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One Star was painting the story on a buffalo hide when I met him. He was an old man now, and he wanted to record the tale while his memory was still bright.
He invited me to sit beside him, and I watched and listened as the old man told the Earth Song.
One Star had been a young chief when they came to him in a dream, the owl and the wolf, and the song they had sung was a sad one.
The owl was the first to appear. He sang of a time when the skies were clear and the air was pure, a time when his kind could nest in the tall pines of the great forests that stretched for as far as the eye could see, a time when food was plentiful and his family could soar and hunt above the vast plains forever.
The owl sang of a beautiful land where cool clean water cascaded from majestic mountains into lush green valleys.
The creatures of the air had flourished in this land, and generation after generation had raised their young and thanked the Creator for this place.
But all that had changed.
The new people had come, and they had cleared the dense forests for materials to build their own wooden nests which now covered the plains. Their machines polluted the air and their waste was discarded into the once clean rivers and streams.
The new people hunted for food, which the owl understood, for it was the way. But they also hunted for sport, which the owl did not understand.
As the new people grew in number, so the owls were fewer. They were forced to look for new homes, in unfamiliar lands where nesting places were scarce and food was harder to find.
Some could not adapt to the changing ways and were never to be seen flying above the face of the earth again.
The wolf appeared and his song echoed that of the owl's.
His clan too had been forced to retreat from the oncoming civilization. They went into the foothills of the sacred mountains and had to roam far from their dens in search of food.
They were feared and misunderstood, and were hunted and pursued.
The wolves, whom the "first ones" called the protectors of women,were banished from their homelands by the new people.
The owl and the wolf ended their song by asking One Star what they might have done that had offended the Creator and caused him to treat them so.
The young chief had no answer for them.
He understood their plight, for his tribe had walked a similar path.
One Star had listened to the elders of the tribe speak of times of freedom and plenty, when man and beast shared the earth in harmony, and were caretakers of the land, not plunderers.
One Star could give the owl and the wolf no answer, but he did make them a promise. He swore to sing their song to all he met. To tell everyone of the importance of keeping nature's balance. And to try to bring man and beast and earth together again in one caring family, as it was meant to be.
One Star is gone now, but his message, the Earth Song, is still in the air for all to hear and heed .