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Irina Tsoma
04.11.2012, 18:18

A Cherokee Legend

Long ago the Cherokee people lived in a dark world. They had no Sun or Moon or light of any kind. It was so dark that the animals, birds, and insects kept bumping into each other.
One day the animals called a meeting to see what could be done.
Woodpecker spoke first. "I've heard," he said, "that people on the other side of the world have light. Maybe if we go there, they will give us some."
I'll go," said Owl. "I can see in the dark."
"No, I should go," Opossum said. "If they are stingy with their light, I'll steal some and hide it under my bushy tail."
They all agreed, so Opossum started at once. As he headed East, the world grew lighter. Soon he had to squint to keep from being blinded, but he kept on going until he found the Sun.
Carefully he placed a small piece of it under his tail. He set out for home as fast as his short legs would go, but that piece of Sun was so hot it set his tail on fire.
The people who lived in the land of the Sun demanded that he return the piece he took. Poor Opossum, his fine bushy tail was ruined, and the animals still had no light.
The animals called another meeting, and this time Buzzard volunteered. "I can fly far and fast," he boasted. "I can bring back the light in no time."
He flew East and stayed up high so the people couldn't see him. Then he dived straight down, snatched a piece of the Sun, and hid it on top of his head. But as he was flying away, his beautiful head feathers caught on fire. Buzzard dropped the piece of Sun at once, but his head had turned bright red and was completely bald, just as it is today.
The animals met once more, "What shall we do now?" they asked. "We must have light!"
Grandmother Spider crawled out of the nearby grass. "You big creatures have done all you can," she said. "Perhaps a smaller creature could do better."
"You'll get burned up!" squawked the Owl. "Maybe not," answered Grandmother Spider. They were so desperate for light they agreed to let her go.
Grandmother Spider felt around until she found some damp clay. Then she rolled it into the shape of a bowl. "It will dry slowly as I travel in the dark," she said to herself. "That way it won't crack."
As she traveled, she spun a trail of thread to find her way home.
When she came to the place of the Sun people, she quickly reached out and took a piece of the Sun. She dropped it into her bowl and covered it. Then she quietly followed her thread-trail back home.
When the animals uncovered Grandmother Spider's bowl, they could hardly believe their eyes. The first light they had ever seen shot out its rays. Even today, the spider's web is shaped like the rays of the Sun.
From that time on, not only did the Cherokee people have light, but pottery making became honored work among them.

An Algonquin Legend

There was once a young warrior whose bride died on the eve of their wedding. Although he had distinguished himself by his bravery and goodness, the death left the young man inconsolable.

He was unable to eat or sleep. Instead of hunting with the others, he just spent time at the grave of his bride, staring into the air.

However, one day he happened to overhear some elders speaking about the path to the spirit world. He listened intently and memorized the directions to the most minute detail. He had heard that the spirit world was far to the south. He immediately set out on his journey. After two weeks, he still saw no change in the landscape to indicate that the spirit world was near.

Then he emerged from the forest and saw the most beautiful plain he had ever seen. In the distance was a small hut where an ancient wise man lived. He asked the wise man for directions.

The old man knew exactly who the warrior was and whom he sought. He told the lad that the bride had passed by only a day before. In order to follow her, the warrior would have to leave his body behind and press on in his spirit. The spirit world itself is an island in a large lake that can be reached only by canoes waiting on this shore. However, the old man warned him not to speak to his bride until they were both safely on the island of the spirits.

Soon the old man recited some magic chants and the warrior felt his spirit leave his body. Now a spirit, he walked along the shore and saw a birch bark canoe. Not a stone's throw away was his bride, entering her own canoe. As he made his way across the water and looked at her, he saw that she duplicated his every stroke. Why didn't they travel together? One can only enter the spirit world alone and be judged only on one's individual merits.

Midway through the journey, a tempest arose. It was more terrible than any he had ever seen. Some of the spirits in canoes were swept away by the storm-these were those who had been evil in life. Since both the warrior and his bride were good, they made it through the tempest without incident and soon the water was as smooth as glass beneath a cloudless sky.

The island of the blessed was a beautiful place where it was always late spring, with blooming flowers and cloudless skies, never too warm or too cold. He met his bride on the shore and took her hand. They had not walked ten steps together when a soft sweet voice spoke to them-it was the Master of Life.

The Master told them that the young warrior must return as he came; it wasn't his time yet. He was to carefully trace his steps back to his body, put it on, and return home. He did this and became a great chief, happy in the assurance that he would see his bride once again.

Category: American literature | Added by: Itsoma
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