The Tired Wolf

Tlingit  Indians adapted by Mary Powell

One day, when men of the Wolf Clan were out fishing far from the shore, they saw a dark shadow moving in the water a great distance from them.  They paddled quickly toward it and found a Wolf swimming so slowly that it hardly moved in the water.  Its eyes were closed, and the poor Wolf was so tired that its tongue hung out.  The animal could hardly keep its head above water.  Friendly hands pulled the Wolf into the canoe, and the men of the Wolf Clan took the Wolf to their village.

For Many years the Wolf lived with them.  It always hunted with the men who had saved its life.  Because the Wolf was a hunter he could always find trails to where deer and other animals could be found.  The clan never lacked for meat.  The Wolf lived with its rescuers for so long that the people began to think of it as a member of the clan.

One day the old Wolf lay on a mat in front of the house of the clan chief.  Its friends gathered sadly around the Wolf, for they knew that the Wolf was very old and was about to take the Shadow Trail.  Just as the sun sank, the old Wolf died.  The next night, a man of the clan heard its relatives singing a death song for on of their own.  Their voiced rose and fell in a wailing song of mourning which filled the forest with sadness.

From then on the clan adopted the song of the Wolves as a mourning song.  They also decided from then on to carve the figure of the tired Wolf on all of their totem poles.*

*”Wolf Tales”, by Mary Powell,  Ancient City Press,  Santa Fe, New Mexico