Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
The Best Daughter
This is a story told by the northernmost Balazarings who harvest wild rice from the shores of the Elf Sea. This story was collected by a Irripi Ontor scholar who studied the area which accounts for the annotations.
You know that the Wild Mother1, She who we honor so that She will not take notice of us has, many, many animal daughters. There is the bison daughter, the hare daughter, the squirrel daughter2 who we also hope does not notice us yet always does, the grass snake daughter, the eagle daughter, etc. You also know that she has many plant daughters as well, the beechnut daughter, the cattail daughter, etc.3. The people who live in the high places4 love best the grain daughter but we are the only Balazarings who know the best daughter, the Rice Daughter.
All of the daughters require that we take something from them in order to live. The animal daughters' children we slay, saying prayers of thanksfulness to them before, during and after the act of slaying them. The plant daughters we also pray to before, during and after we harvest them. Some we must kill to benefit from, like the garlic daughter, others we must pick the fruit and nuts from, in order to eat. The people from the high places must go out into the fields and bend their backs in toil, using sharp knives to cut the heads from the grain daughters' children. This is hard work for them and they cry while they do it as they mourn the death of the grain daughters' children. And their tears soak into the Wild Mother's breast as an offering and every year she hears their sacrifice and the grain daughter is allowed to let her children come back. So they are glad but the work is still hard.
The Rice Daughter is the best daughter though as we do not cry when we harvest her bounty. We take our boats5 and we take our baskets and sticks and we row out onto the Mother of Waters5and we sing songs of praise to the Rice Daughter as bending them over our baskets we beat her children so that the ripe grain falls into them. And so we are fed and we are thankful and we do not have to kill the Rice Daughter's children in order to eat and we do not have to work so hard to harvest their bounty as do the people in the high places. And every year her children bear us their grain, grateful that we only beat them instead of having to cut their heads off. And that my children is why the Rice Daughter is the best daughter.
3. Traditionally the storyteller goes on and on until he or she runs out of daughters. In one telling I heard the list went on for the length of time it took a log the thickness of my wrist to burn through. I have shortened the list here for brevity's sake.
Last updated September 26, 2016
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