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Native American Legends

Papase

An Ojibwa Legend

A woman wearing a red scarf, a black dress, and a white apron was cooking in her kitchen early one morning when an old man approached her. "May I have some bread, please?" he asked. "Sure," she said.

The woman had just prepared a big batch of dough to make fry bread (a traditional Ojibwe bread), so she put a nice big piece of dough in the fry pan. It turned out to be a really nice piece and she thought, "I can't give him this one - it's much too nice." For the second piece, she put a smaller amount of dough in the pan. Well, this piece turned out much better than the first and she thought, "Oh, this one is also too nice to give to this old man." So, she started on a third piece. This time, she put barely any dough in the pan. When it was ready, she was very surprised, for this piece had turned out even more beautiful than the all the others.

Finally, the old man asked, "Is there any bread ready yet?" So she threw some crumbs in the pan and they produced by far the most beautiful piece of fry bread. This made her angry. "Quit begging," she cried. "Get out of here! You can't have any of my bread!" The old man stopped begging all right. He stomped his foot a few times and said, "From now on you're going to have to hunt and search for your food." And he turned the woman into a woodpecker.

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