Manataka American Indian Council






We are often told that the Cherokee man never does woman's work.  But this is not always true. One story tells how the man learned from the fish to do the work of the home.

A man had been hunting for many days and when he returned home, he found his family very, very ill.  They were so ill his wife could not cook and she could not tell him what to do for her. He was afraid that his wife and two children would die if he didn't find out what to do for them.  He knew his wife prepared herbs and plants when they were sick and he knew a little about the cooking.  So, he took some of the meat he had brought from the hunt and made a simple stew in the cooking pot.  He offered a gourd full to his wife and children.

His wife was too sick to eat the stew and the children became sicker. He was very worried.   He had no close neighbors and he thought he had very little time before something must be done.

That night he could not sleep, so early in the  dark morning he went out to the river bank to think and worry.  "What can I do?  What does she do for us? He worried and thought.  Down the river he heard a splash and he saw some bugs flying around. He knew that meant there was fish in the water.  Up the stream, he saw a mother fish and some babies. Then he saw the father fish bringing a bug for their breakfast. He watched the fish parents taking care taking care of the babies.  It was a calm and pretty little scene.

He looked down at the hands he had that the fish didn't have and he looked at the legs that he had that the fish did not have.  He remembered that the Great Creator had given him a mind.  So he said to himself, "get up and do something."

He thought very hard and tried to remember the medicine plants. He stepped on a plant and recognized the smell as one his wife had used in their stew when someone felt bad.  He took the plant and put a bit of it in the water with the meat.  He fed the broth to his wife and children and before night, they felt better. Then his wife could tell him more about what could be used for medicine.

The Cherokee know that the water and land animals have much to teach people about how to provide for their families.

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