The Legend of the Snowy Owl
by Shanon Grey
Many harvests ago, before the white man came to our land, we seldom ventured in the shimmering hills, where creatures glowed, as does the full moon on still lake water. When the creatures wandered, the people stayed away, for the creatures stole their spirits, leaving the people as children, running naked in the woods, unable to protect themselves from the wolf, the bear, or the coyote. Innocent were these people who forgot their sons and daughters, even their parents. They forgot our ways and our teachings, as a newborn knows only to cry in the night.
One day, a young maiden wandered to the shimmering hills, hunting the herbs to heal. As she climbed the rock mountain, a great white owl swooped from the sky, its giant wings hiding the sun. Its fierce cry frightened the maiden and she ran, dropping her basket of herbs. She ran to the village and told the Chief of this great bird, but he thrust her from him, knowing she had entered the forbidden land and spoke as that of a child. A cry from the sky called to the great Chief and he did look to the clouds and watched them move. The young girl clung to him, pointing to the center of the big white clouds. As they watched, a piece of cloud broke off and fell from the sky. As it came closer, they saw it was not a cloud but a great bird, its wings wide, its yellow eyes piercing. The giant bird circled above them, dipped, dropping something from his feathery talons. The basket of herbs fell at her feet, filled with the healing herbs.
The maiden and the Chief watched the great owl wing its way back into the large cloud and saw that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but many white owls. From that day forth, the white owls flew in great numbers whenever the creatures stirred, warning the people of danger, and allowing the people to roam the hills once more in search of their healing herbs.
And that is how the Snowy Owl became the protector of the people.