In the mountains of North Carolina, there is still a presence and reverence for Native Americans. Pieces of folklore are still retold today including the tale of fire. My informant for this story was my friend’s mother who told it to us on the way to school one day. The tale starts at the beginning of the world when the bear owned fire. He used it to warm his people through the cold nights. One day, bear set part of a forest on fire to roast some acorns for his people. The fire soared for a while, but then began to die down and called out to Bear to feed it so it could go on burning. Bear didn’t hear the fire’s cries, but someone else did and he fed it all kinds of sticks and wood. Bear came back to get fire, but fire was mad that bear had left him to die and he was now owned by man.
My informant recalls hearing this story from her relatives as a child. She thinks it may serve as a form of remembrance as to how we treat the Earth and how we came to “own” nature and everything it entails. This Native American tale is certainly unique among the others I’ve heard as it doesn’t appeal to someone’s logic as much as other pieces of folklore.