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Wa-pee Moos-tooch
Chapter XXI
Our Hero Is Made Chief


WHEN in the course of their journey they reached the other portion of the tribe, and were united once more, there was great satisfaction in the camp. White Buffalo had returned; White Buffalo was a source of strength to these people. They felt that in him they had a real leader, and the head chief, the aged man in the camp, said, "Let us be glad; let us heartily rejoice, for among ourselves there has arisen one worthy to lead. I do not know what may be in the thought of all the men and people in this camp, but I very well know what is in my own mind, and for some time I have said to myself, 'Now you can retire from the chieftainship of this people. You have been spared many years, and the people have listened unto you and obeyed you and followed your advice. You have great reason to be thankful. But now you are old and feeble, and in the meantime the Great Spirit has smiled upon you and upon your friends, for He has raised a man up who is worthy, who is strong, who is brave, who is good, and He has blessed him. He has given him a good wife, a wonderful woman. Her own folk called her the Little Mother, and truly she is the good mother, for all our children believe in her and love her very much. And now this man and woman, they are already in this camp as our chief and queen.' Therefore it is my wish, it is my strong desire, that ere I pass away this man and this woman shall be accepted as the chief man and woman in our camp. Tell me, oh my people, what you think."

And there came a unanimous shout of assent to the old chief's thought and desire, and he again spoke:

"Then, my friends, as we are of one mind in this matter, we will shortly fix a day and a time and a place, and I will step out into my own lodge and among my children and be as any other among you, and we will make White Buffalo and his wife, the Little Mother, as our chief ones in this camp."

And the whole tribe began to sing, and to rejoice, and the drums beat, and all took up the chorus of the praise of White Buffalo and his Nagos. Snake Skin was overjoyed. This he had hoped for, this he had felt was what ought to be. And the Little Star was also greatly rejoiced, for she saw how her husband felt, and she had profound love and respect for Nagos and White Buffalo, and the way and manner in which these were received among their people made her feel very much at home in this new environment.

In a short time the large camp moved onto a beautiful spot on the bank of the Beaver, and an immense pavilion was erected, where, amid feasting and dancing and much ceremonial, the chieftainship of this portion of the Cree nation was conferred on our hero. The retiring chief congratulated the camp on securing one so well qualified as White Buffalo to lead them. Said the venerable man:

"We live by the hunt, and we have been given a great hunter in this young man. He is equally good in the woods and on the plains. He is strong of limb and big of lung and very brave of heart. Distance and storm and fierceness of game make no difference to him. From the big Mistaya, the great grizzly, to the rabbit, he knows them, every one, and has hunted and killed of all. We have no man in this land who can use the weapons of our fathers like he can. Thus, my children, in this respect White Buffalo is a fitting leader.

"Then we, as a people, have many enemies, and these are numerous and strong and we are forever in danger from them. During the last two summers this young man has shown that as our avenger and defender, he is the greatest among us. To him has been given wisdom and strength and he has made no mistakes since he came out as a young warrior. Already he has many scalps to his credit. Blackfeet and Sioux have fallen before his skill and bravery. In every opportunity he has shown himself as born to lead in war. Our old leader, leader, the Great Traveller, Papainotao, did say, 'This man is chief among warriors. He is made for to be a trusted leader.'

"Then, my friends, we all know his heart is good. He is a man of peace, he would not kill if it was not necessary to do so, and this is the kind of a war chief we want, a man of kind heart, strong in war and strong in peace.

"Every one in these lodges, and all our acquaintances, know that such a man is White Buffalo. More than this, he has the favor of the spirits. These blessed his childhood, these touched his heart, and guided his growth into young manhood these sent him a strong and ever-watchful Pawakun, the spirit of his dream; these gave him a good father and mother, and when the time came led him forth into a strange and distant land, and there revealed to him a wonderful maiden, who now is his much-loved wife and is as the queen of our hearts in this camp. Thus you will see, my friends and children, it is fitting and it is right that we as a reasonable and grateful people, make this great and good man our head chief. Verily this is as my heart and head prompt me to desire and speak, and I believe this is as the great father and all the spirits would have us, as their children, to do at this time."

Thus spoke the aged chief, and without discussion all the people shouted:

"Even so may it come to pass. We want White Buffalo as our head chief!" And Kosopachekao, the seer, and Snake Skin, were sent to bring our hero in order that this large camp would acclaim him chief. They found White Buffalo in his lodge, and told him their errand, and he answered:

"Surely it cannot be. I am not fit. I am still too young." But they prevailed upon him, and he said to Nagos:

"Come with me before the people," and she hastily made her toilet, and came with her husband to the Place of honor in the big pavilion, and Snake Skin said:

"Oh, Chief and people! We have brought this man, White Buffalo, and his wife, Nagos, even as you bade us to do."

And all the camp shouted in acclaim, and the drums beat, and the multitude sang in the chorus as the seer and Snake Skin improvised a hymn of eulogy to the honor and praise of the new Chief. Then the aged Chief did say to White Buffalo:

"My son, we have chosen you as our Chief. We know you have not sought this place, but we also know that you will obey our call, and the call of the spirits, and be found in your place in our hearts and in our camp, and among our friends and enemies. And now from this day I retire, and you, my son, become Chief, and your good and beautiful wife, Nagos, will be your great helpmate in leading us as a people and camp, and may the Great Father and all the spirits bless and guide you at all times!"

Then White Buffalo spoke: "My friends, I am astonished at what you have done today. I am but as a child in your midst, and as our Chief has said, I have not sought this honor. You have thrust it upon me. But now, with the help of all the Chiefs and headmen, and with the faith of all our people, and the continued friendship of the Seer and Snake Skin, and with my own wife beside me, I will do my best to lead you both in peace and in war."

Just at this time, when White Buffalo ceased speaking, a boy called everyone's attention to the presence of a huge timber wolf, who from a nearby hill summit was quietly looking down upon the camp, and did not seem to feel any fear or strangeness in thus coming close to the crowd. And White Buffalo and Nagos and the Seer and Snake Skin looked and saw him, and the Seer broke out into one of his religious hymns, and when he was through all the camp did shout and sing and dance and feast, and were full of joy because of this great event in their history.

And now that we have fairly launched White Buffalo into his new career in the early years of the last century, and have tried faithfully to depict his manner of life at this time, we will leave him with you, who may read this humble tale of native life in Canada's great western territories, one hundred years agone. White Buffalo is Chief indeed, and Nagos is his queen. The Seer predicts for them a long and blessed reign, and feels honored as their constant friend. Snake Skin has regenerated, and is loyal and true and is supremely happy, for the Little Star alternately smiles and blushes by his side, and both are proud to be so nearly allied to White Buffalo and Nagos.

And as this big wild wilderness country, with its countless buffalo, and abundant animal life, and continuous war and adventure between the tribes, will remain, even as we have narrated its conditions, for another half century or more, therefore we may again come before you with the further life and experience of White Buffalo and his people.

So now we will say adieu.


 


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