The night was pitch black except for the full moon which hid most of the stars in the western hemisphere. In the middle of the Navajo reservation in a large teepee there were shrill cries as one of the women was in the middle of giving birth. All the women gathered around her as the men stood outside some ways away smoking their pipes, each shriek taking just a bit of their spirit with them.
Finally, a baby son’s cry was heard, but the men still kept their distance. This was their way. The child would be brought to the father and then there would be a celebration, as long as the boy child had the customary ten fingers and ten toes. That his face would be scrunched up initially was to be expected. The father searched for a name when suddenly he heard the howl of a black wolf high above on the neighboring mountain.
“Wolf of the Night,” he declared. “Wolf of the Night shall he be named,” as the child was brought out of teepee and placed in his arms, “and from now on the Black Wolf shall be his animal spirit guide.” He was still covered in his birth veil and fresh blood, and once he had had a proper look at the child he returned him to the woman for cleaning. He would not enter the teepee until his wife was clean as well and felt well enough to begin breastfeeding which would take some time to get the child to suckle. In the meantime, another women would use her own milk from her numerous births to suckle the child until his mother had an ample supply.
Festivities began and a fresh piece of meat was put on the spit. Pipes were passed around and chanting and drumming by the elders for such a blessing began. The drums and chanting went well into the night. The boys of age were allowed to join in, but the younger ones kept vigil outside the teepee praying as well for the evil spirits to stay away.
The next day, the child, cleaned and wrapped in buckskin swaddling was again handed to his father. He held the child high up to the heavens and called upon his ancestors to bestow their blessing upon the child and keep him well and safe from whatever may come his way. There would be much in the line of education laying ahead for Wolf of the Night, but aptly named, his father knew he would be up to the challenge.
The mother soon suckled her son and one of the women was with her at all times, in case her milk was still not enough for a baby who was destined for his life as a chief when his father died. There would be no mercy for this child if he failed to fulfill the duties his father would place on him. And, as an only child, his burden would be great.
The women had already informed the chief that this child would be the first and the last born of this woman, as her pregnancy had been difficult and at one point it had been thought that both mother and child would be lost.
But the spirits had blessed the tribe and the child was perfect.
They didn’t discover until much later in his life that Wolf of the Night had also been blessed with a special gift. He could talk to the animals.
And so, the years went by and the elders took note of Wolf of the Night’s special abilities. When the tribe was approaching a shortage of food, Wolf of the Night knew just where to go to find buffalo and other animals sufficient for the tribe to survive. H would often talk to the animals and explain his dismay for having to kill one of them, but explaining that that which was taken was necessary to keep his people alive. No excess killing was allowed and his father and the elders had come to understand his gift and honored it.
The full moon was when Night of the Wolf was the happiest. His father had told him a million times where his name came from and how the black wolf had howled the night he was born. That wolf had never been seen after that night even though Night of the Wolf often searched for him in his travels and listened for his mighty voice whenever the moon was full.
Years later, the boy became a man. His duties increased but he did not lament for it was his destiny to assume such duties and he did so willingfully. His father could not have been more proud. The elders looked upon the man child with respect and accepting him as the man who would be chief, helping him every step of the way.
The time was quickly approaching when Night of the Wolf would need to take a wife, especially if the long line of chiefs was to continue. There were many maidens who would make a suitable wife, but Night of the Wolf was waiting for something, a sign to help him choose.
When he was of age, he went into the mountains and prayed to his ancestors to help him find this woman who would make him a good wife, bring forth healthy children, especially a boy child to keep the line going.
And then, he saw his grandfather in the heavens. He motioned to Night of the Wolf to come as close as he possibly could. The grandfather motioned to something hiding nearby. Suddenly, a great howl was heard by Wolf of the Night and all the members of the tribe. The blessed wolf had returned.
Wolf of the Night approached the wolf and it ceased its howling. Instead, the wolf followed Wolf of the Night back to the camp. The men and women were scared. Never before had such a thing happened. The wolves were something to be feared by all, they were frightened for their lives. They gathered together, chanting and beating the drums to hopefully chase the black wolf away. But he continued to approach.
One of the elders grabbed a bow, preparing to shoot the wolf, but Wolf of the Night held his ground and stood in front of the wolf.
“Do not hurt him,” Wolf of the Night ordered. “He will do you no harm. He has come for a reason, a very important reason. From the circle of watchers, chanters, and drum beaters, a young woman came forth.
“He has come for me,” she said. The others were petrified and felt sure the wolf would devour her in one gulp.
Her name was Singing Rain and she held her hand out to the wolf. He approached her slowly without fear and she reciprocated until her hand was on the head of the wolf, caressing him. She spoke in hushed tones and the wolf seemed to understand her.
At this point Night of the Wolf approached both of them. He wrapped his arms around the wolf’s neck and took Singing Rain’s hand.
“The wolf has chosen my mate,” he announced, “and now you know why he has not appeared since I was born. He is the spirit of my ancestors and now he has selected my bride.”
They were married and the wolf disappeared into the mountains. Once the wedding festivities where over, Night of the Wolf and Singing Rain moved into the teepee his father had built for him. And the sighting of the wolf was forgotten.
Some months later,Singing Rain’s laments and screams were heard in the teepee, and she was now surrounded by the women as was the time-old-custom for such an event. In the distance, the black wolf stood on the same top of the mountain, howling. Night of the Wolf already knew the meaning this time.
One of the women exited the teepee carrying a small bundle and placed it in Wolf of the Night’s waiting arms.
“It’s a boy.”
And the wolf disappeared. For how long was anyone’s guess. Only Black Wolf knew when he would return again.