Friday, October 5, 2007

The Sacrifice of the Rainbow Bird (Puppet Show)

NARRATOR: This is a story that the Lenni Lenape people tell. Maybe you have heard them called the Delaware tribe. This is a story they tell from the early days of the world, when most of the things we see around us were new, and some of them had not yet been brought into the world, and where there were things that have gone out of the world since then. Of all those things that we used to have and don't anymore, the most beautiful of all was the Rainbow Bird.

[RAINBOW BIRD flies around the room]

NARRATOR: The Rainbow Bird had the most beautiful feathers of any bird in the world, and its song was the sweetest. You have never heard any music as beautiful as the song of the Rainbow Bird. No wonder all the animals loved it so much.

[RAINBOW BIRD sings -- the puppeteer might sing "Morning Has Broken", or whistle, or someone might play a recording of a little bit of Mozart]

NARRATOR: In the early days of the world, Night was divided from Day, and days went by for many years, but then something new was added: from now on there would also be Summer and Winter, when before the world was sort of like one endless Springtime. The story of why there came to be Winter and Summer is a story for another time. What is important is that Winter was new, and the animals and the plants had to learn to adapt to it. The animals were all unhappy, but humans were having the worst time of all.

HUMAN: We have no fur to keep us warm! No feathers! The snow chills us, and we will all die unless the snow stops falling!

NARRATOR: This was in the days when the animals would still talk with humans, so all the species gathered to talk about the problem.

SKUNK: The problem with Winter is that North Wind blows all this snow everywhere. Someone must go to North Wind and ask him to stop it.

ANIMALS and HUMANS: Yes, yes!

SKUNK: But North Wind's house is a long way away. Who will do this dangerous job?

ANIMALS and HUMANS: [Nervous muttering]

SKUNK: Come on, people, someone has to do it!

NARRATOR: Then Rainbow Bird came forward.

RAINBOW BIRD: I'll do it!


DOG: Rainbow Bird, what if something happened to you while you flew to North Wind's house? We couldn't bear to never see your beautiful feathers again!

PIG: Or hear your beautiful song!

ANIMALS and HUMANS: Don't go! Don't go!

RAINBOW BIRD: I was the first to volunteer, so I have the right to go.

NARRATOR: So Rainbow Bird took off into the air, and flew towards the house of North Wind.

[RAINBOW BIRD flies around the room, over everyone's heads]

NARRATOR: Rainbow Bird flew far away to the north, to the house of North Wind, where she found North Wind sitting in his doorway, blowing hard.

RAINBOW BIRD: North WInd, the humans are dying from all this snow. Will you please stop blowing snow into the world?

NORTH WIND: It is my job to blow out of the north, and if there is snow, I blow it. But you could ask Snow Maker to quit grinding the snow.

NARRATOR: So Rainbow Bird flew on to the house of Snow Maker, which was even further. She was very tired by then, but she kept to her mission, and by and by she came to the house of Snow Maker, and found her grinding snow with her grinding stone.

[RAINBOW BIRD flies around the room]

RAINBOW BIRD: Snow Maker, your snow is going to kill the humans if Winter doesn't end soon! Will you stop, please?

SNOW MAKER: I have been given the job of making snow every Winter. This job was given to me by the Supreme Being, and I will not slack off from it. You must ask the Supreme Being to cancel Winter -- nobody else can do it.

NARRATOR: And so the Rainbow Bird flew on, to the house of the Supreme Being, which was very far away indeed. By the time she got there, the Rainbow Bird collapsed, exhausted, on the Supreme Being's doorstep.

[RAINBOW BIRD flies, wobbling and panting, and drops before the Supreme Being with the whine of a crashing plane and the sound of a plane crash, as simulated with mouth sounds: "Neeeeeeerrr-K'bloo!"

NARRATOR: The Supreme Being picked up the Rainbow Bird and cradled her in His arms.

SUPREME BEING: Little bird, what are you doing here?

RAINBOW BIRD: Supreme Being, the humans are dying from the cold. Will you please call off this Winter thing?

SUPREME BEING: I will not take Winter out of the world. That is not my way. I can bring something new into the world, but if you really want to save the humans, it's going to cost you.

NARRATOR: So the Supreme Being gave Rainbow Bird a burning tree branch.

RAINBOW BIRD: Oh, how pretty! And how warm!

SUPREME BEING: If the humans use this wisely, it will keep them alive through every Winter.

[The burning branch, made from paper, is stuck with tape to RAINBOW BIRD's beak]

NARRATOR: So the Rainbow Bird took the branch in her beak and flew back toward the world. It was a very long flight, and all the way the smoke was blowing in her face.

[the brightly-colored bird puppet must be switched for the Crow puppet at this point, with the branch in the crow's beak]

NARRATOR: And when Rainbow Bird arrived with the Supreme Being's gift of fire, everyone was horrified at the sight : Rainbow Bird's beautiful feathers had been turned black, totally black.

[HUMANS and ANIMALS gasp and emote]

NARRATOR: Rainbow Bird wanted to reassure everyone that it was all right, she didn't mind losing her beautiful colors. She opened her beak to sing to them, but alas....


NARRATOR: The smoke had also ruined her voice!

[The blackened RAINBOW BIRD flies around cawing]

NARRATOR: And so the humans were saved, but the world would never again see or hear the Rainbow Bird in all her glory. So if you are ever offended by the cawing of a crow, just remember how much the human race owes to the sacrifice of the Rainbow Bird.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Sacrifice of the Rainbow Bird

From the Lenni Lenape

This story is from the early days of the world. Not the earliest days, when the world was first made, but a ways after that, by the time there were most of the things we have now, but not all of them, and when things that have since gone out of the world were still known. It was late enough that the Sun and the North Wind were already in place, and most of the stars, but early enough that the animals would still talk to the humans. Day had been separated from Night, and a regular succession of days had been taking place for long enough that everyone took it for granted, but Summer and Winter were new, and the newness of Winter is what led to the events of this story.