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Oban's Myths & Legends

Why Chipmunks Have Stripes
A Native American - Seneca Story
retold by Sanjit

Sanjit, Oban's nephew

Long ago, Chipmunks had soft, earth-coloured fur, but no stripes.

Chipmunk had no stripesOne morning a Chipmunk was storing food in her burrow for winter.

She scampered in and out carrying nuts and berries in her mouth pouches.

Then she saw Bear coming her way.


Bear walked along, rolling fallen logs over with his pawsHe was walking along, rolling fallen logs around with his paws to find insects, and then scooping them into his mouth.

Chipmunk watched him come closer. He was talking to himself and chewing at the same time.

“Look at me!” he said as he turned a huge log over. “I’m the strongest of all animals. I can do anything!”

He scooped up more insects and sucked them into his mouth.

Chipmunk popped her head up. “Is that so?” she called out. Bear stopped and looked around. Chipmunk jumped out of her burrow and faced him.

Bear stared down at her. “Yes, its true”, he said. “All you other animals are afraid of me!” Chipmunk twitched her whiskers. “Can you stop the sun from rising in the morning?” she asked.

Bear lay down in the grass and leaves to wait for the sun to set“I haven’t tried” said Bear, “but I’m sure I can do it. Tomorrow morning, the sun will not rise. I, Bear, have said so!”

He lay down facing east and made himself comfortable in the grass and leaves.

Chipmunk scurried back into her burrow, laughing to herself about how wrong Bear was.


 continue >> Why Chipmunks Have Stripes Part 2