Artist Kelly J
My people love nature and live close to it. We call the redheaded woodpecker the signal bird. If it pecks on the house or a tree near the house that is a signal danger is near and we must use precaution. Should a signal bird fly in front of one who has started on a trip, he knows danger lies ahead and he should return home. When Josephine was little, she lived with her grandmother. She was always happy when she could go to see her mother. One morning soon after they had started, the signal bird flew in front of them.
“No, no! We must not go on. There is danger!” suddenly cried the grandmother.
“But we have just started! Why must we go back?” asked Josephine.
“Didn’t you see the signal bird fly in front of us? We must not go on!”
“I want to see my mother. I do not want to stay!” protested Josephine.
“We cannot ignore the bird’s warning,” her grandmother said firmly.
Josephine was so angry, when she got home, she took the blowgun her grandfather used, and went out to find the signal bird. Soon she saw him and blew an arrow at him. It caught his wing and he fluttered to the ground. Josephine ran and picked him up. After she removed the arrow, she held him so he could not get away. She took him to her grandmother. “Here, Grandmother, is the signal bird that flew in front of us,” she said as she opened her hands.
“Oh, Josephine, why did you do this?” scolded her grandmother when she saw the dead bird.
“I did not mean to kill him but I am not sorry,” she said stubbornly.
“He was warning us of danger. You should not have killed him!”
“He would not let me see my mother! I did not like him!”
At that moment her grandfather came in to the house.
“The river is up; you do not go today! It is so swift you could not cross,” he explained.
“Do you understand now, Josephine?
We might have been drowned if the signal bird had not stopped us.”
Josephine could say nothing but a tear rolled down her cheek.
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