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.
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