Manataka American Indian Council

 

 

 

How Rainbow Got Its Colors

A Story from the Otoe

 

I shall tell you how Too-loo-lah, the rainbow, got its colors.

The delicate flowers of the Spring Moons bloom, and then they die. Gorgeous blossoms of summer moons live and a little longer and they too die. The riotous shades of autumn flowers flourish and then they are no more. We think they are gone forever-- But, no!! When the rainbow (the Too-loo-lah in our tongue) appears after a shower we see them again, these beautiful flowers of many colors, in the sky. The rainbow is the flowers' Land of the Hereafter."

"That is a beautiful story about beautiful things," said Sharp Claws. "Will you tell us another 'How" story?" "Shall I tell you what the people of my tribe call the tall flower (indigo flower) that grows upon the prairie, and how it got its name?" "Please!" begged Sharp Claws. "It always comes just at the time of the green corn," said Coming Daylight, "to tell us of the approach of the Warm Season. One time an old man stood at the edge of a small cornfield and looked at this flower which was growing nearby..

Suddenly a voice came from the flower, saying, 'Why-nee-yah,' which means in our tongue, 'Indian, go!' 'Why-nee-yah,' it repeated. 'This is the beginning of the Warm Season, and you will soon have roasting ears for your feasts. Go and cultivate that you may have much corn!' The old man almost forgot to do as the flower instructed him, although he finally remembered; and that is why the flower returns every year to remind the people to cultivate their corn and not to stand idle." As the story ended Circling Eagle, the boys' mother, called them in to sleep and she sang for them a little song they loved about the stars:


"One by one
The stars are lighted by the Sun
Before he retires to his lodge for rest.
It is his last duty of the day
."

Over and over she sang the song until the Sleep Man had made his noiseless visit to the darkened tipi.

From the Archives of Neshoba
Our thanks to Blue Panther blue_panther@mindspring.com

 

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