Since some of you like tracing first references of things, I want to alert you to an interesting development in the comments thread of a recent post. Amanda posted a comment in which she said she had been powerfully moved by the native American story of the two wolves, a good one and a bad one, who are fighting; the one you feed the most is the one who wins the fight. I like that story, too, and Amanda’s comment got me wondering which Native people the story came from; the earliest printed reference I could find for the story was a 1964 book on
Christian prayer which attributed the story to the Mohave people; in that version, it’s two dogs who are fighting, not two wolves. Then Erp got in the act, and found the story in a 1914 Bible commentary, where the story was attributed to “an Indian.”
Now I’m really interested in this question. If you can find an earlier printed reference to the story, I’ll send you a fair trade chocolate bar, in addition to which you get bragging rights.
And thanks, Amanda, for starting us off on this interesting quest.
2 thoughts on “The story of the two wolves”
I think it might be a bit tricky since, given the earliest known reference, earlier references are probably in that pool of late 19th century sermons most of which are not online and many never written down or since lost. The best bet might be Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren material given the writer’s background (he was never in a seminary). Personally I would want to check the 1914 reference with a hard copy source.
Your chocolate bar is probably safe (allegedly the earliest chocolate bar is 1847 by Fry’s; however, I have my doubts [the main source for the story seems to be Cadburys which took over Fry’s in the early 20th century]).
The two wolves stories reminded me of a Buddhist story about fear. Here’s the version told by Pema Chodron:
– Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times