Wyandote - How The Milky Way Was Put Into The Sky-
It was lonely in the Lower World when the Animals had gone to live in the skyland. Se' sta had made a beautiful world. He wished for some people to live in it. He remembered that his mother had fallen down from the Upper World with the Tree of Light. So he went into that land to talk with his grandfather, Hoo-wa' neh.
Hoo-wa' neh was pleased to see Se' sta. He gave him many good people to take with him back to the Great Island. These were the Wyandots.
When Ska' reh saw that it was good to have people on the Great Island, he, too, went into the Upper World to see his grandfather, Hoo-wa' neh. He was given people, also, and some were good and some were bad. Ska' reh loved the wicked people and caused them to make trouble over the Lower World.
Then the good people wept. Even the trees and the rivers were sad. They wished that the Animals would come back and make the bad people stop their evil ways. So they prayed to Se' sta to go into the sky and find the Animals.
Se' sta called to the great Swans. He said to them, “O you who cared for my mother! You took her upon your backs and saved her from the sea when she fell down from Heaven with the Tree of Light. Help me now. I must find the Animals who helped me make the world. They have gone into the sky. If I can bring them back, they will give peace to the Lower World.”
Then the Swans gave Se' sta the down from their breasts. It was whiter than snow. He carried it in a bag made from the foam of the waves of water. He went into the land of the sky. As he walked there he scattered the down of the Swans along the path to show himself how to get back to the Lower World.
The Wolf saw Se' sta coming into the land of the sky, and he called the Animals to meet in the Great Council.
“Se' sta comes to lead us back to the Lower World,” said the Beaver.
“We cannot go. We do not wish to return to a land where Ska' reh lives. He makes a wicked world. Where can we hide?” said the Hawk.
“If we stay in the skyland, he will find us and take us back. We must hurry to the Land of the Little People,” said the Deer.
So the Animals ran quickly down the Sun's path to the Land of the Little People. It was under the Great Island,
Se' sta could not find the Animals. He went over all the land of the sky. As he walked in that land, he called to the Animals. “Come with me,” he said. “The people are hurt by Ska' reh. They need your help. Go back with me and there will be joy and peace in the Lower World.”
There was no answer. Se' sta turned to come again to his own land. He followed the wide way over which he had scattered the down taken from the breasts of the two great Swans. It led him back into the Lower World. He came back in sorrow. For there was now no escape from a terrible war with Ska' reh and his evil forces.
But the great white path which he marked with the down given him by the Swans may still be seen there across the sky. And white men call it the Milky Way.
And for ages, when the warriors on the march and the women in the village looked up to heaven and saw there the Snow Path, they could hear the deep voice of Se' sta singing the song of the stars to cause the Animals to come back to the Lower World and dwell again with mankind.
From the book “Indian myths”, by William Elsey Connelley
Rand McNally & company [c1928]