- The Raccoon and the Bee-Tree
Native American Lore
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 and 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 a 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
"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 topmost branch.
"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
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 some one of his own
kind to come to his aid.
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
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
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 speed.
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
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
"Woo, woo!" snarled the Bear, and the accoon 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
|| From Native Lore Index ||
- The Warm Wind Brothers vs. The Cold Wind Brothers
Native American Lore
This is a story about two tribes that lived during the last Ice Age,
many years ago. One of these tribes was called the Tribe of the Warm
Wind. The people lived in the Dry Falls-Vantafe area. Wherever they
camped, they were in warm country. The chief of the Warm Wind people had
The second tribe was the Tribe of the Cold Wind. The chief of this tribe
also had five sons. Wherever the Cold Wind people settled, cold weather
followed. All the lakes and rivers froze, and snow fell.
When the Tribe of the Cold Wind tried to move south, they were stopped
by the Tribe of the Warm Wind. The Cold Wind people held council and
decided that if they would kill the five brothers in the Warm Wind
tribe, they could go south whenever they wished.
They asked Coyote to deliver a challenge for a duel between the five
brothers in the Warm Wind tribe and the five brothers in the Cold Wind
tribe. The challenge was accepted, and the date was set. Then Coyote
travelled around to tell all the people in both tribes about the
When the day arrived, both tribes gathered at the place for the duel.
Two warriors fought at a time, one Warm Wind brother against one Cold
Wind brother. The young warriors of the Cold Wind people were much
stronger than their rivals. Soon all the Warm Wind brothers had been
The Tribe of the Cold Wind now had the power to rule, and they ruled
strongly and severely. The country became cold. The rivers and lakes
froze solid, and snow fell until the lodges were nearly covered. As far
south as Dry Falls, the ice was piled as high as mountains.
Coyote was cruelly treated, and his work was never done. The Warm Wind
people were miserable. They were made the slaves of the Cold Wind
people. Any food they found was taken from them. They had to eat the
scraps of food the Cold Wind people did not want.
Not long before the struggles, the youngest son of the Warm Wind chief
had married a girl from a tribe farther south. She decided to go back to
her people. Before she left, she told her husband's people, "I am
expecting a child. Pray that it will be a boy. If I have a son, I will
train him to be the greatest warrior in the world. When he is grown, I
will send him to you. Watch for him. He will avenge the defeat of his
father and uncles."
A few moons later the woman gave birth to a son. When he was about three
months old, he was given baths in cold water to make him strong. As soon
as he was old enough, his mother and her brothers had him follow a
training course that would make him a strong warrior.
For years he trained. He became so strong that he could uproot trees and
throw them over hills. He could throw large boulders many miles. At this
time he believed himself the strongest man in the world.
Then his mother told him about the duel between the Warm Wind brothers
and the Cold Wind brothers. The young man felt that he was ready to
avenge the death of his father and uncles, and to set their people free.
But his mother insisted that he train for one more year.
By the end of that year he could move small mountains. Then his mother
told him that he was ready to go north to help his people. She told him
just what he should do and what he should ask his grandparents to do to
The young warrior started north, and a warm south wind went with him. As
he neared the home of his grandparents, the ice on their lodge poles
began to melt for the first time since they became slaves. They were
glad and asked each other, "Do you think that our grandson is coming?"
Before the sun set that day, the young man reached them. They saw that
he was strong, and they believed him when he said that he had come to
free them and their people from the Cold Wind tribe. He was sorry that
they had been treated unkindly.
Coyote was sent to the camp of the chief of the Cold Wind tribe to
deliver a challenge from the grandson of the chief of the Warm Wind
tribe. It was accepted. The day and the place were decided upon.
In the camp of the defeated people, the grandson asked them to follow
his mother's instructions: "Boil some salmon, and put the broth in five
On the morning of the duel, the people of both tribes gathered at the
river at the chosen place. The grandson fought with the oldest brother
from the Cold Wind tribe. The ice was very slick. But the grandson's
people threw down a bucket of hot salmon broth, and the ice became
rough. So the young warrior defeated the first of the five brothers.
Then the second brother stepped forth, and the grandson fought him. The
Cold Wind people threw water on the ice, hoping to make it slick. Then
the Warm Wind people threw another bucket of hot broth on the ice, and
it became rough. So the young warrior defeated the second brother.
The third, fourth, and fifth brothers he struggled with, each in turn.
Each time he was helped by the hot salmon broth. When he had defeated
the youngest brother, the Warm Wind people were free. They drove the
rest of the Cold Wind people so far north that they could never find
their way back. Soon the warm wind came in and melted all the ice.
