Native American Legends
Why the Mouse is so silky
A Yinnuwok Legend
One day, on his wanderings in the land of the Swampy Cree, Wesukechak,
known as Bitter Spirit, saw a big, round stone lying beside the
rocky path. Because Bitter Spirit could talk and understand the
language of nature, he always spoke to the birds and animals and
many other things.
Now he spoke to the stone. "Can you run fast?" he asked.
"Oh, yes," answered the stone. "Once I get started,
I can run very fast."
"Good!' Bitter Spirit said to the stone. "Then you must
"I will," answered the stone, "if you can push me
to where I can start."
With great difficulty, the maker of magic did so, and without waiting,
the stone started to roll downhill, going faster and faster. Bitter
Spirit caught up with it almost at ground level and mocked it as
he ran past. "You are a turtle," he laughed. "You
cannot travel fast." The stone was very angry but did not reply.
Bitter Spirit ran and ran until he was so tired that he fell down
on his face and slept soundly. The stone caught up with him and
rolled up his legs and then onto his back, where it was stopped
by his shoulders. It could roll no further.
Being a big and very heavy stone, it held Bitter Spirit on the
ground so that he could not move. The maker of magic had awakened
in pain when the stone rolled onto his legs but he could not escape
"Roll off my back, stone," he shouted angrily. "You
are heavy; I hurt, and I can not move!"
"You laughed at me when you passed," said the stone,
"but you see I have caught up with you. Now that I have stopped,
I cannot move until someone sets me rolling again. I must stay here."
For many, many moons, the stone rested on the back of Bitter Spirit
and the maker of magic could not help himself to get free. At last,
Thunder decided to send some of his bolts of lightning to smash
the stone and set Bitter Spirit free. "And so, Old stone, you
are punished for holding me here so long," cried the wonder
maker as he continued on his way.
His clothes had been torn and worn, so Bitter Spirit threw them
into a bark lodge which he saw nearby, ordering that they be mended.
They were thrown outside so quickly and had been so well repaired
that Bitter Spirit cried out in surprise. "Who are you in that
lodge? Come out, so that I may see and reward you."
The maker of magic was much surprised when he saw a tiny mouse
creep out of the lodge. It was an ugly, fat, rough-haired little
creature in those days, with a short, stubby nose. Bitter Spirit
picked the mouse up very gently and stroked its little blunt nose
until it became pointed. "Now you will be able to smell out
your food better," he said. Next, he brushed and combed its
rough hair with his fingers until the hairs of the little creature
became soft as down and smooth as the fur of an otter. "Now
you will be able to run more easily into little holes in tree trunks
when your enemies come," Wesukechak said, and so it was. To
this day, the mouse is soft and furry and it sniffs daintily with
its long nose.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends