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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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This Story was transcribed & Contributed by: Laurie Broetzmann

The Sunflower

By Benold Schwartz

It was a beautiful spring morning and the sun had just arisen and was spreading its golden glow over the waters of Deerfoot Lake. The birds were singing gaily, the flowers were giving off their sweetest scents, and the balmy spring breeze was playing with the rippling water.

The lake was about eight miles long, and four miles wide, and in it were several islands, on one of which was an Indian settlement. Around the lake were woods and marshes, and there was at one end an outlet, but it had no inlet.

The woods around the lake were filled with game and in the lake fish were plentiful. Upon a certain morning about a half hour after the sun had arisen we could have seen a canoe in the center of the lake. In the canoe was a dark, strong looking Indian who had been fishing and hunting, and had his canoe filled with fish and game. The canoe glided swiftly over the water and at last stopped on the island where the Indian village was located. The Indian stepped from the canoe, tied it to the shore, and went to a neighboring wigwam where his squaw had his breakfast ready for him.

This Indian was the chief of this tribe. He had a wife, and one son, whom he named Shama, after the perch, because he was so quick and bright. Shama was about twelve years old and could do most anything an Indian must learn to do. He used to wander about a good deal. Sometimes he went over to the shore of the lake and made explorations. He also used to take his canoe and paddle all over the lake. He had many queer beliefs; one of them was that he believed that all dead Indians went to the sun.

When Shama was old enough, he left his home tribe and wandered far away to a different Indian tribe. Here he lived and fell in love with a beautiful Indian princess, and after he was there a year he asked her father if he could marry her. The chief said she was motherless and his only child and he did not wish her to marry. Shama went away to the forest and was very sorry until one day he met the princess and they proposed to run away and get married in some other tribe.

One dark night they started off and went across the country towards Shama's home, but before they had gone far, they were caught by pursuers sent out by the chief and were taken back home. Shama was punished, and the princess was confined in a guarded wigwam where she grieved and died. When Shama heard of her death he was very sorry and started for home, but he always lingered on the way and looked at the sun, where he thought he saw the princess looking at him.

One day in August while looking at the sun he got a sunstroke and died. About three years after this the chief (Shama's father) sent out a company to find Shama and one day, while going through a meadow, they found a skeleton and some of Shama's beaded clothes, and between the bones was growing a large yellow flower with a brown center. Because this flower was looking at the sum they called it the sunflower.

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