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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 20, 2004 - Issue 109


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White Crow Hides the Animals


A Kiowa Legend


Out on the plains there was a camp where the hunters were never successful. They could not understand this. Every time they went out to hunt, the game scattered and hid where it could not be killed. This caused the people to starve.

The people did not know that there was someone who went out and told all the buffalo and deer within reach that the hunters were coming and to hide. here was a man in camp who could turn himself into a white crow. He went out and told all the animals to make their getaway. This person, White Crow, would come back later in the day when on one could see him and turn himself back into a man.

The starving people moved their camp in various directions trying to find where the game went. White Crow did not move. Under his lodge was a hole where all the buffalo were. This is where he got his food.

When the people returned to one camp, they found this man still living there. He said, "Why did you come back? I have nothing to eat. I have been having just as hard a time as you. I have had nothing to eat since you left."

One day, some of the men were playing a game with sticks and White Crow came toward them. The players smelled the odor of buffalo fat coming from the direction where the man was standing. The noticed that the man had on a good-looking buffalo hide, turned inside out to disguise its newness. He also had a sacred stick rubbed with buffalo fat that they could smell. He did not like their looking at him. He slipped away so they could not ask him questions.

Coyote was there in that village. That night he called the men together and offered to look around White Crow's camp and tell them what he learned. Coyote watched White Crow's camp for a while, the came back and told the men he needed two good men with good eyes. Owl and Dragonfly were the ones chosen. Coyote told them to lie down in the grass and watch White Crow wherever he went. Dragonfly watched so hard, his eyes came out. Owl strained his eyes until they became larger than ordinary eyes. Owl watched the man until he saw him go down in the ground.

When Owl came back, coyote told the men to gather everyone together and announce they were moving camp. Coyote was going to change himself into a little pup and they were to leave him behind. White Crow had a daughter, Coyote told them. "When the people leave she will search the camp for anything left behind and will find me."

The nest day, everyone moved and Coyote turned himself into a dog, but he forgot to put on the whiskers of a dog. The little girl found him and brought him to her lodge. When White Crow came in he asked to examine the dog. He saw that there were no whiskers and he told his daughter that he was afraid of this. He said it was a person disguised as a dog. But the girl said she wanted to keep it anyway. She refused to throw it away. She gave it a piece of meat while her father went out to warn all the game to be alert.

One day when the man was gone, the little girl removed the stone that covered the buffalo hole. She called the puppy over to look into the hole but he acted as if her were afraid. "Come over here. Look in here pup, see what we have." When she said this, the pup came over. Suddenly he jumped into the hole, and turned into a man and began to holler, "Scatter all over the world! Scatter! Scatter!" The buffalo came out of the ground like a big river. Coyote turned himself into a cocklebur and stuck himself on the fetlock of the last buffalo that go past the girl, who was waiting for him with a club. After the buffalo got out of White Crow's lodge and were a long way off Coyote became a man again and shouted "Scatter! Scatter!"

When White Crow returned to his camp and saw what had happened, he said to the young girl, "See what you have done! I was afraid something like this would happen. Now we are going to have a hard time."

Coyote returned to his people and they began to enjoy the buffalo again. This made White Crow angry. He directed the buffalo and the other animals to hide from the hunters. Soon the people were starving again. White Crow let them know he was going to make it harder than before. He flew over the camp saying, "I want you to know it was me who kept you from killing the buffalo before. You are not going to kill meat animals any more."

That night, Coyote called the men together and told them he had a plan. They would have to follow his instructions carefully. They were to announce that everyone should move over to a forest a few valleys away. Coyote would turn himself into a bull elk and hide in the brush where White Crow would not see him. When the people came along they were to kill and butcher him, but they were to leave behind his skeleton and his head with the antlers attached.

So, the next morning, the people moved to where he had directed them and some of them went out to look for game. A hunter scared up the elk, chased him, and killed him. They butchered him the way they had been told.

While they had been chasing him, White Crow had flown over Elk and said, "I wonder how I overlooked you. I should have told you they were hunting and to hide. I am to blame. But you can run fast and save yourself."

After the hunters left: White Crow found the skeleton. He lit on its antlers and thought to himself, "I know this is not an elk, I know what Coyote did before. This is just Coyote, who has disguised himself again. I will test him and find out." So White Crow stood on Elk's head and began to strike at Elk's nose with his sharp beak saying, "I know you are Coyote! I know you are Coyote!" He kept on striking. He stopped just as Coyote was about to cry out. "Well, I will try another place." He moved back to the hind leg, to the kneecap. He struck with his beak. "I know you are Coyote! I know you are Coyote!" Again, Coyote was just about to yell when White Crow stopped.

