These stories are gathered from different tribes. I do not always have what tribe a story comes from so if any story that doesn't have what tribe it comes from listed with it, please contact me either through the guest book or our email addy. Spiritwalker
How Deer got His Antlers
A long time ago, deer (a-wi) had no antlers whatsoever. His head was just as
bald as a doe's head with no antlers at all. And deer and rabbit started
arguing one day about who's the fastest. The rabbit (tsi-s-du) said, "I am
fastest." And A-wi the deer said, "No, I am fastest. Let's wager." Tsi-s-du
said, "Alright that is good, but what shall be the prize?" They thought for a
while and they thought, "I think a headdress like A-we-qua, the elk, would be
nice." And they both agreed.
So while the conjurers were talking with A-we-qua and the spirits to make
this marvelous prize for the race, Tsi-s-du and A-wi went out to set the
course. Tsi-s-du said, "I've never been in this area before. Perhaps I should
go and look to make sure where to go and what the landmarks are so I can get
back and it will be a fair race." They thought that was a good idea, so while
they were working on other things, Tsi-s-du went off. After a while Tsi-s-du
didn't come back, and the people said, "I wonder what that old rabbit is up
to? Maybe we'd better go see."
And they went out into the forest and found old rabbit was eating a hole
through the underbrush making a road so it would be easy for him to win the
race. They came back and told the animal people, "Rabbit is cheating. He is
making a road for himself."
They said, "That should not be." And all the animal people went to see, and,
sure enough, there was rabbit eating away at the underbrush. They said, "This
is no good. You have cheated, therefore there will be no race and the prize
will go to A-wi. He, the ga-la-gi-ni, the buck, will wear the headdress." And
that's how deer got antlers and why Tsi-s-du, to this day, eats the plants .
. . because that's what he did then.
Discovery of Fire
Long, long ago, animals and trees talked with each other, but there was no
fire at that time.
Fox was most clever and he tried to think of a way to create fire for the
world. One day, he decided to visit the Geese, te-tl, whose cry he wished to
learn how to imitate. They promised to teach him if he would fly with them.
So they contrived a way to attach wings to Fox, but cautioned him never to
open his eyes while flying.
Whenever the Geese arose in flight, Fox also flew along with them to practice
their cry. On one such adventure, darkness descended suddenly as they flew
over the village of the fireflies, ko-na- tcic-a. In midflight, the glare
from the flickering fireflies caused Fox to forget and he opened his
eyes--instantly his wings collapsed! His fall was uncontrollable. He landed
within the walled area of the firefly village, where a fire constantly burned
in the center.
Two kind fireflies came to see fallen Fox, who gave each one a necklace of
juniper berries, katl-te-i-tse.
Fox hoped to persuade the two fireflies to tell him where he could find a
way over the wall to the outside. They led him to a cedar tree, which they
explained would bend down upon command and catapult him over the wall if he
That evening, Fox found the spring where fireflies obtained their water.
There also, he discovered colored earth, which when mixed with water made
paint. He decided to give himself a coat of white. Upon returning to the
village, Fox suggested to the fireflies, "Let's have a festival where we can
dance and I will produce the music."
They all agreed that would be fun and helped to gather wood to build up a
greater fire. Secretly, Fox tied a piece of cedar bark to his tail. Then he
made a drum, probably the first one ever constructed, and beat it vigorously
with a stick for the dancing fireflies. Gradually, he moved closer and closer
to the fire.
Fox pretended to tire from beating the drum. He gave it to some fireflies who
wanted to help make the music. Fox quickly thrust his tail into the fire,
lighting the bark, and exclaimed, "It is too warm here for me, I must find a
Straight to the cedar tree Fox ran, calling, "Bend down to me, my cedar tree,
Down bent the cedar tree for Fox to catch hold, then up it carried him far
over the wall. On and on he ran, with the fireflies in pursuit.
As Fox ran along, brush and wood on either side of his path were ignited from
the sparks dropping from the burning bark tied to his tail.
Fox finally tired and gave the burning bark to Hawk, i-tsarl-tsu- i, who
carried it to brown Crane, tsi-nes-tso-l. He flew far southward, scattering
fire sparks everywhere. This is how fire first spread over the earth.
Fireflies continued chasing Fox all the way to his burrow and declared,
"Forever after, Wily Fox, your punishment for stealing our fire will be that
you can never make use of it for yourself."
For the Apache nation, this too was the beginning of fire for them. Soon they
learned to use it for cooking their food and to keep themselves warm in cold
In the beginning nothing existed--no earth, no sky, no sun, no moon, only
darkness was everywhere.
Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other
side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a small
bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. As if waking from a long nap,
he rubbed his eyes and face with both hands.
When he looked into the endless darkness, light appeared above. He looked
down and it became a sea of light. To the East, he created yellow streaks of
dawn. To the West, tints of many colors appeared everywhere. There were also
clouds of different colors.
Creator wiped his sweating face and rubbed his hands together, thrusting them
downward. Behold! A shining cloud upon which sat a little girl.
"Stand up and tell me where are you going," said Creator. But she did not
reply. He rubbed his eyes again and offered his right hand to the
"Where did you come from?" she asked, grasping his hand.
"From the East where it is now light," he replied, stepping upon her cloud.
"Where is the earth?" she asked.
"Where is the sky?" he asked, and sang, "I am thinking, thinking, thinking
what I shall create next." He sang four times, which was the magic number.
Creator brushed his face with his hands, rubbed them together, then flung
them wide open! Before them stood Sun-God. Again Creator rubbed his sweaty
brow and from his hands dropped Small-Boy.
All four gods sat in deep thought upon the small cloud.
"What shall we make next?" asked Creator. "This cloud is much too small for
us to live upon."
Then he created Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, Lightning-Maker, and some
western clouds in which to house Lightning-Rumbler, which he just finished.
Creator sang, "Let us make earth. I am thinking of the earth, earth, earth; I
am thinking of the earth," he sang four times.
All four gods shook hands. In doing so, their sweat mixed together and
Creator rubbed his palms, from which fell a small round, brown ball, not much
larger than a bean.
Creator kicked it, and it expanded. Girl-Without-Parents kicked the ball, and
it enlarged more. Sun-God and Small-Boy took turns giving it hard kicks, and
each time the ball expanded. Creator told Wind to go inside the ball and to
blow it up.
Tarantula spun a black cord and, attaching it to the ball, crawled away fast
to the East, pulling on the cord with all his strength. Tarantula repeated
with a blue cord to the South, a yellow cord to the West, and a white cord to
the North. With mighty pulls in each direction, the brown ball stretched to
immeasurable size--it became the earth! No hills, mountains, or rivers were
visible; only smooth, treeless, brown plains appeared.
Creator scratched his chest and rubbed his fingers together and there
"Fly north, south, east, and west and tell us what you see," said Creator.
"All is well," reported Hummingbird upon his return. "The earth is most
beautiful, with water on the West side."
