Hangman Graves





“It was in my grandfather’s grandfather’s time that our tribe’s greatest healer was born. She had been born with her face still covered by her mother’s birthing and taught in the ways of the Baynoh Dahn-Tay; the ghost people. It was said that those born with the life of the womb still covering their eyes could walk with the ancestors. But I didn’t bring you here to listen to her story, grandson. I have come to tell you of our ancestor’s ancestors, and how our people met the Baynoh Dahn-Tay.

“Long ago, before the time of the tribe’s great healer, the figure of a man appeared to the wise men. Not knowing who this man was that had appeared at the center of our village, the old men called to the warriors, but none could lay a hand on this mysterious figure, for his body was not there. He was a spirit who had become lost after a great storm had ripped through the spirit world, and he had been flung far from home. He was the first of the Baynoh Dahn-Tay to meet our people.

“The wise men knew this spirit’s arrival was a test of the Mihtohseeniaki by Father Crane, and sought to help the ghost-man return home. They called upon many spirits to aid the man, but none knew the path to where the man had come. As each day passed, the man-spirit grew weaker and sickened. Finally, the wise men called upon Father Crane himself to seek his wisdom. ‘How may we send the man-ghost back?’ they asked Father Crane, pleading.

“‘It was through a path of shadows that the pale man came to you,’ replied the great Crane, ‘And it is through a path of shadows that he must return.’ With that, Father Crane took the offerings of the wise men and returned to the spirit world. Weeping, the ghost-man vanished to wherever his spirit took rest, for he knew – as did the wise men – that the spirits of shadows were tricksters who loved secrets above all else, but like the Baynoh Dahn-Tay, they also walked with the ancestors.

“It is said that many of the Crane’s people suffered from what followed that night. The tribe gathered together, each one sharing a secret with only one of the elders so that the shadows might be summoned to help the man. It was not the suffering of the body from hunger or sickness, as you may think, my grandson, but a suffering of the heart. Many of our people later learned the secrets told to the wise man, and many felt betrayed by their closest kin. But they were Mihtohseeniaki as we are, and they survived it.

“When the shadows were called from the forests, the offering was made and the spirits accepted the agreement readily. The man-spirit was lead away from our people, and the wise men were relieved. It is said that the people’s joy walked away with the man-spirit, but it was long ago and even the ancestors refuse to speak of it now. It has also been said that it was this pact that forced the night spirits from their walk with the ancestors, and that this is why the secrets of our people were whispered to one another as we slept, but such claims can never be made certain.

“Many years later, the man-spirit returned and told us of his people, the Baynoh Dahn-Tay. Soon, the spirit was visiting often, and the wise men learned much of the ways of walking with the ancestors, just as the man-spirit learned of the magic of Father Crane’s people. There were few in the passing generations of our people from then to now who bore the mark of the ghost people, the great healer woman among them. They have always shown themselves to be great workers of medicine, and all have learned to walk among the ancestors when it was their time to do so.

“This is why I tell you this, for you are as the great healing woman was; your eyes covered in your mother’s birthing as you came into this world. You are of Father Crane’s people, but you must also learn to walk as one of the ghost people. The time has come to teach you, as I was taught long ago. Your birth is an omen, grandson; great change is upon us.”

-Broken Feather to Chasing Shadows in his 6th summer.