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Animal People challenge the Bird People to a ballgame

Once the Animal People challenged the Bird People to a ballgame. The animals expected to win with no problems.

Bear was the captain of the animals' team. "Of course we'll win," roared Bear. "I'm stronger and heavier than any other animal." It was agreed that Bear could stop anyone that got in his way. And Deer? Deer could outrun all the other animals. And Terrapin was at that time the great, original terrapin, not the puny thing we have now. So of course the animals would beat those silly birds!

The Birds had, of course, elected Eagle as their captain. They also had the skills of the great, mythical Hawk. The birds had met to plan their strategy-they were a little afraid of all the animals, who were so large and strong. But, when the meeting was ready to begin, along came two tiny things that looked a little like field mice.

"Please," said the little creatures, "can we join your team?"

"You belong with the animals, don't you?" said Eagle.

"They laughed at us and drove us away," said the smaller, furry creature. "We want to be birds. Let us help you." Eagle felt so sorry for them that he agreed to let them play as birds. "You need wings. We'll make you some," said Eagle. The birds decided to use the head of the drum that they used for their dances. The drumhead was made of badger skin, so they began to cut off pieces of it and attach it to the smaller creature's front legs. This is the way the birds created Bat.

Unfortunately, this used all of the drumhead leather. There was none left to make wings for the creature that looked like a tiny ground squirrel.

"Let's stretch the skin he has , said Bluebird. This sounded like a good plan, so Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk pulled from opposite sides, helped by the smaller birds. When they were done, the birds had created Flying Squirrel.

Flying Squirrel and Bat were very grateful. 'You'll see! We can help you win."

The animals and birds met on the plain by the river. The ballgame would be won by whoever first hit the ball against the poles at opposite ends of the playing field that were the goals of the birds and the beasts.

The great ballgame was very close. The animals were shocked to see what strong fliers Bat and Flying Squirrel were. The small animals who were too young to play stood at the side of the ball field and began to chant, "Beasts over Birds! Beasts over Birds!"

The hummingbirds began to lead their own chant, 'Birds over Beasts! Birds over Beasts!"

Finally, Flying Squirrel caught the ball, carried it up a tree, and then threw it to Blue Jay who flew with it high enough that the animals couldn't reach it. Then Blue Jay dropped it, and Bear rushed to try to take it away. But Bat swooped very near the ground, took the ball, and dodged and doubled so fast that even Deer couldn't catch him. He threw the ball against the pole decorated with feathers and won the game for the birds.

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More stories to read:

 Native American animal stories
 Native American bird stories
 Legends about bats
 Legends about games

Learn more about:

 Cherokee mythology
 Cherokee language
 Cherokee names
 The Cherokee Indians



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