But the earth kept rolling and dancing up and down. So Creator made four
giant posts--black, blue, yellow, and white to support the earth. Wind
carried the four posts, placing them beneath the four cardinal points of the
earth. The earth sat still.
Creator sang, "World is now made and now sits still," which he repeated four
Then he began a song about the sky. None existed, but he thought there should
be one. After singing about it four times, twenty-eight people appeared to
help make a sky above the earth. Creator chanted about making chiefs for the
earth and sky.
He sent Lightning-Maker to encircle the world, and he returned with three
uncouth creatures, two girls and a boy found in a turquoise shell. They had
no eyes, ears, hair, mouths, noses, or teeth. They had arms and legs, but no
fingers or toes.
Sun-God sent for Fly to come and build a sweathouse. Girl-Without-Parents
covered it with four heavy clouds. In front of the East doorway she placed a
soft, red cloud for a foot-blanket to be used after the sweat.
Four stones were heated by the fire inside the sweathouse. The three uncouth
creatures were placed inside. The others sang songs of healing on the
outside, until it was time for the sweat to be finished. Out came the three
strangers who stood upon the magic red cloud-blanket. Creator then shook his
hands toward them, giving each one fingers, toes, mouths, eyes, ears, noses
Creator named the boy, Sky-Boy, to be chief of the Sky-People. One girl he
named Earth-Daughter, to take charge of the earth and its crops. The other
girl he named Pollen-Girl, and gave her charge of health care for all
Since the earth was flat and barren, Creator thought it fun to create
animals, birds, trees, and a hill. He sent Pigeon to see how the world
looked. Four days later, he returned and reported, "All is beautiful around
the world. But four days from now, the water on the other side of the earth
will rise and cause a mighty flood."
Creator made a very tall pinon tree. Girl-Without-Parents covered the tree
framework with pinon gum, creating a large, tight ball.
In four days, the flood occurred. Creator went up on a cloud, taking his
twenty-eight helpers with him. Girl-Without-Parents put the others into the
large, hollow ball, closing it tight at the top.
In twelve days, the water receded, leaving the float-ball high on a hilltop.
The rushing floodwater changed the plains into mountains, hills, valleys, and
rivers. Girl-Without-Parents led the gods out from the float-ball onto the
new earth. She took them upon her cloud, drifting upward until they met
Creator with his helpers, who had completed their work making the sky during
the flood time on earth.
Together the two clouds descended to a valley below. There,
Girl-Without-Parents gathered everyone together to listen to Creator.
"I am planning to leave you," he said. "I wish each of you to do your best
toward making a perfect, happy world.
"You, Lightning-Rumbler, shall have charge of clouds and water.
"You, Sky-Boy, look after all Sky-People.
"You, Earth-Daughter, take charge of all crops and Earth-People.
"You, Pollen-Girl, care for their health and guide them.
"You, Girl-Without-Parents, I leave you in charge over all."
Creator then turned toward Girl-Without-Parents and together they rubbed
their legs with their hands and quickly cast them forcefully downward.
Immediately between them arose a great pile of wood, over which Creator waved
a hand, creating fire.
Great billowy clouds of smoke at once drifted skyward. Into this cloud,
Creator disappeared. The other gods followed him in other clouds of smoke,
leaving the twenty-eight workers to people the earth.
Sun-God went east to live and travel with the Sun. Girl-Without-Parents
departed westward to live on the far horizon. Small-Boy and Pollen-Girl made
cloud homes in the South. Big Dipper can still be seen in the northern sky at
night, a reliable guide to all.
The Hopi Wind God
Long, long ago, the Hopis were greatly troubled by the wind. It blew and blew
and blew and blew--all the time. The Hopis planted their crops, but before
the seeds could begin to sprout, the wind blew the soil and seeds away.
Unhappy and worried, all the people made prayer offerings of many kinds. But
they accomplished nothing.
The old men held councils in their kivas. They smoked their pipes prayerfully
and asked one another, "Why do the gods turn such strong winds upon us?"
After a while, they decided to ask for help from the "Little Fellows" who
were the two little War Gods, two of the five grandsons of Spider Woman.
"Why did you ask us to come?" was their first question.
"We need your help," answered the old men. "Something must be done to the
"We will see what we can do for you," said the Little Fellows. "You stay here
and make many more prayer offerings."
The Hopis make many kinds of prayer offerings--as many as there are prayers,
and there are prayers for every occasion in life and death. They are
reverently fashioned of various types of feathers, carved and painted sticks,
and hand-spun cotton yarn.
The Little Fellows went first to their wise old grandmother, Spider Woman.
They asked her to make some sweet cornmeal mush for them to take along on a
journey. Of course they knew who the Wind God was and knew that he lived over
near Sunset Mountain in the big crack of the black rock.
When Spider Woman had the cornmeal mush ready, the Little Fellows came back
to the kiva where the men were holding their council. The prayer offerings
were ready and also the ball that the Little Fellows like to take with them
wherever they went. They liked to play catch with it.
The men made bows and arrows for them to take on their journey which seemed
much like going on a war party. The arrows were tipped with bluebird
feathers, thought to be more powerful than any other kinds of feathers.
The two Little Fellows started toward the San Francisco Peaks. The old men
went along until they reached the Little Colorado River, and there they sat
down and smoked their pipes. The smoking of tobacco among the Hopis, as among
many other tribes, is strictly ceremonial. The sacred smoke carried the
prayers of the Hopis to their Gods.
Continuing their journey, the two Little Fellows played catch- ball from time
to time. On the fourth day they reached the home of the Wind God who lived at
the foot of Sunset Crater, in a big crack in the black rock. There he
breathed through the crack, as he does to this day. The Little Fellows threw
the prayer offerings into the crack and hastily put their old grandmother's
sticky cornmeal mush into and over the crack, and thus sealed the Wind God's
door. Phew--he became very angry, so angry that he blew and blew and blew,
but could not get out. The Little Fellows laughed and laughed and then went
home, feeling very proud of themselves and of what they had done.
But after a while, the people in the villages began to feel very hot. Every
day the weather became hotter and hotter. People came out of their homes and
stood on housetops to look toward the San Francisco Peaks, to see if any
clouds were coming their way. But they did not see even a wisp of a cloud,
and they seemed not to feel a breath of air. They thought they would
"We must do something right away," everyone said or thought. So the men made
some more prayer offerings and called the two Little Fellows again. "Please
go back to the House of the Wind God at once and tell him that there must be
peace between us. Then give him these prayer offerings and let him out. This
heat is much worse than the wind."
The Little Fellows replied, "We will go and see what we can do with the Wind
God to make life more comfortable for you."
After four days, they arrived at the House of Yaponcha--the House of the Wind
God. The Little Fellows decided that the wisest thing to do would be to let
the Wind God have a small hole open--just enough to let him breathe through
but not enough for him to come out of the crack in the black rock.
So they took a little of the cornmeal mush out of the crack. Immediately, a
nice cool breeze came out and a small white cloud appeared. It floated over
across the desert toward the Hopi villages.
