How Rabbit and Owl were created
An Iroquois Legend
Raweno, the Everything-Maker, was busy creating all the types of animals. One day he was hard at work on Rabbit. Rabbit said to him, "I want long, strong legs and long ears like the Deer, and sharp teeth and claws like the Panther."
"I do them they way they ask for them to be," said Raweno. He made Rabbit's hind legs very long, just the way Rabbit had described.
Owl, still not formed, was sitting on a tree nearby waiting his turn. "Whoo, whoo," he sang, " I want a long graceful neck like Swan's, and bright red feathers like Cardinal's, and a nice long beak like Egret's, and a beautiful crown of plumes like Heron's. I want to be the most beautiful, fastest and wondrous of all birds."
"Hush," said Raweno. "Turn around and look somewhere else. Close your eyes too. Don't you know that you are not allowed to watch me while I work?" Just at that moment Raweno was making Rabbit's ears quite long, just as Rabbit had asked him for.
Owl refused to turn away. "Whoo, whoo," he sang again. "Nobody can forbid me to watch. Nobody can tell me to close my eyes. I'm going to keep watching you, because I want to."
This made Raweno angry. He grabbed Owl and pulled him off the branch, stuffed his head deep into his body and shook him until Owl's eyes were wide with fright. He pulled at Owl's ears until they stuck out from both sides of his head.
"That will teach you," said Raweno. "Now you won't be able to crane your neck to watch things you are not supposed to watch. Now you have big ears to hear when someone tells you what not to do. Now you have big eyes - but not so big you can watch me, because you will be awake only at night. And your feathers will not be red like Cardinal's but gray like mud. This is your punishment for disobeying me."
Owl went off pouting.
Then Raweno went back to finish Rabbit, but Rabbit had been so frightened by Raweno's anger that he ran off half-done. As a consequence, only Rabbit's hind legs are long, and he has to hop instead of run. And since he was frightened before the work was complete, Rabbit has remained scared of almost everything, and never got the claws and sharp teeth he asked for. Had he not run away then, Rabbit would have been a very different animal.
As for Owl, he remained as Raweno shaped him in anger - with big eyes, a short neck and ears that stick out the sides of his head. To make matters worse, he has to sleep during the day and only come out at night.
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