The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee

The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee

The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee

The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee

Synopsis

Cherokee people have lived in the Great Smoky Mountains for thousands of years. During all this time, they have told stories to each other to explain how things came to be, to pass on lessons about life, and to describe the mountains, animals, plants, and spirits around them. The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee collects 26 stories that are great for kids and are still being told by storytellers today.

Presented by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in their own words, the stories appear in free-verse form, like poems on the page, so that if you read them aloud, you can hear the rhythm of the stories as they were originally told. Barbara R. Duncan provides a helpful introduction that describes Cherokee people's past and present ways of life and their storytelling traditions. The book also includes a glossary of key words from the stories, suggestions for further reading, and notes on the storytellers. For young readers, for parents to read aloud to young listeners, and for teachers and libraries, The Origin of the Milky Way provides an excellent introduction to Cherokee culture. (For readers age 9 and up.)



Storytellers:

Davy Arch

Robert Bushyhead

Edna Chekelelee

Marie Junaluska

Kathi Littlejohn

Freeman Owle

Excerpt

Why do people tell stories? For many reasons. Sometimes stories share wisdom about the best way to live. Sometimes stories keep the past alive, or prepare us for the future. Sometimes stories make us laugh, or scare us, or make us wonder about what strange things might happen in the world. But always stories connect us with people—the ones who cared enough to keep the story alive.

The stories in this book have been told by Cherokee people, passed down in spoken words from one generation to the next, for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. They come from a time when all knowledge was passed on in this form—told orally by one person to another, before the Cherokees used writing. They come from long ago but are still being told today, so I call them living stories. They are also called myths, legends, and folklore.

These stories originated in several different ways. Some were once considered sacred, and told only to certain people, because they explained special knowledge. Those people had to demonstrate that they were worthy of receiving the knowledge before the elders would share it with them. Some stories come from individuals—telling about something that happened to them, or to someone in their family. Other stories tell about supernatural experiences—with ghosts and Little People. and still other stories come from historical events, such as the story of the Trail of Tears.

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