Tale of Texas Bluebonnets

In a time long, long ago, before the white man came and only the Indians roamed the land that would one day become Texas, a great drought fell upon the country. The Springs had been nothing but dust, the Summers parching heat. Only small brown leaves hung on the trees and the grass was little but dust in the Falls. The Winters were nothing but bitter cold and starvation for man and beast. Now it was time for Spring again, but no rains came and the drought persisted. Even the hardy buffalo were suffering with many nothing more now than bones on the prairie. The jack rabbits had all but disappeared and the coyotes were famished.

It was clear to The People that the Chief of All Spirits had turned his face away. Without stop, Medicine Men chanted incantations, danced to tom-toms, and covered themselves in dust. Warriors with knives cut their own flesh and spilled their blood upon the ground. The women and children hid and didn't speak. A great fear was upon all The People for they knew they must have done some great misdeed for the spirits to have turned against them so. They knew such a wrong must be atoned for and forgiven before the rains would come back and bring life to the world once again. The many tribes came together in a great council to listen to the medicine men to seek guidance.

After many days of dancing sacred dances and chanting sacred words, the oldest and strongest medicine man of them all went alone into his tepee to light a sacred fire, to breath the sacred smoke and to engage in a powerful vision quest. At last the Chief of All Spirits heard The People. Speaking through the medicine man, he instructed The People to make a burnt offering of their most prized possession and the ashes of the offering must be scattered to the four cardinal points of Mother Earth; the north, the south, the east and the west. Drought and famine would remain upon the land until such a sacrifice was made.

On the very outer edge of the assembled people that night was a little girl listening carefully to the words of the revered medicine man. As he finished speaking and The People dispersed, she said not a word, but she knew in her heart that she held tightly clasped in her hands the most valued possession among The People. 

It was a beautiful doll her mother had made and lovingly placed next to her on the cradle board the very day she had been born. Made of bleached buckskin, it was crafted in the image of an Indian princess. The eyes, nose, mouth, and ears were carefully painted on with the juice of the blackberry. The leggings were beaded with small pieces of polished bone and colored seeds. It had a belt made of wildcat teeth strung on twisted hair from a buffalo tail and upon its head was a bonnet made of the bright blue feathers of the crested Blue Jay. No mother could love their own child more than this little girl loved her blue-bonneted doll; no price could have tempted her to part with it. Her heart was heavy as she realized her most precious doll must also be the most valued possession of her people.

Later that night, the council fires burned out and the families retired to their tepees. The stars were twinkling, but there was no moon and in the dark, after the last lonesome wail of the coyote had fallen silent, the little girl lay on a blanket near the open flap. She hugged close the little doll and talked to it in almost silent whispers, speaking of her deep abiding love and how she would hold the doll in her heart for all time. Finally, when all was quiet except for the snores of the slumbering warriors and even the ever vigilant owls had closed their eyes in sleep, the little girl child silently rose from her bed and made her way on ever so quiet feet to the place of the council fire. There she spotted a stick of wood which still burned under the ashes and carefully holding it by the unburned end, made her way from the camp to the edge of a dried lake nearby.

Stopping beside some dead bushes, she prayed to the Chief of All Spirits that her offering would be acceptable. As tears streaked her little face, she gathered twigs from the bushes and lay them on the burning stick. With the small fire burning, she told the doll once more of her love, dried her eyes and with great resolve, thrust the doll headfirst into the flame. The smell of burning buckskin and feathers was strong, but there was no wind and the scent did not wake anybody. The little doll burned until eventually there was not a scrap left. The little girl gently scooped up the ashes and in the manner told by the medicine man, scattered the ashes to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west. She wanted to be near all that was left of her beloved doll so she lay down on the blanket she had brought with her, positioning her bed in the middle of the scattered ashes. It took what seemed to be a long time, but the little girl finally fell asleep.

Just before daylight, the girl awoke as she felt drops of water on her face. It was still too dark to see well so she turned over and felt on the ground around her. Against her fingers  she felt something as soft as the feathers of the bonnet on her doll. Then she smelled something she had never smelled before, a new sweet fragrance that somehow raised her spirits and made her feel good. 

She jumped up and ran to her family's tepee, "Oh Mother, come, please come!" Without a word, her mother arose and took her daughter's hand. As they stepped out, the mother was surprised to feel a light rain falling upon them, yet on the horizon, shining through a break in the clouds was the sun's rays signalling a new day's beginning. The child led her mother to the dried up lake where puddles of water were already beginning to form. There, all around the bushes where she had scattered the doll ashes, was a blue as intense as indigo and under that layer was another layer of blue as soft and shining as any spring-fresh feather of the bird which cries, "jay, jay, jay!" The little blue flowers were so thick they almost hid the small green leaves of the plant.

The little girl told her mother of her sacrifice and her mother told her daddy and her daddy told the men of the council. Soon, all of The People came in the rain to see the miracle. The medicine man proclaimed it to be a sure sign.

For the next three days and nights the gentle rains fell and for the rest of the Spring and Summer, warm rains fell as before. Trees and bushes sprouted leaves. The grass grew green and thick. Birds sang and built nests. Game animals came back and grew fat. While the men hunted, the women planted corn and pumpkins and everything that was planted grew. All of The People were happy and grew plump in preparation for the lean months of the coming winter. The men sat around campfires at night and the women sat behind them as they told wonderful stories of the little girl and her sacrifice.

Soon after the Chief of all Spirits had accepted her offering, the medicine man called together all of The People. He announced the little child who until then had not been given a name, would thereafter be called, "One-Who-Dearly-Loves-Her-People." Every day, she would go to the field of beautiful blue flowers which had come in exchange for her doll with the blue-feathered bonnet. She saw the flowers develop little pods of seeds and then the little green leaves and the stalks turned brown. She still came every day and eventually saw the dried seed pods twist and with a little crack, open and shoot out their seeds. 

Today, in the spring of the new year when the mockingbird begins singing in the moonlight, bluebonnets line the roads and grow in profusion in the pastures making the landscape of Texas unique and truly beautiful. And those who know how this came to be remember in their hearts a special little girl who made a great sacrifice, One-Who-Dearly-Loves-Her-People.