Why The Owl Has Big Eyes


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"Raweno, the everthing-maker was busy creating various animals. He was working on Rabbit, and was saying :" I want nice long legs and nice long ears like a deer,and sharp fangs and claws like a panther."

"I do them up the way they want to be ; I give the what they want," said Raweno. He was working on rabbits hind legs, making them long way Rabbit had ordered.

Owl, still unformed, was sitting on a tree nearby and waiting his turn. He was saying:" Whoo whoo, I want a nice long neck like a swan's , and beautiful red feathers like a Cardinal's, and a nice long beak like Egret's, and a nice crown of plumes like Heron's. I want you to make me into the most beautiful, the fastest, the most wonderful of all the birds."

Raweno said:"Be quiet. Turn around and look in the other direction. Even better, close your eyes. Don't you know that no one is allowed to watch me work!" Raweno was just then making Rabbit's ears very long, the way Rabbit wanted them.

Owl refused to do what Raweno said. "Whoo, whoo," he replied, " nobody can order me to close my eyes. I like watching you, and watch I will."

Then Raweno became angry. He grabbed owl, pulling him down from the branch, stuffing his head deep into his body, shaking him until his eyes grew big with fright, puling at his ears until they were stiking up at both sides of his head.

" There," said Raweno, "that'll teach you. Now you won't be able to crane your your neck to watch things you shouldn't watch. Now you have big ears to listen when someone tells you what not to do. Now you have big eyes- but not so big that you can watch me, because you'll be awake only at night, and I work by day. And your feathers won't be red like cardinal's, but gray like this"- and Raweno rubbed the owl all over with mud- " as a punishment for your disobedience." So Owl flew off, pouting: "Whoo, whoo, whoo."

Then Raweno turned back to finish Rabbit, but Rabbit had been so terrified by Raweno's anger, even though it was not directed at him that he ran off half done. As a consquence only rabbit's hind legs are long and he has to hoop about instead of walking and running. Also because he took fright then Rabbit has remained afriad of most everything, and never got the claws or fangs he as for in order to defend himself. Had he not ran away then, Rabbit would have been an altogether different animal.

As for Owl, he remained as Raweno had shaped him in anger-with big eyes, and short neck and ears that stick out of the top of his head. On top of everything he has to sleep during the day and come out for the night."

-Retold from various nineteenth- century sources.

THE NOW AND THEN OF THE IROQUOIS! Now: Many Iroquois still live in the northeast. Most of the Iroquois live on state reservations, totalling eighty-seven thousand acres in the New York area. Some continue to engage in their clever and resourceful crafts. The Iroquois were the founders of the Iroquois League of Nations, perhaps the greatest confederacy of Indians; to this day some Iroquois are still working for an alliance of all Indians. Today, there is not a federal reservation in the entire northeast, the remaining Indians and those of Indian ancestry have been absorbed into the general population.

Then: The Iroquois were powerful and hostile, almost unequaled in ferocity compared to their enemies, the Algonquians. The Iroquois made up the six Iroquois nations. The Iroquois made friends with the English and Dutch. The Iroquois held the balance of power and used the whites agianst the Algonquians. When the American Revolution broke out, the Iroquois sided with the English. Americans invaded Iroquois territory in 1779 and the 4 Iroquois tribes fled to Canada. The six nations ceded most of their land to the United States after the British were defeated.

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