The Raccoon and the Blind Men
The following legend is from the Menominee
Nation, locate in the North Eastern United
The following tale represents the raccoon as the mischief maker, as the animal
of like propensities among other tribes is the coyote.
There was a large settlement on the shores of a lake, and among its people were
two very old blind men. It was decided to remove these men to the opposite side
of the lake, where they might live in safety, as the settlement was exposed to
the attack of enemies, when they might easily be captured and killed. So the
relations of the old men got a canoe, some food, a kettle, and a bowl and
started across the lake, where they built for them a wigwam in a grove some
distance from the water. A line was stretched from the door of the wigwam to a
post in the water, so that they would have no difficulty in helping themselves.
The food and vessels were put into the wigwam, and after the relations of the
old men promised them that they would call often and keep them provided with
everything that was needful, they returned to there settlement.
The two old blind men now began to take care of themselves. On one day one of
them would do the cooking while the other went for water, and on the next day
they would change about in their work, so that their labors were evenly devided.
As they knew just how much food they required for each meal, the quantity
prepared was equally divided, but was eaten out of the one bowl which they had.
Here they lived in contentment for several years; but one day a Raccoon, which
was following the water's edge looking for crawfish, came to the line which had
been stretched from the lake to the wigwam. The Raccoon thought it rather
curious to find a cord where he had before observed one, and wondered to
himself,"What is this? I think I shall follow this cord to see where it leads."
So he followed the path along which the cord was stretched until he came to the
wigwam. Approaching very cautiously, he went up to the entrance, where he saw
the two old men asleep on the ground, their heads at the door and their feet
directed toward the heap of hot coals within. The Raccoon sniffed about and soon
found there was something good to eat within the wigwam; but he decided not to
enter at once for fear of waking the old men; so he retired a short distance to
hide himself to see what they would do.
Presently the old men awoke, and one said to the other, "My friend, I am getting
hungry; let us prepare some food." "Very well," replied his companion, "you go
down to the lake and fetch some water while I get the fire started."
The Raccoon heard this conversation, and, wishing to deceive the old man,
immediately ran to the water, untied the cord from the post, and carried it to a
clump of bushes, where he tied it. When the old man came along with his kettle
to get water, he stumbled around the brush until he found the end of the cord,
when he began to dip his kettle down upon the ground for water. Not finding any,
he slowly returned and said to his companion, "We shall surly die, because the
lake is dried up and the brush is grown where we used to get water. What shall
"That can not be," responded his companion, "for we have not been asleep long
enough for the brush to grow upon the lake bed. Let me go out to try if I can
not get some water." So taking the kettle from his friend he started off.
So soon as the first old man had returned to the wigwam, the Raccoon took the
cord back and tied it where he had found it, then waited to see the result.
The second old man now came along, entered the lake, and getting his kettle full
of water returned to the wigwam, saying as he entered, "My friend, you told me
what was not true. There is water enough; for here, you see, I have our kettle
full." The other could not understand this at all, and wondered what had caused
The Raccoon approached the wigwam to await the cooking of the food. When it was
ready, the pieces of meat, for there were eight of them, were put into the bowl
and the old men sat down on the ground facing each other, with the bowl between
them. Each took a piece of the meat, and they began to talk of various things
and were enjoying themselves.
The Raccoon now quietly removed four pieces of meat from the bowl and began to
eat them, enjoying the feast even more than the old blind men. Presently one of
them reached into the bowl to get another piece of meat, and finding that only
two pieces remained, said, "My friend, you must be very hungry to eat so
rapidly; I have had only but one piece, and there are but two pieces left."
The other replied, "I have not taken them, but suspect you have eaten them
yourself;" whereupon the other replied more angrily than before. Thus they
argued, and the Raccoon, desiring to have more sport, tapped each of them on the
face. The old men, each believing the other had struck him, began to fight,
rolling over the floor of the wigwam, upsetting the bowl and the kettle, and
causing the fire to be scattered. The Raccoon then took the two remaining pieces
of meat and made his exit from the wigwam, laughing Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha; whereupon
the old men instantly ceased their strife, for they now knew they had been
deceived. The Raccoon then remarked to them, "I have played a nice trick on you;
you should not find fault with each other so easily." Then the Raccoon continued
his crawfish hunting along the lake shore.