The Spirit of the Corn
A Native American Iroquois Harvest Legend
There was a time, says the Iroquois grandmother, when it was not necessary to plant corn. In those days Onatah, the Spirit of the Corn, walked upon the earth. As she walked through the fields, the corn grew by itself.
One day Onatah wandered away to look for dew. The Evil One of the earth followed her.
He grabbed her and dragged her into his cave. Then he sent his fire-breathing monsters to set fire to Onatah's grain.
Poor Onatah was trapped in the cave of the Evil One.
"Oh warm bright sun!" she cried. "If I may walk once more upon the earth, never again will I leave my corn!"
The little birds heard her cry. They carried her words and gave them to the sun.
The sun, who loved Onatah, sent out beams of light. The light went through the damp earth into the cave and showed her the way back to her fields.
Forever after, Onatah watched her fields all the time. The little birds of the air followed her through the rows of corn and ate the bugs that chewed on the roots.
At harvest time, the thankful Onatah scattered the corn over her lands. The little birds enjoyed the feast spread for them on the meadow.
Who is the main character in the story?
the Evil One, a little bird, Onatah
How can you tell that the story is a legend?
It starts with There was a time..., The sun is a character who hears Onatah and helps her., Both of the other points are true.
Both of the other points are true.
How did Onatah find her way out of the cave?
The birds showed her the way., Sunbeams guided her., The fire-breathing monsters chased her out.
Sunbeams guided her.
How did Onatah's corn get burned?
Fire-breathing monsters set fire to it., There were wildfires all over., The sunbeams set fire to it.
Fire-breathing monsters set fire to it.
How did the little birds help Onatah when she was in the cave?
They sang to her., They showed her the way out., They carried her cries to the sun.
They carried her cries to the sun.
How were the birds rewarded for their help?
They enjoyed eating the corn at harvest time., They were set free in the forest., They could fly faster.
They enjoyed eating the corn at harvest time.
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