There once was a great Shawnee hunter and warrior by the name of Red Hawk. From the time he was a small child, his elders taught him the wonders of the land. He was told to always remember to show reverence to the land and all the gifts it provided to its people. This he did, and though he became a master hunter, the animals were never sacrificed in vain. Red Hawk became a revered hunter and warrior, but with each compliment he received, his head swelled and his self-importance grew and grew.
One bright morning, Red Hawk was hunting in the woods, and heard a curious sound. He ran toward the sound, and as he approached, he realized the sound was actually chanting, coming from the voices of women. He brushed away some leaves, and saw seven maidens, dressed in shabby clothes chanting and dancing in unison, playing instruments made of rocks and twigs. Red Hawk's eyes settled on one of the maidens as she stood out from the others. She was the youngest and smallest, and had unusual yet striking features. Upon her face, she had an expression of joy and peace, and was playing her self-made instrument with wild abandon. Red Hawk fell in love with her instantly, and felt determination rise in his soul - he would make her love him in return. Brimming with his usual bravery and confidence, Red Hawk ran to the group of maidens, and greeted them eloquently. Red Hawk was shocked to find that they did not acknowledge him at all. He repeated himself to no avail. He then stepped into the circle of women as they danced and sang, but it was as if he were transparent. Confused, he left the maidens to their ritual.
Later that day, Red Hawk sprinted up a great hill to speak to the oldest member of his tribe. He asked him, "Grandfather, I have seen maidens chanting in the woods, but they do not notice me. To them I have no presence. I have fallen in love with the most unusual one, but I can not get her to love me if she doesn't know I exist." The elder told him, "These maidens have long been entrancing men, but most men can not see beyond their own pride, and give up trying to win their love. You must figure a way to deserve their attention, then you may get your wish."
Red Hawk spent the night recalling the maidens in his mind. What could he do do impress them? He saw them in his mind blissfully singing and dancing, with no concern for him at all. Then he recalled their crude instruments. They did keep a beat, but perhaps they would like some real instruments. Red Hawk spend the next day hunting, and returned to his village with deer and buffalo. His family prepared for a feast, while Red Hawk created drums of many sizes with the animal skins. He then carved and polished some bones with which to hit the drums. Early the next day, he laid the instruments outside of the maiden's circle, waiting for them to pick them up and relish in his generosity. To his surprise, they did not notice them. Red Hawk left, even more confused.
Again that night, he wondered what he could give them to get in their good graces. He decided that he would give them them gifts of food. At dawn, he began collecting vegetables, nuts, fruits and berries for the maidens. He laid out the food outside of their circle, along with the untouched drums. Again, the maidens ignored the gifts, and Red Hawk left in shocked disbelief.
That night, Red Hawk gave up hope. He had not a clue as to what the maidens wanted. First he felt anger, "How can these maidens not acknowledge me? How could they not thank me for drums I made by my own hands, and then not thank me for the food I gathered with my own hands?" Red Hawk then cried out of frustration, because the beautiful and unusual maiden would never be his.
The next morning, Red Hawk returned to his spot, looked upon his unused gifts, and simply sat back in anger and shook his head. He then raised his head and simply watched the harmonious singing and carefree dancing. After many hours, Red Hawk stood and turned to walk back to his village. It occurred to him how much he had enjoyed the music, and without thinking, removed seven long, red feathers from his headdress. He placed them among the unused gifts as an offering of thanks, and turned again toward his village.
"Don't go, Red Hawk," said a quiet and comforting voice. Red Hawk turned toward the maidens, and saw that it was the voice of the unusual maiden. "We want to thank you for the gifts. We liked the drums and food, Red Hawk, but you only gave us those gifts to impress us and get in our good favor. The feathers you gave us were unselfish and kind gifts of thanks. We now know that you no longer want from us, and we can trust you now. Come join us in our festival, and eat and sing with us!" Red Hawk spent many days with the maidens, experiencing freedom, joy and friendship. Over the course of the days, Red Hawk and his love, Morning Star, grew very close.
Red Hawk and Morning Star gradually fell in love, lived a joyous life, and raised many children. Red Hawk had learned the importance of giving unselfishly, just as the earth does for its people.