The First Strawberries

Retold by Barbara Shining Woman Warren

In the beginning of the world, ga lv la di e hi created First Man and First Woman. Together they built a lodge at the edge of a dense forest. They were very happy together; but like all humans do at times, they began to argue.

Finally First Woman became so angry she said she was leaving and never coming back. At that moment First Man really didn't care. First Woman started walking eastward down the path through the forest. She never looked back.

As the day grew later, First Man began to worry. At last he started down the same path in search of his wife. The Sun looked down on First Man and took pity on him. The Sun asked First Man if he was still angry with First Woman. First Man said he was not angry any more. The Sun asked if he would like to have First Woman back. First Man readily agreed he did.

The Sun found First Woman still angrily walking down the path. So to entice her to stop, the Sun caused to grow beneath her feet lovely blueberries. The blueberries were large and ripe. First Woman was still so angry she paid no attention but kept walking down the path toward the West.

Further down the path the Sun caused to grow some luscious blackberries. The blackberries were dark and very plump. First Woman looked neither left nor right, but kept walking down the path toward the West.

The Sun tried once again to entice First Woman to stop. Luscious raspberries grew beneath her feet. First Woman never looked down but kept walking down the path toward the West.

Finally to attract First Woman's attention, the Sun caused to grow a plant that had never grown on the earth before. The plant covered the ground in front of First Woman. Suddenly she became aware of a fragrance she had never known. Stopping she looked down at her feet. Growing in the path was a plant with shiny green leaves, lovely white flowers with the largest most luscious red berries she had ever seen. First Woman stopped to pick one. Hmmm...she had never tasted anything quite like it! It was so sweet! It was utterly delicious!

As First Woman ate the strawberry, the anger she felt began to fade away. She thought again of her husband and how they had parted in anger. She missed him and wanted to return home.

First Woman began to gather some of the berries. When she had all she could carry, she turned toward the East and started back down the path. Soon she met First Man. Together they shared the berries, and then hand in hand, they walked back to their lodge.

The Cherokee word for strawberry is ani. The rich bottomlands of the old Cherokee country were noted for their abundance of strawberries and other wild fruits. Even today, strawberries are often kept in Cherokee homes. They remind us not to argue and are a symbol of good luck.


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