The Creator sat one bright summer day under a pine tree watching a group of laughing children at play. A brown pup romped through a riot of wildflowers. The sun blazed in a blue-sky dotted with wispy, white clouds. A songbird landed in the branches overhead, loosening a shower of pine needles.

The Creator watched the play of shadow and sunlight and falling yellow leaves fluttering here and there in the late summer breeze, and as he watched these things, he grew sad.

Soon these children will grow old, he thought. And the puppy will become a tired, old mangy dog. And the flowers will die and snow will cover the land.

The Creator became so sad at these thoughts that he vowed to preserve the afternoon for the months ahead.

“All these colors should be caught forever,” he said to the songbird that watched him from overhead. “I will make something to gladden my heart, something for these children to enjoy.”

He took out his magic bag, and in it he put the black from a laughing girl’s hair, the brown of the pup’s floppy ears, the yellow from the fluttering leaves, a bit of the blue sky, and a touch of white from a passing cloud. He added green from the pine tree and the orange, purple and red from the flowers. Overhead, the songbird sang her merry tune, and with a smile the Creator tossed a bit of her melody into the bag.

Brimming with happiness, he walked to the children and offered them the bulging sack. The girl with the black hair opened the magic bag, and out flew thousands of butterflies. In every color ever created. Enchanted, the girl said she had never seen anything so beautiful. The other children agreed, and the Creator was glad.

The songbird flew down to perch on the Creator’s shoulder.

“When you created the birds, you gave each of us our own song. Now you have passed mine around to these new playthings of yours,” she scolded. “Isn’t it enough that they have all the colors of the rainbow?”

The Creator thought for a moment and said, “You are right. I should not have taken what was yours.”

And he took away the song from the butterflies, which continued to dance over the children’s heads.

“They are beautiful even so,” the Creator said.

And that is why butterflies are silent today.

Don’t you just love these Native American Indian legends? The Native Americans did not have a recorded history like we have; they passed their history down from generation to generation through storytelling, myths and legends.

Down through the ages there have been a countless number of butterfly tales and myths floating around. The butterfly has symbolized the human soul since antiquity. Ancient Greeks called them psyche – meaning “the soul.

Of course, butterflies actually flittered on to the scene long before people started making up myths to account for them. Butterflies

emerged about 35 million years ago. Today there are nearly 17,000 known species of butterflies in the world ranging in size from the Queen Alexandria’s Bird Wing, with a wingspan of 11 inches, to the diminutive Western Pygmy Blue, which spreads out less than a half inch.

One of my favorite things in the world is the beautiful butterfly, and our neighborhood is blessed with many varieties in every color of the rainbow.

Reference: According to a Tohono O’odham Indian legend of Arizona.

To reach Ted W. Stillwell send an email to or call him at 816-896-3592.