Why the Eagle defends Americans
by Mabel Powers
Many, many moons before the White man came, a little Indian boy was left
in the woods. It was in the days when animals and men understood each
other better than they do now.
An old mother bear found the little Indian boy.
She felt very sorry for him. She told the little boy not to cry, for she
would take him home with her; she had a nice wigwam in the hollow of a
Old Mother Bear had two cubs of her own, but she had a place between her
great paws for a third. She took the little papoose, and she hugged him
warm and close. She fed him as she did her own little cubs.
The boy grew strong. He was very happy with his adopted mother and
brothers. They had a warm lodge in the hollow of the great tree. As
they grew older, Mother Bear found for them all the honey and nuts that
they could eat.
From sunrise to sunset, the little Indian boy played with his cub
brothers. He did not know that he was different from them. He thought he
was a little bear, too. All day long, the boy and the little bears
played and had a good time. They rolled, and tumbled, and wrestled in
the forest leaves. They chased one another up and down the bear tree.
Sometimes they had a matched game of hug, for every little bear must
learn to hug. The one who could hug the longest and the tightest won the
Old Mother Bear watched her three dear children at their play. She would
have been content and happy, but for one thing. She was afraid some harm
would come to the boy. Never could she quite forget the bear hunters.
Several times they had scented her tree, but the wind had thrown them
off the trail.
Once, from her bear-tree window, she had thrown out rabbit hairs as she
saw them coming. The wind had blown the rabbit hairs toward the hunters.
As they fell near the hunters, they had suddenly changed into rabbits
and the hunters had given chase.
At another time, Mother Bear tossed some partridge feathers to the wind
as the hunters drew near her tree. A flock of partridges went whirring
into the woods with a great noise, and the hunters ran after them.
But on this day, Mother Bear's heart was heavy. She knew that now the
big bear hunters were coming. No rabbits or partridges could lead these
hunters from the bear trail, for they had dogs with four eyes.
(Foxhounds have a yellow spot over each eye which makes them seem
double-eyed.) These dogs were never known to miss a bear tree. Sooner or
later they would scent it.
Mother Bear thought she might be able to save herself and her cubs. But
what would become of the boy? She loved him too well to let the bear
hunters kill him.
Just then the porcupine, the Chief of the animals, passed by the bear
tree. Mother Bear saw him. She put her head out the bear-tree window and
called to him. He came and sat under the bear-tree window, and listened
to Mother Bear's story of her fears for the boy.
When she had finished, Chief Porcupine said he would call a council of
the animals, and see if they could not save the boy.
Now the Chief had a big voice. As soon as he raised his voice, even the
animals away on the longest trails heard. They ran at once and gathered
under the council tree. There was a loud roar, and a great flapping of
wings, for the birds came, too.
Chief Porcupine told them about the fears of Mother Bear, and of the
danger to the boy.
"Now," said the Chief, "which one of you will take the boy, and save him
from the bear hunters?"
It happened that some animals were present that were jealous of man.
These animals had held more than one secret council, to plan how they
could do away with him. They said he was becoming too powerful. He knew
all they knew,—and more.
The beaver did not like man, because men could build better houses than
The fox said that man had stolen his cunning, and could now outwit him.
The wolf and the panther objected to man, because he could conceal
himself and spring with greater surety than they.
The raccoon said that man was more daring, and could climb higher than
The deer complained that man could outrun him.
So when Chief Porcupine asked who would take the boy and care for him,
each of these animals in turn said that he would gladly do so.
Mother Bear sat by and listened as each offered to care for the boy. She
did not say anything, but she was thinking hard,—for a bear. At last
To the beaver she said, "You cannot take the boy; you will drown him on
the way to your lodge."
To the fox she said, "You cannot take him; you would teach him to cheat
and steal, while pretending to be a friend; neither can the wolf or the
panther have him, for they are counting on having something good to eat.
"You, deer, lost your upper teeth for eating human flesh. And, too, you
have no home, you are a tramp.
"And you, raccoon, I cannot trust, for you would coax him to climb so
high that he would fall and die.
"No, none of you can have the boy."
Now a great bird that lives in the sky had flown into the council tree,
while the animals were speaking. But they had not seen him.
When Mother Bear had spoken, this wise old eagle flew down, and said,
"Give the boy to me, Mother Bear. No bird is so swift and strong as the
eagle. I will protect him. On my great wings I will bear him far away
from the bear hunters.
"I will take him to the wigwam of an Indian friend, where a little
Indian boy is wanted."
Mother Bear looked into the eagle's keen eyes. She saw that he could see
Then she said, "Take him, eagle, I trust him to you. I know you will
protect the boy."
The eagle spread wide his great wings. Mother Bear placed the boy on his
back, and away they soared, far from the council woods.
The eagle left the boy, as he had promised, at the door of a wigwam
where a little Indian boy was wanted.
This was the first young American to be saved by an American eagle.
The boy grew to be a noble chief and a great hunter. No hunter could hit
a bear trail so soon as he, for he knew just where and how to find the
bear trees. But never was he known to cut down a bear tree, or to kill a
However, many were the wolf, panther, and deerskins that hung in his
lodge. The hunter's wife sat and made warm coats from the fox and beaver
skins which the hunter father brought in from the chase. But never was
the hunter, his wife, or his children seen to wear a bear-skin coat.