This story is from los Indios of Baja California, who are distant relatives of the Tohono O'odham of southern Arizona.
Cougar walked in the forest and jumped onto a fallen log to look around. A tiny voice came from inside the log. “Get off the roof of my lodge!”
A cricket came out from the rotten end of the log. “You are standing on the roof of my lodge, Cougar,” said the little insect. “You must step off now or the roof-pole will break and my lodge will fall in.”
“Who are you to tell me what to do?” Cougar sternly asked although he did step off the log. He lowered his head until his nose was very close to Cricket. “In this forest, I am the chief of the animals!”
“Chief or no Chief,” Cricket bravely said, “I have a cousin who is mightier than you and he would avenge me.”
“I do not believe you, little insect,” snarled Cougar.
“Believe me or not,” said Cricket, “it is so.”
“Let your cousin come to this place tomorrow when the sun is high, and we will see who is the mightier,” said Cougar. “If your cousin does not prove himself to me, I will crush you and your entire lodge with my paw!” Cougar turned and bounded off through the forest.
The next day, when the sun was high, Cougar came back along the same trail. He stopped over the log and called, “Cricket, come out! Let me meet your mighty cousin!”
Just then, a tiny mosquito flew up from the log and buzzed into the big cat's ear.
“What is this?” growled Cougar, who had never seen or heard a mosquito before.
Mosquito bit Cougars soft inner ear and drank his blood.
“Ahrr! Ahrr!,” cried Cougar in pain. “Get out of my ear!” Cougar pawed at his ear and ran around in a circle, shaking his head.
Mosquito bit him again and again.
Cricket came out of the log and called up to Cougar, “Are you ready to leave my lodge alone?”
Cougar said he would, so Mosquito flew out of Cougars ear and into the log lodge with Cricket.
Cougar ran off down the trail and never went that way again.
(I love stories like this. They are so simple but have a great message to the children listening to the tribal elders who tell it to them. Size does not always matter. And here is another that I thoroughly enjoy sharing)
How Bat Came to Be
Once, all creatures talked to one another. One time, Sun didn’t appear as usual. The animals who liked the dark, such as Owl and Raccoon, happily went their ways. However, others worried. How could they find food? Where would the warmth come to cause plants to grow?
They gathered and wailed, crying over how they would no longer be able to see or find food to fill their stomachs.
Little Ground Squirrel, chehkol, was among them and wondered why the Morning Star had not helped her father lift up from beyond the horizon to cross the sky.
Little Squirrel scurried up a tall mountain until he was close enough to call out to Morning Star. “Where is Father Sun? he cried. We are cold and cannot see without him.”
Morning Star looked down upon the tiny creature and whispered, “He moved too low in the sky and got caught up in a very large tree. He cannot get free, so you will all have to live without his warmth and light.” She turned away to continue her journey across the sky.
Squirrel scurried off in the direction from which the sun rose, crying, “Oh my. Oh my. I cannot let this be so. “He ran and ran and ran until, way off in the distance, he saw a faint light. He continued to run up a steep hill, drawing closer and closer to the light.
When he reached the crest of the hill, he spied a massive tree and, as Morning Star had told him, Father Sun was ensnared in its branches. Squirrel became afraid. Father Sun's light was very bright, making it difficult to see, and he was very warm, getting hotter as he drew closer.
Sun saw the little squirrel and called out. “Come help me, little one. I am stuck and cannot move.”
Squirrel tried to get closer but the sun's light blinded him and his heat burned his fur.
Squirrel was very afraid. But Father Sun pleaded so hard that he could not ignore his cries for help. He ran close and grabbed a branch in his teeth, pulling it away from the blazing ball. The light dazzled Squirrel and he had to back away.
Squirrel ran in again and again to pull limbs away from Father Sun. Father Sun's light was so bright that Squirrel no longer saw and had to follow Father Sun's shouted directions to find another limb to pull away.
At last, Father Sun was free. He jumped with joy and leaped into the sky, calling out his thanks to Brother Squirrel.
Father Sun gazed down at the small creature with pity. Squirrel's eyes were blank and his fur had been burned black. He was helpless and would spend the rest of his days unable to eat since he was blind to the world around him.
Father Sun told him he had been very brave. “Is there something I can do to repay you for your courageous kindness?”
Brother Squirrel thought. “I enjoy watching the birds share the sky with you and Mother Moon. I would like to join them but cannot, as I can no longer see.”
Father Sun called out to Iitoi, one of the Creator Spirits. When Iitoi came, Sun explained the situation. “You must do something for Brother Squirrel.”
Iitoi agreed. He reached out and touched Squirrel's ears, making them bigger. He then touched Squirrels' throat and changed the way he made sound. Moreover, to grant Squirrel's wish, he stretched the skin between his fore and hind feet to turn them into wings. He finally changed the hind feet to claws, designed so the animal, now Brother Bat, could roost and sleep when he wasn't flying.
“Go now, Little One. But, because you suffered so much saving Father Sun, you will join those who live by the light of Mother Moon and you will find cool, dark places to live and have your families.”
And that is how the Bat came to be.
(Gotta love it! Remember, these were Stone Age peoples with absolutely no idea of scientific disciplines like Biology. How on earth did they know that bats and squirrels are of the same genus of mammals? And the sounds bats make are usually far above the range of human hearing. How did they figure out the creatures fly and hunt using a form of sonar? And finally, isn't there something in there about the evolution of creatures?
There is a lot more to the story of Sonora Symphony but this is just one of the ways a tribal elder helps a young man to help him overcome the agony of PTSD.
Share if you enjoy this and perhaps indicate your reaction at the bottom of this post. Thanks.)