By Evelyn Wolfson
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Aki’s large brown eyes followed his mother as she whirled gaily around and around in circles. While Tolowim-Woman twirled, a large black butterfly fluttered playfully around her. It brushed her extended arms. First one. Then the other. Then it floated over to 40 Tolowim-Woman and Butterfly-Man where Aki’s cradleboard leaned against the tree and fluttered in front of the little boy’s happy face. Tolowim-Woman stopped dancing when she heard her young son squealing. The handsome black butterfly circled around the oak tree showing off the tiny white circles that glowed above several reddish crossbars outlined on its wings.
In the Cherokee creation story, “How the World Was Made,” Grandfather Buzzard shapes wet earth, brought up from the bottom of an endless sea, with his wings, making mountains and valleys. Birds represent the Upper World, which the Cherokees associate with the past. Fish represent fertility, which the Cherokees 2 associate with the future. 50 HOW THE WORLD WAS M ADE When all the world was water, the animals lived in the sky beyond the rainbow where everyone complained about being cramped for space.
Butterfly-Man continued walking. Faster. And faster. And 44 Tolowim-Woman and Butterfly-Man faster. Tolowim-Woman continued to reach for butterflies in every direction. “Wait,” she cried. “I am coming. ” Tolowim-Woman ran. And called out for Butterfly-Man. And kept reaching out for butterflies as she went. But Butterfly-Man did not slow down. Nor did he turn around. Before long, Tolowim-Woman’s heart was gone away. 45 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: A: Why does Tolowim-Woman wish to change her life? Q: What qualities does Butterfly-Man possess, and what do they represent to Tolowim-Woman?
American Indian Mythology by Evelyn Wolfson