The Other Fellow's Moccasins

Many snows ago - there are those who still remember - it was a custom among many Indian tribes to appoint judges, who went from village to village to try those Indians who had broken the Indian law. This is a story of the wisdom displayed by one of those Indian judges.

A young brave was being tried for a very serious offense. While a neighboring warrior was away on a hunting trip, the Indian on trial had stolen his neighbor's ponies and valuable furs, and had sold them to a wandering trapper.

When the hunter returned to his teepee and found his furs and ponies gone, he was sad indeed. He had worked hard to gather the furs, and the ponies had been his prized possession. He knew not what to do. In desperation, he confided in several other Indians, one of whom had witnessed the theft but, not knowing what to do, had remained silent. Now, however, when he saw the sadness brought to his friend, he told of witnessing the crime, and the thief was apprehended.

The thief was soon brought to trial. A large crowd gathered to witness the trial, and there was a great deal of speculation as to what punishment the judge would decree. When all who were concerned had testified, the Indian judge felt that he had all the information that was necessary, and he asked for time to make his decision.

He withdrew from the crowd and entered the dense forest behind the village. With uplifted hands he prayed: "Great Spirit, help me to judge wisely."