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Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Mink and the Fish

Mink found a live pike on the lake shore. He told the pike, "Pike, the Muskie is calling you all kinds of names." "What is he calling me?" asked Pike. Mink answered, "He says you're wall-eyed." Pike did not like to be called names and said, "Well, he's got teeth like a saw blade and a long plated face. He's not pretty either."
There was a muskie nearby, and Mink told him what Pike had said about him. Mink went back and forth, back and forth, getting Muskie and Pike mad at one another. Finally, Pike and Muskie had a big fight and Mink acted as referee. Muskie and Pike ended up killing each other in the fight, so Mink had the last laugh on them.
Mink got a big kettle and boiled and dried the meat. Then he lay down to rest. He was taking life easy. He had the fish eggs, which were his favorite, all together next to him and all he had to do was open his eyes and stick out his tongue out to eat them. Finally, he dozed off.
Some Indians came by in their canoes and saw Mink lying there with all those fish. They came ashore and picked up all the fish and put them in their canoes. Where Mink had all the fish eggs right next to him, they put rocks there. Then they went away.
When Mink woke up, he reached with his tongue for the fish eggs, but instead there were only rocks and stones which broke his teeth. He realized they'd played a trick on him and he just walked away.
(Adapted from Victor Barnouw, 1977, Wisconsin Chippewa Myths and Tales and Their Relation to Chippewa Life, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.)

