Once there was a strong woman who was great at hunting, fishing, and all the other manly things. But she didn’t have the patience to learn the delicate art of sewing baskets, dyeing clothes, or any of the things the women did.
Her name was Maikua.
Maikua had flowing black hair, and brown eyes and skin.
None of the men liked Maikua. When she went hunting with them, they would say, “We don’t need your help. Why don’t you go home.”
Maikua never listened to these men. She would go out and catch as many birds as she could carry. When they got home, the other men and women would fill their stomachs with her catch and leave the scraps for her.
The other women didn’t think much of her either. Whenever she stayed home when the men were hunting (which wasn’t very often), the women would say, “Why aren’t you out hunting? Maybe if you tried harder you could catch a piece of fur.”
Maikua would just ignore them, and go on shooting her bows and arrows at a practice target.
One day Maikua went out fishing. She caught eight fish, and put them in her basket. When she returned to the village, though, the usual commotion was no more. In fact, she couldn’t see anybody for miles. “Is anybody here?” she called out.
The response was, “Is anybody here?” It was just an echo.
Maikua realized that everybody had left. She went back to her hut and ate the fresh fish. Then she thought. “Maybe I should go to the mystic mountain,” she said to herself.
She set out at dawn. The mountain reached out over the treetops.
Maikua started walking. She swam across a river. She swung on vines and she leapt over roots. Finally the mountain lay before her: glowing green trees, gray rocks, and pure white snow.
Maikua got out her spear. She sighted a mountain lion in the distance. She crept up the mountainside, and then hid behind a boulder so the lion couldn’t see her. She took a piece of meat out of her basket, and put it out in front of the boulder. The lion ran over and clamped its teeth around the meat. As soon as he did so Maikua had the spear through his head.
Maikua had a good lunch and then was on her way.
When Maikua got to the top of the mountain, she found a bear. The bear gave her a cup made out of leaves. The bear said, “Drink the water that lies in the cup.”
As she drank, a stairway started forming. When the last drop of water was finished, the stairway reached all the way to the tip of the clouds. The bear motioned for her to climb the stairs.
When Maikua got to the top of the stairs, she couldn’t speak. Not just because there was a village before her; but because in this village, she saw women coming home with fish and deer, and men sitting in their huts weaving baskets and taking care of the young ones.
A woman walked over to Maikua.
“Who are you?” Maikua asked.
“I am Korto, the head of our village,” the woman answered. “Let me show you around.”
Korto showed Maikua her hut and the meat storage room and more. After the tour Maikua asked, “Why are things so different here?”
“This is the way it has always been,” Korto said, “for as long as I can remember. Now you should get some sleep. You look very tired.”
Maikua walked slowly back to her hut. She was thinking about this strange yet wonderful village as she climbed through the door of the hut and curled up on her bed.
After a week Maikua was already a hero. The men adored her, and the women looked up to her. She filled the meat storage room with fish and game she had caught, and was happier than she had ever been. But a few weeks later, she announced that it was time to leave.
The night before Maikua was to leave there was a big celebration. The finest meats were prepared, and toasts were made. There was singing and dancing. The noise was very powerful. At the end of the evening, Korto called everyone to attention. Everyone stood in a circle, facing Korto. She sat straight in her chair, and then said, “I think we owe Maikua a wish.” Everyone cheered.
Maikua was stunned.
“What is your wish?” Korto asked.
Maikua thought for a moment, then exclaimed, “I know what I want. I want to never run out of arrows.”
“Everlasting arrows, eh. I’ll see what I can do,” Korto smiled. Then she pointed her finger at Maikua and a bag appeared on Maikua’s shoulder—a bag filled with arrows.
Maikua thanked everybody and went back to her hut. She went to sleep. But around midnight she snuck out of bed with the bag on her shoulders, and headed back down the stairway out of the clouds.
When she came out of the clouds back into her own world, the first thing she saw was smoke coming out of the treetops. Maikua ran as fast as she could down the mountain and into a forest. She came into a clearing and saw people. They were her people, her town in rags, sitting around a fire.
When the people saw her they were so happy they crowded around her, hugging her.
“You’re back!” they shouted.
“What’s happening?” Maikua asked.
A man came up to her and said, “We need you. Your skills keep us alive.”
Maikua didn’t know what to say. She was so happy that they had accepted her. All the women and the men apologized and welcomed Maikua back.
From then on, hunting was valued in men and in women.