Friday, 30 October 2020 09:51

COLUMN: The Legend of Running Deer Part II

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COLUMN: The Legend of Running Deer Part II J.A. Bolton

As we continue with our story, many moons had passed and Running Deer’s father had not returned from his hunting trip. Running Deer’s mother, Beautiful Flower, had lain awake many nights wondering if her husband would return. 

For almost a year, this mother and her 10-year-old son had lived by themselves in their small lodge along the banks of Little Buffalo Creek.

As spring came, Running Deer helped his mother plant the few seeds of corn, beans and squash that had been saved through last year’s terrible drought.

As each day passed, Running Deer took on more responsibilities. He hunted and trapped small game and speared fish in the creek. He took the tulip poplar basket his mother had made and gathered berries and herbs, all the while carrying the small tomahawk his father had made him.

Beautiful Flower made it fairly well in the daytime, but at night her dreams would be about her husband and what the future might hold for her and her son.

Soon her dreams got so vivid that she told them to the tribe’s shaman. A native shaman was sort of like a priest who was believed to have supernatural powers through visions. He could also assist the tribe by interpreting their dreams and, in some cases, cure or cause outbreaks of witchcraft.

Each week, Beautiful Flower would come before the shaman with her many dreams.

Finally, the shaman told her that evil spirits in the form of enemy warriors would enter her son’s life. Unless the Great Spirit intervened, Running Deer would be taken against his will to a faraway land surrounded by much danger.

From that day on, Beautiful Flower kept a close eye on her son, though she did not tell him what the shaman had told her.

Each day, Beautiful Flower prayed to the Great Spirit to send guardians to watch over her son. Native culture didn’t distinguish between the natural and the supernatural. In their view, plants, animals, and humans partook of divinities through their close connection with the guardian spirits.

The full moon passed and the moonless nights soon surrounded the native’s lodge. One night was especially dark and both mother and son were in a deep sleep when the enemies came. They slowly crept into the camp like a hunter would sneak in on his prey. Carefully raising the deer hide that covered the door of the small lodge, they entered. Seeing the mother fast asleep, they covered Running Deer’s mouth and swiftly carried him out of the lodge and off into the night.

The next morning as Beautiful Flower awoke, she quickly noticed her son was missing from the lodge. She exited the lodge and called her son’s name, but there was only the sound of the morning birds floating in the air. She went to the creek to wash her face and that’s when she saw the small tomahawk lying in the creek. Running Deer would never lose this small weapon made for him by his father. Upon further investigation, she observed several strange moccasin tracks leading up on the opposite bank.

Beautiful Flower followed the tracks as far as the great river (Pee Dee) and then they disappeared. She knew she would be spotted if she tried to cross the river in the daytime.

As the day slowly passed, she thought of what she might find on the other side of the river. Would the enemy take her son to a faraway place with many dangers as the Shaman had predicted? As these thoughts pressed on her mind, she put them aside and prayed that the Great Spirit would truly intervene.

As night fell, Beautiful Flower slipped down into the rushing waters of the river. The enemy had crossed this ford with canoes, but Beautiful Flower knew where the stepping stones were in the river.

Finally with only a wet body and bruised feet, she made it to the opposite bank without being spotted. As she climbed the opposite bank in the dark of night, she spotted the enemy camp. There beside the canoes was her son tied to a tree.

Ever so slowly, Beautiful Flower crawled toward her son. At one point, she hid underneath one of the canoes as a guard walked by. As soon as the guard walked off, she made her way to her son and cut him loose.

They both dashed toward the canoes. As they pushed off into the river, they were spotted. Hurriedly, the two paddled toward the main current but were closely followed by three canoes filled with warriors.

While dodging flaming arrows, Running Deer and his mom managed to keep a little distance from the enemies’ canoes, but in one mighty stroke, Running Deer broke his paddle on a rock.

What were they going to do?!!! Beautiful Flower threw her paddle to Running Deer and began to pray to the Great Spirit for help.

What they didn’t know was that the Great Spirit was already at work. He had prepared a great storm up the river. As the storm drew closer, a great twirling wind (tornado) engulfed the enemy’s canoes. The canoes and the enemy warriors were picked up like toothpicks and tossed against the large rocks in the river.  All of the enemy warriors were killed or drowned, never to harass the local Siouan tribe again.

Running Deer and his brave mother made it to their side of the river safely. They returned to their lodge the next day and gave thanks to the Great Spirit for saving them. All their tribe rejoiced for their safe return and held a great feast to honor the Great Spirit.

The Legend of Running Deer was told around the Siouan campfires for many generations. We all should learn the lesson that Running Deer and Beautiful Flower already knew: our Creator is always ready for us to call upon Him.

J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together,” and just released his new book, “Southern Fried: Down-Home Stories” all of which can be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..