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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

The Milky Way


Ever so long ago, the Breathmaker blew his breath toward the sky and created the Milky Way. This broad pathway in the night sky leads to the City of the West. There is where the souls of good Indians go when they die.

Bad Indian souls stay in the ground where they are buried. When the Seminole Indians walk through the woods and step where a bad person has been buried, they become fearful. Even though the grave is covered with brush, they always seem to know that a bad person is buried there.

The Seminoles say the Milky Way shines brightest following the death of one of their tribe. They believe this is so that the path to the City in the Sky will be lighted brightly for the travelling Seminole.

For a good Indian to be able to walk over the Milky Way, he must first be one whom everyone likes. He cannot be one who talks in an evil manner, or lies and steals. He must be brave at all times and an honour to the Seminoles.

In the Seminole language, so-lo-pi he-ni means "spirit way" or "the Milky Way for human souls." And if-i he-ni means "dog way" and is the sky-path for the souls of dogs and other animals that die. Spirits never return to earth from the City in the Sky. Seminoles do not believe that ghostly visitors ever come back and visit their people again.

Along the Milky Way lives Rain and Rainbow. The Seminole word for Rainbow means stop-the-rain, and that is what the Rainbow does when it appears.

When the Sun is eclipsed, Seminoles say that toad-frog has come along and taken a bite out of the Sun. Toad-frog continues eating at the Sun until the Sun disappears. Seminole hunters shoot arrows at toad-frogs whenever they see one, preventing eclipses of the Sun or Moon. Seminole hunters like to make a loud clamour to scare the toad-frogs away when they do appear.

Along the Milky Way is Big Dipper, which seems like a boat to the Seminoles. They say it is used to carry the souls of good Seminoles along the Milky Way to the City in the Sky. The Seminole tribe calls the Morning Star the Tomorrow Star, and the Evening Star is known to them as the Red Star.




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


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