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The First Strawberries

A retelling of a Cherokee myth

In days long ago, the Great Spirit created First Man and First Woman. These two lived in harmony in a lodge on the edge of a forest, but sometimes they would argue.

One day, after a very bitter argument, First Woman became so angry with her husband that she left. She walked away down the forest path without looking back. First Man just watched her go.

But later, as the sun began to set, First Man began to worry. He started walking down the path to find First Woman. As he walked, he realized he was sorry for the harsh words he had said. He prayed to the Great Spirit, saying, "Please put something in First Woman's path to slow her down, so I may catch her."

The Great Spirit put blackberries along the path in front of First Woman, but she kept walking. Then the Great Spirit put raspberries in the path, but First Woman continued walking. Then the Great Spirit put gooseberries in the path, but First Woman kept walking.

Finally, the Great Spirit went to his own garden in the Sky World, and picked the most beautiful white flowers. He pricked his finger with a thorn, and dripped his blood onto the flowers. Then he threw the flowers down into the path in front of First Woman. The flowers grew into a luscious heart-shaped red berry. When the woman saw this new berry, she dropped to her knees, picked some berries, and ate them. As she ate them she, too, was filled with remorse for her harsh words during the fight. She prayed to the Great Spirit, "Please bring my husband to me," and at that moment, her husband appeared behind her on the path.

First Woman shared the strawberries with First Man, and they asked each other's forgiveness for their fight. They picked more strawberries to take home to the lodge.

To this day, many Cherokee families keep strawberries in the home as a reminder not to argue.

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