When the Little Fellows reached home, everyone was pleased. The Hopis have
been grateful to the Little Fellows ever since. The winds have been
perfect--just strong enough to keep the people happy but not strong enough to
blow everything away.
Every since then, every year in the windy month of March, the chiefs and the
high priests of the three villages on the Second Mesa give prayer offerings
to the Wind God, Yaponcha.
Lakota Story of the Prairie Rose
Long, long ago, when the world was young and people had not come out yet, no
flowers bloomed on the prairie. Only grasses and dull, greenish gray shrubs
grew there. Earth felt very sad because her robe lacked brightness and
"I have many beautiful flowers in my heart," Earth said to herself. "I wish
they were on my robe. Blue flowers like the clear sky in fair weather, white
flowers like the snow of winter, brilliant yellow ones like the sun at
midday, pink ones like the dawn of a spring day--all these are in my heart. I
am sad when I look on my dull robe, all gray and brown."
A sweet little pink flower heard Earth's sad talking. "Do not be sad, Mother
Earth. I will go upon your robe and beautify it."
So the little pink flower came up from the heart of the Earth Mother to
beautify the prairies. But when the Wind Demon saw her, he growled, "I will
not have that pretty flower on my playground."
He rushed at her, shouting and roaring, and blew out her life. But her spirit
returned to the heart of Mother Earth.
When other flowers gained courage to go forth, one after another, Wind Demon
killed them also. And their spirits returned to the heart of Mother Earth.
At last Prairie Rose offered to go. "Yes, sweet child," said Earth Mother, "I
will let you go. You are so lovely and your breath so fragrant that surely
the Wind Demon will be charmed by you. Surely he will let you stay on the
So Prairie Rose made the long journey up through the dark ground and came out
on the drab prairie. As she went, Mother Earth said in her heart, "Oh, I do
hope that Wind Demon will let her live."
When Wind Demon saw her, he rushed toward her, shouting: "She is pretty, but
I will not allow her on my playground. I will blow out her life."
So he rushed on, roaring and drawing his breath in strong gusts. As he came
closer, he caught the fragrance of Prairie Rose.
"Oh--how sweet!" he said to himself. "I do not have it in my heart to blow
out the life of such a beautiful maiden with so sweet a breath. She must stay
here with me. I must make my voice gentle, and I must sing sweet songs. I
must not frighten her away with my awful noise."
So Wind Demon changed. He became quiet. He sent gentle breezes over the
prairie grasses. He whispered and hummed little songs of gladness. He was no
longer a demon.
Then other flowers came up from the heart of the Earth Mother, up through the
dark ground. They made her robe, the prairie, bright and joyous. Even Wind
came to love the blossoms growing among the grasses of the prairie. And so
the robe of Mother Earth became beautiful because of the loveliness, the
sweetness, and the courage of the Prairie Rose.
Sometimes Wind forgets his gentle songs and becomes loud and noise. But his
loudness does not last long. And he does not harm a person whose robe is the
color of Prairie Rose.
Lakota Story of the Hermit and the Discovery of Corn
Alone in a deep forest, far from the village of his people, lived a hermit.
His tent was made of buffalo skins, and his robe was made of deerskin. Far
from the haunts of any human being, this old hermit was content to spend his
All day long, he wandered through the forest, studying the different plants
and collecting roots. The roots he used as food and as medicine. At long
intervals some warrior would arrive at his tent and get medicinal roots from
him for the tribe. The old hermit's medicine was considered far superior to
One day, after a long ramble in the woods, the hermit came home so tired
that, immediately after eating, he lay down on his bed. Just as he was dozing
off to sleep, he felt something rub against his feet. Awakening with a start,
he noticed a dark object. It extended an arm toward him. In its hand was a
"This must be a spirit," thought the hermit, "for there is no human being
here but me."
A voice then said, "Hermit, I have come to invite you to my home."
"I will come," the old hermit replied. So he arose, wrapped his robe around
him, and started toward the voice.
Outside his door, he looked around, but he could see no sign of the dark
"Whatever you are, or wherever you be," said the hermit, "wait for me. I do
not know where to go to find your house."
He received no answer, nor did he hear any sound of someone walking through
the brush. Reentering his tent, he lay down and was soon fast asleep.
The next night he again heard the voice say, "Hermit, I have come to invite
you to my home." The hermit walked out of his tent to find the person with
that voice, but again he found no one. This time he was angry, because he
thought that someone was making sport of him. He determined to find out who
was disturbing his night's rest.
The next evening he cut a hole in the tent large enough to stick an arrow
through. Then he stood by the door, watching. Soon the dark object came,
stopped outside the door, and said, "Grandfather, I came to--" But he never
finished his sentence. The old hermit had shot his arrow. He heard it strike
something that produced a sound as though he had shot into a sack of pebbles.
Early the next morning the hermit went out and looked at the spot near where
he thought his arrow had struck some object. There on the ground lay a little
heap of corn, and from this little heap a small line of corn lay scattered
along a path. The old hermit followed this path into the woods.
When he reached a small mound, the trail ended. At its end was a large circle
from which the grass had been scraped off clean.
"The corn trail stops at the edge of this circle," the old man said to
himself. "So this must be the home of whatever invited me."
He took his big bone axe and knife and proceeded to dig down into the center
of the circle. When he got as far down as he could reach, he came to a sack
of dried meat. Next, he found a sack of turnips, then a sack of dried
cherries, and then a sack of corn.
Last of all was another sack, empty except for one cup of corn. In the other
corner was a hole where the hermit's arrow had pierced the sack. From this
hole the corn had been scattered along the trail, which had guided the old
man to the hiding place.
From this experience the hermit taught his people how to keep their
provisions while they were traveling.
"Dig a pit," he explained to them, "put your provisions into it, and cover
them with earth."
By this method, the Sioux used to keep provisions all summer. When fall came,
they would return to their hiding place. When they opened it, they would find
all their provisions as fresh as they were the day they had been placed
The people thanked the old hermit for his discovery of this method of
preserving their food. And they thanked him for his discovery of corn, the
first they had seen. It became one of the most important foods the Indians
Fire comes to the Six Nations
Three Arrows was a boy of the Mohawk tribe. Although he had not yet seen
fourteen winters he was already known among the Iroquois for his skill and
daring. His arrows sped true to their mark. His name was given him when with
three bone-tipped arrows he brought down three flying wild geese from the
same flock. He could travel in the forest as softly as the south wind and he
was a skillful hunter, but he never killed a bird or animal unless his clan
needed food. He was well-versed in woodcraft, fleet of foot, and a clever
wrestler. His people said, 'Soon he will be a chief like his father.'
The sun shone strong in the heart of Three Arrows, because soon he would have
to meet the test of strength and endurance through which the boys of his clan
attained manhood. He had no fear of the outcome of the dream fast which was
so soon to take. (to fast means to go without food or water)
Three Arrow's father was a great chief and a good man, and the boy's life had
been patterned after that of his father.
