The Seven Wise Men
Told by Chief Bob Red Hawk
Transcribed and Translated into Lenape by Amira Silver-Swartz
Edited by Louise St. Amour
At one time there were seven wise men who lived among the people. They were so wise
that the people would constantly come to them, day and night. It got so bad that the seven men
decided, “We have to get away. We need to have some peace. We can’t have people coming to
our wikewams everyday and asking us myriads of questions.” So what they did was they
decided, “We’ll go away from the village a little up into the mountain and turn ourselves into
boulders, big rocks. ” And everything was fine but one day this one young man was out hunting
and he happened to see these seven boulders that were a little different than any rocks he had
ever seen before. So he started coming back to them every day and eventually he found that if
he whispered to the rocks, the rocks would talk back to him. He was shocked. But, the rocks
were answering his questions.
Well, it wasn’t long before he went back to the village and told the people about these
seven wonderful stones that they could ask questions to. So the people started leaving the
village and coming up the mountain to the seven rocks. So soon the seven wise men said,
“We’ve got to change. We’ve got to get away. We’ve had no peace here now. So they went up
on top of the mountain and turned themselves into seven beautiful cedar trees. And there they
stood and they felt the winds blowing through their needles and just felt at peace. But it wasn’t
long before the people started noticing that these seven beautiful trees had beautiful songs
coming from them.
And it wasn’t long before the people realized that these were the seven wise men that
they could go to for their answers. So then the seven wise men said “What do we do? We need
some time away from everybody. We need some time in the stillness and peace.” And then
they looked up and they thought “Let’s turn into seven stars, so that we can still look down on the people, but the people can’t come and bother us too much.” So they turned themselves into
the seven stars that some people call the Pleiades and from there they stand today and look out
over our people.
Kweten ahpuwak nishash lepweinuwak. Wikuwak Lenapehokink.
once there were seven wise men they lived in the land of the Lenape
Somi lepweyok ok nek lenapeyok nachihawwao piskewenink ok kishkwikink.
very they-are-wise and the Lenape-people they bothered them by night and by day
Nek lepweinuwak luweyok, “Kwunikishukw xaheli awenik wikewamink peyok.
the wise men they said every-day a-great-many people to-the-house they-come.
Notuxtuwak. Ku weletuu. Kench ntalemskahena. Nkata chitawsinen.”
they-ask not it-is-good. must we leave we want we live a quiet life
Xu alemskeyok ok eyok ahchunk ok ahpuwak lamunkwink nel ahsena.
fut they-leave and they go to-the-mountain and they exist inside the rocks
Ok wemi keku welet. Shek kweti kishku skinu alai. Wenemena nel ahsena
And everything it-was good but one day a-young-man he-hunts he-sees-them the rocks
ok chipinakoteyok. Kwunikishukw na skinu kwetki. Kwishwtunhemena nel ahsena,
and they look strange Every day the young man he returns he-whispers-to-them the rocks
ok nel ahsena pemetunhawoo. Kanshelintam. Shek noxkumu. Xuniti kwetki utenetetink
and the rocks they-talk-to-him he-is-surprised. but they-answer-him soon he returns to-the-little-town
ok tokenutamena nel ahsena. Nek awenik tolemuxweneyo ahchunk
and he-tells-about-them the stones the people they-all-started-walking to-the-mountain
ok wenemeneyo nel nishash ahsena. Xuniti nek nishash lepweinuwak luweyok,
and they-see-them the seven rocks soon the seven wise-men they-say
“Yukwe lapi kench ntalemskahena. Nkataluhenamen welankuntewakan.”
now again must we-leave we need it peace
Pemeskeyok xkwitahtene ok ahpuwak lamunkwink nishash welesi pepxokwesak.
They-walked to-the-top-of-the-mountain and they exist inside seven beautiful cedar trees
Ika nipuwak ok kwetenemeneyo keshxink w’t’huhonink ok welankunteweyok.
there they stood and they-feel-it wind through their branches and they-are-peaceful
Kuliteheokan. Asuwak nek pepxokwes. Xuniti nek lenapeyok penawwoo
it-was-a-good-feeling they sing the cedars soon the Lenape-people they-see-them
yuk nishash welesi pepxokwes ok pwetameneyo ne asuwakan. Pexu nek lenapeyok
the seven beautiful cedars and they hear it the song by and by the Lenape people
uwahawoo nek nishash lepweinuwak. Nek nishash lepweinuwak yukwe litheyok,
they knew them the seven wise men the seven wise-men now they-think
“Keku hech xu ktelsihena? Kench ntalemskahena. Kench kchitawsihena.”
what ? will what-we do must we-go-away must we live a quiet life
Pwenameneyo ne mushhakw ok litheyok, “Alemskatam ok xu ntapihena lamunkwink
they-look at-it the sky and they-think let’s-go and will we-exist inside
nishash alunkok. Xu wenutemawao nek lenapeyok shek takuu xu nachihkunanak.”
seven stars will we-watch/guard-them the Lenape people but not will they bother us
Yukwe ahpuwak lamunkwink nishash alunkok. Wihelameneyo nek “pleiades”.
Now they-exist inside seven stars they name them the “Pleiades”