Gyasi Ross: Roles of tribal leaders and citizens
"A strong man, whose name roughly translated into English was “Smashes Rock,” led his village, named “Little Tree,” with a firm hand. Little Tree was prosperous and safe, even though they were a small group – approximately 150 adults and many children. Despite their small size, Little Tree hadn’t been involved in a major battle or lean time during Smashes Rock’s entire tenure as leader.

Smashes Rock was credited with creating peace. Prior to Smashes Rock’s reign, Little Tree fought a series of bloody battles against a neighboring band and suffered many deaths and casualties. On the verge of total loss, Little Tree’s former leader and many others had their throats slashed and noses cut off in the battle. Smashes Rock fought bravely, but saw the battles would inevitably end with every Little Tree citizen getting killed. Therefore, when the former leader was killed and Smashes Rock took over, he was able to come to a treaty with the opposition and stop the massive bloodshed.

The villagers appreciated Smashes Rock for creating peace – he literally stopped the village’s bleeding and ensured a peaceful future. In addition, they loved his bravery and work ethic; Smashes Rock was a “hands-on” leader and labored hard during the day with the rest of the men. He hunted, fished, helped maintain the camp and discipline the children. Naturally, there were some that felt the people in the village worked too hard – that Smashes Rock was somewhat of a taskmaster. Still, no one really complained because Smashes Rock was right beside them, sweaty, tired and working hard. And the village always had enough food, even in the coldest, harshest winters.

Smashes Rock’s people did not always understand his ways. He preferred solitude when he was not working; he usually stayed in his own camp with his family, where some of his close associates and relatives would come over. Whenever the seasons changed, he invited members of neighboring bands to come over for a dinner and songs, and it seemed as if they always had good times together. His fellow villagers did not like seeing him eat with the leaders of the bands that Little Tree warred with for so long. Still, they overlooked his relationships because he did such a fine job making sure their children were always safe and fed."

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: Storytime (Indian Country Today 10/19)

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