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How Chipmunk got his stripes
A legend from the Tsalagi

The Story of Chipmunk

In the days when the Earth Mother was new and the Great Spirit had placed life on the earth, everyone could talk to one another. Great Spirit bestowed certain powers on each of his children. Feathers so the winged ones could fly. Gills so the finned ones could breathe in their watery homes.

Among all of these was the Chipmunk. Great Spirit blessed the Chipmunk twice. Chipmunk had a beautiful coat of brown fur and the other creatures would comment and compliment it's beauty. The other gift that Great Spirit gave Chipmunk was the ability to change into a man whenever Chipmunk wished to do so.

One day,Chipmunk was in his burrow and he heard a ruckus outside. Chipmunk peeks out of his door and sees Bear rustling around the berry bushes looking for his lunch. Chipmunk decides that he wants to tease Bear and he knows he won't get caught. Quietly Chipmunk sneaks up behind Bear, changes into a Man, hits Bear on the head, changes back into Chipmunk and hides in his burrow. Bear shakes his mighty head and looks around for his attacker. Bear sees no one, shruggs his shoulders and resumes eating from the berry bushes.

In his burrow, Chipmunk is laughing at the joke he played on Bear. He peeks from his dirt door to see that Bear was still there, still eating. Again Chipmunk sneaks up behind Bear, changes into a Man and whacks Bear on the head. Bear snarls in rage and turns around to see no one there again. Chipmunk has become small and hidden safely in his home. Bear decides he will not be caught unaware. He rustles around in the bushes, but clever Bear is on his guard and watching.

Chipmunk thinks Bear is a silly fool and sneaks out to play his prank again. He sneaks up behind Bear and hits him on the head again. Bear was ready this time and swung around to see Chipmunk change from his Man form to his animal form. Bear growls a mighty roar, swipes at little Chipmunk with his massive paw and claws Chipmunk down the back. Chipmunk dives into his hole, as far back as he could hide. Poor Chipmunk is in pain from Bear's scratches that he presses his back against the coolness of his Mother Earth and stays there for seven days. When Chipmunk comes out of his home, his beautiful brown coat is no more. He now carries the black and white stripes where Bear had caught him with his claws. Great Spirit was also very disappointed in Chipmunk and took away Chipmunk's power to become Man.