“Great Spirit,” they implored, “our land is dying and our people are dying. How have we angered you? Bring an end to this drought and save your people, for soon there will be nothing left alive.”
And so they prayed, and they danced. They waited, and they prayed, but no rain came. And the little ones and the old one suffered, and no one knew how to end the suffering.
But there was one small girl who had not yet died of hunger. Her name was She-Who-Is-Alone. Sitting alone, she watched her people pray and dance, and she held her beloved doll in her arms. The doll was her intimate companion, her second self, dressed in its warrior clothing, with a bone belt and beaded leggings, and bearing the feathers of the blue jay on its head.
She-Who-Is-Alone watched, with her doll, as the elders went up to the top of the mountain to receive the wisdom of the Great Spirit. Several times did the sun rise above the mountain, and several times did the light fade behind the mountain’s bulk before they returned.
On the mountain top, the people gathered round to hear the message of the Great Spirit, and this is what the Great Spirit said to them:
“For many generations, the people have taken from the earth whatever they needed and wanted, but they have given nothing back to the earth. Now the earth is in distress, and the people must make a sacrifice. They must bring to the fire of sacrifice their most treasured possessions. The ashes of the sacrifice must be scattered to the four winds. When this has been done, the rains will come and the earth will live again.”
The people gave thanks and then returned to their tepees to search out their most treasured possessions.
“Surely the Great Spirit does not want my bow,” said the archer.
“Nor could the Great Spirit possibly desire my treasured blanket,” said the mother.
“I know that the Great Spirit could not be asking for my herbs,” said the medicine man.
And so it continued. Everyone had a reason not to give the Great Spirit their greatest treasure.
Meanwhile, She-Who-Is-Alone took her warrior doll into her arms, held it tight and whispered, “It is you the Great Spirit desires. I know what I must do.”
So that night, when everyone slept, She-Who-Is-Alone threw off her sleeping blanket and climbed to the top of the mountain, carrying her warrior doll in one hand and a lighted stick from the campfire in the other. When she reached the mountain top, she spoke to the Great Spirit.
“Great Spirit,” she said, “here is my warrior doll, the gift of my mother and my father before they died, and my most treasured possession. Please accept it.” As she kindled the fire, she wept, and she remembered her parents and grandparents and friends who had died of hunger, and she thrust her doll into the flames.
Soon the fire died down. She gathered the cooling ashes and cast them to the four winds. Exhausted, she lay down on the mountain top and fell asleep.
When the rising sun kissed her awake the next morning, she looked around, dazed. There, where she had offered her sacrifice, lay a shining feather of the blue jay. And as she knelt to look more closely, the first drops of rain caressed her face.
From then on, She-Who-Is-Alone was given a new name by her grateful people. She became known as One-Who-Loved-Her-People.