Omir the Storyteller

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

How Corn Came Into The World


Many years ago, there lived a young boy named Wenze. He was a good boy, mindful of his duties and respectful of his parents. Wenze's family was poor, but his father made do the best he could.

The children he played with would often ask the boys of the tribe, "When you are old enough you will go into the woods to fast and ask the Great Spirit for a vision to guide you for the rest of your life. What will you ask for?"

His friends knew what they wanted. "I will ask to be a great warrior, to bring honor to my family!" said one.

"I will ask for strength and courage," said another.

But Wenze said, "I don't know." And truthfully, he didn't know, but he had an idea. Wenze would watch his father, and his friends' fathers, go out and hunt for food. Sometimes they had to hunt when it was cold, or raining, and sometimes game was scarce and they would get hungry. They supplemented their diet with berries, fruits and nuts, but they still had to hunt. Wenze was sad to think that the people of his village had to work so hard for their food, and he wanted to do something to help them.

One spring day Wenze was finally old enough to go on his fast. He went out into the woods with his father, and together they built a shelter so Wenze would not be disturbed while he fasted. Then, that day, he began his fast. That night, he sang a song to the Great Spirit:

Oh Great Spirit,
He who gives life and light to us,
Please help me to find a way
To feed my family
So our people will not have to work so hard.

The Great Spirit heard heard Wenze's song, and he was pleased. Most young men would ask for things for themselves -- courage, or strength, or sometimes wisdom. Wenze had asked for something that would benefit all of his people! Surely the Great Spirit would grant his request.

Wenze fasted and sang for four nights. On the fourth night, as Wenze slept, he had a vision. In his vision he saw a tall being, clad in greens and yellows, who swayed as he walked. The man had a great tuft of yellow silk on the top of his head. The tall man approached him and said, "Greetings, my friend. The Great Spirit has heard your song and he is pleased. He has sent me to help you. Before I can help you, though, you must defeat me in a wrestling contest. I shall return tomorrow. Be prepared!" And with that the man disappeared.

Wenze was overjoyed! His request was going to be answered! He prepared for the contest all day, and sang a new song asking for strength and help in defeating his new friend.

The night came, and Wenze was ready. He wrestled well, but was unable to overcome the tall man. "You have fought well for one who has fasted for five days, I shall return tomorrow. Be ready for me." And again the man vanished.

Wenze was disappointed, but ready. He fasted and sang again all that day, asking the Great Spirit for help in his battle. That night the man returned, and Wenze wrestled better than he had the night before, but he was still unable to overcome his mysterious visitor.

"You have done even better than yesterday," the man said. "Tomorrow you shall prevail, and here is what you must do. When I am defeated, you must remove the clothes from my body, Then you must clear the ground where I fall of grass and weeds, and bury me there. Make sure that my grave is well-respected and kept clear of weeds. Soon enough you shall have the answer to your request."

That day Wenze's father appeared with some food. "The Great Sprit does not require that you die in search of your vision," his father said.

In response Wenze told his father of his vision. "Tomorrow I shall eat," he said, "but I still must fast today to carry out my vision." The father returned to the village, concerned but respecting his son's wishes.

All that day Wenze sang, and fasted, and prepared for the appearance of his friend. He summoned all of his strength, and when the tall man appeared, Wenze fought hard, and soon enough he got hold of the man and threw him to the ground. Then Wenze stripped the clothes from the man's body and, making sure the life had gone out of him, buried him where he had fallen, after first clearing the grasses and weeds from the spot. Then, having accomplished his task, he fell to the ground, weak from hunger and exhaustion.

Wenze awoke to the aroma of food. He could only eat a little at first, but then ate a little more, and then eventually was able to eat a full meal. He rested for several days, then as soon as he was able he went to tend to the grave of his opponent.

In a few weeks plants started coming out of the ground where his friend had been buried. They didn't look like weeds, so Wenze let them grow, and the plants grew tall and strong through the summer.

That fall, Wenze gathered the people of his village and brought them out to the plot to show them the gift his friend had given him. There, where he had buried his friend, were tall plants that swayed in the wind. From the sides of the plants grew great ears of grain, clad in green and gold and topped with silky yellow hair, just like his friend. The grain sported milk-filled kernels, sweet to the taste.

"This is the gift I was shown in my vision," Wenze announced. "If we plant these in the spring and take care of them during the summer, we will have enough food to feed us all. We will no longer have to rely solely on hunting for our food." They picked and stored some of the grain for planting the next year, and the rest they ate, and they gave thanks to the Great Spirit for the gift he had given them.

And this is how corn came into the world.


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