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Native Americans Tale

Origin of Fire


 Long,  long  ago,  animals  and  trees talked with each other, but there was  no  fire  at  that  time.

Fox  was  most  clever and  he tried to think of a way to create fire for  the  world. One day, he decided to visit the Geese, te-tl, whose cry he wished  to  learn  how  to  imitate.  They  promised  to  teach  him  if  he  would  fly with  them. So they contrived a way to attach  wings  to Fox, but  cautioned  him  never  to  open  his  eyes  while  flying.

Whenever  the  Geese arose  in  flight,  Fox  also flew along with them  to  practice  their  cry. On  one such adventure, darkness descended  suddenly  as  they  flew  over  the  village  of  the  fireflies, ko-na- tcic-a. 

In  midflight,  the  glare  from the flickering fireflies caused Fox to forget and he opened his eyes instantly his wings collapsed!  His fall was uncontrollable. He landed within the walled area  of  the  firefly  village,  where a fire constantly burned in the centre.

Two kind fireflies came to see fallen Fox, who gave each one a necklace  of  juniper  berries,  katl-te-i-tse.

Fox  hoped  to  persuade  the  two  fireflies  to  tell him where he could  find  a  way  over  the  wall  to the outside. They led him to a cedar  tree,  which they explained would bend down upon command and  catapult  him  over  the  wall  if  he  so  desired.

That evening, Fox found the spring where fireflies obtained their water.

There also, he discovered coloured earth, which when mixed with water made paint. He decided to give himself a coat of white. Upon returning to  the  village,  Fox  suggested  to  the  fireflies,  Lets have a  festival  where  we  can  dance  and  I  will  produce  the music.

They  all agreed that would be fun and helped to gather wood to build  up a greater  fire. Secretly, Fox  tied  a piece  of cedar  bark  to  his  tail.  Then he made a  drum,  probably the first one ever construc-ted, and  beat it  vigorously  with  a  stick  for the dancing fireflies. Gradually,  he  moved  closer  and  closer  to  the  fire.

Fox  pretended  to  tire  from  beating  the  drum.  He  gave  it  to some  fireflies   who   wanted  to help make the music. Fox quickly thrust  his  tail   into  the fire,  lighting  the  bark,  and  exclaimed,  It is too  warm  here  for  me,  I  must  find  a  cooler  place.

Straight to the cedar tree Fox ran, calling, Bend down to me, my cedar tree, bend down!

Down  bent  the  cedar  tree  for  Fox  to  catch  hold, then up it carried  him  far  over  the  wall.  On  and  on  he  ran, with the fireflies in pursuit.

As  Fox  ran  along,  brush  and  wood  on  either  side of his path were  ignited  from  the  sparks  dropping  from the burning bark tied to his tail.

Fox finally tired and gave the burning bark to Hawk, i-tsarl-tsu-i, who carried it to brown Crane, tsi-nes-tso-l. He flew far southward, scattering  fire sparks everywhere. This is how fire first spread over the  earth.

Fireflies continued chasing Fox all the way to his burrow and declared,  Forever  after,  Wily  Fox,  your  punishment  for  stealing our  fire  will  be  that  you  can  never  make  use  of  it  for  yourself.

For  the  Apache  nation,  this  too  was the beginning of fire for them.  Soon  they  learned  to  use  it  for  cooking  their  food  and to keep  themselves  warm  in  cold  weather.