Doug Cuthand: A frog fable shared to mark Sask. storytelling month

The shy frog tales shows us all living beings receive some sort of gift from the Creator and we must identify and nurture these attributes.

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As storytelling month comes to a close, I have another story from my dad’s collection. This story is called “Why the Frog is Shy” and teaches generosity, self confidence and loving yourself.

Many people have never thought about it, but frogs live a life where they hide and keep to themselves; but it wasn’t always like this. A long time ago, there was a big frog who lived by a big lake. He was not a good swimmer nor was he a good jumper. But the frog was a good singer.

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Nearby on a hill, lived Wisahkecahk. He would listen to the frog singing in the evenings and he would send the frog gifts of food for his singing. Wisahkecahk was an emissary from the Creator. He came to earth to create all the animals and live among them to assist them in this new land.

The frog became very concerned because he did not know what gift Wisahkecahk might like in return. One day a goose wandered by, searching for weeds and grass in the lake. The frog asked the goose, “Oh goose, what shall I give Wisahkecahk? He sends me food almost every evening.”

The goose thought for a while and said, “Why don’t you give him something to smoke in his pipe. Perhaps some kinnikinic.”

“Oh, that is a fine idea. Thank you, goose,” the frog said.

Kinnikinic is made from the bark of a red willow, and it gives off a fragrant aroma when burned.

The frog went to work, cutting red willows and taking off the bark to dry. Soon he had a big bundle.

The next morning the goose picked up the bundle and flew to the lodge on the hill, where Wisahkecahk lived. Wisahkecahk was very pleased, and the frog was happy, too. They continued to exchange gifts.

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One day the frog decided to visit Wisahkecahk. He dried kinnikinic and rolled it into a bigger bundle than usual. He left an opening on one side of the bundle, and he crawled into it. The goose came down and picked up the bundle.

“This is heavy,” the goose thought. He struggled to gain altitude, but managed to fly higher and higher and higher very slowly. The goose flew over the lake and forest with the heavy load in his beak. Suddenly the frog gave a loud sneeze. The goose dropped the bundle and it fell down to the earth.

The frog, realizing he was falling towards the earth, screamed for help. The bundle was falling towards some rocks. Wisahkecahk heard the frog and wished that the bundle would drop on the lake.

Using the powers given to him by the Creator the rocky ground became a lake and a forest appeared. The frog didn’t land in the lake; instead, he had a soft landing on the branches of a tree by the lake.

The frog slipped out of the bundle and his hind feet became caught in a fork of two branches. He struggled to free himself, but instead he stretched his hind legs. The more he struggled, the longer his hind legs became.

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Finally, his feet slipped out and he fell into the lake. The frog was glad to be alive, but he was ashamed of his long hind legs.

Wisahkecahk came down to the lake and looked at the frog and tried to make the best of things. He said, “Your long legs will help you to be a good swimmer and you will be a good jumper, too, and you are still a good singer.”

Yet the frog was still embarrassed and hid in the water. He jumped into the lake and sat very still with only his eyes sticking out above the water. To this day, all frogs remain shy about their long legs.

This story teaches the importance of gift giving and recognizing your talents. The frog was needlessly ashamed of his long legs when they were really an asset. Also, we must be proud of the gifts that we receive from the Creator.

Every living being on earth has received some sort of gift from the Creator. It is our duty to discover it and nurture it and give thanks to the Creator.

Doug Cuthand is the Indigenous affairs columnist for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post. He is a member of the Little Pine First Nation.

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