The Rattlesnake & The Daughter A Cherokee Myth


Long ago, when the world was young, the Sun traveled on her journey through the sky and looked down upon the people of the Middle World. She hoped to see lovely people, but all she could see was squinted, frowning faces. She spoke to her brother, the Moon, about the ugly faces of the people of the Middle World and the Moon laughed. He told the Sun that he felt that the people were quite handsome, for when they looked up at him at night, they always wore a pleasant smile. This made the Sun very angry. She began to resent her brother and the people of the Middle World for loving him much more than her and she vowed to put an end to them.

Each day on her journey, the Sun stopped at her daughter’s house in the center of the sky. From there, she assailed the people with all of the heat she could muster, causing famine, illness and death. The Thunders looked down upon the people of the earth and pitied them. They knew that without help, the people would perish. So, they changed a man into a great rattlesnake and sent him to kill the Sun.

The Great Rattlesnake rushed to the house of the daughter of the Sun and waited for her to emerge. When the door opened, the rattlesnake struck; but, in error, the Sun’s daughter was bitten and killed. Angry at the mistake, the Thunders stormed across the Upper World. In grief for her daughter, the Sun hid her face and cried, flooding the Middle World. Its people, in an attempt to save themselves, began to dance for the Sun, in hope that she would once again look down upon them. They danced and sang until they could dance no longer and when the final drummer stopped his pounding, the Sun peeked through a crack in the clouds. The rain stopped and the Thunders ceased. Middle World rejoiced and with gladdened hearts, the people looked up at the Sun with smiles on their faces.

Today, the Sun still cries sometimes when she thinks of her daughter and after a while, grows happy again as she watches the dancing, singing, smiling people of the Middle World.

As this winter draws to a close and we step back out into the spring sun, remember to smile as you bask in its warmth. And when the rain falls in April, sing, dance and be grateful for a spring that will (hopefully) end much more than winter’s dreary days.


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