Native North American Mythologies

Native American Hero Myths

What is the Cherokee Corn Mother myth?

A hunter had a wife named Selu (“Corn”) and a son. One day Selu was washing the meat brought to her by her husband when some of the blood from it spilled and became a little boy. His miraculous conception of course ties this little boy to heroes found in almost all mythologies around the world. One day the two boys decided to follow the hunter to see where he found so much meat. From behind some trees they watched as the hunter moved a slab away from a cave to release a deer, which he then shot before replacing the slab. After a few days the boys returned to the cave and pushed the slab aside, allowing a great number of animals to escape. From that day on, animals have hidden from hunters. Next the boys happened to see their mother produce corn and beans by rubbing her stomach and armpits. Revolted by what they had seen, they decided that Selu was a witch and had to be killed. Selu understood what the boys were thinking and volunteered to be killed. She told the boys they should bury her and then watch over her grave. The next day corn had sprung fully grown from the grave. When people heard of this miracle, they came to see for themselves. The boys gave them kernels to plant but warned them to watch over the seeds for seven nights. But the people fell asleep on the seventh night and as a result the corn grows more slowly now than it did for the two boys.


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