How the Raccoon Got His Coat (Native American)

Many years ago, Raccoon looked different than he does today. He used to be all silver, smooth from nose to the tip of his tail. This is the story of how all that changed.

Raccoon was heading home after a night of hunting when he passed Raven’s home in the forest. Raccoon noticed that Raven was just inside the house, and as he passed he caught a glimpse of five beautiful silver rings – rings that Raven had stolen and stashed away for safekeeping. Raccoon instantly wanted the rings, and was determined to get them.

Later that night, after it grew dark, Raccoon put his plan into motion. He put on a mask to hide his face, and lit a torch to carry under his chin. You can imagine how scary he looked! He snuck quietly up to Raven’s home, and started to make eerie sounds at the windows. “Ooooh! Ohohohooooh!” he cried.

Raccoon thought that Raven would be scared and run away, but instead, Raven ran straight out to meet the intruder. Raccoon had to change his plan, and so he led Raven into the woods with his spooky sounds, then creeped back to the house while Raven was searching the woods.

Raccoon opened Raven’s trunk and found the five rings, even more beautiful than he had thought! He was ready to run off with them when he realized he couldn’t carry all five rings and the torch. Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of his tail and an idea came together – he slid all five rings onto his tail, and made off into the night.

The next day, Raven realized his trunk had been moved. When he opened it, he knew that he had been tricked – that one of the forest animals had taken his beautiful rings. Raven went to each of them – Bear, Owl, Eagle, Chipmunk – but none seemed to know anything about the missing rings. Finally, Raven visited Raccoon.

“Hellooo, Raccoon,” said Raven.

Raccoon met him gruffly. “I was sleeping, Raven,” he said, “What do you want?”

“Someone has taken five silver rings from me,” Raven said. “Do you know anything about that?”

“No, I don’t. May I go back to sleep now?” Raccoon retorted.

“Are you sure?” Raven asked.

“I’m certain. And I’m tired. Why don’t you leave me be?” Raccoon said.

Raven apologized and thanked Raccoon, but when Raccoon turned to go back to bed, Raven saw five dark rings of tarnish on his tail.

“Ah hah!” Raven said. “It was you!”

Raccoon apologized and admitted what he had done, but Raven didn’t think that was enough. “From now on,” Raven said, “you will bear the marks of what you have done. Your face will show the mask with which you hid yourself, your hands will be blackened by the soot from your torch, and your tail will always be tarnished by what you stole.” And so it was.

Raccoon never stole from Raven again, but he’s never really stopped his thieving ways. He still comes to us in the night, looking for things he can take, wearing his bandit’s mask.

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