Monday, May 9, 2016

How Rabbit Lost His Tail

When Glooskap first created the animals in Canada, he took good care that they should all be friendly to himself and to his people. They could all talk like men, and like them they had one common speech. Each had a special duty to do for Glooskap, and each did his best to help him in his work. Of all the animals, the gentlest and most faithful was Bunny the Rabbit. Now, in those first days of his life, Rabbit was a very beautiful animal, more beautiful than he is to-day. He had a very long bushy tail like a fox; he always wore a thick brown coat; his body was large and round and sleek; his legs were straight and strong; he walked and ran like other animals and did not hop and jump about as he does now. He was always very polite and kind of heart. Because of his beauty and his good qualities, Glooskap chose him as his forest guide, his Scout of the Woods. He gave him power that enabled him to know well all the land, so that he could lead people and all the other animals wherever they wished to go without losing their way.
One day in the springtime it chanced that Bunny sat alone on a log in the forest, his long bushy tail trailing far behind him. He had just come back from a long scouting tour and he was very tired. As he sat resting in the sun, an Indian came along. The Indian was weary and stained with much travel, and he looked like a wayfarer who had come far. He threw himself on the ground close to the log on which Rabbit sat and began to weep bitterly. Bunny with his usual kindness asked, "Why do you weep?" And the man answered, "I have lost my way in the forest. I am on my way to marry this afternoon a beautiful girl whom her father pledged to me long ago. She is loved by a wicked forest Fairy and I have heard that perhaps she loves him. And I know that if I am late she will refuse to wait for me and that she will marry him instead." But Rabbit said: "Have no fear. I am Bunny, Glooskap's forest guide. I will show you the way and bring you to the wedding in good time." The man was comforted and his spirits rose, and they talked some time together and became good friends.
When the man had somewhat got back his strength, they began their journey to the wedding. But Rabbit, being nimble-footed, ran fast and was soon so far in advance of his companion that he was lost to view. The man followed slowly, catching here and there through the green trees a glimpse of his guide's brown coat. As he stumbled along, thinking of his troubles, he fell into a deep pit that lay close to the forest path. He was too weak to climb out, and he called loudly for help. Bunny soon missed his follower, but he heard the man's yells, and turning about, he ran back to the pit. "Have no fear," said Rabbit as he looked over the edge, "I will get you out without mishap." Then, turning his back to the pit, he let his long bushy tail hang to the bottom. "Catch hold of my tail," he ordered, "hold on tight and I will pull you out." The man did as he was told. Rabbit sprang forward, but as he jumped, the weight of the man, who was very heavy, was more than he could bear, and poor Bunny's tail broke off within an inch of the root. The man fell back into the pit with a thud, holding in his hand poor Rabbit's tail. But Bunny in all his work as a guide had never known defeat, and he determined not to know it now. Holding to a strong tree with his front feet, he put his hind legs into the pit and said to the man, "Take hold of my legs and hang on tight." The man did as he was told. Then Rabbit pulled and pulled until his hind legs stretched and he feared that they too would break off; but although the weight on them was great, he finally pulled the man out after great difficulty. He found to his dismay that his hind legs had lengthened greatly because of their heavy load. He was no longer able to walk straight, but he now had to hop along with a strange jumping gait. Even his body was much stretched, and his waist had become very slender because of his long heavy pull. The two travellers then went on their way, Bunny hopping along, and the man moving more cautiously.
Finally, they reached the end of their journey. The people were all gathered for the wedding, and eagerly awaiting the coming of the bridegroom. Sure enough, the forest Fairy was there, trying by his tricks to win the girl for himself. But the man was in good time, and he married the maiden as he had hoped. As he was very thankful to Bunny, he asked him to the marriage dance and told him he might dance with the bride. So Rabbit put rings on his heels and a bangle around his neck, after his usual custom at weddings, and joined the merry-makers. Through the forest green where they danced many tiny streams were flowing, and to the soft music of these the dance went on. As the bride jumped across one of these streams during her dance with Bunny, she accidentally let the end of her dress drop into the water so that it got very wet. When she moved again into the sun, her dress, because of its wetting, shrank and shrank until it reached her knees and made her much ashamed. But Rabbit's heart was touched as usual by her plight; he ran quickly and got a deer skin that he knew to be hidden in the trees not far away, and he wrapped the pretty skin around the bride. Then he twisted a cord with which to tie it on. He held one end of the cord in his teeth and twisted the other end with his front paws. But in his haste, he held it so tight and twisted it so hard that when a couple waltzing past carelessly bumped into him the cord split his upper lip right up to the nose. But Rabbit was not dismayed by his split lip. He fastened on the bride's new deer-skin gown, and then he danced all the evening until the moon was far up in the sky. Before he went away, the man and his bride wanted to pay him for his work, but he would not take payment. Then the bride gave him a new white fur coat and said, "In winter wear this white coat; it is the colour of snow; your enemies cannot then see you so plainly against the white ground, and they cannot so easily do you harm; but in summer wear your old brown coat, the colour of the leaves and grass." And Bunny gratefully took the coat and went his way.
He lingered many days in the new country, for he was ashamed to go back to his own people with his changed appearance. His lip was split; his tail was gone, and his hind legs were stretched and crooked. Finally, he mustered up his courage and returned home. His old friends wondered much at his changed looks, and some of them were cruel enough to laugh at him. But Bunny deceived them all. When they asked him where he had been so long, he answered, "I guided a man to a far-off land which you have never seen and of which you have never heard." Then he told them many strange tales of its beauty and its good people.
"How did you lose your fine tail?" they asked. And he answered, "In the land to which I have been, the animals wear no tails. It is an aristocratic country, and wishing to be in the fashion, I cut mine off."
"And why is your waist so slender?" they asked. "Oh," replied Bunny, "in that country it is not the fashion to be fat, and I took great trouble to make my waist slight and willowy." "Why do you hop about," they asked, "when you once walked so straight?" "In that land," answered Bunny, "it is not genteel to walk straight; only the vulgar and untrained do that. The best people have a walk of their own, and it took me many days under a good walking-teacher to learn it."
"But how did you split your upper lip?" they asked finally. "In the land to which I have been," said Bunny, "the people do not eat as we do. There they eat with knives and forks and not with their paws. I found it hard to get used to their new ways. One day I put food into my mouth with my knife—a very vulgar act in that land—and my knife slipped and cut my lip, and the wound has never healed."
And being deceived and envying Bunny because of the wonders he had seen, they asked him no more questions. But the descendants of Rabbit to this day wear a white coat in winter and a brown one in summer. They have also a split upper lip; their waist is still very slender; they have no tail; their hind legs are longer than their front ones; they hop and jump nimbly about, but they are unable to walk straight. And all these strange things are a result of old Bunny's accident at the man's wedding long ago.

