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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 26, 2003 - Issue 92


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Thunderhawk - The Legend of the Robin Redbeast

by Geoff Hampton

MouseThat summer there seemed to be more robin redbreasts than ever before in and around happy valley. Paddy and Paden both loved to watch the pretty little birds as they hopped around on the ground looking for food. They enjoyed watching them occasionally putting their ears to the ground as they listened for worms and other food moving just below the surface and then the birds would quickly strike and eat their meal. The two little mice also enjoyed listening to the beautiful song that the robin redbreast would sing. It was such a beautiful, peaceful creature they thought.

One glorious morning Paden and Paddy were sitting at the edge of the homeground right about first light. They were listening to the beautiful song of a robin redbreast that was sitting in a cedar tree nearby. As they listened and smiled one of the most respected community elders was walking by. The elder, named Brogan paused to listen to the beautiful song with Paden and Paddy. The two little mice straightened up immediately out of respect for Brogan. He smiled at their courtesy and greeted them.

As the three mice listened to the robin redbreast Thunderhawk and Blaze flew into a tree nearby. This put Brogan on full alert and he gently put his arms around Paddy and Paden and said, "Boys, its time for us to get back inside. Those two hawks are probably looking for an early morning meal and we're most likely it!" Paden said, "Mr. Brogan, we have seen these two hawks many times and we were wondering if they may have been sent by the Great Creator to protect us."

Mountain SceneBrogan's head tilted to one side and he said, "Oh lads…those blood thirsty birds are no friend of ours! They eat mice! They don't protect them." Paddy chimed in, "Mr. Brogan. Sir. We have seen these two hawks do some weird things and the weird things appeared to be saving us from danger!"

Brogan smiled knowingly and said, "Boys…your imaginations are full of visions that appear true to you, but with experience you will see are not at all things are as they appear! For example, are you two familiar with the legend of the robin redbreast?"

Paddy and Paden looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads "no". Brogan said, "Well lads, would you like for me to tell you the history of how these beautiful little birds once terrified all living creatures in happy valley including humans in the beginning?" Paddy and Paden looked at each other with their eyes wide open and both said at the same time, "Yeah! Cool Let's hear it!"

Brogan pushed his beret back and slowly began the story; "In the beginning the Great Creator made all of the creatures here on Mother Earth and he was at first pleased. One of his creations was a very large bird that was as red as fire. It was also huge. The bird could not fly because it weak pathetic little wings and it weighed more than three hundred pounds." Paden and Paddy looked at each other and said, "No way!" Brogan said, "Aye lads. More that three hundred pounds and they were bloody well vicious. The big bird was called the robin redbeast.

The mighty robin redbeast had defied the Great Creator and hunted every one of the Great Creators favorite creatures…the native humans who originally roamed these beautiful smoky mountains were included. The robin redbeast was an ugly critter and it did not have the beautiful song that it has today back then. In fact, the robin redbeast simply made one sound. It was an ug ga lee sounding, very loud, very deep CHIRRRRRRRP! It sounded somewhat like a bull bellowing in the fields today but it said chirp instead of moo."

DragonPaden said, "Are you kidding us Mr. Brogan?" Brogan looked stone faced and serious as he said, "Lads…these terrible creatures were more horrible that I'm even explaining. In fact, it is said that there may still be a few eggs of the terrible redbeast laying in a cave up near cades cove and that one-day they may hatch and the terrible redbeasts may return." At this momentary pause Paden and Paddy looked at each other and their eyes were bulging out of their heads in fear.

Then Brogan continued, "Anyway lads, have you ever noticed in the early spring how the robin redbreasts return from their winter stay down south in large flocks?" Paden and Paddy thought for a minute and then said, "Yes". Brogan shook his head and smiled knowingly. Then he continued, "Well lads, back then the robin redbeasts worked in large groups and coordinated their efforts to stalk and destroy other creatures. They were ruthless. They hunted day and night and destroyed simply for the nasty pleasure of it all.

