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1414STORY

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  • winterfury@webtv.net
    Mar 21, 2002
      The First Fire
      Cherokee
      Native American Lore
      In the beginning of the world, there was no fire. The animal people were
      often cold. Only the Thunders, who lived in the world beyond the sky
      arch, had fire. At last they sent Lightning down to an island. Lightning
      put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree.
      The animal people knew that the fire was there, because they could see
      smoke rising from the top of the tree. But they could not get to it on
      account of the water. So they held a council to decide what to do.
      Everyone that could fly or could swim was eager to go after the fire.
      Raven said, "Let me go. I am large and strong."
      At that time Raven was white. He flew high and far across the water and
      reached the top of the sycamore tree. While he sat there wondering what
      to do, the heat scorched all his feathers black. The frightened Raven
      flew home without the fire, and his feathers have been black ever since.
      Then the council sent Screech Owl. He flew to the island. But while he
      was looking down into the hollow tree, a blast of hot air came up and
      nearly burned out his eyes. He flew home and to this day, Screech Owl's
      eyes are red.
      Then Hooting Owl and Horned Owl were sent to the island together. But
      the smoke nearly blinded them, and the ashes carried up by the wind made
      white rings about their eyes. They had to come home, and were never able
      to get rid of the white rings.
      Then Little Snake swam across to the island, crawled through the grass
      to the tree, and entered it through a small hole at the bottom. But the
      smoke and the heat were too much for him, too. He escaped alive, but his
      body had been scorched black. And it was so twisted that he doubled on
      his track as if always trying to escape from a small space.
      Big Snake, the climber, offered to go for fire, but he fell into the
      burning stump and became as black as Little Snake. He has been the great
      blacksnake ever since.
      At last Water Spider said that she would go. Water Spider has black
      downy hair and red stripes on her body. She could run on top of water
      and she could dive to the bottom. She would have no trouble in getting
      to the island.
      "But you are so little, how will you carry enough fire?" the council
      asked.
      "I'll manage all right," answered Water Spider. "I can spin a web." so
      she spun a thread from her body and wove it into a little bowl and
      fastened the little bowl on her back. Then she crossed over to the
      island and through the grass. She put one little coal of fire into her
      bowl and brought it across to the people.
      Every since, we have had fire. And the Water Spider still has her little
      bowl on her back.
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