How Rabbit Lost His Tail

Transcribed by Cyrus MacMillan, 1917.
The writer's deepest thanks are expressed to the nameless Indians and "habitants," the fisherman and sailors, "the spinners and the knitters in the sun," from whose lips he heard these stories.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Did you know?

According to their oral histories, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona all share a common ancestry, descending from the ancient Anasazi civilization.

Photo: 1200 BCE: Earliest evidence of the Anasazi is found in the four corners region.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Yaqui Curandero

As told by
Mrs. Carmen Garcia

A poor, old Yaqui man had twelve sons. When the thirteenth son came along no one wanted to take him as a god-son. Yaquis believe that the god-parents are obligated to christen three children in a row from that family, and thirteen sons was just one too many.
The father became very angry. "I go now," he said, "and the first person I meet shall be my compadre."
He went toward the mountains and saw a man coming toward him. He was a tall and distinguished-looking person, muy simpatico.
"Where do you go?" the stranger asked the father of the thirteen sons.
"You go in search of someone to serve as your compadre?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"I am the devil, and I will serve as your compadre."
"I am but a poor man," said the father. "You are for the rich who can make deals with you. Vete." And the devil went off in a whirlwind, which is how he travels, in those dust devils.
The father of the thirteen sons went on traveling and met a second man. This man was tall, slender, and dressed all in black. In his hand he held a sword. This one said to the father of the thirteen sons, "And where do you go, my good man?"
"I go in search of someone who would be my compadre."
"I will serve you, if you give me your son when I ask. He will grow up to a very good healer, the best curandero of all."
The father asked him, "And who are you?"
"I am Death."
"Well, as you take from the rich as well as from the poor, and make all equal, you shall be my compadre." This the father said, "Be at the church this coming Sunday for the christening."
Thus it was that Death appeared at the thirteenth christening.
When the boy reached his thirteenth birthday, his god-father appeared and said to the father, "I told you I would make this boy into a great healer. Leave him to me for instruction, as you promised."
Since that was the agreement, the father had to let his son go. The boy and his god-father entered into a hill in the forest, and into a large room. There were other rooms, all as big, and in each room, there were flowers and rows upon rows of candles burning.
These candles were the lives of all people, the boy's godfather said to him. If the candle was tall, and just beginning to burn, that person had a long life to live. If the candle had burned half-way, that person had only half his life left, and if the candle was nearly gone, that person was going to die soon.
Death showed his god-father a herb. "This herb is used for curing." Death taught the boy: "Each time you visit a sick person, I will be there. When you see my form at the head of the sick one, you will use this herb to cure him. But when you see me at the foot of the sick one, then you know he must die. Give him no medicine."
So the boy went out to cure, and in a short time he was a good curandero, the best. Word of his skill went out and since he always asked a great deal of money, he was rich by the time he was thirty years.
Finally, it happened that a very rich man who was very sick called the curandero and said that if he could cure him, the curandero could marry his daughter.
When the curandero saw Death standing at the rich man's feet, he knew what he must do. But then he looked at the young daughter and, infatuated by her beauty and the thought of being her husband, he quickly turned the rich man about so that Death now stood at his head. The curandero administered the medicine, while his godfather looked on -black and angry.
The rich man got well, and the young girl was very happy. "Now, let us go to the church," she said to the curandero.
The wedding was held, complete with Pascolas, but before the fiesta could start, Death appeared at the door of the church. To his godson he said, "Well, I see that you got yourself married."
"Yes," replied the godson, and he thought within himself, "What can he do to me? After all, I am his godson."
"Come with me," said Death and he held his godson so firmly that the young man could not resist. They went back to the cave of the candles. Some of them were just beginning to burn, others were half-gone;. still others flickered weakly or lay about, extinguished on the ground.
"See, these are the Yaqui men's lives," Death said. His godson begged to be shown his own candle.
"This is your candle," said Death, pointing to one burned not even halfway down.
And Death blew it out.
As printed in Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press, ©1980, p. 209-210.
Go to the South Corner of Time homepage


