November, (in the UK at least) starts with a bang. Fireworks Night or Guy Fawkes Night as it is traditionally known marks the occasion where Guy Fawkes attempted to overthrow parliament by blowing it up. Rather than tell you the story of that fated night or even a story of The Great Fire Of London, all well known historical British tales and apposite for November, our firey month, instead I would like to take you across the whale road to America to tell you a story that orginated from the country's indigenous peoples, namely those who lived in the state we now call Texas. These peoples were called the Alabama–Coushatta. The story in question is 'How Bear Lost Fire'.
The story goes that once upon a time a very long time ago, Bear and Fire were firm friends. Wherever Bear went he took Fire and he fed Fire diligently. Not too much, you understand, or Fire would burn too bright and too fast, and not to little so he did not sputter out. In return Fire kept Bear safe and warm, and humans never came near either. Both were unpredictable and neither could be tamed.
One year, when the trees were particular generous, Bear was gorging himself on the bounty of autumn. He had placed Fire by the edge of the forest as he snuffle and huffed his way through the undergrowth consuming the nuts and berries. Lifting his head he caught the sweet smell of honey on the breeze and followed it deeper into the forest.
Far behind him fire started to burn low.
'Feed me', shouted Fire. 'Feed me or I will die.'
Bear did not hear him. He was following the smell of the honey and his ears were now full of the sound of leaves, birds and the wind, craning to hear the buzz of the bees. Fire called again but Bear was too far away.
Some humans were in the forest, gathering their own bounty for their tables and they heard Fire's call. They knew Fire belonged to Bear and they knew neither could be trusted, but when they looked at Fire they could see that there was no imediate harm in the tiny glow that eminated from the patch of ash Bear had neglected. And so it was that they each took a branch and one, two , three they placed those branches in a star across the dying embers of Fire. Soon Fire grew once more. It grew and grew and grew until the flames licked at the edges of the forest.
Bear heard the rushing of flames and ran back towards Fire, bellowing at the people to leave his forest and Fire alone. The people cowered behind Fire and Bear went to scoop Fire up but this time Fire burnt his old friend's sensitive paws and soft snout.
'I am no longer your's Bear,' Fire shouted. 'I belong to those who feed me!'
From that day on Fire is only ever found in the company of men and that is how Bear lost Fire.
If you enjoyed this story, please share it with your friends. Don't forget to tell them it's a Native American story. Stories are for sharing but it's important that we also respect and preserve their roots by sharing their origins.
I'll be back in December with the focus on storis of new clothes for Yuletide. For now, you can find me on Instagram via @dd_storyteller , on Facebook as DD Storyteller and on Twitter as @dd_stortyeller. I'll see you there!