The Zuni Story of The Dragonfly

Hello to all! I have been asked to share some of the stories of the dragonflies. I will give you one tale of the Zuni Indian myth of the dragonfly. It comes from a story that has been told  through the generations for about 700 years. The Zunis did not have a written language then. It was first recorded in 1883 by Frank Hamilton Cushing for the Bureau of American Ethnology.


There is another book,  by Tony Hillerman, “The Boy Who Made Dragonfly“. It gives a slightly different version of the same story, still just as delightful.

Cushing’s translations of some of the folktales were published in 1975 in the book “Zuni Breadstuff.”

This is an abridged version of the story from “Zuni Breadstuff.”


An Indian village came upon hard times and its people were hungry, so they abandoned their home in search of a more prosperous land.

They unknowingly left behind a young brother and sister. The girl was very upset at having been left behind and was inconsolable. To please her, her brother made an insect doll from corn and other grasses and gave it to his sister. This corn-being soon came to be alive, a messenger from the gods, sent to teach the children how to please the gods and gain their favor.



But, the girl became very sick. The corn-being flew away to the south, seeking the corn maidens to help the little girl recover and to comfort the children. When the corn maidens arrived, they gave the children food and told them that they were beloved by the gods. They were destined to become great leaders, the mother, and father of their people.


The land grew fertile again and the people returned to their village, finding the boy and girl they left behind. Because the gods had visited the children and blessed them, they became great leaders of their people, just as the corn maidens had foretold.


But the corn-being was lonely and wished for a companion. He went to the boy and asked him to make another corn-being so that he would not be alone. He asked that the boy and his people call him, his companion, and all of their offspring, dragonfly. Because the corn-being had helped him in his time of need, the boy agreed. He made a new corn-being like the old and it too came to life. The boy told the dragonfly:
“I will paint your form on sacred things to symbolize spring and the spring rains that bring health to my people. Your companion I will paint as a symbol of summer and the summer rains.”

Even today, the black, white and red dragonflies arrive in the summer with the blooming of the corn. He is followed by his companion, the green dragonfly. Together they arrive with the rains, harbingers of life and good health for the spring and summer.

(adapted from a version of this story told by Forest Mitchell and James Lasswell in A Dazzle Of Dragonflies.)



4 thoughts on “The Zuni Story of The Dragonfly

  1. And the dragonfly continues to indicate clean and healthy waters. I love watching them hover over our dam. The dam is full of tadpoles at the moment and these are also a exceptional indicator of pure water.

    A great post of a wonderful tale.


  2. That is a beautiful story. I love dragonflies. We have a lot of them in France. They are such unique, little creatures. The myths about them are fascinating.

    1. Hi Ashley, I’m glad you enjoyed that story. There are so many myths and stories regarding the dragonfly throughout the woorld. I hope you look at some of the otheres that I have posted. Happy New Year.

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