Long ago and far to the north, winter nights were very long, dark and bitter cold. Nights were so long, dark and cold that all the Four Leggeds and their friends could barely gather enough food to survive the season. No matter how quickly they tried to gather nuts and seeds, the darkness covered them and stopped all their efforts. On such a day Squirrel decided that something had to be done. Her first stop would be a visit to her friends the field mice.
“Oh, we do not know what to do,” said Father Mouse. “We have so many children to feed, and the winter nights are so long and dark.”
“I will help you my little friends,” Squirrel replied.
Next Squirrel went to see Porcupine to ask him if he too had been having trouble finding food during the long dark winter.
“Oh, yes,” said Porcupine,“ nothing can be done it has always been this way.”
“I don’t believe that,” said Squirrel. “There must be something that can be done.”
“It’s best to leave things as they are for you never know what could happen if you try and change things,” said Porcupine. With a bristle of quills, he scurried off through wintery wind and snow.
Squirrel sat and thought for a bit and then decided to seek out Owl. Owl rested by day and flew the woods at night, with eyes bigger than all the other animals. Perhaps Owl would know a way to bring light to the winter forest.
Squirrel climbed high in Owl’s maple tree and waited for Owl to wake.
“What brings you to me Squirrel?” asked Owl.
“All of the small woodland animals need to hunt by darkness as well as day. The northern winter nights are far too dark for us. If we could only find a little light to help us see we could gather our food with ease”
Owl agreed to ponder on this problem. He lifted his feathery head and then buried it into his shoulders to think. He thought all day long, while Squirrel shivered on the windy branch. Finally, he startled with thought, “I will talk to the Sky Father and see if he can bring the stars closer to us during the winter time.”
Squirrel flicked her tail in excitement and hope as she raced down the tree to her spot in the woods. A few days went by and then Owl flew in and landed at Squirrel’s burrow.
“Tell our small friends that the Sky Father has decided he will bring the stars closer to us at night. But first, he must clear all the clouds from the sky. We must all prepare for a strong and terrible blizzard.” With that said, Owl flew off to his tree.
All the animals worked as quickly as they could to forage all the nuts, berries and seeds that they found. Then they gathered and huddled in a hollow log and watched as the huge storm clouds gathered in the sky above.
For three days the Sky Father gathered the storm clouds in the sky, stacking them in huge towers. The animals shivered below, waiting. On the third day, the storm arrived. The blizzard howled through the woods. The animals were frightened, all except Squirrel for she believed in what Owl had promised.
When the storm died away, a huge snowdrift had blocked the hollow log so that the animals could see nothing but the wall of snow and the darkness from inside the hollow space. They were scared and disappointed, thinking that only hunger and darkness awaited them.
Brave Little Squirrel made her way through all her friends and turned to them, “Wait here, I will tunnel out and see if the stars are closer as the Great Sky Father promised.”
Squirrel dug and dug, pushing through the cold and wet snow finally reaching the top. When her head popped out through the snow, she gasped in surprise. The winter stars hung so low in the evening sky, it seemed that she could almost touch them.
A large, antlered moose stepped forward and bowed his head, “I have been sent to help you, if you little animals can gather all the snow you can and push it into a giant snowball, I will then carry it cradled in my antlers across the highest mountain ridges, where it will shed light on even the darkest winter nights.”
So they all worked together with the help of the moose and the Sky Father to create the first Snow Moon. Now despite the cold and the long nights of darkness, all are happy in the winter when the stars come close and the moon shines bright like great snowball in the sky.
~ bear Medicinewalker
The Sacred Hoop Project is about the sharing of the culture so the stories remain, the teaching continues and our Ancestors remembered and honored. with that in Mind I have added to this post as well, Deborah New Moon Rising’s version of this story. When I shared it with her she was compelled to record it. I hope you enjoy them both, for it is a wonderful story to share with children and adults of all ages, and is definatley one of my favorites!
Simply click on the player to hear Deborah New Moon Rising tell the story!
“The Snow Moon” Deborah New Moon Rising & Ken Quiet Hawk
Deborah New Moon Rising and Ken Quiet Hawk are of Abenaki descent. Deborah is known as an award-winning artist of realistic wildlife paintings on wild turkey feathers. Her birch bark rattles and crafts adorn the regalia of many from coast to coast. Together with her husband Ken Quiet Hawk they have gathered stories and life’s lessons to share as storytellers at Pow Wows and Native gatherings. Performing at concerts and schools throughout New England, as well as traveling the entire East coast to share the teachings of the native peoples.
Both Quiet Hawk and New Moon Rising believe that storytelling should be more than just entertainment, “Storytelling should be a means of teaching, teaching us all how to be better people.”