The first toys that children played with were almost certainly the stick, the stone, the insect or pond of water, etc. And through those thousands of years until today, we still find those toys to have endless value. Their simplicity. Their part of our life. All draws us to them. However, there are times when any toy or item can become too valuable to us, be it young or old. This simple and true story I love. It demonstrates the dangers of "Ownership". Since Native folks of former times did not really "Own" things, this story takes on particular meaning. They of course believed that God owned their land, their clothing, their canoes, and of course - The Grasshopper.
This story was sent to us by a trusted source. He is Eagle, Sub-Chief of the Shawnee Nation URB. We at Faire Tyme Toys owe him many thanks for his contributions to help us with this area of our web site!
The Grasshopper War
In the east a very long time ago there were 2 Lanape Indian Villages very close to each other separated only by a small shallow river. The two villages got along very well with each other and the warriors hunted together, the woman worked in the fields and cooked together and the children played together.
One day one of the children from the other village across the river found a very large beautiful grasshopper. It was a fine specimen of an insect and he was very proud of it. The other children gathered round and they all agreed that the grasshopper was the biggest and most beautiful they had ever seen.
Another boy from the other village who was gathered around looking at the magnificent grasshopper became jealous and angry that the grasshopper was not his. He thought to himself .... that grasshopper was found on my village's land so it rightfully belongs to the families in my village so he took the grasshopper from the boy who found it. The two exchanged words and before long all the children were fighting each other. The woman of both villages heard the loud screams and hollering and went to investigate. They saw their children fighting each other.
They yelled for the children to stop....but they didn't listen ..... they kept fighting. Now the mothers of the children were getting aggravated seeing their children being hit and kicked. Now the women started fighting with one another. The fracas lasted for a while until they wore themselves out fighting.
The men soon after returned to the villages from hunting and found their women and children bloody, bruised and worn out. They first thought that one of the other tribes they were not friendly with came and attacked their villages while the men were out hunting but the women told the story as they knew it.
This now angered the men of the villages and both village Chiefs swore that they would never be friendly with one another again.
For many years the two villages stayed away from each other and didn't even look at each other if they happened along the river at the same time.
As with some things time heals wounds. Especially since there was no one killed in the "Grass Hopper War". One day one of the warriors said.. "I have had enough of this foolishness. I had long time friends and brothers just across that river and I intend to see them again. Once the two villages started talking again neither one could remember what started the fighting until one of the children, now a young warrior, reminded the elders what had happened that day.
From that time on both villages and all the people always got along and never let themselves get caught up in their children's quarrels.
Now I have heard and read various versions of this story where there were many hundreds of people killed in the war and that the two tribes always hated each other but I don't think that fits to well with the culture, the people not the need to keep everyone alive that they could as they were having a hard enough time doing that due the the colonial people pushing west and well... you know the rest.
End of Quote from Eagle