The Corn Women – Selu Essay

1671 words - 7 pages

The Corn Women – Selu
There are billions of legends recorded from the heart and souls of the Native American people. Some are told as they have been for thousands of years while others are still being created, refitted and reshaped today. The myths and stories of many Native Americans arise from animals, plants, medicine, the elements, music and much more. One tribe, the Cherokee, a Native North American people who once lived in the southeastern United States, has an endless amount of lore. I believe one of the most significant tales in Cherokee myths is about “the corn women”; her story created a basis of purpose for the Cherokee women and indirectly taught the men their roles (Krupat 2005). Often called Selu, she is a part of many different stories. Selu was the first woman and mother, she was the goddess of the corn and gave life and food to the Cherokee people.
The maiden of the corn, mother of corn and/or the first mother, Selu’s tales have been told for countless years. She is portrayed mostly as a mother and creator, but can sometimes be relayed as a spirit helping the Cherokee tribesmen late after her death. Every year, according to Cherokee lore, she would grant the tribe corn and a good harvest while blessing mothers with healthy children. In one tale “The Corn Women” by Katharine B. Judson, she helps a hunter in having a successful hunt. Selu takes the form of dreams and then soon after a cornstalk. He does not know it is her embodiment that allows him to have a generous hunt until after the matter. She revels herself for an instance and disappears. From then on the people he told knew it was her, wife of Kanati, which granted him such a sacred sign. Another lore tells of her and Kanati’s struggles with their sons (Judson, 1914). In “The Origin of Game and Corn” by Margot Edmonds and Ella E. Clark, both parents have their respected roles while their son plays every day. One day they realize their son, Good Boy, has been playing with another child. They capture the other kid, Wild Boy, and keep him as an added son. He is mischievous and brings both sons into trouble many times. Together they are called the thunder twins. Twice their mischievousness goes too far (Edmonds, 1989).
Good Boy and Wild Boy’s curiosity lead them to follow Kanati into the swamp where he hunts. When they see him let out an animal and hunt it, they want to do the same. In doing so they let all the trapped animals out and cause Kanati to get angry. He tells them that when they want to eat from now on they must hunt the free animals themselves. After this their mischief ultimately causes them to follow Selu when she goes to acquire corn and other food. They see her create the food out of her own body and think she is a witch. The two sons kill Selu. This pushes Kanati away to a different tribe after he returns from a hunt and cannot find her. Even though they were going to kill her, Selu loved them with all her heart. She told them how to use her body and her...

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