If you notice today a robin redbreast will hop along on the ground and sometimes put its ear to the ground to detect food it wants to eat. Have you noticed that lads?" Paden and Paddy shook their heads up and down and Brogan continued, "Well lads, back in the day the humans began to try to hide from the beast by covering themselves with Mother Earth but the nasty beast could hear 'em breathin' under there and they quickly pulled them out from their hiding place, just like the little birds we see do with worms and such today. It was terrible."

The humans tried to fight back but the nasty creatures were too smart and they set ambushes and stalked the humans relentlessly. The Great Creator became aware of the terrible goings on through the prayers and chants of the native humans. The Great Creator rebuked the robin redbeasts and warned them that if they continued to act so far outside of Mother Natures plan that there would be severe consequences.

The great and powerful redbeasts laughed and defied the Great Creator by continuing to live the wicked lives that they had been living. Then one hot day in the middle of the summer the Great Creator passed over the Great Smoky Mountains and caused all of the robin redbeasts to fall into a deep, deep sleep. While the terrible beasts were sleeping the Great Creator transformed their physical bodies. The Great Creator reduced their size to be small like they are today. He gave them stronger wings so that they could fly, because now many creatures may want to take vengeance on them.

RobinThe Great Creator also gave them a beautiful singing voice so that they could repay some of their treachery by singing glorious songs that would be pleasing to the listener. The Great Creator also changed their color from fire red to the color you see today. However, he kept the blaze of red on their chests to always serve as a reminder of their terrible deeds and the blood that was shed a result of their defiance of Mother Nature and the Great Creator.

The Great Creator also allowed the name to be changed to robin redbreast and the new birds, who were pleasing to the Great Creator were allowed to multiply in great numbers and travel freely to many other areas where they would bring joy through their beauty and the serenity of their song. That lads is how the beautiful robin redbreast got to be what they are today!"

Paden and Paddy's mouths were hanging open and their eyes were as wide open as they could get. They had been listening intently and were amazed. Paden said, "Mr. Brogan, is that for reals?" Brogan raised his eyebrow, pursed his lips and shook his head up and down and said, "Aye lads. That's the truth. It's amazing how things aren't always as they appear isn't it?" Paden and Paddy shook their heads up and down in agreement. Then Brogan said, "Now lads, maybe you ought to rethink your imagination induced thought process that those murderous hawks might be your friends. Ya' know what I mean?"

Mountain ScenePaden and Paddy looked up at the hawks who were still sitting there. Thunderhawk and Blaze were looking directly at them and the two little mice gulped. Then they looked back at Brogan and Paddy said, "I think that you're right Mr. Brogan. They sure are looking right at us. They just might be thinking about eating us, what do you think Paden?" Paden looked up at the hawks and then back at Paddy and said, "I think you're right. We shouldn't get too confident in thinking that any predator is really our friend."

MouseBrogan smiled and said, "That's the spirit lads. Always remember. A mouse always thinks…safety first!" Then Brogan slipped away and Paden and Paddy silently made their way back into the homeground to think about all that they had heard and seen that early morning. It had been something that was good for them. Mice must always stay alert because of the many predators. Brogan's story had taught them a powerful lesson. It would be a beautiful day in happy valley with robin redbreasts singing their glorious song and Paden and Paddy would marvel for a long time about how the bird they loved so much had come from such a terrible past. The Great Creator had been listening and he smiled. Yes, it would be a great day after all!

The End

© 2003 Geoff Hampton

Geoff Hampton is an internationally known author, speaker, motivator and business consultant. Hampton is the Executive Director for St. Mary's Health and Fitness Center in Powell, TN and is also a regular columnist for the wellness/fitness Website and Canku Ota. He can be reached by E-mail at His national anti-obesity/diabetes campaign, The Wellness Wakeup Challenge can be reviewed at Many of his health/wellness past features can be located at by looking in the Library of Articles section under Management Advice - Online Column and Management FAQ's - Online Column

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