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Grandmother Spider and the Sun

A retelling of a Cherokee myth

Long ago, when the world was made, there was only darkness. There was much confusion, and people were always bumping into each other.

One day Fox told everyone he had seen the other side of the world, which was always light. He had asked the people of that place to share their light, but they were too greedy.

Possum said, "I will go fetch us some light." So he traveled to the other side of the world, where he found the Sun hanging in a tree. Possum took a piece of the Sun and hid it in his bushy tail, but the Sun was so hot it burned the hair off Possum's tail. That is why all possums have bare tails.

Next, Buzzard said, "I will go fetch the Sun." So he traveled to the other side of the world, where he found the Sun hanging in a tree. He took a piece of the sun and hid it in the feathers of his head, but the Sun was so hot it burned the feathers right off his head. That is why all buzzards have bald heads.

Then Grandmother Spider said, "I have an idea." First she made a large clay bowl. Then she spun a huge web, from one side of the sky to the other, and around to the other side of the world. She crawled on her web to the other side. She was so small the people of that land did not see her. When she reached the tree with the sun, Grandmother Spider quickly grabbed the sun and put it in her clay bowl. Then she scurried on her web back to our side of the world.

Bringing back the Sun in her clay bowl, Grandmother Spider brought not just light and warmth to the Cherokee. She also taught us how to make pottery.

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