Three Cherokee Legends
Southeastern Legend of the Cherokee Rose
The Cherokee Rose plant first grew in the Carolinas, the home of the Eastern
Cherokee Indians. This version of the legend is from the rose's first home.
Years ago, a Seminole warrior was attracted to the Cherokee tribe by the beauty of an
Indian maiden. After surmounting many difficulties, he won her as his bride.
As she left her childhood home for the fragrant orange bower of the Seminole Indians,
she plucked a trailing stem of the wild rose, the flower she had always known and loved,
and hiding it in her bosom, she carried it to the land of the Seminole, which we know as
Florida. She the rose beside the orange tree at the door of her husband's lodge.
Today the beautiful white rose is trailing over the decaying walls and falling timbers of
the ancient lodge of the Seminoles. Wherever it grows, its fragrance is wafted on the
breeze as incense to the memory of the Cherokee Indian maid.
Oklahoma Cherokee Legend of the Cherokee Rose
This version of the Cherokee Rose legend comes from the Oklahoma Cherokees.
During the Trail of Tears, a long forced march by the Cherokee from the southeast to
Indian Territory in Oklahoma, infants and children were the first to die from
starvation and cold.
Each time a mother cried for her dead baby, the elders would pray for a sign from God
that would help the mother in her time of sadness. Each place the mother's tears would
drop, a white rose would begin to grow.
It was named the Cherokee Rose. It has seven pedals, one for each of the seven clans
in the Cherokee Tribe. The rose still grows along the route of the Trail of Tears.
The Legend of Kanati and Selu
''The Lucky Hunter" and his wife, "Corn," sometimes
referred to as First Man and First Woman. Kanati and
Selu live alone with their only son. One day while playing
by the river, their son finds a small boy. Kanati and Selu
realize the boy is their son's twin, who has sprung from
the blood of the killed animals that Kanati brought home and Selu cleaned at the
Although the river boy is wild, Kanati and Selu take him home and eventually tame him.
They name him Inage Utasuhi, "He-Who-GrewUp-Wild." Cherokee stories tell of the
adventures of the twin sons of Kanati and Selu, Inage Utasuhi being responsible for
leading his brother into many mischievous acts, including the killing of Selu. It is
believed that Kanati and Selu live in the east where the sun rises and that their sons,
known as the Twin Thunder Boys, live in the west. Whenever there is a thunderstorm,
the boys are playing ball.
''Corn," the wife of Kanati, the hunter, and mother of twin Thunder Boys. Selu produces
corn in secret by rubbing her stomach or by defecating. Her sons observe this activity
and, believing she is a witch, plot to kill her. Knowing their intentions, Selu instructs
them to clear a large piece of ground and, after killing her, drag her body around it
The boys kill Selu and cut off her head. Instead of clearing a large area, they clear
seven small spots and drag her body twice around each small area. Wherever her blood
falls, corn grows. For this reason, corn grows only in certain areas instead of
everywhere in the world. The two brothers stay up all night watching the corn grow. In
the morning the corn is completely ripe.