How fire came to the six nations - A Mohawk Legend

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  • Three Arrows was a boy of the Mohawk tribe. Although he had yet not seen 14 winters he was already known among the Iroquois for his skill and daring; and soon he would have to meet the test of strength and endurance.
  • When the grass was knee-high, Three Arrows left the village with his father. They climbed to a sacred place in the mountains. They found a narrow cave at the back of a little plateau.
  • Three Arrows prayed to the Great Spirit. He begged that soon his clan spirit would appear in a dream and tell him what his guardian animal or bird was to be.
  • For 5 suns Three Arrows spent his days and nights on the rocky plateau.
  • That night Three Arrows cried out to the Great Mystery. As he prayed, the wind suddenly veered from east to north.
  • Suddenly a vision came to him, and a gigantic bear stood beside him in the cave. Then, Three Arrows heard it say, "Listen well, Mohawk. Your clan sprirt has heard your prayer. Tonight you will learn a great mystery that will bring help and gladness to your people."
  • As his keen eyes grew accustomed to the dim light he saw that the wind was causing two young balsam trees to rub vilently against each other. Fascinated, he watched until flickers of flames followed the smoke.
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