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Native American Legends

Chipmunk and Snake

A Nez Perce Legend

Chipmunk and Snake lived together. Their fire was one long burning log. Each of them had a stick with which to poke the fire. Chipmunk poked the fire: "U ya had ya ha." Snake poked it. "Winter" was the noise he made. When the log was burned through the middle, it would be spring. Chipmunk was hurrying it to make spring come quicker. Snake was trying to delay it because he wanted winter. The only time they ceased arguing was when they slept. At dawn, as soon as they woke up they took up the stick. Suddenly, the Chipmunk said, "I'll go outside and see."

She went out the door. Already the ground was clear of snow. Small blades of grass showed through. She nibbled them. She went in again and took up her stick to poke the fire. Snake said, "Is it clear yet?" "No, there is still snow on the ground." Then Snake repeated, "Winter." Suddenly he said, "You smell of green grass." "No, it's that mat you smell. I just turned it over."

Outside all was green. "Tsatapi," spoke Snake. "Ya ya," said Chipmunk. Patsata, Chipmunk ran out. Snake said, "My! She does smell of green grass!"

Then he went out. The ground was clear. Sun was shining, Snake ate grass and curled himself up on the ground.

The end of my road.

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