How The Wild flowers Became Sacred
A Choctaw Legend
One day little Josephine went with her Aunt Selee to look at her grandmother's flower garden. Josephine thought her aunt would like some of the flowers so she started picking some. When her aunt saw Josephine, she called, "Sutapa, sutapa! (You hurt- quit)." Then she began to cry. Josephine was distressed and puzzled. She ran into the house to her grandmother. "Grandmother," she said, almost in tears, "why is Aunt Selee crying? I did not touch her but she called to me, "You hurt, quit!"
"I understand," replied her grandmother as she saw the flowers in Josephine's hand."Would you like to have these flowers, Grandmother?" Josephine asked when she saw her looking at them. "I broke them for Aunt Selee but I don't think she would want them now. No, Josephine, she wouldn't. The Indians love the wild and the garden flowers but they never pick them. But, Grandmother, they are so pretty! You do not understand, child. Let's sit here and I'll tell you why."
Long ago when the world was young, there was in the heavens a constellation where shone the brightest star in all the sky. This beautiful star, Bright Eyes, was happy because Earth people loved her beauty. After many years a star that made Bright Eyes dim came into the sky. This made her sad because people could not see her face. She called to her sisters, "Come, sisters, let us go down to Earth where we can live with the Earth people and make them happy. The new star has hidden my light and the sky does not need us any longer."
On their way to Earth, Bright Eyes and her sisters stopped on Mount Joy where lived Uncta, the great bronze spider, spinner of finest webs. "We must learn to spin if Uncta will teach us," said Bright Eyes. He was proud of his spinning and weaving and was glad to teach the maidens. He set them to work and soon they were able to spin beautiful threads and weave them into fine cloth. "You and your sisters have done well," Uncta told Bright Eyes."
"How did they get to Earth?" asked Josephine."Bright Eyes said to Uncta one day, "Will you help us get to Earth? We want to teach the people how to spin and weave." He wove a basket and fastened it to a strong thread to lower them to Earth. When they touched the Earth, they became the Little Folk. They loved the forests and there they lived, working, dancing and playing. Earth people learned quickly to spin and weave. Then the Little Folk taught them how to make bright colors and use them in weaving their rugs and blankets. Earth people, Indians, loved these Little Folk who helped them and Bright Eyes was happy again.
Bright Eyes and her sisters assisted the Indians when they were sick. They went into the forests to pray to the Great Spirit to protect the Indians. They told the people to pray to the Great Spirit also. All of the prayers went up to Sandlephone who sat on a great ladder high in the sky. As soon as the prayers had come into his hands, they were changed into lovely flowers. He closed the blossoms and dropped the seeds upon the Earth while the perfume was carried on into the heavens where the Great Spirit was. The Little Folk cared for the seeds as they fell and from them sprang the wild flowers. They watched and tended the flowers. The Indians loved them but never hurt them. They called the flowers "Tokens of Love from Great Spirit. Oh," said Josephine, "after this I shall not break them ever again."