Law 6, You must not commit murder (Laws of Life, North American Indian Tradition) for 10 years old to adult

A story from Calling Horse

You must nor commit murder

When I was a young man and had performed my initiation into adulthood, I was one of number of young braves who learnt together and who went through the rites and ceremonies together. We were a happy band with one exception. There was a young man who always seemed to have a cloud hanging over him. He came from a family which had lost their father . Their mother had had to bring up the children herself and had not had any support from a man. She had four young sons who used to argue a great deal and jostle for position in the family. Three of them were similar in age, two of them were twins, and the cloudy brave was one year younger. He always felt aggrieved that the twins seemed to have all the power in his household, and he had none.

One day the twins had gone hunting and had come back with nothing. Dark Water had managed to catch a small deer by himself. They had stolen it from him and had taken it as their quarry to show their mother, She always sided with them, and insulted our cloudy brave. He was mortally offended.

Dark Water went away to brood on his hatred. He disappeared for several days. His brothers felt guilty about what had happened and after much questioning from their mother, they admitted what they had done. Their mother turned pale.
“How could you treat your brother thus? This is not the way of the Great Spirit, to steal his glory to cover up your own failure. Shame! Go and find him, and don’t come back until you do.”

The twins set off to look for Dark Water. Their hearts were heavy, they knew he was a deeply resentful character. They wondered about their own safety. Perhaps he would kill one or both of them when he saw them. They realised that over the years they had given him enough cause for resentment, and now finally they had begun to regret it.
“But surely our brother would never kill us!” said one.

 “Why not? He has nothing to lose if he has decided to leave the tribe anyway.”
“Do you really think he would?”
“I would not blame him if he did.We have dishonoured him. We have cheated him.”
“When we see him how are we going to know what is in his heart?”

“Whatever it is it will not be good.”

“Do you think we should kill him first, so that he cannot kills us?”

“Well, it would solve the problem.  He would not come back and brood and threaten us like he always does.”

“But what if he does not plan to kill us and we kill him?”

“Then we will have to pay the penalty to the Great Spirit.”

The two continued in this vein as they traversed the countryside. No sign was to be seen of their brother. Further and further they went, looking for foot prints, for campfires, for signs of blood from a killing. They found nothing.
They decided to return, their fear beginning to lessen. Perhaps they would not have to face this dreadful decision to kill or be killed. They returned to camp. The twins found their mother very distraught.

“I have had a terrible dream.” she said. “I dreamt that you two killed your brother and returned, saying nothing to me. Then you went off on a hunting expedition, and you were both shot by the hunters’ arrows. What does all this mean? We must ask the chief.” The little family went to the chief and explained shamefacedly what had happened. The twins did not divulge their conversation about killing their brother. They were by now very frightened young men.

The chief sat quietly for some minutes with his eyes closed. Finally, “Yes,” he said, “I can see your brother. He is hiding in a tree just outside the camp. His heart is full of sorrow. He does not want to return to a loveless home where he is not appreciated, but he does not want to leave the tribe. What are you going to do about it?”  He looked directly at the twins.  They hung their heads in shame, greatly relieved that they had not actually killed their brother, and that their mother’s vision had only been a dream. They were very glad of the chance to make amends.

He is hiding in a tree just outside the camp

The family walked round the camp, calling their brother encouraging him to appear. Finally he emerged looking tired and drawn.
His mother enfolded him in her arms and begged forgiveness for neglecting him and for indulging the twins. The twins handed him their best weapons, a beautiful bow and a tomahawk, in recompense for their bad treatment of him. The youngest boy, just a child, held his brother’s hand as they all returned to the camp. The Great Spirit had saved them from the abomination of committing murder; never again did they harbour such black thoughts in their hearts.


There was no controversy amongst those who knew it was wrong to kill any one you knew, but when it came to territorial struggles, or power struggles with other tribes, and blood was shed, who was in the right? Was ‘might’ right, or did the ‘ meek inherit the earth’? Of course we did not have your Bible, or your way of doing things. Might, in general, was right, but most tribes were not pugnacious. They were peace loving and respected the lives of all people whether they were of their own tribe or not.

