The Wolf and the Milky Way


This story was told to me by an old man. His Cherokee name was Gansdi-Stick. Some people say it was a dog that made the Milky Way but he was told it was the wolf. He said only the wolf could be so crafty as to make the stars...

There were people in the southern part of the world that made corn meal. The women would pound the dried corn in a pounder with a large stick till it was a fine powder. They would work all day to make the powder and then store it in large kettles in a storehouse for the winter. After a few days of pounding the corn they began to notice that some of the kettles were not as full as they were supposed to be. It was being taken. They examined the ground around the storehouse and noticed tracks. They decided to hide and watch the next night to see who was stealing the corn meal.

Seven women decided to hide inside the storehouse. They crouched behind the large pottery kettles and waited. Well after midnight all the women had gone to sleep except one. She watched and waited in the darkness. Suddenly she heard a noise outside and then noticed a bluish glow like a bright moonlight. The light came closer to the storehouse. The woman crouched even further behind the kettles, afraid of what was coming toward her. She picked up a stick laying beside her. The door to the storehouse opened.

In walked a wolf with a strange glow around it. The wolf walked over to one of the kettles that was brimming with freshly made corn meal and began to eat. Suddenly the woman began to scream, waking the other women. They opened their eyes and noticed the wolf inside. They all jumped up and ran towards it. The woman with the stick began hitting it till it ran out of the storehouse. The wolf became so frightened that he jumped into the air and began flying in a wide circle back toward the north. As he flew drops of corn meal fell from his mouth. They glowed as the wolf did and so he left a trail today we call the Milky Way.



The Wolf and the Milky Way Photo

Wa-ya tsunstanunyi
(Where The Wolf Ran)

Medium: Hand coiled clay. Pit fired.

Description: 9 1/4"D. Bowl. Deep terra cotta with a buff swirl pattern spiraling outward from the center of the piece.

In the center of the bowl is a circle representing the Earth with the four points of the four directions.

(Private Collection)