Milky Way

Many years ago Breathmaker blew his breath toward the sky and made the Milky Way. This white pathway leads to a place in the west where good people go when they die. Animals take the same pathway when they die. The Milky Way shines brightest when someone dies so that the pathway to the "City of Light" is lighted for them. Only people who have led exemplary lives will be able to find the pathway. Bad people stay in the ground where they are buried which is why stepping on graves is avoided.

Many Native American tribes have similar legends regarding the Milky Way.

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When the world was still new, people had no way to warm themselves or heat their food. They were cold in the winter and hungry all the time, because their uncooked food did not taste good.

The Master of Breath took pity on them and caused a bright glow to appear in the sky. The light grew brighter and brighter. Suddenly, small bright objects shot out of the sky and fell to the ground. The people rushed over to find out what the bright objects were. One Indian brave found two of the glowing objects laying next to each other on the ground. They were small rocks. As he picked them up, the pain of the heat caused him to drop them. As they hit the ground, one rock struck the other causing a spark to fly. The spark caught the grass on fire and it began to spread.

At first the Indian was frightened by what he saw and felt, but the Master of Breath spoke to him and told him not to be afraid. The Master explained that the rocks were sacred and were to be used to warm the people and cook their food. Then the other Indians gathered around the fire as it burned brightly in the night sky. They felt it warm their cold bodies.

Then the Indian spoke and said, "This fire is good. It has been sent to us by the Master of Breath to warm our houses, cook our food, and light our councils. You must remember that the fire is sacred, and must be kept alive always." Then he said, "Tonight we will hold council together and when we are finished, each woman will be given an ember from the fire to take to her home to start her home-fire. Each year at this time, put out the old fire in your home and clean out the ashes. Then you must return to this council ground and receive a new fire to take to your homes."

Taken from Cultural Curriculum for Communities

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Four Crossed Logs

The tribe needed to leave the area where they were living. Scouts were sent to find a place with running water, room for growing corn, and plenty of animals to provide food for the people. After some time the scouts returned and told the people about the place they had found for the tribe to live. Everyone packed up their belongings and prepared for the journey to their new home. Again the scouts led the way. Because they were going ahead of the main group, they told the people to look for four crossed logs to indicate the path they were to follow. After a long journey, they arrived in the area that is now the southeast part of the United States.

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The Alligator Tracks pattern is one of the designs of the Alligator Clan.

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Snake Jaw

The Snake Jaw pattern is one of the designs of the Snake Clan. The legend of the snake is significant to this Seminole clan. However, there are many American Indian tribes that will not kill snakes; this legend explains why snakes are respected and left alone.

Snakes did not originally have teeth or fangs and were harmless creatures. One day a bad Indian saw a mother snake and her babies. He killed the babies but the mother snake escaped. She cried for three days and then went to the chief and told him about her babies being killed. The chief made some teeth for the mother and told her to bite the man if he bothered her again. Since then, many tribes will not kill a rattlesnake, believing that the snake will not bite if it is left alone.

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