How The Raccoon Got Its Mask

Over 200 years ago in upper New York, there lived a tribe of Native Americans. This tribe was called the Seneca. Their chief, Red Jacket, was very wise. Let's pretend that we can go back in time. You are sitting at a fire talking to him. It is a dark, misty night. The fire provides warmth as you carry out conversation. Red Jacket is wearing his usual red jacket, which he received as a gift from the British. He is also wearing a bear claw necklace, leather moccasins and fringed pants. His hair is long and braided. "Do you want to hear the story of how the raccoon got its mask?" asks Red Jacket.

"I'd be delighted," you answer enthusiastically.

"Okay, it goes like this," replies Red Jacket. "A long time ago, Raccoon had no mask. It was the coldest winter ever. Raccoon had to follow people around and steal food. One night, my people lit a fire to keep them warm. It was a cold night. The fire had gone out. Raccoon quietly crept up to the longhouse. Raccoon put his nose down to sniff out the food. His nose fell on the hot ashes of the fire, which had burned out only recently. It stung horribly, and Raccoon put his nose in the snow to cool it down. Now the ashes are stuck to Raccoons face forever. The moral of the story is not to steal from people, for there are consequences. I can also tell you another story, if you would like," offers Red Jacket.

"Sure," you reply.

"Okay, it goes like this. A long time ago, squirrel looked out his hole. He saw a bird fly by. He thought this was the most perfect creature.

'Bird,' Squirrel said, 'I wish I could fly and sing like you.'

'Why, thank you,' thanks Bird. Squirrel tried chirping but he couldn't.

I't'll take practice' Squirrel had said to himself. So Squirrel tried to fly. He worked very hard on flying and singing and one day he finally mastered both. To this day, flying squirrels can glide and chirp. >

The moral of the story is: if at first you don't succeed, keep trying."


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