Native American Legends
The gift of Corn
A Sioux Legend
In a deep forest, far from the villages of his people, lived a
hermit. His tent was made of buffalo skins, and his dress was made
of deer skin. Far from the haunts of any human being this old hermit
was content to spend his days.
All day long he would wander through the forest studying the different
plants of nature and collecting precious roots, which he used as
medicine. At long intervals some warrior would arrive at the tent
of the old hermit and get medicine roots from him for the tribe,
the old hermit's medicine being considered far superior to all others.
After a long day's ramble in the woods, the hermit came home late,
and being very tired, at once lay down on his bed and was just dozing
off to sleep, when he felt something rub against his foot. Awakening
with a start, he noticed a dark object and an arm was extended to
him, holding in its hand a flint pointed arrow.
The hermit thought, "This must be a spirit, as there is no
human being around here but myself!"
A voice then said: "Hermit, I have come to invite you to my
"How (yes), I will come," said the old hermit. Wherewith
he arose, wrapped his robe about him and followed.
Outside the door he stopped and looked around, but could see no
signs of the dark object.
"Whoever you are, or whatever you be, wait for me, as I don't
know where to go to find your house," said the hermit.
Not an answer did he receive, nor could he hear any noises as though
anyone was walking through the brush.
Re-entering his tent he retired and was soon fast asleep. The next
night the same thing occurred again, and the hermit followed the
object out, only to be left as before.
He was very angry to think that anyone should be trying to make
sport of him, and he determined to find out who this could be who
was disturbing his night's rest.
The next evening he cut a hole in the tent large enough to stick
an arrow through, and stood by the door watching.
Soon the dark object came and stopped outside of the door, and
said, "Grandfather, I came to--," but he never finished
the sentence, for the old man let go his arrow, and he heard the
arrow strike something which produced a sound as though he had shot
into a sack of pebbles.
He did not go out that night to see what his arrow had struck,
but early next morning he went out and looked at the spot about
where he thought the object had stood. There on the ground lay a
little heap of corn, and from this little heap a small line of corn
lay scattered along a path. This he followed far into the woods.
When he came to a very small knoll the trail ended. At the end of
the trail was a large circle, from which the grass had been scraped
"The corn trail stops at the edge of this circle," said
the old man, "so this must be the home of whoever it was that
invited me." He took his bone knife and hatchet and proceeded
to dig down into the center of the circle. When he had got down
to the length of his arm, he came to a sack of dried meat. Next
he found a sack of Indian turnips, then a sack of dried cherries;
then a sack of corn, and last of all another sack, empty except
that there was about a cupful of corn in one corner of it, and that
the sack had a hole in the other corner where his arrow had pierced
From this hole in the sack the corn was scattered along the trail,
which guided the old man to the hiding place.
From this the hermit taught the tribes how to keep their provisions
when traveling and were overloaded. He explained to them how they
should dig a pit and put their provisions into it and cover them
By this method the Indians used to keep provisions all summer,
and when fall came they would return to their cache, and on opening
it would find everything as fresh as the day they were placed there.
The old hermit was also thanked as the discoverer of corn, which
had never been known to the Indians until discovered by the old
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