Long ago, when the world was new, there were seven boys who used to spend
all their time down the townhouse playing the gatayû′stĭ game, rolling a stone
wheel along the ground and sliding a curved stick after it to strike it. Their
mothers scolded, but it did no good, so one day they collected some gatayû′stĭ
stones and boiled them in the pot with the corn for dinner. When the boys came
home hungry their mothers dipped out the stones and said, “Since you like the
gatayû′stĭ better than the cornfield, take the stones now for your dinner.”
The boys were very angry, and went down to the townhouse, saying, “As our
mothers treat us this way, let us go where we shall never trouble them any
more.” They began a dance—some say it was the Feather dance—and went
round and round the townhouse, praying to the spirits to help them. At last their
mothers were afraid something was wrong and went out to look for them. They
saw the boys still dancing around the townhouse, and as they watched they
noticed that their feet were off the earth, and that with every round they rose
higher and higher in the air. They ran to get their children, but it was too late, for
they were already above the roof of the townhouse—all but one, whose mother
managed to pull him down with the gatayû′stĭ pole, but he struck the ground
with such force that he sank into it and the earth closed over him.
The other six circled higher and higher until they went up to the sky, where we
see them now as the Pleiades, which the Cherokee still call Ani′tsutsă (The
Boys). The people grieved long after them, but the mother whose boy had gone
into the ground came every morning and every evening to cry over the spot untilthe earth was damp with her tears. At last a little green shoot sprouted up and
grew day day until it became the tall tree that we call now the pine, and the
pine is of the same nature as the stars and holds in itself the same bright light.


Myths of the Cherokee James Mooney