How the strawberry came to the Cherokee people

Posted by | May 4, 2012

In the beginning of the world, ga lv la di e hi — Father to us in heaven living— created First Man and First Woman. Together they built a lodge at the edge of a dense forest. They were very happy together; but like all humans do at times, they began to argue.

Finally First Woman became so angry she said she was leaving and never coming back. At that moment First Man really didn’t care. First Woman started walking westward down the path through the forest. She never looked back.

As the day grew later, First Man began to worry. At last he started down the same path in search of his wife. The Sun looked down on First Man and took pity on him. The Sun asked First Man if he was still angry with First Woman. First Man said he was not angry any more. The Sun asked if he would like to have First Woman back. First Man readily agreed he did.

The Sun found First Woman still walking down the path toward the West. So to entice her to stop, the Sun caused to grow beneath her feet lovely blueberries. The blueberries were large and ripe. First Woman paid no attention but kept walking down the path toward the West.

Further down the path the Sun caused to grow some luscious blackberries. The berries were very black and plump. First Woman looked neither left nor right but kept walking down the path toward the West.

At last the Sun caused to grow a plant that had never grown on the earth before. The plant covered the ground in front of First Woman. Suddenly she became aware of a fragrance she had never known.

Stopping she looked down at her feet. Growing in the path was a plant with shiny green leaves, lovely white flowers with the largest most luscious red berries she had ever seen. First Woman stopped to pick one. Hmmm…she had never tasted anything quite like it! It was so sweet.

As First Woman ate the berry, the anger she felt began to fade away. She thought again of her husband and how they had parted in anger. She missed him and wanted to return home.

First Woman began to gather some of the berries. When she had all she could carry, she turned toward the East and started back down the path. Soon she met First Man. Together they shared the berries, and then hand in hand, they walked back to their lodge.

The Cherokee word for strawberry is ani. The rich bottomlands of the old Cherokee country were noted for their abundance of strawberries and other wild fruits. Even today, strawberries are often kept in Cherokee homes. They remind us not to argue and are a symbol of good luck.

source: ‘The First Strawberries,’ retold by Barbara Shining Woman Warren
http://www.powersource.com/cocinc/articles/strwbry.htm

Cherokee+myths strawberries +appalachia +appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

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