Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

#112 The Indian Cinderella (1974)

As punishment for their lies and cruelty,
Strong Wind turned the sisters into two aspen trees. 
Once upon a time, in Canada, "on the shores of a wide bay on the Pacific Coast, there dwelt in old times a great Indian warrior." This warrior had the power to make himself invisible, and his people called him Strong Wind. They said that he had gotten his powers from Glooskap, "their great lord and creator."  These people called themselves the Children of the Light, "for of all the people in America, they dwelt nearest to the sun-rise." Strong Wind was kind as well as wise, and every Indian maiden dreamed of life beside him.  "It was known that Strong Wind would marry the first girl that could see him.  Many made the trial, but it was a long time before anyone succeeded." He sought a partner both wise and beautiful of spirit.  Only his sister could see him at all hours; no other had spied him when he was hiding in plain sight.  He had a way of putting young women to the test.  Each who wanted to interview him must first walk by the lake's shores with his sister.  Strong Wind, cloaking himself in the air, would pull his sledge along behind him, crossing right in front of the women.  Then his sister asked, "Do you see him?" and the girls always answered that they did.  Now she asked,"With what does he draw his sled?" and they answered by naming the ways all men drew their sleds: "With the hide of a moose." said one; "With a pole." said the next. And Strong Wind and his sister knew then that the girls could not see him, though they claimed that they could. In this same village there also lived "a chief who had three daughters.  Their mother had long been dead.  One of these was much younger than the others. She was very beautiful and gentle and well beloved by all, and for that reason her older sisters were jealous of her charms and treated her very cruelly."  Those girls gave her only their own worn out rags to wear, and they cut off her long shining hair.  Worst of all, "they burned her face with coals from the fire, that she might be scarred and disfigured."  When their father asked why his youngest was in such a state, they told him that the girl was stupid and clumsy, always doing injury to herself. Soon, every young woman in the village had gone to try for Strong Wind except this chief's family.  The two elder girls now groomed themselves carefully, and went to walk by the lake's shores.  "Soon, he came home from his day's work, drawing his sled.  And his sister asked as usual, 'Do you see him?' And each one, lying, answered,'Yes.' And she asked,'Of what is his shoulder strap made?' And each, guessing, said, 'Of rawhide."  They were invited into the tent, and hoped to be able to see the great man eat his dinner.  But all that they could make out were his shoes and coat moving about before them.  "And Strong Wind knew that they had lied" and they went home, ashamed.  This gave their younger sister hope.  The next day, she decided to try her luck.  She bathed carefully, and "patched her clothes with bits of birch bark, from the trees, and put on the few little ornaments she possessed, and went forth to try to see the Invisible One as all the other girls of the village had done before." Her sisters, of course, mocked her efforts, and laughed spitefully as she tried to comb her burnt off hair.  As the girl crossed the village, all of the girls and boys jeered at her, with her scarred face and her singed hair, and her dress that was patched with birch bark.  But the girl kept on, and soon, she was walking along the shores of the lake. "Strong Wind's sister received the girl kindly and said, 'Do you see him?' and the girl answered,'No.' and his sister wondered greatly, because she spoke the truth." Now Strong Wind took off his cloak of wind, and his sister asked the little ragged girl, "Do you see him now?' And the girl answered,'Yes, and he is very wonderful'  And she asked, 'With what does he draw his sled?' And the girl answered,'With the rainbow' and she was much afraid.  And she asked further,'Of what is his bowstring?' And the girl answered,'His bowstring is the Milky Way." And that is how Strong Wind and his sister knew that this girl was honest and wise.  So the sister led the poor thing back to their tent, and "bathed her, and all the scars disappeared from her face and body; and her hair grew long and black again like the raven's wing; and she gave her fine clothes to wear and many rich ornaments."  The girl was seated by the door, and when Strong Wind came in, he acknowledged her as his bride.  The very next day, they were married.  Now the girl was happy, as well as beautiful and honest, and she delighted in helping her husband and the two of them did many kind, brave deeds together.  But her older sisters grew angrier at her success, and burned with jealousy at her new status. "Strong Wiind, who knew of their cruelty, resolved to punish them."  The next time he saw them, whispering and shaking their heads at his wife, their younger sister, he summoned his powers over nature.  And where the bickering, scheming maidens had been, there were now two aspen trees. "And since that day, the leaves of the aspen have always trembled, and they shiver in fear at the approach of Strong Wind, it matters not how softly he comes, for they are still mindful of his great power and anger because of their lies and their cruelty to their sister long ago."
From Canadian Wonder Tales, (1974). Collected from oral sources by: MacMillan, C., illustrated by Cleaver, E. p.76 Canadian Wonder Tales 1st Edition
Notes: This is clearly another version of Soot Face Girl, the Ojibwa tale; this time it comes from the Canadian side of the lake.  The notes in the preface of this book describe how the stories were collected nearly one hundred years ago, and republished in Canada in 1974.  Some of them, the author admits, seem to be Europeanized a bit, but such is the nature of folk tales.  They take on new elements, as added by the "folks". 
Montessori Connection: Fundamental Needs of People/Religion/Glooskap
1. Read this story and see if you can pinpoint the location.
2. Try and identify the tribe.
3. Learn about the spiritual beliefs and daily life of American Indians:My Life in Recording: Canadian-Indian Folklore