"Well, you must be an elk, but I do not see how I overlooked you." White Crow than decided he would pick out the scraps of meat left on the ribs. When he stuck his head in between them, Coyote closed his ribs and held White Crow in a vise. Then he got up and turned himself into a man. "Now, I have got you!"

White Crow said, "Coyote, please turn me loose. I will not do anything bad again. I will be good to you all. Please, turn me loose!" The people were watching from a distance and when they saw that Coyote had White Crow, they
began to shout.

Coyote said, "Now I have caught you and I am going to take you to camp and let the people do as they please with you." He took him to the camp and the people said, "This is the one who has caused us a lot of misery and starved us. Now that we have him, what shall we do with him?"

Spider Old Woman said, "Let me have him. I want to see the one who has caused us to starve." As she held White Crow, she was entangling him with her web but no one knew this. As she was doing it, White Crow got out of her hands and flew up into the air. He circled the camp, laughing. "This time I will have no compassion on you. This time I am really going to starve you!"

Coyote turned to Spider Old Woman and said, "I am going to tell the people to kill you for letting White Crow get away." Spider Old Woman said, "That White Crow doesn't know what he's talking about. I will get him." She began dragging in White Crow as though she was pulling on a rope. White Crow said. "Hey, I was only joking. I will be good. Have compassion on me." But Spider Old Woman went on pulling him in until she got him in her hands. She gave him to Coyote. "Do whatever you want with him," she said.

Coyote ordered the men to go and get firewood. They built a big fire and put White Crow in it until he was burned all black. Then Coyote said, "I am going to make it so you can never do anything your own way. All your life you are going to be a bird flying about looking for scraps. You are going to be frightened by everything." Now, this is the way with Crow.

Print and Color Your Own Dragonfly

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Dragonfly (Odonata)

Dragonflies form an important part of Wetland wildlife and they play a significant roll in its general ecology. They are among the most beautiful and spectacular insects flying today and they are also among the most ancient of living creatures.

The Dragonfly is also known as the Darner, Darning Needle, Devil's Arrow and Devil's, Darning Needle, because of the superstition that it can sew up the eyes, ears and mouth of a sleeping child. Contrary to such folklore, Dragonflies are entirely harmless to humans.

Dragonflies are worldwide in distribution with more than 5,000 described species. There are about 450 species of dragonflies in North America. Dragonfly adults are medium to large insects. In fact, a fossilized dragonfly from 250 million years ago has a wingspan of 28 inches. Fortunately, present-day dragonflies are considerably smaller. Dragonfly adults are often brightly colored and have a long slender abdomen. They also have two pair of long, slender wings with many net-like veins. The wings do not fold and are held outstretched when at rest. Adults are usually found near water but are good fliers and may range several miles. They are active during the day, and can be observed hunting and mating. Males of some species are territorial, defending their domain from other males who enter.

Odonate larvae are non-discriminate hunters which will eat any animal as large as or smaller than themselves, including their own species. Small vertebrates such as tadpoles and fish fry are not immune from attack. Prey may be stalked or ambushed. The labium is shot out by a rapid rise in haemolymph pressure. The prey is held with the hand-like palps and is withdrawn to be chewed by strong mandibles.

Almost all odonate larvae are aquatic. They occur in every sort of water body from soaks and seepages to streams and rivers, lakes, temporary pools and water-filled tree holes. A few species tolerate moderately salinity, a few others have semi-terrestrial larvae which roam across the surface of bogs and swamps at night. A half-dozen or so fully terrestrial larvae are known from distantly related families.

As they grow, larvae undergo approximately 10-20 molts, over a time between 3 months and about 6-10 years depending on species. Instar number is not always fixed but may depend on seasonal conditions and food supply. Wing pads develop externally from about the 6-7th instar. Metamorphosis is direct without a pupal stage and emergence takes place on a fixed support out of the water, sometimes a considerable distance from the water''s edge. The newly emerged adult flies away from water for a few days to feed and mature, during which time the full adult color develops. Teneral (new) adults can be recognised by a glassy sheen of the wings. Additional color changes occur later in life in some species.

Adult Odonata are visually oriented hunters with exceptional aerobatic ability and extremely acute eyesight. Many are strong fliers, and to catch them can be extremely difficult. Males tend to congregate around the breeding sites where they may be seen either perched on waterside vegetation, hovering over small territories or hawking up and down in search of females. Females of many species spend much time away from the water, only appearing to mate and lay eggs, but some congregate with the males. Most adults are long-lived. In cold climates some over-winter in sheltered places and in the dry tropics some aestivate through the dry season. Some undertake long dispersal flights, including transoceanic journeys, but others remain tightly associated with their larval habitat.


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