Tokeea and the Birds

Abenaki

 

Tokeea was out in the forest hunting for his supper. Then he saw a young fawn near the river side, it looked hurt so he aimed and fired. SMACK, the young deer fell to the ground. He quickly put the deer into his game bag and dashed home.

"Grandma!" Tokeea said almost out of breath," I got us some venison." Grandmother was startled. She didn't expect Tokeea to come in so suddenly.

"Here this is our supper for tonight" Tokeea said again. Grandmother looked confused. "That fast?" she said.

"That fast!" Tokeea said impatiently. So Grandmother cut the deer into juicy slices and they ate a nice dinner.

When Tokeea got in his bed made of buffalo skin he said to his Grandmother, "Grnadmother, since I am old enough now, can I have my own canoe? I don't know how to make them yet, may you teach me?"

"My son, my son you are too young to have a canoe, you have to be a man."

"But I am a man," Tokeea whined.

"Go to bed Tokeea," Grandmother said quietly. Tokeea obeyed.

The next day he wished for the same thing. He got mad. He really wanted a canoe. They ate some of the deer meat they had from last night. Soon they were out of food. So Tokeea went in to the forest and got ready his bow and arrows. There seemed to be no animals were around. He looked for a long time. He looked in four places. Up north a little, down south a little, and east and west. Then he got very upset and mad. He started humming a song he was taught when he was little. Then he started to sing the song out loud. Some birds came to listen, they liked his song. This is how the song went:

Ke o-a jema, Ke o-a jema, Oh-ie-ah.

Ke o-a jema, Ke o-a jema, Oh-ie-ah.

Tokeea started stamping his foot and singing very loud. He was very mad. Every bird in the forest could hear him. They admired his song. They tried to sing the song themselves.

Suddenly Tokeea was surrounded by birds that were trying to sing the song. First little chirps but than they began to chatter away. Tokeea was so amazed that he ran home and barged into the tee-pee and let out a torrent of words about the birds to Grandmother.

Grandmother was amazed by his looks. Tokeea grabbed Grandmother's hand and jumped out of the tee-pee, out of their tribal area, and into the forest where the birds were chattering away. Grandmother was amazed. She never heard a bird sing before.

"Grandma," Tokeea said. "I am going to get the rest of the tribe and bring them into the forest. Grandmother agreed, so off went Tokeea.

Soon the whole tribe was running towards Grandmother to see what was going on. They heard the birds chirp and chatter. The tribe just sat down and listened for a long, long time.

This is how birds began to sing.

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