Tale of Why Hawks Have Thin Legs

Chicken-Hawk was a poor hunter and never succeeded in bringing his family more than a little mouse or some game that he had begged from another hunter. One time he met Eagle and asked him if he would not help him kill an antelope that he had seen not very far away. Hawk pretended that he had killed many such big game before, and acted as if he were being kind to Eagle in asking him to help him. Eagle said he would if he could have half of the meat. Hawk said that he could, and so they agreed to go hunting for the antelope the next morning. Hawk went on home, and when he arrived he told his family that he had shot an antelope through the head, but that he could not kill him, and so he had run him into a place for the night, and that he would return in the morning and kill him. Hawk arose the next morning and went to the place where he was to meet Eagle. They started on the hunt and hunted half a day. They found the antelope in the mountain. Eagle killed it, and then Hawk came down and they divided the meat. Eagle took his meat and went away. Hawk took his meat and went straight home to show it to his family, for he was very proud of it. He told them that he had met a person who had never tasted antelope meat and who was a poor hunter, and so he had given him part of his meat, but that the person promised to pay him back some day. His family were so well pleased that they told every one what a good hunter Hawk was. One time, after the antelope meat was gone, a friend, who had heard what a good hunter Hawk was, came to visit him, especially to see if the reports were true. Hawk hunted all one day, but returned with only a mouse. The friend refused to eat the mouse. Again Hawk hunted all day, but could not find anything. As he was returning home he felt so ashamed, that he cut some of the meat off of his legs to take home for his friend to eat, rather than admit that he had not found any game. For that reason hawks have no meat on their legs.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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