Grade: Middle

#1170. Native American Legends, Folk Stories and Tales

Reading/Writing, level: Middle
Posted Wed Jul 14 16:51:55 PDT 1999 by Doris A. Hill (
E.M. Daggett Middle School, Fort Worth, USA
Materials Required: Copies of Native American Legends
Activity Time: Five 45 minute class periods.
Concepts Taught: Creative writing and reading for a purpose.

Ms Hill's 7th Grade Reading Class Projects

Native American Legends, Folk Stories and Tales

Traditional Indian Tribal Tales

TLW write an Indian tale explaining a natural event, an animal characteristic,
a belief, a theme or a message.

Some possible subjects for your tale:

How would indigeneous native people describe

A thunderstorm?
A hurricane?
A tornado?
Why a turtle has a shell?
Why a pocupine has quills?
Why an animal or insect is a particular color?
Night and day?
An eclipse?
Why a bear hibernates during the winter?
The creation of men and women?
Earth's creation?
The sun?
The moon?
A dream?
A nightmare?
A human characteristic?
A plant characteristic?

Format of the Indian Tale:

1. The tale must be a "story within a story". For example: A grandfather is telling the
story to his grandson to explain some of the topics above. You must include dialogue
in your story. For example: The grandson asked the grandfather, "Grandfather, where
did the porcupine get his quills?" The grandfather answered, "Grandson, it happened
a long time ago."
2. The tale must be at least 100 words or more long.
3. You must use black ink or type your tale.
4. You must have a rough draft, edited draft and a polished draft to hand in when required.

Sample Indian Folktales

Native American Tales!
Native American Stories are passed down from generations and many have to do with why things are or how they were created. There are many stories about how everything came to be and I am going to share with you a few stories that were told. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The Bluebird and Coyote

*Pima tribe
The bluebird was once a very ugly color. But there was a lake where no river flowed in or out, and the bird bathed in it four times every morning for four mornings. Every morning it sang: There's a blue water, it lies there. I went in. I am all blue.
On the fourth morning it shed all its feather and it came out of the lake in its bare skin, but on the fifth morning it came out with blue feathers. All this while Coyote had been watching the bird. He wanted to jump in and get it, but he was afraid of the water. Oh the fifth morning he said, "How is it that all your ugly color has come out and you are now blue and gay and beautiful? You're more beautiful than anything that flies in the air. I want to be blue too."
Coyote was at this time a bright green. "I went in four times," said the bluebird, and taught Coyote the song. So Coyote went in four times, and the fifth time he came out as blue as the little bird.
That made him feel very proud. As he walked along, he looked on every side to see if anyone was noticing how fine and blue he was. He looked to see if his shadow was blue too, and so he was not watching the road. Presently he ran into a stump so hard that it threw him down in the dirt, and he became dust colored all over. And to this day all coyotes are the color of dirt.

Why Mole Lives Underground

A man was in love with a woman who disliked him and wanted nothing to do with him. He tried every way to win her favor, but with no success. As last he grew discouraged and made himself sick thinking about it.
Mole came along, and finding the man so low in his mind, ask what the trouble was. The mane told him the whole story, and when he had finished, the Mole said: "I can help. Not only will she like you, but she'll come to you of her own free will."
That night burrowing underground to the place where the girl was in bed asleep, Mole took out her heart. He came back by the same way and gave the heart to the discouraged lover, who couldn't see it even when it was in his hand. "There," said Mole. "Swallow it, and she will be so drawn to you that she has to come."
The man swallowed the heart, and when the girl woke up she somehow thought of him at once. She felt a strange desire to be with him, to go to him that minute. She couldn't understand it, because she had always disliked him, now the feelings grew so strong she was compelled to find the man and tell him that she loved him and wanted to be his wife. And so they were married.
All the those who knew them both were surprised and wondered how it had come about. When they found out it was the work of Mole, whom they had always thought too insignificant to notice, they were jealous and threatened to kill him. That's why Mole hid under the ground and still doesn't dare to come up.

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