When the grass was knee-high, Three Arrows left his village with his father.
They climbed to a sacred place in the mountains. They found a narrow cave at
the back of a little plateau. Here Three Arrows decided to live for his few
days of prayer and vigil. He was not permitted to eat anything during the
days and nights of his dream fast. He had no weapons, and his only clothing
was a breechclout and moccasins. His father left the boy with the promise
that he would visit him each day that the ceremony lasted, at dawn.
Three Arrows prayed to the Great Spirit. He begged that his clan spirit would
soon appear in a dream and tell him what his guardian animal or bird was to
be. When he knew this, he would adopt that bird or animal as his special
guardian for the rest of his life. When the dream came he would be free to
return to his people, his dream fast successfully achieved.
For five suns Three Arrows spent his days and nights on the rocky plateau,
only climbing down to the little spring for water after each sunset. His
heart was filled with a dark cloud because that morning his father had sadly
warned him that the next day, the sixth sun, he must return to his village
even if no dream had come to him in the night. This meant returning to his
people in disgrace without the chance of taking another dream fast.
That night Tree Arrows, weak from hunger and weary from ceaseless watch,
cried out to the Great Mystery. 'O Great Spirit, have pity on him who stands
humbly before Thee. Let his clan spirit or a sign from beyond the thunderbird
come to him before tomorrow's sunrise, if it be Thy will.'
As he prayed, the wind suddenly veered from east too north. This cheered
Three Arrows because the wind was now the wind of the great bear, and the
bear was the totem of his clan. When he entered the cavern he smelled for the
first time the unmistakable odor of a bear. This was strong medicine.
He crouched at the opening of the cave, too excited to lie down although his
tire body craved rest. As he gazed out into the night he heard the rumble of
thunder, saw the lightning flash, and felt the fierce breath of the wind from
the north. Suddenly a vision came to him, and a gigantic bear stood beside
him in the cave. Then Three Arrows heard it say, 'Listen well, Mohawk. Your
clan spirit has heard your prayer. Tonight you will learn a great mystery
which will bring help and gladness to all your people.'
A terrible clash of thunder brought the dazed boy to his feet as the bear
disappeared. He looked from the cave just as a streak of lightning flashed
across the sky in the form of a blazing arrow. Was this the sign from the
Suddenly the air was filled with a fearful sound. A shrill shrieking came
from the ledge just above the cave. It sounded as though mountain lions
fought in the storm; yet Three Arrows felt no fear as he climbed toward the
ledge. As his keen eyes grew accustomed to the dim light he saw that the
force of the wind was causing two young balsam trees to rub violently against
each other. The strange noise was caused by friction, and as he listened and
watched fear filled his heart, for, from where the two trees rubbed together
a flash of lightning show smoke. Fascinated, he watched until flickers of
flames followed the smoke.
Three Arrows had never seen fire of any kind at close range nor had any of
his people. He scrambled down to the cave and covered his eyes in dread of
this strange magic. Then he smelt bear again and he thought of his vision,
his clan spirit, the bear, and its message. This was the mystery which he was
to reveal to his people. The blazing arrow in the sky was to be his totem,
and his new name - Blazing Arrow.
At daybreak, Blazing Arrow climbed onto the ledge and broke two dried sticks
from what remained of one of the balsams. He rubbed them violently together,
but nothing happened. 'The magic is too powerful for me,' he thought.
Then a picture of his clan and village formed in his mind, and he patiently
rubbed the hot sticks together again. His will power took the place of his
tired muscles. Soon a little wisp of smoke greeted his renewed efforts, then
came a bright spark on one of the stick. Blazing Arrow waved it as he had
seen the fiery arrow wave in the night sky. A resinous blister on the stick
glowed, then flamed.
Fire had come to the Six Nations!
Darkness had lasted too long, and all the other forest animals knew it was
Turtle's fault. Long ago, before Turtle had her hard shell, in order to prove
her bravery to the others, Turtle had volunteered for one of the most
important and dangerous jobs of the forest.
Her duty was to bring the Sky Bowl, filled with yellow corn, up to the cliff
top each morning before Sun's first light turned the hillside red.
She would scatter the corn over the earth, and Sun, knowing he was needed,
This morning, though, as Turtle discovered when she awoke, the Sky Bowl had
In its place lay a single feather, long curved, and smoky gray.
Vulture lived in the crags far to the West where Sun set. He always
complained about how bright the days were and how short the nights. Vulture
had taken the bowl.
Since the Sky Bowl was her responsibility, Turtle set off through the forest
toward the West. She worried about how she would get the bowl back because
the crags were too high and steep for her to climb.
As she emerged into a shadowy clearing, Turtle saw Grizzly, grumbling and
rolling as she slept.
"Grizzly," she called to the bear, "I've seen how fast and strong you are and
how well you climb. Come help me get the Sky Bowl back from Vulture so Sun
"No," Grizzly grumbled, her eyelids heavy. "I have to protect my cubs in the
dark." Turtle heard the little barks and pants of the cubs behind her.
Turtle left Grizzly and continued on. Finally, she broke through the trees.
At the edge of the wilderness, Moon's cool, hard light fell on Turtle and she
shivered. She saw the crags now, their chalky faces rising slowly off the
Just then Eagle glided down over the foothills above Turtle. "Eagle! Help
me!" Turtle yelled.
Eagle turned his hard, steel-gray eyes on Turtle. "What do you want?!"
Eagle's voice whistled down like an arrow shooting through the air.
"You can fly. Soar up to Vulture's nook and get the Sky Bowl back so Sun can
"I'm too hungry," said Eagle. "I've been flying for hours, trying to catch
something. I can't see well in the dark."
Turtle turned away, knowing the job was hers alone.
She went to the crag, looking up, up, up the chalky stone awash in Moon's
cold light. Vulture's nook sat up there, where the rock brushed against the
Turtle tried to climb the steep slope, but slipped back down.
Turtle felt thirsty and needed to think, so she went and sat by the cool
mountain stream flowing down out of the crags.
Moon's roundness floated above, reflected in the water, making the stream's
bubbles and waves gleam.
As Turtle sipped the water she stared at Moon, noticing how beautiful she
was. She'd never seen Moon for so long before, and she no longer feared her.
Suddenly, from deep within the darkness came Moon's voice, whispering
softly, "You have shown your bravery well, Turtle. Now go to Vulture and tell
him you want the sky bowl back."
And as Moon spoke, moonbeams fell to earth like night rain, and cascaded
silently across Turtle's back, forming a hard shell around her.
Turtle wasn't certain how her new shell could help her get the Sky Bowl back,
but she would try.
Turtle went to Vulture's crag, and called up to him.
"Hey, Vulture! Give back the Sky Bowl!"
"Or what?" Vulture asked, laughing. "Go home before I rip you apart with my
talons." He flew from the nook down toward Turtle, carrying the bowl in his
beak and teasing her with it.
Turtle stood firm.
