Native American Legends
Big Long Man's Corn Patch
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
As soon as Big Long Man got back from the mountains he went to
his garden to admire his corn and melons. He had planted a big crop
for the coming winter. When he saw that half of the corn stalks
had been shucked and the ears stolen, and that the biggest melons
were gone off of the melon vines, he was very angry.
"Who stole my corn and melons?" he muttered to himself.
"I'll catch the thief, whoever he is."
He began to scheme. The next day he built a fence around the garden.
But the fence did no good. Each morning Big Long Man found more
corn stalks stripped.
At last he thought up a scheme to catch the thief. He gathered
a great ball of pine pitch and molded it into the shape of a man.
He set the figure up in the corn field and then went to his hogan.
That night Skunk came along to get a bit of corn for his dinner.
He had heard from Badger that Big Long Man was away in the mountains.
He squeezed his body under the fence and waddled up to a clump of
corn. He was just about to shuck a fat ear when he noticed a man
standing by the fence. Skunk let go of the ear of corn in fright.
He could see in the moonlight that the man was not Big Long Man.
He waddled over to the fence and spoke to the figure.
"Who are you, in Big Long Man's corn patch?'' asked Skunk.
The figure did not answer.
"Who are you?" said Skunk again, moving closer.
The figure did not answer.
"Speak!" said Skunk boldly, "or I will punch your
The figure did not say a word. It did not move an inch.
"Tell me who you are," said Skunk a fourth time, raising
his fist, "or I will punch your face."
The figure said not a word. It was very quiet in the moonlit corn
field. Even the wind had gone away.
Plup went Skunk's fist into the pine gum face. It sunk into the
soft pitch, which is as sticky as glue, and there it stuck. Skunk
pulled and pulled.
"If you don't let go my hand," he shouted, "I will
hit you harder with my left hand."
But the pine pitch held tight.
Plup went Skunk's left hand. Now both hands stuck fast.
"Let go my hands, or I will kick you," cried Skunk, who
was by this time getting mad.
The pine gum man did not let go.
Plup, Skunk gave a mighty kick with his right foot. The foot stuck
too, just like the hands.
"I will kick you harder," said Skunk and Plup he kicked
with all of his strength with his left foot. Pine gum man held that
foot too. Skunk struggled but he could not get loose. Now he was
in a fine plight. Every limb was held tight. He had only one more
weapon, his teeth.
"I will bite your throat," he shouted and he dug his
teeth into the pine gum throat.
"Ugh!" he gurgled for he could no longer say a word.
His tongue and teeth were held fast in the pine pitch.
The next morning Big Long Man came to his corn patch and there
was Skunk stuck onto the pine gum man. Only his tail was free, waving
"Ah!" said Big Long Man. "So it's you, Skunk, who
has been stealing my corn."
"Ugh," replied Skunk. His mouth full of pine pitch.
Big Long Man pulled him away from the gum figure, tied a rope around
his neck and led him to his hogan. He put a great pot of water on
the stove to boil, then he took the rope off of Skunk's neck.
"Now, Skunk," he said, "go fetch wood."
Skunk went out into the back yard. Just then Fox happened to pass
by. He was on his way to Big Long Man's corn patch. Skunk began
to cry loudly. Fox stopped running, and pricked up his sharp ears.
"Who is crying?" he said.
"I am crying," said Skunk.
"Why?" said Fox.
"Because I have to carry wood for Big Long Man. He gives me
all of the corn I want to eat, but I do not want to carry wood."
Fox was hungry. He knew that if he stole corn he was liable to
get caught. "What an easy way to get corn," he thought.
"I would not mind carrying wood."
Out loud he said, "Cousin, let us change places. You go home
and I will carry wood for Big Long Man. I like the job. Besides,
I was just on my way to steal an ear of corn down at the field."
"All right," said Skunk. "But don't eat too much
corn. I have a stomach ache." He felt his fat stomach and groaned.
Then he waddled happily away. Fox gathered up an armful of piñon
wood. He hurried into Big Long Man's hogan. Big Long Man looked
at him in surprise.
"Well, well, Skunk, you changed into a fox, did you? That's
Fox did not say a word. He was afraid he might say the wrong thing
and not get any corn to eat. Big Long Man took the rope which had
been around Skunk's neck and tied it around Fox's neck.
Fox sat down and waited patiently. Soon the water in the big pot
began to bubble and steam. At last Fox said, "Isn't the corn
cooked yet, Big Long Man?"
"Corn?" asked Big Long Man. "What corn?"
"Why the corn you are cooking for me," said Fox. "Skunk
said you would feed me all of the corn I could eat if I carried
wood for you."
"The rascal," said Big Long Man. "He tricked you
and he tricked me. Well, Fox, you will have to pay for this."
So saying he picked up Fox by the ears and set him down in the boiling
water. It was so hot that it took off every hair on his body. Big
Long Man left him in the pot for a minute and then he pulled him
out by the ears and set him free out of doors.
"Don't be thinking you will ever get any of my corn by tricks,"
said Big Long Man.
Fox ran yelping toward his den. He was sore all over. Half way
home he passed Red Monument. Red Monument is a tall slab of red
sand stone that stands alone in a valley. On top of the rock sat
Raven eating corn that he had stolen from the corn patch. At the
bottom was Coyote holding on to the rock with his paws. He was watching
for Raven to drop a few kernels. He glanced behind him when Fox
appeared. He did not let go of the rock, however, because he thought
Fox might get his place. He was surprised at Fox's appearance.
"Where is your fur, Fox?" he asked over his shoulder.
"I ate too much corn," said Fox sadly. "Don't ever
eat too much corn, Coyote. It is very painful." Fox held his
stomach and groaned. "Corn is very bad for one's fur. It ruined
"But where did you get so much corn, cousin?" asked Coyote,
still holding on to the rock.
"Didn't you hear?" asked Fox. "Why, Big Long Man
is giving corn to all the animals who carry wood for him. He will
give you all you can eat and more too. Just gather an armful of
piñon sticks and walk right into his hogan."
Coyote thought a moment. He was greedy. He decided to go to Big
Long Man's hogan but he did not want Fox to go with him. He wanted
everything for himself.
"Cousin," he said, "will you do me a favor? Will
you hold this rock while I go and get a bite of corn from Big Long
Man? I am very hungry and I do not dare leave this rock. It will
fall and kill somebody."
"All right," said Fox, smiling to himself. "I will
hold the rock. But do not eat too much." He placed his paws
on the back side of the rock and Coyote let go. The next minute
Coyote was running away as fast as he could toward Big Long Man's
hogan. Fox laughed to himself, but after a bit he became tired of
holding the rock. He decided to let it fall.
"Look out, Cousin Raven," he shouted. "The rock
is going to fall." Fox let go, and jumped far away. Then he
ran and did not look behind. He was afraid the rock would hit his
tail. If Fox had looked behind him he would have seen the rock standing
as steady as a mountain.
Presently, along came Coyote, back from Big Long Man's hogan. He
was running at top speed and yowling fearfully. There was not a
hair left on his body. When he came to Red Monument he saw Raven
still sitting on his high perch nibbling kernels of corn.
"Where has Fox gone?" howled Coyote who was in a rage.
Raven looked down at Coyote. "Fox?" he said. "Why,
Fox went home, I suppose. What did you do with your hair, Coyote?"
Coyote didn't answer. He just sat down by the foot of the rock
and with his snout up in the air waited for Raven to drop a few
kernels of corn.
"I'll get Fox some other day," he muttered to himself.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends