Partridge, Redbird, Eagle
Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 800 words.
How The Partridge Got His Whistle
In the old days the Terrapin had a fine whistle, but the Partridge had none. The Terrapin was constantly going about whistling and showing his whistle to the other animals until the Partridge became jealous, so one day when they met the Partridge asked leave to try it. The Terrapin was afraid to risk it at first, suspecting something but the Partridge said, "I'll give it back right away, and if you are afraid you can stay with me while I practice." So the Terrapin let him have the whistle and the Partridge walked around blowing on it in fine fashion. "How does it sound with me?" asked the Partridge. "O, you do very well," said the Terrapin, walking alongside. "Now, how do you like it," said the Partridge, running ahead and whistling a little faster. "That's fine," answered the Terrapin, hurrying to keep up, "but don't run so fast." "And now, how do you like this?," called the Partridge, and with that he spread his wings, gave one long whistle, and flew to the top of a tree, leaving the poor Terrapin to look after him from the ground. The Terrapin never recovered his whistle, and from that, and the loss of his scalp, which the Turkey stole from him, he grew ashamed to be seen, and ever since he shuts himself up in his box when anyone comes near him.
How The Redbird Got His Color
A Raccoon passing a Wolf one day made several insulting remarks, until at last the Wolf became angry and turned and chased him. The Raccoon ran his best and managed to reach a tree by the river side before the Wolf came up. He climbed the tree and stretched out on a limb overhanging the water. When the Wolf arrived he saw the reflection in the water, and thinking it was the Raccoon he jumped at it and was nearly drowned before he could scramble out again, all wet and dripping. He lay down on the bank to dry and fell asleep. and while he was sleeping the Raccoon came down the tree and plastered his eyes with dung. When the Wolf awoke he found he could not open his eyes, and began to whine. Along came a little brown bird and through the bushes and beard the Wolf crying and asked what was the matter. The Wolf told his story and said, "If you will got my eyes open, I will show you where to find some nice red paint to paint yourself." "All right," said the brown bird; so he pecked at the Wolf's eyes until he got off all the plaster. Then the Wolf took him to a rock that had streaks of bright red paint running through it, and the little bird painted himself with it, and has ever since been a Redbird.
The Eagle's Revenge
Once a hunter in the mountains heard a noise at night like a rushing wind outside the cabin, and on going out he found that an eagle had just alighted on the drying pole and was tearing at the body of a deer hanging there. Without thinking of the danger, he shot the eagle. In the morning he took the deer and started back to the settlement, where he told what he had done, and the chief sent out some men to bring in the eagle and arrange for an Eagle dance. They brought back the dead eagle, everything was made ready, and that night they started the dance in the townhouse. About midnight there was a whoop outside and a strange warrior came into the circle and began to recite his exploits. No one knew him, but they thought he had come from one of the farther Cherokee towns. He told how he had killed a man, and at the end of the story he gave a hoarse yell, Hi! that startled the whole company, and one of the seven men with the rattles fell over dead. He sang of another deed, and at the end straightened up with another loud yell. A second rattler fell dead, and the people were so full of fear that they could not stir from their places. Still he kept on, and at every pause there came again that terrible scream, until the last of the seven rattlers fell dead, and then the stranger went out into the darkness. Long afterward they learned from the eagle killer that it was the brother of the eagle shot by the hunter.
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: Myths of the Cherokee, by James Mooney. From Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I. Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
This work is licensed under a Creative
You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial
purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute
the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.