How Indian Corn Came Into The World

: Good Stories For Great Holidays



Long, long ago, in a beautiful part of this country, there lived an

Indian with his wife and children. He was poor and found it hard to

provide food enough for his family. But though needy he was kind and

contented, and always gave thanks to the Great Spirit for everything

that he received. His eldest son, Wunzh, was likewise kind and gen

and thankful of heart, and he longed greatly to do something for his


The time came that Wunzh reached the age when every Indian boy fasts so

that he may see in a vision the Spirit that is to be his guide through

life. Wunph's father built him a little lodge apart, so that the boy

might rest there undisturbed during his days of fasting. Then Wunzh

withdrew to begin the solemn rite.

On the first day he walked alone in the woods looking at the flowers and

plants, and filling his mind with the beautiful images of growing things

so that he might see them in his night-dreams. He saw how the flowers

and herbs and berries grew, and he knew that some were good for food,

and that others healed wounds and cured sickness. And his heart was

filled with even a greater longing to do something for his family and

his tribe.

"Truly," thought he, "the Great Spirit made all things. To Him we owe

our lives. But could He not make it easier for us to get our food than

by hunting and catching fish? I must try to find this out in my vision."

So Wunzh returned to his lodge and fasted and slept. On the third day he

became weak and faint. Soon he saw in a vision a young brave coming down

from the sky and approaching the lodge. He was clad in rich garments of

green and yellow colors. On his head was a tuft of nodding green plumes,

and all his motions were graceful and swaying.

"I am sent to you, O Wunzh," said the sky-stranger, "by that Great

Spirit who made all things in sky and earth. He has seen your fasting,

and knows how you wish to do good to your people, and that you do not

seek for strength in war nor for the praise of warriors. I am sent to

tell you how you may do good to your kindred. Arise and wrestle with me,

for only by overcoming me may you learn the secret."

Wunzh, though he was weak from fasting, felt courage grow in his heart,

and he arose and wrestled with the stranger. But soon he became weaker

and exhausted, and the stranger, seeing this, smiled gently on him and

said: "My friend, this is enough for once, I will come again to-morrow."

And he vanished as suddenly as he had appeared.

The next day the stranger came, and Wunzh felt himself weaker than

before; nevertheless he rose and wrestled bravely. Then the stranger

spoke a second time. "My friend," he said, "have courage! To-morrow will

be your last trial." And he disappeared from Wunzh's sight.

On the third day the stranger came as before, and the struggle was

renewed. And Wunzh, though fainter in body, grew strong in mind and

will, and he determined to win or perish in the attempt. He exerted all

his powers, and, lo! in a while, he prevailed and overcame the stranger.

"O Wunzh, my friend," said the conquered one, "you have wrestled

manfully. You have met your trial well. To-morrow I shall come again

and you must wrestle with me for the last time. You will prevail. Do you

then strip off my garments, throw me down, clean the earth of roots and

weeds, and bury me in that spot. When you have done so, leave my body in

the ground. Come often to the place and see whether I have come to life,

but be careful not to let weeds or grass grow on my grave. If you do all

this well, you will soon discover how to benefit your fellow creatures."

Having said this the stranger disappeared.

In the morning Wunzh's father came to him with food. "My son," he said,

"you have fasted long. It is seven days since you have tasted food, and

you must not sacrifice your life. The Master of Life does not require


"My father," replied the boy, "wait until the sun goes down to-morrow.

For a certain reason I wish to fast until that hour."

"Very well," said the old man, "I shall wait until the time arrives when

you feel inclined to eat." And he went away.

The next day, at the usual hour, the sky stranger came again. And,

though Wunzh had fasted seven days, he felt a new power arise within

him. He grasped the stranger with superhuman strength, and threw him

down. He took from him his beautiful garments, and, finding him dead,

buried him in the softened earth, and did all else as he had been


He then returned to his father's lodge, and partook sparingly of food.

There he abode for some time. But he never forgot the grave of his

friend. Daily he visited it, and pulled up the weeds and grass, and kept

the earth soft and moist. Very soon, to his great wonder, he saw the

tops of green plumes coming through the ground.

Weeks passed by, the summer was drawing to a close. One day Wunzh asked

his father to follow him. He led him to a distant meadow. There, in

the place where the stranger had been buried, stood a tall and graceful

plant, with bright-colored, silken hair, and crowned by nodding green

plumes. Its stalk was covered with waving leaves, and there grew from

its sides clusters of milk-filled ears of corn, golden and sweet, each

ear closely wrapped in its green husks.

"It is my friend!" shouted the boy joyously; "it is Mondawmin, the

Indian Corn! We need no longer depend on hunting, so long as this gift

is planted and cared for. The Great Spirit has heard my voice and has

sent us this food."

Then the whole family feasted on the ears of corn and thanked the Great

Spirit who gave it. So Indian Corn came into the world.