How the World Got Color
Long, long ago, when the world was new,
there was a small, Native American tribe, known as the Lenni Lenapes. The
Lenni Lenape village was located by the Delaware River. During this period
in time, there was no color in the world at all. Everything that you and
I see in color was black and or white like an old black and white movie.
Then one day in spring, Great Eagle, who was a leader of the Lenni Lenape tribe, was taking a stroll through their many fields of corn, squash and beans. Great Eagle stopped in the Big House, which is where the Lenni Lenape worshiped the spirits. Great Eagle then said, "Spirits, I want something more for my tribe, something to improve our lives and make them more interesting." Great Eagle looked around Big House for a sign that the spirits had heard him. When Great Eagle saw no sign that the spirits had recognized what he said, he shook his head in disbelief and briskly walked out of Big House.
As he was strolling through one of the cornfields, he saw his cheerful daughter, Morning Star, running through the field path. Morning Star stopped in her tracks once she had reached her father. She had only stopped long enough to yell, "Hi Daddy," and take off at a full speed sprint again. Great Eagle began to say in his deep, mono voice,"Now, now, there is no need to rush," but before he could finish Morning Star had entered another field and was too far off to hear the end of Great Eagles often repeated quote.
All through the day, Great Eagle had forgotten about his request to the spirits. He did not remember until the campfire that evening. The sky was filled with whitewashed stars. As Great Eagle danced around the glowing white campfire, he began to remember little by little about his wish for something more. The more Great Eagle remembered the more he had wished the spirits had done something about his wish. The more Great Eagle had remembered about the wish the stranger he felt. Great Eagle finally decided to stop dancing but no one seemed to notice except for Morning Star. She watched him sneak off to his wigwam and wrap a black leather blanket around his shoulders, which was filled with many black and white beads. The blanket was so long it draped below the bottom of the tight, leather pants that the men wore.
All night Great Eagle dreamed about something more. He dreamed about another animal species and about other tools. Great Eagle did not stop dreaming until late morning.
Great Eagle was one of the last to awaken that morning. He awoke to mummers that sounded of good and mystery. Great Eagle gently pushed his way through the tribe as the black and white beads on the women's dresses jingled. He stared up at the sky and saw a rainbow. It was not black nor white but filled with something the Lenni Lenapes did not have before. . .color.
Great Eagle stood staring in awe at the rainbow. It seemed as if he would have stared at it forever until someone asked, "What should we do?" It seemed like the whole tribe was shouting out their own opinion.
Morning Star had found her father and tugged at his pants. Great Eagle looked down at her. She whispered frantically, "Daddy, do something!"
Great Eagle yelled, "Hush, friends. Not to fear, we will gather it up in a basket. We will then make our sacrifices and distribute it evenly to everyone."
There were cheers for Great Eagle. Several women rushed to get a homemade, wicker basket. Great Eagle did not accept any baskets given to him. "We must have one with a lid," Great Eagle said as he assigned one of the elderly women to make a new one.
Several hours later the new basket was completed. It was lovely. It had a small lid and was almost shaped like a fish. Great Eagle gladly accepted the basket and he swooped it over his head as if he were an eagle creating wind in which to fly. In an instant, the entire rainbow was caught in the basket. After the tribe saw that the rainbow was safely in the basket, they went back to their bark wigwams.
When Great Eagle arrived back in his Wigwam, he was surprised to see Morning Star already sitting on the floor. She cheerfully said, "Good morning Daddy," as if it were a perfectly normal day. Great Eagle nodded to note that he received the message. Morning Star then asked just as cheerfully as a bird sang, "Daddy, may I look at some of that stuff that is in the basket?"
"No!" Great Eagle answered sharply. "You will wait like everyone else," Great Eagle answered a little calmer this time.
That night all of the Lenni Lenape tribe had a meeting at Big House. A large basket was passed around for everyone to place his or her sacrifices into while Great Eagle was speaking. When the basket was passed to Morning Star Great Eagle was patiently asking, "What shall we call this?" All at once, everyone was shouting out their own opinion again except only louder than before. Therefore, Morning Star passed the basket without putting a sacrifice in it.
