Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Iroquois History and Legends

You are all invited to come, learn and explore the rich history of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee or The Iroquois Confederacy.
Check out the Iroquois History Podcast!

The show is available on all podcasting apps.

May 5, 2020

Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers (Yehsennohwehs) [1917]. 

 Recorded with Ezra Guite Cotter and Ethan Cotter.

It was some moons after the raccoon outwitted fox, before they again met. The raccoon was hurrying by, when fox saw him.

Now the fox had not forgotten the trick the raccoon had played on him when he burned his mouth with what he thought was magic pawpaws.  But it was really a fire ball.


So the fox started after the raccoon. He was gaining, and would have caught him, had they not come to a tall pine tree.

The raccoon ran to the very tiptop of the pine tree. 

“Try and get me up here Fox”, said raccoon

There he was safe, for the fox could not climb.

The fox lay down on the soft pine needles and waited for the raccoon to come down. The raccoon stayed up in the pine tree so long that the fox grew tired and sleepy. He closed his eyes and thought he would take a short nap.

The raccoon watched, until he saw that the fox was sound asleep. 

Raccoon sat on the tree for a long while and when he tired to move he noticed that his paws were sticky.

And then he smiled and said to himself,

“I know how to deal with fox”


Then he took in his mouth some of the sap from the pine tree. He ran down the tree and quietly rubbed the pitch over the eyes of the sleeping fox.

The fox awoke. He sprang up and tried to seize the raccoon, but, alas! he could not see what he was doing. The lids of his eyes were held fast with the pine tar. He could not open them.


The raccoon laughed at the fox's plight, then ran and left him.

Try and catch me now fox! Said raccoon

The fox lay for some time under the tree. The pine gum, as it dried, held the lids of his eyes closer and closer shut. He thought he should never again see the sun.

Some birds were singing near by. He called them, and told them of his plight. He asked if they would be so kind as to pick open his eyes.

The birds flew off and told the other birds. 

Come and help us

Soon many of the little dark songsters flew back to where the fox lay. Then peck, peck, peck, went the little bills on the eyelids of the fox. Bit by bit they carefully pecked away the pine gum. If one grew tired, another bird would take its place.


At last the fox saw a streak of light. Soon the lid of one eye flew open, then the other. The sun was shining, and the world looked very beautiful to the fox, as he opened his eyes.

He was very grateful to the little birds for bringing him light. He told them to ask what they would, and he would give it to them.

The little birds said, 


"We do not like the dark feathers which the Turkey Buzzard gave us. We want to look like the sun”


The fox looked about him. Beautiful sunflowers were growing near. He pressed some of the bright yellow color from them, and with the tip of his tail as a brush, he began to paint the dark little birds like the sun.

The birds fluttered so with joy, he thought he would paint the bodies first. Before he could brush the wings and tails with the sun paint, each little bird had darted away, like a streak of sunshine. 

Thank you, Thank you

So happy and light of heart were the birds, that they could not wait for the fox to finish the painting.

This is why goldfinches are yellow like the sun. It is why they have black wings and tails, why they flutter so with joy, and why they never finish their song.