Turtle's Great Wish
"Tah-Ai-Dje'a, Turtle, spun wildly on her back as she fell toward a great precipice near the top of the Mountain. All she could see between herself and the endless Dark Void beyond the great cliff was a cloud-dotted expanse of deep, blue sky. That, and the brightness of Chuma-Hai the Sun, which made the dust that billowed around Turtle's spinning back look just like the tall, white clouds that rose around her in the sky.
"Closer and closer, completely out of control, Turtle spun toward the edge of that great cliff. And Turtle, who was normally very calm and sedate, became very much afraid. She was so afraid that she wished for Chi-neh-dja-hai'a, the strong and graceful Legs of her friend Nichi-Rah-ni'i, Little Rabbit, so she might run in the other direction.
"When Nichi-Rah-ni'i's Legs did not appear, Turtle Wished for Teh-Chi-neh-na-hai'a-kaya-ho, the long, curved Antlers of her friend Koh-lah-te, the Deer, so she might plunge a beautifully strong, sharp rack of Antlers into Pah-i'a-na's hard, unforgiving Earth and stop her hazardous slide down that steep, up-Mountain Path.
"When the Antlers of Koh-lah-te did not appear, Turtle wished for Moh-jah'ku hai'a, the strong, wide Wings of her friend Bi'ik-te, the Eagle, so she might soar above the steep, unforgiving dangers of that high, up-Mountain slope. But sadly, neither did Bi'ik-te's Wings appear. It was then that Little Turtle wished for Tih-la-na, that great, personal, inward Strength of Eh-lah Kai'a O'ea, the Great She-Bear, who had once come to Star-Man's aid, so that Turtle might hold herself against the rocks that tumbled downward, carrying her down-Mountain upon her quickly spinning shell. But She-Bear's Strength did not appear.
"With all her might, Nichi Tah-Ai-Dje'a, Little Turtle, Wished for Le-ah-nah, that ancient Wisdom of Chi'ik-te Bash-tai-o'ea, the Great Guardian Animal of the Heavens—otherwise called Chi'ik-te O'ea, the Great Bison, as he is so often Named among our People—so she might better understand how to Save herself. And, as you might suspect, my Little Ones, it was Chi'ik-te Bash-tai-o'ea, the Great Bison, who answered.
"So Quiet was Chi'ik-te Bash-tai-o'ea's whisper, that if Nichi Tah-Ai-Dje'a had not been Listening inwardly for that ancient Wisdom, the frightened Little Turtle would not have been able to hear the Great Guardian's Sacred words against the terrible, thundering roar of the rocks of the Mountain as Dah'jeh-le-vah's skin tore itself loose from her massive, green-skirted slopes and tumbled mightily down-Mountain.
" 'Find your own inner Strength,' the voice of Chi'ik-te O'ea whispered.
"So Tah-Ai-Dje'a searched inwardly. Outwardly, Turtle knew that she only had the strength of her tiny, green Shell to protect her. If Turtle were swimming in Water, she knew she could have held her breath and dived deep beneath the falling rocks. Or perhaps she could have just floated away. Turtle wondered, then, if she had made a good choice in seeking that frightening, up-Mountain Path. Tah-Ai-Dje'a realized that if she fell from the Mountain's great heights, her Shell would crack into a thousand thousand pieces...and that ultimately she would Die. 'What strength do I have?' Turtle asked herself.
"Without waiting for an answer, Nichi Tah-Ai-Dje'a, Little Turtle, reached into the deepest depths of her very Soul. There she sought the most ancient of Strengths that she held most strongly—the ones that lay deepest in her own heart of Hearts. And yet my Little Ones, all that Tah-Ai-Dje'a could find there nestled deep among her own personal strengths was Push-te-nah. Hope. Hope that she would not Die. Hope that she could Live Forever, so that she might serve both Pah-i'a-na the Earthmother and her down-Mountain friends. Hope that by some miracle of Miracles, she would somehow survive her great fall.
"Since hope was the strongest of all her strengths, she clung to it.
"Desperately and with more Strength even than the Sun-dried, clinging burr of a massive Burdock that can get stuck in one's hair Turtle clung to that feeling. And with that Hope, Tah-Ai-Dje'a found the greatest of all Strengths. Yet one more time Turtle Wished and Prayed from her heart of Hearts to be safe. And Man-kah bih-noh-toh-pah, the Great Spirit Wind, heard Tah-Ai-Dje'a's Prayer. Gently, Turtle was answered with a Spirit-sent breath of up-Mountain Wind.
"Ever-so-softly, that kind and gentle wind Blew. Ever so gently, the Spirit-warm Wind touched the rocks and the sand and the trees and finally, it brushed against Tah-Ai-Dje'a's Shell. And in that moment, Turtle's uncontrolled spinning ceased. As did her fall.
"Poised and teetering on the very brink of that great precipice—with her Life Hanging delicately balanced between that yawning gray opening between both Worlds—Tah-Ai-Dje'a blew out a grateful breath.
"Bish-toh-nah...half-above her...lay the steep slope of the Mountain. E'a bish-toh-nah...half-below her...lay the Darkness of the Great Nothing—Tah-bash-ta'ia Cho-tah—which as you know my Little Ones, only Star-Man and his Star-Sisters have ever ventured into and returned.
"Little Turtle shivered. But she was Grateful. Grateful beyond words, my Little Ones, that she was now safe. Chi'ik-ke-pah-ca-ha'ya tah Mantah. Medicine safe. Because the Great Spirit Wind continued to hold her and to keep her from falling.
"Never before had Turtle held such inward Strength as that which allowed her to wish Ko-do'o-ah-e'pah Bash-ta'ia—such a great and powerful wish—for such an equally great and powerful Wind. And now, because of that, she trembled with great excitement.
"Nichi Tah-Ai-Dje'a, Little Turtle, lay gazing, upside down, staring nervously over her head and shell at that great, black Void beneath her. Little Turtle felt her heart of Hearts fill with deep appreciation for the gift which Oh-Toh-La-Noh, the Creator, had bestowed upon her tiny, ever-so-humble Soul.
"Not only was she grateful to Oh-Toh-La-Noh for having shown her a way to save herself, but she was even more grateful for having been shown that she, a tiny Turtle, had a Strength as great as those Animals to whom she had called out to, and to whom she had wished most earnestly that she could also have those Gifts. Turtle, with Hope in her heart, now realized that she no longer needed to become like her friends to find Strength, or to have anything that she did not already possess, in order to save herself.
"Most importantly, my Little Ones, Little Turtle had found that deep Secret within herself only because she had dared to do one thing. Do you know what that might be? T'eyta. Yes. It was to Listen.
"Filled with expectant hope, Little Turtle had Listened to her heart of Hearts. That alone allowed the tiny Animal to follow Koh-toh'ah Bash-tah-dihn-kah—that steepest, most difficult Path each of us must take to get to the top of the Mountain."
Iya-Ko-Naya ~ Telling "Ko-do'o-ah-e'pah Bash-ta'ia ko Tah-Ai-Dje'a, Turtle's Great Wish," from the Stories of To'o-kah Nokoh ta'ih, the Ancient Ones