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Kid’s Stuff – Story One

Long before books, Native American families told stories. Besides entertaining, these campfire tales were important for their survival. Kids needed to know how to make a bow and arrows, or how to weave a basket. Sometimes the story shared a message about tribal history or taught a moral lesson.

I love native American stories, and I hope you enjoy my retelling about the legend of the cornhusk doll.

A DOLL NAMED CORN
by
Natalie Bright

The three chosen friends trembled before The Great Spirit.

“From this day forth you will be known as Our Three Sisters, and your names are Corn, Beans, and Squash,” he said. “Because of your service, our people will do well.”

The girls squealed with delight. The Council Chiefs nodded their heads in approval. Cheers echoed through the village.

Corn moved closer to The Great Spirit. She yanked on his deer hide sleeve. “There must be something more I can do for my people,” she said.

“Your offer is greatly valued, Corn,” said The Great Spirit. “We do need a teacher. I proclaim Corn will teach and protect the children,
and for this honor she will be a doll.”

Corn’s heart swelled with pride. At the finish of the naming ceremony, Beans and Squash helped her prepare for her new task.

From the leafy tan husks covering the corn cob, they made a dress. For a shawl, Beans placed another husk around Corn’s shoulders.
Squash tied a decorated wampum belt at Corn’s waist and hung a necklace around her neck. Lastly, The Great Spirit favored Corn with the most beautiful face on earth.

While the fathers hunted in the forests and the mothers tended the cook fires, Corn played with the children. She taught them many useful things.

One and all admired and loved the beautiful Corn. Everyone said her face was perfect, and that no one could match her beauty.

It came to pass that the one who adored her face the most was Corn herself. Happening upon a stream one day she stopped and stared, stunned by her reflection in the water. She spent hours admiring her face while the children cried for attention. The Great Spirit summoned Corn to his longhouse.

Corn wondered why The Great Spirit asked to see her. Someone as fair as she could never do anything wrong, she thought.

“Corn, you must stop thinking you are better and more beautiful than everyone else,” he said. “If you do not tend to the children, I will be forced to punish you.”

Corn ignored his warnings. She continued wasting the days admiring her flawless features.

The children had no one to play with or to teach them the things they should know. The Great Spirit called for her again.

“I warned you once. You did not obey me,” he said. “I told you if you disobeyed you would be punished.”

Corn left the longhouse feeling certain that the Great Spirit would never punish the one and only beautiful Corn. She had to admire her reflection in the first pond she came to.

Dropping to her knees, she peered into the water. The features of her lovely face dimmed on the clear pool. She blinked twice, but saw only fish.

Corn rubbed her eyes. “Help me!” she shouted.

Squash and Beans hurried to Corn’s side.

“What is troubling you dear one?” said Squash.

Beans placed an arm around Corn’s shoulders. “Are you in pain?”

“My eyes,” said Corn. She turned to look at her sisters. “Something is wrong. I cannot see.”

Beans gasped. “Your beautiful face!”

“It is gone!” Squash wrung her hands and cried.

Corn buried her head in her hands for without eyes her tears would not flow. She could only weep on the inside.

From that day forward Iroquois girls played with faceless cornhusk dolls as a reminder to be humble and never think of oneself as better than others.

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Iroquois Facts:

The Iroquois League’s territory covered the dense forests and beautiful lake region in and around New York State, stretching north to Ontario and south to Pennsylvania.

Corn is the Native American symbol of plenty, spirit, and life. This important plant sustained many Native American tribes for centuries.

Vocabulary:

Longhouse – a long house made of logs and elm bark with a curved roof and a door at the end. There were no windows. Members of the same family lived together under one roof, each having their own area separated by wood or bark.

Wampum – beads cut from seashells.

Naming Ceremony – babies were given their names at a special ceremony held twice a year.

Read A PARAKEET TREAT – Another story by Natalie Bright