Native American Legends
A Blackfoot Legend
Once Old Man was traveling around, when he heard some very queer
singing. He had never heard anything like this before, and looked
all around to see who it was. At last he saw it was the cottontail
rabbits, singing and making medicine. They had built a fire, and
got a lot of hot ashes, and they would lie down in these ashes and
sing while one covered them up. They would stay there only a short
time though, for the ashes were very hot.
"Little Brothers," said Old Man, "that is very wonderful,
how you lie in those hot ashes and coals without burning. I wish
you would teach me how to do it."
"Come on, Old Man," said the rabbits, "we will show
you how to do it. You must sing our song, and only stay in the ashes
a short time." So Old Man began to sing, and he lay down, and
they covered him with coals and ashes, and they did not burn him
at all. "That is very nice," he said. "You have powerful
medicine. Now I want to know it all, so you lie down and let me
cover you up."
So the rabbits all lay down in the ashes, and Old Man covered them
up, and then he put the whole fire over them. One old rabbit got
out, and Old Man was about to put her back when she said, "Pity
me, my children are about to be born."
"All right," replied Old Man. "I will let you go,
so there will be some more rabbits; but I will roast these nicely
and have a feast." And he put more wood on the fire. When the
rabbits were cooked, he cut some red willow brush and laid them
on it to cool. The grease soaked into these branches, so, even today
if you hold red willow over a fire, you will see the grease on the
bark. You can see, too, that ever since, the rabbits have a burnt
place on their backs, where the one that got away was singed.
Old Man sat down, and was waiting for the rabbits to cool a little,
when a coyote came along, limping very badly. "Pity me, Old
Man," he said, "you have lots of cooked rabbits; give
me one of them."
"Go away," exclaimed Old Man. "If you are too lazy
to catch your food, I will not help you."
"My leg is broken," said the coyote. "I can't catch
anything, and I am starving. Just give me half a rabbit."
"I don't care if you die," replied Old Man. "I worked
hard to cook all these rabbits, and I will not give any away. But
I will tell you what we will do. We will run a race to that butte,
way out there, and if you beat me you can have a rabbit."
"All right," said the coyote. So they started. Old Man
ran very fast, and the coyote limped along behind, but close to
him, until they got near to the butte. Then the coyote turned round
and ran back very fast, for he was not lame at all. It took Old
Man a long time to go back, and just before he got to the fire,
the coyote swallowed the last rabbit, and trotted off over the prairie.
also read "Old Man And The Roasted Squirrels"
and "Why The Birch Tree Wears Slashes In Its Bark"
Native American Legends
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