Native American Legends
As told by John Petagumskum from Whapmagoostui. Transcription and translation by Brian Webb. Copyright Beesum Communications.
A Cree Legend
I don't know how the other communities call it but here in Whapmagoostui,
we call this legend Achaanwaapush (Cannibal Rabbit). He was a cannibalistic
creature. He was a person with the features of a rabbit and he habitually
There was a family of Lynx people camped out on the land. One day,
the Lynx adults were getting ready to set off for a Beaver hunt.
As they left, they said to their young Lynx children, "Achaanwaapush
will reach our camp today." The young Lynx were forewarned
what would happen. The adult Lynx said, "When Achaanwaapush
enters our tepee, he'll want the place warm and he'll want to be
scratched and soothed. But make sure that you don't use your claws
so Achaanwaapush will become frustrated and will want to be scratched
more vigorously. After he tells you to scratch him more forcefully,
rip him open along his ribs." The Lynx men left with their
wives to hunt for Beaver. Only the children were left at the camp.
During the day, the old Cannibal Rabbit reached the camp of the
Lynx and entered the tepee. As he opened the door flap and saw the
young Lynx children sitting around inside the tepee, he said, "Grandchildren,
put some wood in the fire and I'll warm up and you'll scratch my
back." The Lynx children agreed. They fed the fire and the
place was nice and toasty. Achaanwaapush got undressed and told
the Lynx children to scratch his back. The children began rubbing
Achaanwaapush's back using only their paws. The old Cannibal Rabbit
stopped them and asked, "What's going on? How come you're not
scratching me? Let me check your claws. I told you to scratch my
back. Do it with more force." The Lynx children agreed.
The old Cannibal Rabbit laid down again. The young Lynx children
put their paws along his spine and stuck out their claws and pulled
down along his ribs. They ripped the Cannibal Rabbit's skin and
teared him open. The Lynx children killed Achaanwaapush. As they
joyfully butchered him, they said, "Our parents will eat the
After hunting Beaver, the Lynx adults said, "Let's go home.
Achaanwaapush must have reached our children." On their way
back, they saw the Cannibal Rabbit's trail leading to their camp.
Just seeing his trail frightened them. The Lynx men told their wives
to walk far behind. The Lynx men snuck up to their tepee as they
got near. One Lynx man jumped in the entrance and the other pounced
for the smoke hole of their tepee to attack Achaanwaapush. They
believed that the Cannibal Rabbit had slaughtered their children
but the startled Lynx children said, "What are you doing? We've
killed Achaanwaapush." The Lynx men were glad and said, "It's
a good thing you did that." When the wives of the Lynx arrived,
the rest of the camp was already rejoicing and happily cooking a
feast of the Cannibal Rabbit. This is the legend that I heard.
Achaanwaapush told by John Petagumskum from Whapmagoostui.
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