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Cherokee Indians

Who wrote Two Wolves words of an old Cherokee Indian?


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June 03, 2015 2:57AM

The folk story of "Two Wolves" is attributed to many different tribal people. No published accounts of Cherokee oral history, folklore, or philosophy-of which their are many-include this story and it's basic premise of good battling evil is foreign to the Cherokee worldview.

This story, as many others like it, (even IF it were native in origin) would not be attributed to any "one" person as those are verbal stories handed down for generations.

Please note that this story is Inconsistent with native story forms, Native Stories do NOT contain the 'Moral of the story' at the end like non-native stories do.

For instance:

The story in Native Form would be:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

Non-Natives would add this to the story:

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

This difference is social-religious between the two cultures and is a good way to tell which stories maybe of native origin, and which are not. The Native American angle was from movies taking a Billy Graham story and attributing it to Indians. This story seems to have begun in 1978 when a early form of it was written by the Evangelical Christian Minister Billy Graham in his book, "The Holy Spirit: Activating God's Power in Your Life." This version of the story can be found in Chapter 7: The Christian's Inner Struggle on Page 92 and it is as follows:

"AN ESKIMO FISHERMAN came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday the black dog would win; another Saturday, the white dog would win - but the fisherman always won! His friends began to ask him how he did it. He said, "I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger."

Billy Graham continues by explaining the story. I will now provide a few excerpts to show the connection between this story and the later versions as well of how it's grounded in Christianity. "This story about the two dogs is apt because it tells us something about the inner warfare that comes into the life of a person who is born again. We have two natures within us, both struggling for mastery. Which one will dominate us? It depends on which one we feed." (Page 92)