Last week I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by tribal radio hosts Gary Fife and Darren Delaune on their awesome program Muscogee Radio. During our one hour discussion we covered a lot of ground and we spoke a little bit about the importance and meaning behind some of the old Native American myths and legends. I mentioned that many of the old tales held special meaning in their telling and at times could provide valuable lessons to the listeners.
In the old days, stories were sometimes used to correct some untoward behavior that a tribal member might be engaged in. Instead of directly confronting the wrong-doer and embarrassing them in front of the entire community, tribal elders might instead gather a large group of people (including the offending party) and impart valuable lessons while telling their stories. The old Lakota story of The Mouse Sisters is one such tale that will no doubt impart wisdom to those who procrastinate (myself included) and those who somehow never find the time to do the important and sometimes boring tasks that need to be finished in a timely fashion.
The Two Mouse Sisters
Once there were two mice sisters, an elder mouse and a younger mouse. The elder sister was both wise and fastidious. She often spent her time engaged in those activities that proved both practical and beneficial in the long run. Now the younger sister was a carefree soul who often spent her time in leisure or in play. She rarely spent any time at all on the important things in life.
As Spring gave way to Summer, the elder mouse sister knew that all snakes would begin to cast off their old skins. She left her burrow and spent most of the day gathering many fine snake skins. She then used these skins as bags and she began to fill them with acorns, seeds, pecans, and wild corn.
But the younger mouse sister spent her time singing and dancing with her friends. She spent no time at all gathering stores for the winter.
At last the days began to grow shorter and the morning air cooler. The once emerald leaves began to turn bright yellow and fiery red. Only then did the younger mouse sister realize that she did not have food stored away for the winter. She frantically went to her elder sister and said, "Sister, I have no stores for the winter as I had no snake skins with which to gather goods. Will you not share your food with me?"
The elder mouse sister replied, "Sister, what were you doing when the snakes shed their skins?"
The younger mouse sister answered quietly, "I was singing and dancing in the wide fields."
"Well", said the elder mouse, "It seems that you made poor use of your time."
The elder sister then gave her younger sister an empty snake skin and said, "Here is your very own snake skin. You had better get to work on finding you own food for the winter."
T. D. Hill (Wichita, Kiowa, Pawnee) is a Native American artist, writer, and motivational speaker
What Reviewers are saying...
"The Age of Myths and Legends will take you on an exciting journey through Native American folklore. T.D. Hill artfully draws together characters from many indigenous traditions including his own, exposing both the uniqueness of each story and the commonalities across them. Hill’s beautiful paintings also give these fearsome creatures full visual effect. A valuable and thorough collection of the earliest folktales and teachings of Native American elders."
"Hill takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the tales of monsters and evil beings in Native American folklore. The similarities among the tales across peoples fascinated me and gave me goose bumps, especially when great distances separated the peoples! Hill's art masterfully adds a visual chill to the image his words paint, eliciting an extra shiver of delighted terror."
"Perfect for those who love mythology, and especially mythology of the First Americans. I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series."