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Myrna Ferguson

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Indian legends
1/20/2015 4:17:06 PM

Chipmunk and Bear

Long ago when animals could talk, a bear was walking along. Now it has always been said that bears think very highly of themselves. Since they are big and strong, they are certain that they are the most important of the animals. As this bear went along turning over big logs with his paws to look for food to eat, he felt very sure of himself. “There is nothing I cannot do,” said this bear.

"Is that so?” said a small voice. Bear looked down. There was a little chipmunk looking up at Bear from its hole in the ground.

“Yes,” Bear said, “that is true indeed.” He reached out one huge paw and rolled over a big log. “Look at how easily I can do this. I am the strongest of all the animals. I can do anything. All the other animals fear me.”

“Can you stop the sun from rising in the morning?” said the Chipmunk.

Bear thought for a moment. “I have never tried that,” he said. “Yes, I am sure I could stop the sun from rising.”

“You are sure?” said Chipmunk.

“I am sure,” said Bear. “Tomorrow morning the sun will not rise. I, Bear, have said so.” Bear sat down facing the east to wait.

Behind him the sun set for the night and still he sat there. The chipmunk went into its hole and curled up in its snug little nest, chuckling about how foolish Bear was. All through the night Bear sat. Finally the first birds started their songs and the east glowed with the light which comes before the

“The sun will not rise today,” said Bear. He stared hard at the glowing light. “The sun will not rise today.”

However, the sun rose, just as it always had. Bear was very upset, but Chipmunk was delighted. He laughed and laughed. “Sun is stronger than Bear,” said the chipmunk, twittering with laughter. Chipmunk was so amused that he came out of his hole and began running around in circles, singing this song:

“The sun came up,
The sun came up.
Bear is angry,
But the sun came up.”

While Bear sat there looking very unhappy, Chipmunk ran around and around, singing and laughing until he was so weak that he rolled over on his back. Then, quicker than the leap of a fish from a stream, Bear shot out one big paw and pinned him to the ground.

“Perhaps I cannot stop the sun from rising,” said Bear, “but you will never see another sunrise.”

‘Oh, Bear,” said the chipmunk. “oh, oh, oh, you are the strongest, you are the quickest, you are the best of all of the animals. I was only joking.” But Bear did not move his paw.

“Oh, Bear,” Chipmunk said, “you are right to kill me, I deserve to die. Just please let me say one last prayer to Creator before you eat me.”

“Say your prayer quickly,” said Bear. “Your time to walk the Sky Road has come!”

“Oh, Bear,” said Chipmunk, “I would like to die. But you are pressing down on me so hard I cannot breathe. I can hardly squeak. I do not have enough breath to say a prayer. If you would just lift your paw a little, just a little bit, then I could breathe. And I could say my last prayer to the Maker of all, to the one who made great, wise, powerful Bear and the foolish, weak, little Chipmunk.

“Bear lifted up his paw. He lifted it just a little bit. That little bit, though, was enough. Chipmunk squirmed free and ran for his hole as quickly as the blinking of an eye. Bear swung his paw at the little chipmunk as it darted away. He was not quick enough to catch him, but the very tips of his long claws scraped along Chipmunk’s back leaving three pale scars.

To this day, all chipmunks wear those scars as a reminder to them of what happens when one animal makes fun to another.

Gail Chamberlain

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RE: Indian legends
1/21/2015 11:33:18 PM
This is a Pacific Northwest story about several of our famous mountains.

The Bridge of the Gods:
Long ago, when the world was new, Tyhee Sahale with his two sons, came down Great River (the Columbia River). They came near where the Dalles now are. The land was very beautiful and each son wanted it. Therefore they quarrelled. Then Sahale took his bow and shot two arrows. One he shot to the north; the other he shot to the west. Then Sahale said to his sons, "Go. Find the arrows. Where they lie, you shall have the land."

One son went north over the plain to the country of the Klickitats. He was the first grandfather of the Klickitats. The other son followed the arrow to the Willamette Valley. He was the first grandfather of the Multnomahs.

Then Sahale raised great mountains between the country of the Klicitats and the country of the Multnomahs. This he did that the tribes might not quarrel. White men call them the Cascade Mountains. But Great River was deep and broad. The river was a sign of peace between the tribes. Therefore Sahale made a great stone bridge over the river, that the tribes might be friends. This was called the Bridge of Tomanowos.