Wednesday, January 6, 2016


One fine snowy day, Bear was walking through the snow in the forest. When he walked up on a little hill and stood up on his hind legs, he was so much taller than anything else he could see, that he was very proud. Bear loved to brag about how splendid he was, so he thumped himself on the chest and roared, "I'M THE BIGGEST ANIMAL IN THE FOREST!" And nobody made a sound because Bear was terribly big.
Bear got an itchy spot on his back, so he walked through the snow to a little tree, leaned against it and wriggled around. While he was scratching, the whole tree broke with a snap! Bear was so impressed with how strong he was, once more he roared out, "I'M THE STRONGEST ANIMAL IN THE FOREST!" And nobody said anything because Bear was unyielding.
Bear began to run down off that little hill. Now, every human child learns very early that you can run like the wind downhill. But Bear was so impressed with how fast he could run, he skidded to a halt by a little-frozen lake and roared, "I'M THE FASTEST ANIMAL IN THE FOREST!"
Then Bear heard a little voice pipe up from the edge of the lake, "No you're not, Bear! I'm a lot faster than you!"
"WHAT?!" Bear couldn't believe his ears. Then he couldn't believe his eyes! Because that voice came from a little green water turtle, who was sticking his head up through a hole in the ice.
Turtle said it again, "Really, Bear, I'm a lot faster than you are." Bear and Turtle began to disagree, then to argue, and then they began to make so much noise that the other animals came to see what was going on. An excellent argument was in the making when it was decided that the only way to settle the question was to have a race between Bear and Turtle. The animals reached a general agreement: the race would be around the lake. But then Turtle said, "I am a water animal, so I'll have to race in the lake."
Bear objected, "You must think I'm pretty stupid! You can just dive under the ice, then come back up and say you won!" Though the animals did think he was pretty stupid, he had a point. Finally, they agreed upon a solution. Bear, who was a land animal, would race around the lake while Turtle would swim from one hole in the ice to another, put his head up and say something, then swim on. Fox, who had no reason to cheat in this case, was chosen to be the starter and judge, and the race was scheduled for the next day.
The next morning, Elk, who had the biggest feet, was chosen to punch holes in the ice every few feet. All the animals had heard about the race and had come to see it. Almost all the spectators were making bets, and because most of them were so tired of listening to Bear brag, the bets were heavily favored Turtle.
Fox called the contestants to his side. "Are you ready, Bear?" Now Bear had been warming up, doing exercises, and getting in some last minute bragging, so he yawned and said, "Yeah, I'm ready." Fox asked, "Are you ready Turtle?" And Turtle, at his first hole in the ice said, "I'm ready!"
"Alright," said Fox, "once around the lake and back to me. Now ........... RUN!"
Turtle dived under the water, and Bear began just to walk, waving casually to his friends, just to prove how easy this was going to be. But Bear had only taken a couple of steps when Turtle's head came up in the second hole in the ice.
Turtle said, "Come on Bear, catch up with me!" And Turtle dived under and went on. Bear was flabbergasted! This turtle was faster than he thought, so Bear began to jog a little faster. But only three steps farther, Turtle's head popped up at the next hole. He said, "Come on, Bear, catch up with me!" then dived under and went on.
Now, Bear knew he had to run! He dropped to all fours and began to run as fast as he could. But before Bear passed the third hole, Turtle came up at the fourth hole and said, "come on Bear, I'm way ahead of you!"
Bear ran and ran as fast, his tongue drooping further and further out of his mouth, so out of breath he thought he would drop. But, that turtle just kept getting farther and farther ahead, each time popping out of a hole to say, "Come on, Bear, catch up with me!" Until finally, when Bear was half way around the lake, Turtle finished the race!
A great cheer went up from the other animals, "TURTLE IS THE FASTEST ANIMAL IN THE FOREST!" Even those that hadn't bet on Turtle came down to congratulate him and shake his clawed foot and pat his shell.
And Bear? Well, Bear was so exhausted, and so humiliated that he didn't even finish the race. He turned and went to his house, which was a cave, and slept the rest of the winter. And to this day, bears sleep all winter, so they don't have to remember losing that race to a turtle!
There were a big party and feast in Turtle's honor, and then, finally, everyone went home.
Now, Turtle looked around carefully, making sure everyone was gone. Then he crawled down to the edge of the ice, stuck out his clawed foot and rapped three times on the ice.
Suddenly, up through the holes in the ice came Turtle's brothers and sisters, his mom and dad, his aunts, uncles, cousins near and distant, even his grandma and grandpa turtles were there, and every one of them looked exactly like Turtle! They nodded their heads at each other and said, "Yes, we are the fastest animals in the forest!"
Turtle said, "Thank you, my kinfolks. Today we have proved that though we turtles may be slow of foot, we are not slow of wit!"

