June 19, 2021
The Seven Nations
For those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, the Haida First Nation story of how Raven stole the sun is familiar. Versions vary about who it was that had the sun captured and hidden in a sky long house, but it was always Raven who took pity on the people stumbling around in the darkness and craftily stole the sun to bring light back into the world. In all stories it was his flying through the long house smoke hole with the sun that turned him black for all time.
Throughout world cultures there are stories of how humans developed a relationship with the Fire Nation. Some are about the Sun, others are about the basic energy of Fire. It’s interesting how many involve assistance from the Asharaji/Creature Nation. Here is story from the Seminole People in Florida collected in 1940 through the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration.
A Seminole Creation Myth
Many, many moons ago there was only one Indian tribe that knew the secret of fire. The other Indian tribes tried ceaselessly to learn the secret. Each year when the Green Corn Dance was held, the Indians danced around a circle of fire. Indians from other tribes were always there, but could never get close enough to the fire to secure the secret, it was guarded so well.
One time the biggest, finest, handsomest rabbit the Indians had ever seen came to the Green Corn Dance, and begged to be allowed to dance around the fire with them. He could sing sweeter, dance better, and whoop louder than any person or animal they had ever seen. But the older Indians were suspicious of the rabbit; they thought he might be a disguised Indian from a rival tribe, trying a steal the secret of fire. The younger Indians were more susceptible to his charm and the rabbit was allowed to take part in the dance. He danced closer and closer to the blaze, extending first one paw and then the other toward the fire. Suddenly he reached forward, grabbed a burning stick and, before the startled Indians could prevent him, disappeared swiftly into the forest. After holding a council, the wise men of the tribe decided to bring rain in order to extinguish the fire stolen by the rabbit. The medicine men went to the spring, and, for four mornings, made magic by charming the snake who kept guard there. Torrents of rain came down, soaking the rabbit who was fleeing through the forest. The fire went out.
However, the rabbit did not despair, but attended the Green Corn Dance the following year. This time it was harder to persuade the reluctant Indians to let him dance with them, but finally they consented. Again he seized a burning brand and escaped to the forest. The medicine men made magic the second time, causing heavy rains and the fire was again extinguished. For three consecutive years the rabbit succeeded in getting the fire, but each time the medicine men caused the fire to be put out by rain.
The fourth year the rabbit was wiser. After much persuasion, the Indians again allowed him to attend the Green Corn Dance. He obtained the fire and escaped. Again the Indians made the rains but, this time, the rabbit hid under a coral reef and protected the fire under the shelter of the rock. When the rain ceased, he hurried to his tribe with the fire, and now all the Indians know the secret of fire.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org