Myth & Lore

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Children of the Sun

Alice Fletcher and Francis La Fleche (Osage)

Way beyond the earth, a part of the Osage lived in the sky. They wanted to know where they came from, so they went to the sun. He told them that they were his children. Then they wandered still farther and came to the moon. She told them that she gave birth to them, and that the sun was their father. She said that they must leave the sky and go down to live on earth.

They obeyed, but found the earth covered with water. They could not return to their home in the sky, so they wept and called out, but no answer came from anywhere. They floated about in the air, seeking in every direction for help from some god; but they found none.

The animals were with them, and of these the elk inspired all creatures with confidence because he was the finest and most stately. The Osage appealed to the elk for help, and he dropped into the water and began to sink. Then he called to the winds, and they came from all quarters and blew until the waters went upward in mist. At first only rocks were exposed, and the people traveled on the rocky places that produced no plants to eat.

Then the waters began to go down until the soft earth was exposed. When this happened, the elk in his joy rolled over and over, and all his loose hairs clung to the soil. The hairs grew, and from them sprang beans, corn, potatoes, and wild turnips, and then all the grasses and trees.

...from Alice Fletcher and Francis La Fleche, who recorded this myth in 1911.

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