The tribes grew, but they did evil things. This displeased Tyhee Sahale. Therefore the sun ceased to shine, and cold and snow appeared. The people were unhappy for they had no fire. Only Loo-wit had fire. Therefore the people sought to steal the fire of Loo-wit. Then Loo-wit fled and because the runners were stiff with cold, they could not catch her.

Then Loo-wit told Sahale of the need of the Indians. Loo-wit said the Indians were cold. So Sahale gave fire to the people. Thus Sahale built a fire on the bridge of the gods, and there the people secured fire. Sahale also promised to Loo-wit eternal youth and beauty. Thus Loo-wit became a beautiful maiden.

Then began the chiefs to love Loo-wit. Many chiefs loved her because she was so beautiful. Then came two more chiefs, Klickitat from the north and Wiyeast from the West. To neither would Loo-wit give an answer. Therefore the chiefs fought, and their people fought also. Thus did they anger Sahale. Therefore, because blood was shed and because Great River was no longer a sign of peace, Sahale broke down the tomanowos illahee. Great rocks fell into the river. They are there even to this day. When the water is quiet, buried forests can be seen even to this day. Thus Sahale destroyed the bridge of the gods. Thus the tribes were separated by Great River.

Then Sahala made of Loo-wit, Klickitat, and Wiyeast snow peaks. Always they were to be cold and covered with ice and snow. White men call them Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood.

Long after this time, Klicitat and Wiyeast still quarrelled over Loo-wit. When they quarrelled, sheets of flame burst from their peaks, and they threw great rocks at one another. But Klickitat and Wiyeast did not throw far enough. The rocks fell into the Great River and blocked it. Therefore, the river is very narrow and very swift at that point. It became known as the Dalles.

Myrna Ferguson

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RE: Indian legends
1/22/2015 1:14:29 AM
Hi Gail,

So glad you posted your legend.

The Legend of The Cedar Tree
The Legend of The Cedar Tree

A long time ago when the Cherokee people were new upon the earth, they thought that life would be much better if there was never any night. They beseeched the Ouga (Creator) that it might be day all the time and that there would be no darkness.

The Creator heard their voices and made the night cease and it was day all the time. Soon, the forest was thick with heavy growth. It became difficult to walk and to find the path. The people toiled in the gardens many long hours trying to keep the weeds pulled from among the corn and other food plants. It got hot, very hot, and continued that way day after long day. The people began to find it difficult to sleep and became short tempered and argued among themselves.

Not many days had passed before the people realized they had made a mistake and, once again, they beseeched the Creator. “Please,” they said, “we have made a mistake in asking that it be day all the time. Now we think that it should be night all the time.” The Creator paused at this new request and thought that perhaps the people may be right even though all things were created in twos… representing to us day and night, life and death, good and evil, times of plenty and those times of famine. The Creator loved the people and decided to make it night all the time as they had asked.

The day ceased and night fell upon the earth. Soon, the crops stopped growing and it became very cold. The people spent much of their time gathering wood for the fires. They could not see to hunt meat and with no crops growing it was not long before the people were cold, weak, and very hungry. Many of the people died.

Those that remained still living gathered once again to beseech the Creator. “Help us Creator,” they cried! “We have made a terrible mistake. You had made the day and the night perfect, and as it should be, from the beginning. We ask that you forgive us and make the day and night as it was before.”

Once again the Creator listened to the request of the people. The day and the night became, as the people had asked, as it had been in the beginning. Each day was divided between light and darkness. The weather became more pleasant, and the crops began to grow again. Game was plentiful and the hunting was good. The people had plenty to eat and there was not much sickness. The people treated each other with compassion and respect. It was good to be alive. The people thanked the Creator for their life and for the food they had to eat.

The Creator accepted the gratitude of the people and was glad to see them smiling again. However, during the time of the long days of night, many of the people had died, and the Creator was sorry that they had perished because of the night. The Creator placed their spirits in a newly created tree. This tree was named a-tsi-na tlu-gv {ah-see-na loo-guh} cedar tree.

When you smell the aroma of the cedar tree or gaze upon it standing in the forest, remember that if you are Tsalagi {Cherokee}, you are looking upon your ancestor.

Tradition holds that the wood of the cedar tree holds powerful protective spirits for the Cherokee. Many carry a small piece of cedar wood in their medicine bags worn around the neck. It is also placed above the entrances to the house to protect against the entry of evil spirits. A traditional drum would be made from cedar wood.

Does the author believe this? Well, lets just say that there is a piece of cedar in my medicine pouch and I wear it always. The Creator did not make the people because of loneliness, but because the Creator wanted to show generosity and love to the people. Accept the blessings and the gifts given and always give thanks for them.


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