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Native American Legends

The Chipmunk and the Bear

A Seneca Legend

The Bear thought herself a very powerful creature and was always trying to exhibit her strength before other animals.

One day she got into a dispute with a Chipmunk and the Chipmunk asked, "Why do you boast so much? You have no great power."

The Bear was angry and declared that she had such power that she could, if she wished, prevent the sun from rising in the morning.

The Chipmunk said, "You cannot."

"Wait and see," replied the Bear.

The Chipmunk was not to be fooled. He declared that he would wait. "We shall have the sun at the usual time," said he.

When the sun came up the Chipmunk laughed and made fun of the Bear and her boasting, till the Bear was so terribly angry that she turned on the Chipmunk. He escaped, for his burrow was close by, but as he reached it the Bear was so nearly upon him that she stretched out her paw to clutch him, but he slipped from under it and went into the hole.

The next day the Chipmunk appeared with three marks on his back, marks of the Bear's claws. And Chipmunks carry those marks to this day.

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