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Native American Legends

Cherokee story of Creation

A Cherokee Legend

At first there was darkness and cold, vast and endless, stretching out in all directions. Beneath the great stone arch of the sky there was a dizzying drop. One by one tiny creatures began to awake and one by one they realized that they were cold, thirsty and very crowded.

The first creature to awake said, "I smell water, I am a water beetle," and with that it jumped from the great stone arch of the sky. Much later there was a splash. The next creature to awake, said, "I can spin silk, I am a spider." And so it went as each creature awoke and realized what he or she was.

Not long after, a voice was heard from far beneath the great stone arch of the sky. It was the water beetle, who said, "Underneath the water there is something soft, yet strong enough to hold us, with room enough for everyone." "Throw down some rope, so that we might fetch it," another creature on the great stone arch of the sky said, so the spider began to make some very strong ropes. The ropes were thrown down and the water beetle took them and swam beneath the waters. She then fastened them to the four corners of the great slab of mud that rested beneath the waters. When she surfaced, she told the other creatures who had remained on the great stone arch of the sky what she had done.

They began to pull and haul at the ropes until the great slab of mud rose from beneath the waters. When they had finished, all the creatures began to scramble down the ropes to get to this new place which had room for everyone.

When they reached the bottom, they drank their fill. Some creatures, realizing that they were fish, swam away, others flew away, and still others, realizing that they were frogs sank happily into the mud. There the land hung and there it hangs to this very day, until the day that will come when the ropes will break and the land will sink once more beneath the waters.

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