"Why Are Some Trees Always Green?" (A Cherokee Folk Tale)
Once upon a time when it was still very early upon the earth, the Great Spirit decided to visit the creatures of the earth, still new from creation. Everyone was told to stay awake and to watch and wait for seven nights. And those who stayed awake were promised gifts, gifts of power. They were all excited and determined to stay awake to get this power. They all began with chatter and wonder, questioning and suggestions on how to do it. Many thought it would be easy and boasted that they'd be able to do it.
Practically everybody made it through the first night, except for a few who slipped away and didn't dare show their faces. The second night they were beginning to think it would be easy until it grew very dark and there were no stars because of the thickness of the fog. It was getting harder, eyes were drooping and heads nodding, and jerking up again and again. By the third night no one was saying much of anything, but walking around, jumping up and down, leaning up against trees and rocks, splashing water on their faces, singing aloud, anything to stay awake.
By the fourth night most were asleep, out cold, not even trying any more, exhausted. And the seventh night came and only a few were still awake. And the Great Spirit came, found them sleeping, looked at those still watching and waiting, and smiled. Among the animals only the owl and the panther had stayed awake, and so they were given the power to see in the dark, and from then on, they'd be night creatures, hunting in the dark, preying on those who had fallen asleep and had to rest at night.
Among the plants and trees there were a few more that had made it through all the nights: the pine, the evergreen, the spruce, the hemlock, the cedar, the laurel, and the holly had been watchful. These were the faithful ones, and they were given the power to stay green through all the seasons of the year. And their leaves would have great medicine for the healing of the nations. They would keep their leaves and needles while all the other plants and trees, bushes and grasses would lose them and have to fall asleep through the long snows until spring woke them up again. And so it is until this day.