"Earth Making"

Earth is floating on the waters like a big island, hanging from four rawhide ropes fastened at the top of the Sacred four directions. The ropes are tied to the ceiling of the sky, which is made of hard rock crystal. When the ropes break, this world will come tumbling down, and all living things will fall with it and die. Then everything will be as if the earth had never existed, for water will cover it. Maybe the white man will bring this about.
Additionally, in the beginning, water covered everything. Though living creatures existed, their homes, crowded, were up there, above the rainbow. "We are all jammed together," the animals said. "We need more room." Wondering what was under the water, they sent Water Beetle to look around.
Water Beetle skimmed over the surface but couldn't find any solid footing, so he dived to the bottom and brought up a little dab of soft mud. Magically the mud spread out in the four directions and became this island we are living on - this earth. Someone Powerful then fastened it to the sky ceiling with cords.
In the beginning, the earth was flat, soft, and moist. All the animals were eager to live on it, and they kept sending down birds to see if the mud had dried and hardened enough to take their weight. But the birds all flew back and said that there was still no spot they could perch on.
Then the animals sent Grandfather Buzzard down. He flew very close and saw that the earth was still soft, but when he glided low over what would become Cherokee country, he found that the mud was getting harder. By that time Buzzard was tired and dragging. When he flapped his wings down they made a valley where they touched the earth; when he swept them up, they made a mountain. The animals watching from above the rainbow said, "If he keeps on, there will only be mountains," and they made him come back. That's why we have so many mountains in Cherokee land.
At last, the earth was hard and dry enough, and the animals descended. They couldn't see very well because they had no sun or moon, and someone said, "Let's grab Sun from up there behind the rainbow! Let's get him down too!" Pulling Sundown, they told him, "Here's a road for you," and showed him the way to go....from east to west.
Now they had light, but it was much too hot because Sun was too close to the earth. The crawfish had his back sticking out of a stream, and Sunburned it red. His meat was forever spoiled, and the people still won't eat crawfish.
Everyone asked the sorcerers, the shamans, to put Sun higher. They pushed him up as high as a man, but it was still too hot. So they pushed him farther, but it wasn't far enough. They tried four times, and when they had the sun up to the height of four men, he was just hot enough. Everyone was satisfied, so they left him there.
Before making humans, Someone Powerful had created plants and animals and had told them to stay awake and watch for seven days and seven nights. ( This is just what young men do today when they fast and prepare for a ceremony.) But most of the plants and animals couldn't manage it, some fell asleep after one day, some after two days, some after three. Among the animals, only the Owl and the Mountain Lion were still awake after seven days and nights. That is why they were given the gift of seeing in the dark so that they can hunt at night.
Among the trees and other plants, only the cedar, pine, holly, and laurel were still awake on the eighth morning. Someone Powerful said to them,"Because you have done as you were instructed, you watched and kept awake, you will not lose your hair in the winter." So these plants stay green all the time.
After creating plants and animals, Someone Powerful made man and his sister. The man poked her with a fish and told her to go give birth. After seven days she had a baby, and after seven more days she had another, and every seven days another came. The humans increased so quickly that Someone Powerful, thinking there would soon be no more room on this earth, arranged things so that a woman could have only one child every year. And that's how it was.
Now, there is still another world under the one we live. You can reach it by going down a spring, a water hole; but you need underworld people to be your scouts and guide you. The world under our earth is exactly like ours, except that it's winter down there when it's summer up here. We can see that easily because spring water is warmer than the air in winter and cooler than the air in summer.



