Native American Legends
Brother Turtle The Rock Animal
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
Long ago giants ruled the land and sea. They feared no element
or spirit. They felt nothing could hurt or destroy them. Then one
day the giants claimed to be more powerful, beautiful, and sacred
than all the elements.
This made the elements of Sky, Water, Land, and all their relatives
very mad. So brother Cloud covered the land and sea for a long time
shooing the sun away.
Many of the giants died, but a few lived through the dark days.
When Sun returned and learned what the giants had done, he became
very upset. Instead of warming the lands and seas of Mother Earth,
he started to bake all things. His heat shrank and changed the color
and the nature of all living things on Earth. His fierce heat even
turn some of the giants into pools of a black liquid.
Two elements, Rocks and Sand, did not agree with the Sun's actions.
They covered the animals of the sea and land. Many animals did not
trust Rocks and left their safe covering. One animal, Turtle, became
angry at Sun's behavior and of having to hide all the time. He stuck
out his head, arms, and legs and tail to confront Sun.
One Rock decided to help Turtle. He covered what he could of Turtle
to protect him from Sun's heat. Turtle asked Sun, "Why don't
you stop your action before you destroyed all the creatures of Mother
Earth?" Hearing this made Sun even madder. He made the land
ever hotter and started to boil all the water. Turtle hid behind
Rock, but his face, hands, and legs were scalded by Sun's heat.
"See how brave Turtle was," said Brother Rock. Another
Rock told turtle to turn around. Then he jumped onto turtle's back,
just as Sun came as close as he could to Turtle. Turtle pulled in
his exposed parts as he heard Rock crack and split, time and time
again. The sound made the other animals begin to cry out for help
from Mother Earth.
Seeing her creatures being destroyed, Mother Earth called upon
all her energy to save them. She moved ice over them to cool them.
This made Sun beat down on her even harder.
Turtle refused to give up. He stood up to the Sun, protected by
the two rocks. The battle between Sun and Earth went on for a long
time. The rest of the creatures ran and hid where they could, but
the heat burnt their skin and on some, fried off their legs. When
Mother Earth covered the land with ice and Sun melted it, they learned
how to hold their breath to live underwater. All the creatures felt
sorry for their hero Turtle, but none went to join him.
The noise woke up the Great Spirit. Sun's anger and foolish acts
saddened him. With one thought the Great Spirit flung Sun across
space, far away from mother Earth and her creatures. Sun begged
the Great Spirit not to hurt him. He told him that he was sorry
for what he had done.
Suddenly Sun stopped flying in space. He heard the Great Spirit
speak. "From this day on, Sun may not move as he wants. He
will only be allowed to have Mother Earth circle around him at a
safe distance. She may come as close as she feels it is necessary
to keep her elements and creatures alive.
The Great Spirit looked down at Mother Earth and said, "Sun
is sorry, and your animals will live as they learned, fearing neither
water or land. Both shall be their home."
Then a voice yelled out, "What about me?" "Who speaks",
said the Great Spirit. "It is I, Turtle. I have a rock melted
to my back and cannot move." "I release you, but Rock
will remain with you forever. As a rock animal you will remind all
the creatures of this day and how you saved the Earth. Although
you have a rock stuck to your back and you can only move slowly,
I grant you long life. The rest of the creatures will live fast
and short lives, but you will live long and grow wise".
Turtle, burnt and scaled from the battle, was teased and laughed
at by the other animals. They quickly forgot what he had done for
them. Yet, turtle never got angry at them. He merely reminded them
of how great it was to be alive. After many, many years, most of
the animals who lived through the battle between Sun and Earth died.
Yet Turtle lived on.
Some say Turtle live forever. His children say he carries Mother
Earth on his back through space as a reward for his courage and
kindness. Even today the turtle lives a long and slow paced life.
His shell shows us the hurt that hate causes. The weight of it shows
how deep and heavy war scars those that live through it. It reminds
us how long it takes to rebuild, forgive, forget and learn to love
Do you stand tall against all? Or do you forget the lessons learned
and run fast and make fun of those who take their time to complete
a task with kindness and care?
You may do as you wish, but the turtle people will out live you.
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