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First Fire is an ageless Cherokee myth about the revered water spider in their culture. The story happens in a time when animals could do many of the things that people do. The Creator gave the animals the world to live on, but they were without a source for heat at night. Great Thunder and his sons saw the plight of the animals so he sent lightning down to strike a tree. The tree burst into flames but the tree was on an island. Many animals tried to bring the fire over the water to the shore, but they were all unsuccessful. One small creature, the Water Spider, then volunteered. Curious, the animals said to her "We know you could get there safely, but how would you bring the fire back without getting burned?" Water Spider was successful and to this day, the water spider is revered in Cherokee culture.
Brad Wagnon, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, taught Cherokee history, culture and language at Tahlequah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, for 10 years. He is a lifelong resident of the Gideon Community in Oklahoma and is an author of two other Cherokee children's books, How the World was Made (2015) and The Land of the Great Turtles (2018). Alex Stephenson, a therapist, author, and artist, has worked as a licensed professional counselor in the Cherokee Nation since 2014. Alex has written and illustrated books on friendship, acceptance, anxiety, and treating others compassionately with the goal of helping children and parents discuss difficult topics in a comfortable way.