The Violet


There existed a brave Indian many winters  before contact, who was the pride of all the men of the east. Though he was young, yet among his people his word was law and his counsels were listened to by the older chiefs with much attention. Three times he had done his people’s service they could never forget. 

Once, the great heron, that had preyed upon the children of our Nations for a long time, had fallen pierced to the heart by the arrow from his bow. 

He had gone alone and unarmed many days’ journey without food to the mountain where dwelt the witches and brought from the medicine caves the roots that cured his people of a plague. 

The third great service was when he had led a band of warriors against their enemies over the mountains and returned victoriously.

On one such journey, the young warrior had seen a young woman whom he loved, and he wanted her to be his companion. The young woman dwelt among the people that had once felt the weight of the young chief’s blow. 

As a result, the warfare between these two nations prevented him from seeking her openly and respectfully. Yet after only one moment of seeing her beautiful face, the young man understood that, unless he could share a life with her, his heart would not again be one and therefore would never again be suited for war.

For many moons, he would go off alone to visit the woods near the village of his foes. He patiently waited and watched for only a glimpse of the woman whose eyes had softened his heart. 

On his way home, he would sing the praises of his loved one so often that the birds in the trees took up his song. They carried these beautiful songs with them in their flight over the plains and valleys and his beloved’s village. 

So often did the bear, the fox and the beaver hear the praise of this young woman murmured by this man in his travelling between villages that they thought the forests had brought forth a new flower of more radiant beauty than any they had seen.

At last, the young warrior persuaded the young woman with the song-birds’ calls and by singing her praises he lured her far from her home and in the direction of the hunting-grounds and village of his own people. 

Unbeknownst to both a cowardly and jealous rival from the woman’s village watched as she followed the young man deeper into the woods. Blinded by his bitterness, he made no attempt to remind the young woman of her duties within their village, instead he ran back to his village and raised the alarm that the young woman had been viciously captured. 

The braves, angered by his lack of action refused to allow the rival to join them in their task instead they placed him in the hands of the village women because he was a coward. 

They started quickly in pursuit of the girl and her captor. All night they followed them over the rugged mountains and through the dark forests. 

In the morning they overtook them and were filled with rage when they saw that the young woman was a willing captive.

She had given her heart to the strong young man knowing that he was brave and loved her. Their union was smiled upon by the creator. 

Enraged at the young man for his daring and at the young woman for deserting her people, the pursuing warriors killed them both. 

From this spot sprang the violets, and the winds and birds carried the seeds of the little flowers all over the world, the bears, foxes and beavers do not touch the beautiful flowers so that onkwehonwe of all ages might know that the creator would always raise a monument to love. 

Adaptation from the “Gutenberg project”  As told by Cornplanter, Notes by Wm Fenton