THE COMING OF THE CORN
NORTH CAROLINA-CHEROKEE INDIANS
Many years ago there was an old woman who lived happily with her grandson until the boy turned seven years old. On his birthday she gave him a bow and arrow with which to hunt. On his first expedition he came back with a small bird. She was very proud of him and told him so. The Grandmother went out to her storeroom behind the lodge in which they lived. She soon came back with corn in a basket. She made a delicious soup with the corn and the little bird. Everyday that the boy brought home the fruits of his hunt his grandmother would go to the storehouse and bring back the corn to make the meal. The boy became very curious and decided to follow her. He watched her as she stood in front of her basket and rubbed her hand along the side of her body. As she did this the corn filled the basket. He became afraid and thought that she might be a witch. He hurriedly returned to the lodge. When the Grandmother came in she knew that he had seen what she had done. She told him that because of this she must die and leave him. She would tell him what to do so that there would always be food for their people. She said, “When I die, go to the south side of the lodge and clear the Earth until it is completely bare. Then drag my body along the Earth seven times and bury me in the ground.” The boy did as he was told. He dragged her body over the Earth and wherever a drop of her blood fell to the ground a small plant would appear. He kept the ground cleared around each plant and soon they grew very tall with long tassels of silk at the top which reminded him of his Grandmother’s long hair. Eventually ears of corn grew and his Grandmother’s promise came true. Even though the Grandmother has passed from this Earth she is still present as the corn plant to feed her people.(9)
The following questions could be used for discussion.
The Grandmother was very close to her grandson. On his seventh birthday she gave him a bow and arrow so that he could hunt. How do you think they got their food before this?
The boy became frightened when he saw how his grandmother got the corn. If he asked her about it, do you think she would have told him? Why or why not?
3. The boy thought his grandmother was a witch because of the magic that she used. He did not understand what was happening. Sometimes we perceive a situation in a certain way because we do not know enough about it. Have you ever been in a situation in which people thought badly of you? Did you ever misjudge someone because you did not know all the facts?
4. What lesson did you learn from this myth?
The Pima Indians of the Southwest region have passed down the myth explaining how the first man and woman came to be in the myth entitled “Man and Woman Story”.