Because almost half of all American Indians are now born and live in urban areas away from their reservations and traditional storytellers, and many are multi-racial, multi-cultural and possibly 2, 3, or even 4 generations away from their ancestors who knew the old traditional stories and understood the languages they were told in, many have never heard the creation stories of their tribe (or tribes - many people of Indian descent have relatives from more than one tribe). However, just because a Native American wasn’t raised on a reservation among traditional people, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she doesn’t know their tribe’s creation story.
We are now about to take our leave and kind farewell to our native land, the country the Great Spirit gave our Fathers, we are on the eve of leaving that country that gave us birth, it is with sorrow we are forced by the white man to quit the scenes of our childhood…we bid farewell to it and all we hold dear.
Charles Hicks, Tsalagi (Cherokee) Vice Chief speaking of The Trail of Tears, Nov. 4, 1838
Once upon a time.. there were two girl cousins who lived in a large tribal village and on evenings when the moon was out, they would go to the shore and play, claiming that the moon as their husband, they’d spend the night gazing and making love to the man in the moon.
For shelter they had propped up a bidarka (large animal skin boat), and during the night they’d change positions so they could always face the moon. In the morning when they’d return home to their families, their parents would always question as to where they had been, and the girls would tell them how they had watched the moon until it was out of sight.
One night, the moon went aways out of their sight, and one cousin complained to the other, “Why does the moon hide so suddenly? I like to play with him and enjoy his moonlight.” The other cousin agreed. And when it was not yet midnight, the moon was away, hidden behind clouds.
They startled when they heard the voice of a young man as he approached them. “You have been professing your love for me,” he said. “I have have observed you and know you love me, so I have come for you. But since my work is very hard, I can only take one of you with me; the more patient one."
Each girl begged to be chosen till finally he said, "I have decided to take both of you. Close your eyes and keep them closed.” He grabbed each by the hair, and in the next moment they were flying through the air. The patience of one wore thin. As she opened her eyes, she felt herself drop down, down, down, down.. leaving her hair behind in his hands.
The patient cousin kept her eyes closed the entire time. and in the morning she found herself in the home of the moon. There she lived as the wife of the moon, happy in loving him.
The moon slept all day since he worked all night. He would go away in the morning and returned in the evening. Sometimes he was gone from mid-day until midnight. His irregular schedule puzzled his wife. But he never offered an explanation to her of what he did when he was away.
His silence and indifference irritated his young bride, and one day she said, “You go out every day, every evening, every night, and you never tell me what you do. What kinds of people do you associate with while I am left here?”
The moon replied, “I am not with other people, for there are not my kind of people here. I have important work to do, and I cannot be with you all the time."
The wife then said, "If your work is so hard, take me with you to help sometimes."
"My work is too hard for you,” said the moon. “I brought you up here, because I had no rest when you were down there. You and your lovely cousin were constantly staring at me and teasing me. Now stop your foolishness, you cannot help me. Stay home and be happy when I do return."
"You don’t expect me to stay home all the time.” The wife said as she started crying. “If I can’t go with you, can I go out by myself occasionally?"
"Of course.” The moon said. “Go anywhere you like, except in the two homes you see yonder. In the corner of each there is a curtain, under which you must never look.” After this warning her left his home that night, looking paler than usual.
Later, she went out for a walk. Although we went far and in different directions, she saw no people. She tried several short tails and on each she saw a man lying face down. She would kick them to disturb them. Each would turn and look at her with his one sparkling, bright eye, and say, “Why do you do that? I am busy and working.” She kicked them all until she grew bored and tired and then ran home.
On her way home, she saw the two forbidden homes, and she just had to look inside. A curtain hid a corner in the first, and she couldn’t resist the desire to look under the curtain. There she beheld a half-moon, a quarter-moon, and a crescent moon. In the second home she found full moon, one almost full and another more than half-full.
Thinking about the beautiful pieces, she decided she would try one on to see how it would feel. The one almost full pleased her most, so she placed it on one side of her face and there it stuck. She cried, and pulled but the moon would not come off. Fearing her husband would soon be back, she ran home and threw herself on the bed, and covered that side of her face.
There he found her, complaining that her face pained her. He suspected the real cause and went out to investigate. When he returned he asked her about the missing moon. She admitted, “I tried it on for fun, and now I cannot take it off.” He laughed and laughed and gently he pulled it off for her.
Seeing his good humor, she told him about her day, and the sport she had with the one-eyed people scattered about the sky.
“They are stars,” he told her reprovingly. “Since of your own free will you put on this moon, you can wear it from now on and help me in my hard work. I will finish my rounds with the full moon, and after that you can start in and finish out the month while I rest."
To this happy arrangement she gladly consented. And since that time the two have shared the hard work between them; the man in the moon, and his lady in the moon.