Vulture descended suddenly, trying to claw Turtle with his sharp talons. He
hit the hard shell instead, barely making a scratch.
Angry, he pecked at Turtle, forgetting he held the bowl. His beak struck the
shell hard and bent at an angle, making him drop the bowl.
Turtle, still unhurt, grabbed it, and retreated back into her shell. Vulture
scratched at the shell for a while, then gave up and flew off.
That was how Turtle earned her shell and Vulture got his crooked beak.
Sun came back the next morning, but from then on he would shine only half
the day, leaving the night to Moon and darkness so that we might never again
The Frog and the Crane
In the heart of the woods there lay a cool, green pond. The shores of the
pond were set with ranks of tall bulrushes that waved crisply in the wind,
and in the shallow bays there were fleets of broad water lily leaves. Among
the rushes and reeds and in the quiet water there dwelt a large tribe of Frogs.
On every warm night of spring, the voices of the Frogs arose in a cheerful
chorus. Some voices were low and deep---these were the oldest and wisest of
the Frogs; at least, they were old enough to have learned wisdom. Some were
high and shrill, and these were the voices of the little Frogs who did not
like to be reminded of the days when they had tails and no legs.
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!" croaked a very large bullfrog,
sitting in the shade of a water lily leaf.
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!" replied a hoarse voice from the
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!" boasted a third old Frog from the
furthest shore of the pond.
Now a long-legged white Crane was standing near by, well hidden by the coarse
grass that grew at the water's edge. He was very hungry that evening, and
when he heard the deep voice of the first Bullfrog he stepped briskly up to
him and made a quick pass under the broad leaf with his long, cruel bill. The
old Frog gave a frightened croak, and kicked violently in his efforts to get
away, while over the quiet pond, splash! splash! went the startled little
Frogs into deep water.
The Crane almost had him, when something cold and slimy wound itself about
one of his legs. He drew back for a second, and the Frog got safely away! But
the Crane did not lose his dinner after all, for about his leg was curled a
large black water snake, and that made a fair meal.
Now he rested awhile on one leg, and listened. The first Frog was silent, but
from the opposite bank the second Frog croaked boastfully:
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!"
The Crane began to be hungry again. He went round the pond without making any
noise, and pounced upon the second Frog, who was sitting up in plain sight,
swelling his chest with pride, for he really thought now that he was the sole
chief of the pond.
The Crane's head and most of his long neck disappeared under the water, and
all over the pond the little Frogs went splash! splash! into the deepest
holes to be out of the way.
Just as he had the Frog by one hind leg, the Crane saw something that made
him let go, flap his broad wings and fly awkwardly away to the furthest
shore. It was a mink, with his slender brown body and wicked eyes, and he had
crept very close to the Crane, hoping to seize him at his meal! So the second
Frog got away too; but he was so dreadfully frightened that he never spoke
After a long time the Crane got over his fright and he became very hungry
once more. The pond had been still so long that many of the Frogs were
singing their pleasant chorus, and above them all there boomed the deep voice
of the third and last Bullfrog, saying:
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!"
The Crane stood not far from the boaster, and he determined to silence him
once for all. The next time he began to speak, he had barely said "Kerrump!"
when the Crane had him by the leg. He croaked and struggled in vain, and in
another moment he would have gone down the Crane's long throat. But just then
a Fox crept up behind the Crane and seized him! The Crane let go the Frog and
was carried off screaming into the woods for the Fox's supper. So the third
Frog got away; but he was badly lamed by the Crane's strong bill, and he
never dared to open his mouth again.
It is not a wise thing to boast too loudly.
The Origin of the Four Winds
A tale from the Aleute
Long ago, when the world was still quite new, there were no winds at all,
neither the gentle breeze of summer nor the fierce winter gale. Everything
was perfectly still. Nothing disturbed the marsh grass on the shore and, when
snow fell, it fell straight to earth instead of blowing and swirling into
drifts as it does now.
At that time, in a village near the mouth of the Yukon River, there lived a
couple who had no children. This made them very sad. Often the woman would
sigh and say, 'How happy we would be if only we had a child!'
Her husband would sigh too and answer, 'Yes, if we had a son, I would teach
him to stalk bears and seals over the ice-floes, and to make traps and
snares. What will become of us in our old age with no one to provide for us ?
Who will give festivals for our souls when we are dead ?'
These thoughts troubled them deeply and on many a long winter evening they
sat in the flickering firelight, imagining how different life might be if
they had a child.
One night the woman had a strange dream, in which she saw a sled pulled by
three dogs, one brown, one white and one black, draw up outside her door. The
driver leaned from his seat and beckoned her. 'Come,' he said. 'Sit here by
me. I will take you on a journey.'
Wondering and fearful, the woman did as she was told. No sooner had she
seated herself than the driver cracked his whip and the sled rose high into
the air. Through the night-black sky they flew, faster and faster, past stars
sparkling like hoar-frost. The woman was no longer afraid for she knew that
this must be Igaluk, the Moon Spirit, who often comes to comfort those in
Suddenly the sled stopped and the panting dogs lay down to rest. On all
sides, as far as the eye could see, lay a great plain of smooth ice, the
glittering expanse broken only by one small stunted tree.
Igaluk pointed and said, 'You who so desire a child, look at that tree over
there. Make a doll from its trunk and you will find happiness.'
Before she could learn more, the woman awoke. So vivid was her dream that she
at once roused her husband. She told him what she had seen and begged him to
find the tree.
The man rubbed the sleep from his eyes. 'What would be the point?' he
grumbled. 'It would only be a doll, not a real child.' But the woman
persisted and finally, for the sake of peace, the man shouldered his axe and
set out to look for the tree.
At the edge of the village where the snow lay thick and untrodden, he saw a
bright path stretching far into the distance. It was now full day, yet the
path shone like moonlight and the man knew that this was the direction which
he must take.
For many hours he journeyed along the path of light until at last, on the
horizon, he saw something shining very brightly. As he came nearer he saw
that it was the tree of which his wife had spoken. The man cut it down with
his axe and carried it home.
That evening, while he carved the figure of a small boy from some of the
wood, his wife made a little suit of sealskin and, when the doll was
finished, she dressed it and set it in the place of honor on the bench
opposite the door. From the remaining wood the man carved a set of toy dishes
and some tiny weapons, a spear and a knife, tipped with bone. His wife filled
the dishes with food and water and set them before the doll.
Before going to bed, the couple sat and gazed at the doll. Although it was no
more than six inches high, it was very lifelike, with eyes made from tiny
chips of ivory.
'I cannot think why we have gone to all this trouble,' said the man gloomily.
'We are no better off than before.'
'Perhaps not,' replied his wife, 'but at least it will give us some amusement
and something to talk about.'
During the night the woman awoke suddenly. Close at hand she heard several
low whistles. She shook her husband and said, 'Did you hear that? It was the
They jumped up and, by the glow of their hastily lit lamp, they saw that the
doll had eaten the food and drunk the water. They saw it breathe and its eyes
move. The woman picked it up in her arms and hugged it.
