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Oban's Myths & Legends

How Butterflies Came To Be
Native American - Papago (Tohono O'odham) Story
retold by Sanjit

Sanjit, Oban's nephewIn Papago creation stories, Earth-Maker created the world and Elder Brother created people. Elder Brother is I’itoi, spirit of goodness. He watches over the Papago from his home on top of a cloud-covered mountain.

A long time ago, Elder Brother was out walking. The summer rains had finished and everywhere he saw the colours of autumn, brightly coloured flowers and trees and the blue sky.

He heard birds singing. He came to a village where young women were grinding corn and children were playing. They ran around, noisy and happy, and he felt happy too. “The world is beautiful,” he thought, and he sat down to enjoy it.

Desert Cholla flowerSuddenly he was sad. “It will be winter soon. The leaves will shrivel and fall and the flowers will fade. The beautiful colours will be gone and it will be cold.”

As he watched the children playing, he decided the summer colours should be kept somehow so that he and everyone else could enjoy them longer. He would make something to hold them.

Colours from many thingsElder Brother always had a special bag with him, his creation bag. It was big enough to hold whatever he needed to carry.

He opened it up, looked around and began to collect colours from things: gold from a ray of sunlight, blue from the sky, shiny black from a woman’s hair, white from the cornmeal, green from pine needles, yellow from leaves, and purple, red and orange from flowers.

The music of bird songsAll the colours went into the bag.

He thought he was finished, but then he heard the birds singing again and he added their songs to the colours in the bag.




continue >> How butterflies came to be Part 2