The tribal council house was on the
south side, which made it necessary for those who lived on the north bank to make frequent
canoe trips to consult with their chief. Some complained about this, and to make it easier
for everybody to cross the rapid stream, Godasijo ordered a bridge to be built of saplings
and tree limbs carefully fastened together.
This bridge brought the tribe close
together again, and the people praised Godasijo for her wisdom. Not long after this, a
white dog appeared in the village, and Godasijo claimed it for her own. Everywhere the
chief went the dog followed her, and the people on the north side of the river became
jealous of the animal. They spread stories that the dog was possessed by an evil spirit
that would bring harm to the tribe.
One day a delegation from the north
bank crossed the bridge to the council house and demanded that Godasiyo kill the white
dog. When she refused to do so, the delegates returned to their side of the river, and
that night they destroyed the bridge. From that time the people on the north bank and
those on the south bank began to distrust each other. The tribe divided into two factions,
one renouncing Godasiyo as their chief, the other supporting her.
Bad feelings between them grew so
deep that Godasiyo foresaw that the next step would surely lead to fighting and war.
Hoping to avoid bloodshed, she called all members of the tribe who supported her to a
meeting in the council house. "Our people," she said, "are divided by more
than a river. No longer is there goodwill and contentment among us. Not wishing to see
brother fight against brother, I propose that those who recognize me as their chief follow
me westward up the great river to build a new village." Everyone who attended the
council meeting agreed to follow Godasiyo westward.
In preparation for the migration,
they built many canoes of birch bark. Two young men who had been friendly rivals in canoe
races volunteered to construct a special water craft for their chief. With strong poles
they fastened two large canoes together and then built a platform which extended over the
canoes and the space between them. Upon this platform was a seat for Godasiyo and places
to store her clothing, extra leggings, belts, robes, moccasins, mantles, caps, awls,
needles and adornments.
At last everything was ready.
Godasiyo took her seat on the platform with the white dog beside her, and the two young
men who had built the craft began paddling the double canoes beneath. Behind them the
chief's followers and defenders launched their own canoes which contained all their
belongings. This flotilla of canoes covered the shining waters as far as anyone could see
up and down the river.
After they had paddled a long
distance, they came to a fork in the river. Godasiyo ordered the two young canoeists to
stop in the middle of the river until the others caught up with them. In a few minutes the
flotilla was divided, half of the canoes on her left, the others on her right. The chief
and the people on each side of her began to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of
the two forks in the river. Some wanted to go one way, some preferred the other way. The
arguments grew heated with anger.
Godasiyo said that she would take
whichever fork her people chose, but they could agree on neither. Finally those on the
right turned the prows of their canoes up the right channel, while those on the left began
paddling up the left channel. And so the tribe began to separate. When this movement
started, the two young men paddling the two canoes carrying Godasiyo's float disagreed as
to which fork they should take, and they fell into a violent quarrel.
The canoeist on the right thrust his
paddle into the water and started toward the right, and at the same time the one on the
left swung his canoe toward the left. Suddenly Godasiyo's platform slipped off its
supports and collapsed into the river, carrying her with it. Hearing the loud splash, the
people on both sides turned their canoes around and tried to rescue their beloved chief.
She and the white dog, the platform, and all her belongings had sunk to the bottom, and
they could see nothing but fish swimming in the clear waters.
Dismayed by this tragic happening,
the people of the two divisions began to try to talk to each other, but even though they
shouted words back and forth, those on the right could not understand the people on the
left, and those on the left could not understand the people on the right. When Godasiyo
drowned in the great river her people's language had become changed.
This was how it was that the Indians
were divided into many tribes spreading across America, each of them speaking a different