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Echo from the Past: The Origin of Disease and Medicine (Cherokee Folktale)


In the old days the beasts, birds, fishes,
insects, and plants could all talk, and they and the people lived together in peace and
friendship. But as time went on the people increased so
rapidly that their settlements spread over the whole earth, and the poor animals found
themselves beginning to be cramped for room. This was bad enough, but to make it worse
Man invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears and hooks, and began to slaughter the large
animals, birds, and fishes for their flesh or their skins, while the smaller creatures
were trodden upon without thought, out of pure carelessness or contempt. So the animals resolved to consult upon measures
for their common safety. It was decided that each in turn should give
an opinion, and then they would vote on the question as to whether or not Man was guilty. One after another denounced Man’s cruelty
and injustice toward the other animals and voted in favor of his death. They began to devise and name so many new
diseases, one after another, that had not their invention at last failed them, no one
of the human race would have been able to survive. When the Plants, who were friendly to Man,
heard what had been done by the animals, they determined to defeat the latter’s evil designs. Each Tree, Shrub, and Herb, down even to the
Grasses and Mosses, agreed to furnish a cure for some one of the diseases named, and each
said: “I shall appear to help Man when he calls upon me in his need.” Thus came medicine; and the plants, every
one of which has its use if we only knew it, furnish the remedy to counteract the evil
wrought by the revengeful animals. Even weeds were made for some good purpose,
which we must find out for ourselves. When the doctor does not know what medicine
to use for a sick man the spirit of the plant tells him

2 Comments

  1. uday patel
    uday patel October 17, 2016

    Interesting story and cool music.

  2. Sangeeta Panigrahi
    Sangeeta Panigrahi September 25, 2018

    Including lesson story

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