Native American Legends
How the Beaver got his tail
An Ojibwa Legend
Once upon a time there was a beaver that loved to brag about his
tail. One day while taking a walk, the beaver stopped to talk to
a bird. The beaver said to the bird, "Don't you love my fluffy
"Why, yes I do little beaver," replied the bird.
"Don't you wish your feathers were as fluffy as my tail? Don't
you wish your feathers were as strong as my tail? Don't you wish
your feathers were just as beautiful as my tail?" the beaver
"Why do you think so much of your tail, little beaver?"
asked the bird. This insulted the beaver and he walked away.
After walking for a while, he stopped for a drink by the river
and saw a muskrat. He walked to the muskrat and said, "Hello
little muskrat. What do you think about my tail?"
"Well, it is very beautiful and big and fluffy," answered
the muskrat. "Is it also a strong tail?"
"Why, yes it is," the beaver answered. "Do you wish
you had a tail like mine?"
"I didn't say I wanted a tail like yours. I just asked if
it was strong," the muskrat replied with a disgusted voice.
The beaver quickly turned and began walking back to his dam. He
was angry because he felt that the animals were being rude to him.
He was very upset and decided to take out his frustration by cutting
down trees. After cutting down a couple of trees, he came to a very
large one. He knew that it would be a great challenge for him. So
he went to it. But as he was cutting, he kept thinking about his
tail and didn't notice that he was cutting at a bad angle. Before
he knew what was happening, the tree began to fall toward him. He
jumped to get out of the way, but he didn't jump fast enough, and
the huge tree fell on his beautiful tail! He tugged and pulled and
finally dug away the earth to free himself. When he finally pulled
his tail from under the tree, he was horrified to see that it was
flat. The beaver was very sad and started to cry. As he was crying
he heard a voice. It was the Creator.
"Why are you crying?" asked the Creator.
"A tree has crushed my beautiful tail," the beaver cried.
"Now no one will like me."
The Creator told him that a beaver is not liked for his tail but
for his kindness and wisdom. He also told him how to use his flat
tail. "Now your tail will help you swim rapidly," the
Creator said. "And when you want to signal a message to a friend,
all you have to do is slap your tail on the water."
Hearing this made the beaver happy again. When the animals saw
his flattened tail they were shocked! But the beaver said, "It's
better this way."
From that day on, the beaver never bragged about his tail, and
all the animals liked him.
That's how the beaver got his flat tail.
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