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Native American Indian StoriesAmerican Indian Mysteries and Legends



Papago Tribe Story - Butterflies

The Papago - the Bean People - a Southwestern tribe closely related to the Pima.
They are probably descendants of the ancient Hohokam. The Papago are an agricultural people who irrigate by flooding.

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.

How Butterflies were created


One day the Creator was resting, sitting, watching some children at play in a village.
The children laughed and sang, yet as he watched them, the Creators heart was sad.
He was thinking: These children will grow old.

Their skin will become wrinkled. Their hair will turn gray. Their teeth fall out.
The young hunters arm will fail. These lovely young girls will grow ugly and fat.
The playful puppies will become blind mangy dogs.
And those wonderful flowers-yellow and blue, red and purple-will fade.
The leaves from the trees will fall and dry up. Already they are turning yellow.

Thus the Creator grew sadder and sadder.
It was in the fall, and the thought of the coming winter, with its cold and lack
of game and green things, made his heart heavy. Yet it was still warm, and the sun was shining.
The Creator watched the play of sunlight and shadow on the ground,
the yellow leaves being carried here and there by the wind.
He saw the blueness of the sky, the whiteness of some cornmeal ground by the women.

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.
The Creator took out his bag and started gathering things: a spot of sunlight, a handful
of blue from the sky, the whiteness of the cornmeal, the shadow of playing children
the blackness of a beautiful girls hair, the yellow of the falling leaves, the green of the
pine needles, the red, purple, and orange of the flowers around him.

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.
Children, little children, this is for you, and he gave them his bag.

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,
dancing around the childrens heads, settling on their hair, fluttering up again to sip from this or that flower.

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,
saying: Its not right to give our songs to these new pretty things.

You told us when you made us that every bird would have his own song.
And now you've passed them all around.
Isn't it enough that you gave your new playthings the colors of the rainbow?

You're right, said the Creator. I made one song for each bird,
and I shouldn't have taken what belongs to you.

So the Creator took the songs away from the butterflies, and that's why they are silent.
They're beautiful even so! he said.

Buck Conner
Member of the ‘Turtle Clan’ - Lenni Lenape Society

Butterflies Legend


If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first
capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.

Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal
the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all.

In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom,
the Great Spirit always grants the wish.

So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom,
the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

Butterfly Stories


The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, "I want to hide something from
the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality."

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
but sees with spiritual eyes, said, "Put it inside of them."

And the Creator said, "It is done."
Butterfly legends


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