The Origin of the Indian Pipe Plant
as told by John Rattling-Gourd



Before selfishness crept into the world - that was a long time ago - the Cherokee people were happy and peaceable. They used the same hunting grounds and fishing grounds as their neighbors. They fished in the same streams and hunted in the same stands of forest. There were no arguments about boundaries and there were no arguments about fishing rights. But this was before Men became greedy. All this changed when Men learned to quarrel.


The first quarrel that arose was between the Cherokee and a neighboring tribe. It was a long and bitter quarrel, so bitter that the chiefs of the two tribes decided to meet in council to try and settle their trouble. And so they met, one day, and they smoked the peace pipe in solemn council, but they did not stop quarreling. A puff on the peace pipe and a bitter word was the way it went. Days passed and still the council sat and smoked and quarreled.


Now the Great Spirit was much displeased that the Indians should quarrel while smoking the pipe of peace. And the Great Spirit said, "I shall have to do something toyou men that will show you that People should live together in peace, and that when Indians smoke the pipe, it must be done in peace."


The Great Spirit looked down at the old Men sitting in all that smoke. And he saw how gray they looked and how their heads hung down in weariness because it had been many nights since they had slept. And so he turned the old Men who smoked there in the council into small silvery gray flowers, their heads bent over and their petals hoary.


If you should find one in the woods and turn it so that the head is down and the stem up, you will see that it looks like an Indian pipe, and so it is called to this day. But in the woods where they are often seen clustered together, they appear to be little gray People sitting in long council.


Now after the Great Spirit had changed the quarreling Indians into flowers and set them out in the forest, he noticed that the smoke from their pipes still hung heavy in the air above the place where the council had been. So he gathered up the smoke and draped it over the mountains as a reminder. And he left it there until such time as all Men shall learn to live peace together. 









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