Thursday, June 26, 2014

“Kana’tï And Selu: The Origin Of Game And Corn”

Part 1:  The Wild Boy
[from Myths of the Cherokee, by James Mooney]
When I was a boy this is what the old men told me they had heard when they were boys.
When I was a boy this is what the old men told me they had heard when they were boys.
river in Smoky MountainsLong years ago, soon after the world was made, a hunter and his wife lived at Pilot knob with their only child, a little boy. The father’s name was Kana’tï (The Lucky Hunter), and his wife was called Selu (Corn). No matter when Kana’tï went into the wood, he never failed to bring back a load of game, which his wife. would cut up and prepare, washing off the blood from the meat in the river near the house. The little boy used to play down by the river every day, and one morning the old people thought they heard laughing and talking in the bushes as though there were two children there. When the boy came home at night his parents asked him who had been playing with him all day. “He comes out of the water,” said the boy, “and he calls himself my elder brother. He says his mother was cruel to him and threw him into the river.” Then they knew that the strange boy had sprung from the blood of the game which Selu had washed off at the river’s edge.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cherokee Fables: The First Fire

Lightning_hits_treeIn the beginning there was no fire, and the world was cold, until the Thunders (Ani’-Hyûñ’tïkwälâ’skï), who lived up in Gälûñ’lätï, sent their lightning and put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree which grew on an island. The animals knew it was there, because they could see the smoke coming out at the top, but they could not get to it on account of the water, so they held a council to decide what to do. This was a long time ago.

Cherokee Fables: How the World was Made

The earth is a great island floating in a sea of water, and suspended at each of the four cardinal points by a cord hanging down from the sky vault, which is of solid rock. When the world grows old and worn out, the people will die and the cords will break and let the earth sink down into the ocean, and all will be water again. The Indians are afraid of this.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Snake that moves like an Inchworm

There was once a great serpent called the Ustû’tlï that made its haunt upon Cohutta mountain. It was called the Ustû’tlï or “foot” snake, because it did not glide like other snakes, but had feet at each end of its body, and moved by strides or jerks, like a great measuring worm. These feet were three-cornered and flat and could hold on to the ground like suckers. It had no legs, but would raise itself up on its hind feet, with its snaky head waving high in the air until it found a good place to take a fresh hold; then it would bend down and grip its front feet to the ground while it drew its body up from behind. It could cross rivers and deep ravines by throwing its head across and getting a grip with its front feet and then swinging its body over. Wherever its footprints were found there was danger. It used to bleat like a young fawn, and when the hunter heard a fawn bleat in the woods he never looked for it, but hurried away in the other direction. Up the mountain or down, nothing could escape the Ustû’tlï’s pursuit, but along the side of the ridge it could not go, because the great weight of its swinging head broke its hold on the ground when it moved sideways.