Native American Tales

Woman Chooses Death

Woman Chooses DeathWoman Chooses Death


Old Man decided that something was missing in the world. He decided to make a woman and a child. At first, he had no idea how they were supposed to look, but he shaped and shaped, until finally, the woman had the right amount here and the right amount there. The child was made in an image similar to the woman.

The forms were not alive yet. The Old Man covered them up for four days, but he peeked each day. Each day they were able to move a little more, and finally they were alive. The Old Man brought them out from where they had been covered; they began to walk around and the Old Man was pleased. He soon gave them speech as well. The woman asked what this state was–walking, talking, breathing and so forth. The Old Man told her that it was life, before, she had not been alive; she had been dead.

The woman asked if she would always be alive and the Old Man hadn’t thought about it yet. He said that if a buffalo chip floated on the water, they woman could live forever, but if it sank, she would die. The woman said that the buffalo chip would dissolve and instead proposed putting a stone in the water, if it sank, she would die, but the woman was new and did not know how the world worked. The stone, of course, sank and now all people must die.


I don’t know that it was fair to let the woman make this decision when she didn’t know how physics worked. Something denser than water, will sink in water, unless it had a great surface area, which rocks do not. Then again, we often make decisions without knowing fully how things work. We drive cars around and most of us couldn’t explain to someone else how an engine works exactly.


There are so many reasons about why man must die, but ultimately, nothing really lasts forever, at least with our current comprehension of the world. If you are born, then ultimately, you will die; it’s just a matter of when. I think if you have to be brought into being then your being will end at some point, but if something was always there, then it would have no end, which sort of makes it a circle, but that’s honestly too mind-boggling to think about right now.

There are many thoughts of school/theology that blame a woman for causing people to be able to die. This story has a woman who was ignorant of physics, and as a result, caused that people should die. In the Bible, Eve ate an apple, or fruit, and as a result, had to leave the Garden of Eden and then die. Looky here people, if your body is in a state of unending stasis, how is anything supposed to happen? How are you supposed to have kids? How are you supposed to learn new experiences? How is your brain supposed to make new neural pathways? How are you supposed to digest food, or change your emotions, or anything essentially? Our bodies require change, all the time, all the freaking time.

Yes, the fact that our bodies do change ultimately means we’re going to experience death, but it also means that we get to experience life. So really, the woman was the smart one in all of this. She was like, “Yes, this life thing sounds good. Let’s do it. I want to taste food, know things, have children, and be a bada**. I’m going to eat this apple/fruit (the Bible doesn’t actually say apple) and YOLO the heck out of this.”


Shouldn’t we quit being so butt-hurt over this death thing? I mean, it’s been going on a long time, seems like we would have gotten over it by now.

Weigh In

If you had to make the choice between being in a state of never-ending sameness or living life, knowing that you would die, which choice would you make?

Do you think it was fair that this woman in the story made a choice being ignorant?


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