According to Native American legend …
One day the Great Spirit sat and watched as children played in the village.
They laughed and sang, but his heart was sad. He thought of the future, how the children would one day grow old, with wrinkled skin and hair turned gray. How their teeth would fall out. How the strong arms of the young hunters would weaken and the beautiful maiden girls would grow ugly and fat. Playful puppies would one day lose their sight and become mangy old dogs. And the brightly colored flowers of the field – adorned in yellow, red, blue, and purple – would wither and fade.
The Great Spirit decided that he must preserve all the beautiful colors that he could see that day. He took out his bag and began gathering things. He snatched a golden ray of sunlight, a handful of brilliant blue sky, some pure white cornmeal, the black of a beautiful girl’s hair, the yellow of the falling leaves, the green of the pine needles, and the red, purple, and orange from the flowers that surrounded him. He put all these colorful things into a bag and then added the songs of birds that flew in the skies above.
The Great Spirit returned to where the children were playing. He called them over, gave them the bag and asked them to open it. When they did, hundreds of butterflies emerged and fluttered around their heads. The children exclaimed that they had never seen anything so beautiful. When the butterflies began to sing, the children smiled in delight.
But then a songbird landed on the Great Spirit’s shoulder and scolded him. The bird told the Great Spirit that it wasn’t right to give the gift of song to the butterflies, since they already possessed all the colors of the rainbow. The Great Spirit thought for a minute and then agreed. He took back the song from the butterflies and that is why they remain silent to this day.
However, butterflies are still among the most beautiful of all Earth’s creatures.