My name is Flaming Star. I sit often near the tepee of my grandfather Red Deer. Many summers have marked his face with wisdom and honor, and he teaches me all he knows. In the way of my people I am but a young man. In summers to come I will be a brave. Grandfather teaches me to be honorable so that my people will think much of me.
Together we have seen the four-legged ones. We have watched the winged ones drift on the wind and have sat by the stream where fish dance in the water. We have watched green and growing things turn brown upon our Mother Earth, then return again to give food and shelter. Grandfather teaches me to treat all creatures kindly, for they are my brothers.
One dawn, as the morning star shone where the sun would soon shine, I watched alone, for the sun gives wisdom to all. When my watching was ended I felt wiser. I took my bow and arrows, my spear and snare, and, while the ponies still slept, I walked the path to the stream. The winged ones sang in my ears, and the green trees swayed in the breeze to welcome me. Nothing seemed afraid.
Setting a snare for rabbits by the path, I continued my walk. The stream sparkled and sang and its taste was cool and good. I sat quietly on a rock and looked into the water. Below, the fish swam. As Grandfather had taught me, I lifted my spear and took aim. The spear sank deeply, and on the end was a small fish. In the way of my people, I kissed the fish for all to see, then put him back into the water. The other fish were no longer afraid. Many times my spear sank deeply and the bank of the stream became covered with my fish.
As the sun climbed high in the sky, I tied all the fish together with the grass that never breaks. Then, across the stream, a deer walked softly. It held its head high and looked to all the corners of the world. I sat very still and it did not see me. Slowly, the deer walked to the water and lowered its head to drink.
My heart was that of a brave. I slid an arrow into my bow and took careful aim. Slowly, I pulled the string until the arrow tip touched the bow. My fingers sent the arrow to the heart of the deer.
“YUHOO!” I shouted. Then my legs carried me across the stream in gladness.
The sun was moving westward as I began tying the deer to a branch of a tree. When I had finished, I returned for my fish and walked the path to the village. On the way, I looked in the snare. A rabbit had been caught. My people will think much of me now, I thought.
Grandfather saw me coming. He raised his arm.
“YUHOO!” I called. “I have killed much meat this day.”
Grandfather looked at my fish. He looked at my rabbit.
“There is more,” I said. “By the stream I have killed a deer.”
Grandfather and I took a pony to the stream. Carefully we tied the deer upon the pony’s back. I smiled proudly. When we came to a rock, we stopped to rest.
“Come, Flaming Star,” Grandfather said. “Sit with me awhile.”
The pony pawed the ground as I sat beside my grandfather.
“You have gotten much meat this day. You are a good hunter. But two suns ago the braves brought a bison to the village. The meat still dries on the racks,” Grandfather said quietly.
“Yes, Grandfather,” I nodded.
“The four-leggeds you have killed—the deer and the rabbit—and the fish you have speared are enough for two tepees. Have you the knowledge to wisely use your animal brothers that you have killed?”
“Use them, Grandfather! What do you mean?”
“If you had no use for them, why did you kill them? When the bison leave this grazing land, we will hunt other meat that the Great Spirit sends to us. But we do not kill our animal brothers if there is no need, Flaming Star. We treat all things kindly. Would you trample a tree if the path were clear?” Grandfather asked solemnly.
“Then likewise, a brave does not kill unless there is a need in the village.”
“I did not think wisely,” I replied.
“You have learned skills—the snare, the bow and arrow, and the spear—but skills are honorable only when used with judgment.”
“I will remember.” I stared at the ground where many feet had left their mark. “But my meat, Grandfather; what can I do to bring honor to my kill?”
“Think on that, Flaming Star, for all wisdom cannot be told.”
I walked the path beside my grandfather. The pony bobbed his head and snorted, and the deer rode its back. No word was said. As the smoke from our fires drifted through the trees, I spoke at last. “Grandfather,” I said quietly, “I know what to do with my kill.”
“Yes, Flaming Star?” he encouraged.
“I will give meat to Gray Sparrow, who is blind and has no relatives.”
“That is a good thing,” Grandfather responded, nodding his head.
“I will also give some to Rolling Stream, whose brave has gone to live with the Great Spirit.”
“That is what honorable braves do,” Grandfather said and nodded again.
“I will give meat also to all the old and feeble ones without sons,” I said. “Will that bring honor to my kill?” I asked as we neared the village.
Grandfather put his hand on my shoulder, and we walked into the village. I felt joy that he touched me. He went with me as I gave my meat to Gray Sparrow and Rolling Stream and to all the old and feeble ones. They thanked me and said I was a good hunter.
There is much my grandfather taught me. I watch his face, in which much wisdom is written. I learn that wisdom is not gained in one day of watching the morning star or from simply killing or from skills alone.
Some wisdom comes in quiet times when one is alone. So I sit alone many days and watch the morning star. I sit silently and watch the green and growing things. I watch the deer and rabbits playing. I watch the quiet fish swimming. I watch the people of my village working and living peacefully. I learn many things. From Red Deer, my grandfather, I have learned much kindness.
And when I want my people to think much of me, I remember him.