Why Ducks Have Red Rings Around Their Eyes


 

It all started long ago,where the Cherokee Indians lived on an island surrounded by the sea, where the dolphins roamed. Chief Gwandia, his village people and of course Ee-wakee (brave and strong) lived in the village. But nobody trusted Ee-wakee. He was told to keep quiet about a message but he went off and told someone. He was selfish and only thought about himself. But he was very clever.

One day, Chief Gwandia told Ee-wakee, Go out and hunt down food for the Moon Father feast tonight. Many warriors are wounded from the battle with the Iroquois and you are brave and strong, like them. So go and help our village.

Ee-wakee obeyed the command and set off with his arrow in his hand. As he walked away form the chief he thought to himself, 'He's going to make me head warrior someday, and then chief. Of course, why not. I am brave and strong!' He showed off his big muscles as he spoke.

Soon Ee-wakee got to the edge of the sea and found the dolphins jumping in and out of the water. He thought that they would be a good feast for the Moon Father and also because the dolphins would be an easy target. He was about to throw his arrow, but he didn't. He couldn't. The dolphins were their sacred symbol, the symbol of good harvest. If he came back with a dolphin, he wouldn't be able to show his face again in the village. He dropped his arm and walked on. Ee-wakee soon was walking by the Red Fern River, the river of the Galas-at Indians. They call this river the Red Fern River because the Galas-at Indians believe that their people get their strength and power from the red fern plants that grow along the river banks.

As usual, the ducks were splashing in the water of the river, when Ee-wakee spotted them. Ee-wakee counted fifty ducks and he knew that so many ducks would be the perfect feast for the Moon Father that night. He would be the hero of the tribe to come back with such a large amount of food. But Ee-wakee also knew that even with his sly hunting abilities, the ducks would quack and flap their wings like crazy spirits in the night, making it harder for him to kill just one. Then Ee-wakee had a clever idea.

Ee-wakee went over to the ducks and asked them onto the land to hear a story. They said yes so Ee-wakee gathered them onto land and made them sit in a circle. Ee-wakee walked around the outside of the circle of ducks and starting humming a tune. He hummed for awhile then stopped. He told the ducks to close their eyes and not to open them, for if they did, they would find themself with red rings around their eyes. So the ducks closed their eyes. Ee-wakee started telling a story and one by one he bopped the ducks on the head and slipped them away. He only got two ducks when one of the last ducks opened its eyes and quacked its loudest quack to warn the others. They all flew off and Ee-wakee knew his clever plan had failed.

The lesson we can learn from this is to care about other things and not only yourself. When there is a job to be done, don't try to take the easy way out just to show off.

Return to Table of Contents