MS/Lakes: Two More Rabbit Stories

The first Rabbit story here is a Menomini story, and you can find the Menomini words of the rabbit's song here:

The Tar Baby story you just read is a Biloxi story, as is the story of the Rabbit and Bear below. You can read more about the Biloxi tribe at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Mississippi Valley / Great Lakes unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1914).

Rabbit and Panther

RABBIT was a great boaster. He wanted a medicine lodge and to have people think he was a great medicine man.

Now one day, Wabus, the Rabbit, and his wife were traveling. They came to a low hill covered with poplar sprouts. They were green and tender. Therefore Rabbit decided to make his home there.

Rabbit went first to the top of a hill and built a wigwam. He made trails from it in all directions, so he might see anyone who approached.

When the wigwam was finished, Rabbit told his wife he was going to dance; but first he ran all about the hill to see if anyone was watching him. He found no trail. Then he returned and began his song.

Now just as Rabbit returned to his wigwam, Panther reached the base of the hill, and he found Rabbit’s trail. He followed it until he reached the place where Rabbit and his wife were dancing. Here he hid to watch Rabbit.

Now Rabbit told his wife to sit at one end of the lodge while he went to the other. He took his medicine bag. Then he approached her four times, chanting,

Ye ha-a-a-a-a Ye ha-a-a-a-a
Ye ha-a-a-a-a Ye ha-a-a-a-a

Then he shot at his wife, just as a medicine man does when he shoots at a new member. Then Rabbit’s wife arose and shot at him. Thus they were very happy.

Then Rabbit began to sing a song which meant this: “If Panther comes across my trail while I am biting the bark from the poplars, he will not be able to catch me for I am a good runner.”

When he had finished his song, Rabbit told his wife he would go out hunting. Panther waited for his return.

Now as Rabbit started home again he was very happy. But when he reached Panther’s hiding place, his enemy sprang on his trail. Rabbit saw him and started back on his trail.

Panther raced after him. He caught him and said,“You are the man who said I could not catch you. Now who is the fastest runner?”

And before Rabbit could answer Panther ate him up.

But Rabbit was such a boastful man.

Rabbit and Bear

RABBIT and Bear had been friends for some time. One day Rabbit said to Bear, “Come and visit me. I live in a very large brier patch.” Then he went home.

When he reached home he went out and gathered a quantity of young canes which he hung up.

After a while Bear reached a place near his house, but was seeking the large brier patch. Now Rabbit really dwelt in a very small patch. When Rabbit found that Bear was near, he began to make a pattering sound with his feet.

Bear was scared. He retreated to a distance and then stopped and stood listening. As soon as Rabbit saw this, he cried out, “Halloo! my friend! Was it you whom I treated in that manner? Come and take a seat.”

So Bear went back to Rabbit’s house and took a seat. Rabbit gave the young canes to his guest, who swallowed them all. Rabbit nibbled now and then at one, while Bear swallowed all the others.

 “This is what I have always liked,” said Bear when he went home. “Come and visit me. I dwell in a large bent tree.”

Not long after, Rabbit started on his journey. He spent some time seeking the large bent tree but he could not find it. Bear lived in a hollow tree, and he sat there growling. Rabbit heard the growls and fled for some distance before he sat down.

Then Bear called, “Halloo! my friend! Was it you whom I treated in that manner? Come here and sit down.”

Rabbit did so.

Bear said, “You are now my guest, but there is nothing for you to eat.” So Bear went in search of food.

Bear went to gather young canes, but as he went along, he gathered also the small black bugs which live in decayed logs. When he had been gone some time, he returned to his lodge with only a few young canes. He put them down before Rabbit and then walked around him in a circle. In a little while, he offered Rabbit the black bugs.

“I have never eaten such food,” said Rabbit.

Bear was offended. He said, “When I was your guest, I ate all the food you gave me, as I liked it very well. Now when I offer you food, why do you treat me in this way?” Then Bear said, also, “Before the sun sets, I shall kill you.”

Rabbit’s heart beat hard from terror, for Bear stood at the entrance of the hollow log to prevent his escape. But Rabbit was very nimble. He dodged first this way and then that, and with a long leap he got out of the hollow tree. He went at once to his brier patch and sat down.

Rabbit was very angry with Bear. He shouted to him, “When people are hunting you, I will go toward your hiding place, and show them where you are.”

That is why, when dogs hunt a rabbit, they always shoot a bear. That is all.

(900 words)

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