All the stories in this chapter are retold from the book Catawba Texts, published in 1934 by F. Speck, containing stories from these Catawba storytellers: Susan Harris Owl, Margaret Wiley Brown, Sally Brown Gordon, and Sam Brown.

Opossum’s Tail

Opossum was very proud of his tail. “I alone have a big bushy tail!” he proclaimed. “Squirrel’s tail is nice, but mine is bigger! Mine is bushier!”

Then Opossum went to sleep inside his hole.

He left his tail sticking outside.

Snail ate all the hair on his tail!

When Opossum came out, he turned around to admire his tail… but his tail hair was all gone.

Opossum was so ashamed that he hid for a year inside his hole. Even now when he comes out, he hangs his head in shame.

That is how Opossum got the name “Ancient-One-No-Tail.”


By: Laura Gibbs

Opossum and the Persimmons

Opossum found a persimmon-tree.
“All these persimmons are for me,” he squealed, climbing the tree.
Deer came. “I want persimmons!” he shouted.
“They’re not quite ripe,” Opossum replied. “You must butt the tree to make them fall.”
Deer butted the tree.
“Harder!” yelled Opossum.
Deer butted the tree so hard he killed himself.
Next, Opossum planted a sharp stick in the ground and then went back up the tree.
Wolf came. “I want persimmons!” he shouted.
“Here’s a low-hanging branch,” Opossum replied. “Jump up!”
Wolf jumped up and fell on the stick. He died.
Opossum ate all the persimmons himself!


By: Laura Gibbs

Opossum and Wolf

Wolf is always chasing Opossum, and Opossum is always trying to escape.

One time Wolf was chasing Opossum. “I’m going to get you!” he shouted.

Opossum ran as fast as he could up a tall tree that stood next to a pond.

“Where did you go?” snarled Wolf, circling the tree.

“I’m right here in the water!” said Opossum. “Look down and you’ll see me.”

Wolf looked down. He saw Opossum in the water, but when he lunged and grabbed with his teeth, all he got was a mouthful of dirty leaves.

Up in the tree, Opossum laughed and laughed.


By: Laura Gibbs

Opossum Captured

The animals were angry at Opossum. They were tired of Opossum boasting. They were tired of Opossum playing tricks on them. So, the animals got together and caught Opossum.

Then they debated what to do with him.

“Burn him in the fire!” some of the animals shouted.

Opossum just laughed.

“Let’s drown him in the water!” others shouted.

Opossum kept laughing.

“We should shove him into the brambles!” they all shouted.

“Oh no!” shrieked Opossum. “Don’t do that!”

So they shoved Opossum into the brambles, and he scurried away. “This is my town!” Opossum sang. “This was always my town!”


By: Laura Gibbs

Rabbit Steals Fire

The Buzzards kept the fire for themselves; they wouldn’t share. The animals were all cold. The people were all cold.

Rabbit came to the Buzzards sitting around the fire. “I’m so cold!” Rabbit said. “Let me come near the fire.”

“No!” squawked the Buzzards.

“Please!” Rabbit begged. “Just let me warm my feet.”

One Buzzard felt sorry for Rabbit and let him put his feet near the fire.

Rabbit was ready: he had put twigs between his toes; the twigs caught fire!

Then Rabbit RAN.

Fire spread everywhere.

Now the people have fire and can stay warm, thanks to Rabbit.


By: Laura Gibbs

Rabbit Steals Water

Snapping Turtle took all the water. He sat in his seat atop the spring, keeping the water for himself.

Rabbit came and said, “I need some water.”

“You can’t have any water!” shouted Snapping Turtle.

“But I’m very thirsty…” pleaded Rabbit.

“No!” shouted Snapping Turtle.

“I’d be so grateful…” Rabbit begged.

“Didn’t you hear me?” shouted Snapping Turtle. “No!”

Rabbit kept asking, and Snapping Turtle kept saying, “No! No!” All the while, Rabbit scratched and scratched the ground, making a ditch under Snapping Turtle’s seat until the water came flowing out.

That’s why water flows everywhere today, thanks to Rabbit.


By: Laura Gibbs

Bear and Rabbit

Bear invited Rabbit to his house for dinner. “I’ll cook good food for you!” Bear said.

Rabbit came, and he watched Bear prepare the food. He saw Bear take a sharp awl and then hit his foot with the awl. Grease came pouring out, and Bear used that grease to make the food.

Then Rabbit invited Bear to his house for dinner. “I know how to cook good food too!” Rabbit said.

When Bear came, Rabbit took a sharp awl and then he hit his foot, hard. No grease came out, and Rabbit hurt himself so badly that he died.


By: Laura Gibbs

Hawk and Buzzard

Hawk got his food by taking what he wanted.

One day he asked Buzzard, “How do you get your food?”

“I wait for God to take care of me,” Buzzard replied. “I know God will provide.”

“You’re going to get mighty hungry that way,” said Hawk, “waiting on God like that. You should do what I do. Watch!”

Then Hawk swooped down, thinking to snatch a farmer’s chicken, but the farmer shot Hawk and killed him.

Buzzard swooped down and feasted on Hawk. “I knew God would provide,” he said. “If you wait on God, you’ll have all you need.”


By: Laura Gibbs

Pig Outwits Wolf

“Come to my house for apples!” Wolf told Pig.

But when Pig came, Wolf had eaten the apples.

“Come to my house for apples!” Pig told Wolf.

But when Wolf came, there were no apples. “I’ll eat you instead!” Wolf snarled. “Boil water for cooking!”

Pig put water in the pot and kindled the fire.

“Wait!” Pig said. “What’s that? I hear hunters; I hear their dogs!”

Wolf was scared. “Hide me!” he shouted.

“Hide in the pot,” Pig said, taking the lid off the pot.

Wolf jumped in.

Then Pig put the lid on, and Wolf boiled to death.


By: Laura Gibbs

Going for the Doctor

A person was sick.

“Go get Doctor Toad,” the people said to Bullfrog and Turtle; Toad was a medicine-man.

Bullfrog hopped fast and he returned with Doctor Toad before Turtle was even halfway there.

Next time a person was sick, they sent Snail. Snail was so slow he didn’t even get beyond the doorstep. Snail was ashamed; that’s why he stays in his shell.

Next time, they sent Bullfrog and Turtle, but Bullfrog was lazy. He didn’t go.

Turtle came back with Doctor Toad, and Bullfrog was so ashamed he jumped into the pond: ker-plunk! That’s where he lives now.


By: Laura Gibbs

The Women Who Hid

This happened a long time ago.
Bad men were coming who wanted to kill the women.
But the women had the power to change themselves.
One woman changed herself into a blacksnake.
Another woman changed herself into a lizard.
Another woman changed herself into a cricket.
The bad men came. “Where are the women?” they shouted. “Where did the women go?”
But the women were hiding.
The men could not find them.
Blacksnake. Lizard. Cricket.
“Where are the women?” the men kept shouting, and then they went away.
The next day, the women became themselves again.
The women came home.


By: Laura Gibbs

The Witch

There were two old women, sisters.

One of the two sisters was a witch. “I’m going now, sister!” she would say, and then the witch would turn herself into a hoot owl and fly up the chimney out into the night, perching in a tree near their house.

Inside, her sister could hear the owl hooting in the darkness, and she hooted back, making the sound of a hoot owl: hi-khi-kh-hoo-hoo hi-khi-kh-hoo-hoo.

The witch became an owl to steal chickens.

That was how the sisters lived: the witch hunted in the night and brought home chickens for them to eat.


By: Laura Gibbs


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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