ago when the world was young, there were not many stars in the sky.
In those days the people depended on corn for their food. Dried
corn could be made into corn meal by placing it inside a large hollowed
stump and pounding it with a long wooden pestle. The cornmeal was
stored in large baskets. During the winter, the ground meal could
be made into bread and mush.
One morning an older man and his wife went to their storage
basket for some cornmeal. They discovered that someone or something
had gotten into the cornmeal during the night. This upset them very
much for no one in a Cherokee village stole from someone else.
Then they noticed that the cornmeal was scattered over the ground.
In the middle of the spilt meal were giant dog prints. These dog
prints were so large that the elderly couple knew this was no ordinary
They immediately alerted the people of the village. It was decided
that this must be a spirit dog from another world. The people did
not want the spirit dog coming to their village. They decided to
get rid of the dog by frightening it so badly it would never return.
They gathered their drums and turtle shell rattles and later that
night they hid around the area where the cornmeal was kept.
Late into the night they heard a whirring sound like many bird
wings. They looked up to see the form of a giant dog swooping down
from the sky. It landed near the basket and then began to eat great
mouthfuls of cornmeal.
Suddenly the people jumped up shouting and beating and shaking
their noise makers. The noise was so loud it sounded like thunder.
The giant dog turned and began to run down the path. The people
chased after him making the loudest noises they could. It ran to
the top of a hill and leaped into the sky, the cornmeal spilling
out the sides of its mouth.
The giant dog ran across the black night sky until it disappeared
from sight. But the cornmeal that had spilled from its mouth made
a path way across the sky. Each grain of cornmeal became a star.
The Cherokees call that pattern of stars, gi li ut sun
stan un yi (gil-LEE-oot-soon stan-UNH-yee), the place
where the dog ran.
And that is how the Milky Way came to be.