moh lived with her family in a small village in the middle of the prairie. All she wished for was to run away and see more than what her eyes see every day. She always wanted more, and what she did have was never good enough.
One day, giant black clouds that swirled like an angry river suddenly came out of nowhere and the winds started blowing everything. Emoh grabbed Too Too, her friend the chipmunk, and ran to her tipi. Her mother and father were not there. She hung onto the flap and yelled their names, but got no answer.
The winds spun around and around, and before she knew it she was up into the sky. The wind took her, tipi and all! Then in a blink of an eye, the winds disappeared and her home was set down in the midst of a beautiful forest.
Too Too perched on her head, chattering franticly. She put Too Too down and bravely walked out of her once-home into the forest. She had never seen anything like this big, beautiful forest, with its fruit trees, bushes and a riverbank with flowers in so many colors. The river sang and the birds were talking. All she could do was stare at these strange and beautiful sights.
She heard voices coming from the bushes that sounded like children. “Who are you?” she asked. All she heard was giggling. “Please come out,” she pleaded.
Then, right before her eyes, what looked like small children started to appear from everywhere – out of trees, from behind rocks and even out of the tall grasses. “Who are you, and where am I?” Emoh asked.
One of the little ones walked slowly toward Emoh. “We are the Little People and this is our village.”
“But what is this place called?”
The Little People giggled and replied, “Under the rainbow.” Then they asked her a question. “Who are you? We have never seen anyone as big as you.”
“My name is Emoh,” she said, and told them of the angry winds that had brought her there.
A very sweet little woman shyly walked up to her and said, “You are welcome to stay here and live with us. We owe you a great gratitude. You killed the wicked Spirit of the East.”
“You are very kind, but I killed no one,” Emoh answered.
The little woman pointed to Emoh’s tipi. “Look: you landed right on her.”
Emoh gave a little cry of fright as she saw a pair of red beaded moccasins poking from under her tipi.
All the Little People cheered. “You have freed us from her wicked ways.”
As Emoh watched the Little People dance, snow started to gently fall. The Little People started clapping, and a beautiful white eagle glided out of the sky and landed right in front of her.
“And who are you?” asked Emoh.
“My name is Evol. I am the good Spirit of the North. I see your tipi landed on the Spirit of the East and she is no more.”
“I am sorry. I didn’t mean to kill her,” Emoh replied.
“Don’t worry, child. She was wicked and got what she deserved. So why are you here?” Evol asked.
Emoh told her the story of what happened. “Evol, could you tell me how to get home?”
The good spirit had never heard of the place where Emoh came from and could only tell her to go to the village of giants and see the great giant chief. “You must follow the Huckleberry Path. But beware of the wicked Spirit of the West. She will not be happy when she hears of our sister’s death.”
At that very moment the sky grew black, and out of nowhere appeared a black owl with red eyes.
“Well, sister, I see you wasted no time: but you are too late,” the good spirit laughed out.
Before Emoh knew what was happening, the red beaded moccasins that had belonged to the wicked Spirit of the East appeared on her feet.
The Spirit of the West was so angry she spun in a circle and disappeared. Emoh was afraid at what she saw. The good spirit told her that the moccasins were powerful and would help her, but she must never take them off because the bad spirit would be back to try and get them.
Emoh listened well and started off on the Huckleberry Path to see the great giant chief.
Emoh sang to herself and carefully followed the path. She soon came upon a field with what appeared to be a man dancing around and playing a flute.
“Hello. Can you help me?” Emoh asked. “I am on my way to the village of giants to see the great chief and the path is going in two different directions.”
The stranger danced over to Emoh and said, “I don’t know. You see, I have no brains, so I don’t think I can’t help you.”
“Do you have a name?” Emoh asked.
“I am called Dancing Fool.”
“That’s not a very nice name,” Emoh replied. “Why don’t you come with me and maybe the great giant chief will give you a brain?”
“Thank you. I will come, but which way do we go?” the Dancing Fool asked.
Emoh declared, “I will follow what my heart tells me, and it tells me this way!”
So off they went down the path. They had traveled a while and decided to rest when Emoh heard crying behind some bushes. When she parted the bushes, there before her stood a weeping horse. Her presence startled the horse and he stopped crying long enough to ask who she was.
“My name is Emoh and we are going to the village of giants to see if the great chief can help us. I want to go home, and my friend needs a brain. Now who are you?”
“My name is Broken Drum. I used to be the leader of my herd, but my heart has been broken. A spell was put on me by the wicked Spirit of the West. My heart is broken and only filled with sadness. I could not be a good herd leader anymore, so I live in this forest alone and spend my time crying. No one has ever taken notice of me. I’m surprised you even noticed me.”
Emoh reached out and gave the horse a hug. “When I was sad back home, my mother would hug and rock me. It always made me feel better. I guess I never realized how much I had before I came here. All the more reason I need to get home: and I think you should come with us. I’m sure the great chief will help you too.
“I feel I should warn you that I have the wicked Spirit of the West after me. My tipi fell on her sister and killed her and she wants the moccasins I am wearing. They have powers, but I am not sure what they are or what I would need them for. Will you come with us?”
For a brief moment Broken Drum smiled, for hope was in his heart. “Yes! I will come.”
“Well, let’s go,” Emoh replied. “We have to stay on the Huckleberry Path.” So, off they went.
Before too long they came upon the darkest forest imaginable. There were no bird songs, and cobwebs littered the trees. “Are you sure we are going the right way, Emoh?” asked the dancer. “I don’t like it here and it’s scary. Spiders and cobwebs and bugs, oh my.”
“Yes, we are on the right path. Just hold my hand. We will be all right,” she said. So, ever so slowly, they crept through this dark forest. All of a sudden, out jumped a coyote snarling at them. “What are you doing in my forest?” the coyote growled.
“We are sorry. We are on our way to the village of giants to see the great giant chief. Please, may we pass?” she asked.
Coyote swatted at Broken Drum, who started crying.
“Stop it!” Emoh yelled out. “See what you have done. You made him cry!”
Coyote sat down and slowly shook his head. “I am sorry. I’m nothing but a coward. I am afraid of everything, so I hide or attack. Will you forgive me?”
Emoh became deep in thought. “Maybe, just maybe, you should come with us. Perhaps the great giant chief can help you, too!”
Coyote replied, “Do you really think so? A cowardly coyote like me? I don’t see why not … but I’m afraid.”
“Nonsense. Let’s go before it gets any darker.” And off Emoh went with her three new friends.
(Continued in part two)
Ken “Rainbow Cougar” Edwards, from the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington, is an accomplished painter and storyteller. Edwards is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., and is a longtime cartoonist for Indian Country Today.