May 9, 2006

The origin of death


AUTHOR: Cheyenne Legend, Myth, Oral Story

When the world was created Death did not occur. The Earth became so overcrowded that eventually there wasn’t room for any more beings.The Chiefs held Council in the hope that they could resolve the problem. One man felt that it would advantageous if some people died, went away for a while, and then returned. Coyote felt this plan would not work.

Eventually when all the people came back from the dead there would not be enough food. All the others could not see the merit in Coyote’s thinking. They did not want their relatives to be gone forever. This, they said, would only cause unhappiness in the World.

They all agreed with the first speaker and Coyote stood alone with his plan.

So the medicine man built a grass house that faced the east. When someone died he would be placed in the house. The medicine man would sing a song calling the spirit of the dead to the house where the dead person was laid out to rest. Then, when the spirit came, to the happiness of all the people, the dead person would become alive.

When it happened that the first person died he was laid to rest in the house and the medicine man summoned the spirit through his song. Ten days later a strong whirlwind came and Coyote rushed to close the door to the house just as the whirlwind was about to enter.

The whirlwind, unable to enter the house, swept by the dead person and eternal life ended and death began.

Cheyenne Legends
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