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The Union of Corn and Bean

Long ago the Ahnishnahbe believed plants and animals had spirits that gave them the power of speech and of reasoning. The corn and bean story is such a story. Corn was a tall, slender and very handsome plant. He stood in a choice section of the garden. Most of the time Corn was happy to look at his beautiful surroundings, like the sunrise and sunset. He loved to watch the animals as they scurried about their business. Sometimes he'd feel a little sad, although he didn't know why.

One evening as he watched the sunset changed from orange to red to purple, he noticed two butterflies fluttering around each other. He noticed how they brushed each other's wings as they flew by. Suddenly, Corn knew what brought his occasional sadness. He missed the closeness and companionship of a family. He sang the song of loneliness as the sun slipped below the horizon.

As the morning sun awakened the world, Corn saw that the Squash Maiden had made her way towards him. She told him she had heard his song and came to offer her companionship. Corn immediately saw their differences and explained, "Megwetch. You are a beautiful plant, but we cannot grow together. You must wander all over the ground while I must stand in one place. Your broad leaves block the sun from the young ones beneath you. I grow tall and thin to share the sunlight."

The slender Bean heard this and planted herself next to Corn. Her slender threadlike vines spread out as if to feel for something to lean on. She touched Corn and wrapped herself around the stalk. They grew tall together. They knew this was the union that was meant to be. They promised to be together forever.

So that the promise of Corn and Bean will never be broken, the Ahnishnahbe always plant beans next to corn to this day.

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More stories to read:

 Native American farming legends
 Legends about corn
 Legends about beans

Learn more about:

 Ottawa myths
 Anishinaabe language
 The Ottawa tribe

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