Honour and obey your father and mother, from North American Indian tradition,for age 10 – adult

Honour your Father and Mother

Story for Law 5: Honour and obey your father and mother ( given to me in meditation by  Calling Horse)

This law was necessary to keep the social fabric of the tribe intact.If people showed respect for their parents, it would make for a peaceful non-argumentative society.One’s place in the pecking order was known, and within in the family at least, one did not have to fight for it.When the old folks became unable to look after themselves (not a very frequent occurrence in my time) their offspring wouId care for them. This made it imperative for people to have a partner and a family as an insurance for care in old age.

In my tribe families were headed by the father, or the grandfather. If the grandfather was alive then it would be his say which would be final on any major decision. However there were many, many decisions to be made and frequently the grandfather would hand over his authority for most, if not all decisions to his son, or his son ‘in law’.

There was once a big meeting about to be held. This was a meeting with a tribe which we frequently encountered and with which we were very friendly. Many of our families had intermarried and so in a sense the tribe had become quite mixed. However, each tribe did maintain its different customs as in each there was definitely a preponderance of the original tribe. On this occasion the meeting was concerning the matter of buffalo. It had been noticed that the herds seemed to be moving away from the area and the chiefs wanted to discuss the reasons why. They were very concerned about this since the buffalos were our main source of meat. A pow wow was held. It was decided that we should host the meeting and our tribe had therefore to prepare food and also make available bedding and bed space for the night. We set up a number of extra teepees for the visitors. We had to find more quarry than usual on our hunting expedition. This was rather a difficult task, because there was never any telling how much would be caught and we would always have fat days and lean days. However, this had to be a fat day; we had to make it so. I remember my father saying we should look in the direction of the hills for a good kill. I favoured another source of quarry. However father’s word was the law, so I obeyed him and went off with a group of 4 young braves to see what we could find. We were indeed fortunate. We caught two deer, large ones. Another group of hunters came back with some small animals, so we were well provided for. I asked my father if he had seen the animals in the area.

“No,” was his reply, “But I did ask the Great Spirit to show me where to send you hunting and he showed me that hill in my dream last night.”

Father asked the Great Spirit to show him good hunting grounds

Father asked the Great Spirit to show him good hunting grounds

Father had been right again. He was not always right, but it was always our custom to accept what our parents told us, so we did. Another little incident occurred at the time of the pow wow when my father was quite definitely not right. We had all gathered around to make the initial greeting to the visitors. My father had asked all of his family to be there, even my little sister who was not known for her quiet nature. She was a very talkative little girl and rather disobedient, but she was so pretty that everyone always indulged her. So there she was sitting at my mother’s feet, chattering away, when the chief was trying to have a polite and serious conversation for all to hear with the chief from the visiting tribe. My sister was describing the visiting chief to my mother in a very loud voice.

‘Mother.” she said, “Chief Running Deer looks very funny. He doesn’t have many feathers in his head dress. I don’t think he can be as important as our chief!”
My father winced and turned round to mother.

“You were right,” he whispered, take her away, she’ll get us into trouble.” He winked. Mother nodded and smiled and, holding my sister’s hand she led her away out of earshot.Father relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the meeting. Afterwards he asked us why no-one had reminded him of why he should not have had my little sister at the pow wow. “You’re the boss,” said my elder brother, “You always know best so we did what you asked, although we thought it was not such a good idea ourselves.”

”It is true,” said Father “that although I am not infallible, I am usually right, but please do not hesitate to correct me if you are sure that I am wrong!”

“Who can ever be sure about Yellow Fire, our sister? She is always taking us by surprise.” replied my brother, as Yellow Fire
pummelled him with her fists.

‘Well, I’m not going to marry anyone in their tribe.” said my sister, “I like chiefs with lots and lots of feathers and paint like they have in our tribe.”That was her last word on the subject.


Clowning Around (story for kids 8 -13 about teasing, sulking, attention seeking)

Clowning Around

Hello.  I work in a circus.  I am a clown.  My name is Amigo.  Funny name? Well, it means ‘friend’.  You can think of me as your friend.  I have been working in the circus since I was five years old.  My parents owned the circus.  My father was a ring master and my mother rode the beautiful white ponies. She was an acrobat too. When I came along my parents used to put me in the pram at the edge of the ring while they did the show. When I could I used to sit up and watch them perform. As soon as I was old enough I started to learn how to make people laugh. I loved to hear the audience laugh at our clowns in the circus. I loved to see people smile and clap their hands. I would clap my hands too and bounce up and down in my pram. As I got a bit older, maybe two years old, I looked round at the audience and I noticed that some of them were watching me bouncing up and down, laughing and clapping my hands. They would smile even more when they saw me enjoying myself. I started to play a game with the people nearby. I would throw my rag doll out of the pram, someone would fetch it for me and I would smack it and then hug it tightly to my chest. People would laugh so I would do it all over again.

