Tag Archives: Native American

Thursday’s Tale: A Skunk Origin Tale

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We’re doing VBS at our church this week and we have the cutest mascot, Bella the Skunk. She is sweet and friendly and full of mischief. The kids love her.

So, I thought I’d find a folktale about skunks this week. I found a couple. One was too sad to put under Bella’s picture, so maybe I’ll share it next week. I did find a Native American origin myth from the Winnebago (Hotcâk) people. It’s pretty sad too, actually. I’ll have to do some searching for a happy skunk tale. Does anyone know any?

In a village long ago a woman gave birth to a girl with pure white hair. She grew up to be beautiful beyond compare, and because of her white hair she was thought to be very holy. Men would often court her, but she showed no interest in them, preferring to gaze at her own reflection in still waters. She loved the smell of flowers and would rub their petals on her skin and hair.

One day a strange looking man came to the village and was eager to court her. She laughed at him, scoffing at his ugliness, but he was not a mere man, he was one of the great spirits, Turtle. Turtle shed is outer wrinkled skin and appeared in all his glory. He proclaimed, “Since you rejected on of the great spirits, you shall be transformed into a lowly animal. When people see you, they will turn away from your repulsive odor.” She began to shrink, and she became covered with short black hairs. The only trace of her beautiful white hair was the furry white stripe down her back. She became the first of the skunks (gûcge), who live to this day.

The story reminds me of Narcissus. He was also proud and scorned those who loved him. He is lured to a pool of water by Nemesis, gazes into it and falls in love with his own reflection. His story ends with his death, either by suicide or because he loses the will to do anything but look at himself and eventually dies. The girl in our story is allowed to live, although I imagine she was miserable for the rest of her life.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Thursday’s Tale: Brother Sun and Sister Moon

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Painting by Lucy Deane

Today, I’m sharing another story  from Walter J. Hoffman’s book, The Menomini Indians, circa 1888. Historically, the Menomini tribe occupied a territory in upper Michigan and Wisconsin.  Today’s tale is about the sun and moon.

Once on a time Ke´so, the Sun, and his sister, Tipä´ke‘so, the Moon (“last-night sun”) lived together in a wigwam in the east. The Sun dressed himself to go hunting, took his bow and arrows and left. He was absent such a long time that when his sister came out into the sky to look for her brother she became alarmed. She traveled twenty days looking for the Sun; but finally he returned, bringing with him a bear which he had shot.

The sun’s sister still comes up into the sky and travels for twenty days; then she dies, and for four days nothing is seen of her. At the end of that time, however, she returns to life and travels twenty days more.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Thursday’s Tale: Aurora Borealis

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Photo from the Aurora Borealis Lodge in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Today starts the Sci-Fi Summer Readathon. It’s not surprising that there aren’t many sci-fi-ish folk tales or fairy tales out there, so instead I found a spacey tale. This story comes from the Walter J. Hoffman’s book, The Menomini Indians, circa 1888. I found it at Windows to the Universe.org. The Menomini are a federally recognized nation of Native Americans, with a reservation in Wisconsin. Historically, the tribe occupied a territory in upper Michigan and Wisconsin.  Their explanation of the aurora borealis is simple, but I like it.

In the direction of the north wind live the manabai’wok (giants), of whom we have heard our old people tell. The manabai’wok are our friends, but we do not see them anymore. They are great hunters and fishermen, and whenever they are out with their torches to spear fish we know it, because then the sky is bright over the place where they are.

I’ve never seen the northern lights. I’m told there are times when you can see it from around here, but I live in town. You have to be way out in the country away from lights on just the right day. It’s pretty rare.

According to the Northern Lights Centre, the bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually  the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

The connection between the Northern Lights and sunspot activity has been suspected since about 1880. Thanks to research conducted since the 1950’s, we now know that electrons and protons from the sun are blown towards the earth on the ‘solar wind’.  The temperature above the surface of the sun is millions of degrees Celsius. At this temperature, collisions between gas molecules are frequent and explosive. Free electrons and protons are thrown from the sun’s atmosphere by the rotation of the sun and escape through holes in the magnetic field. Blown towards the earth by the solar wind, the charged particles are largely deflected by the earth’s magnetic field. However, the earth’s magnetic field is weaker at either pole and therefore some particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gas particles. These collisions emit light that we perceive as the dancing lights of the north (and the south).

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

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