When the young grandson travels north in the spring, warm weather
follows. If he had not defeated the five brothers of the Cold Wind
tribe, we still would be living in the Ice Age.
|| From Native Lore Index
- The Wolf Dance
Native American Lore
I wanted to give something of my past to my grandson. So I took him into
the woods, to a quiet spot. Seated at my feet he listened as I told him
of the powers that were given to each creature. He moved not a muscle as
I explained how the woods had always provided us with food, homes,
comfort, and religion. He was awed when I related to him how the wolf
became our guardian, and when I told him that I would sing the sacred
wolf song over him, he was overjoyed. In my song, I appealed to the wolf
to come and preside over us while I would perform the wolf ceremony so
that the bondage between my grandson and the wolf would be lifelong. I
In my voice was the hope that clings to every heartbeat. I sang.
In my words were the powers I inherited from my forefathers. I sang.
In my cupped hands lay a spruce seed -- the link to creation. I sang.
In my eyes sparkled love. I sang.
And the song floated on the sun's rays from tree to tree.
When I had ended, it was if the whole world listened with us to hear the
wolf's reply. We waited a long time but none came. Again I sang, humbly
but as invitingly as I could, until my throat ached and my voice gave
All of a sudden I realized why no wolves had heard my sacred song. There
were none left! My heart filled with tears. I could no longer give my
grandson faith in the past, our past.
At last I could whisper to him: "It is finished!" "Can I go home now?"
He asked, checking his watch to see if he would still be in time to
catch his favorite program on TV. I watched him disappear and wept in
silence. All is finished!
by Chief Dan George (chief of the Salish Band in Burrard Inlet, B.C.)
From Native Lore Index
Ableegumooch, the Lazy Rabbit
Native American Lore
In the Old Time, as you know, Ableegumooch was Glooscap's forest guide and helped wayfarers lost in the forest. However, as time went on, Indians and animals learned to find their own way through the trees and did not need the rabbit's services so often. Ableegumooch grew fat and lazy. If there was something easy and pleasant to do, he did it. If the thing were difficult or tiring, he did not. Now that is no way to keep a wigwam stocked with food. Often, poor old Noogumee, his grandmother, with whom he lived, had to hunt for food herself, or they would have gone hungry. And no matter how much she scolded him, Ableegumooch refused to mend his ways.
Glooscap, far away in his lodge on Blomidon, saw that the rabbit was becoming a thoroughly useless creature. He must be warned against the dangers of laziness. So, wasting no time, Glooscap descended from his lodge to the beach in three huge strides, launched his canoe, and paddled across the Bay of Fundy to the shore near the rabbit's home.
It was a fine bright morning, the air cool and tasting of salt, as it always does in the Maritime Provinces. And presently along hopped the rabbit, singing with fine spirit:
It's a lovely day to do
All the day through!
He paid no attention to the tasty leaves and berries he might have been gathering for dinner. He was much more interested in watching other people work. There was Miko the Squirrel scampering up the big maple tree, his cheeks bulged out with nuts, pausing only long enough to scold Ableegumooch for coming too near his storehouse. There was Mechipchamooech the Bumble Bee, busy at the golden rod, gathering honey for his hive. And there was Teetees the Blue Jay, flying worms to his family in the big pine. It was all so interesting that Ableegumooch stopped beside a stately fir tree to enjoy the scene. Suddenly behind him, he heard a voice.
"Ableegumooch, be careful!"
The rabbit jumped and whirled about, but there was nobody there. The voice spoke again, from somewhere over his head.
"Take care, Ableegumooch, or your lazy ways will bring you pain and sorrow."
The rabbit looked up and saw the fir tree shake like a leaf in a storm, yet not a breath of wind stirred. Frightened out of his wits, he ran--and he never stopped running until he was safe at home, where he told his grandmother what had happened.
"Glooscap has given you a warning," said his grand mother. "Be sure to obey him, grandson, or you will be sorry."
The rabbit's legs were still trembling from fright and exertion, and he promised at once that he would take care to mend his lazy ways in future. And indeed, for a while, he went busily about his hunting and kept the wigwam well stocked with food. But, when autumn came, he grew lazy again and went back to his old careless ways.
It's a lovely day to do
All the day through!
So sang Ableegumooch as he sauntered through the glory of autumn trees. Noogumee begged and scolded and pleaded, but he continued to spend more time visiting his neighbours than gathering food. One day, when winter had come to the land, he came to the wigwam of Keoonik the Otter. Keoonik politely asked him to dine, and the rabbit promptly accepted. Keoonik turned to his elderly house keeper and addressed her in the usual Indian fashion:
"Noogumee, prepare the meal."
Then he took some fishhooks and went off, the rabbit hopping along behind, curious to see what he was going to do. Keoonik sat on the snowy bank of the river and slid down an icy path into the water. In a moment, he reappeared with a string of eels which he carried to his grandmother, and she promptly cooked them for dinner.
