The Fire and the Spider
From - Myths, Legends and Old Sayings, by
Many, many years ago when the earth was still cold and dark, animals, birds and insects could still communicate but there was no fire. The Indians needed fire to stay warm and to cook with.
At this time, however there was a race of giants who had fire and were called The Fire People. All the animals got together and decided that they should get some fire from the Fire People. The bear went first since he was the strongest. He came back and told the other animals that he had indeed tried his best, but that he had been unable to get any fire. Just then, the animals heard a tiny voice,
"Let me try," said the spider. They laughed and said, "You're too small."
But as each animal tried and returned with the sad news that they had failed, the spider's small voice was still heard saying, "Let me try". Finally she was the only one left, so they agreed to let her try. Spider fashioned a small clay pot with a lid on it and put it on her back as she started toward the fire. As she approached the fire, it began to grow light. When she finally reached the fire, she put a small ember into the clay pot.
Immediately the fire was missed by the Fire People. They looked all over for the missing fire. The spider would run a little ways and stop until she got right to the water's edge. The Fire People were almost on top of her, but they were afraid of the water, because they new it would put them out. Spider slipped into the water, so the Fire People figured that the fire she had stolen had been put out. So they went away thinking that their fire was safe. What they didn't know was that the ember had baked the clay pot to be water proof. So when the Fire People left, the spider came out of the water and brought the fire to the Indians. This is the Sacred Fire of the Cherokees.