Native American Legends
The Fox and the Wildcat
A Jicarilla Apache Legend
As soon as his life was restored, Fox went to the Buffalo head,
and cut off the long pendent hair, i-yûn-e-pi-ta-ga, beneath
its under jaw.
Fox took this to a prairie-dog village near at hand, and told the
inhabitants that it was the hair of a man, one of that race dreaded
by the prairie-dogs because of its attacks upon them, which he had
He easily persuaded the prairie-dogs to celebrate his victory with
feasting and dancing. With a stone concealed in his hand, he killed
all the prairie-dogs as they circled around in the dance.
Fox then placed them in a pit, and built a huge fire over them,
leaving them to roast while he slept.
Nîn-ko-jîn, the Wildcat, came along, and stole all
the roasted prairie-dogs while Fox slept, save one at the end of
the pit, leaving the tails, which were pulled off.
Fox awoke after some time, and flew into a great rage when he found
only the tails left; the solitary dog was thrown over his shoulder
in his fit of passion. The gnawing of hunger soon induced him to
search for the dog he had thrown away.
In the stream close by he thought he saw the roasted body; taking
off his clothes, he swam for it, but could not grasp it. Again and
again he tried, and finally dove for it until he bumped his nose
on the stony bottom.
Tired out with his efforts, he laid down upon the bank to rest,
and, as he glanced upward, saw the body of the prairie-dog lying
among the branches which projected over the water. Fox recovered
the coveted morsel, ate it, and set off on the trail of the Wildcat.
He found Wildcat asleep under a tree, around which he set a fire.
With a few quick strokes he shortened the head, body, and tail of
Wildcat, and then pulled out the large intestine and roasted it.
Fox then awakened Wildcat, and invited him to eat his (Wildcat's)
flesh, but to be careful to save a small piece, and put it back
in its place, for he would need it. Fox then left him.
Wildcat followed Fox, intent upon revenge. He found Fox asleep,
but instead of shortening that animal's members he lengthened them;
the ears were only straightened, but the head, body, and tail were
elongated as we see them at the present day. The intestine scene
was repeated with the Fox as victim.
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