Written by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson
Long ago, there was a young man
named White Hawk who always
returned home from his hunt with
an abundant stock. He was the
most skilled hunter in his tribe.
He boasted that he did not fear
even the darkest edges of the
forest. He claimed there wasn’t a
single track he could not follow,
not a birdcall he didn’t
One day, he walked so deep into
the forest that he reached a spot
no one in his tribe had visited. He
was at the edge of a great plain,
and he walked on. After a long
while, he came to a place where a
circle was carved into the grass.
But there were no footsteps
leading to or from the circle.
White Hawk was curious, and he
decided to hide and wait to see
who had made the circle. He
thought it must be magical birds.
Sure enough, just before sunset, he
heard music drifting from the sky.
He looked up expecting birds, but
for a long time he saw nothing.
Then he noticed a speck moving
closer, and soon he saw that speck
was a basket holding 12 beautiful
maidens, all sisters.
He could not believe his eyes —
they were lovelier than anyone he
had ever seen. He watched as the
basket touched the ground, and
the women leaped into the ring
and began to dance around the
circle. White Hawk was
mesmerized, especially by the
After many hours, he could no
longer resist trying to approach
her. He rushed from his hiding
place and reached out to her, but
as he did, the sisters leaped into
the basket and floated back into
White Hawk slowly made the long
journey home, but for days after
that, he could not stop thinking of
what he had seen. No longer did
he enjoy the hunt. No longer did
he tell stories to his fellow hunters
or flirt with the women. He could
think only of those women in the
He decided he must return. This
time he disguised himself in the
form of a possum, so the maidens
would not notice him. When the
basket returned to Earth, and the
sisters leaped out and began to
dance, he sat and stared. In his
disguise, he crept closer. But once
again, when he reached the ring,
the sisters saw him, leaped into
the basket and began to float
He heard them speaking to each
other. “Maybe he only wants to
learn our games,” one of the
sisters said, but the others
disagreed and insisted they must
leave, and so the basket drifted
into the sky.
White Hawk returned to his own
form and walked home, but the
next day he returned, and as he
sat waiting and thinking, he
noticed a number of mice running
near a tree stump. He carried the
stump near to the ring and turned
himself into a mouse.
When the sisters appeared, one of
them noticed the stump. “That
wasn’t here yesterday,” she said,
and she began to race toward the
basket. But the others were
curious, and so they gathered
around the stump and began to
tap upon it. When they did, the
mice ran out, and one of those
mice was White Hawk.
The sisters began to beat the mice
with their sticks. Just as he was
about to be struck, White Hawk
turned back into himself and
reached out again for the youngest
The others raced away, and the
basket rose into the sky.
But White Hawk’s beloved did not
get away, and as he professed his
love for her, she agreed she would
stay with him. He was handsome,
and he was kind, and although
she could not imagine life on
Earth, she finally agreed to be his
Never had anyone seen a man so
happy as the day White Hawk and
his bride returned to his lodge.
The young maiden learned to love
her husband, and the seasons
passed. Then, in summer, she gave
birth to a beautiful boy.
She loved her new family, but she
always knew she was one of the
stars. Some nights she wept with
longing for her old home in the
sky. One day when White Hawk
was away hunting, she began to
make a wicker basket much like
the one she and her sisters had.
When she had finished her basket,
she began to collect special gifts
that might please her father —
foods and rocks, plants and gems.
One day when her husband was
away, she carried her son in the
basket all the way to the great
plain. There she placed the basket
in the center of the ring and
climbed in. She began to sing, and
the basket began to rise.
Suddenly, from deep in the forest,
White Hawk heard his wife’s
voice, and he ran toward the ring,
but he was too late. He saw them
as they ascended into the sky, so
far away he could barely see
them. He lay down and wept.
Time passed, and in that time,
White Hawk could not eat or
sleep. All his joy was gone. Then
one day, he heard his wife’s voice
again, and he ran as fast as he
could to the enchanted circle.
There, he watched as his wife and
son drifted back to Earth. Almost
before they touched down, he was
there — embracing them.
“My father sent me,” she said. “He
says if you bring one of each kind
of bird and animal, you may live
with us in the sky.”
White Hawk did not wait. He
began to hunt, searching for every
kind of bird and animal he could
find. He collected their tails and
wings, and when he had collected
them all, he and his wife and child
floated up to the sky.
The Star Chief invited everyone to
admire the gifts of Earth, and
White Hawk offered up his gifts.
Some star people chose a wing;
some chose a tail. The star people
who chose a tail became animals
and ran away. The others became
birds and flew away.
White Hawk chose the feathers of
a white hawk, one for his wife,
one for his son. They turned into
white hawks and descended back
to Earth where they lived together
in harmony, lovers of land and
Written by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson