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Da ga si "Turtle"
Da ga si "Turtle"

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The Cherokee word for turtle is, Da ga si. According to Cherokee legend, Turtle and Possum were foraging one day long ago and came upon a persimmon tree.

Possum climbed up in the tree to eat persimmons and throw some down for Turtle to eat.
After a while, Wolf came along and started eating all the persimmons. Concerned that Wolf would eat all of their persimmons, Possum found a bone in his traveling bag that was just the right size and threw it down to Wolf. Unfortunately for Wolf, the bone went into his throat and he choked. After Turtle and Possum had their fill of the tasty persimmons without the further interference from Wolf, Turtle decided to take one of Wolf’s ears, thinking it would make a good spoon for his porridge. Turtle then roamed the community eating porridge at different places each day and eventually the word got back to the wolves that turtle was carrying around one of their pack member’s ears and eating porridge with it.

The wolves then got together and decided to find Turtle and avenge the death of their pack member.
They caught Turtle and decided to boil him in a clay pot, but Turtle said, “I’ll just kick the sides of the pot out, so boiling me won’t work”. The wolves then decided to throw Turtle into a fire. Then Turtle said, “I’ll just burrow down and crawl out from under the fire so that won’t work either”. Finally the wolves decided it would be best to throw Turtle in the creek. Knowing he would probably survive being thrown into the water; Turtle said, “Oh no! Don’t do that!”. The wolves then threw him in and on the way into the water Turtle’s shell hit hard on a rock and it shattered his shell into many pieces. Turtle then hid for a while to wait on the wolves to go home and think they had succeeded in their revenge against him. After the wolves were gone; Turtle climbed out of the creek and sang a special healing song while he sewed his shell back together. His shell healed over time but was scarred from then on and that is why today turtles shells are segmented into different pieces.

The turtle is a sacred creature among various Native American tribes. To many, the turtle represents Grandmother Earth; teaching us to walk our paths in peace. She contributed to the creation of earth by diving down into the primeval waters to retrieve mud to create Mother Earth.
The turtle also represents healing, wisdom, spirituality, health, safety, longevity, protection, and fertility. The shell of the turtle represents protection and perseverance.