How Wants-to-Know Became Potter

One day, a long time ago in the deep green forest, the mother of Wants-to-Know-More said, “Let’s see if you are grown enough to fetch water for our meal all by yourself. Take this tightly woven basket I’ve made to collect the water. I trust that you are swift enough to bring it back before too much water leaks out, and wise enough not stop to watch the butterflies or see what flowers are blooming.”

Wants-to-Know ran proudly to the stream with all her might. While she was kneeling to fill the basket, she heard a gentle voice. It said that if she pressed some of the fine mud from the stream bank into the basket first, it would hold the water longer. Then she could take her time going back to camp. It sounded like a great plan. By the way, she had named the voice, who had helped her out of some tight scrapes before, Imaji-nayshun.

But when she returned with the basket full of water and a flower in her hair, her mother scolded, "Now what have you done! My beautiful basket is spoiled with this mud!" and she threw it down by the fire and stamped away. Wants-to-Know was sad that she had disappointed her mother, and sat crying by the fire for a very long time. Just when she was thinking that Imaji-nayshun wasn't such a good spirit helper after all, she noticed that the basket had burned away, leaving the thick layer of clay behind. She pulled it out of the fire and noticed how hard and strong it had become. It even held water without turning back to mud!

Wants-to-Know thought that her mother might feel better if she saw that the design of the basket was saved in the clay and knew that it held water too. Her mother inspected the new thing carefully. After a while she smiled and told Wants-to-Know, “You have proved yourself to be wiser than I thought. You have discovered a wonderful new thing. I think we should name it a pot, and you shall have a new name too - Potter.”

Potter liked her new name, and was already thinking that Imaji-nayshun was a good helper after all, and might even help her make the next pot even more beautiful than the first.

(Story © 2000, Linda Mosley, based on a Native American tale.)