Native American Tales

The Elk Spirit of Lost Lake

The Elk Spirit of Lost LakeThe Elk Spirit of Lost Lake


There was once a young hunter named Plain Feather. He had a guardian spirit that was an elk that lived near Mt. Hood. The guardian taught him many things, including where to find animals to hunt. The elk told Plain Feather never to kill more than he needed, which he didn’t.

Some people went out and shot everything they saw. They wanted to test Plain Feather. They had a man pose as a spirit man and he told Plain Feather that there was a bad winter coming and that everyone should kill as much of anything as they could. At first, Plain Feather didn’t listen because he knew what his own guardian spirit had told him. Eventually though, he was worn down. He went out into the woods and began killing things here and there.

He shot an entire group of elk and killed them all, except one, which was only wounded. This elk happened to be his guardian spirit. The injured elk led him to a lake. Plain Feather was going to grab it in order to finish it off, but the elk and Plain Feather sank down into the lake. At the bottom of it there were many spirits. The elk revealed to Plain Feather that he was Plain Feather’s guardian spirit. These were the spirits of all the animals that Plain Feather had killed. The elk would no longer be Plain Feather’s guardian spirit because of this.

When Plain Feather awoke, on the surface, he told people about the spirit lake and what his guardian spirit had said, then he leaned back and died.


These guys were kind of jerks. The thought of killing animals, just for the heck of it, grates me the wrong way.


Look, in reality, you really are only supposed to take what you need, in anything, You only hunt as many animals as you need to eat; you only put as much air in your tires as they need; you only take as many vitamins as your body needs. I could keep going on and on with the examples.

Plain Feather knew this as a personal truth, as a spiritual truth even. He knew that he was only supposed to take as much as he needed. Think of the guardian spirit as the holy spirit, or a conscience, or a soul. Some things, you just know, for some inexplicable reasons. There are things in your life that you just know as truth. No one had to teach those things to you. You just know. You may not have any examples off the top of your head, but sit and think about it for a bit and you’ll come up with something that you just know.

Those things that you just know are part of that inexplicable part of you. What happens when you go against that part of yourself? What happens when you do something opposite what you already feel, deep inside yourself? It doesn’t end up well does it. Do we sometimes let people talk us into going against that part of ourselves? Yes, we do. Does that end up well? Nope.

Plain Feather went against that part of himself and ultimately lost that part of himself. If you lose that part of yourself, what happens to you? Are you a person anymore? Maybe physically, but as a whole, you’re not the same kind of being anymore. You’ve lost that thing, whatever it is that you want to call it, that lets you just know things. Plain Feather died because he lost this part of himself. He relied on his guardian spirit so much in his life, that when it left him, he died.

The moral of this whole story is that if that part of yourself, whatever you want to call it, tells you not to do something, then don’t do it. Seriously.


Does this also apply if you buy all the boxes of cereal that are on sale at the grocery store?

Weigh In

What do you think would happen to you if you lost that part of yourself that Plain Feather lost?

In what areas of life does “take only what you need” apply?


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