Long ago, the People knew only peace. They spoke with all the creatures of the land and sky, they shared their fires and gave thanks after the hunt.
But then the Men came. They smelled foreign, nothing like cedar and soil, but like something sharp. Something bitting. Knowing only peace, the People invited them to sit by their fires, to partake of their meals. The Men came willingly, eating ravenously and jostling each other for the warmest seats. They began to tell stories, of lands far away, of the glittering boxes people lived in and the way they conquered rivers and fields. The People listened, transfixed, while day after day the Men told them more about this world over the mountains. Soon they began showing the tools they brought with them, shiny and hard, cold and brilliant. The men of the People held these tools in their hands and forgot what it was to run the hillsides after deer on sinewy legs and sure feet. The women were silenced when they spoke of all the wisdom the Moon had gifted them, and soon they too begin to forget what it was to dance naked and hear the songs of the forest.
But there was one Girl who kept her distance from the Men. She was old enough to care for herself, but too young, too small for the Men to bother speaking with. She spent her days in the council of the trees, practicing the language of the winged and four-legged creatures. She sat alone on a high hilltop watching as the People began acting more and more like the Men. They dressed like the Men, spoke like the Men, and the Girl knew it was time. She crept back into camp under night's dark cover and gathered all the songs, all the dances, all younger children who could still hear the trees. She lead them up to her hilltop and from there she called Horse.
"Horse," she cried, surrounded by the children, "my kindred and I need your help, we need your swift hooves, your strength and your courage. We have the precious secrets of the People and we can not make the journey ahead alone."
Horse galloped up the hillside, followed by his band. "We will help you," he replied, "for the People and the Horses have always treated each other with respect, have always sought to aid the other that lives ripple brightly and grow strong. But we too have been watching the Men, and we too have seen that the earth is changing. The Men do not speak our language, they do not see us as brethren, and so we too need the help of those who remember."
The Girl listened and thought. From the great sack she had filled with all the songs and dances, she drew two long feathers, tying one into the mane of Horse, and one into her own loose locks. She called the other children and bade them each take two feathers, one for their own hair, and one for the mane of the horse who would carry them. She turned to Horse and spoke. "Now we share this bond, seen by all the heavens. Now whenever the People see a horse with a mane that flies like wings, whenever the Horses see a person with flight in their hair, we shall know that we are kin. We shall respect and hear the other, we shall remember this day we shared, our cries for help and our vows of aid. These feathers will pass back to the earth, but this bond will remain in the very blood that passes down through our children's children. And all those People with our blood will know the language of the Horse in their bones. No matter how the earth shifts and turns, how the landscape changes and the creatures morph, no matter the words forgotten by tongue and time, this will remain because it resides within our very marrow."
With that Horse nodded deeply, and the Girl climbed astride.
And that dear child, is how we became a People of the Horse.
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