Native American Tales

Butterflies

ButterfliesButterflies

Papago

The creator was resting one day and enjoying the world around him, but soon the moment became bittersweet. All the flowers would wilt and die. All the women would grow old. All the children would grow up. The leaves of the trees would fall off and become dry.

He decided that he could not let all these wonderful colors disappear. He gathered up a color here and a color there–the shadows of children, a piece of the sky. He put them all in a bag, along with some songs from birds. He took the bag to some children and told them it was for them.

The children opened the bag and out flew butterflies of all sorts of colors. The butterflies began to sing and the children were very entertained by such a gift. The songbirds were not happy, however. The creator had promised that the song birds would be the only ones to sing their particular song, but the creator had given it away to the butterflies. The creator thought on this and realized that the birds were right. He took song away from butterflies, who were silent, but still beautiful.

Observations

What would butterflies be like if they made noise? They just seem like little wisps of color floating through the air. They’re such delicate things. I can’t imagine what types of noises they would make if they did make noises.

Themes

The first theme of this story is that everything fades and everything has an end. The creator, who created everything himself, realized this and got sad. Some things just can’t go on forever. People do grow up and old. Flowers do fade. You cannot stop these things from happening. It’s kind of sad really. The main theme of our lives is progression. Life always moves forward, but sometimes you want to hold onto certain moments, which is impossible, but we certainly wish we could. We wish we could hold onto childhood, or a very happy time, our wedding days, or the children as infants. Those moments, no matter how grand, are fleeting.

Something else I see in this story is that the butterflies were a patchwork of other things, but they still turned out beautiful. Something doesn’t have to be all of one thing to be beautiful. Beautiful can be in variation, different colors, and different patterns.

The creator unfairly gave to the butterflies something that had belonged to the songbirds. On the one hand, I kind of feel bad for the butterflies not being able to sing; on the other hand, the birds had a point. They had been promised that the song would be just theirs. I would love to say that we should all share everything and hold hands and sing Kum-bay-ya all the time, but sometimes there is such a thing as rightful possession. You can’t take someone else’s wife, you can’t take someone’s arm for your own, and you can’t steal someone’s song. Just substitute in some thing that is rightfully and inherently yours for the word “song” and this applies to all sorts of things in life.

Overall

Butterflies are still pretty little things even though they don’t make a sound.

Weigh In

What would you have designed with all the colors?

Do you think the creator was right to take away something he had given?

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