The Legend

An American Indian Cardinal TALE

A long time ago, Raccoon passed Wolf on a path by the creek. As usual, he insulted Wolf and Wolf began to chase him. Raccoon ran to hide on a limb of a tree overhanging the creek. Wolf followed, quickly becoming exhausted. He had been running all day, and was ready for a nap. He stopped for a drink from the creek, and when seeing a reflection in the water of Raccoon above him, Wolf dove in. He almost drowned before pulling himself to shore, and he lay on the bank and fell in a deep sleep.

Seeing this, Raccoon climbed out of the tree, took some clay from the creek bottom and plastered Wolf’s eyes shut. When Wolf awoke, he could not open his eyes. He scratched at the clay hardened on his eyes, but could not break it off. He struggled and whined. Meanwhile, an ugly, brown bird heard the wolf’s cries and came to see if he could help.

”What happened to you?” asked the little bird. “My eyes have been plastered shut, and I cannot break it off,” whined the wolf. “Can you help me, please?” “I will try,” said the bird.

As the bird pecked on the clay, it slowly crumbled away and soon Wolf was able to see again. “How can I repay you, brother, for the kindness you have shown?” asked Wolf. “That is not necessary,” replied the bird.

But the wolf was so grateful that he wanted to do something. He then looked at the plain, brown bird and said, “I’ve got it!” He took the bird to where the red rock is found, and using it, painted the little, brown bird red. “Now you are a Redbird,” said Wolf, “and all of your children from this day on will be born with the beautiful, red feathers.

And so they were, and are today.