by Emma Mauser, age 17
Many moons ago a spirit descended on the lands of the forest where the animals lived. At first the animals were delighted with the small white, cold flakes that fell gently from the sky. They would let them melt on their noses. They would laugh and leap about in play. Rainbow Crow, a proud and beautiful singer, would play innovative games with the little ones. The scene looked as peaceful as a becalmed sea, and the land was filled with much merriment.
As the days turned into weeks, the animals of the forest grew frigid with cold and were in much discomfort. A young owl, who was wise beyond his years, told the forest animals about Kijamub Ka’ong, “He lives above the sun and is kind to all who are good. Perhaps he can help us!” The forest animals quickly decided they needed Kijamub Ka’ong’s help, but what could they offer him in return for his help?
All looked to Rainbow Crow, whose voice was as beautiful as a sunset. She puffed out her breast of feathers and altruistically announced, “I will sing to the Great One and ask him to kill the spirit.”
Rainbow Crow flew up. She passed above the clouds and kept on flying. She passed above the sun and kept on flying up into the heavens until she reached Kijamub Ka’ong’s house. She started to sing; she sang the most beautiful song.
The Great One heard and met her. “What is it I can do for you?”
“Please, Great One, we are in great need. A cold spirit has descended upon the forest animals, and we need you to end the spirit.”
Kijamub Ka’ong looked thoughtful as he replied, “The ice spirit who has descended on the forest has as much a right to live as you or I. I will not kill her. However, I will give you a gift that will keep you and the other animals alive until the frost spirit leaves.” And with that, he plunged his staff deep into the sun and handed it to her. “Leave while it is still burning. You have very little time to reach home before the fire is extinguished.” Immediately she plunged at top speed back to her forest with the fire stick in tow. It was not an easy flight, for the smoke clouded her lungs and eyes. She returned and saved the animals with the fire. There was much rejoicing in the forest, but Rainbow Crow sat alone and wept, for her beautiful feathers had been turned to a charcoal black. Also, her lungs were filled with smoke; it stung like a thousand needles. Her beautiful voice had been destroyed. As she sat there, eyes stinging with tears, she heard the voice of the Great One. “I have done this for you—I have taken away your rainbow feathers so no one will keep you for your beauty. I have taken your voice for the same reason, and I have made your flesh taste of smoke so no hunter will hunger for your meat. I have freed you. Go and live without fear.”
Illustration by Emma Mauser