My parents realized that the audience loved seeing such a young child doing funny things so they included me in on one of their acts. Even though I was very small, I could make people laugh. There was a bit of a problem though, which was that I didn’t know when to stop! I liked the laughter so much that I wanted it to go on and on. Then people got fed up and bored and looked away. That really used to upset me, when people stopped paying attention to me and started looking at someone else. I used to get cross and start to cry. Well, you can’t have a crying child in the big top now, can you? So my father decided to solve the problem by making a big thing of me for just a couple of minutes and while everyone was still laughing I was taken away from the ring before I had started to cry and sulk.

As I got older I learnt that it’s good to make people laugh but that other people need attention too; perhaps they want to make people laugh or perhaps they just want someone to listen to what they have to say. I learnt to let other people have a say too. I learnt to listen to what they had to say.

By the time I was five I could ride the ponies quite well. That is unusual in the ordinary world. Girls of five do not do that. Ah! You thought I was a boy? Well I dress up as a clown and paint my face and wear a silly hat. I try to walk like a man so they all think I am a man. I don’t speak in my act, I just do surprising things which make people laugh and which usually make me look silly. Sometimes I do things which make the other clowns look silly, but they don’t mind me teasing them, it’s all part of the act.

I am careful when I am not being a clown not to tease and annoy people. I can pretend to sulk when I am in the ring, but nobody in the real world wants a teasing, sulking friend. If you do it just occasionally it’s OK but if you do it a lot people get really fed up. I had a friend like that once. She was always teasing me, always pretending this or that, and when I got cross she’d say, ‘I was only winding you up, can’t you take a joke?’ Then she’d go off and sulk and would not speak to me. I told my parents about her and they said:

“Why bother with her if she can’t be a good friend?”

It was a shame as she was the same age as me and we could have had a good time playing. But she would not change, so I didn’t bother with her any more. In the circus we have to try to get on with everyone. People have to make an effort not to be selfish and to work as a team.

I hope I shall be in my circus team for a good long time.

Ooops, sorry, did I just stand on your toes? I didn’t mean to honestly…


Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

When people stop paying attention to you, what do you do?

What do you do to get attention.

Is that OK? Would it be a good thing if everyone did that?

Do you ever sulk, if so can you think of a better way of dealing with the problem?

Do you tease people? Does it annoy them?

Do people tease you? How does it make you feel?

Can you tell the difference between ‘fun teasing’, when everyone can laugh, and unkind or annoying teasing, when someone gets fed up or angry?

Can teasing be like bullying sometimes? Do you ever do that, if so do you like it when someone does it to you?

Does your answer help you to see that we should not do things to people that we don’t like being done to ourselves?


Keep the feasts, learn the dances, respect the taboos. Law No.4 (a story about Traditions of North American Indians)

This story is told in the modern idiom by an ancient  guide named ‘Calling Horse’ who came to me in meditation to explain in story the codes of conduct of his tribe. This is Law Number Four, about keeping the feasts, learning the dances and respecting the taboos of the tribe.

First some information from Calling Horse:

Feasts were of great importance to the Native American. That is what you call us these days is it not? We would celebrate with great enthusiasm those events mentioned in my story. Being social events they held the tribe together. People could meet and talk, with no distractions of work needing to be done. People could make up their quarrels in the camaraderie of the dance. Their hearts would be warmed by all the activity and hard attitudes would soften. Feasts were also a good time for young people to see and meet each other. They broke up what would otherwise have been a very hard life, filled with work, the work of staying alive.
The dances were an important part of our tradition. They conveyed the meaning of things which were very important to us in our lives and gave expression to them. Complicated rhythms would be developed, enabling people to feel the vibrations of the music in their bodies. This would sometimes prepare them for a task, or add to the celebration of a particular event. The story of the tribe was held in the dances. They were very sacred to us. The taboos enabled us to conduct ourselves in acceptable ways, where every one knew quite clearly what could or could not be done or said. Likewise the customs gave us a framework for our lives. Customs surrounding birth, death and initiation into manhood and so on all played an important part in the development of the tribe and its members.

