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Hare


The Hare is another trickster character in American Native mythology. In some creation myths the Hare brought light to the chaotic world. The Hare's words calling for light were more powerful than those of the Fox who wanted continual darkness. In other versions the more powerful words were those of the Raven.

The Hare, or Rabbit, is credited for giving people fire in a Hitchiti myth. He does this in his role of the trickster. In this version the Sky People were dancing to celebrate Puskita, the Green Corn Festival of purification. The only place where a fresh fire was permitted was in the dancing square. However, the Hare thought fire should be in other places too. After thinking about this for a long time the Hare had some friends rub his head with pine until his hair stood on end. Then everyone thought he had created a new headdress and made him leader of the dance. The Hare danced wildly bending low so his hair was set afire. He ran away so fast that none could catch him. This disturbed the people so they worked magic making a great rain that lasted four days. When the rain ended they thought the stolen fire should have been put out and they let the sun shine again. But the Hare had hid in a hollow tree and made a fire there. Seeing the Hare come out and light a new fire, the people made it rain again. This was repeated some more times; every time the Hare came out of his shelter he lit a new fire, but the rains extinguished most of them. Now the First People were quick to see these fires and light firebrands at them and take them to their homes. Afterwards whenever it rained they shared their fire with those that did not have any. The Hare is remembered as having brought fire to the Hatchiti people.

In one flood legend among the Ute people of western Colorado and eastern Utah, Tavwots, a version of the Great Hare, he causes the deluge after his head being burned by the sun exploded.

The Hare is in the legend of the Orphan Boy. After the orphan boy discovered how the old woman whom he called Grandmother made maize she forced him to leave her saying the he must journey beyond the blue mountain. She made for his protection a magical headdress of rattlesnakes and jays. Along his journey the orphan boy met the Hare who walked with him until they came to a lake filled with turtles. Then the Hare told the boy when he said Jump, the boy was to jump in. The boy agreed but before jumping into the he set his headdress aside. While in the lake the Hare stole it. Previously the boy and Hare had passed some men playing a game of ball, the men saw the Hare steal the headdress and felt sorry for the boy so they took him to their village where he met his future wife.

One day the orphan boy took his wife to the river and told her if he could swim across four times they could catch enough fish for the whole village. She believed him. And after he did swim across four times they caught hundreds of big fish. This made the Hare envious. He said he could do the same. After he swam the river four times all the fish turned up dead with white eyes and smelly bodies proving the orphan boy was the better provider. A.G.H.


Sources:

Burland, Cottie. North American Indian Mythology. Middlesex, England. Hamlyn Publishing Group. 1968. pp.110-112
Leeming, David, Jake Page. The Mythology of Native North America. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 1998. p. 105
Taylor, Colin F. Native American Myths and Legends. New York. Smithmark. 1994. p. 112


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