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SELU Cherokee legendary mortal Also known as Grandmother-Corn 
As Shared by Robin Dick
 

A story of a woman and Her Two Sons. Her spouse Kanati and Selu are the first man and the first woman of the Cherokees. They had two sons. One son was Home Boy, their biological child. The other was Wild Boy who had been found living in the cane brake along the river.  

This story tells what happened when the sons were nearly grown and Selu’s husband Kanati was away, in the West.  


One evening, Selu saw her sons getting their weapons ready, so they could go out to hunt the next morning. She smiled and said, "I see you're going to hunt tomorrow. When you come back, I'll have a wonderful meal prepared for you."  


The next day, while her sons were gone, Selu took all the old meat and cooked it into a soup thickened with hominy grits. In the evening, the boys came back with a deer they had killed, and their mother served them this soup. They thought it was very good and ate eagerly but didn't know what it was. They had never seen or tasted grits or any type of corn before. "This is Selu (corn)" their mother said, "and it's very good food."  


The next morning, the boys went out hunting again. This time, their mother took fresh venison, cut it up fine and, once again, thickened the soup with hominy grits. That evening, the boys returned with two turkeys they had killed. Once again, they enjoyed their meal, what their mother had prepared, very much.  


They next morning, as they were leaving to hunt, Wild Boy said to Home Boy, “This corn our mother gives us is a very mysterious thing. Where does it come from? Let's spy on our mother to see where she gets this.” Creeping back through the woods the boys watched as their mother came out of the house with a large basket. They saw her go into a she, and quietly ran up to peak through the cracks in the shed wall. They watched as their mother placed the basket on the floor of the shed. She then struck her sides and rubbed her belly, and hominy grits fell like snow from her body, filling the basket.  


Home Boy turned to his brother and whispered, "This is a very disgusting thing we've been eating."  


"Yes," Wild Boy said, "and it looks as if our mother is a witch."  


That evening, the boys returned from the hunt with no game. Their mother had worked hard preparing the turkey meat with hominy grits, but the boys only picked at their food. They didn't eat.  


Finally, their mother broke the silence. "Something is wrong, she said. Maybe you have learned something. Maybe you don't like what I have prepared for you. Maybe you don't like me anymore."  


One of the boys said, "We know where the corn comes from. We think you are a witch. We have to kill you now."  


"Do as you must," their mother said, "I ask only this one thing: When you have killed me, drag my body over the ground seven times. Wherever my blood touches the ground, a plant will grow. This plant you will call 'Selu (corn)'. You will take care of it, and it will take care of you and feed you. As the stalks grow, they will form ears. You may pick some ears when they are green, for roasting or boiling. They are very good. The rest you must allow to get ripe and hard. This you will use for hominy and to make your bread. Don't forget to save the best for seed. As long as you have this corn with you, you have me with you. I am Selu, the Corn Mother."  


And so the boys killed their mother. They dragged her bleeding body over the ground, but they were lazy and only dragged her around three times. Wherever the blood touched the earth, corn grew. The people had food to eat, but because of the original laziness of the boys, the corn must be hoed each year. The women wisely took over the management of the crops and so instruct the men in what to do and when to do it 

Cherokee mythology Folklore