They played with the doll for some time until it grew sleepy. Then they
carefully returned it to the bench and went back to bed, delighted with their
In the morning, however, when they awoke, the doll had gone. Rushing outside,
they saw its footprints leading away through the village. They followed as
fast as they could, but at the edge of the village the tracks stopped and
there was no trace of the doll. Sadly the couple returned home.
Although they did not know it, the doll was traveling along the path of
light which the man had taken the day before. On and on he went until he came
to the eastern edge of day where the sky comes down to meet the earth and
walls in the light.
Looking up, the doll saw a hole in the sky wall, covered over with a piece of
skin. The cover was bulging inwards, as if there was some powerful force on
the other side. The doll was curious and, drawing his knife, he slashed the
cords holding the cover in place and pulled it aside.
At once a great wind rushed in, carrying birds and animals with it. The doll
peered through the hole and saw the Sky Land on the other side, looking just
like earth, with mountains, trees and rivers.
When he felt that the wind had blown long enough, the doll drew the skin
cover back over the hole, saying sternly, 'Wind, sometimes blow hard,
sometimes soft, and sometimes not at all.' Then he went on his way.
When he came to the south, he saw another piece of skin covering an opening
in the sky wall and bulging as before. Again the doll drew his knife and this
time a warmer wind blew in, bringing more animals, trees and bushes. After a
time the doll closed up the opening with the same words as before and passed
on towards the west.
There he found yet another opening like the others, but this time, as soon as
the cords were cut, the wind blew in a heavy rainstorm with waves and spray
from the great ocean on the other side. The doll hastened to cover up the
hole and instructed this wind as he had one the others.
When he came to the north, the cold was so intense that he hesitated for some
time before he dared to open the hole in the sky there. When he finally did
so, a fierce blast whistled in, with great masses of snow and ice, so that
the doll was at once frozen to the marrow and he closed that opening very
Admonishing the wind as before, the doll now turned his steps inwards, away
from the sky wall and traveled on until he came to the very center of the
earth's plain. There he saw the sky arching overhead like a huge tent,
supported on a framework of tall slender poles. Satisfied that he had now
traveled the whole world over, the doll decided to return to the village
from which he started.
His foster-parents greeted him with great joy, for they feared that he had
gone forever. The doll told them and all the people of the village about his
travels and how he had let the winds into the world. Everyone was pleased for
with the wind came good hunting. The winds brought the birds of the air and
the land animals, and they stirred up the sea currents so that seals and
walrus could be found all along the coast.
Because he had brought good fortune as the Moon Spirit had predicted, the
doll was honored in special festivals afterwards. Shamans made dolls like
him to help them in their magic and parents also made dolls for their
children, knowing that they bring happiness to those who care for them.
The Origin of Summer and Winter
A tale from the Acoma
The Acoma chief had a daughter named Co-chin-ne-na-ko, called Co-chin for
short, who was the wife of Shakok, the Spirit of Winter. After he came to
live with the Acomas, the seasons grew colder and colder. Snow and ice stayed
longer each year. Corn no longer matured. The people soon had to live on
cactus leaves and other wild plants.
One day Co-chin went out to gather cactus leaves and burn off the thorns so
she could carry them home for food. She was eating a singed leaf when she saw
a young man coming toward her. He wore a yellow shirt woven of corn silk, a
belt, and a tall pointed hat; green leggings made of green moss that grows
near springs and ponds; and moccasins beautifully embroidered with flowers
In his hand he carried an ear of green corn with which he saluted her. She
returned the salute with her cactus leaf. He asked, "What are you eating?"
She told him, "Our people are starving because no corn will grow, and we are
compelled to live on these cactus leaves."
"Here, eat this ear of corn, and I will go bring you an armful for you to
take home with you," said the young man. He left and quickly disappeared from
sight, going south. In a very short time, however, he returned, bringing a
large bundle of green corn that he laid at her feet.
"Where did you find so much corn?" Co-chin asked.
"I brought it from my home far to the south," he replied. "There the corn
grows abundantly and flowers bloom all year."
"Oh, how I would like to see your lovely country. Will you take me with you
to your home?" she asked.
"Your husband, Shakok, the Spirit of Winter, would be angry if I should take
you away," he said.
"But I do not love him, he is so cold. Ever since he came to our village, no
corn has grown, no flowers have bloomed. The people are compelled to live on
these prickly pear leaves," she said.
"Well," he said. "Take this bundle of corn with you and do not throw away the
husks outside of your door. Then come tomorrow and I will bring you more. I
will meet you here." He said good-bye and left for his home in the south.
Co-chin started home with the bundle of corn and met her sisters, who had
come out to look for her. They were very surprised to see the corn instead of
cactus leaves. Co-chin told them how the young man had brought her the corn
from his home in the south. They helped her carry it home.
When they arrived, their father and mother were wonderfully surprised with
the corn. Co-chin minutely described in detail the young man and where he was
from. She would go back the next day to get more corn from him, as he asked
her to meet him there, and he would accompany her home.
"It is Miochin," said her father. "It is Miochin," said her mother. "Bring
him home with you."
The next day, Co-chin-ne-na-ko went to the place and met Miochin, for he
really was Miochin, the Spirit of Summer. He was waiting for her and had
brought big bundles of corn.
Between them they carried the corn to the Acoma village. There was enough to
feed all of the people. Miochin was welcome at the home of the Chief. In the
evening, as was his custom, Shakok, the Spirit of Winter and Co-chin's
husband, returned from the north. All day he had been playing with the north
wind, snow, sleet, and hail.
Upon reaching the Acoma village, he knew Miochin must be there and called out
to him, "Ha, Miochin, are you here?" Miochin came out to meet him. "Ha,
Miochin, now I will destroy you."
"Ha, Shakok, I will destroy you," replied Miochin, advancing toward him,
melting the snow and hail and turning the fierce wind into a summer breeze.
The icicles dropped off and Shakok's clothing was revealed to be made of dry,
Shakok said, "I will not fight you now, but will meet you here in four days
and fight you till one of us is beaten. The victor will win
Shakok left in a rage, as the wind roared and shook the walls of White City.
But the people were warm in their houses because Miochin was there. The next
day he left for his own home in the south to make preparations to meet shakok
First he sent an eagle to his friend Yat-Moot, who lived in the west, asking
him to come help him in his fight with Shakok. Second, he called all the
birds, insects, and four-legged animals that live in summer lands to help
him. The bat was his advance guard and shield, as his tough skin could best
withstand the sleet and hail that Shakok would throw at him.
On the third day Yat-Moot kindled his fires, heating the thin, flat stones he
was named after. Big black clouds of smoke rolled up from the south and
covered the sky.
Shakok was in the north and called to him all the winter birds and
four-legged animals of winter lands to come and help him. The magpie was his
shield and advance guard.