My tribe, the Magi, was a small tribe which disappeared many years ago.
We all had our different customs and sometimes tribes would merge and take on the identity of a neighbouring tribe as well as their own.
The Magi Tribe joined forces with the Seeni Tribe and the two of them pooled their customs, threw out a few old practices and took on the best aspects of each other’s traditions.
As each child grew up it would be educated in the ways of the tribe. When the two tribes merged, it was obvious that there would be a little rivalry between the children of the two tribes, each vying with their opposites to show that their way was best.
There was a ceremony which took place at the end of the hunting season. This was to thank the Great Spirit for the bounty of the Earth. The animals had to be left in peace to breed for some months and we would only catch certain small animals at these times. However, just before this rather lean time there would be a great celebration. Meat would be roasted. Costumes would be prepared and all the traditional dances of the occasion would be practiced by the young ones, so that they knew what to do when the big event came.
At the time of the Great Joining of the two tribes, the children were trying to make sure that it was their dance which would be performed. It was decided that they should show each other what they could do. The ones which could last the longest without being tedious for the onlookers to watch, their dance would be deemed to be the best and would be adopted as the one for the new conjoined tribe. This led to great hilarity amongst the dancers because nobody wanted to be accused of being boring. They improvised all sorts of activities which were added to their traditional movements. Finally the elders said that they were all so good, it would be impossible to choose between them. So they would have to copy the elders…. The youngsters then watched a majestic performance depicting the chase and the slaughter of the deer, first by one tribe, then by the other. They were so similar that it was decided that either or both dances would be acceptable.
As to the question of taboos there were many of these in some tribes and very few in others. Some tribes used to forbid the taking of ‘fire water’, others tolerated it. Some tribes would not talk of their newly dead until a certain time had elapsed, believing that the dead soul needed every chance he could have to be judged fairly by the Great Spirit and if they gossiped and talked about the person, they might jeopardize a fair trial. There were taboos associated with birth. Usually the men were not allowed anywhere near the mother in labour and not until the child was seen to be healthy and ‘in good suck’ was the father allowed to see his offspring.
If two tribes conjoined, the chiefs would have to discuss their taboos in great detail to see if any changes needed to be made regarding what was acceptable and what was not. It rarely led to arguments but it could lead to unnecessary superstition.
Once I remember hearing about a certain group who believed that the new moon was a Goddess that had to be appeased and when she appeared the husbands were not allowed to sleep with their wives on that first night after her appearance. It they did, they lived in fear of her retribution. This led to all sorts of threats and cheating of course. Eventually it was abandoned by the tribe as the chief decided it caused more trouble than it was worth!
There were many feasts to be kept. The tribes enjoyed an excuse for a party. They loved to dress up in their feathers and their paint and dance the night away, as you say. There would be feasts to celebrate the initiation of the chief; this would be repeated every year until the old chief died and another replaced him. Then the timing of the event would be changed of course according to when the new chief was initiated. There would be feasts to celebrate the births of babies in families where there had been some difficulty in producing a child. There would be feasts in honour of the Sun and the Moon. Each tribe would have sacred animals which they considered to be God’s messengers and they would celebrate in the name of these animals.
They would celebrate if they had won a battle over another tribe, or if having moved camp they had found a really good new place to settle in. They would celebrate if they had a death of a great personage in the tribe knowing that he or she would now be with the Great Spirit, and they would make supplications to that person to put in a good word for the tribe and to ask for boons such as good hunting and good health.

Feasts and traditions

Feasts and traditions

dancing would go on all night long. People were allowed to retire if they became too tired and usually the young mothers and fathers would take their small offspring back home well before the celebrations had ended.
The next day was always a rest day. People were not expected to hunt or to fish after a feast. No clothes washing was done, nor any major preparing of food. The remains of the meat cooked on the fire the previous day would suffice. Every one felt pleasantly exhausted and would stumble around amiably. This was a vulnerable time for the tribes, as their enemies would know they could be overcome most easily at this time. Certain young warriors were supposed to have kept themselves on the alert, and would act as guards on the day after a feast, posting themselves well outside the camp, watching for any signs of warlike activity. Normally there would be no trouble, but in times of food shortage, hard winters or bad weather, tribes would chance their luck and try to raid another tribes’ food supply for example. So there were drawbacks as well as benefits to all those marvellous celebrations.