Photo from Wikimedia

Corn in some form or other is almost always a part of our Thanksgiving dinner. I think this year my mom will be making a corn casserole to go along with the turkey and potatoes and other sides.  “The Strange Origin of Corn” is a tale from the Abenaki people of northeastern North America that tells us how corn came to be.

A long time ago, a man lived all alone, far from others and so lived on roots and barks and nuts. He became very lonely and tired of scratching for food. He lay down in a sunny spot and dreamed for several days.

When he awoke there was a beautiful woman with long light hair standing near him. He was thrilled to see her, but although he begged she would not come close to him. He told her how lonely he was and begged her not leave. She promised not to, as long as he did exactly what she said. Of course he promised to do his best.

First she had him take two sticks rub them together quickly.  The dry grass caught on fire and an area of the ground was burned. She told him that when sun set, he needed to drag her by her hair all over the burned ground. He protested, but she insisted. She explained that wherever he dragged her, a green plant like grass would spring up and something like hair would appear between the leaves. Soon, she stated, seeds would be ready for his use.

He followed the lovely woman’s orders and “when the Indians see silk on the cornstalk, they know that the beautiful woman has not forgotten them.”

I don’t know how i feel about this short story. The woman is beautiful and obviously wise. She taught this lone man how to make fire. Can you imagine his astonishment? And she gave the people corn, one of the staple foods. But she requested he drag her around by her hair, giving the man power over her.

Any thoughts?

You can read the story in several places on-line, 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.


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