Origin of Corn (Natchez)
Once upon a time twin girls lived with Corn Woman. Whenever they finished eating all of their food, Corn Woman went to the storehouse with two baskets. The baskets were always filled when she returned. One time the girls looked into the storehouse and saw that it was empty. “Where does she get the food” they wondered? “Next time she goes in there we will creep up and watch her.” So the twins followed Corn Woman on her next trip to the storehouse. They peeped through a crack. What they saw surprised them. Corn Woman set the basket on the floor, then squatted over it and rubbed her thighs. There was a noise, then an ear of corn fell into the basket. In this way she filled one basket, and in the same way filled the other but this time with beans. The girls ran away horrified. When Corn Woman cooked their next meal, the girls wouldn’t eat. Corn Woman guessed what happened. “Since you think my food is filthy, you will have to help yourselves from now on.” Corn Woman told the girls to kill her, burn her body and spread the ashes on the ground. She said that in summer plants would grow, and the girls would have to cultivate them while they ripened. The girls did what they were told, and sure enough the next summer corn, beans, and pumpkins grew up where Corn Woman’s ashes had been spread. The girls cultivated the plants every day, leaving their hoes stuck in the ground when they finished. And each day they returned, they found that even more ground had been hoed and their hoes were in different places. “Let’s creep up at night and find out who is doing this” the girls said. That night they saw that the hoes were working all by themselves. The girls laughed out loud, and immediately the hoes fell to the ground and never worked by themselves again. From that day on, people have had to work hard to cultivate their fields.
Adapted from Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians, by John R. Swanton (1929, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin, No. 88).