Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 58

Ho wi ye a hi

and all the Wolves danced forward. When he shouted “Yu!” they turned and danced back in line.

“That’s fine,” said Groundhog, after the first dance [170] was over. Then he went to the next tree and began the second song. He sang,

Hi ya yu we,

and the Wolves danced forward. When he shouted “Yu!” they danced back in a straight line.

At each song, Groundhog took another tree, getting closer and closer to his hole under a stump. At the seventh song, Groundhog said,

“Now this is the last dance. When I shout ‘Yu!’ all come after me. The one who gets me may have me.”

Then he sang a long time, until the Wolves were at quite a distance in a straight line. Then he shouted “Yu!” and darted for his hole.

At once the Wolves turned and were after him. The foremost Wolf caught his tail and gave it such a jerk he broke it off. That is why Groundhog has such a short tail.




ONE day Racoon went into the woods to fast and dream. He dreamed that someone said to him, “When you awaken, paint your face and body with bands of black and white. That will be your own.”

When Racoon awoke, he painted himself as he had been told to do. So we see him, even to the present day.




THE Ancient of Opossums thought that he would reach a certain pond very early in the morning, so that he might catch the crawfish on the shore. But someone else reached there first, and when Opossum reached there the crawfish were all gone.

This person did this every day. Opossum did not know who it was, so he lay in wait for him. He found it was the Ancient of Racoons.

They argued about the crawfish and the pond. They agreed to see which could rise the earlier in the morning, go around the shore of the pond and catch the crawfish.

Racoon said, “I rise very early. I never sleep until daylight comes.”

Opossum said the same thing. Then each went home.

Now Opossum lay down in a hollow tree and slept there a long time. He arose when the sun was very high and went to the pond. But Racoon had been [173] there ahead of him, and had eaten all the crawfish. Racoon sang the Song of the Racoon as he was going home. Opossum stood listening. He, too, sang. He sang the Song of the Opossum, thus:

Hí na kí-yu wus-sé-di

He met the Racoon who had eaten all the crawfish.

“Ha!” said Racoon. “I have been eating very long, and I was going home, as I was sleepy.”

Opossum said, “I, too, have been eating so long that I am sleepy, so I am going home.”

Opossum was always telling a lie. People say this of the Opossum because if one hits that animal and throws it down for dead, soon it gets up and walks off.




POSSUM used to have a long, bushy tail and he was so proud of it that he combed it out every morning and sang about it at the dance. Now Rabbit had had no tail since Bear pulled it off because he was jealous. Therefore he planned to play a trick on ’Possum.