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Wisaka and the Buzzard

This version of the legend was written by our Kickapoo volunteer, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Once Wisaka was looking up in the sky. "I wonder what it's like at the top of the sky? I'm really curious about that. I'll just ask Buzzard."

"Hey, Uncle Buzzard!" he called. Buzzard came flying down to him. "What's it like at the very top of the sky?"

"Well, I don't know, Wisaka. I've never gone all the way to the top."

"Why don't we go and see for ourselves?"

"Don't be silly," said Buzzard. "You can't fly."

"You could carry me! Oh, come on, Uncle, be a good sport. Let's go and see it together."

'Well, okay." Buzzard picked Wisaka up and flew straight to the very top of the sky.

Maybe Wisaka had some trick in mind, or maybe he really just wanted to see what was up there. But Buzzard didn't wait to find out. As soon as he got to the top of the sky, he dropped Wisaka and let him fall. The trickster had been tricked!

Wisaka fell and fell. It took him ten days to fall from the top of the sky. But he wasn't about to get smashed on the ground. As soon as he could see the ground approaching, he turned himself into a feather. Unfortunately the wind was blowing and it blew the feather right into a hollow tree. When he turned back into Wisaka, he was stuck tight. No matter what he did he couldn't get himself loose.

Then some Kickapoo women came along to gather firewood. Wisaka saw them through a hole in the tree. "Help!" he called. "I'm stuck in this tree!"

"What? Who's that?" said the women.

"I'm a bear, a big fat bear!"

"We should get our husbands," said one of the women. "They can break the tree open and we can eat that bear."

"No," said another woman, "maybe it's a trick." She went closer to the tree and looked at it carefully. Wisaka quickly stuck some of his hair through the hole in the tree, and the woman touched it. "Oh, it's furry. Ok, it's a bear. Let's go get the men."

So the Kickapoo men came out there with an axe and chopped a big hole in the tree. And who should step out but Wisaka! He had a good laugh at them all. But then he shook the tree and made a real bear appear, and killed it, and gave it to the Kickapoos. So they had bear meat that night after all.

Wisaka didn't stay to eat it with them. "I'm going to get revenge on Buzzard." And he did, but that's another story.

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More stories to read:

 Native American trickster legends
 Stories about buzzards
 Stories about the sky

Learn more about:

 Kickapoo spirits
 The Kickapoo language
 The Kickapoo people



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