Myths & Legends



Cherokee: Rabbit and Tar Wolf

Rabbit, bold but unconvincing. Rabbit as butt of humour.
— Orly


ONCE the weather was dry for so long that there was no more water in the springs and creeks. The animals held a council to see what to do about it. They decided to dig a well, and all agreed to help, except Rabbit who was a lazy fellow.

Rabbit said, “I don’t need to dig for water. The dew on the grass is enough for me.”

The others did not like this, but they all started to dig the well. It stayed dry for a long while and even the water in the well was low. Still Rabbit was lively and bright.

“Rabbit steals our water at night,” they said. So they made a wolf of pine gum and tar. They set it by the well to scare the thief.

That night Rabbit came again to the well. He saw the black thing there.

“Who’s there?” he asked. But Tar Wolf did not answer. Rabbit came nearer. Yet Tar Wolf did not move. Rabbit grew brave and said, “Get out of my way.”

Tar Wolf did not move. So Rabbit hit him with his paw; but it stuck fast in the gum.

Rabbit became angry and said, “Let go my paw!” Still Tar Wolf said nothing. So Rabbit hit him with his hind foot; that stuck in the gum.

So Tar Wolf held Rabbit fast until morning. Then the other animals came for water. When they found Rabbit stuck fast, they made great fun of him for a while. At last Rabbit managed to get away.



Source:  J. M. [1]

Culture:  Cherokee

Language Group:  Cherokee (Tsalagi Gawonihisdi) is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people. It is the only Southern Iroquoian language and differs significantly from the other Iroquoian languages.


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