Old Woman Spider



The first fire burned on an island in the middle of the river. The council of animals met and decided who should get this new life. Of course the biggest and strongest were first.

First was raven because he could fly and was very strong. He flew to the stump on the island where the fire burned deep inside. He stuck his head in but the heat and smoke turned his feathers black. He became scared and and returned to the council without the fire.

Gulegi-the climber snake, went next. He was famous for his climbing abilities. He swam over to the island and climbed up the tree on the outside but when he put his head inside the stump at the top, the smoke got in his eyes. He became confused and fell inside. He wiggled and writhed in the heat and ashes but luckily found his way back out but not before they could turn his scales as black as the smoke. Today he is called a black snake.

Many other animals went to retrieve this new life...all unsuccessfully. The bear tried, the buzzard tried, oo-goo-koo tried and even the raccoon tried. Finally after all these tried, a tiny little voice was heard near the ground. The other animals looked around and finally saw A-ga-yv-li-ge, old woman spider. They laughed. "How could you get the fire...a tiny, old woman." She said, "Each of you have tried with your strengths and talents. My talent and my greatest strength is my mind. I believe I can bring this new life back to the council". They let her try.

She stepped into the river, jumping from crest to crest until she reached the island. There burning in the center was the stump, caught fire from the Lightening Brothers. She went to the rivers edge and there formed a small bowl out of the wet clay she found. She placed this bowl on her back and carried it to the base of the stump. She found a small opening and went inside.

Once inside the stump she took the bowl from her back and scooped up some white hot coals from the fire. She returned the bowl to her back and stepped back into the water. She jumped from crest to crest until she had once again made it to the animal council waiting at the river's edge. She poured out the coals and brought this new life to the Cherokees. From that first fire and the wet clay, came the first piece of pottery.



Old Woman Spider Photo

4.5"H X 3"D

Medium: Hand coiled native clay. Pit fired.

Description: Hand polished to a high sheen. A small blackware vessel with matte black designs.

Private Collection