Spirit of the Buffalo

by: Arlene Burke Creative Writing Bootcamp Spirit Animal Session

Once upon a time there was a chief who led a large tribe. This tribe roamed the plains to hunt. The chief was feeling sad because he saw his people were starting to fight amongst themselves more frequently, and choosing to act on their own without considering the needs of the larger community. He was struggling to bring peace and order back to his tribe.

One day a young man in the tribe left on is own. He returned a few days later with a load of corn and beans. This young man did not share his hoard with others, but kept it for his own immediate family. The chief knew the only way the young man could have acquired these plants was by stealing from the neighbouring tribe that grew them. The chief thought the young man was hiding the vegetables because of the shame he felt. The chief worried when the neighbours discovered the theft a war could result.

While he sat on his own fretting with his concerns a wise elder came to sit with the chief. They talked about the problems occurring in the tribe. They were leaning against a tree on a bluff overlooking the plains. They could see a herd of buffalo in the distance. The elder pointed to the buffalo and advised the chief the tribe must take a lesson from the buffalo and work together as the herd does for the greater good.

The elder reminded the chief of the power of the buffalo spirit, which brings strength and abundance. The chief suddenly understood and could see what needed to be done. His tribe had many strong young men who were good hunters, and working together they were able to have lots of meat for everyone in their community. The meat was not always enough; however, and he knew his people wanted more variety in their food. He acknowledged there was a desire for the taste of the vegetables that grew in the crops. The neighbouring tribe had older members and was less mobile, but were successful at growing vegetable crops.

The chief called a meeting of the whole tribe. It was understood that there would be no good coming from a war with another tribe. The members agreed to bring peace and make amends by have a small delegation travel to the community that had been stolen from with the prepared meat of a fresh kill to present as a gift.

The neighbouring tribe was so grateful for the gift of the meat, and sent the delegation back with a gift of fresh vegetables. Not only the young man who had stolen from this other tribe, but the whole community, soon understood the lesson of abundance from the buffalo. More is gained by working together, and sharing with each other the bounty they receive from mother earth.

Arlene Burke

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