Winter had been harsh and the spring was short. The Cherokee people were anticipating an unusually hot summer, rifled with violent storms and "twisters." The were, of course, correct! The days were unusually arid and the sun was unrelenting. Every day, the children of the village would go to the creek and jump in to find cool, wet relief.
One day, a group of them were headed to the creek and one of the
youngest children in the village begged to be allowed to go with them.
The little girl, who was just four years old, begged and pleaded until
her mother finally relented after making her son promise to watch over
his tiny sister.
The children had fun playing in the water and
chasing the animals around the meadow. Before they knew it, however, a
storm sprung up around them. Black clouds rolled in quickly and thunder
echoed through the sky.
The young brave rounded up his friends
to prepare to lead them back to the village. However, he discovered that
he could not find his little sister. He called for her and searched all
around the creek and meadow. The other children helped as well but,
alas, she was no where to be found. When the rain began pouring
in sheets, and the skies continued to darken, the brave rounded up the
children and hurried them home. Then he ran to tell his parents what had
His father and uncle joined with him to search, but
the daylight was long gone, replaced by nothing but pitch-black clouds.
The men lit torches for the search but because the wind and the rain was
so violent, they could not keep them lit for longer than a few moments.
Before long, they refused to light at all.
Calling out his
daughter's name and hearing nothing in return, the young father did the
only thing he felt he could do; he knelt in prayer asking the Great
Spirit to help him in his quest to find his little girl.
Suddenly, just inches in front of him appeared a swarm of fireflies.
They seemed to hover there as if they were trying to catch his
attention. Then, suddenly they began to move forward very slowly.
Without thinking, the brave, his father and uncle sensed - - as one - -
that they should follow the brightly lit bugs. So they did. It
wasn't long before the young brave recognized the trees that marked the
entrance to the meadow where the creek was. "They are leading us to the
creek," he cried in excitement. "They are lighting the way for us."
Sure enough, the group of bugs continued on the path to the creek,
pausing briefly at its edge as if to make certain that those following
understood. Once that was confirmed, they took an abrupt turn to the
left and headed through the meadow. The group continued to
follow without question, through the meadow to the other side and a
patch of overgrown trees. Then, they once again stopped. In between
claps of thunder, the young brave thought he heard soft crying.
"Do you hear that?" he asked of his father. Everyone stopped and listened. Sure enough, soft sobs could be heard close by. Slowly the fireflies moved forward and then swarmed in one spot
forming a stunning ball of light that cut through the blackness of the
storm. "She's there!" cried the young brave, as he ran forward calling
his sister's name.
Sure enough, just below where the fireflies
hovered was his little sister; her foot caught in between small
saplings. "I couldn't get free," she cried. "I thought you would find
me, so I just sat down and waited. But I fell asleep and didn't wake up
until it was already dark and the storm had begun." Her father
now by her side, worked to free his tiny daughter from her would be
prison. All the while the fireflies remained above their heads, lighting
up the skies just enough for them to see. Then, as they had done
before, they led the group back the way they came; safely depositing
them in their village.
As the group turned to thank the
fireflies for their help, they were amazed to watch them grow brighter
and brighter and larger and larger; floating high until they settled in
the now clearing skies. There they stopped and became stars of the
From that point forward, fireflies were highly honored by
the Cherokee people. After all, who knew if they were fireflies at all;
or something much more?
This is my favorite firefly story, I got this story here if you want to know more.