"Gracious!" thought Ableegumooch. "If that isn't an easy way to get a living. I can do that as well as Keoonik," and he invited the otter to be his guest at dinner on the following day. Then he hurried home.
"Come," he said to his grandmother, "we are going to move our lodge down to the river." And in spite of all she could say, he insisted on moving it. Noogumee reminded him that the wigwam was empty of food, and he ought to be out hunting, but Ableegumooch paid no attention. He was busy making a slide like Keoonik's. The weather was cold, so all he had to do was pour water down the snowy bank, where it soon froze, and there was his fishing slide. Early next day, the guest arrived. When it was time for dinner, Ableegumooch said to his grandmother:
"Noogumee, prepare the meal."
"There is nothing to prepare," said she, sadly.
"Oh, I will see to that," said the rabbit with a confident laugh, and he took his place at the top of the slide to go fishing. When he tried to push off, however, he found it was not so easy. His coat was rough and bulky and dry, not smooth and slippery like the otter's. He had to wriggle and push with his heels until at last he slid down and plunged into the water. The cold took his breath quite away, and he suddenly remembered he was unable to swim. Struggling and squealing, he thought no more of fishing, for he was in great danger of drowning.
"What on earth is the matter with him?" Keoonik asked the grandmother.
"I suppose he has seen someone else do that," sighed Noogumee, "and he thinks he can do it too."
Keoonik helped the freezing, half-drowned rabbit out of the water and, since there was nothing to eat, went home hungry and disgusted.
But do you think that cold bath cured Ableegumooch? Not at all. The very next day, as he ran idly through the forest, he came to the lodge of some female woodpeckers. He was delighted when these Antawaas invited him to dinner.
He watched eagerly to see how they found food.
One of the woodpeckers took a dish, went up the side of an old beech tree and quickly dug out a plentiful supply of food, which was cooked and placed before the rabbit.
"My, oh my!" thought Ableegumooch. "How easily some people get a living. What is to prevent me from getting mine in that fashion?" And he told the Antawaas they must come and dine with him.
On the day following, they appeared at the rabbit's lodge and Ableegumooch said to his grandmother importantly:
"Noogumee, prepare the meal."
"You foolish rabbit," said she, "there is nothing to prepare."
"Make the fire," said the rabbit grandly, "and I shall see to the rest."
He took the stone point from an eel spear and fastened it on his head in imitation of a woodpecker's bill, then climbed a tree and began knocking his head against it. Soon his head was bruised and bleeding, and he lost his hold and fell to the earth with a tremendous crash. The Antawaas could not keep from laughing.
"Pray what was he doing up there?"
"I suppose he has seen someone else do that," said Noogumee, shaking her head, "and thinks he can do it too." And she advised them to go home, as there would be no food for them there that day.
Now, sore as he was, you would certainly think the rabbit had learned his lesson. Yet, a day or two later, he was idling in the woods as usual when he came upon Mooin the Bear, who invited him to dinner. He was greatly impressed at the way in which the bear got his meal. Mooin merely took a sharp knife and cut small pieces off the soles of his feet. These he placed in a kettle on the fire, and in a short while they enjoyed a delicious meal.
"This must be the easiest way of all to get a dinner," marvelled Ableegumooch, and he invited Mooin to dine with him next day. Now what the rabbit did not know was that the bears preserve food on their feet. They press ripe blueberries with their paws and, after the cakes have dried upon them, cut bits off to eat. The silly rabbit thought Mooin had actually cut pieces off his paws!
At the appointed time, Ableegumooch ordered his grand mother to prepare the meal, and when she said there was nothing to prepare, he told her to put the kettle on and he would do the rest. Then he took a stone knife and began to cut at his feet as he had seen Mooin do. But oh dear me, it hurt. It hurt dreadfully! With tears streaming down his cheeks, he hacked and hacked, first at one foot and then at the other. Mooin the Bear was greatly astonished.
"What on earth is the fellow trying to do?" he asked.
Noogumee shook her head dismally.
"It is the same old thing. He has seen someone else do this."
"Well!" said Mooin crossly, "It is most insulting to be asked to dinner and get nothing to eat. The trouble with that fellow is-- he's lazy!" and he went home in a huff.
Then at last, Ableegumooch, nursing his sore feet, remembered what Glooscap had said. All at once, he saw how silly he had been.
"Oh dear!" he said. "My own ways of getting food are hard, but others' are harder. I shall stick to my own in the future," and he did.
From then on, the wigwam of Ableegumooch and his grandmother was always well stored with food, winter and summer, and though he still sings, his song has changed:
It's a wiser thing to be
And far away on Blomidon, Glooscap, seeing his foolish rabbit mend his ways at last, set a light to his pipe and smoked contentedly.