On the fourth morning, the two enemies could be seen rapidly approaching the
Acoma village. In the north, black storm clouds of winter with snow, sleet,
and hail brought Shakok to the battle. In the south, Yat-Moot piled more wood
on his fires and great puffs of steam and smoke arose and formed massive
clouds. They were bringing Miochin, the Spirit of Summer, to the battlefront.
All of his animals were blackened from the smoke. Forked blazes of lightning
shot forth from the clouds.
At last the combatants reached White City. Flashes from the clouds singed the
hair and feathers of Shakok's animals and birds. Shakok and Miochin were now
close together. Shakok threw snow, sleet, and hail that hissed through the
air of a blinding storm. Yat-Moot's fires and smoke melted Shakok's weapons,
and he was forced to fall back. Finally he called a truce. Miochin agreed,
and the winds stopped, and snow and rain ceased falling.
They met at the White Wall of Acoma. Shakok said, "I am defeated, you Miochin
are the winner. Co-chin-ne-na-ko is now yours forever." Then the men each
agreed to rule one-half of the year, Shakok for winter and Miochin for
summer, and that neither would trouble the other thereafter. That is why we
have a cold season for one-half of the year, and a warm season for the other.
The Little Boy and the Rattlesnake
The little boy was walking own a path and he came across a rattlesnake. The
rattlesnake was getting old. He asked,"Please little boy, can you take me to
the top of mountain? I hope to see the sunset one more time before I die."
The little boy answered "No Mr. Rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you'll bite me
and I'll die." The rattlesnake said, "No, I promise I won't bite you. Just
take me up to the mountain." The little boy thought about it and finally
picked up the rattlesnake and took it close to his chest and carried it up to
the top of the mountain.
they sat and there watched the sunset together. It was so beautiful. Then
after sunset the rattlesnake turned to the little boy and asked, " Can I go
home now? I am tired and I am to old." The little boy picked up the
rattlesnake and again took it to his chest, and held it tight and safely. He
came all the way down the mountain holding the snake carefully and took it to
his home to give him some food and a place to sleep. The next day the
rattlesnake turned to the little boy and asked,"Please little boy.will you
take me back to my home now? It is time for me to leave this world, and I
would like to be at my home now." The little boy felt he had been safe all the
time and the snake had keep his word, so he would take it home as asked.
He carefully picked up the snake,took it close to his chest,and carried him
back to the woods, to his home to die. Just before he laid the rattlesnake
down, the rattlesnake turned and bit him in the chest.The little boy cried
out and threw the snake upon the ground."Mr. Snake, why did you do that? Now I
will surely die." The rattlesnake looked up at him and grinned,:You knew what
I was when you picked me up."
The Raccoon and the Bee Tree
The Raccoon had been asleep all day in the snug hollow of a tree. The dusk
was coming on when he awoke, stretched himself once or twice, and jumping
down from the top of the tall, dead stump in which he made his home, set out
to look for his supper.
In the midst of the woods there was a lake, and all along the lake shore
there rang out the alarm cries of the water people as the Raccoon came nearer
First the Swan gave a scream of warning. The Crane repeated the cry, and from
the very middle of the lake the Loon, swimming low, took it up and echoed it
back over the still water.
The Raccoon sped merrily on, and finding no unwary bird that he could seize
he picked up a few mussel-shells from the beach, cracked them neatly and ate
the sweet meat.
A little further on, as he was leaping hither and thither through the long,
tangled meadow grass, he landed with all four feet on a family of
Skunks--father, mother and twelve little ones, who were curled up sound
asleep in an oft bed of broken dry grass.
"Huh!" exclaimed the father Skunk. "What do you mean by this, eh?" And he
stood looking at him defiantly.
"Oh, excuse me, excuse me," begged the Raccoon. "I am very sorry. I did not
mean to do it! I was just running along and I did not see you at all."
"Better be careful where you step next time," grumbled the Skunk, and the
Raccoon was glad to hurry on.
Running up a tall tree he came upon two red Squirrels in one nest, but before
he could get his paws upon one of them they were scolding angrily from the
"Come down, friends!" called the Raccoon. "What are you doing up there? Why,
I wouldn't harm you for anything!"
"Ugh, you can't fool us," chattered the Squirrels, and the Raccoon went on.
Deep in the woods, at last, he found a great hollow tree which attracted him
by a peculiar sweet smell. He sniffed and sniffed, and went round and round
till he saw something trickling down a narrow crevice. He tasted it and it
was deliciously sweet.
He ran up the tree and down again, and at last found an opening into which he
could thrust his paw. He brought it out covered with honey!
Now the Raccoon was happy. He ate and scooped, and scooped and ate the
golden, trickling honey with both forepaws till his pretty, pointed face was
daubed all over.
Suddenly he tried to get a paw into his ear. Something hurt him terribly just
then, and the next minute his sensitive nose was frightfully stung. He rubbed
his face with both sticky paws. The sharp stings came thicker and faster, and
he wildly clawed the air. At last he forgot to hold on to the branch any
longer, and with a screech he tumbled to the ground.
There he rolled and rolled on the dead leaves till he was covered with leaves
from head to foot, for they stuck to his fine, sticky fur, and most of all
they covered his eyes and his striped face. Mad with fright and pain he
dashed through the forest calling to someone of his own kind to come to his
The moon was now bright, and many of the woods people were abroad. A second
Raccoon heard the call and went to meet it. But when he saw a frightful
object plastered with dry leaves racing madly toward him he turned and ran
for his life, for he did not know what this thing might be.
The Raccoon who had been stealing the honey ran after him as fast as he
could, hoping to overtake and beg the other to help him get rid of his leaves.
So they ran and they ran out of the woods on to the shining white beach
around the lake. Here a Fox met them, but after one look at the queer object
which was chasing the frightened Raccoon he too turned and ran at his best
Presently a young Bear came loping out of the wood and sat up on his haunches
to see them go by. But when he got a good look at the Raccoon who was
plastered with dead leaves, he scrambled up a tree to be out of the way.
By this time the poor Raccoon was so frantic that he scarcely knew what he
was doing. He ran up the tree after the Bear and got hold of his tail.
"Woo, woo!" snarled the Bear, and the raccoon let go. He was tired out and
dreadfully ashamed. He did now what he ought to have done at the very
first--he jumped into the lake and washed off most of the leaves. Then he got
back to his hollow tree and curled himself up and licked and licked his soft
fur till he had licked himself clean, and then he went to sleep.
A tale from the Cherokee
Many,many moons ago, in the beginning of time, the earth was all water. There
was no land. All the four-leggeds, all the animals , all the winged-ones ,
lived up in the shy on the clouds, they were waiting for the land to dry, but
it would not dry. They would send one animal but he would never come back
unable to find dry land. The animals would regularly check the water below.
Finally, after a dog had looked and reported back that it was still wet, they
sent the water beetle. The water beetle dove into the water, grabbed a
handful of mud at the bottom, brought it up and placed it on top of the
water, and it started to dry, started to build land. He brought more and
more; and still they waited for it to dry, still they waited and waited.