A boy went on a turtle hunt, and after following the different streams for hours, finally came to the conclusion that the only place he would find any turtles would be at the little lake, where the tribe always hunted them.
So, leaving the stream he had been following, he cut across country to the lake. On drawing near the lake, he crawled on his hands and knees in order not to be seen by the turtles, who were very watchful, as they had been hunted so much. Peeping over the rock he saw a great many out on the shore sunning themselves, so he very cautiously undressed, so he could leap into the water and catch them before they secreted themselves. But on pulling off his shirt one of his hands was held up so high that the turtles saw it and jumped into the lake with a great splash.
The boy ran to the shore but saw only bubbles coming up from the bottom. Directly the boy saw something coming to the surface, and soon it came up into sight. It was a little man, and soon others, by the hundreds, came up and swam about, splashing the water up into the air to a great height. So scared was the boy that he never stopped to gather up his clothes but ran home naked and fell into his grandmother's tent door.
"What is the trouble, grandchild," cried the old woman. But the boy could not answer. "Did you see anything unnatural?" He shook his head, "no." He made signs to the grandmother that his lungs were pressing so hard against his sides that he could not talk. He kept beating his side with his clenched hands. The grandmother got her medicine bag, made a prayer to the Great Spirit to drive out the evil spirit that had entered her grandson's body, and after she had applied the medicine, the prayer must have been heard and answered, as the boy commenced telling her what he had heard and seen.
The grandmother went to the chief's tent and told what her grandson had seen. The chief sent two brave warriors to the lake to ascertain whether it was true or not. The two warriors crept to the little hill close to the lake, and there, sure enough, the lake was swarming with little men swimming, about, splashing the water high up into the air. The warriors, too, were scared and hurried home, and in the council called on their return told what they had seen. The boy was brought to the council and given the seat of honor (opposite the door) and was named "Wankan Wanyanka" (sees holy).
The lake had formerly borne the name of Truth Lake, but from this time on was called, "Wicasa-bde" -- Man Lake.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I'm passing the light of peace, love and prosperity to you for 2016.

It's pretty cool don't kill it pass it on.

It's the light of Peace love And prosperity you're supposed to pass it on don't let it go out.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Burden Basket

The Burden Basket teaches us not to leave our troubles at the door of another. If we rely on ourselves and our connection to the Great Spirit we learn to stretch into our own unique potential. If we become confused and we seek counsel, we should always use the advice given. We should not waste the time of others if we do not intend to respect and honor the wisdom given to us. We should also know that it is not our job to solve the problems of others. In doing so, we rob them of their right to self-reliance.

While we walk through our lifetime, we only carry the burdens we wish to carry. If we find pleasure or a feeling of importance because we have so much to handle, then we need to look seriously at our ideas of self-importance. The lesson of the Burden Basket is that we are all self-reliant and should use our own talents to find our own solutions.

Before the First People were forced onto reservations, Burden Baskets were used to gather wood by the women of the tribes. This wood would be used for cooking fires and Grandmother Fires to heat the inside of the lodges. The heating fires were so named because the wood was small enough that even a Grandmother could carry it. The wood was placed in the Burden Basket to free the hands to gather and collect items for cooking.

Native women were not asked to bear a burden heavier than their Burden Basket could handle. When not in use, the Burden Basket was hung outside of the home to serve another purpose. Native American etiquette differs from other cultures and the Burden Basket played a role in a custom honored by all Tribal members.

Before entering the home, all burdens were to be placed in the Burden Basket outside. Leave your complaints and problems outside, please. It is not polite to bring those troubles into the Sacred Space of the family you are visiting. The Burden Basket becomes a symbol of the internal strength of knowing how to keep your own counsel and not to inflict our burdens onto the shoulders of others.

It takes a strong heart to feel compassion for the burdens of others and not to take the burdens on as our own.

Burden Baskets were used for utilitarian means but also as a Guardian of the homes. Giving balance to the tribe as a whole and a reminder of respecting the happiness and privacy of those around us.