The Indians believe that the secret of happiness comes from giving to others.
Many, many moons ago when the Great Spirit first put man on the earth, man
was frightened. “Where will I find food and water?” he asked. The trees laughed
softly. “We are your brothers,” they said. “We will help you.”
The maple tree spoke up: “I will give you sweet water to drink and make into
sugar.” The elm tree said, “Use my soft bark to make your baskets and tie them
together with my tough muscles.” The hickory tree said, “My cousins and I will fill
your baskets with sweet nuts.” And he called the chestnut, beech, and walnut to
help him. The great pine tree whispered softly, “When you get tired, little brother,
I will make you a bed. My cousins the balsam and cedar will help me.”
There was sunshine in man’s heart as he set out to explore his new world. But
soon he came to a deep, wide river. “How will I ever cross the river?” man
asked. The trees laughed and laughed. “Take my white skin,” said the birch.
“Sew it together with the muscles of the elm tree and you can make a boat that
will carry you across the widest river.”
When he sun crossed the sky to his lodge in the west, man felt cold. Then the
balsam fir tree whispered to him, “Little brother, there is much sunfire in my
heart. Rub my branches together and you will make a fire.” So man made fire.
And that night he slept soundly on the branches of the great pine tree. The north
wind blew cold, but there was sunshine in the heart of man.
Now when Indian children ask how they can repay their friends, the trees, a wise
man answers, “They do not ask for payment. But you can give them care and
attention. You can give lose and care to every plant and flower that makes your