How the Animals Were Formed Handout                                                

An Iroquois Story:

Synopsis: The Creator lets some animals decide what they need to live on this earth, Little One approaches and asks for long ears to hear, long legs to run in case of danger, a weapon to fight, a fur coat for the cold weather and a beautiful tail because it’s pretty. While creating for Little One, Rude One interrupts three times and demands to be given what he “wants” - a coat of red feather so everyone will notice him, strong wings so he can fly day and night, a long neck—like the swans, a voice and a song to sing. The third time angers the creator and he pummels him on top of his head so there is no neck at all, he twists his head around so he stops looking and it’s eyes become like two yellow moons, he gives him strong silent wings but only flies at night, he gives him feathers the color of the earth so he knows he is no better or no worse than any other animal. He gives him a song to sing, but only one word “whoo,” so he will remember who it was he interrupted. The rude one flies away, and Little One, Rabbit, is so frightened, he jumps back to earth. His back legs fold underneath, so he is never able to run, only to hop. He didn’t wait for a brain so he is frightened of every noise he hears. Rude One, Owl, can only been “heard” at night reminding us who it was that gave us everything we need to live in peace and harmony.

This is a “How or Why” story. Sometimes called “Porquois Stories.” They are common in every culture for they are teaching tales. Tucked way behind the stories are bigger truths and lessons that need to passed on to the next generation. It is a way of teaching without being didactic. There are many porquois stories in collections found in the 398.2 section (folktales) in the library.


bulletWhat animal did you think Little One was? Rude One? When did you know that they were Rabbit and Owl?
bulletDescribe Rabbit and Owl as if they were people. What kind of personality do they have? Do you know people like Rabbit and Owl?
bulletWhat were humans given to live in peace and harmony?
bulletList human “needs” and “wants.”
bulletIf you could ask the creator for a need, what would it be? A want?

                                                                           Vocabulary words:


                            Adaptation                                Sandstone            

                            Plumage                                   Flint                                                

                            Nocturnal                                 Creator                                            

                            Iroquois                                    Porquois



Art Idea:

Draw a picture of Owl and Rabbit as if they had been given what they originally asked for.

bulletLanguage Arts:

Write a story about something in nature and decide how or why it looks that way. Idea—How the Rainbows Got Their Colors, Why the Blue Jay Squawks, Why the Mississippi Cuts Through the United States.

Find other porquois stories and compare them to Native American Stories. (Greek, Norse, African, etc.)


Find a book on Animal adaptations. Xerox pictures of unique animals with adaptations. On the back of the pictures write a short description of its adaptation and why the animal needs it.

Compare fur bearing animals and feathered animals. How are they alike and how are they different.

Listen to tapes of birds and try to identify them from their songs.

Bring several feathers to a science table. Decide which bird it came from and describe how they are alike and how they are different.




bulletIroquois Stories Heroes and Monsters, Myths and Magic by Joseph Bruchac
bulletKeepers of the Animals, Keepers of the Earth and others by Joseph Bruchac
bulletThere are many audio tapes and CD’s with stories on them. Check them out at the library.
bulletFor more Iroquois legends—click HERE
bulletRemember the 398.2, the folktales, in the juvenile section of the library holds a gold mine of stories for telling. Some libraries put collections of folktales into a “J” section for older readers and “E” for the picture books
  Resources and information on storytelling is available through the National Storytelling Network located in Kansas City, MO

For information on Illinois storytelling visit:

bullet Marilyn Kinsella
bullet Larry Kinsella


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