by Ted Frimet
and the seven girls
Thunderbird and his seven girls grew up to know dark skies. Their view was a serene night time walk-about. Every evening, they would naked eye peer into the blackness. Then they would bear witness to the sacred agreement.
Each passing Spring evening, Hehaka the Elk would shelter under Canhasa the Red Willow. And the seven girls awed with wonder seeing them together. If only I were the Elk, and my sisters were the Willow, mused one of seven. I would then know what lay beyond the Earths horizon.
Thunderbird taught the seven girls their relationship with the night sky. He reminded them not to be indifferent to it. They were taught to embrace Oceti the Fireplace and Mato Tipila the Bear’s Lodge, rising in the East. And remember well to say their evening goodbyes to Thunderbird and the Elk, in the setting West.
Time passed, and Earth became a smaller place. Newcomers came to the land where Thunderbird and the seven girls lived. And for awhile, they shared their skies with the newcomers. It was a sharing, after all, gifted from a people that knew the night stories and spoke often of their responsibility to sky and earth.
Over the passing of many seasons, the newcomers commitment was not honored. And Thunderbird grew old and tired. To Tun Win, the Blue Birth Woman, whispered into the ear of Thunderbird. She softly spoke to him his real name. “Wakinyan”, she said. Now gifted with the knowledge of his true nature, Wakinyan, dove from the North and descended into the West, never to be seen again.
The seven girls were troubled. Why, To Tun Win, did you whisper the true name to our father, Thunderbird? He is now gone from us, forever. To Tun Win told the seven girls that they needed to understand the world as being deeply interconnected. That they, the people and the few they privileged, were held accountable to sky and earth. And that the newcomer’s lights’ casted an ugly gray hue.
Wearily, To Tun Win told the seven girls that she longed for seeing Anpo Wicanhpi Sunkaku, the Younger Brother of Morning Star. And to do so with her naked eyes. The gray hue of scattered light kept her from Anpo, she said.
Now forlorn, To Tun Win gathered the seven girls about her. She spoke hesitantly of the passed time for dark skies. She said quietly, “Our reservation has no boundary”. We shared our imaginary lines in the sky. We showed them where we store our history. Where we hunt and where we fish. And despite what stories we tell, we have no real protection.
The newcomers continue to bring the scattered lights. Thunderbird, she exclaimed, is gone forever. He did not protect the night sky. However, you can bring me back my Anpo Wicanhpi Sunkaku.
“How, shall we?”, the sisters asked. Once again To Tun Win whispered softly. Although she spoke to all, each sister felt as if To Tun Win whispered into only her ear.
You must reach out to the seven lands of Mother Earth. You must teach all newcomers. Remind them of their interconnectedness of Sky and Earth. Then they too will know the nightly whisper of To Tun Win. Until the darkness comes back to me, they will only know the story of Thunderbird.
Remember the darkness of the night sky, and pay homage to this relationship. Understand the interconnectedness of the whole World, below and above. Know that you have no higher sovereign authority than to grant, protect, and preserve the night sky.
When you turn off the lights, you unite mother and sun.