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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Origin of the Prairie Rose

Long, long ago, when the world was young and people had not come out yet, no flowers bloomed on the prairie. Only grasses and dull, greenish gray shrubs grew there. Earth felt very sad because her robe lacked brightness and beauty.

"I have many beautiful flowers in my heart," Earth said to herself. "I wish they were on my robe. Blue flowers like the clear sky in fair weather, white flowers like the snow of winter, brilliant yellow ones like the sun at midday, pink ones like the dawn of a spring day--all these are in my heart. I am sad when I look on my dull robe, all gray and brown."

A sweet little pink flower heard Earth's sad talking. "Do not be sad, Mother Earth. I will go upon your robe and beautify it."

So the little pink flower came up from the heart of the Earth Mother to beautify the prairies. But when the Wind Demon saw her, he growled, "I will not have that pretty flower on my playground."

He rushed at her, shouting and roaring, and blew out her life. But her spirit returned to the heart of Mother Earth.

When other flowers gained courage to go forth, one after another, Wind Demon killed them also. And their spirits returned to the heart of Mother Earth.

At last Prairie Rose offered to go. "Yes, sweet child," said Earth Mother, "I will let you go. You are so lovely and your breath so fragrant that surely the Wind Demon will be charmed by you. Surely he will let you stay on the prairie."

So Prairie Rose made the long journey up through the dark ground and came out on the drab prairie. As she went, Mother Earth said in her heart, "Oh, I do hope that Wind Demon will let her live."

When Wind Demon saw her, he rushed toward her, shouting: "She is pretty, but I will not allow her on my playground. I will blow out her life."

So he rushed on, roaring and drawing his breath in strong gusts. As he came closer, he caught the fragrance of Prairie Rose.

"Oh--how sweet!" he said to himself. "I do not have it in my heart to blow out the life of such a beautiful maiden with so sweet a breath. She must stay here with me. I must make my voice gentle, and I must sing sweet songs. I must not frighten her away with my awful noise."

So Wind Demon changed. He became quiet. He sent gentle breezes over the prairie grasses. He whispered and hummed little songs of gladness. He was no longer a demon.

Then other flowers came up from the heart of the Earth Mother, up through the dark ground. They made her robe, the prairie, bright and joyous. Even Wind came to love the blossoms growing among the grasses of the prairie. And so the robe of Mother Earth became beautiful because of the loveliness, the sweetness, and the courage of the Prairie Rose.

Sometimes Wind forgets his gentle songs and becomes loud and noise. But his loudness does not last long. And he does not harm a person whose robe is the color of Prairie Rose.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.