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Red Bird Center

Bereavement and Loss Counseling

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The Cherokee Story of the Sun's Daughter Becoming the Red Bird


A long time ago the sun had a human form, that of a beautiful lady. She traveled each day across the sky. Her daughter lived in the center of the sky, and each day the sun would stop to visit her. As time went by, the sun lingered longer each day, and these prolonged visits caused drought and crops to die.

The Cherokee went to the little men for their advice. They were told they must kill the sun.

The Cherokee asked the rattlesnake to kill the sun for them. He coiled beside the door, and when the daughter opened the door for her mother, he struck. The brilliance of the sun had blinded him, and he had struck the daughter in error and she died.

The sun veiled herself in clouds to mourn her daughter, and the rains caused flooding. The little men told the Cherokee that they must go to the land of the dead and bring back the spirit of her daughter.

Seven of the bravest warriors, armed with Bois D'arc sticks, traveled to the land of the dead. Striking the spirit seven times, they put her in a large box to travel home. The spirit awoke. "I am so thirsty," she said; they ignored her. "I am so hungry," she said; again they ignored her. Suddenly she cried, "I can't breathe, I will surely die!"

The Cherokee became frightened and opened the box a tiny bit. The spirit flitted out and became the Red Bird. She started calling out to her mother, who pushed back the clouds to see her daughter. Her mother was pleased to see her daughter in her new red dress.


Adapted from www.guthriestudios.com/Lady in Red.htm
Guthrie Studios, Native American Art.