Sioux: The Rabbit and the Grouse Girls

The Sioux live today in both Canada and in the northern United States — in the Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota and neighboring states. The word "Dakota" itself refers to one of the major groups of Sioux people, along with the Lakota people. You can find out more about the Sioux people at Wikipedia.

The "girls" in this first Sioux story that you will read are birds, grouse to be specific, who wear "speckled blankets over their backs" — as you can see in this picture of a female grouse:



[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Sioux unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Sioux by Marie McLaughlin (1916).


The Rabbit and the Grouse Girls

The rabbit once went out on the prairie in winter time. On the side of a hill away from the wind he found a great company of girls all with grey and speckled blankets over their backs. They were the grouse girls and they were coasting down hill on a board. When the rabbit saw them, he called out: "Oh, maidens, that is not a good way to coast down hill. Let me get you a fine skin with bangles on it that tinkle as you slide." And away he ran to the tepee and brought a skin bag. It had red stripes on it and bangles that tinkled.

"Come and get inside," he said to the grouse girls.

"Oh, no, we are afraid," they answered.

"Don't be afraid, I can't hurt you. Come, one of you," said the rabbit. Then as each hung back, he added coaxingly: "If each is afraid alone, come all together. I can't hurt you all." And so he coaxed the whole flock into the bag.

This done, the rabbit closed the mouth of the bag, slung it over his back and came home.

"Grandmother," said he, as he came to the tepee, "here is a bag full of game. Watch it while I go for willow sticks to make spits."

But as soon as the rabbit had gone out of the tent, the grouse girls began to cry out: "Grandmother, let us out."

"Who are you?" asked the old woman.

"Your dear grandchildren," they answered.

"But how came you in the bag?" asked the old woman.

"Oh, our cousin was jesting with us. He coaxed us in the bag for a joke. Please let us out."

"Certainly, dear grandchildren, I will let you out," said the old woman as she untied the bag: and lo, the grouse flock with achuck-a-chuck-achuck flew up, knocking over the old grandmother and flew out of the square smoke opening of the winter lodge. The old woman caught only one grouse as it flew up and held it, grasping a leg with each hand.

When the rabbit came home with the spits she called out to him: "Grandson, come quick. They got out but I have caught two."

When he saw what had happened he was quite angry, yet could not keep from laughing. "Grandmother, you have but one grouse," he cried, and it is a very skinny one at that."




(400 words)



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