Walks-All-Over-the-Sky: A Traditional Native American Folktale
(1) Long ago, there was a chief that ruled the sky. He had two sons and a daughter to help him. During this time, life was very peaceful for the people and animals of the Earth. However, there was no light in the sky, so everyone was forced to live out their days in darkness.
(2) One day, the younger son, who was named Walks-All-Over-the-Sky, looked down at the dark world and thought about how beautiful the world would be if it had light. The people of Earth would be so happy! He decided to do something about the darkness that covered the world.
(3) As he was gathering wood in the forest of the sky with his older brother one day, the younger son made a mask out of cedar wood and placed it over his face. Then, he lit the mask on fire and began to walk, leaving his bewildered brother standing alone. As the younger son walked, flames shot from his mask and illuminated the Earth. He started running faster towards the west, and the flames grew brighter. He looked down and saw that the people of the Earth were joyously celebrating the light. Because he saw how happy the people were, the younger son knew that he had given them a great gift. So, every day, the son ran east to west so that he could continue to light up the Earth. Later, Walks-All-Over-the-Sky decided to sleep. While he slept, sparks flew out of his mouth and turned into stars.
(4) The older brother, Walking-About-Early, wanted to offer something to the people of the world as well. One night, as his younger brother was sleeping, Walking-About-Early rubbed charcoal and fat on his face. With his face shining, he began walking. Walking-About-Early shed light over the world, much like his brother, except this time the light was soft and not quite as bright as the sun. Nevertheless, the people were happy to have this little bit of light with them while the younger brother was sleeping. In this way, the world was never completely dark. All the people of the Earth praised the chief and his children for bringing the gifts of the sun, moon, and stars to the world.
Why the Vulture Is Bald: A Traditional Folktale from Burma
(1) The vulture was originally a humble old bird and rather stupid. His plumage was not exceptionally beautiful but quite passable. One day, however, the vulture noticed that his feathers were falling off. He consulted other birds, who told him that he was merely molting and new feathers would grow later. But, the vulture was pessimistic and soon became thin and sickly with worry about his plumage. At last, the other birds took pity on him, and each gave him a feather to stick on his body. When all the birds had given him their feathers, the vulture looked like a wonderful bird with plumage of all colors.
(2) The vulture now became conceited. He strutted about in his borrowed feathers and declared that he was the most beautiful of all the birds. He became more and more proud until he asked the birds to recognize him as their king. At this insolence, the birds pecked off not only the feathers that they had given the vulture but also the vulture’s own feathers. So, when the birds had finished with him, the vulture looked old and ugly and bald. That is why even to the present day, the vulture is a sour and ugly old bird.