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Native American Legends

Skunk Origin Myth

A Winnebago (Hotcâk) Legend

In a village long ago a woman gave birth to a girl with pure white hair. She grew up to be beautiful beyond compare, and because of her white hair, she was thought to be very holy. Men would often court her, but she showed no interest in them, preferring to gaze at her own reflection in still waters. She loved the smell of flowers and would rub their perfumed petals on her skin and hair.

One day a strange looking man showed up and was very keen to court her. She laughed at him, scolding him for his ugliness -- yet he was not a mere man, but one of the great spirits, Turtle. Turtle shed his wrinkled outer skin and appeared in all his glory. He decreed, "Since you rejected one of the great spirits, you shall be transformed into a lowly animal! When people see you, they will turn away from your repulsive odor." She began to shrink, and she became covered with little black hairs. The only trace left of her beautiful white hair was the furry white stripe down her back. She became the first of her race, the race of skunks (gûcge) who live to this day.

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