Smiling Fox

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
his prayers and gave him a vision. He wanted to pray,
for his son and
himself, for strength that neither had.

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
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
knowledge. The center of
the medicine wheel will be where the child stands at
in his moment of truth.

He didn't quite understand what this meant.
In the month of the hard faced moon (January),
the young couple came to
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 a
thunderstorm around
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

joy.

The young father ran inside while his father
waited outside. The son
brought his daughter out and told his father, "Here is
your granddaughter,
Smiling Fox". When the grandfather looked into her
eyes he could see why creator called her this name, for her eyes smiled and
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

smiled.

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, "What

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

bread.

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

died."

Smiling Fox interrupted and asked, "Memeehe

(grandfather), "Tosaa"

(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

girl's parent's,

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

her.

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

she was.

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

sadly.

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

Fox.

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.

 

 

 

 

Susan McConnachie

530-926-2620

 
 

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tjbaker@tvl.com

 


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