How the Milky Way Came to Be

A Cherokee Legend

When the Cherokee people discovered that something had been stealing their meal at night, they were surprised to find giant dog prints around the house.

After much discussion over what to do about the thief, an old Cherokee man suggested that everyone bring noise makers that night, and they would hide beside the meal beaters and wait for the giant dog.

That night a huge dog appeared from the West, shining with a silver sheen in the moonlight. He was so big that the old man was afraid at first to give the signal, and the dog began to eat great gulps of the meal.

Finally the old man gave the signal and everyone beat drums, shook their rattles, and shouted loudly.

The dog was so scared that he ran around the circle and then gave a giant leap into the sky, and the meal pouring out of his mouth made a white trail across the sky. This is what we call the Milky Way, and what the Cherokee call to this day Gil'LiUtsun" Stanun'yi, meaning "Where the dog ran".