Early one day long ago from time out of memory the people of a Cherokee town awoke and faced east to say their morning prayers to the Creator in heaven (Ca-lun-la-ti). In the distance could be heard the cry of an owl, a sign of death and bad luck. The eastern sky began turning many colors, and it looked as if a storm was about to take place. Indians from other villages joined them and there was a feeling of sadness.
Soon, the Little People (Yun-wi T-suns-di — dwarfs or fairies with long black hair) who lived deep in the forest appeared to the Cherokee; they were only two feet tall and often brought messages to the people. They spoke first to the tribal elders and then to everyone who had assembled in the town.
They told a story of both greatness and sadness. Many years ago, a new star (no-t-lu-si) had appeared in the eastern sky beyond the big salt water. A special boy-child had been born to a tribe chosen by the creator. He had grown into a man of wisdom and had taught his people the ways of the Creator and the straight white path of peace.
He was a man of kindness and brought strong medicine (nu-wa-ti) to his people. Although he taught purity and harmony with the creator, he had many enemies who would not hear his message of peace. They would not believe that his medicine made sick people well. Thus, on this day, they would torture and kill this wise man, and he would walk towards the nightland (death).
As the sky grew dark, the Indians sang a death song to honor this beloved man of peace whom they called the Son of the Creator. All of the animal nations of the forests soon came and stood by them. Because of their sorrow, the Cherokee began to cry. Their tears soon covered the ground. When their weeping had ended, they looked down and saw that their tears had been changed into small stone crosses.
For the Indians, the cross design had always represented the cardinal points or the four directions. Now it had a new religious meaning. The Creator (E-do-da) had heard their prayers and songs and had given them a gift. The Cherokee kept these stone crosses and always honored them.
The Chiltoskey family of Cherokee, NC has preserved this Cherokee legend of the stone crosses.