Happy Thanksgiving! Today, I’m thankful for family and friends. And for the wonderful dinner my mother-in-law will prepare this afternoon. (I’m hoping for sweet potatoes and applesauce.)
Looking for an appropriate tale to share today, I came across this Ojibwa legend, “How Indian Corn Came into the World.”
Wunzh, the eldest son of a kind, poor Indian, is the age when boys in his tribe fasts so he can see a vision of his Spirit Guide. Wunzh is a good boy and wishes, more than anything, that he could do something great for the people of his tribe. Wunzh withdraws to a small lodge apart from the village and begins his fast.
On the first day, he walks though the forests and meadows, filling his mind with the flowers, trees, all the growing things in hopes that he will dream of them in the night.
“Truly,” thought he, `”the Great Spirit made all things. To Him we owe our lives. But could He not make it easier for us to get our food than by hunting and catching fish? I must try to find this out in my vision.”
He returns to his hut and sleeps. On the third day of fasting, when he is becoming weak, he sees a vision of a young brave dressed in green and yellow come down from the sky. This stranger tells Wunzh that the Great Spirit has seen his fast and knows of his wish. The stranger says that Wunzh must wrestle him, that Wunzh learn the secret only by defeating him. The two wrestle, but Wunzh is too weak. The stranger tells him to stop for now, that he will return tomorrow. On the third day, Wunzh overcomes the stranger.
“O Wunzh, my friend,” said the conquered one, “you have wrestled manfully. You have met your trial well. To-morrow I shall come again and you must wrestle with me for the last time. You will prevail. Do you then strip off my garments, throw me down, clean the earth of roots and weeds, and bury me in that spot. When you have done so, leave my body in the ground. Come often to the place and see whether I have come to life, but be careful not to let weeds or grass grow on my grave. If you do all this well, you will soon discover how to benefit your fellow creatures.” Having said this the stranger disappeared.
The next day, everything happens as the stranger said. After burying the stranger, Wunzh returns to his father’s house, but he never forgets to tend his friend’s grave, pulling weeds, keeping the soil moist. One day, near the end of summer, he has his father follow him to the spot and there, where the brave was buried, grows tall, stonrg stalks bearing clusters of sweet, gold corn.
“It is my friend!” shouted the boy joyously; “it is Mondawmin, the Indian Corn! We need no longer depend on hunting, so long as this gift is planted and cared for. The Great Spirit has heard my voice and has sent us this food.”
The family feasts and gives thanks to the Great Spirit. And that’s how Indian Corn came into the world.
Seemed like a perfect story for today, all about sharing and thankfulness. And of course, Indians are as much a part of the traditional Thanksgiving story as the pilgrims are.
You can find the story on-line in several places, including here.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.