A long, long time ago, well before the white man arrived, the Sioux people, they didn't have flutes, there were drums, rattles, and even bull horns, but there were no flutes. At that time, a young hunter went out hunting, meat was scarce and the people were hungry in his camp. He found the trails of a moose and followed them for a long time. The moose was wise and fast. It is the animal that possesses the charm of love. If a man has the medicine of the moose, he will win the woman he loves as a wife. He will also be a lucky hunter.
Our poor young man had no moose medicine. After many hours, he finally spotted his target. The young hunter had a new bow and an otterskin quiver full of good, straight arrows, spiked with obsidian—sharp, black, and shiny as glass. The young man knew how to use his weapon – he was the best archer in the village – but the moose always stayed out of reach, taking the hunter a long way away. The young man was so focused on following his prey that he didn't even notice where he was going, and he was already far away.
At dusk, the hunter found himself at the bottom of a dense forest of tall trees. The trails were gone, as was the moose. He realized that he was lost and that it was too dark to find his way out of the forest. There was no moon to show him the way. Luckily, he found a stream of fresh, clean water. He was happy when he remembered that his sister had given him a rawhide bag, which was filled with dried meat with berries and kidney fat, strong food that keeps a man going for a few days.
After the young man had eaten and drunk, he wrapped himself in his fur cloak, leaned his back against a tree, and tried to get some rest. But he couldn't sleep. The forest was full of strange noises – the strange cries of nocturnal animals, of owls, the moaning of trees in the wind. He had heard all these sounds before, but now it felt like he was hearing them for the first time.
Suddenly there was an entirely new sound, the like of which neither he nor any other man had ever experienced before. It was very sad, sad and ghostly. In a way, he scared him, so he pulled his cloak close to him and reached for his bow, to make sure it was properly tied. On the other hand, this new sound was like music, beautiful beyond imagination, full of love, hope, longing.
And then with the night more than half over, he suddenly fell asleep. He dreamed that a bird named Wagnuka, the red-headed woodpecker, appeared to him, singing the strange and beautiful new song, saying zen do: "Follow me and I will teach you."
When the hunter woke up, the sun was already high.
On a branch of the tree he was leaning against, he saw a red-headed woodpecker. The bird flew to another tree and to another, but never far away, looking back at the young man as if he wanted to say, “Come! ” Suddenly, there was a gust of wind, and once again, the hunter heard that wonderful music and his heart yearned to find the singer. The bird flew towards the sound, carrying the young man, its flaming red top floating through the leaves, making it easy to follow. At last the bird landed on a cedar tree and began tapping and hammering on a dead branch, making zen noise like the rapid beating of a small drum. Suddenly, there was a gust of wind, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound close by.
Then he discovered that the music came from the dead branch that the woodpecker was working with its beak. He found, moreover, that it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the holes which the bird had pierced in the branch. “Kola, friend,” said the hunter, “let me take this branch home. You can do another one. “He picked up the branch, a hollow piece of wood the length of his forearm and full of holes. The young man returned to the village. He didn't have any meat to bring back to his tribe, but he was happy just the same.
Back in his tipi, he tried to make the dead branch sing to him, but no sound came. And the young man was very sad. He so wanted to hear that wonderful sound again.
So, he purified in the sweat lodge, climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, naked, resting with his back against a great rock, he fasted for four days and four nights, crying for a dream, a vision to teach him how to make the branch sing. In the middle of the fourth night, zen , the bird with the flaming red dot on its head, appeared to him, saying, "Watch me," changing into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing, and then his vision, the young man observed very carefully.
When he woke up, he found a cedar tree. He cut a branch and, working long hours, hollowed it out with a rope drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He carved into the branch a shape of a bird with a long neck and an open beak. He painted it with washasha, the holy red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch with fiery sage and cedar. He touched the holes as he had seen the birdman do in his vision, though blowing gently into the mouthpiece. Suddenly he hears music of awe and beauty beyond words. He played his flute all the way to the village, where the people were surprised and happy to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man brought them the first flute.
In the village lived an Itanchan – a great chief. This Itanchan had a daughter who was beautiful, but also very proud, and convinced that there wasn't a young man good enough for her. Many had already wooed her, but she had avoided them all. Now, the hunter who had made the flute decided that she was just the woman for him. Thinking of her, he composed a special song, and one night, standing behind a quena tree, he played on his siyotanka in the hope that she might love him.
Suddenly the Winchinchala – girl, heard. She was sitting in her parents' tent, eating buffalo meat and sausage, feeling fine. She wanted to stay there, in the tipi by the fire, but her feet wanted to get out. She pulled back, but her feet pulled forward, and her feet won. Her head said: "Go slow, go slow! ”, But her feet said: “Faster, faster! ” She saw the young man standing in the moonlight, heard the flute. Her head said: ”Don't go to him, he is poor. ” Her feet said: ” Go, run! ”And again her feet prevailed. Then they came face to face. The girl's head told her to be silent, but her heart said to speak, and she spoke, saying zen do: "Koshkalaka, Young man, I am yours completely."
Then they lay down together, the young man and the Winchinchala, under a blanket. Later she told him: “Koshkalaka, washtelake,” she said. “Young man, I like you.”. Let your father send a gift to my father, the boss. No matter how small, it will be accepted. Let your father speak for you to my father. Do it soon! Do it now!
And so the two parents quickly agreed to their children's wishes. Proud Winchinchala became the wife of the young hunter, and he himself became a great chief. All the other young people heard and saw. Soon, they too began to break down cedar branches in the shapes of the heads of birds with long necks and open beaks. And so the beautiful music of wonder and love traveled from tribe to tribe until it filled the entire prairie. And so the siyotanka was brought to the people, thanks to the elk, the woodpecker, the wind and this young hunter, who didn't shoot any elk but knew how to listen.
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