Thursday, August 11, 2016

Story Challenge: "Muskogee and Chufi"

My dear friend, the gorgeous Kimberly Moore, issued me another topic in our writing challenge:

An Eskimo from Nome Alaska visits Florida.

Ok.  I started doing research on Inuit culture in and around Nome, Alaska.  Then, I had a thought.

I have had a passion for Native American stories since the early 80s.  I discovered it through an unusual route.

I'd been reading comics since as long as I could remember.  In the early 80s, one of the few
indulgences I allowed myself was using a comic book subscription service.  One of the things I had in the service was that they would send me first issues of new comics, so I could see if I liked them.

And so it was that I found Coyote.

Coyote was written by Steve Engelhart with art by Steve Leiahola (in the issues themselves.)  The idea was a "trickster" character who could shapeshift and move in and out of our dimension.  Interspersed in the action were Native American tales of the god Coyote- the "Trickster God."

I was fascinated.  The storytelling was simple oral tradition, yet deep and complex.  I went to the local libraries looking for books of Native American lore, but the libraries near me had none.  Remember, this was long before the internet.

Fast forward to summer 1988.  I sublet an apartment at PSU so I could take summer classes from a guy named Joel.  One of the books Joel had was a book of Native American Myths.  Ignoring my studies, I read it in two days.  Then twice more before the end of the summer.

In late 1989, I found the book in a bookstore and bought it with tip money (I was waiting tables/bartending by then,) despite not really being able to afford it.  Who needs to eat anyway?  As the years passed, I found more and more books on the topic.  I read them all, and still have them (in storage.)

So.  Anyway, I hit upon the idea of writing this challenge as my crack at writing a Native American Myth.  it's a historical fact that Native Americans came to our continent over the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska, probably following the Buffalo, then filtered south.

So, that would be my basis- a tribe moves from Alaska to Florida.  But why?  A thought occurred to me.   I researched Native American tribes of Florida prior to the European incursion, and selected the Muskogee tribe, who would be called the Creek by the Europeans, and eventually displaced to Oklahoma.  I researched their stories.  For them (and most of the SEUS tribes) the trickster god was a rabbit.  And then I wrote.

Kimberly loved the story.

I will say up front- by writing this story, I do not mean to insult or degrade the master Native storytellers from whose tales I borrowed the style.  Nor do I pretend to understand the life of the Native Americans, whose Pride and Suffering far eclipses anything a person of my heritage could possibly endure.  I write this as an homage to their courage and wisdom.

That said, here is the story;  Muskogee and Chufi.


In the time of our grandfather’s grandfather, this tale was told at our Fires.  It was of a time long ago, long before the Enemy took our lands. 

Once the world was covered with water.  There was only a hill above the water, Nunne Chaha, and there lived Master of Breath.  It was he who made brother Moon and Sister Sun as well as the four directions to hold up the world.  He made the first people from the clay of the hill.  In time, Sister Sun and the Horned Serpent made the first of the Isti, our People, Lucky Hunter and Corn Woman.  As the waters receded, the Isti were taught by them and by Preserver of Breath, who shines on us by day to be masters of their fate.

And so it was that Muskogee became Chief of many clans.  He was the greatest of warriors.  It was said no one could defeat him, as he was too strong and too swift.  He ruled fairly and justly, but became sad, as no one could challenge his might.  One day, Chufi, the trickster Rabbit came to him as Muskogee hunted for food for the People.  Chufi told Muskogee of a Great Enemy, one who even Muskogee could not defeat.  To find this enemy, Muskogee would need to lead the Isti away from the Land they knew.  He would need to leave behind the snow and the White Nokose, and the Great Eco, and find a new land.  There Muskogee and his son’s sons would find this Enemy and fight him, for this enemy, would want to kill all Isti and take their land.

Muskogee heard Chufi’s words, and his heart was full of joy.  He would find this enemy wherever he would hide.  But his pride told him that there would be no joy in victory if no one was there to see it.  He spoke to the leaders of the clans, and to the elders, and to the Isti, saying that only he could defeat this enemy, and that only then would the Isti be safe.  The Isti heard his words, but the elders warned that this was a trick.  The snow covered land was hard but good to the Isti.  But the Isti did not listen to them.  They wanted to see Muskogee defeat the unbeatable enemy.  

And so began the Long Walk.  Following Chufi’s directions, Muskogee led the Isti south, then through great mountains, so high that they could see the eyes of the Preserver of Breath very clearly.  Muskogee had many sons, and taught them all to be great warriors, equal only to Muskogee himself.  He taught them Chufi’s words, and about the Enemy they must fight someday. 

In time, Muskogee could walk no further.  He had taught the Isti many things and told them all of the Enemy who comes, and that his sons would take them to this new land.  The lands where they walked were warmer, and strange creatures lived there. 

Muskogee’s sons led the Isti south until they reached the large water.  It was warm and full of fish and food.  It was there that they called their home, and there they buried Muskogee in a great mound, bigger than anyone ever built before this.  And on this mound did they build their homes.  It was then that the Isti took his name to honor him.  They would be known as the Muskogee people, and they would be ready when the Enemy came. 

The Muskogee learned the ways of the land and the water, and they learned new ways to fight those who would hurt them. 

And so it was that the Muskogee came to the Land and the Water.  Here they met Alligator and many Birds.  And the Muskogee grew to be Many and Strong.  The sons of Muskogee started many more clans which make up our people. 

And there they waited for the Enemy, who would call them Creek- he who would bring Death and could not be defeated.  And the Enemy did come from over the Waters; The Enemy who brought disease and death to the Muskogee.  And they died.  They died because the pride of one warrior led them to this Enemy to be killed. 

The Muskogee suffered at the hands of the Enemy.  But that is a tale for another Fire.

Muskogee Sun Circles

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