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"The Legend of the Milky Way"


"The Legend of the Milky Way." In Chiltoskey, Mary Ulmer. Aunt Mary, Tell Me A Story: A Collection of Cherokee Legends and Tales. Ed. Mary Regina Ulmer Galloway.  Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Communications, 1990, pp. 62-63. For seven nights the cornmeal of an old couple disappears. A young man in their neighborhood helps them see and scare away a large spirit dog eating the meal at night. The Great One leaves a pathway of stars where the dog left a trail of meal in the sky, to honor the young man who led all the neighbors in scaring away the dog.

Bruchac, Joseph and Gayle Ross. The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale. Illus. Virginia A. Stroud. NY: Dial  Books for Young Readers, 1995. A fearful giant spirit dog is chased into the sky, spilling white cornmeal and forming the Gil'liutsun stanun'yi, or Milky Way, after he is caught stealing cornmeal from the people. The authors adapted a tale told by their Cherokee ancestors and friends, emphasizing the elderly Beloved Woman who held a powerful place in Cherokee traditions. They added the character of a brave grandson "to represent the love children everywhere feel for their grandparents." Stroud, a Cheokee-Creek illustrator, provides notes on details from Cherokee life in the early 1800s included in her acrylic paintings. The text of this story is reprinted in Crosscurrents of Children's Literature: An Anthology of Texts and Criticism. Oxford Univ. Press, 2006, in Part 3 on Oral and Written Literary Traditions.

Arneach, Lloyd. "The Milky Way." In Long-Ago Stories of the Eastern Cherokee. Illus. Elizabeth Ellison. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2008. pp. 63-67. Arneach is a native Cherokee professional storyteller.

"The Milky Way," as told by Lloyd Arneach, Cherokee storyteller. In Burrison, John A., ed. Storytellers: Folktales and Legends from the South. Athens, GA: U of GA Pr, 1989. A number of animal tales and pourquoi tales by Arneach and others are included in this book.

"The Origin of the Milky Way." Retold by Marie Junaluska. In Duncan, Barbara R., ed. Living Stories of the Cherokee. Chapel Hill: U of NC Press, 1998, pp. 189-92. This is a short retelling of the legend from James Mooney, Myths of the Cherokee (Bureau of American Ethnology, 1900), followed by a translation into Cherokee, given in phonetic alphabet and in the Cherokee syllabary developed by Sequoyah. Junaluska grew up speaking Cherokee.

"The Origin of the Milky Way." Retold by Swimmer. In Duncan, Barbara R., ed. The Origin of the Milky Way & Other Living Stories of the Cherokee. Caravan book. Illus. Shan Goshorn. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. 133 pp. This tale is in section 6, "Living with Cherokee Language." "Presented by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in their own words, the stories appear in free-verse form, like poems on the page, so that if you read them aloud, you can hear the rhythm of the stories as they were originally told."

O'Hearn, Michael. How Spirit Dog Made the Milky Way: A Retelling of a Cherokee Legend. Illus. Roberta Collier-Morales, 2009. "A Cherokee couple spends their days fishing and making cornmeal. When a giant dog steals their cornmeal, the neighbors all gather to help. Find out how this Cherokee legend explains the creation of the Milky Way."

The Milky Way." As told by The Warrior [Edward Reynolds] based on James Mooney." In web site Tsalagi, a Cherokee Village. Snellville, GA. A short retelling of the tale about the dog stealing meal, stressing that "At one time, life in the south was dependent on the operations of mills" which made grains that were the staples of diets. (link not functioning 4/25/09)

Cheek, Pauline. Appalachian Scrapbook: An A-B-C of Growing Up in the Mountains. Johnson City, Tenn.: Overmountain Press, 1988. 161 pp. The text, in the voice of a child from Madison County, NC, is longer than a traditional alphabet book, but it includes many pencil drawings and references to folktales and legends, along with many other Appalachian traditions, historical references, and natural features. Examples: B is for ballads; J is for Jonesborough, its storytelling festival, and Jack tales, with an illustrated retelling of "Jack and the Newground"; L is for legend, with the narrator's Granddaddy retelling the Cherokee legend about the Milky Way; M is for moonshine, with a yarn about curing a cow with moonshine; U is for "Unto These Hills" (Cherokee drama); X for "x marks the spot" includes a number of superstitions and a story told by fiddler Roy Sharp at the Lunsford Festival, about getting incredible fiddling skill from an encounter with the devil at a crossroads.

See also many other animal tales and pourquoi tales in the Native American section of this index, and in Mooney's Myths of the Cherokee, Duncan's Living Stories of the Cherokee, and other collections, such as Gayle Ross's How Rabbit Tricked Otter and Other Cherokee Animal Stories. Illus. Murv Jacobs. The Parabola Storytime Series. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Caedmon Audio cassette, 1996.

Arneach, Lloyd. "Pleiades and the Pine." Long-Ago Stories of the Eastern Cherokee. Illus. Elizabeth Ellison. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2008. pp. 70-72. The Cherokee call the constellation of the Pleiades "The Boys" from a legend about seven boys who wouldn't stop playing a game with stones and sticks until their mothers cooked the stones and tried to make the boys eat them. The boys started to dance and rise into the air and became stars, except for one whose mother pulled him so hard that he went into the earth. His mother's tears made a pine tree grow. Arneach is a native Cherokee professional storyteller.

Appalachian Picture Book Bibliography: Cherokee Tales

brown quilt squareHispanic Connection

"The Trail of Stars" (How the Milky Way came to be): an Aztec myth. In Vigil, Angel. In The Eagle on the Cactus: Traditional Stories from Mexico = El águila encima del nopal: cuentos tradicionales de Mexico. Transl. Francisco Miraval. World folklore series. Englewood, Colo: Libraries Unlimited, 2000.

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