The village was suffering from a devastating plague. None of the people’s prayers, rituals, or medicines was powerful enough to stop the illness. A young man, Nekumonta, having watched helplessly as loved ones died, now saw his wife struggle to breathe. He knew her only chance to survive lay in his finding the water that nourished the healing herbs the Great Manitou had planted.
He left on a cold morning, walking as fast as he could, taking no time to eat or drink. Every time he encountered an animal he asked, “Can you tell me where to find the water nourished by the healing herbs planted by the Great Manitou.”
Each animal reluctantly said no. Three days and nights passed. Too tired to go any further he lay down on the frozen earth. While he slept, animals gathered around him, warming him with their breaths, remembering how kind he’d been to them. They begged the Great Manitou to help him.
As Nekumonta slept he dreamed his wife was alive, singing a sweet song that sounded like water falling. When he woke, he continued to hear the sound and looked everywhere but could find no water. Suddenly he realized the sound was coming from beneath him. Digging frantically with a strong branch, he uncovered a spring. He jumped into the hole he’d dug and soon felt refreshed and energized after bathing in the water. He made a small jar out of clay and baked it in the fire until it was hard enough to hold the healing water.
Moving as fast as he could, without spilling any of the precious water, he arrived to find his wife barely breathing. Dipping his finger into the water, he wet her lips, then washed her face until she fell into a peaceful sleep. When she awoke she had fully recovered.
Other members of Nekumonta’s tribe followed in his footsteps, bringing back the healing water, eventually riding the village of the plague. For the rest of his life, Nekumonta was known as the Chief of the Healing Water.
August 2023 Stories (click to read)
Wit and wisdom from around the world and through the ages. Tales by Nancy King.