Sunday, July 03, 2011

Native American Legends - Coyote, Adahay, And The Sun's Fire

My nephew had a camp out to celebrate his birthday. While sitting around the fire pit, I thought we needed to have those wonderful stories you're supposed to tell around fires. I tried to think of all the camp fire stories I knew and it turned out I really didn't remember much. I need to make a better effort at studying and remembering folk legends and myths from many cultures to add to my story telling mental library. It can feed the creative well I draw from. Since I had nothing, I decided to try my hand at inventing a story.

While everyone roasted marshmallows I set to work on creating my campfire story. I channeled the spirit of my Cherokee ancestors to aid me. The fire spoke to me and shared it's story. I in turn shared it with my nieces and nephews.

I used elements remembered from other native american legends and myths such as talking animals, natural features of the world, and explanations for why things are the way they are. Whether a true legend or not, I wanted a tale that gave the feeling of truth, something that might have been told by the tribal story tellers to all that would listen. So here it is.

Coyote, Adahay, And The Sun's Fire

Coyote feared the end of each day when the Sun went down. He feared the darkness for in those days there was no moon to give light to the night. Being a cunning creature, he approached Adahy, a vain and gullible human from the tribes of man.

Coyote said, "Adahy, do you fear the darkness when the Sun sleeps? Do you get cold while he dreams?"

Adahay reluctantly replied, "Yes, I do get cold in the dark." Although he too feared the dark, he did not wish to admit it to Coyote. Brave warriors do not show fear.

Coyote said, "I have an idea that will bring light and warmth to man in the darkness. Are you swift on your feet?"

Adahay boasted, "I am the swiftest man on earth. I could even outrun you Coyote."

Coyote said, "Oh I am sure you could. But could you outrun the Sun?"

"Of course. The sun travels so slowly across the sky. I could beat even him."

"Then here is my plan to make you the greatest and most beloved of all men. When the Sun sleeps, go east to where he rises in the morning. Take a large branch and stab him when awakes. Then run away before he catches you and give his fire on your branch to your people and to your friend Coyote. You will easily outrun him and be safe."

Adahay liked the idea of being the greatest of all men. He agreed to take man's fire. He found a good dry branch and marched east through the night to where the Sun would awake. Just as the Sun rose from the earth, he thrust his branch into him, lighting the branch.

The Sun howled in fury and chased after Adahay. Adahay was swift but behind him, the sun burned everything in his path to reach the man that stole Sun's fire. Adahay raced high into the sky to protect the world from burning as the sun gave chase.

Other men and women saw the fields and trees burning along the sun's path on the ground and stole some with their own branches and returned it to their tribes. Sun was so focused on Adahay that he did not notice the others taking from his trail of fire.

Eventually the sun tired for the night but Adahay was so frightened that he kept running across the sky, holding up the burning branch with its silvery blue flame.

Coyote found the silvery blue flame comforting and climbed a tall hill to speak to Adahay. He said, "The sun only pretends to sleep! Keep running!"

And Adahay did run. Every night he raced across the sky to get away from the angry Sun and every night, Coyote howled up at him telling him to keep running so the Sun wouldn't catch him.

Every twenty nine days or so, Adahay's branch burns so dim it becomes impossible to see from the earth. Only on that night does he find another branch to keep the fire from burning out completely.

And that is how man obtained fire before he learned how to make his own. And that is why the fire of the moon grows and fades each month as it races across the sky in Adahay's hand. And that is why coyotes continue to howl at the moon to this day.

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