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