox. The young man
smiled and said that would be good also. As the
thunder sound was off at a distance
the sound of a baby crying made them jump for
The young father ran inside while his father
waited outside. The son
brought his daughter out and told his father, "Here is
Smiling Fox". When the grandfather looked into her
eyes he could see why creator called her this name, for her eyes
danced like prairie
grass in the wind. Then a sad look came unto his face
as he looked into his
vision. His son asked him what was wrong and, of
course, he said nothing and
As the child grew the more curious she got and
the more she wanted to
know. She was so close to her grandfather and he fed
her with knowledge.
They would spend their days talking. She was about
four summer seasons old
when she started to get ill. No one could cure her.
The medicines did not
help. She coughed very badly and her bones would ache
so bad that she
limped. She moved in back and forth motions, just
like a fox does and her
grandfather noticed this.
Her mother and father knew she was very ill and
they wondered why the
creator would do this to them and why they had to
listen to people talk about
the child and tease her. It was very hard to take.
Everything was going
good for them until Smiling Fox was born.
The grandfather saw his son one evening outside
by the fire as the sparks
went up in the air watching them disappear feeling
sorry for himself. He
said, "Son, what is wrong?" His son asked him,
did I do wrong,
father?" The father replied, "I think, you forgot
where your spirit is,
son. The path you took a while back was not a good
one. Watch your daughter
and learn. She is ill but, yet, here for a reason.
His son stared at him
and said, "I think your vision was superstitious
foolishness!", and stormed
into his lodge.
Smiling Fox came outside, smiled and sat next to
her grandfather. Just
about then, one of the children's parents came out and
shouted she had fry
bread left over for who ever wanted it. All the
children rushed at her and
took it all. When Smiling Fox got there, she had to
turn her away. There
wasn't anymore left. Smiling Fox told her that was
okay and smiled as she
walked back towards her grandfather. All the kids
started teasing her. They
called her "walks-with-a-limp" and
"slow-like-a-turtle" and all she did was
look back at them and smile as they ate their fry
She could hardly walk anywhere. Her lungs would
burn with pain. She
would cough and her grandfather's eyes would fill with
tears. He knew she
would not live much longer and his heart grew heavy.
He asked her,
"Nepevomohtahe?", (are you feeling well) and she
smiled and said,
"Napevomohta", (I am fine) and sat down next to him.
He knew she was going
to start talking and asking questions because she was
a very curious child.
Oh, how he loved his Smiling Fox and talking with her.
He stood up and
walked to a tree and sat under the shade, then told
her, "Nanaestse" (come
here), "Hamestooestse" (sit down). She sat down and
said, "I hear you and
the old ones talk about our spirit and Creator. Where
is our spirit,
grandfather, and will it help me get better?"
Her grandfather said to her, "Let me tell you a
story and then you figure
it out. Along time ago, our Creator created all the
stars, the sun the moon,
the rivers and all living things. Then our Creator
created the most favorite
thing he had always wanted. The human being. He made
them of different
colors, big and small, and all spoke different words.
Then creator wanted to
give the human being the greatest gift that could be
given, and it was called
a spirit. This spirit would live on forever, just
like Creator. If a human
being could find where it is no matter if the body
Smiling Fox interrupted and asked, "Memeehe
(where)? Grandfather said, "Hekotooestse" (be quiet)
"Otaha" (listen), and he
continued with his story. Creator thought of where to
put this gift.
Creator thought and thought of many places but thought
they were too easy to
find and not good places to put the spirit. Creator
said to himself, "I
know, I will ask earth mother. She is wise and she
nourishes all the earth."
So Creator spoke to earth mother and said, "I
decided to give the human
being a spirit. Where do you think I should put this
gift I am giving them?
It will be a measure of good and bad, right or wrong,
and who ever finds it
will be deserving to live on forever."
Earth mother thought a little while. "I know",
she said, "Put the
spirits under my earth and rock." Creator thought and
said, "No, they will
dig unto you and scar you up and find other things and
then end up on a bad
path and make you ill." She thought a little while
longer and said, "What if
you put the spirits under my waters. They will not
easily find them there."
Creator said, "No, they will there also. They will
learn to swim and breath
like the fish people and poison your life giving
blood." Well, earth mother
thought even longer and said, "I know, put the spirits
on the moon. They
surely won't find them there!" The Creator looked far
ahead and told earth
mother, "No, they will go there also. I created the
human being very smart
and very curious. They will go there also."
"Well, I don't know then", said earth mother,
"But, I think, I know who
does." So Earth Mother brings Grandmother Mole out of
the earth and said to
the Creator, "This is the wisest creature you have
created. She has no eyes
but she sees all with her heart." Creator said, "Do
you have a place in mind
where I can put this gift Grandmother Mole?"
Grandmother Mole thought about
it and said, "If you want these human beings to be
truly deserving of their
spirits, make the easiest place you can put them. Put
the spirit inside
themselves. They truly won't look there, unless they
truly deserve it."
