White Corn and Her Sons Fire (Native American Folk Tale)

O-way-way-ham-by-hoh, old man Shrivelled Corn had a beautiful daughter named White Corn. White Corn was a widow with two sons both named Fire. They all lived together at San Juan.

Now Faint Star lived up in the sky, and was in love with the beautiful White Corn. Every night Faint Star came to beg White Corn to go up and live with him and be Mrs. Faint Star.

The Sun was in love with White Corn too, so every day he came to her house to beg her to be Mrs. Sun.

But White Corn loved her old father and her little sons Fire, so she would not go with either of them.

Faint Star grew tired of begging, so one night he slipped down to old man Shrivelled Corn”s house and stole White Corn away. He took her away up to his house in the sky.

When the Sun came next day, he found that White Corn had been taken away. “In four days I'll meet that star,” said the Sun, “and take White Corn away to live with me.”

Sure enough in four days the Sun took his peace pipe with some strong tobacco and went to Faint Star”s house. Faint Star said good-morning to the Sun and invited him to sit down and tell what the Sun had come to see him about. They sat down and the Sun took out his peace pipe and filled it with the strong tobacco. He was accustomed to that strong tobacco, so when he took a puff on the peace pipe, it did not hurt him at all. He passed the pipe to Faint Star for him to have his turn at a smoke. But when Faint Star drew a puff of the strong tobacco smoke he fell over dead. Then the Sun caught up White Corn in his arms and carried her away to his house.

The two little Fire boys grew to be big boys and all the time they were wondering how they could ever get their beautiful mother back again. They knew that the Sun had stolen her to live in his house; but they did not know how they could reach the Sun”s house to get her away. Now that they were big the Fire boys decided to try to get to their mother anyway. So they went East and climbed over the highest mountain they could find, looking for a path to the Sun. While they were on top of the high mountain they saw a tiny line of smoke coming from the valley below them. They ran down to see from whence that smoke came. What do you think they found? Why, old Grandmother Spider cooking her dinner of corn meal mush. Her fire was made of tiny straws and her pot was no bigger than your thimble; but she invited the Fire boys to sit down and share her dinner with her. The Fire boys laughed:

“All of your dinner, Grandmother Spider, would not even be a taste for one of us!”

“Never mind,” replied Grandmother Spider, “you are tired and hungry from your long journey and I bid you eat.”

Just for fun the Fire boys dipped their fingers into the mush to taste it. It was delicious and as fast as they ate it, more mush came into the little pot. They ate and ate until they had a plenty; and when they finished, the little thimble-pot was still full of mush.

“Now,” said Grandmother Spider, “you are ready to continue your journey and I will help you get your mother White Corn back from the Sun.”

She took from her pocket a long peace pipe, a buckskin bag of tobacco and a little bag of medicine.

“Take these with you, Fire boys, and when you reach the Sun”s house, fill the pipe with tobacco and smoke it. But when you pass the pipe to the Sun for his turn to smoke, drop this medicine into the pipe quickly. Now shut your eyes tight and do not open them until you hear the Sun speak to you.”

The boys took the pipe, the tobacco and the medicine and then shut their eyes as Grandmother Spider had told them. Then Grandmother Spider spun a web all the way up to the Sun”s house. She took the Fire boys up on the web and set them down at the Sun”s door.

“Good-morning, Strangers,” said the Sun, “what do you wish at my house?”

The Fire boys opened their eyes.

“Let us smoke together,” replied the Fire boys, “while we tell you our errand.”

So they all sat down to smoke. The Fire boys took out the pipe that Grandmother Spider had given them and filled it with tobacco. Then each of them drew a long puff from the pipe; but when they passed it to the Sun, they dropped in the medicine, just as Grandmother Spider had told them to do. The Sun drew a puff from the pipe and immediately he fell back fast asleep. All the earth and everywhere grew dark. The Fire boys grabbed White Corn from the Sun”s house and ran outside. Grandmother Spider was there waiting.

“Shut your eyes quick, boys.”

The Fire boys shut their eyes and when they opened them again they were safely back in old man Shrivelled Corn”s house with their beautiful mother White Corn and the Sun was shining outside once mole.

Author Note: San Juan Pueblo

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