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Old Man and the Roasted Squirrels - Blackfoot

One time as Old Man was walking along, he came to a place where many squirrels were playing in some very hot ashes. While some squirrels lay in the ashes, others would cover them with even more ashes. When the buried squirrels became so hot that they couldn't take the heat any more, they would call out to the others, who would take them out at once. After Old Man had watched them for a little while, he asked them if he could play with them, too.

When the squirrels said okay, he asked, "May I be baked first?"

"Oh, no," replied the squirrels. "We are afraid that you don't know how to play and that you'd be burned. We'll be baked first to show you how."

Old man asked them again, but again they refused. At last Old Man agreed with them, on the condition that they'd let him cover all of them all at once. "There are so many of you," he said, "that it will save a lot of time to bury you all at once."

The squirrels agreed, and so he covered them all with hot ashes, with the exception of one who was about to become a mother. She begged him so pitifully not to be put in the ashes that Old Man said, "Well, go ahead. Run away, so that there may be other squirrels."

When all the other squirrels were covered with ashes, some of them became too warm and called out to Old Man to be taken out. Instead, he heaped more ashes over them and roasted them to death.

Then Old Man took some red willows and made a scaffold on which he laid his roasted squirrels. They made the willows greasy, which is why the red willow is greasy, even to this day. He ate as many of the squirrels as he could; in fact, he ate so many squirrels and became so full that he laid down beside a tree and went right to sleep.

While he was asleep, Lynx came along and ate all of the squirrels that were still on the scaffold. When Old Man woke up and found his roasted meat gone, he followed after the tracks, and finally came upon Lynx, who was fast asleep.

Old Man was so angry at Lynx that he grabbed Lynx by the ears and shortened his head by banging it into a stone. He pulled out the long tail and, after snapping it in half, stuck the brush part on Lynx's rear. He stretched the legs and the body of Lynx until they were long and skinny. Then Old Man threw him on the ground and said to him, "You bobcats will always have a bobtail. You will always be so short of breath that you will never run very far."

Old Man then realized that the hot ashes had burned him. So he called upon the wind to blow. Because the cool air made him feel better, he kept telling the wind to blow harder and harder. Soon, the wind was so wild that he was scooped up and blown far away. Every single tree he grabbed was pulled out of the ground, and he couldn't stop until he grabbed onto a birch tree. When the wind died down finally, he spoke angrily to the birch tree: "Why do you have so strong roots? Why can't I pull you up like all the other trees? I was having such a good time being blown all over, and then you stopped me."

He was so angry that he pulled out a knife and he slashed at the birch tree. This is why the birch tree has such beat-up looking bark now.