Creator thought for awhile and spoke, "It is done."
Smiling Fox's grandfather said, "That is where
the spirit is. Now that
you know where it is, listen to it." Grandfather
smiled at her. She got up
and walked away, limping, and he knew she was thinking
very hard. He thought
about her, as he watched her walk away, and his heart
grew very heavy. He
looked into his vision and thought to himself, "Maybe
my vision of Smiling
Fox is wrong. Maybe it is another grandchild. This
one is suffering more
than my vision showed me." He found himself like the
feeling sorry for her. They stayed away from her
because of the hurt and
feeling sorry for her, yet he could not stay away from
Oh, how he loved her so much. As he saw her
sitting in front of the
lodge, he didn't know he planted a seed in the child's
mind. One that would
make her wiser than any of them had ever seen for her
age. As she got older,
she could not keep up with the children anymore, so
she walked with the
elders as they walked slowly also. She learned more
and more by doing this.
She learned of the plants and herbs and she became
knowledgeable of medicines
and healing. Yet the more the children laughed and
teased her, the more she
smiled. She started seeing things differently. The
older she got the wiser
One day, when she was about eight summers old,
her grandfather and her
were sitting near the edge of the crooked forest. Her
grandfather thought of
how close they were and he got tears in his eyes. He
tells her, "I am sorry
this life has been bad to you Smiling Fox", and he
cried. She held him and
said, "Memeehe neveeaxaame napevomohta", (Don't cry,
grandfather. I am
okay). She tells him to look at the trees. If they
were all perfect, it
would not be a beautiful forest. The same is not good
for all. If some of
the trees would not take the wind and snow, the others
would not make it. "I
like it the way things are", Smiling Fox said. The
grandfather smiled at her
A few days later a sickness came and no one knew
what to do. All the
children were getting ill. Smiling Fox went out and
picked plants and roots
and, along with the elders, helped cure the children.
The children came and
thanked her when they felt better and when fry bread
was being given out,
they made sure she got some first. Her grandparents
and parents were becoming
proud of Smiling Fox.
One night a big storm bigger than anyone had ever
seen was coming and
Smiling Fox felt with her heart it was going to be
very bad. She went out
and moved the horses where they would be safe as the
storm became worse. She
could hardly breath as her lungs were filled with pain
yet she managed to
wake up all the people so they could take shelter.
The winds came and
knocked trees down on lodges and lightening started
big fires. Many of the
lodges were washed away with the rain. When the storm
passed they all
talked about how Smiling Fox had saved them. The
courage of the young woman
was great. All of the people were proud of Smiling
The next evening, some of the elders got together
in council. They
wanted to have a name giving ceremony. The
grandfather of Smiling Fox stood
and told the elders of the vision he had years before.
He told them not to
change the child's name and that he felt honored that
they felt this much for
his granddaughter. He was very proud. Then a cold
stir came upon him. He
remembered in his vision that the child born would
come with a storm and
would leave this world with a storm.
He walked back to Smiling Fox's lodge to check on
her. His son was
sitting outside by the big fire with his head in his
hands and he said,
"Father, the storm was bad on her. She is very ill."
The grandfather looked
at him and thought the worst. It was his precious
Smiling Fox. He ran inside
the lodge and the girl was on her death bed. He
started weeping so loudly
that all the others came from their lodges. Smiling
Fox told her
grandfather, "Memeehe neveexaame napevomohta", (Don't
cry, grandfather. I am
fine.) His tears were like rivers coming down a
mountain in the spring. He
saw Smiling Fox looking at him and then she said,
"Grandfather, I have found
my spirit", as her eyes closed and then she died.
Grandfather ran out of the lodge and, by the
fire, took his knife and cut
his hair, throwing it into the fire as he was cutting
it. The sparks from
the fire went up into the sky and his cries with them.
His son came and
stood next to him and did the same as he said,
"Father, all is for nothing.
I know why she came." He cried, "And it all came to
be of the vision you
spoke. I know what you meant."
Two summer's later, the grandfather grew ill
himself. Many say from the
loneliness of not having Smiling Fox. He was on a
mountain one day and knew
it was the time for his vision to be fulfilled. He
was old and it was time.
As he grew weak, he looked at the sun and into the
crooked forest where
Smiling Fox and he sat along time ago. He saw a fox
running towards him,
limping, and it looked as if the fox had a smile on
its face. Now he himself
has found his spirit. She has come to greet him and
now he can be with The
Spirit of Smiling Fox.
Albert Grayeagle © 24 April, 2009
The story about the placing of the soul, is a
story I was told a long
time ago as a child. I do not know it's origin. I
believe it is of Lakota
origin. I thought it would help with the story of
Smiling Fox and teach us
a lesson we all know. We sometimes just need to be
reminded there is more to
life than trying to get what we don't have. It is
what we do have ourselves.