Fisher’s Reward

Wikis > Fisher's Reward

FISHER’S REWARDas retold by Anne M. Dunn

 

The fisher, Martes pennanti, has become very scarce but is still found in the Siskiyou. It is a larger relative of the marten and another lithe member of the weasel family.

 

In today’s world, as we are bombarded with the news of “what’s wrong” and “what doesn’t work,” we often end up feeling disempowered, overwhelmed and hopeless. At the same time, the age of technology seems to isolate us from our brothers and sisters. The times of “tribe ” and community have become little more than genetic memories that rear up as feelings of nostalgia and a sense that there is something missing in our neighborhoods. Connection to nature and to the larger knowledge of playing our part in a great “mystery” are memories even further out of reach.

 

And yet, for many of us, an awakening, a remembering has been going on in one form or another over the last decade Environmental and social justice issues are in our consciousness. Creation of community is a conversation that is going on across the planet. The loss of wild lands and indigenous cultures is no longer hidden. Sometimes it’s difficult to hold all these things in our awareness without despair – to stay conscious and thoughtful instead of ‘forgetting, ” and yet we know that to stay awake, positive, vital, loving, this is our challenge. The old adage, “change starts with me, ” or “change starts from within” is not as self serving as some may like to believe. Intention and form are everything. It does matter what each of us does and thinks at any given moment.

 

In the spirit of inspiration for each small act, we offer this Native American story, as retold by Anne M. Dunn of the Ojibwe nation. She told this story at a recent lndigenous People’s Forest Summit in Bellevue, Washington. Steve Marsden of Siskiyou Project was one of the few non- native people invited to speak at this conference. Anne publishes a monthly newsletter called The Beaver Tail Times. Subscriptions are $3.00 plus 12 firstclass stamps to Anne Dunn, P.O. Box 721, Cass Lake) MN 56633.

Long ago the earth was rich with life, the water was clean, the air was clear, all animals were friends and spoke a common language. And because they were friends and spoke a common language, they often gathered to celebrate great events…they also gathered to celebrate small events.

It was during such a celebration that Bear looked up into the sky and saw a strange thing.

“Look,” he cried, “a dark robe is falling over the day star!”

Then all the animals looked up and saw that it was so. Within minutes darkness covered the sun and engulfed the earth. Nothing like this had ever happened before. Some of the animals were upset. Some of them were alarmed. But most of them were just plain scared.

“Something must be done,” said Bear.

So the great animals gathered at the council hill and held a conference to discuss what they should do.

Already the darkness had grown cold and the plants had begun to wither. The small animals waited for the great animals to do something. They waited and waited…and while they waited, the great ones went on discussing the matter.

At last Fisher came forward to address the council. “Let me help,” he pleaded.

But Bear, who was very kind, said, “Oh Fisher, you’re too small. There is nothing you can do. We are the great ones. We will resolve this matter.”

So Fisher went away.

At last the great ones decided that Bear should climb to the top of the high council hill and see what he could do about the problem.

So Bear climbed to the top of the hill, he raised up to his full height and, growling fiercely, slashed at the darkness with his great paws.

But it was no use. It changed nothing and the darkness prevailed. And the great ones went on talking.

Again Fisher came forward. “Please, let me help,” he said.

But Deer, who was quite patient, said, “No Fisher, you’re too small. We are the great ones and we will resolve the matter.”

So Fisher went away.

At last the great ones decided Deer should climb to the top of the high council hill and see what he could do about the problem.

So Deer climbed to the top of the hill, stood on his back legs, shook his great antlers and ripped at the darkness with his great black hooves.

But it was no use. It changed nothing and the darkness prevailed. And the great ones went on talking..

At last Fisher came forward. “Please let me help,” he said.

But Mountain Lion, who was not as kind as Bear or as patient as Deer, said, “Fisher, I’m tired of your silly talk. This is a serious problem we are discussing and your interruptions are not at all helpful. You’re too small! So stop your foolish chatter and leave us.”

So Fisher went away.

At last it was decided that Mountain Lion should climb to the top of the high council hill and see what he could do about the problem.

So Mountain Lion climbed to the top of the hill, leaped up into the night sky and, snarling viciously, tore at the darkness with his great claws.

But it was no use. It changed nothing and the darkness prevailed. And the great ones went on talking.

Once more Fisher came forward. “Please let me try. Perhaps I can help.”

Before anyone else could speak, Bear said, “Very well Fisher, you may try. The great ones have been unable to solve the problem so you may do what you can do.”

So Fisher ran to the top of the hill and leaped into the sky, pulling at the darkness with his small paws.

But it was no use. It changed nothing and the darkness prevailed. So Fisher leaped into the sky again and again, and again and again he fell back to the earth. All his efforts changed nothing.

At last Bear said, “Oh Fisher, please stop. You’re hurting yourself.”

But Fisher did not seem to hear Bear.

Instead he ran to the bottom of the hill and laid down to rest. As he lay there, he prayed, “Oh Great Spirit, help me to run faster than I have ever run before. Help me to leap higher than anyone has ever leaped before. Help me to bring light back to our earth.”

Then he ran up the hill faster than he had ever run before. Then he leaped up higher than anyone had ever leaped before. Then he touched the darkness with his small paws and fell back to earth.

To the joy of all the animals, the darkness fell away from the face of the day star and light filled the sky and covered the earth.

Such an event was surely worthy of a celebration! So the animals began to sing and dance, and the great ones made long, proud speeches.

At last Bear said, “We must honor Fisher, for it was Fisher who prevailed against the darkness and restored light to the day star.”

“Come forward Fisher,” Deer called.

But Fisher did not come forward and no one could find him.

Then Bear remembered that he hadn’t seen Fisher since he’d fallen back to earth on the high council hill. So he hurried up the hill, followed by all the other animals.

They found Fisher, but he was dead.

So they gathered around his small broken body and mourned his death.

The Great Spirit heard the sound of their grieving and came to the council hill. Gently he lifted Fisher and carried him up into the sky. He placed Fisher in the northern part of heaven and marked the place with a star.

Then he returned to the council hill and told the animals this. “when you go out at night you will see Fisher’s star in the sky. When you see the star remember that Fisher was not a great one. Indeed, he was very small. Remember this too. Remember that although he was small it was he who prevailed against the darkness and brought light back to the earth.”

 

 

Taken w/o permission from the Voice of the Wild Siskiyou

Category: