February 17, 2003

How Bats Came to Be

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KEYWORDS: bat origin story creation of bats bat myth Indian legend ojibwe legends ojibwa legend ojibway legend Indian Oral Story oral story art prints buy Indian art print children’s story for kids

AUTHOR: Ojibwa Oral Story

Early one morning while he was on his way to his home in the sky, Father Sun got caught in the branches of a tall tree. He tried and tried to free himself, but only managed to entangle himself more firmly. Soon Father Sun could not move at all.

That morning all the animals waited in vain for Father Sun. When he did not appear, they went quietly back to their beds. They thought that they had not slept long enough and it was still night.

The bear went back to his cave. The rabbit returned to his nest under a bush at the edge of a field of sweet clover.

The chipmunk went into his hole in the roots of an oak tree. Only the owl, the wolf, and the fox were happy, for they could hunt a little longer than usual in the dark.


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When Father Sun did not appear the next day, the animals began to suspect that he had gotten lost on the way home. They searched through most of the forest, but they could not find him.

One little squirrel always looked at the treetops because he liked to jump from branch to branch. He discovered Father Sun stuck in the topmost branches of a tall tree. By this time Father Sun was very pale and week.

“Little squirrel, little squirrel,” he rasped in a low voice, “little squirrel, set me free.”

“Certainly, Father Sun,” replied the little squirrel, and he ran up the trunk of the tree towards the topmost branches, but Father Sun’s heat drove him back to the ground at once.


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Again Father Sun called out, “Little squirrel, little squirrel, set me free, set me free.”

“Oh, Father Sun, you are too hot,” said the little squirrel sadly. “You have already burnt my fine long tail.” He had always considered his tail very handsome and was sorry that it was gone.

“Try again,” pleaded Father Sun. “I am so tired that my light will soon go out.”

The little squirrel ran up the trunk of the tree a second time. He almost reached Father Sun before the fierce heat drove him back.

As the squirrel reached the ground once more, Father Sun groaned, “Little squirrel, little squirrel, please try on more time.”


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“Father Sun,” cried the squirrel, “your heat has burnt off my fine long tail. My fur is black. What is more, I can’t see. Your light has made me blind.”

“Please, little squirrel, try again,” whispered Father Sun. “My light will soon go out.”

Once more the little squirrel ran up the trunk, this time as fast as he could go. When he reached the branches at the top of the tree, he gave Father Sun a tremendous push. At that moment Father Sun broke free and sailed up towards his home in the heavens.

The squirrel held on to the branches with all his might. The intense heat had made his arms grow longer and his skin stretch out. Now it seemed that he was caught at the top of the tree forever. There was no one that could rescue him. His scorched skin hurt and his eyes were so sore that he could not see at all.

Father Sun paused and looked back. He was distressed to see how much he had harmed the kind squirrel and knew that somehow he must help the little creature.


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“Poor little squirrel,” he said, “in helping me you have been hurt. Now I shall repay your kindness. What is your dearest wish?”

“I have always wanted to fly,” the squirrel answered, “but no it is too late. I am blind and my skin hurts so much that I must surely die.”

Father Sun nodded and suddenly the pain left the squirrel, but he still could not see and his skin and arms were still stretched.


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“From now on,” said father Sun, “you will be able to fly into the heavens just as you have always wanted to do. Since my light hurts your eyes, you will fly at night. Although your eyes are blind, your ears are still very sharp.

When you call out, the trees and rocks will send back echoes to you. Then you will know that there is something in your way and you will be able to dive and swoop to avoid hurting yourself. I shall see you in the morning and in the evening on my journey back and forth.”

The squirrel dropped his arms from the branched and flew away. He had become a little brown bat. Ever afterwards he would hang upside down when he slept in the daytime. Then everyone would remember the day a squirrel saved Father Sun so that the world could have light and warmth.

And that is how a squirrel became a little brown bat.

Ojibwe / Chippewa Legends
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