Native American Indian Stories
Papago Tribe Story - Butterflies
The Papago - the Bean People - a Southwestern tribe
closely related to the Pima.
Though frugal and peaceful, they could be tough when attacked. and they defended themselves stoutly against raiding bands of Apaches. Papago women are renowned for their wonderful baskets woven from yucca fiber. Their traditional houses were round, dome-shaped, and flat-topped, 12 to 20 feet in diameter, and usually had a brush shelter (ramada) attached. They now live on a four-part reservation of almost three million acres in Arizona. Some offshoots of the tribe also live in Sonora, Mexico.
One day the Creator was resting, sitting,
watching some children at play in a village.
Their skin will become wrinkled. Their
hair will turn gray. Their teeth fall out.
Thus the Creator grew sadder and sadder.
Suddenly he smiled All those colors, they ought to be preserved.
I'll make something to gladden my heart,
something for these children to look at and enjoy.
All these he put into his bag.
As an afterthought, he put the songs of the birds in, too.
Then he walked over to the grassy spot
where the children were playing.
Open it; theres something nice inside, he told them.
The children opened the bag, and at once
hundreds and hundreds of colored butterflies flew out,
And the children, enchanted, said that they had never seen anything so beautiful.
The butterflies began to sing, and children listened smiling.
But then a songbird came flying, settling
on the Creators shoulder, scolding him,
You told us when you made us that every
bird would have his own song.
You're right, said the Creator. I made one
song for each bird,
So the Creator took the songs away from
the butterflies, and that's why they are silent.
If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first
Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can
In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its
So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving
the butterfly its freedom,
The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, "I
want to hide something from
The eagle said, "Give it to me, I will take it to the moon."
The Creator said, "No. One day they will go there and find it."
The salmon said, "I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean."
"No. They will go there too."
The buffalo said, "I will bury it on the Great Plains."
The Creator said, "They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there."
Grandmother Mole, who
lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes
And the Creator said,
"It is done."
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