Why Crows Are Poor

A Tale from the Iroquois

Legend Of The Iroquois - Why Crows Are Poor

After the Great Spirit had made the Red Children and had given them this beautiful land in which to live, he sent them a great gift,-the gift of the corn.

Ga gaah, the Crow, claims it was he who brought this gift. He says he was called to the wigwam of the Great Spirit in the sky. A grain of corn was placed in his ear, and he was told to carry it to earth, to the Red Children.

Therefore, as Ga gaah brought the gift, he claims he has a right to pull what corn he needs. Ga gaah says he does not "steal" corn. He simply takes what belongs to him, his rightful share.

And surely Ga gaah is not greedy! He never takes more corn than he wants for himself. He never hides or stores it away. He takes just what he wishes to eat at the time, and no more, for crows never think of to-morrow.

In summer, they are happy in the cornfields, guarding the roots from insect enemies, and pulling the tender blades whenever they are hungry.

But when winter comes, the crows are sad. Many councils are held. Sometimes a council tree will be black with crows. All are so poor and so hungry, that they get together to try to plan a better way to live.

There is much noise and confusion at a crow council, for all the crows talk at once. All are saying, "No bird is so poor as the crow; he is always hungry. Next summer, let us plant and raise a big crop of corn, and gather and save it for the winter. Next winter, crows will not be hungry; they will have food.

"We will no longer take from the fields of the Red Children just enough corn for a meal to-day. We will raise our own corn, and lay by a store for the winter."

And having agreed that this is a wise plan, the council ends.

A few days later, another council will be called. At this, the crows will plan how and where to plant the corn. Some will be appointed to select a field, others to find seed, and still others to plant and tend the corn.

But, alas! When spring comes, and skies are blue, and the sun shines warm, the crows forget the hunger of the winter, and the councils in the tree. They remember only that the skies are blue, and the sun shines warm, and now there is plenty of corn.

Legend Of The Iroquois - Decoration For Why Crows Are Poor

Happy and content, they walk up and down the fields of the Red Children.

"We have all we want to-day," they say, "Why should we think of to-morrow, or next winter? We had a good meal this morning, and we are sure of one to-night. Is not this enough for a crow? What more can he ask?"

And the next winter comes, and finds the crows as poor and as hungry as they were the last. Again they are holding noisy councils in the council tree. Again they are laying plans for the great crop of corn that they will raise next summer!

Sources And Further Reading

Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers [1917]

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