Grandmother Spider Brings the Light
A retelling of a story from Cherokee tradition.
When the earth was first made, it was very dark, and the animals were afraid. One day Bear said, “I have seen light on the other side of the world, but the people will not share. Perhaps we could steal some for ourselves.”
The others thought this was a splendid idea, and started to discuss who should go first.
“I’ll go,” said fox.
Fox went, and stole a piece of light in his mouth, but it was so hot it burned his mouth and he dropped it, and the fox still has a black mouth to this day.
Possum tried next. He wrapped the light in his tail, and tried to drag it back, but it was too hot, and he dropped it. That is why no possum has fur on its tail.
Crow said, “Let me try!” And he went off to steal the light, but when he got close, it singed all of his feathers, and he turned black. He was so afraid, he ran away.
Finally Grandmother Spider said, “I will go.” When she reached the light, she was surprised by how hot it was. She thought of a plan, and began to spin and spin with her silky web. Soon she had enough for a bag. She approached the light, and quick as a flash, tucked the light into her bag.
When she got back, the animals were triumphant! “Hooray for Grandmother Spider!” They all shouted.
Grandmother Spider was happy to give them the light. “We should hang the light in the sky, so all can be warmed by it,” she said. The other animals thought that too was a good idea, but how to get it in the sky?
“I will go,” said Vulture. He took the bag of light, and put it on his head. It was hot, but he could stand it. He flew higher and higher, and the bag got hotter and hotter. He climbed higher, and his feathers turned black. Still higher, and the feathers on his head burned off! Still higher, and his head turned red. At the last possible second, he threw the light into the sky as hard as he could, and the Sun hung bright and beautiful, warming all the land.