How Rabbit Stole Fire.
In the beginning there was no fire on earth and the world was a cold place. The sky people had fire, but they guarded it from the animals. When the autumn leaves began to fall the animals asked, “Who will steal the fire?”
The bison was strong. The wolf was cunning. The bear was brave. The wildcat was fierce. But Rabbit was the leader of them all in mischief. Rabbit made himself the most beautiful head-dress. He carefully coated each feather and every stitch with pine resin. When he was done he put it on his head and began to walk to where the Sky People lived.
When the Sky People saw that Rabbit was at the gates of their village they said, ” Be careful! It is Rabbit! He is the chief mischief-maker. Do not trust him!! Rabbit greeted the Sky People with the great news that he had come to teach them a new dance.
He told them he had even made a special head-dress for the occasion. He told the Sky people that it was no ordinary head-dress because it was no ordinary dance! “This dance will bring the corn from the earth. It is a dance to guide the fish to your nets.” he explained.
The Sky People were not convinced. “You are Rabbit, the chief mischief-maker, we do not trust you!” they cried. “Oh!” cried Rabbit. “Do you think this dance is a trick? Why! No! This is my gift to you the Sky people. Today is my day off from being chief mischief-maker.” With his words Rabbit the Trickster soothed the Sky people. He charmed them. He flattered them. Soon they forgot that he was chief mischief-maker and they welcomed him into their village.
“Rabbit shall teach us the dance!” they cried. So Rabbit lead the dance. Round and round the fire danced Rabbit followed by the Sky People. Round and round the fire danced Rabbit. As he danced he sang his song, wearing his beautiful head-dress and as he sang he bent low to the fire, singing his dancing song. The Sky People bent low. The Sky People sang his song. The Sky People danced round and round the fire, following Rabbit in the dance. Round and round danced Rabbit, and very, very low he bent … WOOSH!
The head-dress was alight! Away raced Rabbit, out of the village and into his woods. “We have been tricked!” shouted the Sky People. “Rabbit has stolen the fire!” Rabbit ran and the Sky People followed.
They made rain. They made thunder and lightning. They made snow. The wonderful head-dress with the resin-coated feathers burned brightly. Rabbit was soon tired.
“Quick!” he cried to Squirrel. “Take the head-dress.” Squirrel took the head-dress. She ran as fast as she could. As she went, the heat from the fire made her tail curl up over her back. And so are squirrels to this day. Squirrel was soon tired.
“Quick!” she gasped to Crow. “Take the head-dress.” Crow took the head-dress. As he flew the smoke from the fire turned his pure white feathers black. And so are crows to this day. Crow was soon tired.
“Quick!” cawed Crow to Raccoon. “Take the head-dress.” Raccoon took the Head-dress and ran. As she went some of the ash burned rings around her tail and face. And so are raccoons to this day. Raccoon was soon tired.
“Quick!” she panted to Turkey. “Take the head-dress.”
Turkey took the head-dress and ran. As he went the fire burned all the feathers off his head and neck. And so are turkeys to this day. Turkey was not a fast runner. The fire began to die.
“Set my tail alight,” said Deer. For in those days deer had long tails. Deer took the fire on her tail and ran as fast as she could to fan the flames. As Deer ran she heard the trees call to her, quietly at first,
“Give us the fire. We will hide it.” Deer ran. The trees called to her. “Give us the fire. We will hide it.” “Give us the fire. We will hide it.” “Give us the fire. We will hide it.” Deer was soon tired. “Trees, hide the fire!” she called as she swished her tail this way and that.
The trees took the fire and hid it in their wood. The fire had burned most of Deer’s tail. And so are deer to this day.
The Sky People returned to their village. Wood had hidden the fire and they did not know how to find it again.
Rabbit, leader of all mischief knew how to find it. He knew the secret of finding fire in the wood. He knew how to rub sticks together to get fire. He showed the animals how to find fire hidden by Wood. Now the animals have fire to warm the cold winters and light to brighten the dark nights.