Finally, they sent grandfather buzzard, the mighty buzzard, down and the
land was almost dry. As the buzzard flew, he'd fly down close to the land ;
and every time he would flap his mighty wings, he would form a mountain and a
valley. That's why the Cherokee land has mountains and valleys in it today.
All the animals came down and settled on the earth.
After they did, they realized they had no light. So they called to
Grandfather and asked would he give them light, and he did. He brought to
them the sun. He the sun down right by the ground, and it was too hot for the
animals. So they pushed and pushed, till finally they got it far enough out
that it would not burn all the time, but it was still so hot that the
crawfish was baked. That's why, if you look at him today, he is red from the
sun being too close.
Finally, they got the sun far enough out so it would not burn and we would
have night. And Grandfather told them,"Now that I have done this for you, I
ask that all the four-legged, and all the animals, and the plants stay awake
for seven days and seven nights." This is why today, when a warrior goes to
cross his manhood, he fasts and sweats for seven days.
All the animals and all the plants fell asleep except for some. The owl
stayed awake, and that's why he has vision to hunt at night now. The plants,
the Douglas fir, the cedar, the pine, and a few others stayed awake for seven
nights and for seven days. That's why only these, among all the plants, are
allowed to stay green all the year round. The other plants fell asleep and so
must sleep part of every year.
Such was the beginning of our lands as told by a grandmother to her
When Snakes Warred Against Man
There was a man who was not kind to animals. One day when he was hunting, he
found a rattlesnake and decided to torture it. He held its head to the ground
and pierced it with a piece of bark. Then as it was caught there, he
"We shall fight," he said and then burned the snake until it was dead. He
thought this was a great jest and so, whenever he found a snake, he would do
the same thing.
One day another man from his village was walking through the forest when he
heard a strange sound. It was louder than the wind hissing through the tops
of tall pine trees. He crept closer to see. There, in a great clearing, were
many snakes. They were gathered for a war council and as he listened in
fright he heard them say:
"We shall now fight with them. Djisdaah has challenged us and we shall go to
war. In four days we shall go to their village and fight them."
The man crept away and then ran as fast as he could to his village to tell
what he had heard and seen. The chief sent other men to see if the report was
true. They returned in great fright.
"Ahhhh," they said, "it is so. The snakes are all gathering to have a war."
The chief of the village could see that he had no choice. "We must fight," he
said and ordered the people of the village to make preparations for the
battle. They cut mountains of wood and stacked it in long piles all around
the village. They built rows of stakes close together to keep the snakes out.
When the fourth day came, the chief ordered that the piles of wood be set on
fire. Just as he did so they heard a great noise, like a great wind in the
trees. It was the noise of the snakes, hissing as they came to the village to
Usually a snake will not go near a fire, but these snakes were determined to
have their revenge. They went straight into the flames. Many of them died,
but the living snakes crawled over the bodies of the dead ones and continued
to move forward until they reached the second row of stakes.
Once again, the chief ordered that the piles of wood in the second row of
defense be set on fire. But the snakes crawled straight into the flames,
hissing their war songs, and the living crawled over the bodies of the dead.
It was a terrible sight. They reached the second row of stakes and, even
though the people fought bravely, it was no use. The snakes were more
numerous than fallen leaves and they could not be stopped. Soon they forced
their way past the last row of stakes and the people of the village were
fighting for their lives. The first man to be killed was Djisdaah, the one
who had challenged the snakes to battle.
It was now clear that they could never win this battle. The chief of the
village shouted to the snakes who had reached the edge of the village: "Hear
me, my brothers. We surrender to you.
We have done you a great wrong. Have mercy on us."
The snakes stopped where they were and there was a great silence.
The exhausted warriors looked at the great army of snakes and the snakes
stared back at them. Then the earth trembled and cracked in front of the
human beings. A great snake, a snake taller than the biggest pine tree, whose
head was larger than a great long house, lifted himself out of the hole in
"Hear me," he said. "I am the chief of all the snakes. We shall go and leave
you in peace if you will agree to two things."
The chief looked at the great snake and nodded his head. "We will agree,
Great Chief," he said.
"It is well," said the Chief of the Snakes. "These are the two things. First,
you must always treat my people with respect. Secondly, as long as the world
stands, you will never name another man Djisdaah."
And so it was agreed and so it is, even today.
The Rabbit and the Fawns
Two young Fawns sat on the ground talking about their condition. They were
two boys without a mother. "We used to have a deer for our mother," they
said. Rabbit came to them and said "I'm hungry. I've traveled without eating,
and I've come a long way."
The Fawns said, "We have nothing to eat here; our food is not here." Where is
it?" asked Rabbit. "It is not here, I say to you again," said one Fawn.
Rabbit said, "Tell me where it is, I am hungry and I want to eat." He
continued talking about the Fawns' food for a long time. But they concealed
from him how they obtained it.
Then Rabbit said, "I think you both are too lazy to get the food. Show me the
path and I will go after it; I will cut off enough for all of us and bring it
"But we never eat here," the Fawns said. Rabbit said, "You boys do not know
me. I am your grandfather. You did not recognize me; that is why you hid your
food from me." The one boy nudged the other and whispered to him, "I think he
is our grandfather; I will tell him where we eat."
For a while, the other boy said nothing. Then he spoke up and said, "What we
eat is not on the ground; our food is far up in the sky; and we eat at a
certain time. When we ask for our food, something always comes down from the
sky; it is white like a cloud. At the end of the cloud it's like a person; it
has an eye, a mouth, and it watches us. It comes only at a certain time. If
we ask before time, it will think someone else wants our food. But when it's
time for us to ask for it, we will hide you out of sight." Then they hid him.
One ran toward the East, the other toward the West; then they ran toward each
other. When they met, they cried like young animals at play. They circled
about, met each other again, crying, and gradually came nearer to the tent.
Something white came down from the sky. Rabbit saw it coming. It looked like
a cloud with a face above it; like a man sitting on their food.
The boys took up dull knives, and when the food arrived, they cut off a
piece. They cut more than usual, so there would be enough for their
grandfather. Then the cloud flew upward as fast as lightning.
The Fawn boys cut up their food and called Rabbit to come out and eat with
them. The food tasted good and sweet, and Rabbit wanted more and asked the
boys to make the thing come again. The Fawns said, "But it only comes at set
times." Rabbit replied, "I will live with you, for your food is very good."
He made a burrow in the brush nearby and watched.
The food did come down again. The person riding on it looked around like an
antelope watching. Rabbit took a bow and arrow from his quiver. Just before
the cloud came low enough for the boys to cut off another piece of food,
Rabbit shot at the manlike object on the cloud. The white object fell down in
"I thought that was what it would do," said the older brother to the younger,
as if blaming him. Rabbit said to them, "Well, my grandchildren, I will leave
you now. You have something to eat and it will last you a long time. After
you have consumed all of it, you will go to the mountains and eat grass and