First People :: American Indian Legends : I-L

How Chipmunks got their stripes

An Iroquois Legend

A grandmother and granddaughter were living together. They had a skin blanket, ut it was old and a good deal of the hair was worn off.

The two women went to the forest to camp and cut wood, and they carried the blanket to cover themselves with at night. They had been in the forest only a few days when they found hat their skin blanket was alive and was angry. They threw the blanket down and ran toward home as fast as they could go. Soon they heard the skin following them.

When it seemed very near the grandmother began to sing and her song said, "My granddaughter and I are running for our lives."

When the song ended, the women could scarcely hear the skin following them, but not long afterward they heard it again. When they reached home, the skin, now a bear, was so near that as they pushed open the door it clawed at them and scratched their backs, but they got in.

The old woman and her granddaughter were chipmunks. Since that time chipmunks have stripes on their backs, the result of the scratches given by the bear.

Return to Iroquois Legends
top of page.