The Seven Dancers
- according to the oral traditions of the Iroquois people
See Also: Tales of the Iroquois
Note: Ideally, the best way for this story to be communicated is in the Old Way - elders gathered with their younger relatives, during the colder months, educating each other within the family circle. The written word can only convey a part of the richness of a story such as this. However, in trying to convey the rhythm of the oral tradition, I have broken the story into small pieces. Enjoy.
Many winters in the past The Mohawk Nation (People of the Flint) were camped on the Lake Keniatiio (kahn-yah-DEE-yo)
At that time, a group of children, seven in number, formed a secret organization among themselves.
In the night they would gather around their little council fire in the forest near the lake. There they would dance to the beat of their leader's water drum.
One day their little chief suggested that they hold a feast at their next council fire.
Each of the seven boys was to ask his mother for some food to take to the feast.
One boy was to ask for corn soup. One was to ask for deer meat. Another was to ask for green corn and so on.
The next day each boy approached his mother and asked for the desired food. Each of the boys was refused the food. Each mother told her son that he had enough to eat at home, and that there was no need for him to carry away good food to the woods for a feast.
The little warriors were very unhappy because of their failure to secure food for the feast. They had empty hands and gloomy hearts.
That night, they returned to the dancing ground.
Their little chief said, "Never mind, my warriors. We will show our parents that it is not well to refuse us food. We will dance without our feast."
The little chief told his warriors to dance hard. He told them to look up at the sky while they danced. The chief told them not to look back even though their parents might call for them to return.
Saying this, he took his water drum and while beating it, he sang a very powerful song, a witch song.
The boys danced and as they danced, their hearts became light. Their feet also became light. They soon forgot their troubles.
Faster went the song, and soon the boys began to feel themselves dance into the sky.
Their parents was them dancing above the tree tops, and called for them to return.
One little dancer looked back and he became a shooting star.
The rest of the dancers became little flickering stars in the skies.
When the Mohawks see the Pleiades flickering and dancing during the cold winter nights, they say:
"The little warriors are dancing hard tonight."
Forever they dance over the villages of the Iroquois. When they dance directly overhead, it is time for the Iroquois New Year Feast.
This happens during the Moon (month) of the New Year, in January or February.
When a meteor falls through the sky, the Old People tell this story to the children.
Please do not reprint this without asking.