Grandmother Spider

All creatures, great and small, were people. There were Bird People, Animal People, Insect People, and Human People. In the beginning they were bundled tightly in cocoons, helpless until the Great Spirit sent someone to unfold them and set them free. Their eyes were opened, but because there was no light, they couldn't see. There was no sun, no moon, no stars, and no fire. All creatures had to feel around in the darkness and ate whatever they could grab. Since there was no fire, everything was eaten raw. It was not a very happy existence.

The animal and the bird people called a great meeting. The insect and human people were present, but they hung back and let the bird and animal people take the lead. They all agreed that the dark was cold and miserable, and they all wanted something different. Someone from the darkness spoke about something called fire that was rumored to produce light and warmth. If they had access to this thing called fire they would be warm and see the things around them. Obviously, someone had to go get the fire and bring it to the part of the world where they lived.

Grandmother Spider called out that she would go get the fire from the unknown land, but she was ignored as Opossum began to speak. Opossum suggested that he could hide the fire in his great bushy tail. It was agreed that he was a wise choice, so he left that very minute.

As he approached the East he saw the great fire that burned. The people there guarded the fire carefully, so he had to make his way toward it with slow progress. Once Opossum reached the fire he snatched a little piece of it and hid it in his tail. No sooner had he done so, his bushy tail went up in smoke and flames. This alerted the people and they ran to snatch back their fire. They ran Opossum away, and to this day opossums have no hair on their tails.

Back at the great meeting, Grandmother Spider once again spoke up only to be drowned out by Buzzard's loud voice. Buzzard was certain he could hide the fire in his long and lovely head feathers and fly the fire safely back to his people.

Buzzard swooped down past the people guarding the great fire, snatched a piece of the fire, and hid it in his head feathers. Before he could get very far, his head was ablaze. The people managed to get the piece of fire back and Buzzard was left with a bright-red, blistered head and no more head feathers. To this day, buzzards have naked and blistered looking heads.

Crow took it upon himself to make the next trip. He was very clever and with his white feathers and sweet singing voice, he figured he would have the best chance. He took so long, however, trying to figure out which piece of fire to snatch that he turned black from the smoke of the fire and his voice became raspy.

Everyone was frenzied when Crow returned without a piece of fire. Grandmother Spider climbed to a high branch and shouted at the top of her voice that she would go and get the fire. Some laughed at such a small creature succeeding where the others failed, but it was agreed that she deserved a chance.

Grandmother Spider went to a nearby stream and gathered a bit of clay from the bank. With her tiny legs she made a clay pot with a tiny lid. She put the pot on her back and with the spin of a web she made her way to the East. She was so small that the people guarding the fire took no notice of her. She pulled a piece of the fire out and put it in her clay pot. Quickly, she made her back across the web to her own people.

Grandmother Spider taught the human people to tend to the fire. She taught them to feed it with sticks, to keep it within stones for safety, and to respect the fire. Grandmother Spider taught the human people to make pots of clay and how to weave and spin.

Grandmother Spider was rewarded with having the symbol of fire placed on her back, and she is revered and remembered for her contribution to all humanity.