After many attempts, Great Eagle finally got the tribe to quiet down. Once everyone was silent Morning Star suggested, "I think a good name for it would be LLCOLRD." She decided this because, L- Lenni, L-Lenape, C- cool, O- outrageous, R- radical, D- discovery.
Everyone began to whisper to the person sitting next to them. No one knew what this stood for and everyone had their own theory. Great Eagle quieted everyone and remarked, "Well, I think that is a fine idea. We will call it, color." Great Eagle had pronounced it wrong. He could barley hear Morning Star so he didn't put the L's in front or the D behind and added an extra O. So this is why it is called color instead of llcolrd.
Along with the tribe's scarifies they had each brought along a basket. The Lenni Lenapes all passed their baskets to Great Eagle who put an even amount of color in each of them. Once you had received your color you were dismissed from Big House.
After everyone had left the meeting, there was still a little color left in the basket. Great Eagle placed it gently in the corner of the meetinghouse. Great Eagle walked outside and put the sacrifices in an open spot, where the spirits would see them.
That night, everyone in the Lenni Lenape was fast asleep except for Morning Star. Morning Star crept ever so quietly into Big House, once everyone else was asleep. She stole the rest of the color out of the basket and began picking through the sacrifices. Morning Star suddenly heard a noise like a rustling in the bushes. She panicked and grabbed about four sacrifices and the color and ran back to her Wigwam.
The next morning was more beautiful than ever. Someone had shared color with the sun. Everyone had shared color with something in nature like an animal or tree, except for Morning Star.
After the colorful day was done, the Lenni Lenapes had returned to their Wigwams for dinner. It was a feast of fresh fish that some strong Lenni Lenapes had caught in honor of the color. They were better than ever! They were also pale blues. Everyone was so tired from the exciting day they had fallen right asleep, like a bunch of tired dogs that ran for miles.
Great Eagle dreamed that Morning Star had not made her sacrifice and had stolen more color. However, Great Eagle had refused to believe this dream. Great Eagle got up extra early and went to Big House.
Great Eagle said, "Spirits, why did you send me this awful dream? What has my daughter done? Send me a sign if my daughter has done something wrong." Just then, Great Eagle cried out in pain clutching his left leg in pain. He fell in a heap on the floor.
Morning Star heard her father's cry and ran into Big House. Great Eagle looked shocked. "Morning Star, what have you done? The spirits have broken my leg as a sign that you have done something wrong."
"Oh, Father! I cannot believe you would accuse me of doing something wrong." Morning stormed out of Big House in rage as the colored beads on her brown leather dress jingled.
Morning Star was silently running through the forest when hobbling Great Eagle had caught up to her. Great Eagle stopped her as they watched the young men shoot their arrows at a small tan buck. Great Eagle and Morning Star had slowly strolled over to a long, brown log to sit down and discuss things.
Morning Star broke out in tears and Great Eagle began to comfort her. He then said, "Morning Star, why did you take the color and refuse to share it?"
Morning Star stuttered between tears, "I wanted to have the most color. I wanted to be special."
Great Eagle responded soothingly, "You are special. You do not need extra color to be special."
Morning Star stopped sobbing and whispered quietly, "I didn't make a sacrifice." Great Eagle responded, "I know. We will now go back to Big House and see what the spirits want from you."
Great Eagle and Morning Star walked slowly through the corn, squash and bean fields and passed the river. When they arrived at Big House, the spirits took away all of Morning Star's color and distributed it to everything in nature. That is why EVERYTHING is colored and not just selected things.
Morning Star began to sob. Great Eagle offered to her, "This should teach you some very important lessons. Not to be greedy and take only what is necessary, always give thanks and never forget to share, are things you should learn.
That is the story of how the world got color and how it happened, long, long ago.
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